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Best Networking Secret - Make Friends Not Contacts

By Sandy Schroeder

As work spins ahead, valuable contacts are always welcome. But finding the contacts that really hang in there could be as simple as looking for friends, too.

When contacts become a lot more than just job descriptions, you will have added immeasurable value to your efforts.

Recognizing Kindred Souls

As you develop contacts who think the way you do, you will find them to be people that you enjoy talking to and working with on one project after another. Not surprising, they are likely to hang in there for the long haul too, staying in touch, and continuing to provide more healthy new links.

I have some contacts that I made when I first started working, others that I added as I joined clubs and communities. Over the years, they proved me right. These long-term people became great contacts and great friends. We spotted each other as kindred souls.

I have an older, quite successful friend, who is a master at this. He loves to sail, and manages to thread his weekend sailing adventures through all of his contacts. When you head out for a Sunday sail with him, you are apt to be sitting next to his accountant, lawyer or daughter. Over time, he manages to match up countless like-minded people and create a whole new group of contacts/friends.

How to Spot Contact/Friends

When you first meet someone, talk about everything, ideas, goals, and interests, to really get to know the person. Then you can learn about their professional background and special skills. If you are destined to become friends, you will both recognize the link.

When you build contacts that are also friends, you are developing lasting groups, that will share energy, prove to be trustworthy, and open to sharing.

Contacts that are just collected like so many points on a scorecard will be just that, easily added and often easily lost. Along the way I have bumped into lots of those, too, fleeting names and faces that quickly came and went.  We have all done this, and we know how superficial it can be.

In the same way you shape your work, your goals and your ongoing focus, select contacts who are also likely to become great friends. Not only will they help you in your work, it will be a lot more fun too. 


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