“My friends are my estate.” - Emily Dickinson
Just who are our friends? Are they the people that we find in our business lives, or are they those who become our customers? Are they the acquaintances that we meet at networking events, or are they the folks that we have known for many years?
Our friends may be all of these individuals, or they may not. Our friends are the people who we know we can depend on when we need them. They are those folks who will help us before we ask them for help, and they offer that help without strings or obligations for us. Our friends will be there for us and will never ask for repayment. Our friends are the greatest strength in our lives.
How do we know someone is a friend? How do we determine that anyone is the type of person that will be a friend who stands beside us in a time of need? Friends establish themselves in our lives through their actions when we first meet them and afterwards. They may be prospects, customers, or clients. They might be family, neighbors, or just casual acquaintances.
We may not recognize others as friends immediately, or we may see something at the first meeting. With all relationships, it is what happens over time that matters. We should never, ever prejudge anyone. We should not think that we know anyone before they show us who they are. Establishing a relationship should be our objective no matter the ultimate outcome.
We often meet someone and never see them again, never get to know them, or don’t have any further contact with them. These are lost opportunities for both parties. These are the steps to failed relationships, even lost business, maybe for both parties. These failed relationships help neither party and cannot help anyone else that might benefit from a bond between the original two people involved.
When we meet someone new we must give every opportunity the chance that it needs to develop and see where it goes. If it cultivates into a business relationship, or into a networking relationship, or both, them both parties may prosper. If that relationship, whatever type it is, develops into a friendship, so much the better. Who says that we cannot be friends with our networking partners or our business partners?
Our friends are our greatest portion of our lives. They are the ones that can make us better and greater than we can do by ourselves. They are the people who we need and who we need to help. There is no greater example of Gratitude Marketing than to reach out and help someone else whether they are our friend or not. However, Gratitude Marketing can become tainted when we act only for the intention of benefiting our own position.