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STOP NETWORKING. Try This Instead...

Have you ever stumbled upon an article that you felt was so in line with what you believe that YOU could have written the exact same thing yourself? I did today. In fact, it was so spot on, I really wish I could take credit for it. I have recently joined forces with a friend and collegue to start a young entrepreneurs network. While reading this, I felt it was essential to share with members and supporters as there is a true difference between "friends" and "friendly acquaintances."

Please read and I hope you engage with this article written by Mark Morgan Ford. The words below could save you thousands of dollars, years of tension, and may even save a valuable friendship or two. ENJOY!

I hate asking for help and almost never do. (Before Siri, I’d rather spend hours driving in circles than ask for directions.) Yet at moments like this — when I have time to reflect on what I’ve been able to do in my life — I can see most of my accomplishments were due, at least in part, to the help I received from others.

So let’s talk not about networking (a word I dislike because it seems at once nerdy and predatory), but about the importance of making friendly acquaintanceships.

I have a lot of friends. More than most people do. I have several friends that date back to grammar school… at least a half-dozen from high school, college, and graduate school… and several from my years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa. I have writer friends, book club friends, partner friends, jiujitsu friends, etc.

But for the most part, these aren’t the people who’ve helped me in my various careers.

They’ve enriched my life in the realm of friendship.

But when it came to business and investing, it was friendly acquaintances — not friends — that mattered most.

I’m drawing an important distinction here…

There’s a big difference between a friendly acquaintance and a friend.

For me, friendship is more valuable than business. And that means if I go into business with a friend (not usually a good idea) and he disappoints me, I have to forgive him, forget the loss, and continue on as friends.

If I can’t do that, I don’t really value the friendship. And, therefore, I can’t pretend to be a good friend. (This also applies to family.)

It’s different with friendly acquaintances. I love meeting new people — especially people who are smart and/or talented, interesting, resourceful, creative, etc.

And I’m happy to develop these relationships into business and/or investment relationships any time there’s a sensible opportunity.

But in doing so, I don’t pretend this happy and mutually productive relationship is a true friendship. The difference is with a friendly acquaintance, business can sometimes come first. Cultivate widening circles of friendly acquaintances

So back to the topic at hand: building ever-widening circles of friendly acquaintances — the people who might be helpful to you (and you to them) in the future.

Question: Should you do it?

Answer: Yes.

Even if you’re like me — and will never, ever ask anyone for a favor — you should still build out your network of friendly acquaintances. Sooner or later, you’ll benefit from their help.

You won’t ask for it. In fact, it’ll work the other way around.

You’ll do something first to help them. You might help them get a good job or teach them a skill or introduce them to a potential partner. Or you might simply give them suggestions or advice or a book recommendation. In every case — at the outset — it’ll be about you helping them.

And you’re not going to do it with a willful intent. You’re going to do it because it gives you pleasure. You’ve learned through experience that giving is its own reward. So you do it, and you enjoy it.

And with all those you’ve helped who are good people, you’ll be creating a deposit in the bank of reciprocity. A deposit you may one day — at least in part — tap into.

I could tell you a hundred stories about people I’ve helped who have, some years later, returned the favor happily… and with dividends. But you don’t need to be convinced. You know this is something you should do.

So today, you’re going to promise yourself you’ll extend your network of friendly acquaintances in 2016. A reasonable target might be to add one new person to the list every two weeks — 25 new friendly acquaintances this year.

That’s today’s resolution. And here’s the promise: If you build your network by 25 people next year, you’ll have (a) more fun, (b) more opportunity, (c) more money, and (d) fewer problems.

What kind of people should you be looking for?