If there is anything those of you who have ever been engaged in a job search have learned is that NO ONE ever has enough friends.
Although I count all 38,000+ of you as friends of mine, I still continue every day to try to make a few new friends.
It is almost sad in a way that networking became so closely identified with job search. Except for the NFL approach to networking (that’s where you hold someone down and don’t let them up until they give you 3 names) networking is about creating real friendships. And, real friendships are a two way street. I hate one way dead ends streets, don’t you? That’s when you make networking all about you.
Yes, I know there is an urgency related to networking when you are looking for a job. Who has time to make REAL friends you might ask? Well, the truth is YOU do. Networking, that process of identifying those folks who have some connection to you, is in actuality about making real friends for the rest of your life.
There are temporary needs in this world that can be met with a small commitment. An example might be asking for directions at some point of a total stranger. You have to be polite, but the exchange of pleasantries doesn’t need to be such that you promise to put the individual’s children through college. All you have to do is be nice for a few minutes and when you have what you need, continue to appear to be polite until you can’t see the person anymore. Indeed, a simple transaction.
Not so with the building of friendships or networking. The initial extending of your hand of friendship should always be made with the expectation on your part that this particular relationship may build into what we might refer to later as a “beautiful friendship.”
Friends, of course, exist on many levels. And, the relationship you have with others who you call friend can and usually does ebb and flow like the tides. (I thought I would throw a little sailing analogy in tonight.) All of this is well within the norms of human relationships.
The goal in building a friendship is for you to always feel as if you are giving more than the other person. Gifts, including and perhaps especially friendship, are not always immediately well received. The reason for this I would suggest is the initial suspicion that you have ulterior motives. It is only after you have extended yourself several times without expecting anything in return that the true nature of your intentions may be clear.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that there are a lot of lonely people in this world. There are some people who appear to be surrounded by many friends who are at the same time lonely in their own way. If you are or can convince yourself to become a friend to others, you will find the rewards are actually in this lifetime.
There is an ancient parable I was told when I began my career about a pig and a chicken who went into business to make ham and eggs. The thing to note about this “business relationship” was that one of them was making a bigger commitment.
Be the one who consistently makes the “pig” commitment and you will always be surrounded by a lot of TRUE friends.