Doing business with family and friends has always been a sticky wicket.People worry that the business dealings will eventually sour the friendship or complicate the relationship.
Sometimes it does. Most of the time it doesn’t. Still, we worry…
Ironically, moving from a business relationship to a friendship is a very easy and natural thing to do. It happens all the time. I can think of dozens of business colleagues, clients, networking connections who have become my close, personal friends. So why is it so hard the other way around, from friendship to business?
I am a proponent of including your family and close friends in your overall business network. Personal and professional contacts are part of your sphere in influence. Your friends and relatives should be the ones that care for you the most and want to see you succeed.
How do you go from Friendship to Business?
You begin by having a good relationship with them. In friendship, that is a given. In family, well, let’s just assume for a moment that it’s a given.
Then you move to the next step – having the conversation about business. Often times, friends and family don’t know what you do for a living. For whatever reason, the topic doesn’t come up. You haven’t taken the time (or had the courage) to bring it up. Well, it’s time to do so.
Start by asking them about their business. “So, tell me, what’s going on in your business (job)? What are you working on these days and how can I help you?” By initiating the conversation and focusing it about them, you are “giving” before you get.
They might then naturally ask you about your business. If for some reason they don’t, you must take the initiative once again. “I bet you’re curious about what’s going on in my business (job). Or you might make the statement: May I pick your brain about my latest business (job) challenge?
Now that’s you’ve successfully brought up the conversation about business (good for you!), you need to take the second step which is asking for their help with new contacts and connections.
The indirect ask is best with friends/family. Don’t try to sell your stuff directly to your family/friend, but rather invite them to tap into their personal and professional network to help you achieve your goals. If they like you and trust you, they will be positively inclined to help you.
Ask indirectly for their help, with a question like “Is there anyone in your network that might be able to help me with this business challenge or who might know someone who could benefit from the product/service that I offer?
There are three possible outcomes:
1) They think of someone in their network who you should connect with.
- Next step – you ask them to give you a warm introduction and pave the way for this new connection.
2) They can’t think of anyone at the moment.
- Next step – you suggest that they keep you in mind, in case they think of someone later. If appropriate, give them a few of your business cards.
3) They reflect internally upon their own needs and make the connections of working with you directly. They indicate that they could use your product/service.
- Next step – you ask more questions and learn more about their situation, needs and goals. You do not froth at the mouth in sales excitement and lunge into a heavy sell job. No. Handle your friend/family member with care. Think relationship, not transaction.
Your networking GOAL for this week:
Initiate a business discussion with at least one close friend or family member this week. Ask for their permission first, with a question like “Would it be okay with you if we spent a few minutes discussing business?” Make sure they understand what you do for a living, the kinds of people you help, what kinds of problems you solve, and what your current business challenge is. Make sure you find out what’s going on in their business/work life. You both need to know what it is that you each are working on and what you each need. Inform each other. It’s easier and more natural than you think. Give it a try this week and then share your results with me on Facebook – NetworkingAhead.com/facebook