Can your clients also become your friends?

Rachel Ducker asks if there is an invisible line between professionalism and friendship

IN business, people come to us as professionals.

They may know us through reputation or recommendation but over time, if we develop a long term business relationship with a client, is there a line stopping us from mixing business with pleasure?

I ask the question because if there is, I think I have crossed it time and time again.

I have heard of the expression “do not mix business with pleasure” but can it possibly work? It got me thinking, can we make friends in business too? Without a doubt one of the best ways to find new clients is to network with other people. This could apply inside or outside of the business realm.

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If you have ever been to a networking event, you will know that you have to be friendly and approachable to stand out amongst the crowd.

When I first started networking I had no idea what to do or what to say, so I treated it as an occasion to meet some like-minded people that I could connect with, no different in fact to being introduced to a new group of friends.

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I am pleased to say from my first networking event in Bury St Edmunds, I still meet two special ladies, who I now class as friends, for a coffee on a regular basis, a local copywriter and an introductions coach.

Over time our relationships have developed, the way we do business is to help each other out. With both ladies I have formed a mutual friendship through sharing common interests, both personally and professionally.

I looked up the definition of ”friendship”. A friendship is the co-operative and supportive relationship between people. Does this not describe a relationship similar to the one we have with our clients?

Believe it or not, some of my closest friends to date have been made through my business.

One that comes to mind owns a modern legal practice. We were introduced to each other by a mutual friend who felt we had common interests.

You could class this as networking. It turns out that our honest and personal approach to business cemented a bond that has remained with us to this day.

So, I hear you say, how do we keep it professional?

Quite simply, from the hours of 9-5 we run our businesses and exchange services. We respect each other and our in working hours our relationship has not altered.

After hours, we let our hair down and you will often find us having a girlie gossip and a glass of dry white wine!

The truth is when you have the pressure of your business on your shoulders sometimes there is nothing better than to talk to someone who understands. I believe if you can make it work mixing a little business with pleasure, will not only see your business bloom, you will get a little bit of self satisfaction too!

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