8 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Need More Business Relationships and Fewer Friends Social networking has changed the definition of "friend." But successful networking isn't about how many friends you have.

By Martin Zwilling

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Shutterstock

Successful entrepreneurs understand the difference between a good business relationship with more people and having more friends. In fact, the focus on social networking platforms, starting with Facebook, has destroyed the meaning of the word friend and even changed it from a noun to a verb. It's now common to have hundreds or thousands of friends online -- but no relationships.

Related: The 4 People Who Will Help You Achieve Your Goals

In the world of entrepreneurs and startups, professional relationships are critical. You can't start a business with friends alone. You need business partners, investors and customers. Of course, we all need friend relationships in our private lives, and some of these may evolve from or lead to business relationships. Here is my summary of how business relationships relate to friends.

1. Everyone needs private friend relationships.

Most psychologists agree that starting from a very young age, friend relationships are critical to building social skills and lead to a balanced view of morality, integrity and right versus wrong. These should never be confused with social-media friends that you have never met or hardly know.

2. All business relationships need not be friends.

The best professional relationships may also involve friendship, but entrepreneurs need to be able to manage relationships with competitors, partners and customers who have no interest in being friends. Friends are motivated to help you, while business people want to help their business.

3. With friends, quality is more important than quantity.

With maturity, most people actually shrink their circle of friends to focus on a few trusted ones who become confidants. There is some evidence that the average circle has grown smaller over the years, as the level of trust in other people has dropped from 77 percent to 37 percent.

4. In business, you can't have too many relationships.

More professional connections means more credibility, more insight into the market and more customer clout. This fact is the basis for the business axiom -- "It's not what you know, it's who you know." Many entrepreneurs will admit that they get almost all of their business through relationships.

Related: Stop Chasing Away the People You Meet

5. True friendship requires a personal emotional connection.

Friendship is a person-to-person relationship involving mutual affection, the ability to be oneself, express feelings and make mistakes without fear of judgment from the friend. Many entrepreneurs find their role lonely due to the fear that business and friendships simply don't mix well.

6. Business relationships depend on accentuating the positive.

The first rule of business is that spilling your troubles won't help your business, your leverage or your relationship. Some entrepreneurs assume that they can make everyone their friend by exposing shortcomings -- only to find out that these are often used against them.

7. Social networking friends have real business value.

Free mobile and online technologies will find friends at no cost, with no emotional investment required, so they have very little personal value. Ironically, these friends have real business value since they may become advocates and write testimonials or influence their real friends.

8. Online networking alone does not build business relationships.

Networking may identify an opportunity, but personal contact is normally required to build a real relationship. It's too easy to create a false persona online, compared to the authenticity of connecting face-to-face, comparing beliefs, goals, point of view and personality.

Friendship with emotion is the glue that makes personal relationships work, but these same emotions often get in the way of decisions in a rapidly changing business requirement. Business relationships, on the other hand, are more logically tuned to expediting business transactions. If your business seems harder than it should be, maybe it's time to stop focusing on friends.

Related: 5 Networking Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Actors

Martin Zwilling

Veteran startup mentor, executive, blogger, author, tech professional, and Angel investor.

Martin Zwilling is the founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, a company that provides products and services to startup founders and small business owners. The author of Do You Have What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur? and Attracting an Angel, he writes a daily blog for entrepreneurs and dispenses advice on the subject of startups.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Business Solutions

Get More Done with ChatGPT for Just $20

This ChatGPT course can help you streamline your business.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Growing a Business

Lifetime Access to Business Advice with This AI-Powered Service is Just $29.99

With Consultio Pro, you'll find expertise on topics like data analysis, financial analysis, innovation management, and so much more.

Thought Leaders

10 Simple, Productive Activities You Can Do When You Aren't Motivated to Work

Quick note: This article is birthed out of the urge to do something productive when I am not in a working mood. It can also inspire you on simple yet productive things to do when you're not motivated to work.

Business Solutions

Stay Organized with This Task Management Tool, on Sale for $30

A Study Planr Pro subscription is just $30 for life.