Why Catching Up with Friends for a Chat is Good for Your Business

Coffee Time picture by antwerpenR on Flickr CC BY 2.0

One thing I regret about how I handled the early phase of setting up and managing my home based business is that I did not put enough value on catching up regularly with friends and former colleagues for a general chat.

I did meet up with people, but too often that was an excuse for a pitch session on my part, looking for business either from them directly or from people to whom they might refer me.

Not that there is anything wrong with pitching.

It’s just that it took me a while to realize that when that was the purpose of my invitation to get tother, the courteous thing to do, the proper business etiquette, was to be upfront about the fact that I wanted to pitch my ideas or business proposition.

But what I really want to talk about here is not so much about that kind of pitch session, but more about the catching up that is focused on maintaining bonds of friendship and collegiality and where the expectation of both parties is about stimulating conversation, the exchange of ideas, a bit of gossip and general good fellowship.

If business flows from that, so be it. But in such a getting together there may be very little direct reference to our business, or none at all.

We are social beings and much as I love social media I also love maintaining face to face connections.

I get great stimulation and support from my worldwide circle of friends and colleagues on social media, but I also put a high value on the enjoyment and value I get from meeting up with people face to face and having good, free-ranging conversations about whatever takes our fancy on the day.

It’s good for a balanced social life and in my book having a balanced social life helps us be and remain fully functioning human beings. That can surely be only beneficial for our business, at least in the long term and often in the short term too.

And even if we may want at times to meet with the same people to pitch a product or a service of ours, that will surely be better received if there have been other times when there has been no such agenda.

As I explained in a post I wrote recently for the MYOB blog, 3 key challenges in running a business from home:

It’s also important to not restrict such catch ups to when we want something from the other person, or want to pitch something. It’s not necessarily helpful to be always in full-on pitching and selling mode. And it’s my experience that great ideas and great referrals can come from very relaxed, “agenda free” get-togethers.

But my experience is that weeks and even months can slip by without our getting together with the people whose company and conversation we know we would enjoy if only we made the time.

So it’s important to schedule these meetups.

By the way, although it can certainly be agreeable to join in group meetups, for a different quality and depth of conversation we should make sure we have some one-on-one meetups in that schedule.

Do you make a practice of meeting up regularly with friends and colleagues, just to keep in touch, as distinct from talking about your business?

Image credit: Coffee Time, by Roger Price, antwerpenR on Flickr, CC BY 2.0

About Des Walsh

I show business owners and other professionals how to navigate the social media maze and use LinkedIn effectively. I'm an author, speaker, business coach, social media strategist and LinkedIn specialist. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Google Plus and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get my weekly Social Business Bites.

Comments

  1. Ina Stanley says:

    I do make time to meet up with friends and fellow entrepreneurs just to catch up and hang out. I find that it can be more effective for getting a conversation started about your business than actually going to a meeting for the purpose of pitching yourself. People tend to automatically put up a defensive barrier when they know you’re going to be discussing business with them. But friends are relaxed and open to wherever the conversation takes them.

    I wouldn’t abuse that though. You can easily turn friends off when all you talk about is business. Bring it up only when they ask you what you’re up to or they mention that they’re researching something similar or thinking of trying a similar product or service.

    • Yes, Ina, authenticity is the key. Most of us have probably been “trapped” enough to be able to quickly pick up whether the other person is genuinely interested in a conversation with us or just sees us with a dollar sign over our head.

      • Ina Stanley says:

        Oh yes, I’ve had that happen enough times and am ashamed to say that I probably did it in my early days. It was a learning experience though. These days I find that I don’t have to do much convincing or pitching at all to be successful and that I can be much more relaxed in meetings as a result. That’s probably due in part to what it is I sell…it’s something every person can benefit from and they either need it or don’t. I leave the sales, pitching and convincing to the tools I created to do so (like my website, videos etc.) and I save interaction for building relationships. When I do things that way, I have a WHOLE lot more success.

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