Friendship versus Business Relationships
To understand the essence of business networking, consider the famous quote by author and businessman Mark McCormack: “All things being equal, people will do business with a friend. All things being unequal, people will still do business with a friend.”
With the changed marketplace, I actually don't think this quote has as much merit today as it did in the 1980s when McCormack first said it. (I hear the shrieking of business traditionalists everywhere.) As we've seen in the last few years, and will likely see in 2012 and beyond, accountability is crucial. Gone are the days of signing a contract solely out of loyalty. In the good old days, people would pay more or avoid looking at competitors' quotes just because they liked you. Today you'd lose your job or go broke if you ran a business that way.
Nowadays substance is a requirement. Being someone's buddy isn't enough to get and keep a contract. If you do get in the door based on a friendship or a favor, expect to deliver to a higher standard.
Most networking books teach that people need to know you, like you, and trust you to do business. I take it a step further. Prospects need to like you, trust you, and believe you're competent. My phrasing drops the “know you” because that's implied.
To make McCormack's quote relevant today, I would adjust it to say, “All things being equal, people will open the door for a friend. All things being unequal, you'll put your buddy in the awkward ...