Lesson 74: Choose your friends carefully

Published 3:25 pm Thursday, May 20, 2010

The size of the future you actually experience will largely be determined by one factor: the people you choose to connect with.

Dan Sullivan

Your mother always told you not to run around with a bad crowd. That concept takes on added depth and importance as an adult.

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In the professional world, people sometimes spend time networking: meeting and cultivating relationships with others in related professions or businesses. Networking is done at meetings or conferences, over lunch or dinner, or at social events. The idea is to build a network of friends that can help you along in your work and career. As they say, its not what you know; its who you know.

If networking sounds like a cynical process of making friends just so you can use them to get ahead, youre not the first person to reach that conclusion. And heres where it gets a little complicated.

At its crudest level, networking is indeed an exercise in you scratch my back, and Ill scratch yours. But as many networkers have discovered, networking doesnt work at its crudest level. Thats because real friendships are never based upon the selfish exchange of favors but upon genuine appreciation and affection for others.

A person who sets out to make friends just so they can be used for personal gain is likely to end up without any friends at all. People have an innate ability to recognize a false friend, and before long the poser finds himself on the outside looking in.

You already know that you have to be a friend in order to win a friend. If you greedily look upon friends as a source of favors, then youre not really a friend at all, so youre unlikely to get the favors you seek. But if you dont seek any favors, but instead demonstrate genuine care and support for others, then theyll recognize you as a friendand the favors will come your way, because thats what friends do for friends.

Now turn the situation around. It is absolutely true that the right friends can be a source of great help and support, and the wrong friends can hold you backnot just in your work but in every

aspect of life. You have the natural ability to discern the real friends from the posers. Dont maintain friendships with posers or negative people. Choose friends who are worthy of friendship, those who are genuine, positive, caring people. They will support your efforts to be your best and to achieve at the highest level. And they might even do you a favor or two along the way.

Excerpted from The Graduates Book of Practical Wisdom: 99 Lessons They Cant Teach in School by C. Andrew Millard, published by Morgan James Publishing, available in bookstores and online. &opy; 2008 by C. Andrew Millard; all rights reserved. For more information visit www.wisegraduate.com.