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In previous write-ups, I've talked about the difference between personal friends and business friends. It pays to know which is which and treat them accordingly.
Personal friends can be casual or close. Everyone has both casual and close personal friends.
A business friend is a completely different animal. Business friends are the customers and clients you attract to your business. These people come to you for the product or service you provide, and they return again and again. You might never invite them to dinner at your home, but you make them feel welcome and relaxed in your dealings with them. You might never give them a birthday party, but they know that they can count on you to be there when they need you.
You and your business friends are in a mutually dependent relationship. It is symbiotic. Each contributes to the well-being of the other. Both parties get what they need.
Example: Elaine promotes her fashionable shop for women using social media. Once or twice each week, Elaine posts pictures of new designs and items in the shop. Twice each year, she mounts a live fashion show with models wearing the designs carried in the shop. Models mingle with the friends of this business showing off shoes, handbags, and accessories along with gowns and casual wear. Before and after the show, Elaine posts pictures on social media. In addition, she sends out invitations to private showings, and she sends a Thank You card to people following purchases. Elaine is careful through all this activity to position herself as the "go-to" adviser for clothing and accessories. Her business friends know that they can trust Elaine's advice and judgement when they have questions. Elaine's is not just a place to buy stuff. It is a resource for the business friends who represent the customer base.
To develop and grow your business friend base, concentrate on their interests, their concerns, their needs. Listen to your customers and clients, and they will show you the way forward. And then they will happily refer others to you.
Building your base of business friends takes attention, listening, transparency, honesty and going the extra mile. Social media is a convenient vehicle to make all this happen.