Your future depends on your devoted dozen

You might have 100 Facebook friends, 250 LinkedIn connections and 500 Twitter followers, but when push comes to shove, your long-term success relies on the support of just 12 individuals.

People often talk about those pivotal crisis points in your professional and personal life when “you find out who your real friends are”.

When things are going well, everyone wants to offer their help and be your friend. But when the proverbial hits the fan, or your star power wanes, hangers-on drop like flies. For most people, sadly, your value lies in what you can do for them.

Just ask ousted politicians, retired CEOs or fading celebrities how quickly the lunch dates and opportunities dry up once the previously desired power, money and influence are gone.

When you filter out acquaintances, colleagues, clients, casual friends, distant relatives and online connections, you may be left with a dozen or so devoted allies – and that’s if you’re lucky. These are the unconditional relationships that really count.

These are the people in your life that would:

  • Refer you unreservedly with glowing praise
  • Let you crash at their place if you turned up unannounced
  • Give you another project even though you screwed up the last one
  • Introduce you to the exact people you need to know
  • Come and visit you in jail
  • Trust you with their children (maybe even their new car!)
  • Answer your call at 3am
  • Be your sounding board and offer life-changing advice
  • Lend you money

In the short-term hurly burly of business networking and getting ahead, it’s all too easy to lose perspective and forget about this inner circle, and how valuable they are to you.

Symptoms of an imbalance can be prioritising work over close friends, sacrificing your health for money, neglecting loyal customers in the pursuit of new ones, or being charming in client meetings and snapping at home. Unfortunately it’s sometimes the people we love the most that get the worst of us.

Don’t wait until you really need them: identify this core group of friends, family and mentors and nurture them every day. Each is worth more than a million “likes”.

Have you ever been let down by friends in business? Or, how has your devoted dozen saved your bacon? Tell all your friends in the comments.

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