I’m a man who’s committed all the networking crimes. I was a part of an MLM (oh boy, I won’t start with my mistakes)I sent unsolicited Facebook messages to inquire strangers if they were interested in my email newsletter. I sent LinkedIn connection requests without sending a message.But I’ve seen the light. I recant the errors of my past.As I grow my businesses, I learned through trusting the wrong people that friends are better than connections. Friends create more long-term opportunities for a career or business. Friends help you when the chips are down. What I aim to show in this article is why I focus on friendship over “connection” and how it’s benefited me. Hopefully, it explains my madness for emailing my LinkedIn connections 3 to 4 times a year. Two people I look up to in the business space are Sol Orwell and Jayson Gaignard. Through their passive mentorship in podcasts and blogs, I learned that I don’t want to have millions of followers, but rather a few friends who trust me. Case StudyWhenever a company spends money to get in front of a crowd creates an opportunity for you. I recently attended APHA midyear Nashville 2018. Companies want you to know about them. They spend hundreds of thousands, if not millions if it’s pharma, to get in front of you. That provides an opportunity. At APHA, I sought to know people, to build relationships rather than connections who could give me opportunities. I thought about how I could help others rather than what I could get out of it.For this case study, I will focus on just my exhibit hall experience. I won’t share the countless individuals I met and developed friendships with over late nights and in between CE sessions.During the exhibition hall openings, I connected with multiple vendors. Typically I’d ask the representative about the company, their job, or about the local area. This time, I focused on getting to know the representative. I asked questions and found common ground. I found out personal things, but also what their dreams or aspirations were. It wasn’t difficult. I met with a few during breaks, ate together, and talked about more than just business. My efforts created the following opportunities:
- A trip to Scotland for an international conference
- A speaking opportunity in Chicago
- A State Association publication
- A long-term paid writing gig
None of these opportunities happened because I went straight for the ask. I created trust with each person. I care more about the person that what they can create for me. A friendship is immensely more valuable than a connection, on LinkedIn or otherwise.
Alex is the Founder of The Happy PharmD. He loves anime, his family, and video games, but not in that order.