What’s the difference between a friend and an associate? If you’re always meeting new people and networking, this question may be important to you. The difference can be between finding genuine connections and feeling disappointed.
In The Huffington Post, Gil Laroya tell his experience with finding out the hard way that his friend was just an associate. In “Are You My Friend or Associate?” He said he received a few friendly emails from an old co-worker. Although they was never friendly when they worked together he assumed these emails was changing that. He thought nothing of it when his new-found friend asked him to use his connections in getting a job interview. After helping his friend out, Laroya quickly learned that his friend was just an associate and even worst he was an associated with bad etiquette. “So I emailed him and learned that he had gotten the job. No update. No thanks. Nothing.” Laroya said.
So how can you make sure you don’t get the lines blurred between associates and friends? Laroya suggest the next time you go through your contacts ask yourself, “Is this person a friend or an associate?, and “Am I a friend or an associate to others?” That’s a good start, but you may also want to…
- Know your definition of friend and associate. Everyone has their own definition of friend. One that’s simple to remember is a friend is someone who takes the time to get to know you and care enough that they become a part of your world even when it does not benefit them. An associate is someone who associates with you because of circumstances but does not care to get to know you. FYI, people call associates friends all the time, it just sounds nicer than saying, “this is my associate.” Don’t get confused with the political correct way that your new associate introduces you.
- Know how to categorize people. When someone is new in your life they automatically go into the associate zone. Let people earn the word friend.
- All associates are not bad people. Associates are people in your life that may be able to help you down the line and that you maybe able to help. Where the waters get muddy is, when you assume that your associate wants more than a networking buddy and you are disappointed when they get what they want and move on.
- Get rid of your bad associates. Laroya had a perfect example of a bad associate. The person dropped a few friendly emails to get Laroya’s guard down. Once they successfully made him comfortable, they sent their request. They never followup with a thank you and what seem like genuine communication came to an abrupt stop. This a “no, no,” in networking. This person does not deserve associate status and should not be in your contact list.
- Choose your friends wisely. Nobody know you better than you about what you need in a friend. Hold those needs as standards for your friends and make sure that everyone don’t become a friend over night.
- Never do for someone what you can’t afford to do. No matter if you are doing some thing for a friend or an associate always do what you are comfortable doing.
The line between associate and friend can be blurry. People can get confused about their status with the people in their world. So what do you do to know if people are friends are just associates?