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How to Network With Your Friends for Professional Reasons

Creating a quality network can be a difficult thing. It’s not easy to keep up with your many contacts, offering them help, and hopefully getting helped out once in a while in return. Some of the easiest people to network with are those who you’re closer to: namely, your friends. Don’t upset the delicate balance between friendship and professionals by making mistakes that leave you both burned.

While friendships can offer valuable professional networking opportunities, it’s important to maintain a balance between your personal and professional relationships. Here’s how you can approach your friends for networking:


Understanding the Art of Networking

Networking is the process of building and nurturing relationships with others in your field or industry. It involves sharing information and resources to support each other’s career development and professional advancement. Networking is not about taking; it’s about fostering mutually beneficial relationships.

In the professional context, networking plays a crucial role in opening doors to new opportunities. Whether you’re seeking a new job, looking to learn about a new industry, or aiming to stay updated with industry trends, your network can provide the insights and connections you need.


Why Network with Friends

Friends can provide a unique perspective when it comes to networking. They already know you well, understand your strengths and weaknesses, and genuinely want you to succeed. This existing relationship can make networking feel more natural and less transactional.

Moreover, friends may work in different industries or companies that you wouldn’t typically have access to. Thus, they can introduce you to brand-new circles and opportunities that wouldn’t be available otherwise.

There are numerous success stories people who have successfully networked with friends for professional reasons.

For example, take Bill Gates and Paul Allen who were childhood friends before they co-founded Microsoft. Their friendship served as a strong foundation for their business partnership.

Another fantastic example is Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who became friends during their Ph.D. program at Stanford University before starting Google together.

I hope you can see how there is power in friendships and fostering successful professional partnerships without making it weird.


How to Approach Friends for Networking

It’s important to note that approaching friends for networking isn’t the same as chatting over coffee or catching up at a reunion. You need to strike a delicate balance between casual and professional interactions.

Start by casually mentioning your professional interests or ambitions in conversation. If they show interest or ask more questions, then delve deeper into the topic.

Remember to always be genuine and respectful when approaching friends for professional reasons. Make sure they don’t feel like you’re only interested in their professional connections or resources.


Strategies for Networking with Friends

1. Being Transparent:

Networking with friends for professional reasons requires a delicate balance of honesty and authenticity. It is important to be transparent about your intentions when reaching out to a friend for networking purposes. Let them know if you are interested in their industry or company, but ensure that the conversation feels genuine and not like a transaction. By phrasing your interests and queries in a respectful and considerate manner, you can build a strong foundation for a successful networking relationship with your friends.

2. Offering Reciprocal Benefits:

Networking should not be one-sided. It is important to remember that the best professional relationships are mutually beneficial. By offering support or insights that could benefit your friends professionally, you are not only strengthening your own network but also helping them advance in their careers. This can be as simple as introducing them to someone in your professional network who may be able to help them, sharing relevant resources or information that you come across, or offering your expertise in a certain area where they may need guidance. Remember, networking is about building meaningful connections and supporting each other’s growth and success.

3. Leveraging Social Media:

Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can be great tools for professional networking. Use these platforms to engage with your friends’ professional content by liking, commenting, or sharing their posts. Additionally, share your own insights on industry trends or relevant topics to showcase your expertise and interests. You can also initiate professional discussions with your friends by sending private messages or tagging them in relevant posts.

Remember to maintain a level of professionalism on these platforms without crossing any personal boundaries. Avoid sharing overly personal information or engaging in inappropriate conversations that could harm your professional reputation. Keep in mind that potential employers or clients may be viewing your activity on social media, so it’s important to present yourself in a positive and professional manner at all times.

4. Networking Events and Friends

Inviting friends to networking events can be another effective strategy for expanding your professional network. Not only does it help you feel more comfortable in these settings, but it also provides opportunities for your friends to make valuable connections. However, it’s important to approach this strategy with sensitivity and thoughtfulness. Make sure that your friends do not feel obligated or uncomfortable attending these events by clearly communicating the purpose and expectations beforehand. This way, everyone involved can benefit from the networking opportunity without any feelings of pressure or discomfort.


Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Going overboard

Sure, that one friend might have a lot of knowledge. Or they know a lot of people that you would LOVE to know. That doesn’t mean that you can or should constantly ask them to give that knowledge and connections to you. Continuously asking for help will quickly dry up your friendship, especially if you’re not going out of your way to help them in return.

If you’ve asked your friend for a favour within the last few weeks, then try and hold off. Damaging your relationship with them is probably worse than delaying whatever you need the knowledge or connection for. Be considerate of them and their time. They have their own lives, their own careers. Practice consideration by keeping those in mind.

All work, no play

When you do connect up with your friend, don’t charge right into what you want or need. It feels incredibly rude and demeaning to be asked to go out for coffee, and then find out that all the other person wants is what they can get. Spend some time reconnecting with your friend and enjoying being with them. You can and will ask that burning question eventually. Don’t sabotage your efforts – and potentially your friendship – by doing so too early. A key factor in networking with friends for professional reasons is knowing when to hold back and when to ask for a favour.

Stupid questions

There’s a saying that there are no stupid questions. However, there are some that definitely show some ignorance. If you haven’t worked with your friend in a professional way or had professional connections, then don’t ask them to be a reference. The only exception to this is if you became friends during university, a great place to start making professional connections. They don’t know if you really are a good employee, if you deliver on time, or if you would do well in a particular job. This puts them in a difficult place – having to say no to you. Don’t ask them to provide an irrelevant reference. Instead, ask for their help in other ways. They can look over your resume, let you bounce ideas off of them, and much more.

Being oblivious

If your friend feels uncomfortable about introducing you to a connection or—ahem—providing a reference, be sensitive to that. You don’t want them to do something they would feel uncomfortable doing, for whatever reason. It’s probably not personal. You don’t want to pressure them into compromising their career by helping you get ahead in yours. Be aware of subtle body language that can give you a hint, and be willing to give them an easy out so that they don’t feel like they’re offending you.


Your friends can be a great professional connection in your job hunt or even if you’re settled in your career, as it’s always important to keep networking in life. Treat that friendship right, as the valuable connection that it is, and you’ll never go wrong. Always practice reciprocity, and your friends will be thankful to have your friendship.


Final Words

Networking with friends for professional reasons can be a powerful strategy for career advancement. It allows you to tap into a wealth of resources and opportunities while maintaining meaningful relationships. Remember, the goal is to cultivate your friend networks with a professional mindset, without compromising the genuine friendship that exists.


Looking for your next professional opportunity? Allen Recruitment is an international overseas recruitment agency based in Ireland but with offices all over Europe, in Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, France, UK, Poland and Spain. We have a host of exciting opportunities in different industries including financial, tech and life sciences. Get in touch today to see how our expert consultants can help.


Posted in: Blog / Job Seeking Resources

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