Beware of fake friends.
When I was chief human resource officer of a multi-billion dollar company, there were many people who wanted to meet with me, offer me favors and be my friend. Non-profit organizations wanted me to serve on their board. Vendors would invite me to sporting events with premium seats or suites.
I would like to believe I am such a great guy that people were naturally attracted to me. In reality, when you have a position of authority and influence, people with agendas want to disguise themselves as friends. They are looking for people with purchasing power or access to funding for their cause. Beware: these folks are likely fake friends.
Poof! They’re gone.
I have had a personal policy of not accepting invitations to lavish events. I might feel obligated when the fake friend decides to call-in a favor. After leaving the CHRO position with the multi-billion dollar company, I started my solo consulting business. What happened to those friends when I started my own small business? Poof! My fake friends were gone.
That is when those favors and invitations stopped. My phone stopped ringing. Lunch invitations were not as frequent. I was not being offered stuff by vendors. When you leave a position of influence and spending authority, your so-called friends quickly decide you are not important to their agenda.
Be realistic about business friendships.
My intention is not to be overly cynical. I have business friendships. I am simply a realist and cautious with whom I invest my time. Drawing upon my experience with the fakers, here are five observations about friendship in business.
Observations about Fake Business Friendships
#1 Did the friend show up when you moved up?
If the friend appeared on the scene when you landed that big promotion, it could be a sign you have a fake friend.
#2 Does your new friend have a product or service to sell?
If this product or service is related to your area of purchasing authority, you might have attracted a fake friend.
#3 Have you started receiving gifts from your new friend?
Gift giving is another sign you might have attracted a fake friend. Expensive items are very tempting. If you accept them, however, the fake friend may cloud your judgment when making an important purchasing decision.
#4 Is your new friend regularly complimenting you?
We all like to hear good things about ourselves. We crave appreciation. Workplace research has shown that people do not receive appreciation or approval for doing a good job. Fake friends know that compliments can help them get what they want.
#5 Does your friend introduce you to leaders in the community?
Who doesn’t want to be connected to the movers and shakers in the business community? People with connections and influence are especially hard to ignore. These connections can be game changers for your career and life. Just keep your eyes wide open; you are most likely being used because of your access to funding.
Do you have additional observations about fake business friends? I would love to read your comments.
Graphic Credit: Art of Street on Pinterest