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<span class="lite_member_name">Howard Howell</span>
Howard Howell
Internet Sales Consultant
Seattle, Washington
Greatly helpful
out of 10
48 votes

How many friends do you need to succeed in business?

People prefer doing business with their friends. This is a real success principle. So, how many friends do you need?

Written Jan 05, 2008, read 5177 times since then.


Business Networking is a success principle that consists of working with others until you become friends. This is the real secret of biz networking. So, how many friends do you need?

If you have a lot of friends, you’ll have a lot of business. You’ll be able to get anything you need. Let’s face it – When you need something and don’t already know how to get it, you call a friend. That friend can either provide you with what you need or refer you to someone else that can. When I served in the military, everybody’s best friend was the Supply-Sergeant. He could get you anything you needed, IF you were his friend.

Therefore, if you want more business, get more friends. Preferably, you need friends who need what you have to offer, or can introduce you to others that do. This is the purpose of biz networking. Until others see you as their friend, you’re still working at it, not yet succeeding.

The heart of biz networking is turning connections into friends. It was Zig Ziglar who said: “You can get everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want”. A key to making friends is to give first; help others get what they need or want. Another key is to actually connect with your connections.

You “connect” by getting to know others through asking, listening, and discovering what they need and how you can help them get it. You can’t connect just by exchanging business cards or linking on-line. Make it a part of your regular working schedule to interact with new and existing contacts by phone, email, and in person. Leverage your “connects” by actively participating in events that bring you together in a manner to spend a little one-on-one time with each person and have a meaningful conversation.

A meaningful conversation includes sharing your feelings, aspirations, and what you have to offer, not “pitching” yourself. It is important to listen more than you speak while “being there for your friend” to offer help, support, and assistance when needed. It is a real commitment. “A friend in need is a friend indeed” contains a lot of wisdom. Find their need and help them fill it. Connects like these build stronger and long-lasting friendships.

Every friendship has to begin at a “moment” in time. When you or someone takes the initiative to request that “moment”, however expressed, (maybe it’s a request for an on-line link) your ability to respond (Response-Ability) determines the potential or lost opportunity to connect with a future associate, benefactor, or friend. You never know where each new encounter may lead. Don’t forget to be “nice” to everyone and welcome new connections.

If you schedule opportunities for new encounters as part of your marketing plan, you will create new “moments” that will serve to build your network of friends. Oh yeah. And, keep a little black book or contact database so you can re-connect regularly. Don’t lose touch. Ping often.

No one is too busy to have a new friend. So, how many friends do you need? Depends on how much you desire to succeed. The answer probably is: you can never have too many friends.

Learn more about the author, Howard Howell.

Comment on this article

  • Cosmetic Gynecologist 
Bellevue, Washington 
Karen Hamilton MD
    Posted by Karen Hamilton MD, Bellevue, Washington | Jan 06, 2008

    Howard, This is full of wisdom and and good practical advice for us new biz owners out here. Thank you.

  • Chief Executive Officer 
Federal Way, Washington 
Richard Whitaker
    Posted by Richard Whitaker, Federal Way, Washington | Jan 08, 2008

    Thanks Howard, if a person followed your advice they would be successful in whatever business they were in.

  • . 
., Alabama 
. .
    Posted by . ., ., Alabama | Jan 09, 2008

    This article is insightful and shows that your years of business acumen have led to wisdom worth sharing.

    I look forward to working with you and finding out more about your suggestions for our business.

  • Keynote Speaker, Event Facilitator and Trainer 
Seattle, Washington 
Leif Hansen
    Posted by Leif Hansen, Seattle, Washington | Jan 09, 2008

    Thanks Howard, I enjoyed this article as well. My only problem/critique is that the headline led me to think you'd be talking about a problem that I've had....Which is this: the more people I network with, the more I find it difficult to keep up with, go deeper with, etc. I guess it's a feeling of being spread thin. Wonder if you have any thoughts on that one (its come up with bizniks before). Cheers, Leif

  • Filmmaker 
Seattle, Washington 
Dan McComb
    Posted by Dan McComb, Seattle, Washington | Jan 11, 2008

    Leif, Malcolm Gladwell outlines "the power of weak ties" in his book, "The Tipping Point." He points out that the "connectors" and "mavens" among us are people who are super networkers, and use weak connections extremely effectively. This is actually what social networking theory is based on. Here's the relevant citation from the wikipedia entry on weak ties:

    "In 1973, stimulated by the work of Rapoport, the American sociologist Mark Granovetter's published The Strength of the Weak Ties. This is recognized as one of the most influential sociology papers ever written.[2] In the late 1960s, a series of lectures by Harvard social network theorist Harrison White had exposed Granovetter to the concept of social networks. To obtain data for his doctoral thesis, Granovetter interviewed dozens of people to find out how networks are used to land new jobs. Granovetter found that most jobs were found through "weak" acquaintances. This pattern reminded Granovetter of his freshman chemistry lesson that demonstrated how "weak" hydrogen bonds hold huge water molecules together, which are themselves held together by "strong" covalent bonds."

    My point is that, while most of us may end up feeling spread too thin when we have many connections, business networks like Biznik that use social networking technology can help us keep track of more of those connections than we might otherwise be able to, and thus enable us to tap the real power of weak connections.

    Now, if I could just take Howard's brain, and figure out how to turn that into a social networking technology product ...

  • Internet Sales Consultant 
Seattle, Washington 
Howard Howell
    Posted by Howard Howell, Seattle, Washington | Jan 12, 2008

    Leif... Thank you for your comment. I wake up every morning and also feel overwhelmed at the number of contacts in my database that I would like to expand my relationship with. BTW, I don't add someone to my personal contact database that I havn't had at least one meaningful conversation or connection with. But, like you, I find it difficult to re-connect as often as I would like.

    This is how I deal with it... At this moment, I have 5,883 contacts in my personal database. Each of them had previous entries that require re-connects at intervals of a couple of days, a week, a month, a quarter, a year, or 2 years based on my specific rating for them and the subject matter of the previous contact. My program displays a running daily total of re-connects due and those compleated along with new contacts added.

    Through-out each workday I measure my performance against my posted goals by simply observing the running totals. I make most of my re-connects via phone during my freeway drive time from a list that I have printed prior to leaving my office each day and then enter results on return.

    Now, all of this regime has developed over many years of field sales work. I can say from experience that it is very difficult to maintain the self-discipline to do this, but I have come to believe that to succeed in any worthy endeavor, you must be willing to do what most people will not.

    Thanks Dan for the "weak ties" element. I have learned that many of my best sales have come from the most "infrequent" re-connect. It has really amazed me how some of my "only once a year" follow-ups have led to new sales at a time I really needed them. I give all the credit to my trusty contact database program.

    I might also add, that biznik has facilitated a much higher degree of new contacts than I ever had before. If I could just integrate my contact database program as a biznik tool, I would be in heaven.

    Leif... I hope this comes close to an answer to your concern of "feeling spread thin". This is just how one old man handles it. Try to imagine how we did it without the PC, email, and cell phones. That's another subject....


  • Food Service Consultant 
Shoreline, Washington 
Stephen Walter
    Posted by Stephen Walter, Shoreline, Washington | Jan 16, 2008

    Really good stuff, Howard. I always enjoy fresh ideas to the ever challenging business of sales.

    Thanks for sharing your "Pearls of Wisdom"

  • Technical Writer, Software Trainer 
Seattle, Washington 
Suzanne Melton
    Posted by Suzanne Melton, Seattle, Washington | Jan 16, 2008

    I've learned this almost every week since I joined Biznik -- I just returned from one of Howard's networking events where I met either four new "friends" or four new "weak links" (TBD) and in half an hour I leave to have coffee with another new "friend" or "weak link" that I met at Andrew and Justin's event just last week.

  • Bowenwork, MLT (manual ligament therapy), I-AM (Integral-Awareness Modality), Mind-Body-Being integration, bodywork, massage therapy 
Seattle, Washington 
Michelle Basey
    Posted by Michelle Basey, Seattle, Washington | Jan 18, 2008

    What a fabulous article!

    And what I love most about it, is that you live it. It's not just words on a page, you live it, and you are living proof that networking IS important and that it is far more than small-talk and passing around business cards, it's about the human factor, and helping other succeed.

    How beautiful a world is that!

  • Web Site Marketing Coach 
Seattle, Washington 
Cathy Goodwin
    Posted by Cathy Goodwin, Seattle, Washington | Jan 18, 2008

    Howard knows how to walk the talk so this article deserves support.

  • Printed Envelopes 
Seattle, Washington 
Sharon Howell
    Posted by Sharon Howell, Seattle, Washington | Jan 20, 2008

    It may not be fair that I comment on Howard's article because I am his wife. But I think I can be impartial. Howard has always been great with networking situations, so he speaks from experience. Good job Howard. You hit the nail on the head.

  • local search optimization, author, editor, publisher 
Bainbridge Island, Washington 
Shannon Evans
    Posted by Shannon Evans, Bainbridge Island, Washington | Jan 22, 2008

    Howard, a man (or in my case a woman) is only as rich as the friends she keeps. I feel vastly wealthy knowing you are among that group I keep. Your comments further support my belief that each of us has much to offer each other...starting with our ears, then our hearts, and then our hands. You were dead on with this article.

  • Chiropractor 
Seattle, Washington 
Dr. Justin Favreau
    Posted by Dr. Justin Favreau, Seattle, Washington | Jan 23, 2008

    Howard, You are a well of business knowledge and I thank you for your article and frequent events.

  • Consultant Hedge Fund Accounting 
Seattle, Washington 
Justin Baker
    Posted by Justin Baker, Seattle, Washington | Jan 23, 2008

    Howard is full of insights and inspiration! I mean i love sitting on the phone or even in person with this amazing biz coach! his experience firmly establishes his credibility in my eyes. when coupled with the sheer force of his personality and wit one cannot help but walk away with more after listening to his sage advice. i highly recommend this article as an example his vast knowledge of business networking.:)

  • Consultant Hedge Fund Accounting 
Seattle, Washington 
Justin Baker
    Posted by Justin Baker, Seattle, Washington | Jan 25, 2008

    OMG..just had a what if you could export your network into your desktop/mobile device?almost like you can export your address books from one email company to another..Ning has a feature where you can import all your contacts and send out an invite to them all..perhaps Biznik should make it possible to import and export contacts..:) that type of functionality alone could almost sustain a whole different level of supporting membership.:)

  • Photostylist 
Seattle, Washington 
Joanne Rice
    Posted by Joanne Rice, Seattle, Washington | Jan 31, 2008

    Great article- and I learned even more from the comments afterward. No sign of the famous "Seattle Freeze" on Biznik.

  • Estate Sales Liquidator & Appraisal Seattle King County Bellevue 
Mercer Island, Washington 
cathye carnes
    Posted by cathye carnes, Mercer Island, Washington | Feb 06, 2008

    Thank you Howard for all you do. It is amazing to me your insight and thoughtfulness. I wish you many a success!

  • Singer/Poet/Artisan/Producer          Business Developer      
Carnation, Washington 
Jane Bakken
    Posted by Jane Bakken, Carnation, Washington | Mar 04, 2008

    Excellent ~ concise, accurate and right on the money!

  • Seattle Business Coach / Seattle Leadership Coach / Executive Coach / Author / Speaker 
Seattle, Washington 
Hsuan-Hua Chang, PCC, LMBA
    Posted by Hsuan-Hua Chang, PCC, LMBA, Seattle, Washington | May 06, 2008

    Thank you for making this article as a homework for your lunch networking today. I didn't know the article existed. :)

    This article reminded me the book "25 Ways to Win with People" by John Maxwell. I like the book.

    I enjoy reading your article. Thanks for sharing.

  • Software 
Bellevue, Washington 
Kumar Kumar
    Posted by Kumar Kumar, Bellevue, Washington | Jul 17, 2008

    Howard, I am genuinely impressed. Very true about welcoming new connections always. After all the name of the game is "Networking" :)

  • Writer (TV/film concepts) 
Akron, Ohio 
Alma Gray
    Posted by Alma Gray, Akron, Ohio | Aug 01, 2008

    You are a good egg.

    Thanks for being genuine.

  • Wellness Evangelist 
Kirkland, Washington 
Toni Best
    Posted by Toni Best, Kirkland, Washington | Aug 28, 2008

    This is an excellent article Howard. The simplicity of connecting to and being nice to people seems to get lost in our current world of fabulous technology at times. Thanks for the reminder, and thanks to Biznik for linking technology and people-connecting together!

  • Personal Trainer for Hair 
Seattle, Washington 
Dawn Renee Mallory
    Posted by Dawn Renee Mallory, Seattle, Washington | Sep 10, 2008

    Tell me about that software, Howard! I love the sounds of it... d

  • WordPress Web Design & Development 
Seattle, Washington 
Ritama Haaga
    Posted by Ritama Haaga, Seattle, Washington | Nov 21, 2008

    Hey, this is a really good article!

    I went to your Shameless Bragging in Bellingham and you helped me understand the model for Social Networking much better. You talked about the "weak link" concept and how you are more likely to get business from a friend of a friend than from the actual friend (or network connection).

    Like many "free-lancers", I get a lot of my work via referrals. Often when I ask a new client how they heard of me, they'll mention someone that I don't even know, only to find out later it's a friend of a friend, or of a business acquaintance.

    The "weak link" concept is so true - I just didn't know that's what it was called, and that I am one too!

    I always ask friends for references - and if I call a professional to help me do something and they can't, I ask them if they know someone who can.

    Apparently that TV show called the "Weakest Link" had it all wrong, these links seem to be pretty strong :-)

    I so enjoy meeting people thru Biznik, I am continually impressed with the quality and sincerity of those I come in contact with.

  • Instructor/Trainer 
Seattle, Washington 
Rolland Lawrenz
    Posted by Rolland Lawrenz, Seattle, Washington | Jan 01, 2009

    Awesome wisdom and advice!

  • Graphic Designer 
Pueblo West, Colorado 
Lisa Hodanish
    Posted by Lisa Hodanish, Pueblo West, Colorado | Jan 15, 2009

    Hi Howard,

    Like Dawn, I am also interested in knowing what contact database program you use. Right now I'm experimenting with highrise.

    Thank you for your article as I have been reading up on the power of online networking.

    I'm a home based business owner and I'm new with Biznik. I recently updated my profile and I'm slowly building my network.

    I also recently started a profile on facebook and I'm finding out very quickly how networking with these sites are so important to build contacts. You never know who knows someone else that you can help or they can help you.

    Also, if you have suggestions on how much time you should spend on your online networking that would be great. My business is actually part-time. I'm finding out that I'm spending too much time on it. It sort of sucks you in but it's exciting when someone adds you to their network.

    Thanks again, Lisa

    It's more affordable than you might think.

  • Internet Sales Consultant 
Seattle, Washington 
Howard Howell
    Posted by Howard Howell, Seattle, Washington | Jan 15, 2009

    Lisa... RE: my contact database program is not a commercially available product. At one time, I was a database software developer and I wrote it myself after frustrations with what the market provided.

    I have no experience with the current crop of contact managers but I'm sure there are some good ones available.

    I'm also moving into more online networking and sharing ideas with other entrepreneurs through a new regular weekly tele-conference.

    If you are interested in connecting with me, please check out my links here.

    Maybe we could address your question during an upcoming Online BizChatz. Send me a message if you want to pose it for discussion. I am recording these events for playback to those who can't attend. Each person that asks a question for the topic receives online visibility.

    Thanks for commenting and connecting. ...Howard

  • Graphic Designer 
Covington/Kent/Maple Valley, Washington 
Julie Collinge
    Posted by Julie Collinge, Covington/Kent/Maple Valley, Washington | Jan 21, 2009

    Howard, thank you for my first Biznik experience! I'm so glad I chose your workshop for my first one. You are a great introduction to Biznik.

    Your article rings can never have to many friends!

    Julie Collinge -Prosimian Design

  • Professional Development Coach, Business Consultant & Motivational Speaker 
Seattle, Washington 
Lisa Bradley, CPC
    Posted by Lisa Bradley, CPC, Seattle, Washington | Jan 27, 2009


    Great article. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and what networking really is. It is about creating relationships and a community that supports each other.

    And... I love what you said in your comment to Leif, "I have come to believe that to succeed in any worthy endeavor, you must be willing to do what most people will not." That is so true.

    Thanks! Lisa

  • CPA, Accountant 
Irvine, California 
Shaun Lawrence
    Posted by Shaun Lawrence, Irvine, California | Oct 29, 2009

    Very great article on networking and what it really means. People you can trust will send you the most referrals and these are generally your friends. Thanks for your experienced insight.

  • Hotel Operator, business developer, designer, environmental consultant 
Spring Green, Wisconsin 
Carolina Dursina
    Posted by Carolina Dursina, Spring Green, Wisconsin | Dec 18, 2009

    Great article, lot of insightful info; we are should be surrounded by people with knowledge and it will be great to call them friends; but there are different kinds of friends out there...and some don't want you to succeed - but they call themselves your "friends"

    Thank you for the post!

  • award-winning photographer | videographer for business | sustainable industries | positive change 
Seattle, Washington 
Jed Share
    Posted by Jed Share, Seattle, Washington | Dec 31, 2009

    A simple, powerful message. So clear and something we all can do to make this world a kinder place AND a place to succeed. Thank you.