A Friend Indeed: The Changing Social Contract

Recently, a good friend and professional for whom I have high regard, George Tomko, wrote a compelling blog entitled “A Friend in Need, is a Friend Indeed” (http://www.ciorant.net/?p=226).  In it he discussed the changing nature of the work environment and what this meant for relationships—between companies and employees and within professional circles.  Especially as more people continue to be downsized (is that the current term being used?), the depth of connections takes on a bigger role. 

The reality is that the social contract between employee and employer has been shifting for years.  Whether we like it or not, it isn’t going to go back to the good ‘ole days.  People hoping to secure a job for a longer term need to improve skill sets, be visible, and really add value to their organization.  The rise of corporate mediocrity is less able to be the case these days.

In the words of Martha Stewart, “This is a good thing.”  Now the search for and pool of talent extends well beyond the traditional corporate environment, and includes people who are constantly looking for ways to improve themselves, increase efficiencies at the companies they work for or clients they serve.  They will be the real winners.  Performance measurements include more than being seen at the office. The shape of employment has forever been altered.

That means that all professionals need to be connected—in a genuine way.  I like to say that it needs to be without an agenda. In other words, do it because you know these “friends,” “connections,” and “followers” are truly people who trust you and who you trust in return, and for whom you would be willing to extend yourself.  Knowing who these people are is particularly important, regardless of whether you are experiencing trying times or not.  The quality of your network matters more now than ever before.  Keith Ferrazzi’s book “Who’s Got Your Back” offers a wonderful take on this.

In an age of transparency, it is so obvious when someone builds up their network quickly, at an almost feverish pace, that they are friending you because they want something.  While I am more than willing to help those I respect and trust, I admit to a greater willingness to go out of my way for those people who connected with me because of a mutual desire to remain in contact.  The relationships tend to be deeper, based not on quid pro quo or desperation, but on a desire to assist and offer sound advice whenever, wherever and however it is needed.  A true friend indeed.

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2 Responses to “A Friend Indeed: The Changing Social Contract”

  1. Tom Frederick Says:

    David, This is a great subject. The hard part is moving from having very few connections to starting a genuine network of friends and it really be genuine.

    Some people are far more attuned to how a peer can impact their job, future, life than others. Some just do their work, make friends and don’t really think of it past that. It’s just honest friendship. But others are accutely aware of how anyone and everyone could potentially impact their life, job, career, etc..

    I’ve been in sales for over 25 years and you certainly see people put their guard up once they know you’re in sales. There is almost an assumption that there MUST be a hidden agenda and the question will come any minute about “could you maybe introduce me to…” . So it would seem to be that for salespeople there should be an extra effort to have the kind of relationships based on doing a lot of listening with NO effort to find out the WIIFM and every effort to figure out how you might be able to help the other person.

    But also except that niether may work out and you may just find a good friend to bounce ideas off, share the challenges of work, etc.

    Is this on track with your intention of the article?

  2. vsteinberg Says:


    Beginning with the question at the end, yes, that was one of the intentions. Genuine relationships that can fully develop depth and longevity, are always based on how you can help the other person.

    In the current economy, especially, people are holding out their hands too often, without any regard to the strength of the relationship. And that’s a problem that is haunting many folks. Regardless of your network size, if it’s more shallow, it’s not going to help much.

    Perhaps some truth to your comment about how others see salespeople, but we prefer to approach it as a buying process. What value you bring and the trust and credibilty someone has in you makes a relationship mutually beneficial, not a quid pro quo.

    Thanks for your comment. And, btw, I intend to write another blog discussing the types of connections/friends you have in your network, so keep your eye out.


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