One of my very best friends is an independent meeting planner who hires speakers for her clients. But I can’t remember the last time she hired me.

And it’s my fault.
Because of our friendship, I rarely talk business with her, provide talking points to help her sell me or help her defend my pricing to her clients.
In fact, what I’m hearing more and more from buyers is the sentiment that they can no longer work with “friends” and relationships built over cocktails, dinner and time, but that they must choose the business option they can best defend.
To be that option:
1. Woo everyone. When 3,000 unhappy couples were interviewed, they said the reason they were unhappy is that they stopped communicating. I assure you they talked about who would drop the kids at school and who would take the dog to the kennel. What they didn’t talk about was the important stuff… (from a business perspective)…what matters most to your success/happiness? How can I help you beyond what is happening now?
2. Provide your best offer. They have to explain their value to their stakeholders. Though they are likely to say, “I really believe in them. They’ll do an amazing job for us” it will be much effective if you can help them do their jobs best. Help them. Here is the value we will receive from them. The list should be long.
3. Be innovative. Provide fresh, new ideas to help people who will be satisfied with less, be better than they thought they could be. Elevate them with what you know.
4. Own the friendship, not the business relationship. Be clear in what is most important and make that clear. I will not starve if my friend never chooses to hire me. In fact, if she does, I’ll work so hard to ensure she is thrilled that I may have to neglect customers who hire me on a regular basis. Our friendship is way too important to me. I’d rather just be friends, forget the charade that we can work together, and serve someone else – delighting them in the process and just enjoying that second glass of wine with a good friend.

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