I have roughly three friends that I could call any time of the day or night in a genuine emergency and they’d help me. I don’t even hesitate to say this or think this about them. If I needed them, they would be here if it was humanly possible for them to do so.
I have about twenty more friends that I could call on for help in many circumstances and they’d be glad to assist me. If I needed to borrow something or needed a hand for an hour or two, I could call anyone on this list and they’d be at my doorstep if I needed them.
These are the people I can truly count on in my life. They provide constant value for me and all I have to give them in return is the same loyalty and friendship that they show. I get far more out of it than they do, from my perspective, but I know that they may feel the same way.
I have been friends with hundreds of people over the years. Some have been friends for a day or two – others for a year or two. They drift into and out of my life based on circumstance.
The best of those stick around on some deeper level. I keep in touch with them even if our lives go in different directions. We find little ways to keep in touch and help each other. I’ve had friends that I’ve not seen in years provide me with real help a few times, and I’ve been able to do the same. These friends also constantly help me with little things, like recommendations and suggestions.
A few of those people become even deeper friends. You stay in close contact with them through thick and thin. One of my closest friends in the world – probably my closest one sans my wife – has lived in several different places over the years. He happens to live about half an hour away from me now, but that wasn’t always the case. Through all of that, we’ve stayed in pretty close contact, witnessing the ups and downs of each other’s lives.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned from this.
The closest friends are truly worth their weight in gold. They provide companionship, support, friendship, and guidance over and over and over again throughout your life. Every little bit of time you invest in a friendship like this is worthwhile.
You are far better off with three or four lifelong friends that you can depend on than hundreds of “Facebook friends” who will drop you like a stone at the first opportunity.
That being said, acquaintances have value, too. It’s never a bad idea to put in at least a little effort to build a friendship with virtually anyone. Maybe you’ll click together and maybe you won’t, but it does not hurt to at least give it a shot. I’ll go to lunch with anyone a time or two.
To me, this is the whole point of “networking.” I’m simply trying to cast my net out with as many people as I can to meet those who might develop into a deeper friendship. The more people I meet and can spend a bit of time with, the more likely I am to find that smaller group I really connect with.
Not every connection is meant to be a deeper friendship, though. I might meet ten people and end up with a lasting friendship with only one of them. That’s fine. As long as I don’t leave a negative impression on the other nine people, the time spent with those ten people was worth it to cultivate the one lasting friendship.
The real lesson here is that you should never be afraid to try to connect with someone, but you should also never worry about them drifting right out of your life, either. The people that matter – the ones that provide something genuine for you (and you provide it for them) – will stick around, and you’ll stick around for the people that truly matter to you. Not every connection will grow like that.
A good, reliable friend is worth his or her weight in gold. It’s worth spending the time to find them and to build up that relationship, because the companionship, assistance, and reliability you provide for each other will add up to far more than each of you ever put into it.