Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How good a friend are you?

By Bill Starr, CEO
I spend a great deal of time reviewing articles and qualifying the value of a friend or follower on Facebook and Twitter. And it seems to me the definition of friendship has taken on new meaning in this digitally connected age.

In my experience, I can identify three distinct groups of friends based on the type of activities we do and the depth of engagement we create together. All of this is supported by the way we communicate with each other.

Acquaintance or Colleague (200 to 500 people)
At one point, we may have shared a common activity, occupation or interest. We went to the same school, we worked at the same place, we took a course together. These friends form part of our wider network and typically we communicate via social media. For a business acquaintance, we will engage on Linked In and for a personal acquaintance, we may engage on Facebook. The depth of engagement is minimal and these are easy friendships to maintain. In our experience, 1 in 10 people will support you if you ask a direct favor and only if they are not busy and believe in your cause. Their participation is 100 percent optional.

Good Mate (25 to 50 people)
At one point, you may have lived in the same city or neighborhood, perhaps you were best friends, but due to distance may have grown apart. While initially you met as an acquaintance, with time you developed a deeper friendship by sharing more experiences or time together. These are the people we fondly think of when we recall our past. We invite them to our weddings and we try to connect when we can. When we meet, it is as if no time has passed at all. We typically communicate via email but in some cases may share a note on social media. The depth of engagement is based on circumstance, and although they’re not present all the time, these friends rally when asked. They can champion you when need be and can be very helpful in sharing information and advice. In our experience, 1 in 2 will support you if you ask a direct favor. Not considered optional to support but sometimes due to time and other commitments may not be able to participate.

Best Friend or Life Partner (5 to 10)
When you have amazing news or when things feel a little out of control, these are the friends we call. They comprise our inner circle, the people most present in our lives who provide both practical and emotional support, especially when it comes to our major life goals, challenges and achievements. When you ask a favor, they respond with their tool box and will do whatever they can do to help. These are the friends we ask to stand beside us in our lives. We share our deepest desires, hopes and dreams. We typically communicate via phone but will use whatever medium we can to stay present in each other’s lives. Nothing is optional with these friends and we feel the same way about them as they do about us.

For many of us, it is easy to identify who in your life falls into each category of friendship. The question is: Are the people we communicate with more of an acquaintance or a good mate? Has the form of communication you use impacted the depth of your relationship? How we communicate matters and how we share matters. So take charge of your relationships. Why not send an acquaintance an email and become good mates or even better, pick up the phone and call a good mate and make them a best friend. You will be surprised how the form of communication impacts the depth of your relationship.

Bill Starr is an avid life lister and a founding partner and CEO of My Life List™ (, the premiere social network for goal achievers.

1 comment:

DilbertGirl said...

First of, I apologize that I just now am reading the MLL blog! I saw this and it reminded me of the exchange you and I had on MLL about the topic of how MLL is different than FB.

Are the people we communicate with more of an acquaintance or a good mate? I have to say that because of FB, these peeps oscilate between acquaintance and good mate. What was once an acquaintance has maybe turned into a good mate because of Facebook.

Has the form of communication you use impacted the depth of your relationship? Most definitely.

I have also found that when life changes, so do your friends. Before we became parents, our friend group was larger array of folks. For lack of knowing if people didn't know when would be a good time to call (for fear of waking a baby) or if we would even be interested in getting together and then maybe with too much time passing, there have been at least 3 couple casualties in our friendly circle.

We are hoping to add to the circle once the children get involved with school, until then our circle of about 3 couples that are better than good mates keep us plenty busy.