Image by Sharon Schweitzer, Women & Their Work Art Museum, with Amber Gunst & Teresa Lautenheiser July 2021

We exist in a tough world and it seems to be growing tougher every year. We hear all too often about mistrust, malnutrition, malcontents, and misery. So, it’s a blessing to have the opportunity to celebrate an occasion such as International Day of Friendship on July 30.  This day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2011 and is celebrated globally every year. Friends are our lifelong companions; they may share common interests, life situations, and memories. Many become like family and sometimes the best friendships are the ones we least expect. In honor of International Friendship Day, we explore common friendship questions. How do we overcome the challenge of mixing friendship with business? How do we maintain long-distance friendships?

There is a big debate in the business world regarding having family and friends as business partners. Some say it is the best way to succeed in the business world. However, many others compare business partnerships to marriage. Is friendship strong enough to overcome the failures that naturally arise in the business world? Are you willing to risk a great friendship to start a business? Consider these factors:

  • Trust. With a friend and business partner, it is crucial. When deciding to start a joint venture together or join a working environment with a friend, trust your instincts.
  • Professionalism. Hire an attorney to prepare a written partnership or corporate agreement in the event the friendship evolves. Have an exit plan.
  • Profit. Running a business is about profit, even though it’s important to enjoy it with a passion. Don’t let it ruin the relationship you have with your business partner. Current experiences are always learning opportunities for the future.

Another common challenge is maintaining long-distance friendships. Education, employment, and military demands are just a few of the reasons people relocate geographically. Therefore, knowing how to maintain and cherish relationships is important. Consider these tips:

  • Virtual platforms. Research the options for staying in contact with friends and select the platform that is easiest for them. Some countries have national preferences or restrictions.
  • Social media platforms. Social media is an easy way to stay up to date with friends.
  • Schedule. Whether you are relocating or staying, set aside time in the schedule to chat. It is about demonstrating importance to your friendship.
  • Visits. If return travel is scheduled, allow time to reconnect with friends – a coffee, lunch, cocktail, or mocktail provides a pleasant opportunity.

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She is a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.

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