Can friends be clients?

I don’t know about you but in my twenty something years of work I have met hundreds of people, some have become friends.  Some have become very good friends, friends I have known for many many years, friends who have been there for me when I need them.  However their very friend nature now stops them from being clients, so how do I maintain the friendship but also get them and their organisations to spend money when I know I can help. I will pick on one of them.  Sorry Paul, but you’re it! Paul is a director at a global IT Outsourcing business, we met some fifteen or so years ago in a similar global IT outsourcing business and have remained friends ever since.  But Paul struggles with me as a recruiter.  That sounds wrong, it’s not the recruitment part that challenges him more that as a friend we would be having a commercial conversation and that in some way would compromise him and me?

This isn’t some behind the scenes deal, naturally there would be a commercial agreement in place protecting both of us. What it really comes down to is that he cannot disconnect the friend part (better looking, ability to out drink him etc etc.) with the very commercial recruitment professional that I have become.  What I think he forgets is that if I do a bad job I won’t get paid, more importantly if did a bad job then I wouldn’t get more business from him and his organisation and most of all he is my friend and I don’t want to let him down (or any client for that matter, but you know what I mean).

So how to bridge that gap?

Actually for all my talk i’ve not got the answer to that one.  I have tried over the years by gentle nudging, making sure he knows what I do, how I do it, who I do it for but ultimately I think he stills sees the cocky 20 something manager I used to be rather than the people consultant I have become.

So does business and in particular recruitment mix with friends?

Answers on a postcard please?

If you liked this blog (The Human Face of Recruitment) then you can vote for it at the UK Recruiter blog of 2009 competition at

To talk more about this or any other people related topic contact Martin Dangerfield either on 0161 955 3647 or email  As well as being a Regional Director for the IRP Martin is Director of the innovative search business mckinley|resource, a freelance people consultant specialising in talent attraction, assessment and recruitment and a provider of business coaching for high growth entrepreneurial organisations.

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