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Channel Matters Blog > March 2011 > The difference between friends and coworkers

The difference between friends and coworkers

by William Vanderbilt
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As a channel manager, I understand the value of having a solid relationship with my partners.  When built on a strong relationship, partnerships can produce positive results for both parties because each party will share information, express concerns and collaborate on important matters.  But I have come to appreciate that not all relationships are created equal!

As an example, I have very strong ties to some friends and family members; we discuss some rather confidential issues, enjoy time together, and do indeed, solve some problems together.  But most of those "friendship" relationships don't provide an outlet for me to comfortably talk about my business or my professional activities.  If one of my close friends asks, I will share information about work or perhaps even seek some advice, but to be honest, I just don't expect friendships to be my best source of professional advice.

In fact, when I need professional advice I often turn to professionals with whom I have an acquaintance, but probably wouldn't label a friend.  I do believe that it is important that I not dislike the professional acquaintances from whom I seek professional advice, but to be blunt, I am not concerned about how comfortable I would be just spending time with that person.  In fact, in some ways, I wouldn't want to share some business details with someone I classify as a "friend".  I just don't like mixing business and pleasure too much.

That's me.  And certainly there are other personalities and views out there that are different than mine.  I appreciate that.  But here's the thing... If I were a channel partner and a channel account manager assigned to my company tried to be my friend, I might be willing to go along with that. That is especially true if the channel manager was willing to buy me dinner, take me golfing and give me a few trinkets here and there.  I can be bought...a little! Laughing

But, to be honest, I would be much more willing to have a deep, professional conversation with a business minded channel manager who didn't irritate me, and who wasn't seemingly interested in being my friend first and business confident second.  My accountant is a nice guy...I guess.  I never spent time with him beyond the office.  When I visit him we talk briefly about family and life, but mostly, we talk business; and I trust him to take care of my accounting.  I don't want him being my "buddy" and then expect me to ask him to do my accounting work!

For far too long, the role of the channel manager has been seen by partners and vendors as a "buddy" or "friend".  Perhaps that works in some cases.  But I am confident that there is a need for channel managers who are friendly, but much more business minded than friendship focused.  I think some partners are desparate to find those kinds of channel managers because they are far too many "would-be friends".

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