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Published:October 29th, 2007 00:17 EST

We Learn from our Friends

By Joel G. Block (Mentor/Columnist)

For those of you who have kids, how often do you talk to them about the kinds of friends they make? You tell them to stay away from the kids who do drugs or cause trouble because if they become friends with bad kids, they`re likely to get in trouble, too. Instead, you encourage them to make friends with good kids. If they do that, you know that they`re more likely to act like good kids.

But how many of you apply this same principle in your business affairs? Do you choose successful business people as friends? Do you choose wealthy business people as friends? People who have great expertise in a variety of different areas of business?

If not, then you need to think about this.

I do a great deal of business networking. My networking isn`t generic in nature " it`s strategic. All of the people with whom I spend time in my business environment are people who are from the financial arena. Accountants, attorneys, bankers, lenders, investment bankers and certain kinds of turnaround professionals or other consultants who are instrumental in dealing with the financial affairs of companies. What do I get from networking with these people? For one thing, I get to see companies that are in need of the type of pre-turnaround and growth-initiative work with which I frequently get involved. Moreover, by hanging with these professionals, I have learned the secrets of their professions and have gained insights into the inner workings of the money business in the United States and throughout the world.

You should take every opportunity to spend time with wealthy and successful people. People send their children to certain schools so they will spend time in the "in" crowd. They send their kids to universities so they can get involved in their alumni associations, assuring them connections, career opportunities and jobs that they might not otherwise have if they`d gone to less-well-regarded institutions. Similarly, you, too, have to find a way to network up beyond the place where you are now.

Sometimes that means being more aggressive than you find comfortable. It might also mean enrolling in a program that`s being taught by someone who you believe holds the keys to the networking and business opportunities that you seek " much like sending a child to university. If you enroll in a business program, a mentorship program or some form of learning, planning or advisory service contract, you`re likely to get the benefits of the network, the knowledge, the contacts and the friends who that particular business leader brings to the table.

So, as you are working hard every day to build your company, or as you`re building your career, be conscious of the people with whom you spend your time. Are they successful? Are they in a place where you would like to go, business-wise or career-wise? Remember: you will become a lot like the company that you keep.

About Joel G. Block, President of Growth-Logic, Inc.

Often dubbed a "Growth Architect" by his clients, Joel Block advises companies on explosive growth strategies by driving revenue and sales. Well known in the capital markets, Joel is a successful entrepreneur, speaker and advisor. To bring Joel into your company, please visit www.joelblock.com or www.growth-logic.com.