You can't understate the importance of relationships in business - especially sourcing, where it's all about cultural fit and working relationships. In business, it's not always about liking people, it's about being able to trust - and work - with them. Sometimes, you will actually grow to like someone, in addition to trusting them and working well with them - and that is special; but let's face it, it's quite rare.
In many cases, people you like are not always people you're going to work well with - and vice-versa. You may not have any affinity or liking for someone at all, but you are straight with other in a working scenario, and have an effective working relationship. You can always develop a professional respect for someone - and that is different from developing a personal relationship.
If there's one thing that irks me, it's those people who only bother to talk to you when they need something, but paint a facade that they're one of your real "friends". I like to create a distinction between someone who is a genuine friend, and someone who is a colleague / industry contact. It's like when you change jobs - you are often surprised by whom was really a friend, versus who was merely toadying up to you, to get you to do things for them...
My real industry colleagues are those folks who I have learned to work with over the years, in various capacities. In some cases, I didn't (immediately) like them much on a personal level - and they probably didn't like me either, but we learned to function together and create a collaborative working relationship. And now, I know I can call on many of these folks for favors - and they me. And we can even enjoy a pint or two together these days.
And those folks who come crawling out of the woodwork every few years just because they want something under the guise of "friendship"? Give me a break...
So what can you take from this? Simply-put, developing professional respect for someone can form the start of a career-long relationship. In today's economy, having workable, trusting professional associations with people, who know your business value and credentials, is a lot more valuable that having random shallow friendships based on self-interest.
Posted in: HR Strategy