When we first start out in Real Estate, or pretty much any other "sales" type of endeavor for that matter, one of the places we are all told to go forth and mine for business is our "sphere of influence". That loosely translates to your friends, co-workers, family and basically any other poor slob who happens to have had the misfortune of having given you an email address or phone number in the last 10 years. And, most of us do just that, we gleefully set off with our shiny new license (or in my case my folded, spindled and mutilated one courtesy of the U.S. Post Office :-) safely ensconced in our broker;s drawer and we bombarded these folks with email, snail mail and any other contact form we can drum up to "let them know we're in the Real Estate business".
And, while I am fully in support of telling everyone and their pet dog that you are henceforth a bonafide Realtor and are thus ready, willing and able to handle all of their needs both great and small, I also am of the opinion that the very place we are told to plant our garden may be the worst place to hope to be able to harvest the fruit.
Case in point...One of my best friends in all the world is currently in the market to purchase investment properties. She and her hubby have been looking into SFR's, duplexes and triplexes all over the area with some degree of success. I hasten to point out that I still refer to her as one of my best friends and not a client of mine. Why? Because we decided that our relationship with each other was too important to allow the possibility of a business deal interfering with it.
The funny thing is that while she and I are fine with this decision, there are some others around us who appear to be in high dudgeon about it. They have been spitting mad on my behalf, and have said so, about the fact that she and I aren't working together. While I greatly appreciate their loyalty and concern I don't share their ire and here's why...
She knows that she is a very demanding client, a self described "pain in the neck" and I know she is a very demanding client (I would probably say it was a pain a little lower and more to the back :-) and we know that this could be a receipe for disaster. Oh, we've tried to work together in other areas at other times in our lives, but we know where each others "buttons" are and it has been challenging. We've been best friends since we were 13, we are really more family than anything else as a result, while we love each other unconditionally, we don't always bring out the best in each other.
And this is not the only situation that I have encountered where a good personal relationship has not necessarily translated into a good business one. In my other past business ventures I have tried to work with friends and family only to see what started out as a good thing for all concerned disintegrate into something professionally unfulfilling and personally damaging. Friends are friends, family is family and no matter how smart, educated or capable the rest of the world may see you to be, to those in your innermost circle, your value is diminished. And woe be unto you if you happen to tell them about a pitfall in their path, they ignore you and they fall flat on their face.
As I see it, I am bound by a variation of the Hypocratic Oath, the part where it says "First do no harm". I can't sit by and quietly watch while someone puts themselves in harms way, especially if I see the harm and they can't or don't. I wouldn't do it with a client who walked in off of the street any more than I would if I had known them forever.
But the difference seems to be that the client off the street wouldn't necessarily push me the same way that those who are personally closer to me might. And, the folks that meet me in a professional capacity first, tend to be able to see me through their "professional lenses" and as a result, judge the value of my opinion based upon different criteria. Probably because they don't look at me and see their 13 year old cohort or their goofy aunt who gives Barbies to grown women because she didn't know them when they were kids and she wants to make up for lost time.
So, while others may have had great success working with folks who were friends first and with family as well, I for one am grateful and really, truth be told, much more honored to find out that my relationships with the people in my life matter as much to them as they do to me. So much so that none of us would want something as cosmically unimportant as money to ever come between us.
Take care all, help lots of people and have a wonderful day!