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March 25, 2008
Kinda Be My Friend (A Cautionary List)

Here we are at the close of another stupidly long day. Someone you really like has asked you to get together and you just want to cancel and go home, chill and watch Seinfeld reruns. It’s all we do now. Because, in fact, cancellation is the new plan…

Friendship has now gone the dinosaur route. I spend, so much time with people I’m doing some sort of work with—and it appears that my real cherished ones, pals those who, if we’re lucky, get to converse with me (and me, them) a couple of times a year. Get together? In what universe!

If you’re like me, you spend your days and some nights emailing people; getting in the same room or even outdoor space has begun to be a “challenge.” I’m not proud of it and if you scratch beneath your hard surface you are not either.

Below are ideas for people to act more social. They’re for me—you may eavesdrop. (Feel free to add to it by sending a ridiculously short email to Richard@laermer.com.)


  1. Next time you think of someone, don’t write “Hi, it’s me,” but pick up the phone and say “I wanted to say hello, dude, because fill in the blank.”
  2. When you are about to spend an hour emailing bulls**t people who can wait, turn off your computer and go for a walk. Think of something while you’re out that you need to accomplish. Go back to the office—do it. Then, and after you’re done, make a drinks date with some someone (sic) you think is super funny.
  3. Think of the one person you email the most that you have never once seen face to face – a business colleague– and make a lunch date.
  4. Keep that date—even if canceling fits the bill.
  5. When you remember a birthday, make the effort. Send something adored, even small, but somehow historic in the relationship: Remember you once pigged out on Original Krispy Kremes? Well, find some and overnight them in a FedEx pack. See, you thought of him. But don’t send e-cards. They are lazy and annoying! Show off a little.
  6. Stop Facebook and Linked In “bacn” –spam makes you “do things” – with those you know to be real friends, just like you no longer send group emails and those random joke/graphic lists to those you love. Do this with BF’s [see below].
  7. Tell people how you feel and make them know their importance to you. Sorry to get all Hallmarky, yet people need to know you miss them, or you found out something they will be into and/or you know their favorite artist is playing in Nashville. Spontaneity is king! “S**t, let’s just go” is my longed-for fave phrase. Finally, compliment their everyday choices rather than make them feel less than wonderful. That’s what the people around them will do. Work pals are the business colleagues who are around them a lot; they don’t them well enough to give them a long-lasting warm and cozy kind of happy.

What inspired the above? Glad you asked. This lady I’ve known since, ahem, 1996 has never met me, or vice versa. She’s a journalist, I’m a source, and we talk like three or four times a month since what year was that? I made a date with her for lunch and am sort of thinking we’ll hate one another in person. It’s like mad blind-dating for friends who have a bizarre and fuzzy (read breakable) connection.

The BF is a business friend. That’s it. This cannot be someone you think will be around forever. For now, they come in handy as do you in a sort of quid pro quo friendship. This is hard for people to comprehend. BF's think they can call you for favors or advice; you have to say with firmness you wish I could help when you can’t. With BF’s, as opposed to the flimsy “BFF” everyone’s calling each other, you always think, “What’s in it for me?” And with that piece of knowledge, some hard news advice:

Save yourself for friends. As Annie Lennox shouted out, “Everybody is looking for something.” Accept that about everyone else. Gosh, even your friends want something but you can always say f**k you I’m busy.

It’s more dog-eat-dog than ever before. Real friends recognize that truism. Yes, having work buds that can drink you under the table or do a fantastic email round with—it’s all good. Stick with the seven above and feel better about true friends but like I’m starting to do, know the difference between a friend and an actual BF.

I got nothing else. Go call someone.


The above is NOT taken from the brand new book “2011” coming soon (Laermer.com) from this guy Laermer—and McGraw-Hill. Enjoy.

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Richard Laermer is CEO of New York's RLM pr, representing, among others, e-Miles, Epic Advertising, Yodlee, Revolution Money, Group Commerce, Smith & Nephew, and HotChalk. He was host of TLC's cult program Taking Care of Business and speaks on trends and marketing for corporate groups. You can read Laermer on The Huffington Post and on the mischievous but all-too-necessary Bad Pitch Blog. For more like this, follow him on @laermer.

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