It was great to catch up with a professional connection today. Carolyn Cresswell, along with Fiona Allen, created The Hustle House in 2019, just before the entire world caught a cold.

Our introduction came from LinkedIn, and we first spoke in the middle of 2020 when I was exploring the hinterland of professional social media for someone to support a project I was working on. No budget, no direction and frankly, no clue, for some reason, Carolyn took the time to speak to me about what I was after, what she could offer and very kindly helped me out of a spot.

Over the intervening, we have spoken from time to time about business matters and family stuff and the conversations have always been warm and productive. Todays call was initiated following some of the typical interactions we have had following a post I shared last week. Carolyn had read it, commented and low and behold, an appointment was booked.

For nearly an hour, we spoke about where we were with certain projects, mutual connections, challenges and successes as we do a couple of times a year, peppered with the idea that we should do this more often. The time just seemed to slip by, and even when it felt like time to wrap it up, a new tendril of conversation would take us off in a new direction.

I have never bought any of Carolyn’s services, nor she mine. Our geographical separation is 200 plus miles and the sectors we work in do not especially corelate. Yet our conversation today, felt as important as any that I have had this week. It served as a reminder that in business, not every conversation has to be about making money, saving money, protecting the business, growing the business, managing staff, managing clients. In order to be worthwhile, it needs to simply provide value. And value can be measured in many ways. Both of us took the time to allow a dialogue between two professionals to happen without agenda because we have had previous experience of the value that it can provide. We gave the conversation a space to exist. Oxygen to flourish and burn, change direction and be completely natural. We could totally be ourselves with no expectation, but with the knowledge of past experience telling us that it would be worth it.

Far be it for me to say what Carolyn got from the conversation. I hope, no I trust, that her experience was similar to mine. On the other hand, I was given cause to consider leadership from a different perspective. In the name of professional courtesy, I will let Carolyn retain the IP of her metaphor as I think it is, even in the headlines, a coherent message, and her personal skillset away from work makes it more meaningful coming from her. The real lesson for me was that I was encouraged to revisit my thinking, my framing of the idea.

It was ever my intention to formulate such a relationship when I first reached out to HH. There was an immediate need and a possible solution. The reason we have remained in touch is because there is mutual respect and we have lined up values. That is another way of saying we like talking to each other.

There are only a few people in my world who I have such a relationship with. Not family, not neighbour, not client, not boss. Professional friend is the closest description I have.

Who are your professional friends? How did they come into your life? How often do you speak to them and about what? And when you do, how do you feel? What value do you get and what do you offer? These people are gold. Capable of changing your view on something with a turn of phrase only they have and maybe they keep only for you.

Friendships are hard to come by in business. If you find one, look after it.