Important to make friends, not just contacts

I was delighted to read Mr Woon Wee Min's letter (Growing genuine ties better than building transactional ones; June 4) because it reminded me of what a good friend of mine once said to me: "Make friends not contacts."

I think of this little gem of wisdom because in this age of social media and "connectivity", there is another "C" to add to the traditional five - contacts.

It is now very important to have contacts. Various business chambers create events to help people get contacts.

While I don't disagree that knowing people and networking are important, you know the situation is getting out of hand when people start to brag about being well connected and having many friends on social media.

People tend to forget that the "transactional" relationships one forms with contacts are shallow.

A contact is only as useful as you are to him. They will look out for you only when it is in their interest to do so. When you are no longer useful, they no longer pick up your calls.

One only has to think of the common complaint about insurance and property agents - they're your best friend until the deal is signed.

A contact is only as useful as you are to him. They will look out for you only when it is in their interest to do so. When you are no longer useful, they no longer pick up your calls. One only has to think of the common complaint about insurance and property agents - they're your best friend until the deal is signed.

Having real friends is better. Friends will look out for you even after you sign the deal and when there's no direct benefit for them.

Friends also tell you things you need to hear rather than things you want to hear. A good friend can save you from yourself, a fact which many of today's aspiring people overlook.

As life gets tougher and the desire to have more gets stronger, it's best to remember that the best security is not in social media likes but in real human relationships.

Tang Li

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2018, with the headline 'Important to make friends, not just contacts'. Print Edition | Subscribe