Can ‘Friend Economy’ bring you more business?

By Jim Kendall

This column originally appeared in the February 2, 2015 Daily Herald

                Which would you prefer to have, a friend or a client? Or both?

Roch (pronounced “Rock”) Tranel thinks you can have both. In fact, he’s published a book – actually a transcript of a paid interview intended to provide content for publication – called “The Friend Economy.”

Tranel is CEO of The Tranel Financial Group, a Libertyville financial advisory business.

The Friend Economy, both a small book and a personal philosophy, is about “tapping into the community of people who already know and like you, while successfully doing business with them,” Tranel says in the introduction to his book. “I believe they want to do business with you because of their respect for you, (but) business owners aren’t tapping into this community.”

Be forewarned: Tranel has some ideas about small businesses, their growth and the owner’s role in society that will strike some as rhetorical overkill – he’s something of an evangelist for The Friend Economy – but others as right on.

Either way, Tranel’s approach deserves an airing.

“The transparency of social media,” he writes, ”means. . .we (can) no longer rely on selling stuff. Relationships rule, and building friendships is what business is all about.”

For Tranel, relationships have become even more important since the recession. “Before 2008,” he said when we talked last month, “we all did business the same way. But the world turned upside down.” As a result, he says, business owners must be “clear (and) authentic about who you are,” a process Tranel says will lead to “really good conversations about what you do.”

Essentially, the Tranel approach is to develop “a personal statement, a belief that will increase your business.”

Why? Because, Tranel writes, “I call my clients friends, and as a result my business grows even when the economy is struggling. Friends stay longer than clients. It’s that simple.

“My business is not based on a fickle, ever-changing marketing platform where people seem more and more disengaged. I invest my time in getting to know and become friends with my clients.”

Friendship, Tranel says, is “the foundation of The Friend Economy.”

The Tranel way includes weekly meetings of Freedom One, a networking group where he says participants “become friends and connect as a business resource.” Freedom One, Tranel says, operates on a 24/7 principle – 24 words, seven seconds to describe your business – and draws 100 businesses every Thursday.

Freedom One is part of a social mission Tranel calls The Movement. Leadership Won explores ways individuals can grow by becoming more effective leaders – in their communities, at work or elsewhere. Rally Together seeks to empower individuals and organizations to “change the world” by collaborating and innovating together.

The Movement “is our passion in building leaders and community,” Tranel says. “I was not as strong about my beliefs 20 years ago, but I’ve always been this way. The world needs people like us.”


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