I came across this great article from Politico via Michelle Obama Watch about how the Obama’s frequently host informal gatherings with simple foods and limited discussions about politics in an attempt to “make sure organic relationships trump political maneuvering.”

When it comes to building your network, I very rarely hear discussions about the importance of developing genuine friendships. The emphasis is usually on seeing what resources you can each provide for each other. However, in reflecting on Obama’s approach to strengthening his circle, I wonder what are the professional benefits to developing organic friendships?

Your relationship will last longer: When you establish a common bond your relationship will have a solid foundation and will evolve over time. The best mentors and allies are those who make a commitment to you and your overall growth which takes time.

People learn more about your style: While we may try to separate work and life, in many ways work can be a reflection of who we are. In a genuine relationship you learn about how people work and what environments would be best to suit their talents. As a result when advice is given it can better match your talents and style.

You are forced to think about your goals: People who know you and are invested in you are more likely to hold you accountable and push you. No idea goes unchallenged or unquestioned so you always know you’re moving in the right direction.

How else can genuine friendships help you professionally?