A Man’s Network : Five Acquaintances Every Man Should Have

One of the goals of manliness is to be an autonomous individual who’s able to take care of any problem that comes before him. It gives a man a sense of accomplishment to be able to say he can solve any problem by himself. But no man is a perfect Renaissance man or an island unto himself. Some projects are simply too big for one man alone, and some things take a level of skill that takes more attention than a novice can do by himself.
Every man needs help sometimes and he needs to know the right people. A man should develop acquaintances and friendships with people that have skills that he does not so that he has someone to call on when he needs help.

Below I have listed five types of people every man should have on call to help him keep his home, health, and life in order.

1. The Handy Man

There is certain amount of basic home maintenance a man should be able to do around his house, and AOM has been adding articles about the basics. But when it comes to highly skilled jobs requiring major remodels or skills like installing electricity and plumbing, sometimes it’s better to find another person who knows the job better. There is a good reason why electricians, plumbers and contractors have to be licensed; the job is highly skilled, a bad job can be dangerous and licensing keeps the hacks separated from the professionals.

Trying to find a reputable contractor can be a challenge. You want to make sure you have someone who knows his stuff, not a fly by night in a rusty pickup with a spray paint sign on plywood. This article tells ways to find a contractor.

The tips are simple. Find a contractor with good customer reviews. The Better Business Bureau reviews businesses across the country and takes complaints. Also, Angie's List is a site that allows local people to review businesses, while banning anonymous reviews that can falsely promote or defame a business.

Another sign of a good contractor is referrals, both from other good contractors and the ones he gives you. Contractors and professionals do a lot of business together. Few contractors do all the work of a major remodel themselves. So if you have an acquaintance in carpentry, he likely knows a good plumber, tiling expert and drywall installer.

If your contractor sends you bad referrals, you should worry. Good contractors want to work with good contractors because they generate more business from referrals, as well as referral fees. But just as good contractors can create a strong network of referrals and trading business, so can bad contractors looking to improve business. A high referral fee can make an otherwise good contractor promote a bad contractor to make a little more off the job. An honorable contractor will always seek the best contractor for the job. If you get a couple of bad referrals, it’s time to find a new contractor to be your go to guy for home repair.

Building a close relationship, especially a friendship, can help a man find the best contractors and best deals. As you would give a buddy a break if you could, so would a good friend that was a contractor.

2. The Mechanic

Unless a man lives in an urban area with good public transportation he will find the need to buy and maintain a car. Some men love to tinker with a car and can tear apart and rebuild an engine blindfolded. But that’s not all men. While most men could benefit financially by learning how to change their oil and other basic fixes, facing a dying car with no knowledge can challenge a man. Having a knowledgeable mechanic can be useful.

The same rules of finding a good contractor apply to a mechanic, and with more computer parts in a car it might be necessary to go pro. But if you have an older model car or the problem rests in the mechanical parts having a friend who’s mechanically inclined can work as well. One thing to make sure is the mechanic you have knows your type of car. A diesel mechanic won’t do for a standard car, and foreign cars can differ from domestic.

Make sure if you are using a friend they know their stuff. The biggest sign is to check out their car. If they claim to be a good mechanic, but switch cars in and out every few years, you have to wonder whether they take pride in any particular car. If they keep an old car alive, but it rattles, rusts or is cobbled of mismatched old parts, avoid them as well. If they rebuild old cars successfully as a hobby or keep their older car alive and running like new then you have someone you can trust.

Having mechanic friends can help if you want to learn how to fix cars yourself. Writer Matthew B. Crawford wrote an article for the New York Times Magazine about the value of..., in which he described how he went from a miserable report writer for a think tank to a motorcycle mechanic and talks about the collective knowledge he was able to draw upon from the other mechanics he met. Meeting with a good mechanic can get you access to that shared knowledge

3. Style Guy

Let’s face it, not all guys are stylish. Sometimes we go with what works. But things come up that require a change. Perhaps it’s a suit for a wedding or a funeral. Maybe a promotion means a change from business casual to a professional look.

AOM has its own style guy Antonio Centeno to teach you the basics, but having a local guy to personally figure out what works for you and your situation is important. The most important thing with clothing is to let the clothing be an extension of your personality, not letting it define you. A strong relationship with the style guy will help both of you discover what style suits you.

Whether your style guy is a professional or just a friend with his own good sense of style, make sure not to be passive. Every man is accountable for his own appearance and should be as actively participating as possible.

4. Lawyer

Even if you’ve lived your life free from entanglements from the law or lawsuits, having a lawyer in your circle of friends is an asset to call on if the need arises. Several times throughout life a man can find the need for an attorney.

Marriage and, sadly, divorce are a part of real world and getting advice on prenuptials and any property changes in the marriage requires a lawyer. If you get a life insurance policy to provide for your family make sure it and a will are set up for your situation. Buying and selling a home require contracts and paperwork of important consequence.

If you ever decide to be an entrepreneur a lot of legal work is necessary. You’ll need to get a business license and know how you want to incorporate for liability and tax reasons. You’ll want to know laws regarding zoning, regulations, labor, and safety. A lawyer might be necessary for drawing up standard or specific contracts that protect you and your clients.

Finding a good lawyer and the right lawyer requires research. Seek out people who have been in similar legal need and ask about their lawyers and experiences. Contact the State Bar and make sure the lawyer is licensed and in good standing in the state they operate in (much of this can be done on their websites). When you do find one good lawyer he can direct you other lawyers who specialize in areas outside his specialty.

5. Health Guy

Every man should maintain a basic level of health. The obesity “epidemic” is the biggest health threat and like smoking the easiest to cure. Several contributing factors such as the American diet, sedentary lifestyles and distractions of television and the internet are to blame. But none of them are excuses or good reason to neglect one’s health.

Rebuilding one’s health is a process that will require work, sweat and commitment, but it is achievable to all men. Having a friend to support and challenge you can keep your willpower strong and get you in shape and maintain it.

Try finding someone who is fit themselves and have a good knowledge of nutrition and exercising. They can prevent you from either overdoing exercise or wasting hours in inefficient exercises.

6. You

Friendship is about more than what your friends can provide for you. What role can you play in someone else’s circle? Are you one of the people listed above, or do you have another skill that could be of use to friends? Maybe you consider your life as an accountant less than exciting? Well people need their taxes done to prevent the excitement of a visit from the IRS. All men have something they can offer to help a friend in need. Think of what you can give to your friends.

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Comment by Michael Morris on October 25, 2009 at 5:42am
What a great list,,,,, U think that there is one that you missed that is essential... that is the funny guy.. lets face it we all need a mate who makes you laugh no matter how bad life gets
Comment by James Murphy on October 8, 2009 at 11:57am
Health guys are numerous amongst my friends, as well as Handy men, & Mechanics. I also have an uncle who is retired Army and used to work in Military Law, sadly not much of it carries over to civilian law. And I know no style guys, the closest thing we have to style guys around here are the Cowboys.
Comment by James! on October 8, 2009 at 7:56am
Hmm, I'm missing lawyer guy and style guy. But I've got paralegal chick.

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