-Well, let's put it in the SL blender and see if it's palatable! ...I trudged forth and polled different people, from all different walks of Second Life, on their experience, and this is what they said...
My first and most obvious inquiry was to a store owner, who's an upstanding citizen and been doing exemplary business for years. She remarks that, "It's been 99% successful. The 1% are those who push the boundaries of friendship...but you see how small that percentage is. One thing about business in SL... it's so easy to make corrections and make the customer happy. Nearly all of my products are 'copy,' so returning money is not an option for me, although I have made a few exceptions depending on the circumstances. On the whole, mixing friendship with business has been quite a nice experience here in this virtual world."
The next person I asked, owns a successful venue. She says it can be tricky mixing the two, especially when you have an acoustic venue and have friends who use tracks or both. Luckily her friends understand and still come to support, and will do acoustic for them. She also stated that nothing awful has happened, and that she recommends owning a venue if you can afford to do so without having to have tips to pay for it, "...we don't ask for tips.. There is a small can..if people want to tip the can there it is and we appreciate every linden. We never ask..to me owning a venue is my want so why should I expect people to pay for it...we promote every show well... Facebook, Avatarbook, Avatar Social Network, Google, Twitter, Subscribo, events and friends. ...We basically annoy everyone LOL."
After that, I asked a general manager of quite a new and successful game. She basically said that she doesn't let friendships affect her business relationships, because she's wise about it. Business is business, and the business she does is fun, so it's rewarding in itself.
I then was referred to StormyDaze15, regarding this with her and Chris's new game, Treasure Quest. She stated that mixing business and friendship has worked very well for them, and that they have a great relationship with all that have their game. Her business relies on good friendship relationships, as it is supported widely by word of mouth, "A few people knew we were working on the game, so they did tell people that liked this kind of stuff." She also added that they have made some long lasting friendships with landowners from their game as well, "They also know they can IM us anytime they have an issue with the game, no ticket needed." Very cool, and they seem to be off to a great business start!
I also polled a store/mall owner and she said,
"I had the best of times with my SL best friend. We taught each other how to build and make clothing, and had masses of fun whilst we did so.
"We went into business together, a clothing store, I leaned more towards the design side of the business and she was more graphic design for our advertising. We were lucky to have had such a complimentary relationship.
"Having built our friendship first, we had a solid base for our business, we had already established our likes, dislikes, our ideas on fashion, and we were able to keep it fun too. There were never any fears of offering what we thought might be silly designs to each other, instead we seemed to bounce of each other's ideas, expand them, tweak them etc. I really enjoyed our time together, so much fun.
"As a shopping mall owner I seem to have made some wonderful new friends in the store owners. I do prefer to work alongside the business owners and share ideas, offer assistance where I can. Being on friendly terms with the owners is mutually beneficial, sharing ideas, contacts, etc."
Next I asked one of the leaders of a huge gaming group. "It has both worked and not worked.. It could work if you know the person before you go into business with them. You know their quirks and their history. You know how they spend money and could conduct business. Personally I have been in business with several people .. I have learned over time what characteristics I like in a person that I may share in a venture with .. It is a learning process but I am finding out I am getting better at judging character. It also helps when you get to know the person in RL as well.. so there is some transparency." I asked her if she knew the other leader in real life first, or how that worked, and she stated that they met on Skype, " I told him I would not conduct any kind of deep friendship/relationship/ or business unless I can see them in person .. see that they are real .. It is a matter of trust for me. He had then asked me to be an elder.. then after my efforts in clan he decided to make me a co leader. ...with him I have been so transparent with clan funds that I show him the SL files of my account ;)" She confirmed that the best kind of business relationships are based off of trust. And the way it worked for her is to get to know them more closely. Then she can judge if it will be a good investment of her time, and the relationship just blossoms from there. " I cannot trust someone that hides behind an avatar.. they become less accountable."
Then the windlight blew me into the direction of asking a creator of an avatar website what they thought on this subject.
"The short version is, I don't think mixing business and friendship is bad by default.
"The long version is, this question just can't have a general answer. I have experienced both that came with great losses or great benefits. It highly depends on the circumstances, the nature of the people and the business itself.
"There are some businesses that can operate even better if friends do it while others can be negatively impacted by them.
"The bottom line is, the people being involved have to look inside and understand if their friendship can handle possible greed, power, control, hierarchy that business may affect."
Lastly, I asked a famous writer, Strawberry Singh about mixing the two,
"...pretty much everything can affect what I write about. A conversation with a friend could inspire me to write about a certain topic. A content creator dropping an item on me inspires me to create an image and write about it. A lot of the memes and blogger challenges I do have often been inspired by a conversation with a friend or even suggestions and requests by my readers.
"So what I write about just comes from whatever is on my mind that day or whatever inspired me that day and yes of course, my friendships and surroundings will have an effect on that."
So there you have it folks! For the most part, mixing business and friendship needs to work if your business is to survive in this "game" of networking. Just like in real life. However, you must build trust and know your boundaries. Perhaps this drink is best served, with a grain of salt and a dash of experience.