Have you ever caught up with a friend for “coffee” only to find they launch into asking you for business? You weren’t expecting this so how did you feel? Possibly somewhat misused?
I know I’ve fallen into this trap – and had it happen to me. It’s not a good way to keep a friendship alive.
Reminds me of my old Amway days when we were encouraged to first contact our friends and families to “show them the plan”.
You’d invite someone over for coffee or dinner and then spring a presentation on them. You can imagine the result!
Now I’m not saying you can’t have a business conversation with a friend. Just keep the request “clean”.
When making the appointment explicitly state your intentions. “I would like your help with [….]” or “I have a specific business solution I think would help you, are you open to having a conversation about it?” etc.
This allows the other party to agree or not knowing full well why you’re meeting.
It also avoids any awkwardness when moving from normal chit chat to suddenly talking about business.
Having said all this, personally I’d caution you from asking your friends for business help or even contacts. More often than not, nothing will come from it and it’s a good way to kill a friendship as you’re likely to be disappointed.