Why is the word "networking" respectable and grant-friendly, but the phrase "making friends" not? Bands are small networks of friends, and are responsible for some literally world-shaking achievements. There's some fuzziness, a missing word here. Maybe a whole missing taxonomy. We need a terminology for types of friends.
Acquaintances. Exes. Drinking buddies. Fuck buddies. Close friends. Lovers. Notice that the activities we associate with the terms seem "trivial" in the sense that they benefit no-one else but the parties involved. Maybe "trivial" is the wrong word. Private and ephemeral: Drinking. Sex. Kwento. Hanging out, as in on a hike, or at the beach or something.
"Collaborators" is a signpost towards the language we're missing. People who work and create together, ranging from cyber-acquaintances on a mailing list to incestuous, frankly polyamorous groups whose personal relationships deepen and are deepened (ruin and are ruined?) by the work. We need better terms. A more specific, technical, and nuanced taxonomy for collaborators. Friends you work with, produce with, research with, heal with. To be able to talk about the relationship of Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell, say. Will and Ariel Durant. The Surrealists. The film crew of Ogawa Shinsuke. A Butoh dance commune. Factory Records. The Factory. The Situationists. The Beatles. Frank Doell and Helen Hanff. Einstein and Godel. Crick and Watson. Pierre and Marie Curie. A basketball team. The crew of the Rainbow Warrior. William Burroughs, Ian Sommerville, and Brion Gysin. Five people who meet on weekends to build a cyclotron. A gamelan troupe. A research group. The communes described in Samuel R. Delany's book, Heavenly Breakfast. Competing teams on a reality show. A terrorist cell. The translators of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The cast of The Brady Bunch.