Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – November 8, 2004
A Really Worthwhile Phone Call
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – November 8, 2004 – I paged my friend and colleague Peter today to find out why his home phone number wasn’t in service, to ask about a property he has listed that hasn’t sold and to have one of our general banter sessions about the fact that I live in the city, while he and his family live in Oakville.
We chatted a bit about business and the ups and downs of our careers and then got off on a tangent about networking and who knows whom and how nice it is when we get referral business. Of course there is no better way to meet new clients than through word-of-mouth. Then we were off on another avenue of conversation altogether about the high cost of driving our cars.
I was just about to pay my car insurance for the year. The increase over last year was about nine hundred dollars. That seemed steep to me, seeing as I’ve had no accidents and nary a tickets, with the exception of the “slap on the wrist – you’re not supposed to park here variety”. For some reason I asked Peter about his car insurance. He’s a bit older than I am but he drives a nice car and uses it for business just as I do.
He gave me his insurance contact and I dialled “Gray Power” even though I’m a redhead. I had a nice chat with an insurance associate and found out that my savings with that broker would be over a thousand dollars. I was very surprised and incredibly pleased. Maybe this “getting older” bit isn’t so bad after all.
Within an hour, my application had been approved, I had confirmation that my new policy was in place and I’d contacted my current insurance broker to inform them that I wouldn’t be renewing my existing policy. The savings to me wasn’t a fortune, but it was money I was happy to have in my jeans, rather than passing it along to the deep pockets of big business.
I called Peter to thank him for the suggestion and the referral to Gray Power – the old folks network. I got to thinking about the power of networking and how valuable it is to nurture these contacts.
I often hear about the amount of business that is transacted, casually yet effectively, on the golf course. It makes perfect sense. People like to do business with people with whom they have things in common, and who mirror back to them, they way they see themselves in the world. We like to deal with people we like and we’re happy to see them be successful. Like attracts like – an age old reality about human nature. There is no point in fighting this fact – life is set up this way.
Case in point – I’m meeting with a man tomorrow to discuss my off-again and on-again web site development. He has been referred to me by a mutual acquaintance, so the contact is already luke warm. I’m prepared to be receptive to his presentation because he comes from a trusted source. I don’t know if I’ll like his ideas and his information, but I’m more than willing to listen to see if we have any common ground. The rest is up to the fates.
Such is the value of referrals. As a business tool, nothing surpasses this method of meeting people. This is exactly how I got my new insurance company. A casual phone call, during which I mentioned a need and a friend had a helpful suggestion. The simplicity is a thing of beauty.
Networking doesn’t always work out. There still has to be a level of trust and confidence and a meeting of the minds. This is between the people who have been introduced. The catalyst (the introducer) is immediately removed from the equation, and he or she bears absolutely no responsibility for the eventual outcome. It has to be this way or a referral contact would never work. Everybody is an adult – capable of making their own decisions.
It’s a who knows who world. It exists everywhere – in business, politics, sports, the arts, professional relationships and personal encounters. I don’t always like this aspect of life, but I have to admit that when it’s working in my favour, I’m thrilled. The downside is that the possibilities for corruption are legion. We see it all the time, and as much as I’d like to think that I’m beyond surprise, sometimes I’m still stunned by patronage, nepotism and favouritism.
However on a day like today when a simple phone call made a big difference to me, I really appreciated the value of making a connection through a trusted third party. So while the jury is still out on corruption, I’m in favour of successful networking among friends and colleagues. I’m actually having lunch this week with another woman to explore this very issue. I’m hoping we’ll be able to help one another in our respective careers. That to me would be a thoroughly worthwhile, enjoyable and rewarding thing. Hey – if that doesn’t work out – I can always take up golf.