In more than one editorial I’ve made the point that new business opportunities come from who you know. And that if you want more things to come your way you need to know more people. That’s why it’s important to network: to meet new people and find opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise know about if you didn’t have that new personal connection. That means getting out there, meeting other people and building connections with them. Hopefully, along the way, one or both of you can help each other out.
I’m not the best networker — not by a long shot — but I make an effort. I’m actually fairly envious of people who seem to have a natural flair for making new connections. So I try to observer what they do right, and mimic it in order to do better than I would on my own. I say all this not to sell you on the idea of networking — I assume most of you are already on that side — but to set the stage for telling a funny story.
One of our vendors hired a new regional field rep, based out of Calgary. I’ll call him Dave*. We first met at the annual awards dinner for one of my dealers. Dave has been around, done a bunch of different things, been a bunch of different places, and has a lot of great stories. We hit it off pretty well. To the point, he also was well connected with some companies that I have on my prospect list, but I hadn’t made any headway getting a meeting with any of them. Dave assured me he would help me out with that.
Great. We talked business fairly often, and we’d meet for lunch or dinner whenever I was in Calgary. And he did get the ball rolling for me with a couple of the companies I wanted to meet with.
Then, suddenly, nothing. Total radio silence from him. No response to calls, texts or emails. There was no indication that he’d left his employer either. He just vanished. That would have been puzzling on its own. Then, about two weeks after he vanished, mutual connections of ours started reaching out to me. All of them asking variations of the same thing.
“Have you heard from Dave?”
“Do you know what happened to Dave? I need to speak with him.”
“If you talk to Dave, tell him to give me a call.”
Anyway, these queries about Dave’s whereabouts increased in both frequency and urgency for the next couple of weeks. Eventually, a couple of people told me the story. Dave had approached them, and others, to tell them he had a line on a container full of closeout 50-inch OLED 4K TVs at about 50% off the usual dealer cost, and asked if they wanted any. He collected orders from about thirty people, and took cash deposits from them. That was the last any of them ever heard from Dave.
It’s probably not a spoiler to make it clear to readers that no, there never was a container full of discount TVs. Anyway, last I heard the police found him, and he had been charged and remanded. Dave never asked me if I wanted to buy an imaginary TV and I don’t know why. I’m just fortunate that all I lost was a connection to some new accounts I want to open. But I’m sure I’ll find another way.
*Dave is not his real name.