I recently met with an owner of local payroll company that we referred to me by a good friend. We had coffee at Panera – her first meeting in public for a while due to COVID19. We introduced ourselves to each other and proceeded to share some notes on our respective businesses. We quickly hit it off and got deep into our life stories.
One subject we talked about was “networking”, as I run a B2B networking group of my own and we both have experience good, and BAD, networking events and the people at them. You know who they are…the ones that expect you to refer them without even knowing them or spending time with them. The card spreading “shuckster” that walks in and distributes his or her business cards like a tennis ball machine and leaves the room. Ugh.
Regardless, she shared a story about a conversation with her mentor she had some time ago about her restlessness during a drive to a networking event…the voice in her head just kept saying “turn around, this is a waste of time” and “go back home, this is just silly”. But she remembered her mentors words that went something like this: “when your mind is telling you something like that, just ignore it and go on…you just never know who you might meet.”
It turned out to be true…that very meeting ended with a new relationship and customer. Then I told her my similar story.
I’m an introvert by nature. I actually really don’t like rooms full of people. The thought used to make be break out in sweats. Not sure why, just my voices in my head thinking I had to be perfect or say the perfect thing or say the perfect 30 second elevator speech. But I shared with her something I learned from a mentor many years ago…you just never know who you might meet and the impact they may have, including the checkout lady at the grocery store.
And today was one of those days…after meeting with this owner of the payroll company, I had a client meeting and then a scheduled call with an insurance agent…one that had reached out cold and set a zoom call automatically via my Calendly app. Total stranger, selling insurance…ugh. I got home and prepared for the call. But I really didn’t want to take it. Another insurance salesperson..ugh. I’m tired. I’ve got a full funnel. All voices in my head.
But I remember the conversation over coffee and proceeded anyway. I got to meet a very nice young lady, a veteran, who is now selling insurance. She was kind, social and really didn’t try to sell me anything. Just establish a relationship as she was new to the area and new to one of the chambers where I’m a member.
Then her boss hopped on.
“Ugh,” I thought. But it he immediately said, “Bob, do you remember me?”
I was dumbfounded.
He continues, “you hired me.”
I was flabbergasted!
He states “and shortly thereafter, I along with many others, was laid off”.
I was gobsmacked!
It took me a bit, but this gent was someone I had hired almost 25 years ago in a previously corporate life that I’ve almost forgotten! Thankfully, he was gracious and we talked for a long time about the shared memories (some good, some bad) and all the while, his salesperson just listened to us reminisce. We set an appointment for later this month to go deeper, see if we share common customer/client types, explore ways to help each other and just catch up and share our live’s stories over the last 25 years.
But the gist of the story is this…you just never know who you are going to meet and the impact they may have. If I’d followed the voices in my head that day, I would have missed out on so much! Never, never forget that.