Taking our business network leaders for granted

A Breakfast venue

A Breakfast venue

Getting the boot

I belong to a monthly networking group that has recently been unceremoniously ousted by the venue which has hosted us for a couple of years. It was not that we were a rowdy bunch. They just didn’t think they were making enough money out of us for the room we hired. No doubt they conveniently overlooked the amount we were spending in their pricey bar and café.

Our chairman had to find a new venue at rather short notice. His first attempt (and where we had our February meeting) was not a huge success. Not his fault. It turned out that other visitors made a considerable noise next door so that we were hardly able to hear each other. This is the sort of venue issue which only comes to light when you actually try it out rather than visit in the middle of a quiet morning.

Anyway, apparently we have a new venue for March and our leader thinks it will be a success. Let us hope so, but remember that he has spent a considerable amount of time researching and visiting potential meeting places. We owe him a vote of thanks.

Not a sausage

I have until recently been a long-time member of business breakfast clubs. I led one for a couple of years. The first venue went out of business and didn’t tell me or anyone else in the group. We turned up at 7 one Tuesday morning with the temperature at -4 Celsius (not a detail one forgets) and waited in the cold for about half an hour while we tried to find out what was going on.

In the glasshouse

I then had to find a new venue who would let us meet, serve breakfast and leave us alone for our meeting. It was difficult and I spent a lot of time on the telephone and then visiting possible meeting places. We stayed at the first place I chose for about three months.

We got great personal service but the room was noisy due to being rather open to other people coming in and out, and also because when it rained on the glass roof, no one could have much conversation without shouting. It seemed we would have to move again.

Out of the frying pan

I moved, partly at the request of a couple of members, to a posh new hotel on the seafront. The environment was better, but the service was corporate and therefore less personal except when one particular young lady was on duty, and who took the meaning of customer service seriously. We soldiered on until circumstances meant I had to quit as leader.

It would have been great to be thanked by everyone for all the hard work I put in in dealing with the venues, collecting the money and paying them, leading the meetings, thinking what was topical and canvassing members, keeping the records and generally contributing much more time than the weekly hour and a half. Yet when I stopped, only a couple of members took the time, and I had absolutely no thanks whatever from the group brand owners.

I did my best. I could not have done better in the circumstances, I don’t think. I made no real money from my efforts but that was never my intention. I am not complaining. It was an interesting experience. I would have just liked a bit more appreciation.

Do remember to thank your network group leaders for their efforts. They deserve it. They do it for you so that you can get more business. They are certainly not in it for the money that you pay each week, nearly all of which goes to pay for the meeting room and catering.

You would not want to deny someone that nice warm feeling one gets from being appreciated and thanked, would you?

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Shouldn’t you part from your ungrateful customers?

List of titles of works based on Shakespearean...

Giving thanks

We should always thank those who give us good service. It oils the wheels, makes them feel good towards us, and it is only polite. It is a question of respect, and most of us know this.

Unfortunately not everyone understands. We know thanking people is the right thing to do because we like our hard work and attentive service appreciated. As Shakespeare wrote:

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;

Now and again there are customers and clients who take advantage of our excellent service to make continuous demands, taking advantage of our attentiveness. They call and ask for extra advice they do not wish to pay for. They resist an increase in our charges even at less than the rate of inflation. They never thank us and they are brusque in their letters and emails.

I do hope that any clients you have who are like that do not represent a substantial part of your business, because if they do, you are their employee rather than their service provider. As long as you are not beholden in that way, then it is time for you to ask that client to find someone else.

I like good relationships with all my clients and from my side do my very best to look after their business needs to their satisfaction, but all relationships are two-sided. If a client is gruff, demanding, unappreciative and fee-resistant then they regard what your business provides as a commodity with a price. They do not see the value in what they get. They do not value what they get from you. They do not deserve to have you.

As you like it

There are always times when we have to ask our clients to find someone else because they must be unhappy whatever we do, but mostly because they make us unhappy. I like my business to be fun. Do not be afraid to weed out the unhappiness in the nicest possible way.

Have you parted with an ungrateful customer recently?

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No thanks to me!

Connections

Having been at the networking game both on-line and off-line for nearly a decade, I know a lot of people, some of them really quite well. Because it is how this networking thing works, I connect my friends and acquaintances to people they need to speak to, depending on their needs. I expect you do too?

Help! I need somebody

Now and again I have people come to me with an urgent need for advice which is not tax or business advice within my own expertise. It might be concerning an investment or finance requirements or whether I know someone who could advise on the latest news in a particular sector of industry.

If I have helped someone I may well have generated business for a friend, and it will always be the person / business owner who is the best one for the job or project. Recently I gave someone a good referral which will generate ongoing business for them. I don’t work on commission of course since it could cloud my judgement. It is too uncomfortable anyway. However my friend, being the good guy he is, took the time to thank me. No problem of course. He does a great job for me so he will do a great job for the person who asked me to help.

 

Casting a shadow

Thankless tasks

However, recently several people who have asked me who I think is the best person to help them have been silent when I have emailed back the names and contact details of their ideal match for the requirement. I have not heard from them again either via email or telephone. How long does it take to thank someone? I always try to express my gratitude when I get help. Most people do. Apparently some people don’t. It rather casts a shadow over trying to help.

Trust

The trouble is that I lose trust in those who don’t thank me. I begin to think they are unreliable. They might have been the people I would recommend next time I was asked to suggest a business owner who could help one of my networking friends. Ultimately, by not thanking me they may lose out on lucrative work.

Saying “thank you” is something we are taught by our parents and elders when we are very small. It should not be easy to forget. When someone thanks me I get a good feeling. I like to give that feeling to others. Do you lose faith in those who don’t take the trouble to thank you?

Saying “Thank you”

I guess I would not like to work in a large chain store. I imagine that at busy times, especially at the check-out it can be a pretty relentless slog, and at other times rather boring. I expect that any little gesture of appreciation gives a lift in mood to a bored or overworked shop assistant.

This morning I went into a well-known motor accessories chain to buy a packet of “dust caps” for the tyre valves on my car as some person who had lost theirs has helped themselves to mine. These dust caps were difficult to find, but luckily the place was quiet and asking for directions twice from helpful assistants (but it is a big store) I found what I wanted. Obviously I thanked both people and had a nice chat with the lady on the check-out, and I thanked her for the helpful service.

This seems a trivial matter to relate, but I do always make a point of showing my gratitude even to the bored and busy in shops. Why? I like to be thanked too. I also thank the suppliers of goods and services I receive, whether it is the owner of a business or the delivery driver; whoever is the person I am dealing with. It never does any harm, there is no downside, and I might get even better service.

There is another way of thanking our suppliers and contractors and that is by making sure they are paid promptly. It is insulting to make people wait for their money after they have delivered their service or product. Late payment makes people feel less valued or respected. Actually, quite apart from getting ourselves a bad reputation by paying late, our suppliers may decide not to refer us and refer another customer instead for that juicy contract. We do ourselves damage by not showing our gratitude with thanks and with prompt payment.

How do you feel when someone takes ages to pay you or your business for a product or service you have delivered? Do you feel, as I do, that the client or customer is disrespectful and doesn’t value you? Do you also like to be thanked properly? I know I do. What do you think?

© Jon Stow 2010

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