I heard a decent talk, this morning, in which the point was made (among others), about standing for one thing, as a business, and not coming across as ‘vague, woolly, or scattered’.
A couple of hours ago, I had a chat with a friend about the importance of building relationships with people, maintaining those relationships… and not ruining them.
Now to bring the previous two paragraphs together….
About an hour after that chat, this friend received an email which he showed me.
It was from someone he’s been building a solid business relationship with for over a year. This is good. After a year, you should be moving more towards ‘friends with a business relationship’ than just ‘business relationship’
But … this person had emailed my friend with a vague request about ‘an opportunity’ for ‘a new business venture he was involved with, on the side’ and ‘would you like to meet one of my colleagues at a hotel for an hour, on X date, at X time?’
This email does a few things, unfortunately:
1. It tells my friend that the business / skill for which he knows this person, is no longer this person’s sole focus.
2. It sounds vague, woolly, slightly distrustful, and like this person is trying to sell my friend into something.
3. It tells my friend that he has become just another person on this person’s mailing list: a ‘prospect’ rather than a friend.
My friend responded (fairly) politely to the email, saying that he was very busy at the moment so couldn’t just turn up for a meeting at a hotel, plus he wanted more information on what the whole thing was about.
He received a reply that answered none of his queries and simply stated that ‘the man behind the opportunity is listed on the Sunday Times Rich List’ and ‘meet me at X hotel – which time is good for you?’
…and that – completely unnecessarily – has soured the business relationship, which has taken a year to build up, between my friend and this person.
It would’ve been better for this person to email a list of much colder contacts or casual acquaintances, with this ‘opportunity’, than to email people like my friend.
True business relationships – ones that stray into friendship and are solidified – take a while to build up, and each one is worth more than any list of data you could buy. These relationships are precious and worth maintaining. Try not to screw them up.