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Networking 101 – Keeping Confidences

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Dr. Renate Volpe, in her nugget cards entitled “Networking Tips” says:

“The keeping of confidences, is an unwritten rule of successful networking.”

Ain’t that the truth!  I met with a lady (let’s call her Anne) a couple of days ago for a more in depth ‘one on one’ meeting and she really had me reeling.  You see we had initially met at one of the networking meetings that I go to on a regular basis.  I had taken her card, as well as the cards of the people who sat on either side of her and I was now having my customary chat to ascertain exactly what it was that she did, who her target market was so that I could understand how best to either refer her or connect her up with people that she could add value to or who could add value to her.

During the course of the discussion, she started talking about one of her clients, let’s call him Tim.  Apparently Tim had quoted on a job for his client, let’s call him James and then when he received the relevant materials for the job, he noticed that his supplier had given him a whopping discount.  The bottom line was that the materials that he had quoted on (and usually put a 15% mark up on as part of his fees) had in fact been supplied to him at cost plus 10% as the supplier was clearing out his warehouse for new stock.  This in financial terms meant that Tim was paying 50% less than what he had quoted on.

Tim now faced with a dilemma because there were several options.  One would be not to say anything, and keep his quote exactly the way that it was thereby increasing his margins and his profits exponentially, two would be to tell James the truth and pass the saving onto the client and three would be to tell James of the windfall and suggest that they split the unexpected windfall between them.  Personally I liked the third option the best – it would be a win/win for both of them.

Whilst we were having this discussion, my friend James saw us chatting and came over to greet me.  Without missing a beat – Anne asked for his opinion and in order to get it, started telling him the entire story, before they were even introduced.

Well I am sure you can guess what happened next.  You see my friend James was Tim’s customer and as luck would have it, Tim had decided to keep all the extra profit for himself.  The amount in question would have run into hundreds of thousands of Rands.

James, of course was absolutely furious over what he then perceived as Tim trying to rip him off and cancelled the whole deal.  Tim, later found out that it was Anne who had talked and now she too has lost a client and I, well I would really think hard about referring either Anne or her client Tim to anyone in my data base.  I would be constantly wondering who was saying what about whom and who was being over quoted.

I am quite frankly astounded at how easily people talk about other people’s business!

For me the only time that you give out other people’s names is when you are referring them or connecting them.  If you really feel the need to tell the story, tell it – but leave peoples names out of it.

The world is a very small place and trust is so easily broken – once broken it is very difficult to rebuild – it’s easier to just not lose the trust in the first place.

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at www.drrenatevolpe.co.za .

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