Three cautionary tales this week. Most of the people I have met and the products and services I have used have been bona fide. There are, however, some experiences that have taught me to have some caution.
1. Some time ago I went to a network meeting and in handing out my card, received the comment “oh your logo could do with improving”. I said yes, I did need to get around to it. The person then said – “I’ll give it some thought”. A few days later, he sent me a new design, which although quite attractive was not exactly what I had in mind. I thanked him. Several weeks later, he sent me an invoice. I responded saying that I had not asked him for the design, we had not agreed terms and I was not using it. I did say that I would be happy to pay him if he produced what I wanted. He agreed to do so. The caution is to ensure that, right from the offset, there is no misunderstanding on any support offered. I have also received many helpful ideas and support with nothing but goodwill from the provider. So I remain confident that most business people only want to support each other.
2. I had a request on LinkedIn to connect with someone. I looked and saw that he was a contact of a network organiser. Assuming that she knew him and he was probably a member, I accepted the invitation. Later on, we agreed to meet as we have similar services and are both local. Before the meeting, I spoke to the network organiser saying that I was meeting one of her contacts. She replied that he wasn’t one of her contacts. He had sent an invitation to connect and now seemed to be approaching all of her connections in the same way. She had researched him on the internet and found nothing. Needless to say, I am going to research him further before any meeting. Since then I have seen that you can block other people seeing your connections on LinkedIn. Probably to protect them from this type of activity.
3. My niece was recently contacted by someone from “BT”. They phoned her and said that the intermediary telephone provider had not paid the service charged and unless she paid £30 on her credit card, they would disconnect her. She asked for proof of their identity and was given a name and 0800 number. They then said that they could demonstrate they were from BT by disconnecting her phone. She said, go ahead. They appeared to do so. They phoned her back and she said that she still wasn’t convinced and would not be paying. She then phoned the police who confirmed that it was a scam. Apparently, they can appear to disconnect you simply by not putting their phone down. You cannot then dial out. Luckily my niece is sensible and clued up, otherwise……..
I know that we are in a recession and times are hard. It is tough to think that we have to be more wary and less trustworthy but some caution can keep you safe and stop you from being ripped off. I have been very lucky and mostly met kind, helpful, supportive and generous people, making the start-up of my business both fun and satisfying. I hope that this is the same for you.
I attended 3 network meetings this week. Tuesday was the busiest day. Starting with Business 4 Breakfast at the Ramada, Ipswich, run by Lesley Jarrad. Again, everyone very friendly and helpful. This was my second visit as a guest. www.bforb.com Since the network, I have been in contact with 2 of the other members. In the evening I went to the Office Drinks Network in Bury St-Edmunds which is run by Lynette Bucknell http://www.officedrinks.net/home.html No membership fee and £9 to attend . This was my first visit as a guest and the format was great. Everyone gets a “lottery ticket” with numbers. There are tables and a few people sit at each table and network for approx 10 minutes. You then move around to the next table. This means that you will have talked to everyone attending by the end of the event. We had a pub quiz in the middle to lighten up the proceedings. Lynette also runs Virtual Head Office www.virtualheadofffice.co.uk which offers all the Head Office services that a large company has for companies that cannot or do not need a full-time HR, IT and other functions. Thursday was a service development day and I went to the Womenta Step Out Networking Lunch at the Holiday Inn in Ipswich on Friday. An excellent buffet and great networking facilitated by Christine Guy-Clarke. I have recommended Menta and Womenta before as they offer excellent services – networking, free business advice and workshops. Look them up! www.womentaonline.com/
Reading for the week: This week it is that excellent book “Our Iceberg is Melting” by John Kotter. Anyone involved in change management will know of John Kotter. This great little book puts all the theory into a short story about how to change and succeed under any conditions (in this instance penguins and melting icebergs). You will be looking around you to spot each penguin’s character in those you meet!.
As I have mentioned before, I live in a house surrounded by farm-land on three sides. This sounds idyllic until you realise that the local wildlife consider your garden as a natural extension to their wilder adjacent environment. We have rabbits sauntering across our lawns at all times of the day and night and at least 8 pigeons, nost of which delight in sitting on their shinier, more comfortable metallic tree (i.e. my car). I don’t know why they prefer my car to my husband’s jeep. Obviously they must have some sense of style and class. Not sure there is much research on that subject. There is, of course, much research on their delightful thank you and good-bye messages dropped on the bonnet, not to mention their footprints trailing across the roof as they parade up and down in front of their friends. We also see the local pheasant, who brings his numerous wives in for a periodic stroll around the grounds. We do not see the deer, who steal in, under cover of night, to strip the delicious bark off the apple trees. Now, I know that some of you will be thinking. “But she has written about a dog and a cat…..where are they?….”. Good question. Well, the dog enjoys trying to dig the rabbits out of their burrows in the borders and digging up holes in the garden to search for them. The cat has tried pouncing on the pigeons but seems to be more successful with endangered species such as the little wren, the body of which she dropped on our kitchen floor. We are trusting that she is stopping any possible mice invasion but knowing her, she probably invites them in for tea. Particularly this week as all animals have scurried for cover from the rain. Both the dog and cat simply refuse to go out in it. They turn around, jump up on the settee and moan at me for allowing it to rain. Guess I should stop typing now, as they probably want a snack and the telly switched on!
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