Due Diligence in Business Networking

PT Barnum is well known for saying, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”  He also said, “Without promotion something terrible happens … nothing!”  And when you put the two of those ideas together … well what you can get is trouble.

Track along with me for a moment.  During networking, there are a lot of people out there promoting what they do.  That’s what networking is all about.  Promoting and educating people on what you do whether it is a product you sell or a service you provide.  If you are not promoting yourself and your business … nothing will happen.  Your business will not grow.  Period, end of story.

Most people who are promoting themselves do so in an honorable and upstanding way.  They’ve learned that honesty is the best policy and they know that it is better to under promise and over deliver.  These are the good marketers who live by the Golden Rule.

Now, let’s get back to the part about a sucker being born every minute.  Now, I don’t know that the idea of that is true … but what I do know is that there are people out there operating with that very concept in mind.  These people truly believe that a sucker is born every minute … and hey, that might be you!

These people will tell you what they think you want to hear just to get the sale.  They will be sly in what they say and some are downright dishonest.  Shocking, I know.  But believe me, I’ve seen it play out and it’s not pretty.

These rascals never last long, for people sooner or later find them out and start telling other people to avoid them.  But until they are discovered for what they truly are, they can do a lot of damage.  They will deliberately mislead you with incorrect information and you will only find out the truth of the matter when it is too late.

And most of this could just be avoided with attention to the thing called “due dilligence.”  Which is just a fancy (or legal) way of saying do your research.  Especially when it comes to your finances, or giving people access to your sensitive information.

Here are some quick tips to keep you safer from rascals who network:

    • Take time to get to know people BEFORE you do business with them.  What’s the hurry?  “With all things being equal,” says Bob Burg, “people do business with people they know, like, and trust.”  The final part of that is TRUST.  And it’s the most important component and not to be taken lightly.  Let’s not confuse trust with being naive … many of us are eager to trust and usually when we are early to trust we are also early to get burned.
    • Ask for at least 3 referrals.  And then call those referrals and ask pointed questions to get the information that you need to make a sound decision.  The flip side of that is if you keep hearing great things about a certain person from many different sources, know that you can more than likely take stock in the TRUST that other people have in that person.
    • Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there is information on the person or company
    • Check with the State Licensing department to see if there are any questionable comments or complaints for that person or company
    • Check with any Associations that the person is affiliated with to see if they can recommend that person or company as being worthy of your business
    • Check in with the Legal System to see if there are any lawsuits pending … and be mindful of folks who can’t tell you more but will say something like, “I think I would focus on other resources.”  They may not be able to disclose to you the specifics of a lawsuit but they’ll be able to save you the headache of getting involved with a bad apple
  • And finally, check around within your close circle of business associates to see if they have heard either positive or negative comments on this person or company … or perhaps they can recommend someone that they know, like and trust

I know that this is not cheery stuff to think about and the fact of the matter is that MOST people operate from a very good place and are honest in their dealings.

I’ve recently witnessed two separate instances of bad behavior and the fallout that it has for the folks who trusted too soon.  Like I said before, it’s not pretty.

Please be sure to take time to get to know people before you do business with them … or before you refer them on to your unsuspecting friends or associates.  It could mean everything to your reputation as well!

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