Personal Connections in Business

I have found a funny thing about life especially in the business world.  Those who love to say business is “business” and not “personal” really do not have a clue what makes things work in society.  Maybe a person doesn’t need personal relationships to run a huge existing corporation, but face-to-face relationships are the lifeblood of small business.

I won’t go into all of the details leading up to my day yesterday.  Basically a person that I met as a 17 year old with my lawn mowing business almost 20 years ago contacted me out of the blue to ask for some consulting.  She knew that I started WebLife (a software/website design company), Joink (an Internet Service Provider), Sellabrate (an eBay consignment store) and eBash (a Video Game Center) along with a few other companies along the way since I had last pushed my lawn mower through her yard for $15.  I will count her as contact #1 in this story.

The company she is now with was trying to decide how to move forward with their website and Internet presence.  They  just wanted an honest opinion from someone who was not actually selling them a product or service to help decide how to shape their company’s online offerings.  I met with them a few weeks ago, shared my thoughts about the shift in focus from websites to social media and they wanted me to follow up and try to help them.   The director of their company was someone who knew me and had followed my basketball career at West Vigo High School and then Rose-Hulman along with my business career since graduating in 1998.  He will be contact #2.

Last week I talked again to the director and he told me that they would really like to have me work with Tabco for the graphical and promotional side of the project.  I gave a call to Tabco to talk to Brad Bilyeu about partnering in the project.  Brad and I have worked together since my first company WebLife.  I have used them for business printing and we met on the softball diamonds in the past as well as other connections through fellow basketball players.  He will be contact #3.

Tabco has grown into a broad promotional company from its beginnings as a corporate printer.  I went out to meet with Brad and Kris yesterday (I won’t count Kris as contact #4 just because he and Brad are brothers at the same company and I know them equally) and they indicated that the person at their business who would be working with me from a graphical design standpoint was Scott Boerner.  Yep, contact #4.  Scott went to West Vigo and was a few years behind me in school.  His older brother, Chris, was my age and played basketball with me all through high school.

While we were talking about our families at one point I talked about my son, Zander, and how he is different than me on the basketball floor.  However this past year I coached his basketball team at a new program called Upward which focuses on mentoring the kids through the basics of basketball and also the spiritual side of their lives.  The Bilyeu brothers then remind me that the director of that program, Don Toney, works at Tabco.  Contact #5.

After the meeting we were all pretty excited about the future and the opportunities out there to work together.  We are working on putting together a plan for a meeting with the company later this week and we split up to tackle some of the details.  I headed back to eBash and they put their heads together at Tabco.  Strangely I get a text message from one of Janean and my best friends, Brooke Thomas, who happened to be at Tabco yesterday afternoon printing off letters to use as she and her husband Roger look for a baby to adopt.  She says to me  that she noticed I became a fan of Tabco on their Facebook.  She thought that was funny because she was just in there and heard them say my name.  She said “Small World!”  Brooke you get to be contact #6.

As a spiritual man I know that these “alignments” have all been divinely designed for some greater purpose and direction in my life.  So personally I am very exited to see the ending of this story.  But even leaving the Divine influence out of the equation there can be no doubt in my mind that 20 years of personal relationships are coming together to create new business opportunities.  For one project having 6 contacts from over 20 years in business come together makes things much more personal.

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