No matter what business you’re thinking about starting, all those people you know are important. If you have been working for someone and have made contacts make sure you take them with you when you leave. Now, don’t misunderstand…if you are going into a similar business as the one you were employed, taking contacts may not be ethical. I am speaking only about a business where there would be no conflict of interest.
These contacts you have made are useful for a number of reasons. Last week’s installment “To be Social or not to be social that is the question” is one good example of where to use those contacts. If you were part of a business network, such as LinkedIn, you may have more contacts than you realize to reach out to. For us it was critical to have these contacts as we are a consulting firm and all of the business contacts I had made were potential clients or could lead to potential clients. And so far, at least one of those former contacts has lead to steady income.
It really doesn’t matter what business you have started these former contacts can be customers for your products or services, ways to help spread the word about your new business or friends to help introduce you to the customers you need.
How you utilize these contacts and how much is another ethical issue. Hopefully, everyone reading this would be ethical in every way, but I have found sometimes it is more a case of etiquette lacking than ethics. There are a multitude of suggestions for promoting your business, most are legitimate, but some are just spam or grossly lacking in etiquette. If you decide to blanket all of your contacts, repeatedly, with e-mails about your business you may be performing spam or nearly so. I, for one, would have nothing to do with any business filling my in-box on a daily basis with their advertisements. In many cases you will eventually be blocked from their sites and all you have accomplished is to lose these valuable assets. Always respect your contacts and be aware your way of reaching them may only be through their employers e-mail or phone and you could jeopardize their position with extraneous communications.
Make as much use of your contacts as possible, but only ethically and with etiquette in mind. Respect their time and privacy and do not treat them any different than you would want to be treated. In this way your contacts will work for you and you can keep them as friends of yourself and your business.
Next time: “Do you have enough time in your day?”