I recently received an email from a networking group I belong to, about a number of members that skipped out of a luncheon without paying their check. While disappointing, I was not surprised. I had started doing business with a few members of the group, and had fallen victim to the same scam. It made me reflect on my business standards, and implement new procedures. These individuals are not really in business, they are “pretending” while trying to pay their bills. So how do you prove you are a viable business so that vendors will want to do business with you, and clients will want to hire you?

  1. Get a website – The cost of a domain, hosting service and even a DIY website is minimal, probably under $500. If you cannot invest $500 in your business to highlight your services and yourself, then reevaluate your situation.
  2. Buy business cards. If you hand me a business card at a networking event, and I turn it over to see how I can get my free business cards, your card promptly gets discarded.  If you can’t afford a small quantity of business cards that validate you and your business, then I am not comfortable with your ability to deliver services or pay for mine.
  3. Integrity – Please don’t tell me about your business, tell me about you. What do you bring to the table? What do you have to offer? I am not in need of snake oil, so if that’s what you are selling, move on. Position yourself as a person with integrity, that most would want to do business with, and refer business to.

Over the past few years I have met several people at networking events that represent one company in January, another in February and another in March. STOP!  Determine who you are and what you have to offer. Then go after it.  You will stumble, and you may fall, but ultimately, you will learn how to walk and then run.

And to those of you that have skipped out on a check, grow up!

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