The old adage “it’s not what you know but who you know that counts” holds a lot of truth, but often there’s more to it than just knowing the right person. Take this past weekend as an example. I’ve known Charles (names changed to safeguard identities) for several years, and ever since his wife died I have found our relationship changed from client/adviser into being friends. When his wife died Charles became involved with a charity dealing with cancer research, and he pledged to raise a significant amount of money each year in order to have a specific award named in his wife’s memory.
Each year I do what I can, and at their annual “wine dinner” I donate a few bottles of what I believe to be exceptional wines to the accompanying wine auction. One year I also ran a marathon to raise funds. In time I’ve gotten to know the family too, all very successful and we’re on first names terms but we rarely see each other because Charles and his family live in and around New York.
But here’s what I didn’t know; Charles’s son in law is also committed to the charity, and runs the annual wine dinner which last year raised well over $120,000 in one evening, and my tiny donations, lugged all the way from the UK, barely register, or so I thought.
However, Charles’s son in law is also well connected in the music industry, and had come over to London this week in connection with Monday evening’s Led Zeppelin performance at the O2 Arena, the concert where 20 million people had applied for tickets and only 19,000 were available. On Sunday afternoon I received a call telling me that a couple of tickets had become available and would I like them, at cost, in recognition of many years of my supporting their charity.
So it’s not just who you know that counts, but what you do for who you know. I have no doubt in my mind, knowing the rarity value of these tickets, that simply knowing Charles or his son in law would not have been enough. Am I going to dig out some very special wines for the next wine dinner? You bet I am!
As for the concert, it was awesome (that’s an American term term for brilliant I believe). Have I done lasting damage to my hearing, I think so, it’s mid afternoon the day after the concert and my ears still hiss.
Lessons learned – to keep doing what we do well, to keep adding value and going the extra mile. It may not feel particularly special or out of the ordinary to us, but the perception of our clients could be totally different. And if one of them is the agent for Damien Hirst…