There is a slight (but significant) difference between
a. you having a lot of business connections AND
b. your company having a lot of business connections and you are just representing the company
In the second case, people talk to you because you represent THAT company. However, if you leave your current position and go to somewhere else, those relationships will continue with the new person that takes over your position. At this time, if they don’t really “miss” you, then it is guaranteed that you never had those business connections, your position just warranted having those relationships.
Not seeing the above difference can be costly. If you don’t see this or such things then you are at the risk of “not knowing your position” in the marketplace.
This is a common trap for very smart salespeople who have made a ton of connections. Most of these connections were the result of them working for their current or previous company. Their customers treat them well and are very nice to them but mostly because of the brand that the salesperson represents. Unfortunately, not all of these people have built a powerful identity of their own.
The risk typically is directly proportional to the brand power of your employer. It is hard to know whether people are talking to you nicely because of you or the brand power of your employer. If you make a mistake there and start a company based on this false assumption, you will pay a big price later.
Let me outline a possible scenario:
1. You start a company based on the fact that you have a big network when in essence the network really belonged to your employer.
2. You are smart enough to start the company in an area that is beyond the focus of your employer
3. You ask for meetings from your old contacts and they gladly oblige. What you may not realize is that these meetings are “courtesy” meetings. They people who gave you those meetings have no intention of doing business with you. Remember that these people did business with your employer (which was way bigger than a tiny startup)
4. The meetings (coffee, lunch, formal, informal) meetings seem to go very well. They ask you a lot of questions about your plans (mostly out of curiosity) and finally request you to keep them posted.
5. After six months of marathon meetings and no business, you decide to close the shop.
In summary, before you start your entrepreneurial venture, please look at your business connections and determine whether they are the result of your company’s brand power or your personal brand power or both.
PS: Free eBooks, audio and video resources at my facebook page – Rajesh Setty