A couple of day’s back I was looking through some really interesting LinkedIn articles published via Pulse, and my mind started to wonder.

On each article page an advert for a professional Who’s Who service appeared, the same advert, again and again, just begging to be clicked.

So, I did something that I very rarely do, and that was to click through to the web site, completely ignoring long held views regarding professional Who’s Who services and other types of scams, and putting aside for once the tried and trusted heuristic of ‘there is no such thing as a free lunch’.

Curiosity had got the better of me. Superficially it looked like yet another networking opportunity, and the impression they carefully projected was that it was ‘for free’. So I clicked on the link. To be fair – to myself, I also wanted to see how elaborate the scam would be and when and how they would actually ask for more than information.

So after passing through to a registration web site I was then asked to enter some basic qualifying information which was supposedly to be used in a first stage assessment of my professional experience.

I entered the information, it wasn’t much and it wasn’t potentially compromising, and then completely forgot about the whole thing. That is, until I received a call today.

“Hello, this is Mini Beamer from Brie and Stilton ‘Big Cheeses in Who’s Who’. I am calling you in order to qualify you for entry into our prestigiously professional international networking and recognition hall of fame”.

So, for the best part of twenty five minutes I answer – candidly even – a succession of questions, and talked about myself and my business. We touched on education, skills, strong points, key aspects in personal and professional success, business and personal web sites, public speaking, lectures, published work, blogs, hobbies, sports, voluntary work, blah, blah, bloody blah, and more.

Towards the end of the conversation I was informed that given my exceptional professional knowledge and experience (oh, here we go) that I certainly qualified for inclusion in their Who’s Who. It was odd, because even after twenty five minutes I still hadn’t been asked for money.

Then the moment came.

“So, do you want the 5 year plan at 800 bucks or the life-long plan at 1200 bucks?”

Then the pitch came on the difference between the two offers.

“Most of our professionals go for the life-long plan because it’s the most cost effective.”

So I answered “let me think about it, and I will get back to you”.

Wrong answer!

I was told that this was not possible and that I must decide, there and then, between the five year plan and the life-long plan. I presumed that the credit card number would be the next piece of ‘necessary’ information.

The sales person then ratcheted up their game, and insisted on the extensive benefits that would accrue to me from having them extend my network ‘to the max’ and in them winning well-deserved global recognition of my work in my chosen professional fields.

Being a reasonable person I tried to calmly reason with the caller. My basic message was that I was not interested. The caller failed to hear me. I tried to stop the flow of the sales pitch – several times again and without success, and I eventually hung up the phone.

Did I know that there would be a cost involved? Of course I didn’t know, but I knew that this was a 99.9% possibility.

Did I really want to be included in such a Who’s Who? I wasn’t sure, but I wanted to find out what their angle was.

The strangest thing about the conversation was that when it came to websites and networking to achieve sales leads and real business, which was in the first five minutes of the call, I basically said:

“My company has a web site, I have a web site, I have a blog. We make no business through them. We need the corporate web site because people like to work with companies that have a web site. It’s like a relationship comfort-blanket. I am on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but I don’t use them to generate business, at all. That’s not my shtick or that of my company. And there’s a reason for it”

I made it very clear, at least in my mind, that our business model was not based on generating any business via internet channels. I know, I know, it’s strange. I deal in bleeding-edge and leading-edge technologies, innovative strategies that address significant challenges, and in business performance and risk, amongst other things, and it’s totally on the commercial edge of ‘new’, innovative and predatory thinking. So it may sound odd that all of my business engagements and dealings, and that of my associated company, are made entirely from old fashioned networking and lead generation, qualification and actions – old boys and girls networks, just like how it was done in the days when there were only bricks and mortar businesses.

That said, I have been given business leads by people I am connected with on the internet sites such as LinkedIn, but in my case it’s because I know these people personally, some are even really good friends, I get new business because I know them and they know me, not from being on a social or professional network site. That’s just the way the business has evolved, even if for other people the story may be completely different.

Maybe in the future we will start to generate leads from internet based networking. At that time I would need to consider what strategy to adopt. But right now we’re not there, nor need to be, and I will certainly never contemplate paying 1200 bucks to a dodgy Who’s Who company to manage my network and to generate professional recognition.

Later I looked up the web site of the Who’s Who Company. I just wanted to see if any of my closest partners, friends and colleagues appeared on their listings. Not one of them was registered. Then I looked for some big names; Branson, Gates, Ellison, Dell, and Bezos? Again, not even one.

What little rascals!

Thanks for reading.

File under: Good Strat, Good Strategy, Martyn Richard Jones, Martyn Jones, Cambriano Energy, Iniciativa Consulting, Iniciativa para Data Warehouse, Tiki Taka Pro