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Judging on appearances (a follow up)

Last night, I went to a sort of a networking business launch event in one of the car dealerships in Cheshire Oaks.

I was stood on my own with a drink and some nibbles in front of me, and this lady walked up to me and picked up some of the crisps from the bowl in front of me. She went “oh, these are really nice, aren’t they?” (they were quite posh baked crisps, if you’re interested). And I kind of joked “back off, they’re mine!” And i made a sort of judgment from what she looked like and what she was doing that she was just there for the event and the nibbles like I was.

But as I got talking to her, I found out that she actually owned the dealership. In fact, she owned the dealership next door too, and the one next door to that. I realised that I’d made a judgment based on this woman and what she was wearing, her appearance and her friendly nature, that she might not have been the sort of person I wanted to talk to and find out more about. What’s more, I’ve made this sort of stupid mistake before.

It reminded me of a story I was told probably about 10 or 15 years ago of another car dealership in Cardiff, not far from where I come from in South Wales. In an Aston Martin dealership in Cardiff, two lads walked in in their early twenties, and they were dressed like early twenties lads would have done back then. They probably had those Global Hypercolor T-shirts on that were really fashionable and changed colour when you got hot and sweated, along with the Jason Donovan jeans with the rips all down the front. I should also point out they were from Manchester, so they no doubt walked in with a lot of bravado saying things like “hey, these cars are absolutely mental!”

So, they were trying the doors, sitting in the cars and messing about, and the car dealer at the back eventually said to them “I think you’ve had enough fun now, haven’t you? I think it’s time you left, isn’t it?” Being from South Wales, I can get away with saying that’s how they talk down there! Anyway, he kicked the two lads out.

A couple of weeks later, the Cardiff dealership got a call from an Aston Martin dealer in London, and he said, “did you have a couple of lads from Manchester in your dealership a couple of weeks ago”. The Cardiff dealer replied that he did, and he threw them out. The London dealer then explained that the two lads were from a new pop group called Take That, and that they had just bought five cars from him.

The moral of this story is that you shouldn’t judge people based on appearances, as I almost did again last night, in a car dealership, no less. Why don’t I learn from my own stories?

As you look around the tables at your next business networking event, there will be some, if not a majority of people in the room who you don’t know. Until you’ve spoken to them and found out who they know, what they do, who they do it for, who they went to school with and so on, you don’t know whether they have that connection or business referral that would absolutely transform your business.

So, don’t judge on appearances, gender, ethnicity, age, height or dress. Get to know everybody in the room, because it might just be the biggest business decision you ever make.

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