Saturday, 15 March 2014

How to make friends and influence people?

I am ripping of the title of a well known book for this post clearly but something happened at the end of last week that truly amazed me.

I had, through a reputable magazine, seen an article promoting a tailoring event in London along Savile Row hosted by a relatively new company to the row. I won't mention names as that is bad manners and am not out to damage their excellent reputation rather make aware to any that follow in their footsteps how you can become a sad and fearful boss or figure rather than inspiration to others.

Back to the article. It read that this event is free and open to all that wished to join. All I had to do was register online and would be welcome.

So I did and was helped wonderfully by the magazine. I registered with my personal email as was not on company business, remember I am in the same line of business as the company I am talking about. The visiting tailoring business.

To be honest, the reason I had wanted to go was I had read a lot about these chaps and the success they had and kind of wanted to get to meet them and hear what expert knowledge they could impart.

My registration was paused as they couldn't take a personal email for the event and must have a company name in. So I sent my work one.

Silly me, I though that meant it was a trade event and that must mean other tailors would appear. I was wrong but was my thought process so was even more excited to meet lots of different chaps in the industry and talk shop over a glass of champers.

I was accepted and even went on to ask if I could bring a date. Yes was the answer from the mag. No was the answer from my wife when I asked if she wanted to go as she had studying to do for a test. So I invited one of my work colleagues who I knew knew the owners personally.

He thought it would be a great idea and evening to boot. I had been looking forward to all week, as I rarely get some me time being a dad of a little one, and a good mate was joining me to go. Even better.

So we arrived, talking about what it was going to be like.

We ascended the Savile Row office steps and then further up to the first floor and entered what seem to be a event in full swing. Well dressed gentlemen and ladies were everywhere and photographers were dotted around (Karl Lagerfeld was opening the new Regent Street Chanel shop round the corner so most photojourns were there).

My colleague and I immediately made for the owners to say hi from him and introduce my self from me.

Not for an instance did I expect the reaction we got. It wasn't angry or furious or anything that terrible. He just said (and I do appreciate I am paraphrasing but apswaer blind it is as close to the true gist of it as can remember):

HIM "I don't think its fair that you have come here tonight."

US "Huh? What do you mean?"

HIM "I don't think its right you have come. I imagine it would be an unspoken rule to not turn up here." (because we were from another visiting tailoring company I assumed correctly)

US "Why? What's wrong with us being here? We're not here to try and steal your clients."

HIM "Well, I can't force you to leave so stay if you really must but I do think it's unfair."

(there were 10 or so people directly around us but felt that if we were only he would have walked us to the door himself)

I tried to explain my reasons for coming as both me and my colleague love tailoring and fine fitting clothing and had wanted to enjoy an evening hosted by two guys who have made some great success for themselves. Eager to learn always.

He still felt we were crossing some awful line that we should have seen. So, we politely left, clearly not wanted and basically kicked out for whatever reason. I can only imagine it was fear. Fear of us stealing clients (nothing would ever tempt us to reveal we were from a rival company to their clients let alone try to steal them. And we had gone straight up to them to introduce ourselves or say hi in my colleagues case. Theives don't operate so), fear of us learning something about their business, fear of....i know not what.

It was sad more than anything. I hope when I am succesful to that degree I won't operate out of fear and uneeded secrecy from people in the business. Or anyone for that matter.

So there, that was my thursday night event.

My colleague was livid and took a while for the smoke to stop emitting from his ears. We ended up for a quick drink at a wonderful jazz and blues bar nearby where we had, we felt, a much better time than we would have had at the tailoring event.

We didn't get slammed. We left by 8pm. But my colleague did bump into an old friend and his friends grilfriend so we chatted with them whilst a live band played a foot away from our heads.

I even bumped into a very happy client who just happened to be there that night and his delightful partner who complimented me on my work for his first suit.

So thanks to those that deserve and a shameful shake of the head to the owners. Hope you think better of your business brothers in the furture guys.