How Not to Treat a Potential Business Partner

How NOT to Treat a Potential Business Partner

Have you ever meet someone that makes your internal radar ping?

I have.

Have you met someone who just rubs you the wrong way even though on the surface they seem nice?

I have.

Have you meet someone that says all the right things, but whose actions don’t seem to match up?

I have.

Last week I got a text from my boss sharing a shocking news article. I would love to link to, but in the interest of professionalism am going to resist temptation.

The article was in reference to the sexual escapades of a doctor, his wife and two other men – you don’t want to think about it. Ironically enough the article was actually from 2007 – nothing stays hidden on the Internet.

The Doctor whom I’m going to call Dr. Smith had been trying to partner with us recently. We had thought about doing the partnership, but because of a little incident 4-5 years ago involving me had been very hesitant.

A few years ago while attending a conference we had a booth next to Dr. Smith and his team. There is typically a lot of banter and talking between exhibitor during the down hours and I’ve made some great friends over the years with my neighbors. Dr. Smith wasn’t around much, but there was always a different vibe when he was at the booth.

I was busy so I didn’t pay a lot of attention to him, but I felt my radar go off.

I’m not even sure what set it off, but something caught my attention subconsciously.

Towards the end of the conference as I was standing outside of my booth; Dr. Smith came over to me and put his arm around my shoulder and asked me if I was the type who was easily offended. I responded “no” and he proceeded to say. “Good, because I wanted to tell you that you have a F** nice A**.”

I’d never had anything like this happen to me and don’t even remember what I said, but know that I didn’t stand up for myself like I would do now.

I just remember being in shock.

I felt dirty and objectified.

I definitely didn’t feel like it was the compliment he clearly intended it to be.

Over the next couple of years I’d see Dr. Smith at various conference and for the most part was able to avoid him.

I don’t think he even remembered the incident. It was a total non-event for him.

Fast forward a few years to when a wonderful partnership opportunity came up between our companies. We were working towards similar goals and there could have been some really good synergy between our companies.

I spent a lot of time on the phone with his marketing manager (who I love – she is amazing) and really wanted the deal to work. However, at the back of my mind, I just kept thinking about my interaction with her boss.

In the end the partnership derailed and we chose not to pursue the deal. There were a variety of business reasons for our choice, but ultimately a big chunk of the decision was made because of Dr. Smith’s comments.

Last week when John shared the news story my first thought was, “thank goodness we didn’t do the deal.” Even though the story is years old it is on the second page of Google when you search his name. Someone forwarded that link to my boss which means it is out in the open now.

I don’t know if we would have pursued the business deal more aggressively if Dr. Smith hadn’t made his remark, but because of his ill-timed “compliment” I didn’t trust him.

To this day, I still don’t know what caused my internal radar to ping, but over the years I’ve learned to listen to those gut feelings I often get.

Isn’t it funny how a little comment can make such an impact on future decisions?

I’m probably preaching to the choir with this post, but you will always be more successful when you treat everyone around you with respect.

Dr. Smith chose to treat those around him in a derogatory manner that ultimately reflected poorly on his character. His lack of professionalism ruined a business deal that would have been profitable for both parties.

Actions always have consequences.

Are your actions worth the consequences that will shape your future?


Photo Credit:  Reynermedia