I have always been hesitant to use friends within companies as a means to getting business. I just think it is a very dangerous move and can kill the friendship along with the business deal if something goes south.
I have had two instances of this happen this week. One involves a former coworker of mine. She now works for a fairly big organization here in Houston, and I knew that if I could get them as a client, it could have some nice rewards. However, I just did not want to start asking her to setup appointments and all that for fear of seeming like I was using her. So I stayed away. I knew that she was somewhat aware of what I did and what Accuvant did, so I decided to just let things fall where they may. Well, she actually contacted me a couple of weeks ago through our former boss (she couldn’t find my contact info – said the cat ate it). And now it has turned into a full-fledged opportunity to do some business for them, and I just have a great feeling about the gig. They need a lot of what we provide as far as services and products, and her coworker (the security guru) seems to really want to meet with us.
And then there is another company down here in Houston that is just an absolute monster. They are all over the US and Canada, and Accuvant has been trying to get in there for some time now. But we just could not get them to give some love. Well, I have a friend that also works at this company at a very high level in security, and I knew I could probably get in the door. However, the same thing applied. I just don’t want to be that person who tries to use my friends for gain.
Well a few weeks ago someone approached me about a possible PCI opportunity. He had a client that needed some PCI scanning services. He had met one of the Accuvant founders at an event and learned what we do (we are QSA certified, are certified scan vendors, and we do PCI gap analysis work) and thought we would be a great fit. There had been a couple of people he had brought in before us, and they had fallen flat on their face. We walked in, and now we have the business. Granted, PCI scanning is not huge money. But we proved ourselves by impressing the very friend that I refused to use.
I am not saying it is wrong in all circumstances to use friendships for business purposes. But as a general rule, I just am really hesitant to do so. And with these two instances, I have found that if you don’t use the friend and you end up getting in and proving yourself and your company anyway, then it is that much more rewarding.