BY: Ed Szczesniak, SBA Vice President
Owner/Designer – Georgian Landscape Design
Friends of ours – let’s call them Brian and Liz (since those are their names) – moved to Suwanee about a year ago from Chicago. Good move! Now if you’ve ever moved and changed cities or states – (which my wife and I have several times thanks mostly to “For Sale by Neighbors” signs being posted in our front yard) – you’ve likely experienced the same things that our friends did. They came to us and said, “Where’s a good restaurant? Do you know a good mechanic? Who’s the best person to speak to about insurance?” etc., etc., etc.
I guess Brian and Liz began to trust my judgment about various businesses in Suwanee over the past year, as they continued to inquire about additional contacts for everything from car washes to handy-persons (see – I can be politically correct), to dog groomers, and yes…even health insurance providers (I actually know one who understands Obamacare)!!!
But the biggest question Brian and Liz asked me was, “Ed, you’ve only lived in Suwanee for six years. How do you know so many great folks – you’re just not that nice a guy?”
The answer was a simple one. When we moved here, I took the advice of a local friend and, somewhat reluctantly, went to a Suwanee Business Alliance meeting. Having spent 25 years with companies like IBM and Deloitte Consulting, I had been – shall we say – “STRONGLY Encouraged” to join various organizations such as Chambers of Commerce, Jaycees, numerous local networking groups, Friends of the Boring – you name it. But I’d gotten out of the corporate life, now had my own business, and nobody (other than my wife, Lucy) could tell me what to do. So I went to a meeting – mostly because it was at Wild Wings that month, and I’m from Buffalo and can eat about 200 wings at a sitting, and I heard the wings were free!
Well – over the past six years, I’ve missed ONE meeting! Not because I have to report my attendance to anyone (and BTW – Lucy is now a member) or for the free food, but for the very reason that Brian and Liz have discovered – there are just so many nice people right here in town… and… “people do business with people they like”
I don’t know who said it, but you know it’s true! What I learned from that first SBA meeting was that I wasn’t in a room full of empty suits (PS – I still have some – along with a bunch of IBM white shirts – size 16 x 33 if anyone needs some). Instead of standing around trying to sell someone consulting services or impress some corporate CEO, I found myself just making new friends – no strings attached – no sales pitches – just friends! Over time those folks introduced me to their friends and I learned who to trust – who I wanted to do business with – and yes – even sometimes got a “nod” about which businesses I might want to avoid.
Now my banker, my CPA, financial advisor, insurance agent, car wash, mechanic, hair salon (yes – but don’t blame them – consider what I have to work with), eye doctor, dentist, photographer, Sophie & Rocco’s favorite pet shop and groomer (they’re our dogs not our kids), many of the restaurants we frequent (where the owners are usually SBA members and greet you like it is Cheers “Where everyone knows your name” in Boston), and even the food take out service we use when I’ve attempted to cook dinner – these are all our friends, who we now do business with.
And it works the other way too. In the six years I’ve been with the SBA, I’ve completed more than 40 landscape projects in and around Suwanee – thanks to my new friends!
So as new folks move into our growing Suwanee neighborhood, Liz and Brian are able to spread the word about the best places to shop, eat, and get reliable local services. They refer them to their new friends. It’s that old “you tell one person – who tells one person” – and pretty soon one heck of a lot of people know about who to use when they need something.
It’s a new year – and perhaps an opportunity for you to get to know some “new friends” here in town. You never know when you may need their services or when they may need yours.
As you can probably tell – we’re a pretty easy going group. Just ask one of our friends!