This weekend I was reminded of two truths that are easily forgotten: networking matters and trust your vision.

My wife and I were enjoying time together with our teen kids gone for the weekend. We decided that part of our weekend-long date would include a trip to Truffles and Tortes in Anoka, MN. This tiny place makes exquisite deserts and has a small, but cozy seating area; perfect for a date.

While we were gazing into their display cases we were greeted by a smiling man wearing an apron. He had escaped from the back room to talk with customers. From his responses you could tell he not only knew their deserts, but loved to tell people about them. His joy was obvious. Based on his advice we ordered and found a place to sit.

While we were enjoying the Wild Rice soup, our happy chef emerged from the back room to mingle with the guests again. He stopped by our table where we praised his work. So he pulled up a chair to join us for a while. After a round of introductions we found out we were talking with Bob, the owner of Truffles and Tortes”. We asked about how their business has been, since they launched four months ago in the midst of this dark economy.

During our talk he made it clear that networking mattered and he had a vision for his business.

Networking Matters

Bob beamed as he talked about their first day of business back in November. He smiled as he described how they opened with no marketing and were flooded with 100 customers on their first day. While developing the location they only had a small sign on the front window stating when they planned to open. They had another location in Plymouth where people had come to learn about their one-of-a-kind deserts. That location was different; it had no seating nor food. The Plymouth location only offered walk-in deserts. This new location would offer customers more: the same unique deserts, with simple home-style meals, beverages, and a comfortable dine-in experience.

Built from their existing customer base, Bob’s new venture has been busy from the first day. 100 customers through the door of a new restaurant was a shock, he said they weren’t quite ready but they were excited. They have adapted and grown. He attributed much of their success to word of mouth marketing. Old-fashioned marketing. They trusted that their customers were talking and sharing the news about this new location; a location with food and in store dining.

Each of us needs to examine our network to understand the power and importance of word of mouth marketing. For Bob his network was talking about his unique deserts. Are people talking about me and my unique capabilities to mix technology and business? My visit not only filled my stomach, but gave my mind some ideas on how to network with more focus.

Trust Your Vision

“That won’t work”

Haven’t we all heard those words? I know I have as I have explored emerging technologies, or proposed targeting products to new niche markets. Bob said that was the response he heard when they approached the bank for funding. He smiled as he looked around the busy dining area. He smiled as he said they have stayed busy since they opened.

Bob had a vision for his business that couldn’t be stopped by a simple “no”. He persisted and trusted in his vision. He knew his customers and believed that he could attract enough people to stay in business.

There are times in all of our careers where we passionately believe in our vision. In those times we need to be able to trust in it enough to persist when all we here is “no”. With that persistence I can only hope that someday I too can feel the joy I saw in Bob’s face as he took another gaze around the room, got up to walk away, and said, “But now I can tell the bank, nah-neh-nah, nah-neh-nah, nah-neh-nah.”

I know we’ll be back. The food was great and our brief conversation with Bob refreshed some simple truths that I can so easily forget.