One thing I’ve learned over time is to make sure I cut a certain class of people out of my life. My label for them is opportunist, though maybe you can think of a better one. Being an “opportunist” by the definition is not a bad thing – one should always be watching for an opportunity to be successful.
But, what I mean when I say it is that I want to surround myself with people who want to be successful and want to help others be successful. People who just want to take and people who will cut in front of you or take an opportunity away from you are not your friends and are not good business partners. And so, I have no time for those people.
This post is borne out of real life experiences (such as the one below) and a conversation I had with my friend Wayne Sutton while I was at WordCamp Raleigh.
A True Story
There is this guy who came up to me after a talk I gave at a conference and he introduced himself. I had heard his name before. He’s fairly known in this social media space and has maybe 10 times as many followers as I do on Twitter. He asked me a couple of questions about community and I gladly answered him, giving freely of my time.
We spoke via e-mail and he was working on a community. I encouraged him to ask any additional questions he might have.
Before another conference that we were both attending, he asked me if I could bring a copy of my book with me as he said he needed to buy a copy. Instead, I offered to have a copy sent to him for free. We made arrangements, but he said he really wanted to get it at the conference or before, just so that he could read it before he launched a new site.
Usually it takes my publisher a bit longer to get a book out, but I asked them to rush me a copy of it, which they did, so that I could bring it with me and surprise him with it at the conference. They got it to me and I did, presenting him with it early in the event.
The Opportunity Presents Itself
Shortly after the conference, I was thinking about selling one of my sites and the site just happened to be in the niche that this person was well established in. So, I thought I’d ask him if he knew anyone who might be interested in it and could make an introduction.
But, instead, he responded telling me about how we could partner for some sort of lead generation service and we could be one of his affiliates. I had made it clear that I wanted to sell the site. But, no big deal. He asked about the price and what made it valuable, so I laid that information out.
I also decided that I’d offer him 10% of the final sale price as a thank you, just out of kindness. If the shoe was on the other foot, I would have gladly introduced him to someone I knew who was interested in his site, without expecting or asking for any cost or incentive. But, I figured it’d be nice to share the sale if he made the right introduction.
Things Get Weird
What came back to me was a little surprising. I had said I wanted to sell for $7,000. Meaning that 10% would be $700. He said that if he could sell it for $10,000, could he have $3,000 (30%). It’s weird because it takes away from me and the person he’s introducing me to, simply to add to his pocket.
Obviously, I “sell” the site that I’ve spent a chunk of my life developing for $3,000 more and I get none of that. But, even weirder is that the person that this guy is introducing to me and the person I sell the site to is paying more for it than they have to, just so that he can make a few extra bucks. Was the guy going to contact anyone he considers a “friend” about buying the site? And then make them pay more, basically to pay him?
In other words, even though I only want to sell it for $7,000, he’s going to tell people in his “network” (his word) that it’s $10,000, just so that he can collect $3,000 from an unlucky person in his “network.” Would you want to be in this guy’s “network”?
Count Me Out
I don’t know about anyone else, but this made me really uncomfortable. I feel that this person is just looking for an opportunity to make a buck off of me and someone in his “network.” He’s looking for opportunities to take money away from me and from someone else. That’s not a friend, that’s not a good business partner. That’s an opportunist (again, feel free to suggest a better term!). It’s also greed.
It was just weird. After I had answered questions for free, offered to answer more, sent him a copy of the book… I asked him to help with something simple that I would have easily done for him for free and even decided to offer him a little money, too, and… he wants more.
I told him no. I did say that I’d raise the percentage to 15% if the sale reached a certain level. Looking back, I wish I had just told him no. But, I really hoped to put the site into the right hands.
It’s not like it mattered, though. After I told him that I wouldn’t give him 30%, I never heard from him again.