Friday, July 4, 2008

The Life Olympics (or, Too Much F***ing Competition)

I’m not a competitive person as it is, but this shit is beyond the pale. As some of you know, G-man and I have been trying very hard lately to grow the business, because the alternative would be standing idly by and watching it go tits-up. We both detest schmoozing, but realize it’s essential to small business survival, so one of us had to suck it up, get out there, and try to network. Since G-man has been doing what little work we’ve had come in lately, since he stays on top of the financial logistics and such, it seemed only fair that I step up and take on the role of what? Small business community liaison, I guess one could say.

To that end, I’ve applied to join a networking group. These groups are set up to provide members with sources of word-of-mouth referrals for each other. Only one profession can be represented in a given chapter, so there’s no internal competition, no conflict of interest. I applied as a graphic designer; we were told I was the only one applying.

This whole process started several weeks ago. The way the thing works, one gets to attend two meetings free (lunch not included) before determining whether or not to apply for membership. So I went to two of these events, sucked up my morbid fear of public speaking, got to know the group (of about 25) and the individuals in it, even learned names. Decided these were nice people and I would happily go to bat, promoting any of their businesses to friends and business acquaintances alike. After submitting my application, I came in for a third meeting a week ago, after which I was interviewed – a step we’d been led to believe was a mere formality. Okay, this is where it gets good. The interview goes fine, but I’m told – get this – they have to interview ANOTHER GRAPHIC DESIGNER late next week (that would have been yesterday); then a decision would be made and they’d let me know. Late yesterday I receive an email. One of the guys on the membership committee is away, so now they’re going to meet on Monday (today is Friday), supposedly make a decision and let me know then. This is the SECOND major delay now… thanks for the gift of a nice, relaxing weekend guys. I need more anxiety like I need a good, swift poke in the eye with a knitting needle.

And have I mentioned the best part? Wait for it… All this, all this stress, all this self-doubt and gnawing on non-existent fingernails, all this is for the privilege of shelling out nearly $600 to join the chapter. I’M COMPETING TO PAY TO WORK. And it is work; it’s all very give and take, this stuff; during the days between meetings, you’re expected to be looking for opportunities to promote others’ businesses. Fair enough, though; other people will be out there promoting yours… this stuff is really supposed to work, hence my desire to get in.

Still, I can’t believe it’s come to this. Over the course of a year or so, we’ve gone from being (as G-man so poetically puts it) “balls-to-the wall busy” to barely keeping afloat. Colombia may have seemed like an extravagance under the circumstances, but it wasn’t really. A, we took the trip with a bit of a nest egg we’d built up, and B, we were “guaranteed” to hit the ground running on our return. There was a big-ass project in the works that would have translated into more than a month of work for both of us. At the eleventh hour, our client’s client decides to bail and go with an entirely different team of suppliers. Nobody’s fault, but that’s scant comfort. I keep seeing Nelson (the Simpsons bully) going “YOINK!” as he separates some poor little nerd from his bag lunch.

So, yeah. Frustrated much? Oh, just a tad. Maybe next I’ll take up walking on hot coals… It sounds like way more fun than life is offering right now. And hey, then I’d get to smolder on the outside too!


Sandy said...

yeap its life. probably you would get a better job. The promoting and referral business, is it something like AMWAY?

Papillon said...

Hi Sandy,

No, it's nothing like Amway. All the members already have jobs, or own small businesses. G-man and I have a home-based office where we do graphic design and on occasion, writing.

The organization is called BNI (Business Networking International. Here's a brief description from, their website,

BNI is the largest business networking organization in the world. We offer members the opportunity to share ideas, contacts and most importantly, business referrals.

If you're interested, they do have a chapter in Mumbai.

I promise to come by your blog in the next day or two; it's just that I've been a bit preoccupied. Have a great week!

Papillon said...


Phew! I'm in!

Not that I really cared one way or another, noooh... ;^)