How to Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty

In October of 2003 I joined my local Chamber of Commerce. At my first meeting I met the former Fire Chief of St. Louis. His friendliness welcomed me into the group and he introduced me to several new people – a true sign of networking effectiveness.

No less than six months later, I found myself in a “research rut.” I was scheduled to give a speech to the Indianapolis Chapter of the Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Contracting Association – PHCC. The speech was approaching quickly and to my dismay, I had very little research under my belt. (My knowledge of plumbing was limited to that of how to stop up toilets.)

I desperately needed some help. So at the next Chamber meeting, I asked The Chief if he knew a good plumber.

“A good plumber? Ha! I know the BEST plumber – Phil Katz. He’s been a friend of mine for years. Here’s his number…”

I scribbled down the number on the back of one of my business cards as fast as I could. This was great! The best plumber in town, and I was going to interview him for my research.

Then I sent my sport coat to the cleaners two days later with the business card in the inside pocket. When I picked it up, the card looked like a piece of gum that was chewed during 12 straight innings of a 4-4 playoff game.


So much for calling Phil.

Now, because the speech was only a few weeks away, I started to get worried. I had no research.

The next day I was driving downtown for a meeting and noticed a black and yellow van outside of my passenger window. The imprint on the door read, “Phil Katz Plumbing – Over 40 Years of Experience!”

No way.

I almost swerved into the other lane. Unfortunately, the van exited on the next ramp, so I didn’t have time to memorize the number. Then by the power of either traffic or serendipity, the exact same van showed up to the right of my car three hours later on the same highway.

No way.

I DID swerve into the other lane this time! I immediately looked at the number, and for the rest of the drive home, I turned off the radio and repeated aloud, “878-4320, 878-4320, 878-4320, 878-4320, 878-4320, 878-4320.”

Thanks to The Chief, I finally got hooked up with Phil. He told me everything there was to know about becoming a plumber. I was then equipped with the knowledge that helped me create a fantastic speech that would have otherwise been flushed down the toilet.


Do you make your friends before you need them?

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Scot Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

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