Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Holiday Thank You to the Community

Sometimes business is buiness. And sometimes friendship is friendship. And when we're lucky, we do business with people we like.

Today was a weird day. I did a bunch of things I don't normally do, didn't make any money, and had a great time.

It started with a great sales event at the local Microsoft office with Suzanne Lavine, the ultimate CPAM Goddess of of Microsoft. Tom and all the others wish they could do what Suzanne does.

That was interrupted by a call with Harry B, who was in more of a chatty mood than I was because I had to get back to the sales event.

Harry Agreed to let us distribute his current SMB Nation books through SMBbooks.com, and to let us distribute his new books as they are released over the next 6-8 months. Great news for us (and you).

So I apologized to Suzanne, who asks about SMB Nation. We side track everyone for awhile. That leads to a general discussion of attending events. Everyone agrees that networking opportunities are the greatest.

Someone asks whether I get any value from events like SMB Nation, SMBTN Summit, or SBS Migration.

And having just finished watching every minute of Rome, I slip into an oration.

Community events allow me to make contacts with people I rarely see. Real contacts. Sit down and share a meal contacts.

Truth be told, I can call Vlad Mazek, Jeff Middleton, Erick Simpson, or Amy Luby anytime. But I don't.

But one way or another I manage to connect with these fine people in person 1-2 times a year "in real life." And that means in real life at conferences or seminars.

I first met each of these people face to face at some seminar. There are many more people I only know because of communications via blogs or yahoo groups. Some people live in far-off continents. Some helped me when I needed something.

So I got into a meloncholy mood.

I checked my email. A smart-ass comment from a friend about a blog post.

It's great to be part of a community.

Then I scurried off to Macaroni Grill for the last SBS User Group "meeting" of the year. Twenty people showed up, including Suzanne. Raymond drove 1.5 hours to get here. I always appreciate that. We had a great meal, did a gift exchange. Thanks to Jonathan for organizing all of this.

The gift exchange was organized by Janet.

You may have seen Janet at SMB Nation even if you haven't met her personally. She's a fifth level vegan: She won't eat anything that castes a shadow. I sat next to Brad, one of my favorite people in the world.


And when I wondered home, I'd spent seven hours with people in the SMB community, talking about people in the SMB community, about "stuff" in the SMB community.

And as Christmas approaches, I am truly grateful for the SMB community.

Talking to folks at dinner tonight was very much like a family reunion. Brad asked about the client where he'd helped me rewire 65 workstations in one day; Jonathan quietly accepted thanks for organizing everything; Bob sat at the head of the table and played the father figure; Mark played up his gag gift like a master; and Denny introduced his fiance with pride.

Jeff summed it up: As small businesses, we don't really have company Holiday parties. This is our Christmas party.

True enough.

My enjoyment of the evening really has nothing to do with business: It has to do with choosing to spend time with people I enjoy. I am eternally grateful to the community for being a community and for allowing me to participate.

As I retire for the night, I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a spectacular new year.

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