Why Businesses Benefit From High School Reunions

In the beginning, high school batch reunions were not primarily meant for commercial purposes. High school reunions were just occasions to meet with old friends, reminisce about old times, and a convenient excuse to indulge in too much food and drink. But now many high school reunions are grand events that entail expenditures of hundreds of thousands or even millions of pesos.
There was a time when high school reunions were far harder to organize due to the difficulty in contacting people whom you last heard from decades ago. Nowadays, with the popularity of social networks like Facebook, it is much easier to locate and invite people. This is perhaps the main reason why there seems to be a lot more reunions nowadays.
Making ‘New’ Business Contacts
While for most people, high school reunions are for fun, it is not bad to also use it to improve your business or profession. Reunions are one of the best sources of contacts. Even if you have not seen your batchmates for many years, your knowledge of them would still be far better than when you have just met a person. Let me illustrate this. For example, you are assessing if a certain person would be a suitable business partner, employee or customer. You would need to know many things about him/her to be confident enough to take financial risks.
If you are dealing with an old classmate, you would already know his capabilities and weaknesses. While time may change a person’s traits, there are many aspects that are virtually permanent or extremely hard to change. If he were intelligent and hardworking when you were kids, it is highly probable that those traits would still be present. While I am not saying you avoid those who were naughty during high school, you should check if they are now reformed!
If you are dealing with a newly introduced person, there is a huge amount of uncertainty. You should not rely only on the assurance of the referring party. I have personally done so a few times without bothering to make other verifications, and in almost all cases, I was severely disappointed.
You must also take into account that there are many possible motivations for someone to refer a person: The referrer may have pitied the person because he is in need. He may have been pressured by influential people to refer the person. He may have only a superficial knowledge of the personality or credentials of the person. In short, there are countless reasons why you shouldn’t just accept a referral blindly.
There is also another and frequently overlooked advantage in dealing with a former classmate—the network of friends and acquaintances that you share. They form an information network that is rapidly updated, enabling you to cross check statements or get a better picture of a person’s credibility.
Wealth Of Information
Even if you have no current need to enter into a business partnership, you can gain an abundance of business knowledge just a few hours into the reunion. Frequently, you will hear of professional or business experiences that may prove useful to your industry. In the informal atmosphere, there is less inhibition and more information is volunteered freely.
Of course, there is always the possibility that you yourself could bag a deal or get referrals. After all, it is easier for classmates to trust you using the same reasons as mentioned. The key here is to know how to time your proposal. Never assume that you could get the sale quickly. Frequently, a closing attempt is done too early.
Patience is essential; realize that trust in your character is only one factor that must be checked. Rushing it may only prompt a quick rejection. It would be good enough to be able to set a future meeting to discuss what was broached.
A reunion is also where you get to plug into a gigantic grapevine outside your usual sources. You get fresh perspectives and useful information that may be useful to your business. And again, since you know a lot more about the credibility of the people giving you this information, it is more likely to be true.
It may seem sacrilegious to think of practical stuff when all you really want to do in a reunion is to enjoy yourself. Nevertheless, why not hit two birds with one stone?
*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. C-4, Sunday, February 3, 2013. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.