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Brückners Time Signals

Tick Right:
The Watch as a Networking Instrument

What's going on when the economic situation stutters and the job market, as a direct result of the laws of Darwin, is affected as a consequence? Dozens of advice books home and abroad can't all be wrong: They recommend specific networking. Making new contacts is so essential for the national economy that at conferences, "coffee breaks" are no longer planned in. Today, the time between two Powerpoint-supported boring seminars is used for a "networking break". So at least being there makes sense. Indeed, good networking can also be learnt, of course. One can initiate contacts on the technical level, presuming that the networking participants come from the same branch.

What, however, if two contemporaries from completely different areas should meet? What, for example, should a HNO doctor speak about with a banker? About diseases? About sensible investment alternatives? Both subjects are unsuitable because, whatever happens, profound know-how could only be introduced by one of the networkers. A neutral subject would be more suitable. Let's get down to brass tacks: It came to pass in these days that a banker from the Rhine Main area visited a HNO doctor. After the medical questions were all cleared up, the patient looked to the doctor, viewing his wrist in a curious fashion: “May I see your watch?“, he asked abruptly. The doctor felt flattered and proudly presented his timepiece from Swiss provenance. Then the ex-banker took his Chrono from his wrist – and both found that they had a common subject. In the evening, three days later, they met in a wine bar and spoke in detail of watches, accompanied by several glasses of Riesling. Not a word was spoken about disease, or investment recommendations. But the doctor had won a patient, and the banker a customer.

Watches indicate not only the time. They are an excellent subject for successful networking and witty small talk. In this way in the past, this author has won over more than one customer. You just can't go wrong with this subject, as long as no-one is making a garish exhibition of themselves. Who would have anything against mechanical watches? I was even able to score sustainable points against an engaged ecological activist as I assured him that I only wore mechanical watches because I didn't want to damage the environment with the use of batteries from quartz watches.

But the subject of "watches" in networking discussions still carries certain dangers. There are – completely incomprehensibly, as far as I'm concerned – people who feel that it is questionable if one invests a relatively large sum of money in watches. There are people who turn their noses up at us, even though they themselves spend huge sums on the other pleasant things life has to offer. Still: Watch lovers always live with the latent risk of envy. Although envy is the highest form of social recognition, this knowledge does not really help if one is expecting something from the envious person.

The story goes that a middle-sized forwarding agency enterpriser from South Germany who, for many years had indulged his passion for watches, but put away his most expensive pieces when he received his customers. For such cases he had visited a department store and purchased a rather inexpensive quartz watch. The point was that he didn't want to cause envy amongst his customers because his plan was to bring in more orders for his company. This went well for a long time. However, after a time he came face to face with the wrong man: A customer told him, "As a successful entrepreneur you should get yourself another watch".

Embarrassing. But regardless of what we do, pitfalls always abound.