At a networking meeting last week, one of the attendees brought up the issue of not always feeling safe and secure when inviting clients into one's home office work space. Bringing this issue up may well have saved me from some trouble today.
A gent by the name of Sam Funda contacted me on Monday and said that he would like to have me do some consulting work. Now, this of course is generally really good news. There were however a few things though that might have been a bit odd.
Firstly, he said twice during the conversation "so you are at the address given on the website" (my website gives the details of the enclosed estate I run my home business from). He also seemed quite happy to pay the fees but hadn't actually looked at the page on the site that gave these details before contacting me. And then there was a business name that didn't match what the services were; as well as an mweb e-mail address and no website or internet activity mentioning him at all.
None of these things in themselves presents a problem, but overall I got a bit of an uneasy feeling. So what I did is contact the local PA Shop (something like Postnet but nicer and with a meeting room) and booked their boardroom.
I then sent an e-mail and left numerous telephone messages (he didn't answer his phone any of the times I called) telling him about the new meeting venue. He did get back to me this morning to ask for directions as he didn't get the e-mail (my server was playing up yesterday). When I said that it would be at a new venue he said he'd get back to me if he couldn't find it (although he didn't exactly appear eager to get directions over the phone which wouldn't have been difficult). Didn't happen.
The result: He didn't arrive. And there were no messages from him when I got back to the office. So. Is this just crossed communications or a foiled robbery attempt?
However, and this is where things get even more interesting, there was a message waiting for me from a lady who says that she is calling from "Funda Recruitment" wanting me to contact her to "find out more about how my consulting works".
Well, I think I 'Funda' you people out here! While these may well be genuine businesses actually wanting my services I ain't gonna take that chance! So, no I am not phoning back and no I am letting you get access to the estate.
Anyway, the result is that this has just made me a little bit more alert to the security issues of working from a home-based office.
Some of the things that can be done in future are:
- if I don't know the client from beforehand; have the first meeting in a public place.
- find out a little more about new clients by doing an internet search for them;
- ask my various contacts and groups such as this one if anyone knows anything about the particular person or company.
If anyone else has any suggestions about this it would be great to hear from you here....