Samuel Johnson said, "It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust." Happy Halloween everybody! Seems like with all of the ghosts and disguises around these days, virtual ghouls also have a way of creeping out of the woodwork lately...
A couple of weeks ago, I received a formal letter by the National Association of Professional Women, acknowledging my accomplishments and inviting me to join their ranks in order to be able to network with fellow professional women nationwide. I was flattered, and since I seem to remember the letter saying something along the lines of, "sign up for free", I went to their website, had a look around, liked very much what I saw, and signed up.
Yesterday, lovely Nadia called me to confirm my membership and check some facts about my application. We chatted about my educational background and work experience, nothing of which is a secret as I have it available on my public profiles such as linked-in and xing. The conversation was really pleasant, and I commended her on being such a passionate advocate for enhancing women's opportunities in the world. She even remained friendly every time I refused to hand over my credit card details and be charged for the many levels of elite, gold, standard etc memberships she offered. The price went down from $689 via $489 to finally "complimentary", and I'm glad this peculiarity managed to penetrate the subtle flattery she used throughout the chat, so in the end I did not bite.
Today, I received a letter from Cambridge's Who's Who directory, acknowledging my accomplishments and inviting me to join their ranks in order to be able to network with fellow professional women nationwide.
A Google-search on this latter letter quickly turned up articles on websites like ripoffreport.com and scam.com, citing numerous complaints, even information on a fine of $50,000 that the owner was sentenced to pay. And yes, it appears that the above mentioned National Association of Professional Women is run by the same man for the same purpose - cheating trusting new business owners and other vulnerable members of society out of their hard-earned money.
My message to you today is this: you ARE valuable, and your accomplishments ARE appreciated, but please DO NOT PAY anyone to validate yourself. Also: trust is good, but knowledge is better. Do your research. Websites like the above as well as the Better Business Bureau allow you to check up on shady business in case you have any reservations. If you are interested, see what I have previously written about networking here.
Til next time! Speaking of which, remember to turn back your clocks one hour, daylight savings time ends on November 2nd!
Image by Jim Staley, Flickr, Creative Commons License.