I had to go in for a root canal today.

Now, I know for many of us the words “root canal” bring up images of profound torture — of agony and vulnerability which sear the soul and bring grown men to tears.

And a good many of us have never had to go through the procedure.

So you can imagine that I was feeling just the tiniest bit nervous as I sat in the endodontist’s chair waiting for him to come in and take up the tools of his foul trade. While we waited, his assistant got the room organized and made sure I was as comfortable as possible. I was trying to take my mind off the impending procedure so I struck up a conversation with her. Then something happened which rather surprised me.

I asked her what her name was and she told me it was “Laurie”.

Suddenly, she was no longer just “the assistant”, but she was “Laurie”, a caring, devoted professional who only wanted me to enjoy continued dental health with a minimum of discomfort. It made a huge difference in my own attitude. While I wasn’t dancing a jig by any means, I suddenly didn’t feel nearly as worried as I had when I first walked in.

Obviously, it wasn’t just knowing her name that made the difference, but rather the idea that I suddenly had this much more personal relationship with her that helped relieve some of my fears. How often does that happen in our own line of work?

No matter what we do, if a client has never experienced it before, there is a certain amount of nervousness associated. By becoming a person in their eyes, and not just a business, we can help relieve a lot of that discomfort. If they’ve never had to purchase a furnace before, are they going to be more comfortable dealing with the ABC Furnace Company or with their new friend Mike who happens to work at ABC? I think the same holds true for medical procedures, buying a car, or getting a massage. If they know the person with whom they are dealing, it takes away from a lot of the stress that they might feel about dealing with the unknown.

This is why referrals are such a powerful thing. We can recommend a business, but we refer a person. We are essentially telling someone who trusts us, that we trust this other person to take care of them.

So, when it comes to networking, remember that we are more important than our brand. Our network will be with us no matter what company we currently serve. They know and trust us, and only through us do they trust the company.

Oh, and the root canal turned out fine. Maybe I’m unusual, but I experienced less pain during and after this procedure than I did the last time I had a tooth filled. Still, I recommend you avoid it if you can. No amount of personal relationship can make it a truly enjoyable time.

Photo credit: stock.xchng user sardinelly