Walking into a narrow hallway at a Rainmaker event, I came face to face with Eric Schneller. It was awkward to pass, so I stopped and introduced myself.  “Hi,” I said, “I am Lorraine.”

I expected that my companion would reply in kind, so I was surprised when he said “Me too!”

Seriously?  What would convince a tall, rather large man that he was a middle age woman? I would have backed away, but as I mentioned, it was a narrow hallway. There was no way to gracefully exit, so I asked why he thought he was me.

He explained that although we had never met, we had spoken on the phone. We had been introduced by my friend Sandy when I was looking for a substitute for a BNI meeting. So in a way, he had been me. We had a good laugh, chatted a few more minutes and the conversation should have ended there.

Eric was a remodeling contractor, and I had just finished a major renovation of my home. I had no need for his services. He had a good relationship with another marketing company, so he had no need for mine. But we enjoyed the conversation and decided to meet for coffee.

Over the next few years we became great friends, supporters of each other’s businesses, and eventually partners. No, I don’t own a piece of a construction company, but five years ago, Eric and I were both looking for a way to move our businesses out of our spare bedrooms. Our companies were growing and we both needed a “home.”  The solution?  We purchased the little white house together. From that point on, I always introduced Eric as “my roommate.” It always generated questions, odd looks and a few laughs. The relationship that started in a hallway resulted in us sharing one.

Without Eric, I am not sure I would have found the courage to buy a building, but together it seemed manageable. The space gave me room to expand and grow. It was a great place to bring customers, and with the addition of the cats and the dogs, it felt like home.

And the office built our brand awareness. Eric encouraged me to put a sign outside, even though I never thought people would drive down the street looking for a marketing company. He was right. Our sign is clearly visible to traffic on well-traveled 106th Street. As a result, whenever I hand my card to someone in Carmel, they know immediately where we are located.

Eric shut his business down two years ago and so I no longer have a roommate or a partner, but I still have a friend.