I received a call from an out of state number last week which I had never seen before.

Two considerations:

  • Let the phone go to voicemail because I don’t like taking calls from unknown numbers
  • Answer the phone because it could be a new client asking about one of my seminars

I decided to choose the latter because I was just tweaking the website and in no urgent hurry to get the job done.

I answered the phone, “Hi, this is Doug.”

Unknown caller, “Hi, is this Doug?”

“Yes, it is…. How may I help you?

“Hi, this is Hector Devitre… I just moved to St. Louis and was looking on the internet and found your name. I think it is possible that we might be related.”

I began to think to myself that a name like Devitre is very unique and the chances of someone finding me on Google are very good because of my work online, but again… it could be some sort of stalker who liked my profile picture and wanted to harm me. What would you do?

  • Hang up immediately
  • Say, “Sorry no one here by that name.”
  • Welcome them with open dialogue, confidentiality, and warmth.

We started conversing about the Devitre name, a French name symbolizing de vitre (of the glass), possible relatives, and past family religion from our ancestry in India. It was like no conversation I have ever had before because the more we talked the more I was excited about the possibility of a new relative or relatives whom I had never met before.

At the same time I was suspicious. I started thinking with the internet anyone could find me, trace my background, and lure me into a face to face conversation. I could be jeopardizing my safety by meeting a stranger in the middle of the night and who knows what would happen.

I trusted my gut and decided to ask him to join me for dinner that night.

Hector Devitre, a 50 year old married man with children back home, turned out to be delightful, positive, and full of family knowledge. It turns out he had the entire family tree dating back from the 1850s, something I had been without on my Dad’s side of the family my whole life. The only people I knew on my Dad’s side was his sister, Dinaz, whom I visited in Mumbai, India early 2007 and no one else. Hector said that there were four sons of Sorabji back in the late 1800’s one of which was my father’s father, Hirji. Please see family tree created using SmartArt in Microsoft PowerPoint 2007.

Devitre Family Tree
Devitre Family Tree

I now know the most of the family history on my father’s side of the family and owe it all to Hector who had called me out of the blue by finding me on the internet. I have been preaching at my seminars, teleseminars, and live TV station about the use of social media for business but know I can see more value than just an opportunity for the almighty dollar. The site he found me on was LinkedIn.

Why stop here? Since Devitre is a rare name I can find some of the other relatives and connect with them, their families, and join them when I visit them to find out more about my heritage in India which dates back several centuries. I can use Facebook to scroll their children to see if we have common interests. I can see pictures of their family members, events, and more about their lives than I ever could by picking up the phone and dialing. This automatic friendship and love for people continues to grow because, with the use of social media, we can now extend the relationships with those that we never knew existed before.

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