I was simply so stupid at the beginning of building Pacific Direct and possibly naive and embarrassed that it took me years to gain the confidence and to understand the real value of networking well. Indeed, I would suggest I missed a great deal of easier opportunity and lost out too often to the better players in the hospitality networking game when I was young and unaware of the value of planned networking. When I reflect, how silly could I have been. I should have used the assets of being a rare female executive amongst a mass of males…advantage Lara.
I had no strategy until I started to realise the big steps of change I could create simply by meeting the people I needed to meet to reach the decision makers and influencers I need to see and to win to my side of the supply argument.
Associations exist in most industries, Clubs, educational alumni, conferences for senior executives trying to keep up with the change in their industry. All solid places where you can make an effort to meet the right people in the right environments.
You have to be creative at networking, targets in your approach to core contacts and as persistent and determined and persuasive as possible Is your business pitch world – leading a, engaging and memorable. If it is not, sort it and fast. I fell short by waffling mine out and felt a right Muppet – we all need to practice this piece to perfection. Write it down, refine it and then set it to memory so you deliver with confidence and flow.
There are multiple ways of meeting the right people – simplest of all, ask the host of an event to introduce you? Turn up early so they you can literally see people arrive and literally stalk them at the door, (in the nicest possible way.) Do you know someone whom knows the person you want to meet? Plan to meet them together?
Too often people are trapped at an event talking to someone whom is not a core “target” in the nicest possible way you have to learn to extract yourself from such conversations. It is a big world, people know the importance and value of giving up and evening to be with what are essentially strangers and I have often been brutally honest as I meet people in the room working towards the people I really want to meet most. I do always work hard to be sincerely interested in others, everyone has something to offer but the time you have is valuable as is theirs and if you are not going to be interested in someone’s product politely say so and move onwards.
Whatever you do when growing a business be ready to meet someone you need to meet at any time. Genuinely whenever there is an industry gathering look for any opportunity to be involved, do the extra bit to be involved, possibly sponsor or simply be an active fan of those that do the delivery in your sector. In my case the House Keepers Association were some of the most powerful influencers in the decision making process of our industry. Who are those that really have to daily use, live and breathe by the product you supply and you need to be your fans?
By Lara Morgan who is an award winning entrepreneur, international best-seller of ‘More Balls Than Most’ and founder of Company Shortcuts