Conferences are a super networking opportunity to meet people from your company or other companies, even the opposition, and to gain vital information and take advantage of opportunities that you can learn about or even create.
For example, Microsoft hosted a technology conference during May 2018 in Seattle and Alison Brittain the boss of Whitbread the then owners of Costa Coffee as well as Premier Inns and other brands had a coffee with fellow Brit, James Quincey the head of Coca-Cola.
The seeds of a deal were sown which have now resulted in Coca-Cola buying the Costa brand in a mega deal worth £3.9 billion.
What does this tell us? Well firstly irrespective of the content of the conference they were on the Microsoft invitation ‘A’ list, so they were networking at a very high level. This where you have to be, its great to go to local breakfast networking events but you are never going to meet serious decision makers from big corporations there.
You must climb the ladder to get invited to top events and to do so you have to raise your profile.
Who else was there? What other corporations were represented and did either of the above attendees get the attendance list. It is essential that if there is an attendance list you obtain a copy.
Let’s have a look at these two. Alison came to Whitbread from Lloyds Bank and did her homework on James. She knew she wanted to move the brand on. She knew Coca-Cola were looking to acquire a brand and did Bill Gates help to broker the introduction?
That’s what I do and that’s what ‘Gatekeepers’ do. They make the introductions so when you are grading your connections the way that you have learned from me, make sure that you highlight the gatekeepers.
People make deals, Coca-Cola have issues with some of their branks containing high sugar levels. They are one of the worlds most respected brands and Costa has been expanding steadily and are a credible opposition to Starbucks, the world’s leader in the coffee shop business.
Let’s look out for Costa over the next few years and see how well Coca-Cola perform.
What will Whitbread do with all their money? Take your brand to them and maybe they will grow you to mega bucks. Find a gatekeeper who will make the intro, you have nothing to lose.