Periodically I receive a magazine from the English Bridge Union to which I must admit I am not an avid reader however today I decided to thumb through it over my lunch.
Bridge is a great card game which I learned more than twenty years ago although I have never reached great standards of play, I do enjoy attending my local bridge club which is welcoming, friendly but full of older people.
Similar to golf, bridge is a great leveller and because someone in the community is a highflying business person it does not follow that they can bid a bridge slam or hit a long straight golf ball.
The article that caught my eye referred to the large numbers of older people and the lack of younger people playing bridge. Obviously younger people prefer online gaming for which I have no objection but the communication skills that relate to both bridge and golf are therefore lost.
Some months ago, I did some consultancy work at a business expo for an accountancy practice and their marketing manager was a twenty-three-year-old very well spoken and educated woman who, on her own admission was struggling to put together a sentence that didn’t contain the work f**k!
Her work online was faultless, and I was in awe of how well she wrote but, face to face she was, well for me, embarrassing.
During this week’s Masterclass and Workshops the question of interaction with younger people was highlighted and that is why I am so active in passing on my skills to the next generation and teaching them how to communicate effectively.
As a business consultant my job is to create networks or expand networks for expanding companies in order to ensure effective business growth. I support and train the marketing teams many of whom are university graduates with no practical experience.
This is face to face marketing where I excel.
One of the many ways that I succeed is attending business expos nationwide and speak to and meeting new people.
Also working alongside the marketing team on the stand, usually as the hooker.
This is a skill that I have employed for many years and I do it very well. However, some of the companies that I see exhibiting are clueless in the extreme and do not get what exhibiting is all about. They simply waste a fortune and will tell you that the expo was useless when in fact THEY are useless because they don’t know how to attend successfully.
There are various reasons for exhibiting and the company, having decided to take a stand has to engage a clear strategy as to what they are looking to achieve, new clients or business expansion or just high visibility because the opposition are there.
Currently I am consulting for a firm of very professional Chartered Accountants who have a couple of very strong selling points that make them a very exciting practise.
There are three vital marketing strategies that you must engage in order to maximise your success at the expo.
The first is called Pre-Exhibition marketing.
You must get the list of registrations from the organisers and communicate with them. You must earmark potential new clients and existing clients to ensure that you welcome them.
Invite them to a stand meeting as it’s a great opportunity to communicate new or improved products.
Have something special to tell everyone. What areas you are expanding and growing, new products that you have. Special offers for exhibition attendees only.
Give aways really piss me off. Why put pens, pads, note books sweets, chocs and whatever other crap onto your stand when these items do not relate to what you do.
Someone at the company that I represent bought 5 boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts. WHY? When we are Accountants. The attendees declined them (I didn’t as I love them) they didn’t want sticky fingers and we finished up with 4 boxes over.
Another pet hate of mine is the ‘win a prize’ by putting your card into a vessel. WTF is that about??? Engage, talk to people that’s why you are there.
You only put products on the stand that are relevant to YOUR business, your brochures and your business cards. End of!
The second is At the Expo.
The people attending from your company or an outside agency must be fully informed about what you do and the products that you are presenting.
There has to be a team comprising:
• A hooker or hook
• A spotter
• A grader
• A further meeting arranger
The hooker engages with people, the hook could be a magician or similar to make people stop at your stand.
The spotter, who could also be the hooker has to know your clients or potentially new clients. Don’t let them go past without engaging with them. Why are they attending. To replace you?? Are they happy with your services/products??
The grader decides if there is a synergy and the meeting arranger does what I have been teaching you at networking masterclasses.
Selling at some expos is not a great idea it takes time and by spending time with one person you could be missing a vital opportunity with another.
Post expo marketing.
There is no reason to be there, collecting cards and not following up. I do the follow up a couple of days later after the dust has settled and create a database with a comments section. Also, it is essential to grade the connections.
The other side show is speed networking.
Last week I caved in and joined another 29 people spending about one very noisy hour meeting very nice people, many of whom had left their stands, to scream over the noise and try to deliver an elevator pitch.
I finished up with a pocket full of business cards from people who are of no business use to me AND a banging head.
My advice is to not engage in this folly. You cannot make any impact as you are time restricted and you are trying to shout above the others there.
FORGET SPEED NETWORKING.
A great place to engage is the coffee bar or food area. Join other at a table and start asking the questions that I raise in the masterclass.
This is a very brief overview. If you want a meeting email: email@example.com or call me on 07874 160944
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.
Here is a link to the video that I have made to inform you of some of the content of my Masterclass event.
I am more than happy to help organise as well as present. Also I will invite all my Linkedin connections and many more.
Today is the 3rd April 2018. It is the Easter period and also the Passover week when Jews, such as I, commemorate our forefathers leaving slavery in Egypt to be led out by Moses through the Red Sea on a forty-year schlep through the desert to the Promised Land of Israel with a stopover to collect the Ten Commandments from God.
There is obviously a lot more, but this blog is about business networking not about religion.
This past week there has been a lot in the news about anti- Semitism which I find annoying and the height of ignorance and intolerance. I detest racism in all its forms. I also find it a bit of a mystery. I recall sitting in Synagogue one day looking around me at the various congregants and thinking what is there not to like.
Most are warm and hospitable, absorbed in their families, enjoy their traditions and are charitable to all causes. The famous writer Beatrix Potter was tasked to look into the Jews arriving in the East End of London at the beginning of the last century and reported that there was little crime, lots of hard work except on the sabbath and no prostitution. The people were however very into gambling and I think that is why many have made good because they are risk takers.
This morning I attended a business meeting with a man who was knighted for his work in the greater community in which we reside, and he and I have several community projects in common. Basically, he made the plans and I saw his visions to fruition. I am an organised person who uses his extensive network to complete deals.
Following the meeting I decided to travel to North Manchester and purchase another box of Matza. These are the unleavened crackers that we substitute for bread during the week of Passover and wreck your daily ablutions.
I came to a shop called ‘Kosher Savers’ which sounded pretty good. They have a wedding sized marque in the carpark full of Passover approved fayre a mind-blowing array of goodies.
The customers are religious men in fur hats worn for special Jewish holidays and on the sabbath. All are on the phone to their bosses (wives) as what is on their shopping list is sold out and they require consent to substitute. This could screw up the misses menu. And lady customers are either pushing prams full of kids or trying to shepherd the brood away from the sweets and herd them into a recently fumigated Previa.
What does all this have to do with networking?? It has to do with trust. These people are a disparate group all shopping in a store that they trust. They are price conscience so the name ‘Savers’ works and the word ‘Kosher’ is good because they would never purchase any item without the correct label.
In your work you must build trust. Provide properly labelled goods at a reasonable price.
Quality add price equals trust. And if your product or service is wrong put your face straight and deal with it even if it costs you in the short term.
One of your prime tasks is to keep in touch with your network.
Have a look at this video to see how many of my network were honoured by Her Majesty the Queen in the New Years Honours 2017. This was not the record I almost alway get one person, the prize was four.
Imagine that you are a very attractive and eligible thirty something successful lady out on her first date with a man that she has met on a dating app.
Her dinner date spends the entire evening talking about himself, his job, previous relationships, his achievements, where he has travelled, his car and so on, it’s all about him. He hardly stops for breath and fails to interact with the lady.
The food was great and the wine (which, of course, he chose) was very drinkable. They agree to speak on the phone in a couple of days and he calls her as agreed.
During the ensueing conversation she says that she can remember six elements of what he told her about himself and he agrees that what she relates was very accurate. She was very attentive.
Now she asks him to tell her six things that he learned about her. He is dumbstruck and cannot recall any detail whatsoever.
If you were her how would you feel? would you be insulted? did he flatter you and make you feel special in any way? No, you do not want to meet him again, he was too self-consumed.
Imagine this scenario into a business context, and if you were the talkative man interacting with a colleague or client they would be equally as insulted.
Be interested rather than interesting. The person that you are talking to is king of the moment and deserves all your attention. Listen carefully, don’t think about the next question nor look over his shoulder. Keep your phone off and ask pointed considered questions.
Dale Carnegie recalls in his book ‘How to win friends and influence people’ sitting next to a lady who spent the entire dinner talking about herself. At the end of the evening she complimented him on being such an entertaining conversationalist.
I am very lucky to have a Chinese business partner, a very clever lady half my age. In meetings, she remains completely immersed in the conversation around the room taking note of the main points.
She asks well considered and pointed questions and obtains great clarity as the others in the room are her priority.
She remains interested rather than interesting and she remains very successful in her sphere of mergers and acquisitions.
You must learn to become a great listener and to ask questions, your time will come when you can capitalise on what you have learned.
Let me know if you have had a similar situation and been bored by some self consumed person.
Have a good look at my promotional video and learn some of the value that I can add to you and your networking prowess.
It is essential that you know what your best friends think about you in order that you can realise what your brand is and how you need to tweak it.
This video is inspired by a book that I am reading by Tim Ferris where he writes about serious time management issues and how to work much more effectively.
I am not sure that I agree with him completely and I would welcome your comments.