We all get tired of daily phone calls from hotels, conference venues and AV companies desperate to book a meeting to try and sell you their services. For a long time I used to try and avoid these calls, failed to respond to emails and used any excuse under the sun to avoid letting them within a mile of my office. I then sat back and thought about the importance of networking and how valuable these meetings could be, so started taking a different approach and using these offers to my advantage.
Most companies only request 15-20 minutes of your time to tell you about their services and how they can help you. Yes, they want the business and will give you the typical sales pitch, but allowing them through the door opens up a world of opportunities for you. The venue might be the opposite side of the country, the designers may be based abroad, but you never know when these contacts might come in handy. I started to create my own database of contacts from across Europe including hotels, AV and entertainment companies, photographers, designers – even DJ’s and magicians. The list continues to grow as I meet more people and the opportunities are endless.
A client may call and ask me to recommend a couple of venues in Birmingham City Centre. I just look at my list and can fire off the top 5 choices without even having to visit some of them. Of course, there are the perks of job too – invites to afternoon tea and a show around, VIP tickets to the launch night of a refurbished 5* resort and even a free nights stay in a top branded hotel with chocolate covered, poppy candy strawberries and a bottle of wine!
Always make a good first impression as you’ll be judged within the first couple of seconds. We’re all guilty of it and I’m more inclined to work with a person who has a friendly and positive attitude from the very start. Next to all of my contacts I have my own 1-5 rating of their services, not by the quality of their photographs or the star rating of the venue, but by the attitude of the person who’s trying to turn my head. You could have the worst venue in the world but if you’re confident in the staff you’ll be working with, the final outcome will be a success. I’d also strongly recommend taking advantage of social media sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn to build your networks. Again, it’s a good way to join community groups to see what everyone else is doing, learn more about the industry and get your own name recognised.
So next time you get that sales call you’re dreading, take a moment to think about how you can use this opportunity to your advantage. Welcome the opportunity of a new contact as one day you may need a favour at the very last minute and you’re on their black list for not returning their calls!
This is a guest blog by @EventsExecutive working in the Public Sector, Event Management Graduate specialising in Conferences and Award Ceremonies.