“I refuse to take my work home with me.” Have you heard that before – maybe even said it? There seems to be a fervent desire today to separate work life and home life. If you are a business development professional in the coffee service, vending or micro market industry, that separation is a mistake; especially if you believe in the power of networking.
A consultant named Bill Lewis claims to have coined the term, “networking” in a 1985 article, to describe the act of developing contacts to build business relationships. Over 30 years later, there are structured networking organizations designed to share information (Le Tip), informal groups that share leads (self-assembled) and online opportunities to build your network (LinkedIn).
Nothing is more powerful than the networking you can do in your everyday life, outside of your work environment. “Personal Time Networking,” PTN for short.
The net worth of PTN
Looking back at my own PTN experiences, there were five areas of involvement that opened doors and generated tremendous revenue for my company. Some were better than others, because some were not conducive to PTN success.
I did not join these organizations to network, but once I was there, it was obvious that the opportunity was huge, because many prospects for my products and services were present. If they were not decision makers, they could introduce me to decision makers.
My PTN venues:
- Country Club
- Youth Sports
- Charitable Organizations
For others, viable PTN venues could include: Local service organizations (Rotary, Kiwanis, your Chamber of Commerce), your kid’s school, your alumni association and charity golf events.
Three PTN rules
- Be part of the organization because you want to be there. Your passion for the organization is critical. Your sincerity will make the PTN side come very naturally. The new business you gain from PTN is a fringe benefit of what the organization brings to you personally. I did not become President of my Lutheran Church to get sales leads. As it turns out, there weren’t many B2B opportunities in a congregation of 350 people. There were a couple of contacts that turned into business, to the tune of $200,000 plus over the years. A very small amount compared to other PTN results. A larger church or temple will result in an exponentially larger return.
- Get heavily involved. It is not enough to just join an organization. You need to immerse yourself in the organization and put your talent to work for them. At my country club, I was a committee member, a tournament chairman, an officer and ultimately, president. Everyone knew what my business was all about. I was a youth baseball coach and manager for seven years. You get to know a lot of parents who own businesses, make decisions and can open doors. Over the years, my million hours of coaching (seems like that much) generated well over $1,000,000 in sales. Not bad, but still a relatively small amount.
- Be patient. We all want instant gratification, but PTN is a slow process. You should not rush it, because if you are a likeable individual, are reasonably nice to everyone and people know what you do for a living, PTN will yield significant returns. If you push it, PTN will come off as selling. My wife and I joined our country club 30 years ago (we were very young members). As I mentioned above, my involvement was significant. As time went on, I began to take on several members as new clients. In 2016, our last full year before selling Gourmet Coffee Service, PTN from the country club generated over $1,000,000 for 2016 alone. Patience pays off.
Five valuable PTN tips
- Use your work e-mail. For all correspondence during PTN activities, use your work e-mail, complete with your logo, tagline, website, phone number and anything else you can add that will educate the recipients on what you do for a living.
- Oversight. If you get some new business because of PTN, you better make absolutely sure that everyone in your organization knows that this client needs to receive the best possible service. Here is the last thing you want to hear from an attorney, at your country club, on the first tee on Saturday morning: “I can’t believe we did not have coffee in the office yesterday.” Instead, you want that attorney singing the praises of your company to other members, right in front of everyone who will listen.
- Serve your Clients. If you can join your local Facility Manager’s Association, Legal Administrators group or HR Association, do it before your competition does. This is less PTN and more traditional networking, but chances are, it will cut into your free time, especially if you wisely become involved. Free time well spent.
- Be Generous. When you are asked to donate a gift for a silent auction or a raffle, use it as an advertising opportunity and donate something that will generate a reaction – sports tickets, free golf – use of your mountain home. Most importantly, be sure that your name and your company name is displayed prominently.
- Send the right person for the job. A fancy fundraising dinner or a charitable golf tournament is what business insurance specialist Andrew Valdivia calls, “A Target Rich Environment.” Valdivia, Area President for Gallagher White, recognizes the importance of sending gregarious people to events; people who are not afraid to introduce themselves to strangers and cultivate new contacts. “If your company is sending four top executives to a fundraising dinner and they have no intention of talking to anyone but themselves, you are missing a nice opportunity,” said Valdivia.
“I don’t have time”
Nobody said it was easy, but for most people, not having enough time is a lame excuse when it comes to Personal Time Networking. What they are really saying: “I do not have the personal discipline and commitment to take that extra step and propel my company and my career to a higher level.” That is exactly what PTN can do.
As an account executive, it is OK to lack the drive required to utilize PTN, but you must understand that those who embrace the concept will pass you by. When you are ready to join the elite, PTN is always there – an endless opportunity to turn the activities you enjoy into a business opportunity.
I welcome your feedback - Cell 818 261-1758 - [email protected]
Visit the website - www.tullioB2B.com
Over the last 37 years, Bob has sold video games, cigarette machines, cranes and juke boxes to bars and amusement centers, full line vending to public locations and office environments, pay telephones to retailers, coffee service to thousands of office locations and of course, micro-markets. He has a very successful track record as key strategist, sales trainer and media manager under the title, "Director of Business Development" for World Wide Vending and Gourmet Coffee Service.