My husband isn’t one to enjoy casual networking, he still can’t believe lunches and latte conversations lead to meaningful new business. The issue for him is the time and patience it takes. By the time new orders, or something significant happens, he’s lost track of how that connection appeared in the first place. But I haven’t forgotten, I know we had that line in the water for some time. In my career, I’ve seen how genuine, patient, follow up can lead to new sales, strong partnerships and important visibility. I’ll share a few examples for the non-believers.
First, I was asked to speak on a panel recently on the topic of women in business. This wasn’t a hospitality targeted event or a corporate gifting audience, we were speaking to women working in all stages of their careers - full time, contract, just starting out, mid-career, with families, and seasoned empty nesters. I agreed because I was committed to sharing my story in the off-chance it might resonate with a woman in the crowd. After the panel, I received a message via LinkedIn from an attendee who said she thought her CEO would love knowing about our artisan gifts. She connected me with the CEO’s Chief of Staff, and I followed up. They then connected me to another individual, more follow up. Fast forward, and we’ve now delivered repeat orders to that global client, all based on the fact that I spoke on a panel months ago.
Second, even though our main target is corporate, we do sell gift boxes to individuals too. You never know who those individuals are giving a box to, who else they know, and/or where they work. Our marketing “speaks” to corporate, however, individuals order off the website from our full Gift Box Collection. In one example, customers have loved our gift boxes so much that they referred us to their favorite luxury vacation resorts. After several emails and phone calls, the resort executives then ordered our gift boxes for their VIP guests.
Lastly, years ago I read the book, Small Giants, and loved it. I enjoyed it so much, I took a train to New York City to hear the author (an editor at Inc. Magazine) and a featured CEO from the book, speak at Columbia University. Before the session began, I introduced myself to the speakers and invited them to come speak in Central Pennsylvania , where I lived at the time. I went home and followed up on my request. We worked on the details, and Bo Burlingham and Norm Brodsky came to Harrisburg to speak to entrepreneurs in Central Pennsylvania. Somehow, I managed to get two editors from a major publication to speak – no speaking fees – in our small city. It was a big success with entrepreneurs attending from all stages of growth. Later, I took the train back to Manhattan, to have lunch with Bo, ask questions and hear more of his insights on writing content. Looking back, that was a big moment in my life, when you realize what you can accomplish when you set your mind to something.
In our current business endeavor, we are lean and I don’t have time for days full of coffee meetings and casual lunches, I’m not suggesting that. I am saying that creating opportunities for selective outreach, with genuine intention, and persistence can be productive if you’ve laid the groundwork.
You can create your own path forward. Find your spot, set the environment, and cast your line. You might be amazed what it nets over the coming months.
Below is my signed copy of Small Giants (of course!) and a picture of our event coordinator (Jeanmarie Kline) , myself (the one with the rebel blonde streak), Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham. Still a favorite photo of mine!