TOPIC: How do you network? What organizations, associations, or trade shows have been the most successful for your company? How have they benefited you?We find that successful networking opportunities come through organizations focused on building relationships and industry awareness. We don’t invest much time in speed networking or other opportunities where the sale is the main focus. These events can be successful but picking the right ones is tricky.
We believe that relationships are a key driver of business, and associations like Meeting Planners International (MPI), Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), Professional Convention Management Association, and local convention and visitors bureaus underscore this belief. If you are able to serve as a mentor, committee member, or volunteer, you build relationships and trust.
The second main area of focus is trade shows. These shows allow us to be in a room with customers and counterparts who are specifically looking for our services and/or business partners. Wedding shows provide a large return on our investment and we look for expos where we are the only transportation provider. Industry shows are very important to our growth and success as well. Locally, we invest our time at any show where we know there will be a large showing from the hotel, third-party meeting and events, and entertainment industries.
Each member of our sales teams is encouraged to find an association or group where they feel a personal connection. Some of our largest customers have come through that time spent as a volunteer or sitting on a committee. Surround yourself with professionals, make connections, and have fun. The business will follow.
Jerold Bean, Director, Sales, Meetings & Events
Windy City Limousine in Broadview, Ill.
We have a five-fold strategy for networking:
1. We join appropriate associations, convention and visitors bureaus, and chambers in our local markets.
2. We host events that give Mosaic Global Transportation visibility and wing-span.
3. Through our strategy of giving back to our community—Make-A-Wish, youth scholarships, etc.—we often benefit from that plan.
4. We employ a sales director and team whose number one job is to evangelize Mosaic.
5. I travel across the country close to 45 percent of my time to create partnerships with our trusted affiliates and national organizations for small and minority businesses.
The combination of these five tactics has led us to the explosive growth that we’ve experienced.
Maurice Brewster, Founder & CEO
Mosaic Global Transportation & VIP Airport Shuttle in Redwood City, Calif.
Networking has been one of our company’s main sources of new business for years. We are involved in the local chapters of professional associations such as MPI and concierge associations. Because it’s hard to quantify ROI in dollars and cents, networking can be cast aside for more pressing tasks, especially in a small business environment, so I try to keep a running calendar of events I can commit to attending.
Outside of the regularly scheduled meetings, I also take part in team-building and community outreach events, as these give you an opportunity to spend an extended period of time with potential clients. During these events, my personal approach is to avoid discussion about the transportation business or my company and focus more on building a human connection with as many people as possible; the business side will take care of itself from there. Remember: All things being equal, people will do business with those they trust and like.
Sami Elotmani, VP of Operations/Director of Global Partnerships
Destination MCO Transportation in Orlando, Fla.
Over the past 40 years, a huge factor in the success of our company has been the tireless effort we put into our networking practices. Before technology allowed us to pursue online business networking, we relied solely on face-to-face networking opportunities like industry-related associations and trade shows. Limousine Association of New Jersey (LANJ), National Limousine Association (NLA), Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA), and bus-related events have been, and continue to be, great places for us to meet qualified companies to become affiliates with and to help grow our farm-out and farm-in opportunities.
Even with social media platforms and quick email correspondences at our fingertips, it is still so important to meet people face to face to vocalize our story and our company values, and to hear about theirs as well. Travel-related organizations are another great avenue that we have relied on to meet corporate travelers and to better understand them and their practices. New Jersey Business Travel Association (NJBTA), GBTA, and MPI have all been key organizations for us and our growth in the corporate ground transportation sector.
Last but not least, it is important to become, and then remain, an eminent figure in your community. Gem continues to be a part of local charity functions, local school events, and our town’s chamber of commerce events. These have all helped us promote our name locally and build our reputation through word of mouth.
Lauren Gulino, Director of Global Business Development
Gem Limousine Worldwide in Woodbridge, N.J.
The Chauffeur Driven Show offers excellent education and networking opportunities, which is why I always make it a point to travel more than 10,000 miles to come to USA to attend. I have met many American operators who want to grow their business in the Indian/Asian markets and the CD Show provides us with a perfect opportunity to meet and convert that into real business.
I also serve on the Asia council for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE), and regularly attend the ACTE Asia conference, which takes place in Singapore or Hong Kong/China. This show keeps me up to date with the corporate travel industry.
Aditya Loomba, CEO
Ecos India Mobility and Hospitality in New Delhi, India
We network using sales team members at live events like trade shows, conventions, strategy groups, association meetings, and client-sponsored networking functions, as well as social media. Associations are an excellent opportunity to meet and be involved with people within our sales target market (MPI, Business Technology Association). Of the many social media sites we use (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, The Knot), I find that LinkedIn is outstanding for finding the right personnel within companies and starting discussions with your current and future clients. Of course, industry shows are imperative in both establishing a successful affiliate backbone and generating inbound business.
I also encourage everyone to take part in strategy groups to develop not only sales-related relationships, but also business-development relationships with peers in our industry.
Each of these is excellent for brand exposure and provides connectivity to companies that might be hard to reach otherwise.
Terry Jackson, Director of Sales & Revenue
BEST Transportation Chauffeured Services in St. Louis, Mo.
I find that my best networking happens in smaller groups, one-on-one if possible, as it allows me to get to know an individual as I get to know their company. I love the smaller events held throughout the year. The big shows are great too, but sometimes I feel like we’re all being herded to this class or that event. One of the best things I ever did was get involved in a “20 group” within the industry. I quickly get to know my partners on a more intimate level that any show can give. From there, I feel comfortable asking them for referrals, thoughts, and opinions as needed. Having that core group surrounding me and being part of another’s core group is an amazing dynamic that helps us all be stronger and more confident in what we do. Those friendships and relationships are lifelong ones.
Tracy Salinger, General Manager
Unique Limousine in Harrisburg, Pa.
Lend a (virtual) hand: Facebook and LinkedIn are great tools for networking. The ideal way to use them is joining local groups (e.g., wedding, business, and travel manager communities). I never try to sell on these sites, but members get to know who I am from the advice I give or when I “like” certain posts. As you build connections, think about how you can support others. Comment on a classmate’s status update or forward a job listing to a friend. Also, adding a simple LinkedIn or Facebook icon in your email signature is a great way for people to learn more about you and your organization.
Jess Sandhu, VP of Operations
A&A Limousine & Bus Service in Seattle, Wash.
We find being associated with the NLA as well as our local association are great avenues for networking. The major industry trade shows also expose us to great companies nationwide so we can get our clients to any destination. Having a table at shows’ affiliate networking events helps bring companies to us that we might miss during the education and nightlife components of the show. Once you build a reputation as a company with high standards in customer service, high performance, and a well-maintained and modern fleet, referrals from existing affiliates will bring new business.
Barbara White, Co-Owner
VIP Transportation Group in Orlando, Fla.
Without fail, networking in our local association (Long Island Limousine Association) yields tremendous results. Every company is over-sold at some point, regardless of size of the business. And regardless of equipment type or equipment year, mechanical failures happen. I had a 2015 Sprinter with 11,000 miles recently blow a relay on the A/C control, and through networking within my local association, we were able to cover the following day’s work in a similar Sprinter. Additionally, forming relationships with people who have equipment that we don’t allows Legend Limousines to offer its clients options when our equipment is booked and a wider selection of vehicles, while still enabling us to earn some revenue on the ride and build our business.
Robert A. Xavier, CEO
Legend Limousines in Smithtown, N.Y.
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