MPI Perspective - Fall 2013 - (Page 17)

[ POV ] JOEL COSTA, CMP DANIELLE RESTAINO, CMP DIRECTOR OF SALES AND MARKETING SENIOR MEETING PLANNER SAN JOSE MARRIOTT GENENTECH Dear Joel and Danielle, Connections Matter. How do you connect with your industry peers and potential business partners, and how do you like to be approached? JOEL: Connecting with planners through MPI is really why suppliers join an industry association in the first place. Without opportunities to meet with planners during events, the ROI for our membership would diminish. The economic model of these associations builds on this need of suppliers to have direct access to customers, and, in return, our dues and sponsorship support helps to keep the organization and its events going. However, it is incumbent upon us suppliers to not take the access to planners for granted. Connecting with a planner is not as simple as just paying the dues and attending events. Some planners do not like to be overwhelmed with sales people making pitches to them during networking events. They do expect to interact with suppliers and to make connections, but they certainly don’t want to feel like they signed up for a free timeshare weekend and have to endure a one-hour presentation and a high pressure sales technique. It’s all about the delivery and the style of your building rapport. I joined MPI at a time when group and event clients were not my market. I thought it would be good for industry education. I used the networking time to get to know various planners, and many are close friends today. I can understand the pressure put on sales people who work the group market to produce contacts and Reach out before you will be at an industry event to introduce yourself. Use tools like LinkedIn. Do a few minutes of research in advance. When you then meet in person, see what personal connections you have. Don’t hard sell. DANIELLE: Connections are key to our industry, and, frankly, key in any profession – as they say, “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” We learn from and enrich our worlds with our peers, our competitors and our supplier partners. We are in a business where, if all else is equal, we do business with people we know, and we establish friendships with fantastic people along the way. Making connections certainly does matter, but the way you go about it also matters. My suggestion for making successful connections with new people is to look for common ground. Reach out before you will be at an industry event to introduce yourself. Use tools like LinkedIn. Do a few minutes of research in advance. When you then meet in person, see what personal connections you have. Don’t hard sell. We are in an industry where connections and relationships do matter. Hard selling and cold calling are the most frustrating ways to be approached by suppliers. I am perplexed at the volume at which both still occur, and I can’t imagine there is much ROI for the time and money spent. One specific pet peeve is being pitched at receptions following tradeshows. Tradeshows, particularly our own ACE, is a massively successful way for planners and suppliers to make connections. At the end of a successful tradeshow day, I’ve chatted with dozens upon dozens of suppliers, and likely made many positive connections. Once the booths close for business, please take that as a cue that it is time to change your approach. At the reception, chat with me about the San Francisco Giants, about your favorite vacation spot, about your pets – about anything other than your sales pitch. I know we planners can appear to be a cliquey bunch, and this can be a frustrating dynamic to conquer. To P E R S P E C T I V E | fall 2013 | 17 http://www.mpincc.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MPI Perspective - Fall 2013

Editor’s Note
Take 5
President’s Message
Connections Matter
If You Aren’t on LinkedIn, You Don’t Exist
5 Ways to Build a Better Attendee Experience
August Professional Education Program
MPI Spotlight
POV
Destination: Sacramento
Take Your Meetings to New Heights
Index to Advertisers/ Advertisers.com

MPI Perspective - Fall 2013

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