MPI Perspective - February 2008 - (Page 9)

Building Relationships for Work By Amy Drew Thompson Wining and dining is likely one of the aspects of meeting planning that make friends envious of your career. Sure, they’ll roll their eyes, but professionals know all that fun you’re having can positively impact your company’s business for years to come. In the continual quest for the ideal venue – whether for a meeting, teambuilding exercise, incentive program or otherwise – there’s no doubt a planner’s job often involves the (cough, cough) tedium of luxurious professional perks. Some enjoy fam trips to destinations exotic and far-flung, opulent spa amenities, meals prepared by expert chefs in locations that can be elegant, sumptuous, and elite. It’s a facet of the job that makes the packing and unpacking of boxes undeniably worth the backache and paper cuts. But really, it’s all about social networking, building strong relationships while simultaneously investigating what a particular destination, property or venue has to offer. And it remains a rocksolid means of creating and maintaining rapport, of forging bonds that help generate business. But planners still need to justify the value of these trips to their employers just as the suppliers do, and there’s a fine line between advantageous research and abusing the privilege. “Wining and dining is the most opportunistic platform for relationship building,” says Michael Mecham, CMP, whose nine years as Event Planner for Levi Strauss & Co. has helped shape his philosophy about networking. “However, some stop with the wining-dining part and forget the real objective. If done effectively, I’d say a relationship or impression brought to life through such ‘hospitality’ can remain in the thoughts of a buyer for years to come.” Does a relationship built on such a foundation affect the contract negotiation process? “A b s o l u t e l y ! ” he says. “It creates channels of com mu n icat ion and understanding grounded in respect that help each side get their needs met. It also creates a desire for a partnership. Why would you partner with a stranger if the alternative is someone with whom you have a relationship of trust?” And that trust, says Joel Costa, CMP, Director of Sales and Marketing for the JW Marriott San Francisco, and MPI member since 1993, can most certainly be built on a foundation forged while entertaining. “It’s easier to negotiate when both parties can be open and comfortable with each other. Face-to face relationships are preferable when negotiating because it’s easier to judge sincerity, and also to understand needs better because you can experience your client’s personality MPINCCperspective | VOL. 26, NO. 4 | 9

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MPI Perspective - February 2008

MPI Perspectives - February 2008
President's Message
Bulding Relationships for Work
Principles of a Professional
Love Alliances, Hate Negotiations
The Lost Office Relationships
My MPI - Paula Higgins
Member Pearls
Green Meetings
Chapter Chatter
Join the Ranks - Become a CMP
Destination Spotlight - Ontario, California
Index to Advertisers

MPI Perspective - February 2008