Sometimes I have enough invitations in my in-box that, if I didn’t have my personal humility fully intact, I might think I was an important somebody. I like it. Showroom openings, architect open studios, show houses, industry roundtables, panels, workshops, board meetings, seminars—on most evenings of the week there is someplace I could be, sometimes two. Experiential marketing and three-dimensional relationships have become so critical to how we do business that no one wants to be left behind stuffing envelopes with a worn-out brochure and a couple of business cards.
For awhile, I was seduced. I showed up everywhere I could. This worked well to promote my personal brand and the business, but it began to take a toll on the energy I brought to work and in my personal relationships. So what is the right balance?
I have found it useful to use three criteria:
- Find out who else is going to be there;
- Make sure my brand aligns with that of the event; and
- Be daring.
I can’t count how many times I have either gone to an event and been completely disappointed at how misaligned the crowd was to the business I was trying to do or I didn’t go to an event and it turned out to be the cash ball of the century. But determining whether to go doesn’t have to be a mystery. When anyone is hosting an event, they want as many people to show up as possible; they will do anything to get you to come and be comfortable. I find it works to send an email ahead and ask for the guest list. Nine times out of ten they’ll gladly send it along. And if not, I can call and ask what kinds of people the event is meant to attract. In both instances I will know if it is worth my time.
And time is so precious. I like to make sure the event I am attending aligns with my brand. It isn’t worth pitching my service-focused, high-end, custom building company at a Do-It-Yourself seminar for homeowners. It’s too big a leap. I’m sure some of my clients and architect friends don’t mind a good brew now and again, but I’d rather meet up with them at a wine tasting or a chocolate bar, as what they are experiencing while they are interacting with me is high end and special--just like me.
I never thought about standing out and being special until I got a little daring. It’s good to enjoy and support your local builders association, but I found that to be more personal therapy. If I am up for a night of networking and business development, it might be more appropriate to explore an art gallery opening, an independent school gala, or a local architectural program’s studio presentation. I wouldn’t necessarily naturally find myself in any of these places, but each has a level of intrigue and surprise.
I am an important somebody. But only if my time is spent aligning with those who might think so, too.