Guest post by Sally Davis Berry
If you have been a reader of Sally’s for a while, you know that I often speak about collaboration and partnering. The tourism industry is unique in that we often partner with competitors to bring business in. There is even a term for it: Co-opetition. But your success is directly related to how many people you know in the industry. I was named a” Top Networker and Connector in the Tourism Industry” ( Thanks TourOperator.com!) so I thought I would share some strategies and resources with you so you can leverage and grow your network.
Be helpful before you ask for help.
Years ago I read Dig your Well before you are Thirsty by Harvey McKay. The premise of the book is that you should always be looking for ways to be helpful to others in your network. I love to connect people via email ( or WeChat) and help them build new relationships. I often forward articles to people I know about something they would be interested in.
Tour operators reach out to me asking for help finding contacts at DMOs or attractions. If I don’t know who that is, I take the time to find out. Then I have helped two people! When you can be a resource to others, your network will naturally expand.
Not everyone needs to be your best friend.
In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the concept of ‘loose connections’ or ‘weak ties’. Those are people that you know, but not very well. You could reach out to them and ask a question or a favor, but you won’t be seeing them at your Thanksgiving dinner. People mistakenly think their network is only as strong as the people they know well, but this book shows that the strength of your network is based on who your close friends know – and who those people know.
Think of it as circles of connections. When you build a relationship with a ‘super-connector’ you get access to everyone they know.
People like to be helpful – but don’t take advantage of that.
I had a friend reach out recently with a dilemma. She had been asked to give another tourism contact the names and addresses of tour operators they could contact for sales calls. My friend usually has no problem with that, but she said the other person only calls when they want something. That creates an imbalance, and doesn’t feel good. So make sure you provide value and build the relationship before you start asking for favors.
Do you use LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is a networker’s best tool because it is set up to build your network. The challenge is that very few of us use this free software as well as we could. Take some time this week and make sure your LinkedIn profile is filled out completely. Add a professional photo of yourself, and an image of your business in the background. There! You have already done more than most.
Catherine’s tip: If you have your own company, be sure to build a LinkedIn company page as well as showcase pages. If you work for someone else, be sure that business logo shows in your ‘Experience’ section.
I will write more in a future post about ways to leverage your LinkedIn account, but for now set a goal to go on there once a week and find someone to connect with ( I am there at Sally Davis Berry- just mention you are a reader and we can connect!), or comment on someone’s post or article.
Catherine’s tip: Using all the features of LinkedIn Groups will help you connect with the right people.
Everyone has a network.
Many years ago I learned a valuable lesson. I was involved with my local Chamber of Commerce and was the chair of the Tourism Committee. We held a FAM ( familiarization tour) for all the volunteers at the visitors’ desk. We took a bus of mostly retirees around the county for the day so they would be familiar with all the popular stops.
At lunch, I sat with a lovely older woman and as we chatted we found out we both knew someone who was a square dance caller! We traded stories about Mike and his family and enjoyed lunch. At the end of the day, she asked for my business card. Turns out she had been a travel agent for over 50 years and was the head of the NY Businesswomen in Travel Network and was looking for a location for their annual 300 person meeting and decided to host it where I was the Director of Sales!
I learned a powerful lesson that day – be nice and connect with everyone because you don’t know who they know. Lou and I became fast friends and she was an inspiration to me for years.
Action steps to build your network this week.
- Fill out your LinkedIn profile. Connect with someone.
- Share an article ( maybe from a Google alert you have set up?) with a colleague
- Call one of your top 5 clients and say ” What can I do to help you this week?”
- Consider reading The Tipping Point or Build your Well before you are Thirsty ( This was written in 1999 and uses terms like ‘electronic mail’ and ‘the Net’. And mostly talks about men in business. So maybe get this one at a used bookstore!)
- Are you a podcast listener? Try this episode of Destination on the Left and hear how networking has helped Jim from VisitCheyenne end up in a job he loves.
How can I help you be more successful?
- Check out my free resources section
- Schedule a free 15-minute call with me, or schedule a 1-hour call for a more in-depth discussion
- Hire me to speak at your tourism conference. Reply to this email and I will follow up.
- Hire me to help you create a Strategic Sales plan for your attraction. Reply to this email and let’s chat.
- DMOs: Let’s talk about my Online Training program for your partners!
Guest post by Sally Berry: Sally Berry is a Tourism industry Speaker and Consultant who helps destinations and attractions get more visitors through their doors. Sign up here to access her industry resources and to be added to her mailing list.
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About Catherine Heeg
Catherine Heeg is a recognized social media trail blazer passionate about social media and marketing in the tourism and hospitality industry. She takes the mystery out of marketing!
She creates and delivers meaningful, dynamic workshops that meet your unique needs in the Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Industry.
Catherine and her team help travel, tourism and hospitality pros design and implement social media marketing strategies and tactics that drive traffic to their social and web sites. Learn more…
Professionals who are serious about taking consistent, winning actions every day to build their business and achieve measurable results love working with Catherine.