Get ‘out among them’ and build relationships

Years ago, my good friend, JB, gave me some advice that has served me well. We were both in sales for our company at the time. JB said, “Kozera, you always have to be out among them.”

The message is twofold for all of us, whether you are in sales or a teenager trying to get a date. First; We have to do something. We have to take some action. If you want a job or a better job no one is going to come looking for you. If you want to make a sale or go on a date you have to do something to make it happen. Second; They need to know you exist. Unless you are the post office, no one is going to come into your business searching for you to buy unless they know you exist and you have given them a reason to want to buy from you.

Whether I was selling candy for my Little League baseball team at age 9, selling oilfield services like I did for many years or selling our region for Shale Crescent USA, I have never been blessed with walk-in business. I always had to find prospects and go to them.

Even in college my phone did not ring off the hook with girls asking me for a date. I had to find them and ask. I even got to experience a lot of rejection before finding success and my wife of 43 years.

This may sound like common sense. But I routinely see restaurants that open and then close in six months who can’t figure out why they failed. They never did any marketing. Some, I found out later, had excellent food and service but no one knew about it. Word of mouth marketing is fine, but it is rarely enough without a little help.

I was at a large meeting of a regional group in Pittsburgh shortly after I joined the Shale Crescent USA Team. For two hours, they talked about work force development, roads, railroads, pipelines, a storage hub and sites. These are all important.

Finally, after I couldn’t stand it anymore, I spoke up and said, “This is all important stuff we have been talking about for the last two hours. But, if I was in Europe, Asia or Chicago would I even be thinking about coming here?”

They all looked straight at me and one leader responded, “No. We plan to start marketing next year.”

I immediately knew why Shale Crescent USA had been created and what we had to do. Recently, we met with an Asian company who came to Marietta, Ohio, for a visit. We have been working with them for months. One gentlemen shared, “You are the only people marketing the region.”

Being out among them means being where your prospects are. What meetings do they attend? What restaurants to they go to? Where are they online?

In my oilfield days, if I didn’t have a lunch appointment I knew where people ate lunch and I could almost always find one of my customers or a prospect if I just showed up at lunch time.

I needed to meet with the executive vice president of a very large company a few years ago. We knew each other, but he was always busy. I set up lunch with one of his managers. We just happened to cross paths with the VP in the lobby of his building. I got my five minutes and accomplished what I needed. That would not have happened if I had stayed home or just sent emails.

Shale Crescent USA is planning to attend several conferences and events this year where our prospects are. We already have three meetings with prospects set up at the World Petrochemical Conference in March. We are working on magazine articles, interviews and other social media that will touch our prospects. Our message needs to be where they are.

When you are “out among them” you will probably find yourself getting lucky. One of our current prospects came from a chance meeting on an elevator. It was the only time we crossed paths at that large conference. We were prepared. That 90-second contact led to a face-to-face meeting and a great developing relationship.

I hope you had an awesome Valentine’s Day. Great relationships don’t happen by accident. They need constant work and care. We can never take people and our relationships for granted. I believe that in our love relationships we need to give more than we take.

Our future isn’t behind us. It is ahead of us. We can make it a bright future by what we do each day.

Kozera is the director of marketing and sales for Shale Crescent USA. He has more than 40 years of experience in the energy industry and a master’s in environmental engineering.

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