Manufacturers: What Kind of Networker Are You--a Farmer or a Hunter?

Posted On: 
May 3, 2018
Manufacturers: What Kind of Networker Are You--a Farmer or a Hunter?

The Greenbuild/ABX 2017 Sustainability Report was recently released and it’s exciting to see how Greenbuild stands behind their claims that sustainability is their foundation. The USGBC just doesn’t talk about sustainability, they claim it as their responsibility. This is evident when you consider some statistics from the conference:

  • Greenbuild/ABX 2017 achieved a total combined event waste diversion rate of 91%, which is possibly the best waste diversion rate of any large exhibition held throughout the world
  • All the activities that took place at the convention center for Greenbuild/ABX 2017 were sourced by 100% renewable energy, making this year’s event the first to achieve this milestone
  • 14,500 attendees at Greenbuild/ABX pledged to put sustainability first

This is a tremendous effort to reduce the carbon footprint that a large-scale event like this can have. Isn’t it exciting to be part of an industry that’s making so many positive moves forward?

But Even More Exciting Are the Specification Opportunities

According to the Greenbuild website, “Greenbuild attendees are decision-makers, leaders, and buyers of building products and services in both the commercial and residential space...” The demographics of these decision-makers, leaders, and buyers of building products and services breaks down to 24,731 attendees (up from 18,709 last year!); 96 different countries; and 703 exhibitors in 83 product categories. Of those 24,731 attendees, 76% of them were architects, engineers, designers, contractors, builders, developers, LEED consulting firms, government and energy specialists, and property/facility management but only 8% of them were in manufacturing. That means that 1,978 manufacturers had an audience of 18,796 potential customers, increasing their opportunities to be specified!

While conferences like Greenbuild/ABX seem geared more toward the designers and builders, they are still a fantastic ROI for manufacturers. The more exposure your product receives, the more ROI you see from the time and resources spent on attending and/or exhibiting at conferences like Greenbuild/ABX. This return is seen in two main ways—networking and field research.

Networking Like a Farmer

Dr. Ivan Misner, business guru and father of modern networking, says, “Networking is more about farming than it is about hunting”, and results come from relationship building that is mutually beneficial and based on trust. What’s the difference though? Hunters find their prey and meet a need immediately; but farmers cultivate a long-term goal to meet a need now while also investing in the future. Business relationships need to be handled like a farmer approaches a crop:

  • Till the dirt—this is the introduction not just to your product or service, but to you and your company as a whole
  • Planting the seed—What is your product or service, and how can it benefit the client?
  • Harvesting—This is when you make the sale, and the harvest should benefit both you and your client
  • Fertilizing—Continue to nurture and feed that business relationship to increase future sales and networking opportunities

Are there times when a hunter approach ends in results? Sure!

Does a farmer approach take more work? Of course!

But networking like a farmer lays a better foundation for long-lasting relationship and contributes to market longevity for your product.

Attending conventions, like Greenbuild/ABX, helps you till the dirt and plant the seed, leading to a harvest, otherwise known as product specification. The more often specifiers see you at these events, the more likely they are to choose you for their projects.

But All Farmers Also Do Field Research

No farmer plants a crop without first being familiar with the challenges they can encounter. Attending conferences allows you to conduct research and see potential challenges, live and in the field! You can see what your competition is doing, as well as make those mutually beneficial networking connections. For example, Greenbuild/ABX offers many opportunities for specifiers to earn continuing education credits. These CE courses are yet another opportunity for you to get your product in front of the people who can specify it, either by sponsoring one or by exhibiting a product that relates to a CE course offered. This field research is part of widening your marketing net and getting specified. Every farmer’s bottom line is a successful harvest and using these conferences for field research and exposure leads to that ROI!

Conferences Aren’t the Only Way to Achieve a Hearty Harvest

Now that Greenbuild/RBX, and conferences in general, have been talked up to superhero levels, let’s look at other options. While riding the high of these events is awesome, there are other ways to network and to be involved in CE courses. In a previous blog post, we talked about creating an AIA course and how it helps you to get specified. At GreenCE, we can help you meet all four steps in your “farming”. Through course creation, we get your product in front of the people who can specify it, and not just the percentage of conference attendees. AIA alone has over 90,000 members, and this isn’t the only organization that has members who take our courses. In addition to our CE courses, we also create HPD’s, LEED v4 product documentation, mindful MATERIALS documentation, and Declare Labels. We can partner with you on multiple levels to get your product specified. A course offered through GreenCE reaches far more potential clients and increases your networking opportunities, increasing the abundance and longevity of your harvest. Do you think you’re already a networking farmer, and if so, how have you seen that approach benefit your business?

For more information or to discuss the topic of this blog, please contact Brad Blank