5 Tips for Face-to-Face Interaction with Planners

By Christina DeHaven Principal, DeHaven Consulting | September 08, 2013

In the age of digital RFP's, face time with prospective clients has significantly decreased. Planners want to do business with people they know and trust, yet have limited availability to foster these relationships with their suppliers. The importance of face-to-face exchanges cannot be underestimated. An amazing amount of communication, up to 93%, is done outside of spoken words. Body gestures and tones, which cannot be seen or heard over the phone and through email respectively, play a very important role in the overall conversation. Research for "The Future of Meetings" revealed that networks and relationships were easier to build and ultimately stronger when forged in person.

A survey conducted by Forbes found that over 80% of executives polled prefer face-to-face business interactions. Among the top reasons cited for the preference of in-person meetings are an ability to build an emotional connection, fewer distractions and the social interaction. The majority of these executives believe face-to-face interactions are crucial for building stronger, more meaningful and profitable business relationships. Here are 5 tips to getting that crucial face-to-face interaction with meeting planners to build that connection and win the business.

1. Join a Professional Association

Without a doubt, there's a return on investment for joining a professional association. Here's where the decision makers gather to continue their professional education and broaden their network. These associations provide membership benefits that include business results. Through the association, supplier members are meeting and working with the local decision makers. At national events, member suppliers have access to planners from across the globe. Membership provides an ongoing opportunity for industry professionals to share information, support one another, do business and raise national awareness for their local professional community. There are many opportunities to interact with peers and make valuable connections in the process.

Meeting Planners International and the Professional Convention Management Association have local chapters nationwide. To join you'll have to complete a membership application and pay the annual dues.Both associations accept planner and supplier applications with a 50-50 membership rate. Taking full advantage of the membership doesn't only include meeting attendance. Members have the opportunity to volunteer for highly visible chair positions or become active on a chapter committee. Building these relationships through active association membership is critical to sales success. This is a great way to not only expand a client base, but to contribute to the profession.(www.mpiweb.org)(www.pcma.org)

MPI and PCMA have opportunities for supplier members to gain visibility and promotion through event sponsorship. Supplier members have the opportunity to host meetings and events which brings the planners right to the property. Both also have annual awards that provide recognition for outstanding meetings suppliers.

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