By David Rodarte
I’m sure you’ve heard about “strength in numbers,” and that “two heads are better than one.” Chances are you already benefit daily from collaboration with coworkers, from the efforts and ideas of those working by your side. Teamwork is not a new trick of the trade.
But an idea that may be new is this: Don’t underestimate the power of inter-industry networking, or the long-term sales impact such relationships can provide. It may be an often-overlooked advantage, but it can be incredibly beneficial to branch out as a team player beyond your own business, even beyond our own CE industry.
And if you’re wondering how, luckily there are a variety of associations and organizations around which make forming these kinds of connections easy.
For example, take Home Builders Associations. Available throughout the U.S. at regional and state levels, as well as in the form of the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders, which has a founded Home Technology Alliance specifically geared for the CEDIA channel’s interests), these coalitions join together builders and remodelers, interior decorators and specialty craftsmen, electricians and CE installers, manufacturers and an excess of additional service providers, to promote and grow the home construction industry, while keeping an eye on legislation or government regulations that may impact their work, like the EPA’s recent restrictions and required certifications for handling lead, for instance. The result is solid, symbiotic relationships with people who can affect how well you do business, and how often.
Networking is a form of advertising all its own. Forming linkage relationships with these experts from peripheral but associated fields sets up a potential wealth of future referrals and sales. When a customer decides to improve their home, the needs can go well beyond any one type of service. On any given job, a remodeler or designer’s client may inquire about home theaters, automation or audio, and through involvement with his or her HBA, he or she is equipped with just the right contact for the job: you. More exposure and increased awareness of your business and services are NEVER bad things, but are especially opportune when times may be more difficult and every job is something to celebrate. Involving yourself now can mean a great deal of good for your future. No, it isn’t about instant gratification or immediacy, but is a strategic campaign for extending success and mutual benefit for years to come.
In my own backyard, the Home Builders Association of Northern Kentucky is twelfth in the nation for HBA member retention, claiming 1100 members, and consequently provides a large pool of professional contacts from a variety of industries. Desiree Webster, NuVo’s Marketing Manager and a valued employee of mine, has spent the last three years volunteering with this chapter and was elected this year to serve as Secretary to the Associates Council Board of Governors and to sit upon the Executive Board of Directors. From this up-close vantage point, she’s witnessed the organization’s growth, and the ripple effect of benefit that growth has offered its members. Something she’s noted as particularly valuable is the added external marketing power offered through these organizations. Getting in front of consumer eyes can be quite an expensive endeavor, but through the HBA‘s sponsored events, the many different associated businesses can pull together and co-shoulder those expenses, maximizing the methods and the reach with which the can advertise to the public.
HBA’s are only one option. A local Chamber of Commerce or Realtors Association can be another easily accessible avenue for great networking to name just a few. Affinity programs to engage with a multitude of vendors, targeted advertising and marketing opportunities, hosted events for increased visibility — these are frequent perks to membership in such organizations. No matter where you live, no matter which organization you look into, there is definitely something to be gained for giving this some thought. Making these connections, forging alliances, makes the most of your opportunities now, especially when things are tough, while helping maximize greater potential for future success. Sure, making new friends is fun. But it’s also good business.
David Rodarte is president and chief executive officer of NuVo Technologies. He joined the company in September of 2002, and previously served as president and COO. Prior to his work with NuVo he served as president for a mobile electronics accessory company.