Thursday, May 29, 2014

Embrace Change to Build Relationships

Change is inevitable. Although not easy at first, change is something to embrace. The more open and accepting you are of change, the more it will prove to be filled with opportunity. In this ever-changing world, change keeps us "on our toes," helps us grow and provides us with the opportunity to build relationships.

Re-Location Lessons

Relocating was something my family did often as I was growing up. By the time I entered high school, we had moved ten times. All these moves were in the south, so they caused no real culture shock since everywhere we went everyone spoke the same language and had similar interests. The biggest challenge was forming new relationships. Each new location required me to "start over," finding a place to belong and building new friendships. I just made my biggest move last fall, when my husband and I relocated 3,000 miles away from our home on the East Coast to Southern California.

Moving can be very intimidating, and there have been times when I was somewhat shy; however, in hind sight, each change was such an opportunity for personal growth and development, as well as to meet and make new friends everywhere I went! I found that I could take advantage of the opportunities change provided. This perspective has played a key role in my career development, working around the world in destination management and now internationally with EE.

Joining a new company and making new connections is hard work. When viewed as an opportunity for growth and development, I find it invigorating and exciting. My first task is to immerse myself into the team, befriend co-workers and make myself valuable to them. A warm, friendly "can-do" attitude goes a long way to finding a place with fellow employees. Resisting new environments and situations can only produce a negative reaction in those around you.

The Benefits of Change

Being open to change allows you to harness the opportunities it provides. Because of that open attitude, I've been able to approach new companies as the new kid on the block with a positive, caring attitude. My frequent moves early on taught me that when I meet new people that if I want a friend, I have to be a friend. From this I learned about listening and being open to how people communicate differently. This is where solid listening skills and a focus to solving their specific challenges pave the way for any salesperson. When you listen, are respectful, and are open to new ways of understanding and communication, you offer a welcoming environment for relationships to blossom.

As relationships grow, you become more relatable and have more to offer. A positive side affect is gaining wisdom from others. This has the potential to help people become stronger and more connected. You also can become more than a friend or business partner, you can become an insider who understands and participates in achieving the clients' goals. It is imperative to hear and share in their stories to build such rapport and solid relationships. By positively affecting their lives, our own lives are rewarded.

So the same relationship principles I learned as a child work well in the corporate world. Early in my career, when I was telling my father about some of the new friends I was making all around the world, he responded, "Some days you make money ... Some days you make friends." This stuck with me for some reason, and after mulling it over for awhile I have since modified it a bit to keep in mind that in business, "The more friends you make, the richer you are in life." Relationships build on respect, openness, and different ways of communicating are strong enough to be successful and enduring in business. They provide opportunity and are more meaningful than simple monetary gains.

I encourage you to embrace change and even seek it out at times. Challenge yourself to be the "new kid" on the block. Have an insatiable curiosity to discover more of what it means to be human. We are all human, with a heart, mind, and warm-blooded body; yet we are so much more. We have different stories and experiences; we get to cover different territory. And, we have much to offer each other by learning together and from each others' experiences.

The adventurous spirit of wanting to meet and understand others may be a common thread among many professional salespeople. I know it is part of what drives me forward - that desire to really listen and care about my clients and help them find solutions to their challenges. I encourage you too to see change as a way to build new relationships, to learn and grow in many ways. In these ways and more, change has proven to be very, very good for me.

Autumn Woods Johnson is an account executive with Extraordinary Events and has extensive experience in the DMC and hospitality world both in Atlanta and Los Angeles, as well as around the world. She holds a Master's Degree in Theological Studies from Emory University. She may be reached via

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

PR for Savvy Marketers or How to Trade Your Time for Marketing Dollars

Liese Gardner wrote a brilliant column on "3 Marketing Ideas to Help You Join the Conversation" in EE's last blog. As a follow-up to that, I wanted to share with you what savvy marketers are currently doing to promote themselves for free or little money. All the top dogs that everyone admires do these things. I work or am associated with many of them, so I'm pulling this information from first-hand experience. I adopt most of them myself. They aren't revolutionary ideas (with the exception of Internet-related activities). In fact, they've been around for the 30+ years I've been in business.

Right out of the gate, most small to medium-sized businesses never have big marketing budgets. All of them know they must market, but when push comes to shove, there never seems to be enough money to do it or do it right. Try the following "old" ideas on for size. Yes, they DO translate to taking up some of your time. Yes, your time equals money. But if you don't have the change in your pocket, these will cost you little but time.


Don't have time for that? Think again. Link up with organizations in which your targeted customers are involved. Volunteer to donate your expertise and "show off" your skills to those potential clients. Here's how it can pay off. I volunteered to do some writing for an organization. One of my targeted clients liked what he saw and called me three months later with a proposal. He's been my client for the past four years. Nice, huh?


When industry trade shows send out a Call for Speakers, send in a topic proposal. Look for speaking opportunities within the industries where you want to earn a market share. It will get you in front of prospective clients. Don't be afraid to share your secrets! I've got news for you. There are no secrets, just better recipes. Sharing your expertise will make others think of you as an expert. Just be sure that what you address is original and has a fresh twist. It will get your name and that of your company's in your targeted public's eyes. Think of all the big names in the events industry - they all speak at targeted industry and association conferences.

Write Articles

Be sure to contact industry publications and offer to write articles in your area of expertise. In marketing, it's exposure, exposure, exposure. What? You're afraid editors will say "no" to you? Don't let that stop you. I've had more rejections than acceptances, and I was a magazine editor/publisher! The key is to read the publications that you wish to target and understand what they cover. Then, check out the publications' editorial calendars for the year, determine which issues will cover themes for which you can address and then come up with something fresh and interesting to propose.

Offer yourself up as an interview on any subject to which you are connected. And always offer up pictures you might have that support the subject. Publishers want great photographs and quotes.

Do you have a blog? Why not? You can set up a blog site for next to nothing. Attach it to your Web site. Offer up helpful, insightful information (like Extraordinary Events does). This has the same effect as speaking engagements. Yes, I know that there are a ton of blogs out there. And, I'll tell you what differentiates them. I probably get about 50 blogs a week. But the ones that truly offer me sound information and don't link me up to some ploy to "buy" a product or service are the ones that I read. And when I need their type of products or service, they are the ones I call.

Do Press Releases

I can't stress this one simple fact enough. Don't send out a press release unless it is newsworthy. Don't send out promotional information disguised as a press release to the media. I remember when I was the publisher of Special Events magazine, and I would sit at my desk with a stack of press releases and my trash can next to me. It would take me about 5 seconds or less to figure out if it was newsworthy or going in my circular file. What does newsworthy mean? Click here for an article detailing it. For trade publications, add in the factor of industry relevancy.

Produce E-Newsletters

A number of pros send out weekly newsletters. I particularly like the ones that have nothing promotional in them for the most part but offer up great information. Certain ones just make me "feel good." A sterling example is the Good News-Letter that comes out every Friday. It's all about the feel-good stuff that is happening in the world, and absolutely no promotional information is allowed in it. So, find your angle. EventWorks focuses on music, Design Dawgs on innovative design. What's yours?

Write a Book

I'm seeing more of these in our industry. They're needed, and what a wonderful way to establish expertise. With CreateSpace, self-publishing is inexpensive and easy. When you write your book, take copies to your speaking engagements and offer a discount for it at the end of your talk. Some authors I know link a free eBook copy of their books through their Web sites in exchange for email addresses (which allows them to build solid contact lists of people interested in their expertise.)

The key is to keep your name in the public eye. Remember: exposure, exposure, exposure. People will forget abut you if you don't. You may or may not get immediate responses, but if you aren't in front of people when they are looking, you've missed an opportunity!

Carol McKibben began in the events industry 30 years ago as the launching publisher and director of Special Events Magazine and The Special Event respectively. Currently she provides writing/editorial/marketing services to a variety of clients and is the author of three books. To learn more about her, visit or email her at