The power of networking within your industry is obvious, and undeniable: Regularly communicating with colleagues, clients and promising prospects is an excellent way to keep your name on everyone’s mind and generate new leads. As professionals, we focus intently on developing relationships with those in our business circles – those with opportunities for growth and with whom we can cross-refer. But for all the value that such networking has, I’m a tremendous believer in paying attention to the relationships we have outside of our “regular” circles.
Anyone who knows me knows about my strong interest in jewelry and the decorative arts. I appreciate the artistry of the items, but I also pay close attention to how they are marketed to see what I can take from that realm and apply to my work in professional services marketing.
Recently, I attended a conference called “Gold: Design, Desire and Demand,” hosted by the organization Initiatives in Culture. The speakers included academics, market researchers and product retailers. The first speaker, Glenn Adamson, Director of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, discussed the emotional power and lure of gold, and how the materials and processes of jewelry-making transform raw materials into objects of beauty. A thought-provoking moment for me was when he talked about how human creativity can transform material. Similarly, professionals of all stripes transform and repackage material in order to benefit our clients.
Another speaker, Jack Ogden of ScriptTwist Consulting, talked about the primacy of design and the prevalence of standardization of design in antiquity, with the same motifs occurring throughout the ages – again, that idea of repurposing and repackaging the old to make it new again. He also discussed the subject of craftsmanship, stating that the artist needs to be involved from the beginning of the work all the way through to the end, personally overseeing the goldsmiths or workmen in order to ensure quality of design and consistency of vision. I saw parallels again to my own industry, thinking of the way in which the most effective professionals are those who are actively involved in every step of their own marketing, even if they outsource some of the particulars to marketing firms like ours.
Ultimately, I left the conference with new perspective on some aspects of the world I’d taken for granted. It’s refreshing to look outside of your own industry for innovative ideas that the next guy isn’t thinking of. Networking with “the usual suspects” is essential, of course, but you never know from what unexpected corner your next insight might come.