A Networking Plan To Get Yourself Out There

Jim Luff
Posted on March 7, 2018

Before you can begin to build your plan, you must first decide what you want to gain from networking. The four types of networking at an International LCT Show are:

  • Finding affiliates to send work to in other cities
  • Introducing yourself to those who might send work to your city
  • Sharing your brand and city
  • Spending time with existing affiliates in the industry

By knowing your goals, you can create a schedule of where you need to be and the specific times. The ILCT app can build a custom schedule that even tells you where each event is being held. It comes with alarms, tools to connect with other show attendees, and a variety of ways to look up information about the show.

Meeting New People

The International LCT Show offers many opportunities for meeting new people, developing relationships, and maintaining existing ones.  Plenty of attendees network in a variety of formats. Come prepared to market your company.

Erica Shor, affiliate manager for Windy City Limousine in Chicago, recommends you bring plenty of business cards. “Make sure they have your email address and the cities you serve on the card,” Shor says. She also suggests you never go to bed early.

“Most good networking comes after hours since you can’t chat during workshops,” she says. People are more relaxed at night and you can get to know each other better.” It should be noted Shor does not drink alcohol, but it doesn’t stop her from drinking sodas and dancing the night away with new friends and old. Note: It’s much easier to get up early after little sleep if your aren’t groggy from booze.

What Affiliate Managers Look For

Shor says her main focuses include meeting potential new affiliates to expand the Windy City network, putting faces to names of existing affiliates, and promoting Windy City Limousine to those who might be sending business to the Chicago area. Shor cautions a first meeting is the start to building a relationship. She likes to get to know someone well before putting that person with her clients. “It’s a gradual process,” Shor says.

TJ Doyle, vice president of operations for Gold Shield Transportation in Lexington, Kentucky, recommends being ready to give a 30-second elevator pitch of your company. Doyle uses this technique to vet potential affiliates.

“If they can pull it together off the top their heads, that’s impressive and shows they are knowledgeable about the industry,” he says. “If you know your clients, market, and vehicles, it should be easy to sell your company. If you struggle with a 30-second pitch, it shows you don’t really know what you are doing.” 

Doyle believes the ability to quickly answer questions about your company and service area indicates a potential affiliate can think and move quickly, and would handle last-minute or short notice changes with ease.

Planning In Advance

Shor and Doyle arrive at the show with a schedule of meetings already planned.  Both take the opportunity to set up meetings, breakfasts, and lunches with affiliates to maintain solid relationships. 

Doyle makes it a point to set up meetings in between seminars or breakfast in the morning. “I don’t like evening meetings as you don’t get the quality time in the late afternoon,” Doyle says. Both also reach out to potential affiliates in advance when they are looking for an affiliate in a particular city. This is why it’s so important to network and build brand awareness of your company name and the city you serve. If they don’t know you, they won’t be calling you.

Erica Shor, affiliate manager for Windy City Limousine in Chicago, recommends you always include your email address and the cities you serve on your business cards.

Erica Shor, affiliate manager for Windy City Limousine in Chicago, recommends you always include your email address and the cities you serve on your business cards.

Here’s a day-by-day look at networking events you might consider attending to connect with people. For the full schedule, click here.

Sunday, March 11

Golf Outing* – 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

This second year event is a relaxed way to start off. Enjoy a round of golf while making new friends and supporting the National Limousine Association’s Harold Berkman Memorial Fund and Semper Fi charities. To secure a spot, email [email protected]

Women of the Industry Luncheon** – Noon – 2 p.m.

This one-of-a-kind panel led by LCT Publisher and Show Chair Sara Eastwood-Richardson along with four diverse women owners will offer distinct business achievements and approaches. They will share how they succeeded and how you can too. Afterward, ask your table mates what ideas they plan to use.

B4 Business Networking* – 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Featuring an organized time structure, this one-on-one speed-networking will allow you to gain new affiliate work. After this session, you will walk away with new contacts who will help build your affiliate network and talk you up to others. This is the best networking event of the show as we help introduce you to new people before the show officially begins NLA Fundraiser* – 8:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

The NLA hosts a benefit for the Harold Berkman Memorial Fund, its philanthropic arm. This event puts you up close and personal with NLA board members and gives you an opportunity to talk one-on-one with association members. 

TJ Doyle, vice president of operations for Gold Shield Transportation in Lexington, Kentucky, recommends being ready to give a 30-second elevator pitch of your company.

TJ Doyle, vice president of operations for Gold Shield Transportation in Lexington, Kentucky, recommends being ready to give a 30-second elevator pitch of your company.

Monday, March 12

First Timer’s Breakfast** – 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

If this is your very first show, join the LCT staff for breakfast. We will not only share breakfast with you but advice on getting the most out of the show. You will meet fellow operators also attending for the first time, and our editors will help introduce participants to each other. You must be a first-time showgoer to attend for free. 

International Meet & Greet – 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

If you are trying to expand into the worldwide network, this is the place for you. Operators from more than 35 countries will be on hand looking for partners in the U.S. for farm-outs and seeking new affiliates to send work to.

Opening Reception – 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

This event is the official kickoff of the show. You can watch the ribbon cutting that opens the exhibit hall. Sip a complimentary glass of champagne while taking in the massive show floor. This is perhaps the largest gathering of all attendees at one time with plenty of opportunity to meet fellow operators and the vendors who provide support service and products.

Open Table With LCT Staff* — 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

This event will answer one of the top questions at shows: How do I get into the magazine? The entire LCT editorial team will be here for a dinner to meet operators and look for new faces to quote and picture in the magazine and on the website. Get to know each other and pitch your business while enjoying dinner at an Irish Pub.

Night Club Party  – 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

As the title implies, this is a networking event where you can let your hair down, unwind, dance, and enjoy an open bar. You will find the who’s who of the industry eager to meet new faces and hang out with familiar ones. Remember what Erica Shor said above about not going to bed early? This event will spur the fun well into the night and onward to the casino bars afterward.

Tuesday, March 13

Exhibit Hall Lunch – Noon to 1 p.m.

Every meal is a chance to meet new people. LCT sets up areas to sit down and enjoy your lunch and linger. Don’t be shy and don’t sit at an empty table. Find a table with a group, take a seat, and introduce yourself. You have no idea who you might get to know. 

Happy Hour – 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Just like any Happy Hour, cocktails and snacks tend to draw people into the area where Happy Hour takes place. Even if you don’t drink cocktails, join in and grab a soft drink or bottle of water and mingle with the crowd. 

Hospitality Suite Parties – 10 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Many companies host suite parties. Past participants have included BostonCoach, MTC Limousine, iCars, Chosen Payments, and even some trade associations such as the Minority Limousine Operators of America. This is a great night to meet the principles of these groups and fellow operators. Most have free food and cocktails, of course. Do not go to bed early and miss this night. This is where relationships are born with one-on-one access to managers who can sign you up in their network.

Wednesday, March 14

Limo Patriot Ride Kickoff Party* – 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The Limo Patriot Ride takes place on Thursday after the International LCT Show is done. It is a separate fundraising event that benefits the Semper Fi Fund and includes many industry leaders and luminaries who ride for a great cause. Even if you don’t plan to ride, you can join the Kickoff Party at Border Grill at Mandalay Bay for a night of appetizers, drinks, music, and good times.

Thursday, March 15

Limo Patriot Ride* – 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This all-day event begins with bus transportation from Mandalay Bay to Eagle Rider Harley Rentals. The ride itself is a networking event as you get to know the people who you’ll be spending the day with. Breakfast is included, and at about 10:30 am the ride begins to Valley of Fire, a national park. LCT will live stream the rollout on its Facebook page. Lunch is also served, and riders are free to explore the area on their own. If you know how to ride and want to support a great cause, this is a great networking event.

* Separate fee required

** Advance RSVP required 

To Register for the International LCT Show, click here

Networking Dos and Don'ts

Things to Do

  • Bring lots of business cards
  • Give everyone you meet a 30-second commercial about your business
  • Introduce yourself to people
  • Always wear your name badge and appropriate ribbons
  • Smile, even if you’re tired
  • Say hello to fellow attendees in elevators; make eye contact when entering
  • Drink plenty of water; bring breath mints
  • Keep a back-up stash of business cards in your suitcase in case you run out
  • Stay current with the show app
  • Take selfies with people; it breaks the ice and helps you remember new faces
  • Offer to buy coffee if you hit it off with someone in the Starbucks line who could be a potential business contact

Don’t Do This

  • Badmouth another operator, their vehicles, or pricing, or any vendors.
  • Say your company is better than another operator in your city
  • Go to bed early, i.e. 10 p.m.
  • Ask an affiliate why they don’t send you business when you send them work
  • Complain about anything
  • Spend all day gambling or lounging by the pool
  • Drink too much alcohol
  • Look down at your smartphone when talking to people; if you believe you’ve received an urgent text or call, excuse yourself and go to a non-busy area
  • Talk about politics. Don’t alienate a potential contact.

[email protected]

Related Topics: affiliate networks, building your clientele, business growth, etiquette, ILCT 2018, industry education, Las Vegas, LCT Show, Mandalay Bay, National Limousine Association, networking

Jim Luff General Manager
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