Networking with peers can lead to better busines

Jenna DanningerIt must have been about six years ago when a friend of mine in grad school e-mailed me a link to join Facebook. I had no clue what it was and didn't really have a desire to find out, so I deleted the e-mail, and that was that.

Turns out Facebook has turned into quite the phenomenon. It has basically kick-started the social networking rage that has overtaken the Internet. From Facebook to LinkedIn to Twitter, businesses around the world are reaching clients and potential clients en masse, promoting products and services and gaining new followers.

But what ever happened to face-to-face networking? AQUA covers the importance of customer service and personal connection with clients on a monthly basis, but where does that leave connecting with our colleagues? Surely we can't always rely on a computer screen to garner ideas, exchange best practices and just catch up with those we've met along the way.

This is where trade shows come into play. Every day across the United States there are thousands of companies employing tens of thousands of people who all work within the pool and spa industry. And for one week a year, the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo serves as their central meeting place . . . and if you think about it in grander terms, there is more industry knowledge in Las Vegas at this one time than any other point in the year.

Take advantage. IPSPE is the perfect opportunity to see first-hand what other retailers and service companies are doing. It's the time to ask questions, discover new selling or building techniques, try out new products and exchange business cards. Build your network of go-to people so when you've hit a snag and exhausted all your resources, you have someone else to call up.

Wring out as much knowledge as you can from your colleagues and make the effort to get the most out of these few days. Come Friday afternoon, everyone gets on a plane or in a car and goes back to where they came from. But the connections you make here will definitely make you a stronger business back there.

Jenna Danninger
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