April 26, 2011

Business Development

My first solo experience in attending a workshop on behalf of my company was on March 18, 2011. The Workshop was on “Off-Shoring and Outsourcing Opportunities in Australia and the Asia-Pacific Region”.

The inaugural speaker focused on the growing importance of Australia as a destination of IT and BPO industries which we could capitalize on as our biggest strength today remains a good eco-system consisting of industry expertise, good physical infrastructure, academia and the government support.

As I was thinking about convergence of positions of India and Australia in several areas, I was also trying to count how many others had come in a similar capacity as me. On last count there were close to 110 delegates. Each and every person there was working out ideas in his/ her head to tap into the Australian IT market worth A$100-billion – including me

I was seated next to Ms. M and Mr. P. I broke the ice by talking to Ms. M and made formal introductions of the companies we represented. She was from the Accounting industry and I was talking IT. We then exchanged business cards. She, being a regular member to the workshops conducted by the Chamber told me she would introduce me to few other key members.

The next introduction happened with the other neighbor – Mr P who was CEO of his BPO outfit in Kerala. Exchange of business cards seemed to be a natural action my hands realized sooner than my brain did.

Hmmm now that was not so bad. That actually went mighty well – thinking so I settle to hear my first speaker. I actually liked what she spoke. Pity no one could give her a standing ovation like the other speakers received due to some confusion on the stage

Before I knew it – she left and it was tea break and a whole new ball game. I realized that it is one thing to talk to people whom you are sitting next to as conversations gravitate towards the known whereas it’s a whole new ball game when you are breaking lines, addressing random people who actually might be wanting to enjoy and savor their tea unaware that here I am - inviting them to listen to what I had to say about my company and what we had to offer and how we can synergize our common goals.

The constant worry running in the back of my mind is – "Will coffee/tea win over the business conversations?" because the coffee/ tea was exceptionally good :)

I decided to follow Ms. M’s lead. The first few introductions were courtesy her – to the organizers of the event and the Chamber representatives and that’s when I noticed a pattern. People would very easily slip in and out of groups of people huddled over a cup of coffee and move to newer groups and talk business.

During the tea break session I could do that only within 2 groups and I had downed 2 coffees. I decided to put on my skates at the next break and carry tons more of business cards.

I had a question to ask the next speaker as it concerned a bottleneck I (my company) was facing in a new venture undertaken involving the Government. I got his insights which sounded like workable solutions and made a mental note to talk to him in person later. After a few more questions, it was lunch break.

This time, though the lunch comprised of an exciting spread, I had work to do. I approached Mr. J and got involved in a deep conversation on the North Eastern belt of India which was our area of interest. We spoke about impact of mobile penetration and he offered suggestions on how we could improve the literacy levels of the farming community to enable them get the maximum benefits of our new venture. He also gave a couple of references so we could explore more avenues and obtain a wider berth in the NE belt.

Post lunch, I felt no inertia. I was still as keyed up as I was in the morning and heard to all the speakers. And the second time was easier. The second half – people approached me wanting to know what business house I was representing and what was our expertise. Experienced the chase and also had to chase few others. The best of both worlds

Left to Bangalore the same night with new experiences, lots more business cards than I arrived with, new connections I hope will lead to business expansion and good memories