23 September 2017
Just because I'm not influential
When I was growing up my dad would use any opportunity to throw his version of the Wilson Mizner quote at me:
"Be careful how you treat those on the way up; you’ll never know if you’ll meet them on the way back down."
I was reminded of this today when I attended the London Design Fair. In attendance were designers from all over the world exhibiting their wares. As well as being open to the public it attracts some of the capital’s most influential buyers, journalists and industry leaders. The stakes can be high, and those exhibiting are all vying for a piece of their fragmented attention.
But fobbing off everyone you think is of no value to you is a very risky strategy.
Being a naturally inquisitive and sociable guy, I like to talk to the exhibitors and find out more about their work and what they do. I am not an influential buyer or journalist. I can’t even afford to buy most of what was on offer, and I made this known to the people I was talking to. I didn’t want to give the wrong impression and get their hopes up.
I was staggered by how many people abruptly ended the conversation when they realised I was low-value to them in that moment.
Instead, they should be following the lead of Emma from Woodpop, Miranda from The Do Book Company, and the friendly guy (whose name I didn’t manage to catch in the mad bustle) from Schott Ceran, who were more than happy to dedicate time to answer my numerous questions and to ask some in return. To treat me like a human being, and to provide value without expecting anything in return.
I will always remember those three businesses. And here’s the catch: I’ll also remember all the brands that didn’t have the time of day for me. Who knows; one day I (or anyone else) might be rich or influential enough to make a difference for these businesses. They should remember that.