01 March 2017

The Networking Game

My first week at Horticulture Week saw me getting to grips with some of the big names in the industry. From the minute I sat down I was calling up directors of garden centres to get a story.

It wasn't until I was sent to the Garden Retail Summit, a big dot on the horticulture business calendar, that I realised how much harder it is to approach people. Everyone seemed to know each other!

I sat through the first talks and then lunch was called. At least the prospect of free food and drink awaited me. 

As I stood there with my 18 profiteroles stacked on my plate, I scanned for the least intimidating face in the room and took a seat. The motherly-faced lady struck up conversation and we talked about archaeology, university and my poor quality of shorthand while I confidently polished off my mountain of cake.

After a while I asked: "So what do you do?" Turns out she owns one of the biggest garden centre retailers in the UK...of course she does. I actually felt a bit star-struck sitting with the big dog of the industry.

Gave me the confidence to go on and speak to more people which landed me in the delightful situation talking a man about eco-friendly plant killer...apparently it uses vinegar or something.

It also turns out that when it comes to garden retail there are only so many people who are worth calling. You learn quickly who will answer their phone in the first ring, and who won't get back to you even if you're holding their dog ransom. 

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