Earlier tonite I spent an hour connecting with folks from around the world through a weekly online forum called Interior Designer Chat. The topic of tonight's chat had to do with referrals in the Interior Design business. As it was my first time participating in such a forum and as I am a dealer in antique and vintage furnishings, I spent more time reading than responding. As I scanned through the fast moving flow of comments, I noticed an overwhelming theme from this group of Interior Designers. Personal connection is a key to success.
My business is buying and selling decorative and designer furnishings and I cut my teeth in New York City twelve years ago. This city is another kind of fast paced forum where the folks who set the pace are always looking for a great source. I was able to survive and later thrive as a picker, buying and flipping antiques to major dealers throughout Manhattan. What did these dealers need from me? Thank you gifts? Flowers? A hand written note? No, they needed quality, sophisticated merchandise that was fresh to the market and at a great value. So why, you might ask, am I touting the hand written note as the catalyst for business? Because the times, they are a changing.
Fast forward back to tonite. I'm in the midst of packing and preparing for my third foray to the event that is High Point. I will once again be set up and selling in the Antique and Design Center Showroom. This time, with an additional booth space and considerably more antique and vintage merchandise. My clientele has changed immensely from those days back in 2002 from New York City dealers to Interior Designers from Atlanta, Los Angeles and London. But until tonite, I was still a picker in my mind. Searching out great, sophisticated, fresh to the market merchandise and flipping it to the Interior Designers I would meet at High Point, was my business model. Until tonite.
Our world has never been more connected, more online, more technologically advanced. I'm writing this blog post on my laptop while I tweet from my mobile. I've posted a High Point Selfie video to my YouTube account and promoted it through my Facebook and LinkedIn pages. My inventory can be viewed at any time on either of my two websites. To say that my business is well represented on social media networks and online is an understatement. So then why do I need to tout the benefits of a hand written note? Because good manners and positive words build businesses today. Fresh to the market, sophisticated merchandise at a great value will always remain my focus. And now so will cultivating those clients to whom I am selling this merchandise. Thank you gifts. Flowers. A hand written note. This is the stuff of success.
For no amount of social networking can replace a personal connection. Many us still think of social networking as face to face introductions and meetings, not tweets, likes and shares. But this is the marketing of today. Building a brand with maximum exposure in a market that is already over saturated with way too much information. Standing out requires some type of celebrity endorsement, reality TV worthy faux pas or a lottery ticket find that was unearthed in your back yard or at a flea market. None of those options to build my business seem plausible to me. So I'll choose the path less traveled.
So I would like to thank those Interior Designers who have shaped my business model. These are the folks who are bringing antiques back. These are the folks who are demanding those one-of-a-kind pieces for their clients. These are the folks who are encouraging me to take the leap and expand my scope, my presence, my inventory. These are the folks who are showing us that a true connection, is a personal one. Now, can somebody tell me where the closest stationary store is? I'd like to have some personalized note cards printed...