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The Downturn – Sink or swim

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Bowen Basin Mining Club director Jodie Currie highlights the importance of mining industry businesses staying afloat during the mining slump.


While I’m hesitant to use the word ‘downturn’, the mining industry has experienced a slump over the past few years that has seemed to endure past any expert prediction.

Having opened with that controversial statement, I should also make it clear that in the face of all dire proclamations regarding our industry, there is still work out there to be won, as well as contractors that are out there winning work and making money.

The key difference is the way in which they approach industry relationships, as well as the business of doing business.

Businesses can no longer afford to just be good at what they do – they have to be good at telling people about how good they are.

This means becoming more visible in the marketplace, whether that is by way of being seen in the flesh at industry events or by simply having the right materials to promote your company well, like a professionally produced capability statement, website or even accredited policies and procedures.

For an industry that traditionally has done its best networking around Friday afternoon beverages, this step up in professionalism can seem insurmountable or even as a betrayal of the authenticity that makes our Queensland industry what it is. But no matter how you approach it, the marketplace has changed and mining industry businesses have to adapt or risk being left out in the cold.

While it might seem counter-intuitive to take a step back and think about the way that you do business when things are quiet, it’s exactly what you need to do.

However, this doesn’t mean you have to do things completely differently – just add an extra level of efficiency to what you already do. Take Friday afternoon beverages for example, and upgrade this to a networking event.

Networking is a solid business development tool and allows you to:

  • Handshake on new partnership opportunities
  • Fortify existing relationships
  • Share information and hear about the status of the industry, and
  • Give your business a ‘face’ and representation

When you head out to an industry event, there are four things that you should keep in mind.

  1. FOCUS ON ONE TO THREE IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIPS
    Unless the networking event is quite small, you won’t be able to talk to everyone in the room – so you should have a strategy. Identify the companies or people that you need to talk to, and focus on them.Think about how you can add value to their networking experience, such as sharing a good mutual contact. And networking doesn’t necessarily have to be all about new faces – existing relationships are just as important. Shout clients to an event or endorse them in a business opportunity. Their success translates to your success.
  2. BE PREPARED WITH THE RIGHT MATERIALS
    If you have business cards, don’t leave them in your car or in your pocket. Get them out, offer them to people and collect business cards in return. If you’ve decided you want to talk to someone about a business opportunity, have a capability statement or more information ready to hand out. You want to be able to make the best possible impression and then follow it up with information that talks about exactly why it is that you are the best at what you do in your sector.
  3. SPEAK TO THE PERSON, NOT THE TITLE
    Some of the best relationship building and networking happens when you’re unaware that you are talking to a proponent’s purchasing manager or a CEO. This is because you communicate naturally and relate interpersonally, so be natural first and corporate second. But don’t be afraid to talk about the details of your latest project or what makes your company different – some of the most interesting people I’ve met at networking events have let their passion for what they do shine through – and it’s the passion that makes you memorable.
  4. FOLLOW UP WITH MEANINGFUL CONTACT
    You can attend all the industry events in the world but if you don’t follow up, your effort has been wasted. Becoming more visible in the marketplace is a long-term strategy, and it starts with networking but grows into much more than that. Start by sending a short, personalised email to each person that you received a business card from and planting the seed of how the two of you could work together.Our industry is tough – we’ve proven that over the last years of economic slow-down. The real players are the ones who can make the most of their situation and think of new ways to make their business more noticeable.

    The business who can set themselves a level above their competitors, do things differently and tell potential clients exactly why they are good at what they do are the ones who are set to succeed in hard times and in good times.

    Using a networking strategy as a platform for building new business relationships is just one way to be seen in the marketplace and add an extra level of professionalism to how you do business.

But all strategies have to start somewhere – where will yours begin?

2015
EVENT CALENDAR
JULY
LUNCHEON
July 31, 2015
South’s Leagues Club, Mackay
Guest Speakers
Mr Greg Carson
Procurement Manager
Rio Tinto Coal Australia

Mr Daniel Van der Westhuizen
General Manager – Kestrel Mine
Rio Tinto Coal Australia

SEPTEMBER
LUNCHEON
September 24, 2015
Town Hall, Emerald

NOVEMBER
LUNCHEON
November 27, 2015
South’s Leagues Club, Mackay

PROFILE

JODIE CURRIE
DIRECTOR
BOWEN BASIN MINING CLUB

Jodie Currie is the director of the Bowen Basin Mining Club operating bi-monthly functions for the mining industry in Mackay, Moranbah and Emerald. The BBMC’s mission is to connect all levels of operation, supply and service delivery within the sector to create better outcomes through the provision of up to date information on projects, and quality networking.

For more information regaBOWEN-BASIN-MINING-CLUB-LOGOrding the Bowen Basin Mining Club and upcoming speakers and events visit www.bbminingclub.com.au.

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