Build Your Own “Circle of Influence” –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional
I’ve been in the diving industry all my life. What’s more important to you is that I’ve been in the Business of Diving all my life. Now, with almost 50 years in the trade behind me, I am using my education and experience to help diving businesses gain and keep a competitive edge in this small, and sometimes declining, competitive market. And do you know what? It’s easier than you think. The market is there. You just have to know how and where to look.
The Dive Industry Association sells Membership in our Trade Association. That is the only thing we have in common with the other agencies and associations. We are far different and we are better at what we do for our Members. For a small annual fee, our Members are joining an industry network that focuses on their success, not on their patronage. Our Members are our Members, not our customers. We don’t charge them an annual fee for the privilege of buying products from us. Your annual dues are spent on marketing tools that bring you more customers so you can do what you do best – sell diving equipment, training and travel products. As soon as that sinks in, you will owe it to yourself and your business to find out more.
Allow me to give you a quick blast as to how and why that is important to you. In the past 50 years, I’ve worked for a major Training Agency, two of the best Equipment Manufacturers, and a number of Travel companies. I worked in Dive Retailing for ten years and owned my own store for seven of them. As you know, I’ve been very active in Trade Associations, Non-Profits, and Dive Media for my whole career. I’ve seen business relationships from different view points and I know all about each sectors’ private Circles of Influence and I know how and why they were created. I learned about business at major Universities and gained experience at applying sales and marketing concepts inside and outside of the diving industry. I admit that I am very opinionated when it comes to the Business of Diving because of my personal environment, education and experience, but I have always been open to new or different ways of doing things. Old Dog – New Tricks.
This editorial cannot cover everything you need to know about the Business of Diving. The core idea to your success is your ability to develop your own Circle of Influence. It’s based on a number of key assumptions. 1) Support the concept of requiring your business consultants to know the products, know the customer and know the market. Any thing less does you no good at all. 2) Your success and the success of the industry is based on the sale of diving equipment, training and travel. 3) The foundation of the diving industry is the full time and part time Industry Professional who works in the business every day. They are the Dive Retailers and Dive Instructors. We call them the Industry Front-Line Ambassadors. 4) The Industry Sectors that benefit the most from the work of these front line ambassadors are the Equipment Manufacturers, Training Agencies and Travel Destinations. 5) The Industry Sectors that need a robust diving economy to survive are the Non-Profit Organizations, Diving Media, Dive Boats, Dive Clubs and Service Providers. 6) Our Industry and Recreation will only grow if people Learn to Dive, Buy Their Gear, Go Diving and Stay Active.
Now – How do we do that? Each active Dive Industry Professional must create and maintain their own Circle of Influence. To begin with, each Industry Professional who is teaching diving, selling equipment or selling travel is the center of their own circle of influence. Every great World Leader has talked about the power of the individual. If one person can change the world, certainly one person can change the diving industry. So, draw a circle and put yourself in the center of it. Next, teach someone to dive or sell someone dive gear, or take someone diving. Now put that person in your inner circle. Record their personal contact information in some type of database that you can access and use it to keep in touch with that person all year long. When you have a new class or new equipment or another trip planned, contact that person and invite them to join you. You now have a Circle of Influence of one and you are at the center of that circle. You’re the Leader. You’re the Boss. The people in your inner circle are your current customers. Repeat the process as often as you can this year to grow your circle.
Starting in your second year, you will need to add an Outer Circle for the people who have not purchased from you in 12 months. The purpose is to keep the people in your inner circle active and identify and work with the people in your outer circle. The people in your outer circle are now your former customers and your job is to reclaim their business. Remember that working with former customers is not as difficult or expensive as finding new customers. They know who you are and they did business with you once. They very well may again. It’s all up to you. You know how to contact them.
You may need help building your Circle of Influence. The Dive Industry Association can help you prospect for new customers, retain the customers you have, and recapture your former customers. We can help you with referrals, promotions, marketing and advertising. We can help you network with the people who matter the most to you.
As an Active Dive Industry Professional you now have a Circle of Influence that you are in the center of. I can speak from experience when I say that you are now a force to be reckoned with. Equipment Manufacturers, Training Agencies and Travel Destinations all want to know how big your Circle of Influence is. The bigger it is, the more in demand you become. The big equipment brands will want your business, the certification agencies will want your certs and the travel destinations will want you to book group trips with them. I know that when we take travel buyers on FAM Trips, we are always looking for the major players who book group trips. Now that could be you.
Let’s digress a minute. We talked about you being in the center of your own circle of influence. Do you know what the opposite of that is? YOU being in the circle of someone else’s Circle of Influence !!! That may be OK if you are an active Diver with no circle of your own, but as a Business Person, the more influence you have, the less you pay, the more your make and the more you have to negotiate with. As a Business Person myself, the best thing I can say is: If you write the checks, you have the power. When I say power, I mean the power to be in the center of your own Circle of Influence, where you are in charge. Not in someone else’s inner circle, where you are a customer.
If you have or are working on your own Circle of Influence, I would like to have a conversation with you about the Dive Industry Association. We can help you break free of Vendor Dependence and help you grow your influence and leadership in the diving industry. If you are already established and an Industry Leader, we want you on our Team. We are more interested in helping you sell more diving equipment, training and travel than us selling you products.
For more information, contact Gene Muchanski at firstname.lastname@example.org