Breaking the Networking Code: Generosity
by: Peter D. Gehres

One of the most often cited benefits of membership in our  auctioneering associations or any business or civic group for that matter is the opportunity to networking. For millennia the gathering of individuals within a particular trade or craft has been beneficial to both the members and the larger industry. The goal is simple: develop business opportunities, share trends and techniques and in the end, make more money. While the end is clear the means might not be. In auction school we tell students to attend their state and national associations and to become acquainted with auctioneers in their region or area of focus. While having a firm hand shake, a good business card and a willingness to work are all important many young and inexperienced auctioneer often overlook the key trait to turn that handshake into a check. The one-word answer to successful networking is generosity.

An auctioneer fresh out of auction school is often looking for any work they can find. ‘Have gavel will travel’ is the motto. More established auctioneers looking to diversify their income and expand their reach will activity network to obtain additional opportunities. The call, text or Facebook message often goes something like this: “If you ever need any help at your next sale please let me know. I have 8 years of experience and would love to work the ring or do whatever you might need. I am a hard worker and love the auction business (or love the asset you are selling).”

The cold call for auction work might have some success story somewhere and if you are reading this and have a success story from a cold call please forward it on. However it may be the single least effect way, short of advertising in the modern Yellow Pages, to land contact work. Generosity works infinitely better then the cold call, text message or grip and grin at an auction. Generosity take several forms:

Opportunities: There seems to often be a one-way street with many auctioneers seeking opportunities. Consider how you might work together, rather than simply always asking for work. Even if your opportunities are not of interest it shows a wiliness to work toward mutual benefit verses simply asking for work. Further once you have successfully networked your way into a job or auction, returning the favor with opportunities, partnerships or cooperation ensures continued calls.

Time: The richest, most successful auctioneer and the fresh auction school graduate all have the same gift each day: 24 hours. When an auctioneer invests their time into a relationship, association or contest it is far more impressive than an investment in business cards or website. Are you willing to invest time to attend an association meeting? Better yourself at a contest? Are you willing to invest the time to meet an auctioneer for coffee or lunch? The generosity of time speaks volumes.

Humility: Every live auction in the county of any note has a bid caller and likely a pretty good one. The auction industry is alive and well and growing. While there is always a need for bid calling talent there is critical shortage of sales staff, internet clerks and ringmen with product knowledge. Your goal may be holding the gavel, however a genuine and humble willingness to do what needs do be done will be for more lucrative in the long run. Prove yourself and opportunities will come.

Zig Ziglar is famous for saying, “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” When you are busy looking for work and looking to get ahead think first about how you can genuinely help and you will likely find doors just seem to open.

Peter D. Gehres, CAI, CES, CAS is a Columbus, Ohio based Auctioneer and Realtor for RES Auction Services. He is the 2015 International Auctioneer Champion and 6 time State & Regional Auctioneering Champion as well as past president of the Ohio Auctioneers Association and former Vice Chair of National Auctioneers Association’s Educational Institute. Peter is an auctioneer for Akron Auto Auction, Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auctions, Mast Auctioneers as well as a host of benefit clients across the nation. He can be reached at petergehres@gmail.com and @pgauctioneer on social media sites.