I returned from the 134th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show with questions that had nothing to do with the beautiful dogs I saw. It wasn’t a surprise that my beloved breed, the French bulldog, failed again to win best in show. In fact, the Frenchie has never won best in show. Sadie, a Scottish Terrier, took the prize. Beautiful dog. The breed has now won Westminster eight times since 1907.
As I sat there watching among the other dog-loving spectators, I couldn’t help thinking why some breeds (Poodle—Minature, Toy, Standard) win multiple times and other breeds (Golden Retriever—the Golden!—everyman’s dog!) never take top prize. Well, it’s the same reason why some businesses (IBM, Microsoft) consistently beat the competition.
Better product? No, not necessarily. How about better networking, better exposure, and better public relations? I own a French bulldog, and I know there’s something wrong when people are constantly asking me, What kind of dog is that? At this rate the Frenchie might have to wait another 134 years before it makes history.
The best salespeople—the Boxers (4-time winner at Westminster) of the business world—understand that you need to be networking every hour of every working day, year in and year out. In the end, it’s all about self-promotion. The ones with the tightest connections—the Wire Fox Terriers (13-time winner) of the world—have a greater chance of success.
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, held each year in the most famous arena in the world, Madison Square Garden, is just that. It’s a club. And to be part of this club, and have an impact, can be more than challenging. Are the owners of the French bulldog–with the exception of Martha Stewart—vocal enough? Do they get the word out about what a wonderful animal the Frenchie is? (Good natured; great with children and other dogs; doesn’t bark; excellent apartment dogs.) Probably not, and that’s partly my fault. I need to promote this breed more.
The same thing applies to companies who want to be the next Apple. Its presidents and CEOs might be asking themselves, How come more people don’t know who we are and what we do? Maybe because they’re not getting the word out, or not advertising enough. Ditto with salespeople. Are they prospecting, reaching out to their current customers, taking advantage of social media networking sites?
There’s a lot of talk (among non-members, of course) that Westminster is rigged, that the fix is in. I’m not sure, but the answer may lie in what Deep Throat told Woodward and Bernstein: “Just … follow the money.” To me, the argument isn’t apples and oranges, but apples and oranges and bananas and pears and cherries and every other fruit. Ask yourself, How can the best of the best pineapple consistently beat the best of the best grapefruit? Is the pineapple just a superior fruit?
Enough speculating. If you want to be the best company or the best salesperson or the best in show, then it’s time to start networking a little better. Did you hear that Labrador Retriever (zero wins) owners?