The DRMA Makes Networking Work

Committee Corner
Chuck Wilkins

As a co-chair of the DRMA Membership Committee, I spend a good chunk of time thinking about the benefits of DRMA membership, how to communicate those benefits to the media, technology, and commerce sectors of the marketing business, and how to make membership more valuable to companies and individuals in our industry. 

I believe that the central benefit of DRMA membership is the access our group grants to the thousands of people and companies that make up our industry. Everything John Yarrington, Thomas Haire, and the DRMA team do is designed to connect people across the industry and foster the exchange of ideas and expertise. MTC Expo, the seasonal networking events, and the steady stream of editorial content — all are intended to get, and keep, people across the industry talking about what’s happening, what it means, and how to run their businesses better. 

You could have hundreds of LinkedIn connections and participate in many of the internet-based groups that have sprung up around the industry, but odds are you will still get more out of three days at MTC Expo in San Diego (April 24-26) than you will in a year of posts and phone calls. Being on the ground in San Diego allows relationships and conversations to flow organically and move in real time to places and people that make perfect sense, but that you never would have anticipated. Simply put, the DRMA makes networking work. 

Now you might say it’s one thing to talk about what a great networking opportunity an event is, but that is a lot easier than actually making the event generate results. You would be absolutely right. Networking — especially when you have identified specific people you want to meet — is hard work. You have to actually get out and meet people, learn about them, and tell them what you do.

Nevertheless, the effort is absolutely worth it. A mountain of sociological research shows that people who put serious effort into building a professional network are rewarded with more business and job opportunities, deeper knowledge, the ability to innovate faster, greater status in their career field, and overall increased job satisfaction.

While networking is hard work, networking at DRMA events is not as difficult as you might think. People in our industry love to talk about themselves, and they love to introduce people. I will never forget my first event in this business several years ago. I showed up at the event knowing absolutely no one else except the lawyers from my firm. By the end of the week, I must have met a dozen people myself and been introduced by those people to dozens more. I came home with a stack of business cards three inches thick. Within a year, it felt like I knew almost the entire industry. 

The reason networking in our industry works so well is DRMA members do not all do the same thing. We’re not a bunch of dentists standing around talking about how to cement a crown. We represent every single facet of the performance-based marketing industry: from marketers to media outlets to media buyers and from inventors to technology companies to fulfillment houses.

Although we all work in the same industry, our professional functions demand a high level of specialization. The technical complexity of this marketplace means that no one can succeed alone. The dynamics of our industry literally force us to network to survive. The DRMA team realizes this and has purposely built MTC Expo’s content, expo hall, and networking events to foster the interactions we need to drive our businesses. 

That’s where you come in: the DRMA can’t work without you.

No matter what product you market or what service you provide to marketers, we all want two things: to grow our businesses and to maximize the potential of our industry. We can realize those goals, but only if everyone pulls together.

Our industry is facing stiff headwinds, but it is also growing in unexpected and exciting ways. Technological and generational shifts are reshaping it.

Established players are moving in new directions, and new players are embracing direct-to-consumer marketing strategies to disrupt whole industries. The conversations and networks that enable these changes cannot happen if we don’t all show up in San Diego ready to meet new people, share our experiences, and collaborate. 

The conversations and opportunities in San Diego this April will be new, fresh, and exciting. I’ll be there will an All-Access Badge, and looking to meet and share ideas with as many people as possible. I hope you will be there too.