Build your business on personal relationships

An interview with Joel Pinsky, CLDA Affinity Program Chair and Director of Customer Care, Global Messenger & Logistics

When Joel Pinsky joined Global Messenger & Logistics in 2008, he brought with him 25 years of extensive business experience, but he was a self-confessed “newbie” to the customized logistics and delivery industry.  He cut his professional teeth in accounting with what were then called “The Big Eight” public accounting firms. Simultaneously Joel was working in the real estate business helping people buy and sell homes and businesses.
Joel always dreamed of being a restauranteur. Eventually, he built his own restaurant and operated it for over 20 years.  What helped Joel in such varied industries - and eventually in logistics - was one constant: networking.
 “You build an organization, any organization, by building relationships.  The more you get to know people, the deeper your knowledge and resources become,” he says.  
Here he talks about the value of networking for anyone in our business, or any other.
Question: How have you used networking in your various careers?
Answer: Networking has been a vital part of my career from the early days.  I’ve had careers with public accounting firms, real estate companies and restaurants. These professions taught me the value of building business based upon personal relationships and trust. So, when I got into this industry in 2008, networking seemed the natural way for me to learn and find people I could trust. 
As a young CPA I was indoctrinated about the importance of networking. This concept became imbedded in my thought process. Networking became a valuable tool in helping me to succeed in all of my endeavors.  Networking just like life is a give and take proposition. It enables you to interact with others who can assist you when you need help. It also allows others to utilize your skills and experiences to help them.  It’s amazing, but I’ve found that if you need help all you have to ask someone with more experience and they will step up.  
When I first got into the logistics business, I went to the Annual Meeting of the CLDA’s predecessor organization, the MCAA.  I was new to the business and did not know anyone in the industry.  At the meeting I introduced myself to the association’s president, Chris MacKrell.  He was very open and willing to share his knowledge. He gave me quite an education. Chris also introduced me to others in the association who were more than willing to share with me as well.  
Question: How has networking benefited your company?  
Answer: My introduction to members of this industry at that annual meeting changed the way my company does business.  At the time, Global Messenger Corporation was a company whose business was mostly performed within a 60 mile radius of Baltimore, Maryland.   Through networking with CLDA members we’ve been able to nurture strategic alliances and expand our footprint. Our company has grown from a local delivery company into a national logistics company including warehousing, distribution and TSA-related services. The alliances we’ve built by developing those personal relationships with CLDA members were, and continue to be, a critical part of that growth. 
I believe you build a network of trusted individuals over time. The CLDA has helped us to that. Through the association, we have found other courier companies that help us satisfy our clients’ ever-expanding needs.  I have met people from other cities where we don’t have physical assets.  This has enabled us to deliver to places where we could not or would not previously do so. For example, we deliver to Puerto Rico through a relationship we developed through the CLDA.   
Question: In today’s impersonal world, you seem to be saying that there’s still an important place for personal relationships in growing a business.
Answer:  Definitely.  If you cultivate a group of trusted members in your industry, then you can build a support network that’s in place before you need it. When a client asks you to deliver in an area where you don’t have any physical assets, the network is already in place.  You have people that you know you can count on to perform as quality representatives of your company.
There’s another benefit that comes from building a network of trusted colleagues.  You can lean on these people to help you gain knowledge where you lack experience.  In our business – in any business - you’re always going to run into something that’s new.  Maybe it’s delivering to a new area.  Or taking on a new vertical.  Or adding a new service offering.  If you have a strong network in place all you have to do is ask for help.
Question: How do you build that network?
Answer: Get involved in trade groups like the CLDA and local marketing groups.  Go to their meetings.  Share your own expertise.  Give and take.  Then, after you make these initial contacts, follow up.  It’s great to get a business card at an event.  But if all you’re doing is building a stack of them on your desk, they aren’t going to be helpful contacts.  
I make it a point to talk to those in my network multiple times in a year.  It’s about building relationships.  Also, it allows me to tell them how my company can serve their needs.
I’m not going to lie.  Building a valuable network takes time and effort.  But it’s very rewarding.
The bottom line is this: The world is growing smaller and smaller.  It’s critical for companies to build strategic alliances to survive and grow in today’s business environment.  
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