Fishing highlights three important Business Development lessons

We are all business at Fifth Ring but occasionally we like to let our hair down and have a bit of fun. The Offshore Technology Conference in May was no exception. We had a team of eight on the ground in Houston (and nearly a dozen more virtually) providing support to more than 25 clients attending and exhibiting at the show. As has become the custom around OTC time, the last couple of years we take a break to do a team-building event and this year we went fishing.

(Fifth Ring Team-Building with Fishing)

While fishing is relaxing and afforded us an opportunity to get to know one another in a casual environment, the excursion called to mind three business development lessons you should be aware of in this ever-changing, high-speed world.

1. Sometimes you’ve got to switch your bait.

As we started our day, our fishing guide suggested we use his favourite 'stank' bait to lure fish to our hooks. However, after a half-hour or so with little action (seemingly years in fishing time) we were told to reel in our lines and we made the switch to shrimp. The impact of our change was almost immediate with everyone in our boat landing a fish within minutes.

(Ian Catch of the Day)

The shrimp worked because we were in Texas and it is a food fish crave in this part of the country, whether in salt or fresh water. In business development, your shrimp is your messaging and presentation of those messages. If you notice your pipeline is drying up, start by looking at your messaging and your presentation. Does it need to be freshened up or do you need to get some new bait?


(My Catch of the Day)

2. Maybe it’s your tactics?

Most everyone in our group was doing exactly what our guides told them to do when casting their lines: toss it out a couple of yards from the boat, let it sink to the bottom, and reel it up a couple of feet and wait.

Now, I have no idea how you know you have hit the bottom or how you are supposed to gauge a couple of feet. So instead, I cast my line out as far behind the boat as I could – maybe 60-70 feet –and then as the lure sank, I gently reeled in the line as the current of the water brought it closer to the boat. Seemingly this worked, as I wasn’t ‘hanging’ with the crowd and instead my lure had some movement and seemed different to the fish.

We see this too in business development. You go to the same networking events. You hang out with the same crowd. Mix it up! Go to an event you haven’t been to before. Meet some new people. Develop and use a different approach. Generally speaking, these can be rather simple to initiate and the payoff can be fast and beneficial.

3. Look to your team for motivation and a pick me up

Fishing can be quiet and mellow but for competitive communications folks that quietness can be frustrating. When the fish aren’t biting and all you know how to do is land big ones, you need to find ways to stay motivated when there isn’t any action.

While we were out in the middle of the lake, when one of us didn’t have a fish on the line, we were talking to each other and looking for ways to help our teammates. Sometimes, business development can be a solitary activity but it is helpful to have a team to rely on. Not only can they provide encouragement when times are down, but they also can give you a different perspective. The best part is when the fish are biting – or you are landing business – it is all the more sweet to share those times with your team.