Building Your Tribe

I attended my first GlassBuild America this year. Other than home and garden shows (do those count?), I don’t have much trade show experience, so I had no idea what I was in for. On the GlassBuild America show floor, I quickly learned that this was a serious business environment. Instead of wandering the halls hearing talk of remodeling the basement and adding a deck, I heard about new business transactions and product developments. I learned a lot and had a great experience getting to know industry people.

By far, though, my favorite thing about the show was getting to see relationships in action. I saw first-hand that the glass industry works hard to build relationships and maintain them every chance they can. I spoke with business owners and company representatives who were downright excited to meet customers and other suppliers they had been in communication with over the year. Stories were shared. Contacts were made. Friendships were fostered. Business was done. And after seeing how business truly is built on relationships in the glass industry, I was not at all surprised that in the “Guerilla Marketing for the Glass & Metal Industry” seminar at GlassBuild, Rich Porayko emphasized building relationships over any other effective marketing tactic. 

Porayko, founding partner of Construction Creative, recommended seminar attendees get to know their audience and build a tribe—customers, voters, employees, anyone you’re trying to reach, as Seth Godin explains in his book, Tribes. To best market to your audience, think about holidays and time zones when trying to promote your business and products. Think about other events pulling the same audience. Handle customer complaints and problems by respecting e-mail marketing lists and publically addressing customer feedback on Facebook, which means playing an active role in the marketing efforts of your company, Porayko advised.

Seeing totes, pens, beer cozies and the like swarming the GlassBuild America show floor was a good indication that business people take marketing seriously. But for me, it was the conversations, the open ears, the hugs and friendly handshakes that proved it. I'm happy to say I'm now a member of the glass industry "tribe."

Stough is editorial assistant for Glass Magazine, and e-glass weekly. Write her at


Thank you Bethany! You are correct, people that don't attend the shows/events miss out on networking opportunities which will never be replaced by email or video conferencing. For those that haven't discovered Seth Godin yet, do yourselves a favour and start with Tribes. Some of the case studies are dated but the takeaways are timeless. Completely usable info for the glass industry and way beyond.

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