Learning in Louisville

Mixing business and pleasure was the perfect cocktail for a recent keynote in the bluegrass state of Kentucky. I was invited to speak on leadership resilience for an annual insurance industry conference where limestone filtered water had been sourcing worldclass bourbon since the late 18th century.

There was bourbon in the beer, the burgers and the barrels that lined every hotel lobby. Bourbon was everywhere but business was the theme of the day. We were excited to land in Louisville since this history rich city had recently been named a top ten city travel destination by CNN. Over 400 attendees converged to celebrate strong industry growth. According to the 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, insurance staffing is expected to exceed 2.43 million employees by 2020. The insurance industry may not be a media darling, but it always provides stable benefits, work/life balance and a rich variety of cross functional work opportunities for careerists. Think cyberliability concerns and superstorm realities. The demand for top talent will remain strong as the industry provides diverse leadership job opportunities.

What we learned in Louisville, however, was actually a timeless recommitment to the importance of old fashioned, refined relationship building skills. Here are three tips worth reviewing:

1. Do your "reach out" connecting before you arrive at your destination. Sounds obvious but it takes time and effort to pick up the phone or send a social media message. Turns out a colleague, who ran the HR function for one of the world's largest law firms, had just finished relocating their client services headquarters to Kentucky. She immediately connected me with influencers in commerce and business development in Kentucky. I, in turn, invited them to our conference as our guest for networking. Win-Win. Staying in touch and and helping others achieve success is the priority...and the old fashioned way still works. Priceless.

2. Southern hospitality is alive and well. I called a PR colleague and long time insurance client that had worked on the Wild Turkey bourbon brand campaign before I left for the conference. Turns out her colleague insisted on warmly welcoming us at our hotel bar(with bourbon, of course!) and that led to an invitation to a private tour of an authentic Kentucky horse farm and more business connections thereafter. If you're not into horses, go for the 50 different bourbon varieties tour. Check out www.bourboncountry.com whether you're a whisky wannabe or seasoned spirits sipper. Bottomline: Be a great guest or a gracious host. It pays big dividends in business and life.

3. People really do want to help you achieve your goals. You just have to get clear on where you're headed and have the courage to ask for assistance. This particular conference keynote was the culmination of timing, tenacity and networking with the right talent at the right time to achieve the goal. So where are you reaching out and up these days? How are you helping others achieve their goals? Don't bet on the horses or the bourbon trail for your business success. Reacquaint with these timely tips to win your race. Share your business building success story at www.donnalyn.org and we'll join you at the next Derby for a mint julep or a jump on more great business..

DLG Consulting is a leadership training company that keynotes, consults with companies and coaches peopleleaders to their next level of success. Learn more at www.donnalyn.org, on FB and Twitter @DonnaLynSpeaks.