People Report Summer Camp: 'Female Jerry Maguire' discusses building relationships

June 8, 2011 | by Kim Williams

Molly Fletcher, sports agent, author and president and CEO of Fletcher Digital, spoke to a large audience at People Report Summer Camp Workforce Symposium in Dallas on June 8. Her speech focused on connecting and building relationships, and how her "Jerry Maguire" style translates into the service industry sector.

Her candid, humorous talk revolved around real stories from her experiences as an agent, and highlighted what she has learned in her work with athletes, coaches and the sports media.

"I'm certainly not in the restaurant business, right? But, where I think we connect is that we live and work in a public world where it's so much about touch, service and relationships," Fletcher said.

Fletcher's philosophy surrounding relationships is that it's not about communicating; it's about connecting, and to do that she uses a method she calls building a "favor column."

"With the people in the world that really matter to you, and the relationships you want to cultivate, you have to build favor columns," Fletcher said. "A favor column is where you give and give so much to the people you want to connect with that they feel like they owe you."

To illustrate her point, Fletcher shared a story about how she was able to negotiate having her monthly rent waived at an apartment complex where she lived after college in Atlanta. She taught tennis to the residents and arranged for promotions with outside businesses.

"I found out that the tennis pro of this complex was leaving, and the management didn't know it yet, so I went there and told her I could get cool stuff from Wilson and Nike and we could do this hit for prizes thing with the residents," Fletcher said. "And she said, no, I'm good, our pro has been here eight years."

Fletcher returned a few days later with another advantageous offer from the pizza place across from the complex and was still unable to make progress with the management. Finally, the next day when she arrived armed with even more amenities, the manager told her the pro was leaving.

"I lived there for nine years and never paid rent. The story there is how you give and give so much that they can't say no to you. So, how do we do that with the people that work for us, and the people we want to buy food from our restaurants?" Fletcher said.

Building favors and connecting with people on personal, meaningful levels are elements that Fletcher said are important in any business, but with regard to the service industry, it's especially important with the goal of being to motivate employees and drive traffic and sales.

Evolving with social technology is crucial

"With my players, they ask me, 'why do I need social media?' And I tell them it's because everyone out there is having a conversation about you, and you don't know it," Fletcher said.

Fletcher shared a story about the resistance she received from one of the major league broadcasters she represented, and to prove to him that engagement was necessary, she did a Google search and told him it wasn't going to feel good.

"One of the things I showed him was the comments about how the best way to watch a game he was calling was on mute," Fletcher said.

Fletcher's philosophy on effective digital branding involves reputation management, networking and monetization.

"The platform I can create for my guys is enormous from a data perspective, which will in turn support the marketing platform. Social media is a heck of a way to control your message," Fletcher said. "Plus, it creates a platform to elongate my guys' careers."

Fletcher stressed the need to create a platform to utilize followers, which will help restaurants gain analytics that can be used to create marketing opportunities.

"It is so important to engage. There will be another thing in 10 years," Fletcher said. "We have to be nimble, authentic and evolve, and great things will happen."

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability , Human Resources , Staffing & Training

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