Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

May 2014

5 Ways to Take Your Business Relationships to the Next Level

By Corin Hirsch

During his 20 years in the luxury hotel industry, Bart Berkey has learned a few things about people — namely, the disconnect between what they say they’re going to do and what they actually do. He’s witnessed it so many times that it compelled him to write a book called Most People Don’t (And Why You Should).


Berkey — also a speaker and life coach — is interviewed in a video of the same name for The Intersection: Where Technology Meets Inspiration, presented by PCMA and PSAV Presentation Services. In a recent interview with Convene, he said that he hopes the book might help guide young meeting professionals. “I didn’t have a mentor, no one to give me advice,” Berkey said of his early career, which began at Hyatt Hotels. “I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if I knew how to circumnavigate some of the obstacles I was challenged with early on?”



Berkey’s philosophy draws on the idea of “do unto others,” but also emphasizes being prepared, living by one’s word — and simply dressing for the occasion. “When I was a recruiter, I presented to a group of college students, talking about the company I represented at the time,” he said. “A very small number came appropriately dressed. The majority wore Uggs.”

See Also: 4 Smart Strategies For Building Relationships In The Digital Age


Berkey later was dismayed that only five of the students introduced themselves. “I gave [those five] my business card,” he said. “Then only one person out of 150 followed up and made a positive impression on me.” Berkey balked at the suggestion that students may have been intimidated by an older, accomplished recruiter. “I challenge individuals to place themselves in uncomfortable situations,” he said. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. With confidence, you can do it again and again.”

How does this apply to meeting planners? Berkey devotes a chapter called “Sell Me but Don’t Talk to Me” in Most People Don’t to his colleagues in the meetings industry. In it, he suggests that meeting professionals have pushed one another into “transactional mode” at the expense of human interaction. Berkey’s takeaway: Establish more meaningful relationships by picking up the phone and asking questions.

“I don’t want to stress the negativity of human behavior,” he said, “but if I say, ‘I’m going to follow up with you on this,’ or ‘I’m going to do something’ — my word is my bond. I think that we’ve moved away from that. It has become more of a self-serving environment. There are no consequences for not doing. The more we can honor what we say, the better relationships we’ll have and the better partnerships we’ll have.”


Don’t 101

Five takeaways from Bart Berkey:

1. Say thank you.

2. Commit and follow through.

3. If the “why” is powerful enough, the “how” is easy.

4. Set consequences for your actions, even if no one else does.

5. Identify what you would/could do if you had better health, happiness, and relationships.

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