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Achieving Level Three Communication in St. Louis

Written by Julie Rhodes (Not Your Hobby Marketing Solutions)

Communication is something that is a constant battle in the craft beer world. As industry members, we constantly strive to communicate with our customers, our retail partners, our wholesalers and most importantly with our co-workers. But did you know that there are three distinct types of communication that can determine the efficacy of your messages?

Level One is Transactional – it serves simply to deliver a message to someone, sometimes referred to as talking “at” someone instead of with them. Level Two is Converse communication in which is more interactive than transactional conversations. Think of converse communication as a two-way street. Then there’s Level Three communication, also known as Connection, where the message is not as important as the understanding of a concept or perspective. It’s a value exchange of information that allows both parties to walk away learning something new and having established a new relationship.

On two warm days this past June in St. Louis, attendees of the first ever CBP Connects event were able to achieve Level Three communication and walk away with more knowledge than they carried in the door.

In person beer industry events are pretty typical – badges, cold lunch, crowded trade show floor, hustling between ballrooms or conference rooms, awkward small talk, and lots of drinking to mask the lack of conversation. CBP Connects dared to the defy the norm and we are all better for it. Held in just one room with tables large enough for healthy conversations, but still intimate enough to share ideas, the attendees ranged from brewery owners to marketing professionals, and front of the house staff to sales representatives.

The consolidated trade show featured goods and services from a select group of allied trade partners that allowed vendors to really get to know the business of the attendees instead of just dolling out swag and business cards. The speaker lineup was peppered with short, but intentional 40-minute sessions about everything from cooperage to mental health, and customer service to yeast counts. Leaving more than enough time for robust Q&A that included even the timid folks at the back tables.

And yes, there was beer, lots of beer in fact, but with the addition of NA options, as well as some NA cocktails, no one felt pressured to imbibe unless they really wanted to. The vibe of those two days was connection moreover anything else. The speakers didn’t just talk at the crowd, they engaged. The attendees didn’t huddle in corners, they introduced themselves and stepped out of their comfort zones. The trade show vendors didn’t just pitch, they interacted. And St. Louis showed up strong with its storied malt beverage history and host of fresh breweries doing things their own way.

Large conferences are great and serve an excellent purpose for all of us in the industry, but there’s something very special about an intimate group of craft beer professionals engaging in Level Three communication that reminds you why we all do what we do on a daily basis.