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Our Expert Series: Introducing Katie, Katherine & Ilona – Elevate GM!

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Our first expert series with the talented Joe Campbell of Culture City proved to be a hit with our audience and the good news is…we’re not stopping there! We wanted to know more about the industry, this time what it takes to break into the business development sector. Who better to tell us than 3 ladies who are doing great things for this industry in Greater Manchester? Keep reading to see what what it’s all about, as told by our good friends, Katie, Ilona, and Katherine.

AA: Hello! How are you all?

ALL: Good thank you!

AA: Great. To start things off, can you give us an insight into Elevate, how did you come about?

Ilona: Elevate came about because Katie and I previously worked together in an events based business development company but were made redundant. The now infamous Whatsapp message from Katie said, “Is there something we can do together with this?”, and I was totally on board! So we set ourselves a target from September 2020 to the following Jan and decided that if we’d won some business, we’d keep going and if not, we’d go off and do other jobs. And now we’re about to go into year three, which is a little terrifying!

AA: So what does Elevate do?

Ilona: In terms of what Elevate does, it is quite a broad remit. So, we are a business development consultancy, with our three key pillars being sustainability, innovation and community. Within that, some of it is our own events, events that we’ve won on behalf of other organisations, bd support, then we also train in public speaking, personal branding, networking, and carbon literacy.

AA: Great, so what does an average day look like for the three of you?

Katie: No one day is the same so I’d say across the week there’s a variety of meetings with existing clients, prospects and our network. We then dedicate some focus on us and how we’re positioning ourselves and sharing content to attract potential clients. The other bit, I suppose, would be planning either events or delivery for our clients, so that could be introductions or just generally keeping n eye out for opportunities for our clients. There’s no set amount of time for that, it’s just a case of always having eyes open.

Katherine: I guess mine would be more focused around meetings, event logistics organisation, and then keeping up with our social media, which we always have to keep our eyes on. It’s also about attending events to be kept in the loop and being that good person to know.

AA: So a lot of planning goes on! In terms of skillset needed to get into business development, what do you think is a must?

Katie: It’s all about investing in your networks. As much as you belong to an organisation, if you don’t invest as an individual and on a personal level, they won’t follow you wherever you go. More than ever post-pandemic, it’s about building trust and being authentic – don’t just do what ticks a box. There’s sales skills that you can learn but ultimately, business development is about taking a different approach to the sales process and being genuinely motivated and passionate in your work that reflects what you want to be part of and that you can add value to. It’s about taking a different approach to the sales process and being genuinely motivated and passionate in your work that reflects what you want to be part of and that you can add value to.

Katherine: I also think that with with BD and partnerships there are so many transferrable skills so as long as you’ve got that people side and you know what you’re interested in and what motivates you, the rest can come from anywhere.

AA: Absolutely. Let’s talk about building your personal brand – what do you think our audience should do to nail that?

Ilona: I would say take a step back first. Before you amplify it, you need to know what your personal brand actually is. Think about what your values are, what you care about, what you want your legacy to be. Once you know that, it’s about figuring out who you want to amplify that to and where they are.

Katherine: I would say that authenticity is a big part of personal branding as well. Anyone can make up a person that they want to be and people can tell because they don’t respond well.

Ilona: Absolutely. I’d also say think about the people you surround yourself with. Work with great people, clients that you’re genuinely inspired by, join the networks that are full of people who you want to know, curate your social media following and engage with the people that you want to emulate.

AA: Great! Finally, what does the future look like for Elevate?

Ilona: The initial plan is to get the foundations of Elevate right so that we can scale properly. Specific things we’ve got coming up are our first ever Northern Gamechangers awards in September. We’ve also got some innovation workshops coming up along with loads more training and events and hopefully continuing to grow, add value and do the things that we’re passionate about.

AA: Amazing! Thanks so much for your time.