Tool #2: Effective Networking
Moving on to lesson six, which is the second of the five top tools which is networking and your network all right, so what is your network? I talked briefly about this before, uh I said who you know really does matter and I think networking gets a bad rap especially when it comes to creatives the word itself scares people off oh no, I don't want to do that. What is it? What is networking that's what I want to start with right? The simplest way to say it is that it's about making friends it's about finding people you have something in common with and can help or maybe you can't help them but you're just, um making connections with people that's what networking is and really the way to build your network this is a cliche, but so few people do it and so few people kind of get it in their minds that this is what it is that it's about giving and not getting and I think that a lot of times people don't do networking because they imagine they're going to go out there and be perceived as someo...
ne who's trying to get but you don't have to do it that way you can be someone who's a resource and just be looking for how you can help that is networking all right? So you strive to be a connector that is the focus of your networking that could be the goal of any networking you event neck breaking event you go to I'm just going to go there and be a connector I'm not gonna worry about what I get out of it that could be a wonderful goal and remember when you're networking that there are two things people love one is to talk about themselves and the other is to help other people so in your networking you khun b asking the right questions to get them to talk about themselves and you could be telling them what you need so that they will help you and they will appreciate that all right so now that we know what networking is let's talk about what networking isn't it is not schmoozing shmoozing which I think is that image we have of the really slick sales guy who's just handing out could be woman handing out business cards to everyone that they meet not talking at all about them but talking about themselves the whole time right and again people think I don't do that thing because I don't want to be like that really bad one I've seen but the truth is again because we're creative we can do it in the way that is comfortable and if it's for our own personality you just have to take the time and the effort to find what that is for yourself so that's schmoozing and that's definitely not what networking is it's also not about bad food at a networking event, although one of my best networking tips is talk about the food right if you don't know what to say say oh, these swedish meatballs are pretty good, right? Or how did you like that cheese you can ask about the food? You can use the food as a networking tool uh actually that reminds me of another networking tip which is mostly for women, which is that in the bathroom or online at the bathroom is one of the best places to network right other because usually people are just standing there quietly or now on their phones but uh that's an opportunity you want to take every single opportunity you confined to chat with people because you never know what's going to come out of a conversation or where it will lead in life and in business networking is not blah blah blah. So when I say blah blah, blah I mean the jargon I mean, you you know, saying fluff about yourself or bragging about yourself if you go into networking with the intention that you are going to be a connector, you're gonna learn something, you're going to try to help people, then it takes away this whole aura of blah, blah, blah and finally, networking is not you talking about yourself awkwardly and I think again, that's one of the assumptions people go into it with and if you do and practice all the things that we're talking about here today, then the awkwardness will not disappear, but dissipate slowly and you will develop confidence as a result of your competence with networking. All right, that's, what I am proposing to you so let's talk a little bit more about what networking is. So I said it's about making friends. I think it is also about finding connections with people between people, even if it's not you. So you could bring two people together that striving to be a connector. You, khun, go into it looking toe help others because maybe you've got a lot of information and you're looking for people who need that information. But underneath it all it's about giving about giving of yourself and again, I think it's a cliche, and yet most people do not actually do it all right now I want to tell you about a network. What an actual network a successful network has. Okay, so to get specific, because we can think about your network as this blob of people. But to really be successful, you have to think about who is in your network and who do you need in your network and there's? An article about this I elaborated on this actually on entrepreneur dot com, about the four different types of people you need in your network, but I will go over them here. One is, obviously you need clients, right? You need the people who are going to pay you and those air, perhaps the most important people. But you also need piers. You need colleagues with whom you can share information, who you can go to when things are not going well and see how they've handled particular situation. You need people to bounce ideas off of that could come under the category of mentors that's, often what I do. I'm a sounding board and a nag for a lot of people because you need nags in your network. I should add that to the slide, and you need a referral sources. People who are going to pass your name along, even if they are not the person who's going to hire you and referral sources are. People, they could be your clients, they could be your peers. That could be your mentors there a special category of people who are connectors. And we each know a few of these people in our network, but you can take advantage of these referral sources by giving them what they need to pass your name along. So that may mean your business cards. Or that may mean, um, some information about who exactly you're looking for. But think about your network. Think about who you do have people in some of these categories and which categories are weakest, and you need thio book up and find some more of these people. J k o what's happening in the chat room. Well, this is really electrified the audience that really engaged here because a lot of creative tend to work individually and a lot. Of course, if you freelance, you work from your home. So they all recognized the importance of getting out there and networking meeting for no other reason than social. Yes, the social aspect. You kind of lose when you don't work in a big corporation, but some of being being shown one of you know the challenges somebody did ask. They re picked up on what you said about talking in the line for the restroom, because how can that not be awkward? Uh, it depends on how you do it, I guess, like everything nick t's cuevas is saying they feel when the networking is being genuine because that makes you more memorable, a lot of people saying, you know, they worry that they were going to get talking to that slick person whose only there to collect a business got this little ball, who cares if you spend thirty seconds with that person? So what, you're still going to make some more interesting people later on it's true, but, you know, I think one of the reasons people don't do networking also is because they're afraid they're not going to be able to get out of a conversation either because they can't shut the other person up or worse, they can't shut themselves up, right? Because I do think a lot of times this marketing thing, people get nervous about it, and then they don't have a cz much control over themselves, and so they don't put themselves in those situations in the first place and that's again why it takes practice, and I actually have a couple of other tips that I want to share about networking, um, because I think that when people think of networking automatically, they think of their trade association so designers may think of the idea or the graphic artist skilled or the group of their peers, which is fine, but you have to be very strategic in your networking to and know if I'm looking for business. If I'm doing business development, I'm probably not going to find that among my peers, although they may also be good potential referral sources but to be very specific about I'm looking for business. So where will my clients go that's a big part of what we're going to be talking about in session too, but the idea is networking almost sometimes automatically people don't think about, well, where will I go to meet the kind of people I need to meet? They just think, okay, I got to do some networking here's a networking event I'm going there as if that will do it right, but it does require more thought and more strategy than that. Ah, one other thought, um, there is a very interesting and worldwide group called b and I business networking international and basically there are chapters everywhere and they meet once a week, usually at seven o'clock in the morning uh and it's a good situation for people who need practice with their networking because basically every week you have an opportunity to introduce yourself and be talking about what you do and hearing other people introduce yourself so if you need help with that if you need practice I would look into b and I all right now I have another one of my what would you do if and then we're going to do the exercise so what would you d'oh it's a surprise I'm the only one who knows what the question is what would you do if you were talking to someone in whom you have no interest and who won't stop talking so we'll come back to the chat line for that the chat line on the chat room for that anyone in the room what would you do? What would you do? Has this happened to you? What have you done? Usually I try to just connect them with someone that share the similar interest with them. How exactly so usually if I'm in a networking situation um I know a few other people in the room that might want to connect with that same person so I would take that person you know, introducing them to the next and then connect them to the oh that's a good solution who else pen so much on the situation and how many other people are in the room and sometimes you really are stuck with somebody especially if it's a smaller group I like I like that technique if it's possible tested, I would give them my business card and say I'm gonna go meet a few more people meeting you there is nothing wrong with ending the conversation in a polite and courteous way and doing something gestural with a gesture often people are unconsciously aware of your physical movements before they consciously become aware of it so you may you know if you're sitting down you may stand up and that will indicate okay, we're ending this conversation and I love your suggestion justin get out your business card and say it was really great to meet you I'd love to stay in touch let me have your business card on I'm going to go talk to other people right there's nothing wrong with the truth which is we're here to network we're here to meet other people let's keep in touch yeah I have no intention actually following you might you might want to put them on your email newsletter list right? Because you don't know who they know and where it's going to go? You just know that you're having kind of a difficult moment with them but you don't know what the potential is and that's why actually that reminds me of a very good other tip I have one client who is very proactive because I said you can put them on your email list and often people say but what if I don't have permission to put them on my email is because there is a law about that right and so in that moment you can say I'd love to stay in touch with my e mail this letter or may I send you my email newsletter or you get their permission in that moment to stay in touch and you know stay in touch doesn't mean we're going to have coffee it doesn't mean I'm going to call you next week it just means let's stay in touch because you never know what are they saying in the town everyone seemed to be I need to go get a drink or let's go to the bar etcetera and of course the the bathroom break I got there that seemed to be the most popular and I thought this was interesting I'd like to know how this works they say there's somebody else I'd like to like you to me that strikes me as being slightly through all of your board read cruel yeah you'll be bored rigid why would you then push that person onto somebody else um okay so first of all we all have different reactions to different people right and some horrible clients that you can't possibly work with would be fine with one of your peers or colleagues because it's all about chemistry often so even in that moment you know you just think about you don't think about what a horrible person it is but what could they have in common with someone else so I don't see anything wrong with that but a lot of people recognize exactly what you're saying, and kelly was saying the business card is really a great idea, and I agree it's a great way out, it's very positive, yes, and a lot of people don't have business cards, right? That's to me, another example of not being all in in your business? Oh, I don't have a business card or they didn't bring it. They went to a networking event and they didn't bring their business card, why not? Or they went to a conference and they didn't bring their business cards or they left him in the room because they're so heavy, right? We can't carry them around. There are all these excuses that people have for not doing the things, the normal things that we do to get business. And krista was saying, I found that jumping in them being his chatty's, them changes the conversation. Either they respond nicely or they will end the conversation they only really wanted to talk about, so you can I mean, I think that jumping in, as this person is saying, maybe falls into the category of, oh, I don't want to be aggressive, I don't want to be assertive and a lot of people that's what stops them this. Fantasized or imagined behavior that will be perceived as too aggressive, but there's nothing wrong with it. And you have to experiment that's how you're gonna figure out if it's goingto work so I would strongly suggest that any nothing you think might be too much, just try it and see if it actually is, because most of the time, creative people air way on the side of not enough as opposed to too much in many different realms. So, um, in fact, say yes to the things you would normally say, no, too, and no to the things you would normally say yes, too, as a way to expand your horizons. And I think that applies here, too, when you're thinking about marketing yourself, there's always this. Oh, no, I can't do that. I don't do that. I wouldn't do that. Try it, see what happens? All right, now we're going to do the lesson as we bring this segment to a close. All right, so in the workbook, what you have is, as I mentioned this short article from entrepreneur dot com about the four categories of people in your network, and here are the sir sizes see if you can think of one person in each of the four categories and write them down, right, so we had clients piers referral sources and mentors I forgot the mentors thank you um so right down one person in each you you can name them but we don't need to know the names and then see which category you have gaps in and then obviously you're not going to do this right now but go find people to fill in those gaps right very strategically I need piers I need mentors I need clients I need referral sources so let's have the question for the exercise here in the moment be which of those categories do you think you're the weakest in and what are you going to do about it? All right, put that in the chat room and we'll talk about that here for a few minutes before we bring it to a close justin yes, I would I'd talk about before we came a creative live my biggest struggle was mentors that was such a challenge and I was like just so eager for that to find a mentor somebody to help you along the way a sounding board somebody who's a little more experience in the business world and it's nice could have found that now I have a lot of tourists on dh it's amazing what what that is doing in my life in my career it's really like it's a nice trajectory when you have support systems I think especially in this country it's not common toe look for for help from other people you know were very like american cowboys we can do it on our own we don't need other people but the reality is that it's very helpful to have someone who has no been there done that is a little bit further ahead and knows how to guide you I would caution you however you said now I have a lot of mentors be careful because if you get too many competing pieces of advice, you're not sure which one to take so really find one or two people you can really trust and who know have your best interests in mind whether you pay them or not because there is this whole issue of do you have to pay a mentor or is it someone who you're not paying but what are they getting out of it right? So be careful but I think that it is the the category that most people have the fewest resource is in excellent who else dana definitely is the same and I do not have a big network of mentors I'm curious where you found these where do you find your mentor's justin creative lives? Yeah, you know, just being able to connect your work with instructors all the time and and so I would say there's a few instructors that I've really connected with on dh I mean I'm going to something on thursday that is a mentor network um, and it's it's it's. A place to find mentors and connect with people. And so that's. One thing I've also discovered so excellent. Zane yeah, uh, probably work on establishing mentors that air like personal have a personal relationship, but we have a lot of mentors that are, like kind of virtual, and I get a lot of guidance from them online. Yeah, that's mentors would be area that I would work on. And I think that, um, you know this this actually relates to the topic of session three, also asking for what you need because really, with a mentor, you do have to say, this is what I need from you and be very specific, because otherwise it can be a very fuzzy type of relationship without a lot of structure. So I would just be clear about that. Okay, what's happening in the chat room. J k I think when justin talked about mentors there, people really resonated with out there. So this is some of this really lacking in there in there. Support and people, they're asking you, where do they find mentors? This is something that they're they're struggling even to sort of get connected with people think again, it goes back to a lot of creatives who work independently, work in isolation, that's one of the struggles that people really recognize they need to go networking is one, but mentorship is really seems to be some of the people recognize they need to work. Yes, and I also think, though you have to be very careful about who you choose as a mentor, because you want someone who definitely has your best interests in mind and also understands what you need, and you know that that we have to have criteria for who we're looking for. Otherwise it can be kind of a free for all I know, kate was asking do mentors typically expect to be paid? Some do, and some don't I do, but others don't. I think in in job situations, there are a lot of corporations who have mentoring programs where that is part of the structure, and I think in that situation they're not expected to be paid. But but again, when there's no money exchanged, it can be a little weird, so it has to be set and clear who is getting what from whom and what the structure is. Well, amy are hard made a good comment just as he said that at least was saying a mentoring could be given take on both sides. What skills do you have? Your mental could benefit from this absolutely and also, you know, most people appreciate learning so even as you're teaching your learning and if you find someone who values that, then that's the exchange I think one thing is just asking if there's somebody that you admire and see like it's no, it never hurts to ask and also put some parameters on it say, hey, I really value your opinion what you're doing in your business can we meet for an hour a month? You know, so that it's something that's very, you know, tangible and if they could do that they'll say yes if they can't I mean the worst thing that they say is no, absolutely I think that the idea of being really clear about both the parameters and exactly what the expectation is on their part uh and you know, maybe you start with a half hour a month or just make it really easy for them have another goody in the extra goodies bundle, which is a worksheet from another bundle I offer actually called it's who you know and this is who's in your network which goes into its basically a form that you fill out with all day categories of types. Of people, so that if you don't have to rack your brain, thinking about who's in your network, it will help you figure it out. You can find that at the bit ly slash command. Fi's. Uh, link.