I haven’t been too optimistic after getting no replies from my first networking event.
And yesterday’s networking event left me even more cynical. It was a free event hosted by the Young Professionals Association here in town. It began well, I met a very friendly lady who was interested in hearing about our business while waiting in line to get into the event. Then from there, my nerves just continued to get rattled. It wasn’t similar to the first networking meeting, where the people talked to you with courteous interest. The young professionals seemed distant as if they didn’t even want to network. Half of them were only there for the free booze. Halfway trying to make conversation with girls, this cynical fury took over. I decided to get things done rather than being intentional (or seeming intentional) to meet people. I decided to ask about their business, tell them about my business, ask if they knew anyone who needed my video production services, then get their card and move on.
At the end of the day I could still call it a success. We handed out all of our cards and had a few interested people.
The morning after, I attended another networking event, but this time the crowd was much different. The people were much older, and warmer. I felt compelled listen to them more and even if they didn’t benefit me, I felt compelled to befriend them.
It’s interesting to compare the two: the older group that I’ve enjoyed more networking with, and had more quality conversations with, and the younger group that I’ve made more connections with in quantity.
I want to just judge the younger group, for their lack of networking experience—for being so self-conscious, and feeling too out of place to network. I know it sounds all too hypocritical, given that I am younger or at least look younger than most people there, and that my lack of networking experience may be as great if not greater. I seemed to have assumed that everyone who goes networking loves it and is good at it. And hypocritically, I don’t do some of the things I have come to expect from people: to act or at least seem intrigued by the other person, or to continue to build the conversation after it has slowed down.
Even so, I still think that a task-oriented approach that focuses on quantity rather than quality is more effective. Because I know the extra effort and time that I put into the interaction won’t change the fact that the person is not very likely to respond to a follow up. I’d rather go straight for the task get as many leads as possible.
This of course makes the experience feel robotic, and networking shouldn’t feel like this.
Two days ago I attended The Santa Barbara Business Expo, my first networking event. Almost all the business blogs and books I’ve read give importance to networking and nothing convinced me more than when I met with my friend Jackie, a real estate agent. I asked her how business was since she had only become a licensed for a few months earlier, and from what I know about real estate, it takes years to get clients. But she told me that she’s busy and business keeps coming. What? How? I asked her what she did for marketing, and how she sought clients.
“Well, it was really easy. I found some real estate agent networking events to go to, and this guy I met told me he was leaving for Shanghai and gave me all his clients”.
My eyes widened. Of course there was some luck to this, and I couldn’t help myself from being jealous. I had spent the past few months, thinking of a business identity and value proposition, targeting my niche, sending out cold emails, meeting with potential middlemen …and Jackie just goes to a networking event and gets handed business.
This is a continuation of the story, How I Became a Famous Pickup Artist Part 1. If you haven't read that already, you should do so before reading this article.
Papa was notorious for being in contact with everyone in the pickup scene. I couldn't blame him, either - he was the business side of "Real Social Dynamics", a company that taught seminars and workshops to aspiring players. Not surprisingly, he was the only person at the seminar that I knew.
In order to extract every last precious second out of my experience, I had gotten on the earliest flight to Chicago that I could book. I called Papa when I arrived at the hotel at 10am. I could hardly make out his voice. He'd been out in the clubs until very late and was still sleeping.