During my last networking event that I was convinced that networking is lame and a complete waste of time. At the time, I was full of anticipated excitement from meeting people, but I would become deflated two weeks later when none of the people I met turned into sales.
Last weekend I went to Ontrapalooza and it was a ton of fun. I met so many entrepreneurs, and it was great to exchange ideas from them and it really – because they treat you as a peer – when you talk to them it opens you up to the idea that you can be one of them.
I asked one of my friends that I made during Ontrapalooza the previous year (2013), “Hey Thanh, you think they’re worth it? Going to conferences…”
“Yeah in the long term” he replied, “and if you can afford it”
I met Thanh a year ago and since then I would consider him a friend. Same with a few other people I’ve seen from events and conferences over time. And I think that’s where the value comes from, you don’t expect to get sales from a conference, but overtime you end up seeing the same people at conferences and making a lot of friends with top entrepreneurs.
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.
I was finishing up some sales email templates as part of a contract. I had something pretty good, but I figured there's always room for improvement, so I dug out eight to ten of my favorite books to see if there was any more juice I could squeeze out.
When I do work like this, I go to a number of different sources. So I opened up a few books centered around email templates, some books on marketing, some books on consulting, a book on networking, and two books on sales. These are some of my favorite books covering their respective topics.
What shocked me -- and I mean, shocked -- is that there was a piece of advice given in almost every single book that I'd never noticed before, despite having read these books many times.