The other day I was at a local small business trade show, and halfway through the day I was pissed. I was pissed because throughout the whole day while I’m trying to network, all I hear from these small business owners is constant promotional spiel. I would walk up to their booth ask them about their business and they would just blabber for 15 to 20 minutes. Of course when they finally finished, they try to sell me their product. Then, it would be super awkward for me to say, “No, I don’t want to buy your product, but I’m curious about your online marketing. Do you put a lot of focus into your online marketing?”
So halfway through the day I was furious. I just couldn’t network.
I remembered Alan Mayer said that in sales you let the person talk, and if you listen, then they’ll return the courtesy by listening to you.
So I switched modes and went back to the booths. I asked them about their business, let them talk and then after the gruesome 20 minutes I said “That’s very interesting Mr. Person, I do video production. Would you mind if I asked you a few questions to see if I can help you?” Then I was able to go through my list of questions, and qualify the lead.
“Give Value” is common advice nowadays. “If you give enough value to the world, you’ll get value” they say. But why? How? How does giving your time and energy and being helpful actually help you get more than you put in?
A while back I was at a business conference and a blogger was sharing the “Give Value” insight. He writes and gives away his content for free and after a while a few writers affiliated with the book “The Secret” saw and liked that he was giving so much value and sent massive traffic to his blog. His pointed out that it’s not the people he gave value to that returns value – value is returned from those who were bigger than him who liked what he was doing.
I thought about this idea – the idea that the value doesn’t come from people you target but from people higher up. I want to expand this idea, because I don’t think it works exactly this way.
I think that the rewards from giving value come from neither the act of giving value nor a series of acts. Giving value is a characteristic.Giving value means being a person who genuinely hopes for the best in everyone. I want my characteristic to be so, that when looking at any particular person, I will want that person to be the best they can be and to achieve the most they intend.
When that happens, the way I interact with people becomes different. The words I use are different. People can inherently feel this characteristic and are naturally drawn toward it. And that’s where the rewards come from. People feel this value giving characteristic and want to build upon it, so they give value to it.
The other day I was talking to my boss. I was asking him what parts of my work I should put more focus on – what type of work will generate revenue. He said I needed to help him push out more content. Content marketing seems to be the main focus of most online marketing nowadays. Almost everyone is giving away advice and tips.
So I asked him that, I said “You sure about content marketing? Everyone is doing content marketing these days”.
He replied “That’s why we have to create better content”.
Naturally, I replied to that with “Don’t you think the bar is being raised too high? If everyone is giving way free content, then pretty soon paid content will be free content. Don’t you think that because content marketing is so saturated that one day it will stop working?”
“Yes. One day, content marketing will stop working" He said, "But right now, it works. So we gotta go with what works. When I was young, I was caught up in the future, and I ended up wasting a lot of time chasing things that never happened, and getting nothing done.”
It was the career fair two days ago. If this was last year, I’d be nervous and determined to ask the right questions to show that I’m capable so the recruiter could be impressed. This year I walked away from the career fair smugly thinking, I don’t need a job, so glad I don’t have to go to that packed room of students being all needy.
As I was walking away I thought, wait there are big corporations there, this could be a good opportunity for me to find out about the inner workings of these companies, and get some insights on their needs.
So I forced myself to walk back to the career fair, and just as I imagined it was packed with people and an air of self-consciousness. I was wearing my daily clothes, no suit.
And all of my conversations started out normally, I asked what their company did, and where they were headed. They told me about their job openings and asked what I was looking for, and I aggressively parried their questions and fired back with a flurry of questions.
The conversations went something like this
“Square your feet and chest to the basket”, they say. “Keep the ball to the right of your eye, keep your elbow in, and your arm straight”, they say. If you ask, every coach and every basketball player will tell you that those things lead to proper shooting form.
But those things don’t lead to accurate shots.
None of the top shooters in the NBA shoot like that. Not Kobe
Last weekend I attended Ontrapalooza, the company that took over office autopilot. I’d have to say, this is by far the best networking event I’ve gone to. It really made me realize the importance of networking, and just how beneficial networking is. See, in 2 days I’ve met tons of influential people: people who I’d like to work with, and people who if they liked me enough could gift a career to me. I’ve met a big time movie producer, big time event videographer, an Australian who helps companies like Apple set up backend data systems among others. I also heard crazy stories too like Yee Shun Jian of 101 Powerful Affirmations, and how he put all his money into stocks and lost everything, only to build it back up.
It’s an eye opener to the power of networking, and that power hit me in the middle of the day when I realized, wow, I could meet 20-30 influential people today. That’s crazy. Like, not 20-30 helpful people, but 20-30 people who work with Fortune 500 companies or are mini internet celebrities.
I’m barely anxious when I attend these events anymore, since I know I would naturally ask them questions that interest me. It’s actually kind of fun to think about who you might meet next.
One thing I’m going to tell all my friends is that if you’re not spending time honing your craft, then that time should be spent networking.
I think I’ve finally crossed the path out of complete beginner. I closed my first client two weeks ago, got paid for the first time last week, and I’m waiting for 3 potential clients to sign and pay the deposit. For a while I thought I’d be sending out cold emails forever. I also thought I’d be clueless when pitching to clients forever. Now, my hands still jitter when I walk into a meeting, but I enjoy pitching to clients face to face now. I can honestly say that the thought “Why do I have to meet them in person, can’t I just pitch to them through email?” has completely left my mind.
There’s a few things I’ve noticed from my progression that I’d like to highlight:
-I’ve found books like The Sales Bible, Selling to Vito, Spin Selling to be very boring. I learned the most about sales from Ramit Sethi’s creative live session. (Note: I would get Earn1k but I can’t afford it. Also, I don’t really like Ramit, or his blog. I find his style of writing arrogant and his free material gimmicky. But his creative live session really is what’s helped me the most).
-When starting out, it’s very tricky to balance doing work for cheap to get experience, and saying no to jobs that constrict you in pay and/or creativity.
-Mentors save you a lot of time, although, finding a good mentor is really hard. I was asking everyone for advice: my professors, my parent’s friends, friends, even strangers at networking events.
I worked a lot for my mentor, Dan Chung. All of us did. Of course there were some of us that worked a lot harder than others, I always got yelled at for working little and I admit there were many times when I would weasel my way to taking a short break. But I always did some amount of work, I wasn’t as lazy as I seemed.
Dan says that a good manager can just peek into the room once in a while and know who’s slacking. Then why couldn’t Dan see that half the time I did shovel dirt, line bricks, mop floors, and wipe tables. I deserved more credit than that, or so I thought.
Most workers think like this. That doing some work entitles you to some credit, some appreciation. But it doesn’t. There is no difference between half-work, and no work.
The boss’s only concern of the worker is that the worker gets the job done, or tries relentlessly. If a task isn’t fully completed, then it serves no purpose for the boss.