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.
A few weeks ago I’ve been dealing with the struggles of almost every newly graduate or close to graduating: finding a job. To get a job means I have to provide value to the person who hires me and I’m insecure about that. I’m an accounting major, and I barely know anything technical about accounting that could apply in a firm. I’ve learned a little about business but I’m not nearly skilled enough compared to anyone in the industry. I have no technical skills compared to the engineers and computer science majors. What value can I provide?
I brought this issue to my friend Ken and he gave me one of the biggest insights of the year.
I was struggling with the same thing when I was searching for jobs, but I realized that employers know that we’re new graduates and that we don’t know anything. Adding value is for someone who’s already five years into the industry…we’re new graduates, college only proves that we’re capable of learning. And that’s what employers are looking for when they hire you: someone who they can teach to add value to their company. Coming from Haas (School of business at Berkeley), I saw this way too often that kids would bullshit to employers as if they’re already five years into the industry. “I can make decks and models of this or I can streamline that”, they end up sounding like tools. They don’t know anything just like the rest of us.
“Then why should employers pay us 40k—50k a year when we know nothing and can’t do anything?” I asked.
Yesterday while buying a handle of vodka, the vodka bottle pierced through the thin plastic bag.
I looked at the shop owner like ...the bag broke.
He looked back and condescendingly replied "oh yeah the bag broke? So it was the bags fault"
I hesitently nodded.
"Take another bottle and have a good night"
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.
Since Part 1, I’ve been trying to ramp up my sales skills and actually close a sale. So I bought 3 sales books. The problem with these sales books is that they are mindset oriented rather than action oriented. I’m looking for a technique or a script I can use today, whereas instead these books give general advice on trying to understand the customer. I agree that this is something that I should know, but is not directly applicable.
One of the key things I learned is that selling to VITOs (Very Important Top Officers) is a lot different than selling to common small business owners. VITOs are hyper-busy and want you to be direct about your offer. Small business owners on the other hand, appreciate small talk and compliments. They like formalities and building friendships before buying.
I also learned some copywriting. It’s surprising how difficult writing a simple email copy is. It’s also surprising how little material there is on teaching writing small business email copy. I’ve asked Sebastian Marshall and Daniel Odio and they’ve offered suggestions. Sebastian told me that I needed to shorten my copy, and to have a stronger call to action.
In International Trade we learn the idea of comparative advantage, and how countries benefit from trading with each other if one is better at producing a commodity than another.
Within the first few lectures the professor will emphasize that a country doesn’t need absolute advantage for trade to be beneficial, just comparative advantage.
I think this concept can be applied to team dynamics.
A few months ago I was talking to my friend Tony, a video producer. He said his business was going well but he’s relying too much on his former company referring him business and has no idea how to generate business for himself. Since I am interested in marketing and selling, I told him I would market his services for him with a 30% cut. He agreed.
I started off as clueless as he was. I knew that marketing required segmenting the population, and really zoning in on the target niche. However, almost anyone with a product or service could benefit from video production. My assumptions were that those who demanded video production services didn’t need much convincing, but I had no idea how to find these people.
I posted in Sebastian Marshall’s community section and someone commented that while he (the commenter) was working as a web developer, clients told him that they needed these services. This gave me an idea.
I could target the middleman, the people whose clients may demand my services: marketing agencies, graphic design agencies, and web development agencies.
Lucky for me, I had already located an example email script. I pulled the email script from Ramit Sethi’s book, “Finding Your First Profitable Idea” and tweaked the wording.
Expected Value is the Profit or Loss from a decision times the probably of that happening.
Box A has a 25% chance of giving you 30 dollars, a 50% chance of giving you 20 dollars, and a 25% chance of giving you 10 dollars. It costs 15 dollars to buy box A, what is your expected value?
30-15=15 ; 15 x .25= $3.75
20-15= 5 ; 5 x .5 = $2.50
Its been two years now since the start of my fantasy football league. When I first started, I knew nothing about football. My first draft was a mess - I used a cheat sheet I found in the July issue of ESPN magazine. I drafted a defense with my 10th round pick (everybody knows you only draft defenses and kickers with the last two picks). Worst of all, I was in a league full of sports junkies, guys who watch every game every Sunday.
This season I’m 2nd place, with the best season record. I’ve made around 7 trades. I know the names of most teams starting players, and a few of their backups.
I guess it takes something as trivial as fantasy football to show me that improvement is a long and slow process, but improvement happens. Too often I look at things and get disappointed because of the results. I’m so focused on improvement that frustration quickly swells up. Why am I not getting better? I expect so much from myself that I can’t see small progress for what it is: a tiny bit improvement.
But everything takes time.
Even if it takes years, I know that I’ll reach my goals eventually. And if i can get good at fantasy football, something I don’t care and didn’t even try to get good at, then of course I’ll be good at something I poured sweat and tears into.
I’ve choked many times. But compared to others, I’m really not that much of a choker. Honestly, we make a big deal out of choking, and the reality is that almost everyone cracks under-pressure. Clutch is what’s rare, that’s what makes 4th quarter Tim Tebow so exciting.
I want to be clutch. So I read this book.
Basically, the book outlines five traits of clutch.
These 5 traits are what makes people clutch -and they make sense, but there has to be something more, what about Tim Tebow?
Part me wants to believe that God is doing this out of amusement, to use Tebow to promote himself. But I think I can make a better guess.