Ryan Carson talked sales over at the SvN blog. Lots of good stuff, particularly about networking.
I dedicated a whole chapter to this in A Bright Red Package – networking represents the number one way to get a job, generate sales, find a vendor or look for employees. The business world is entirely about people, and those who know how to network have a decided advantage against those who don’t.
When I left Colorado for Seattle two years ago, I did so without a job, without any interviews, without anything. But I did have my mentor from college – a former chair of the American Advertising Federation – and his confidence in me. I managed to sit down with the head of every major advertising agency in the city within a month, and it had nothing to do with me – his name and his recommendation did all the heavy lifting for me.
I’m convinced the only reason he was so willing to go to bat for me was because I broke the rules of traditional networking. I didn’t approach it looking for anything. My mentor from the year before (hint – build yourself a whole slew of mentors!) had mentioned him, and I just asked if I could meet him. One phone call later and we set up lunch. I learned a lot from him – he had been a professor, a managing director at a top 5 New York agency and an entrepreneur – but I didn’t ask for anything. Just thanked him, sent him a card, and stayed in touch. The relationship blossomed over time on his terms, not mine. The end result was an internship, and eventually a tap into any advertising agency I wanted.
Networking is not about reaping at all – it’s about sowing. It’s about looking for as many opportunities to help people as possible. It’s about saying thank you whenever someone does anything for you, regardless how small it is. It’s about keeping in touch with them, letting them know you still care about them. It’s about doing all these things, whether you think the potential exists for a profitable business relationship or not.
You’ll find that it comes back to you – in terms of business, but also in terms of a healthy, happy life. You’ll get referrals from the most unlikely of places. You’ll discover that the best doctor in town is just a phone call away when you most need it. You’ll discover that people love to help those who are generous with their time and energy. Call it karma, call it a psychological need on the part of humanity to practice reciprocity. Whatever it is, it will work in your favor to improve your business and your life.
Some quick tips for those looking to get started:
- Join LinkedIn, create a profile, and begin tracking down long lost contacts. Coworkers, classmates, whatever. If they’re not using LinkedIn yet, invite them. You’ll quickly discover who knows who and what these people are looking for. (If you’re reading this, feel free to connect with me – would be happy to help you. Email is sean dot johnson at gmail dot com.)
- Start helping people! Is someone looking for a job in banking? Introduce them to your buddy who works for Chase! Someone hoping to get involved in an NGO in Africa, and you remember having a friend who served a stint in Ghana? Hook them up.
- Join a professional organization in your community, and get involved. They’re always looking for talented, hard-working people (I managed to get a temporary position with the Seattle Ad club in my first 10 days in the city.)
- Have an enormous stack of thank you notes. Mail out at least one a day.
- Before boarding you plane, pick up a few magazines. Rip out interesting articles, put them in envelopes and mail them to someone you haven’t talked to in a while who might be interested. Include a note telling them that you miss them and hope to see them soon.
- Remember birthdays.
- Most important, never keep score. That’s not the point.
Who can you reconnect with right now?Follow @intentionally