Ahh networking. It’s one of those things we all hate to do, but it is becoming exponentially important with every passing minute. The business world has always been, and continues to be extremely competitive. Landing a job is even more challenging than it ever was. Trying to freelance or start your own business can be even more discouraging when you feel as if you’re not connected. When I took a leap of faith and launched The Sampler, a business resource for creative entrepreneurs, I quickly realized networking was going to be the lifeblood of its success. There’s no need for me to say “who you know” is more important than “what you know”, but alas I said it any way. I’ve made a lot of mistakes networking and felt like it was a complete waste of time for years. A good friend recommended I read a book called The Little Black Book of Connections that helped me see the error of my ways. After I made a few tweaks, it completely changed the way I approached professional relationships and made me money.
I’ve compiled 8 things I’ve done that have transformed the way I network and been profitable to my business.
1.) Go alone– It’s only natural to want to go with co-workers or friends, so you don’t feel like a complete outcast at a networking event. The only problem with going with friends is that you may end up only talking to them, having a few drinks, and then leaving…with little to no new contacts. The first time I went to a mixer by myself, I looked like a deer in headlights in some poorly lit corner in the back of the room by myself. I left after 20 minutes and didn’t talk to one person. The downside is that it sucks a lot at first. The upside is that it forces you to talk to people and surprisingly makes you look more approachable. Even if you fail miserably at your first attempt to network alone, keep doing it! It will change your life. I promise. Almost every profitable connection I made happened when I was by myself. Even now, when I go with friends I typically make 1–2 new connections. When I’m alone, I triple the number.
2.) Use compliments as an icebreaker- Who doesn’t love a good ego boost? Walking up to a complete stranger and striking up a conversation can be rough. Finding an icebreaker is difficult, but kind words will win every time. Compliment the person’s shoes or attire and ask them where they got it. Maybe a hair cut or tattoo. Everyone loves to talk tell people their tattoo stories. Conversation typically will flow easily from there.
3.) Try not to judge– I can’t tell you how many times I see professionals at networking events sizing up who they think is “important” and completely dismissing anyone else that they can’t immediately see value in. These people almost never get ahead. Of course you should focus your time on who is most relevant to you, but be a little open minded. The help I’ve received has usually come from the most unexpected places and from people I would have never thought had a connection I needed.
4.) Don’t wait until you need something– The worst kind of networking you can do is the kind when you are desperate. You’re in between jobs and need someone to hire you, you need last minute funding to make a quarterly deadline, or any other reason that has you in a pinch is not the only time you should be shaking hands, passing out business cards, and feverishly email stalking them after the event in hopes that you can get what you need.
5.) Don’t limit yourself to “networking events”– The best networking usually doesn’t happen at a facilitated event deigned specifically to network. I’ve gotten more business from a random conversation at Bevmo or from friends of friends than an after work mixer. Don’t wait for a formal event to strike up a conversation and tell the world what you have to offer.
6.) Don’t bombard the “expert” speaker– There may have been a public figure that was making an appearance at an event and you had to get on the first thing smoking to make it there. This expert’s contact information, or five minutes of their time is all you need right? Wrong. Chances are the industry expert that was asked to speak on a panel is probably the last person that is really going to help you…at least for free. If you want one-on-one time, sign up for their workshops or buy their books. There is a good chance a lot of your peers in the room will be extremely valuable to you. Get to know them.
7.) Follow Up– The money is in the follow up. If you remember any of the other tips above, you absolutely will not succeed without doing this one. Your relationships will only grow if you continue to stay in touch. Don’t be a business card collector and let them accumulate dust on your desk. Follow up with a coffee date and continue to find ways to stay connected to that person even if there is no immediate way that they can help you.
8.) Show value– A mistake I made when first networking is that I was constantly telling people what I needed from them or what could benefit me. People don’t care about what they can do for you, they care about what you can do for them. After connecting with someone at en event, send them articles related to their industry, or make an introduction to someone else that can help them even if you can’t. Constantly make yourself valuable helping other people and it will come back to you one way or another.
California native, Kalik Osborne (also known as KOS), is one of those emcees that barely promotes himself as an artist but somehow manages to put out consistently great music in the most non pretentious way possible. The track “Social Condition” is fan favorite but all of the stuff he’s released are worthy of promotion. Hopefully he’ll go full force with the music career but until then enjoy what he’s put out already. Don’t forget to follow KOS on Soundcloud to stream his other material.
Stream Kelela’s Hallucinogen EP now.
Kelela keeps us waiting no more. The DC R&B singer has released her EP, Hallucinogen, that is a follow up to her debut project Cut 4 Me. Prior to the full album stream, she has released three singles “Message”, “The High”, and dance track “Rewind”.
Head over to Spotify to stream Hallucinogen now.
Sometimes its best to keep it simple. An elaborate explanation is not warranted this time around. I don’t have all the answers on how to become successful or achieve all of your goals but I can tell you this: The day I stopped putting only half of my efforts into my business was the day it grew exponentially. When I made the conscious decision to put 110% of my time and thought into a goal, the results tripled and the time it took my to get there was cut in half (maybe even a third). In terms of business- if you’ve done you’re homework, put out yourself out there to the public and have gotten great feedback, you’re losing valuable time working on it part time. I guarantee you someone out there has the same idea as you and is going full steam ahead with it. Don’t let someone else reap the benefits of a great idea you have. It’s time to go all in. Get it out there first.
This week’s Throwback Thursday is track called “Sweet Disposition” by alt rock band Temper Trap. Its one of those songs that you’re vaguely familiar with but may not be able to place where you’ve heard it. Chances are you’ve probably stumbled across this gem from the 2009 chick flick 500 Days of Summer.
If you’re a Temper Trap fan we’ve got great news for you. The band took to their Facebook page to announce that they are putting out a new album some time this year.
Have you ever had a boss that made you wonder how they possibly made it this far in life, let alone ahead of you? What about that employee that was far from an over achiever yet somehow landed the promotion over you? Or how about the CEO who seems to not actually know what the hell is going on in the company more often than not. Have you ever felt like there’s an epidemic of less-than-qualified people running our lives, our businesses, and even our country? There’s a reason for it. The Kardashians, George Bushes, and Honey Boo Boos of the world seem to be winning, and they may not be as dumb as you perceive them to be. Let’s not get carried away. I’m not implying that these people should be in the same classification as Einstein. I’m just saying they know something and are doing something right that some of us haven’t figured out yet.
I assumed that people perceived as “smart” had an automatic one-way ticket to success. It only made logical sense to me that “smart” people should be promoted, or in positions of power and leadership. Rookie mistake. After years of failure, I finally got off my high horse and decided to study this specimen of the “dumb” population and take note of what they did to get where they are. Here are six qualities successful people tend to have regardless of intellect or societal status:
1.) They’re sociable– Highly successful people don’t have to be the most intelligent, most accomplished, or highest performing at any task. An old boss once told me “people hire people they like and they take care of people they like”. In retrospect I realize I had a tendency to be anti-social in the work place and in my career. I paid the price with missed opportunities and promotions, because I didn’t participate in anything other than work. I didn’t join the company soft ball team, go with co-workers to happy hours, or pop into my boss’s office just to say hello. I didn’t make my presence felt on a personal level.
2.) They delegate – Sometimes the less you know works to your advantage. Brainiacs have a hard time letting go of control because they typically feel they can do the task better than the next person. Highly successful have no problem giving away things to do even if the task is not done perfectly to their standard.
3.) They ask for help– God forbid you don’t know how to do something. Asking someone for help can seem like blasphemy to some. I wasted so much time in my career and business trying to figure out how to do everything myself. I do mean everything. Even the most remedial task of organizing excel spreadsheets (why didn’t I get an intern sooner?). I never wanted to look incompetent by asking someone for help or admitting I didn’t know how to do something. That was the most counterproductive thing I could have ever done. Once I learned to ask for help, I took a lot of stress off of myself and things got done faster and more efficiently. Successful people are not afraid to make a mistake or admit they may not be strong in certain areas.
4.) They promote themselves– Shameless promotion is something I struggled with and to a certain extent still struggle with in small ways. I used to think bragging about your accomplishments to your boss or constantly promoting something you do was annoying and douchey. I actually still think these things can be annoying and douchey but they are necessary. Nobody is going to care about something they don’t know about. Your boss is not going to remember you when the time comes for that promotion, if you’re hiding in your cubicle all day. Your business will not thrive no matter how amazing it is, if you don’t tell anyone and everyone about it. Speak up. Speak often.
5.) They act– Highly successful people don’t spend time over thinking and calculating every move before they do something. They make decisions quickly and take action towards their goals. If they miscalculated something or made a mistake they deal with it as it comes, but they key is action. You’ll always be one step ahead doing, than the person thinking about doing.
6.) They believe in themselves– Highly successful people tend to doubt themselves less than others no matter how crazy or stupid they may appear to be. People who spend a lot of time analyzing and overloading themselves with information have a tendency to doubt everything. Questioning things can be healthy but going overboard can stifle progress. A big problem I had was this constant feeling that I was never “ready”. My work never good enough to submit to a client. If I felt something could be better, I didn’t want to put it out to the word because it wasn’t “perfect”. I spent so much time focusing on what I didn’t have or didn’t know and kept me down mentally. I finally looked up one day and focused on what i did know and what i had accomplished. It changed my life.
The next time you come across a people that don’t measure up to your standards of what success should look like, ask them how they did it. They’re obviously doing something your not.
No matter how brilliant, resourceful, or multi-faceted you are, there will come a time when you are simply just spread too thin. There is nothing more powerful and relieving than receiving help from those around you. This could be a simple favor from a friend or family member, hiring an intern, looking for investors, or finding a business partner. Whatever goals you are looking to hit, just remember to have some extra hands involved to expedite the process.
PARTYNEXTDOOR surprised us all over the weekend with an unexpected release of a project called PARTYNEXTDOOR 3. PND3 is a follow up to his two mixtapes PND and PND2. Party kept his signature sound but it still sounds like he’s going a slightly different direction with this one. I’m a hug fan, but these definitely sound like a compilation of throw away tracks? You can stream it in full above.