Friday, July 02, 2010

What To Do At Your Next Networking Event....


Don't go. I used to get calls to go to the next BIG networking event and it would always be full of people who couldn't sell. They would shove their business card in your hand and ask you to buy their product. There would be a lunch and a pep talk about staying positive and then you would get the boot.

Terrible. That is terrible advice. And the experience isn't so hot either. Warm meal aside you need a better tactic than that!


I grew up in the media circles my whole life. If I wasn't in an art room of some sort I was in media studio. In my 20's this continued with the first five waves of multimedia, then it was called Interactive... and now... in this post dot com world its simply called marketing, (which can be a very vague term). Along with this hoopla came showgirls, (yes, I am serious) and midgets for some reason, however, they prefer to be called dwarfs. We would have media parties and this is what would show up... it was like a circus.

Sometimes in Chicago, we would throw these networking events on top of a microbrewery of all things. Imagine, media people with bad weatherman haircuts, hot babes in sequin body suits and dwarfs, rock star wannabees and me. All hanging out getting loose on top notch swill pulling out our business cards to eachother. There was one guy in particular who went by the name of "Baby Man". That was his gig. He would do baby voices for radio commercials in Chicago. He was picked by a lot of banks and did a lot of voiceover work.

By about 10 PM the real party started. Because usually by then half the guests would be bombed out of their gourds. Its a miracle people didnt fall off the side of the rooftop onto the street below. Business cards would get passed and that was the experience. I actually prefer the circus atmosphere to a typical networking event. They are similar in a lot of ways. But one is definately better than the other.

With a cast like that it would be hard to get the same people to show up everytime. It would get dull. I would go to a lot of these and would rarely see the same people.

The Fish Bowl Gets Crowded

The same people tend to go to these events and share one dangerous personal flaw. They are afraid of confrontation. They are there to feed off of who you know and work and quite often, (either on purpose or by accident) sabotage your opportunities. That is why I am not always known as passive cooperative. You see, I rarely allow people to gain access to my clients. Once in a while I am generous if it makes sense but usually as a rule this is something that I avoid doing.

This is people spam. One minute my list is being used to sell Amazon vitamins, the next its being asked to purchase some time shares or some pre paid legal gibberish. Next thing you know I destroy the trust in my list and the people on it. I get to start all over again by building up my credibility. I don't like doing that.

And why does this happen? The concept of selling to a "warm list" is something that is being hawked around by the big sales guys... Tom Hopkins, Zig Ziglar etc. And its a good concept of all parties are respected. But quite often, they're not. The warm list is there for one good reason and that is to take the fear out of selling. But I say you need to leave the fear in. You want honest participants. I want people to buy my stuff from the gut I want them to feel it and not obligated because I am a friend of a friend. People who buy out of that type of obligation often get buyers remorse which leads to refunds or worse.

Thats not good enough for me.

That pool, although crowded, gets polluted quick. Everyone is in it, squirming around, selling the same thing in most cases and this loses momentum and credibility. Anytime I am invited to one of these things I see it for what it is. An incestuous group with greedy motives.


Its interesting to see one of these pools bust out. I mean completely BUST OUT. I have seen companies implode and move out of entire buildings because of this type of behavior. It is like a virus and runs rampant. There isn't a whole lot you can say to an empty vacant building with a for sale sign out in front of it but I implore you to try. Its the least you can do.

I say you need to protect your people asset. Especially now with so many crappy marketers around.

The next time you are invited to go to a networking event do what Nancy Reagan suggest, "Just Say No!"

Ted Cantu says no a lot. He rarely shares his people list. And he has two books out on and a thriving SEO practice out of Chicago, New York City and Detroit.

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