Sunday, November 14, 2010

On the ideal of networking

Thinking about some of the finer points of the IndieConf, on the ideal strategy of choosing several people and being helpful over time with the goal of establishing numerous positive interactions, thus building trust and establishing relationships.

Don't assume that payback from that strategy is uniformly distributed. It is most definitely not.

It isn't random either.

Nor is the payback going to be from the people that seem to be the most friendly, or those for whom you've put yourself out for the most.  At least, not at the start.

What you'll find is that most people are leeches, willing to get but not to give back. Many more will undervalue anything offer that doesn't have a price attached to it. And a great number will just simply be prejudiced against something about you that has nothing to do with anything, but will prevent them from ever doing business with you.

There were some key things in this respect from the IndieConf speakers on the subject:
  1. Intentional Pursuit. They chose who to pursue, and those they chose to pursue are people around the industry in which they wish to work.
  2. Quick Selectivity. They made snap judgments to quickly eliminate disfavored prospects from their list.
  3. Overt Spying. They made lists, and profiled the people they were pursuing.
  4. Low Commitment. They did not over-invest their time, their reputations, or their other resources. 
An example of #4 is that most of them mentioned, as the "positive interaction", sending an email note with an article of potential interest to their target, once every 45 days or so. They would review a list of their prospects once or twice a week, and with them in mind glean articles from RSS feeds and the "help a reporter"  site. If they found something they'd push out a note. Very cheap, low outlay of time and no commitment, but it reminds the prospect that you are there.

Yet, people will still forget you, ignore you, or even get annoyed at you. If someone doesn't respond positively, don't obsess or fret... just move on. When you find someone who welcomes advice but never reciprocates or who actively works against you, strike them from the list and pick someone new to network with.

I've spent a lot of time pursuing connections at our local chamber, and in town, with the hope of getting business. Now I see that I've done several things wrong.
  • none of the chamber or town hall people are in fields in which I'd like to work, or express similar interests
  • my openness, tolerance, and patience have been extreme; in particular I was too slow to weed out poor connections
  • no tabs were kept on people, or other personal profiles, though I did stay in touch, and
  • the commitment of my time and emotional energy in volunteering, offering advice, and making other resources available, was substantial and interfered with me earning my keep elsewhere
There were people I admire, people I connect with, but I've been passed over twice for major business that I asked for, and on the whole it has become an un-enjoyable experience. Time to move on.

1 comment:

Shiva Steve Ordog said...

These are interesting insights on Networking. It does seem to be a real question of how, how much, where, when - so many questions about how to make it provide the flow of what we need. Not sure I have any answers but found your description of the problems very interesting. Keep at it.