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Press, Articles and Interviews for Networking Is Not Working

May 13, 2014

It has been one week since Networking Is Not Working was released. We are still #1 in a few categories on Amazon and I am incredibly grateful for all of your support.

I’ve received some great press and have had the honor of sharing my thoughts about the book with a number of media outlets. I put together this post to archive everything—or as a place to get started if you’re new to me and the book.

Testimonials:

“Networking always sounds like a simple concept — but as we’ve all discovered, it can be a maddeningly mysterious and elusive reality. Three cheers, then, for Derek Coburn. In this terrific book, he explains why your efforts to connect may be falling short and provides an arsenal of effective strategies for building a productive network of colleagues.”
Daniel H. Pink, #1 New York Times bestselling author of To Sell Is Human and Drive

“Finally, a how-to guide that throws slick schmoozing out the window and focuses on building meaningful relationships. Derek Coburn’s book offers actionable tips for making connections that create value for everyone involved. If more people followed his approach, we’d look forward to networking, instead of dreading it.”
Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take

“Derek has removed the “work” from “network” with this book. For an introvert like me, he’s unlocked the secret code.”
James Altucher, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Choose Yourself

“Derek teaches simple yet profound truths that can transform the way you see networking.”
Mark Batterson, multiple New York Times bestselling author and Lead Pastor of National Community Church

“Networking is a totally essential skill that so many people get wrong or hate because they feel fake. If you want to create meaningful connections and authentic relationships read this now!”
Yanik Silver, founder Maverick1000 and author of 34 Rules for Maverick Entrepreneurs

“This is now THE book on Networking for this era of doing business. A must read for all CEOs and their key employees. Derek has forever changed my outlook on networking from something I hated and avoided doing, to something I’m now excited to do more of.”
Cameron Herold, author of Double Double

Press About NINW:

Forbes: Networking is Not Working: The Secret to Making Meaningful Connections

Articles I’ve Written For NINW:

Convince Convert: How to Use Networking 3.0 to Make New Connections

Paul Brunson’s Blog: (Un)Networking: Top 3 Dating Strategies to Apply to Networking

Interviews:

The Owner’s Mind with Chris Brogan: Derek Coburn

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch: Is Networking a Waste of Time?

Six Pixels of Separation with Mitch Joel: Your Networking Is Not Working with Derek Coburn

The Marketing Agents Podcast with Rich Brooks: Why Your Networking is NOT Working – Derek Coburn

Go Fire Yourself with Laurel Staples: Why Networking Isn’t Working and What To Do Instead

Entrepreneur On Fire: Derek Coburn Talks About Un-Networking

Content Warfare with Ryan Hanley: Building Remarkable Professional Networks with Derek Coburn

Webmasterradio.fm: Networking Is NOT Working Author Derek Coburn

Paper Napkin Wisdom with Govindh Jayaraman: The Ultimate Tiebreaker

We Mean Business with Steve Dorfman: Networking Is Not Working

Business Builders Live with Brian Carter: Networking Is Not Working

Beyond the To-Do List with Erik Fisher: Derek Coburn on Networking 3.0, Generosity and cadre

 

 

 

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On Being a Fraud

April 23, 2014

freaksI just made the decision to delay the release of my book by one week (until May 5). While I’m certain this is not the most devastating news you have heard today, I still wanted to provide an update and explain why.

A lot of work goes into prepping a book for release. I knew what had to be done, but underestimated how much time some of these things would take. I have also been overwhelmed (in a good way) with support and opportunities to promote my book, such as podcasts, guest blogging, etc. I am incredibly grateful for all of this of course, but at the same time it has put even more on my plate.

I have been going non-stop preparing for this launch. I cannot begin to describe the emotional swings (good and bad) associated with this process. Don’t feel bad for me though; I knew all of this going in!

I have been contemplating pushing the date back now for a few weeks, but put it off because I did not want to look like someone who does not stand behind his commitments. I’ve always been more of a “ship it” guy, as Seth Godin likes to say.

However, I was running out of time and even worse, I felt awful. I had become extremely irritable and anxious. I’m sure it would not have been so bad if not for the fact I have been running two businesses throughout this process.

Yesterday, it came to my attention that yet another necessary task would take much longer than I had anticipated. In order for me to launch my book on Monday, I would basically have to forego sleeping. I then glanced at the 80+ emails in my inbox (I am normally an inbox zero guy on a daily basis) and realized there were several people waiting on me to help them in some way. I had been putting off serving those who are important to me! The thought of delaying my book made me feel like a fraud, but I now realized I was already earning this label for different reasons.

Connecting people and supporting my friends are not just tactics I talk about in my book. They are a way of life for me. I had become so self-absorbed in preparing for this launch that I was not practicing what I preach. James Altucher talks about the importance of The Daily Practice in his excellent book, Choose Yourself. Making meaningful connections and helping my network are big parts of my daily practice. They fuel my fire and give me energy. I can go a few days without doing them, but now it’s been a few weeks.

At that moment I realized my mindset and attitude were not going to improve until I stopped ignoring those who needed me. Cramming everything in for April 28 was not going to happen if I continued feeling the way I had. I needed the positive energy I derive from making connections. And sure enough, as soon as I decided to grant myself more time, I sent a few of those emails and immediately felt better.

Then I realized that my friend Chris Brogan’s new book, The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth, was released on Monday (you can learn more about it here). It was not supposed to come out until next week, but still, he wrote the foreword for my book. There are few people who deserve my help more than him, and I’m excited to put his book on your radar. Had I not made the decision to delay my book, I probably wouldn’t be writing about it right now.

Thanks for giving me a pass on this. I feel good about the decision, and will feel even better if you buy The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth while you wait for my book to come out. But don’t do it for me. Do it because it’s an excellent book that could change your life. I wouldn’t ask if I thought otherwise, and I’m glad this delay has given me the chance to introduce it to you.

As always, thanks for your support!

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Are You a Connector, or Just Well-connected?

April 14, 2014

I am constantly meeting professionals who boast about their “network” or Rolodex, and promise that they can connect me to just about anyone. They say that if I look at their LinkedIn connections and see someone who could help me, they’ll “try” to make an introduction. The funny thing is that most of these so-called connectors have a list (huge ones, in some cases) of connections they barely know. It could be someone they met at a networking function for 30 seconds, or someone who found their profile interesting and wanted to “connect.”

Anyone who makes this kind of offer (especially if you make it easy for them to recommend you) is still adding more potential value than someone who makes no offer at all – but there’s an important caveat: you have to do the work. And there is a real possibility that you will invest a lot of time scanning their contacts only to find out that they barely know the person you want to meet.

The definition of “connect,” according to Merriam-Webster, is to become joined, which gets me thinking about how people become meaningfully joined – or connected – professionally. I don’t think it matters how many people you have in your Rolodex as much as how well you actually know each of them and how you can help them. It’s not how many people you know. It’s how much you know about them. When I connect two people, I do so because I genuinely believe there will be a mutual benefit. I do this proactively (500+ times over the past 18 months), and I try to frame the introduction in a way that suggests where the connection should go.

The difference between being a connector and being someone who offers to connect is analogous to being a matchmaker vs. Match.com. With Match.com, the burden is on you, and due to the lack of knowledge that Match.com has regarding whether someone is a good fit for you, this process (from what I am told) usually does not work. On the other hand, a matchmaker is selective about who they work with and takes the time to get to know you and learn more about what you’re looking for. If you make the offer to connect (like performing the function of Match.com), you’re at least in the right ballpark – as opposed to not offering at all, which is more like wandering into a singles bar when you want to meet someone who’s looking for a relationship.

In business, people who are true connectors, and not just blindly offering up their Rolodex, may not extend an open invitation. But when they make an introduction, all parties involved can see why it makes sense to connect with the other person. The connector knows what each person brings to the table, and exactly how they can benefit one another.

If you have the best of intentions when offering to make introductions, I would encourage you to take it just one step further and proactively look for ways to connect people. You can add a lot of value and be a hero in the minds of these individuals when you do this authentically.

What are your thoughts?

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Don’t Look For Business Love At Networking Events (Part II)

April 14, 2014

RifiutoWe all know how difficult it is to find someone at networking events who takes a long-term approach to developing mutually beneficial relationships (If you don’t, check out Part 1.) Like nightclubs, it is possible to meet good people with good intentions at these events.

But when we do go to big events, we might have another hurdle to clear: Trust issues.

We all have to attend events to support a great cause or a great client. And attending events where you will know several other people there can make for a fun and productive evening. What is challenging are those times when we won’t know more than a handful of attendees. All we know is that the majority of people there essentially will be looking for professional one-night stands and as such, many of us are conditioned to have our guards up.

We assume that if someone approaches us, they just want to push their own agenda – even if they use an indirect tactic. If someone says to me, “Hey, I want to learn more about you and how I might be able to help!” it throws me off. What’s the catch? What am I missing? This person could be sincere for all I know. But based on my experience, they are more likely taking this approach because they heard that by initially focusing on the other person, they give the impression that they’re not just out for themselves.

As much as I hate to say it, many of us will always be skeptical of this approach – even if it is sincere – because more than likely it isn’t. I am guilty of this myself.

Let’s go back to the nightclub for another perspective. You’re out on the town for a fun evening with your girlfriends and a seemingly nice guy starts chatting with you. What would your reaction be if, immediately after exchanging formalities, he informed you that he is looking to settle down and get married? You would either decide he is hitting on you and masking his true intentions, or you’d think he’s serious — which is just creepy. Even if you’re looking for a spouse yourself, your reaction will likely not be a good one. Revealing this information two minutes into a conversation at a bar is not consistent with your expectations in that environment.

This same socially awkward scenario applies to me going to an actual nightclub as The Married Guy. (Not that I get out to clubs much these days, but say I had to for whatever reason.) If I went up to some guy or gal and said, “Hey, it would be great to have an extra friend. Tell me more about you and what you have going on.” It would be sincere, but it would also be weird, off-putting, and have the opposite of the intended effect. Wrong place, wrong time.

If you’re going to fit in, whether at a nightclub or a networking event, you have to assume that pretty much everyone there is thinking of what they’re going to get out of it. This is the accepted norm, so we’re thrown off even if someone is legit (which is why sincere people usually pass on attending in the first place).

It reminds me of a quote by George Akerlof, which Dan Pink shared in his excellent book, “To Sell Is Human“, relating to sales professionals:

“Dishonest dealings tend to drive honest dealings out of the market. The presence of people who wish to pawn bad wares as good wares tends to drive out the legitimate business.”

Essentially, well-intentioned sales professionals do not want to be in a business with dishonest salespeople. And since most people who attend networking events are not looking to develop meaningful and helpful professional relationships, the ones who are stayed home.

Have you ever met someone at a networking event and gotten lucky?

If one of these chance encounters turned into a mutually beneficial relationship, I’d love to hear about how it happened. It might give us some hope…but probably not. At the end of the day, I think it’s best we avoid the larger events where we don’t know many of the attendees and spend our time networking in more conducive environments.

What say you?

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Don’t Look For (Business) Love At Networking Events

April 14, 2014

ChessAttending networking events where you don’t know many of the people there, no longer seems like an effective way to meet other like-minded professionals.

I have always approached meeting folks at these events with a long-term perspective. Primarily, to learn more about them and explore whether or not we could contribute to each other’s community. However, they end up being a big waste of time more often than not.

The main reason for this, I believe, is these events have evolved in a similar fashion to nightclubs. As the awesome David Siteman Garland of “The Rise To The Top” would say, everyone attending is looking for a professional one night stand. They may be looking to meet a new client, acquire a job or get some free wine. Regardless, their mindset of “How can I benefit immediately from this?” is not aligned with someone who is looking to develop mutually beneficial professional relationships. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, like nightclubs, these events mostly attract short-sighted people and I don’t think any of us can change this dynamic.

Why is it then that most of the books and articles I have read about networking offer advice centered around how to successfully develop relationships with other top professionals by attending these events?

By comparison, most dating books and experts that focus on how to meet an ideal partner do not suggest that you frequent nightclubs on a regular basis. If you are looking for a committed personal relationship you probably should not go to bars every night, since you are not likely to meet many people who are there for that reason. Everyone gets that! So it should be no surprise that the best dating advice (correctly) ignores the part of the equation that you are not likely to change and encourages you to avoid the clubs altogether. Instead, it is suggested that you leverage your friendships and expose yourself to environments that are more conducive to finding a mate, such as getting personal introductions from friends or hosting dinner parties.

Why should we learn how to navigate these professional meat markets when we can identify more ideal ways to network? The next time you are assessing your networking options, I encourage you to consider skipping the big networking event and get creative. Some things that have worked well for me include hosting roundtable lunches and wine tasting events. Dinner parties are another great option and Michelle Welsch of Project Exponential wrote a great e-book on the topic. And if you identify a larger event that seems ideal, why not offer to bring a few of your clients or strategic partners? At least then you will be spending time with your valuable relationships, regardless of who else is attending.

Do you meet the types of professionals you want to meet at networking events? What effective networking endeavors have you participated in or hosted? I would love to hear your thoughts.

You can read Part II here.

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I Don’t See Why We Have To Meet For Lunch

April 14, 2014

I Don’t See Why We Have To Meet For Lunch

For a long time, if someone showed even the slightest interest in my wealth management practice, Washington Financial Group (or just seemed like a potential client), I would ask them if they wanted to grab lunch so we could learn more about each other. I always thought it made sense. There was no better way to spend my time than meeting face-to-face with a potential client or strategic partner, right?

As cadre has picked up steam, we have been extremely fortunate to receive more introductions to prospective members than we could keep up with. This is obviously a great problem to have, but we literally could not keep up. Now, I’m sure some of you are thinking “Cry me a river!”, but I’m not here to brag about how many referrals we’re getting. Rather, I’d like to tell you about the time management challenges we faced, and what we did about them. (This is a broad topic, so for the purpose of this blog, I’m limiting it to meeting with people who think they might be interested in your business, but don’t know much about you.)

The problem we had was that most of the folks who were referred to us, by default, wanted to meet for lunch. This has become THE way for a lot of us to learn more about a business or service, and cadre was no exception. They would say something like, “Hey, John told me about you guys and it sounds pretty cool. Want to grab lunch to tell me more about it?” That seemed reasonable enough. I had been suggesting this for years, and I’m sure most of you do (or have done) the same. The problem was there simply was not enough time in my day. And now, with all of the ways we have to communicate, I’m not sure it’s the best use of my time, or yours.

As with any business, a good portion of the referrals we received were not likely to result in our doing business together (or in the case of cadre, becoming a member). I also knew we had a great description of our model on our website, and that we had intentionally used language to help weed out our prospects. So we told anyone who was interested in joining cadre to read the details on our website prior to our call. This way they would have a good overview of our business and we could have a productive call.

Shockingly, not everyone complied. I had three or four calls a day – intended to be 15-minute discussions – that were turning into hour-long conversations because the prospective member knew nothing about our model. I was being asked the most basic questions, which our website (had they read it) already answered.

One day, I had 45-minute conversation with a person that was going great until they asked how much we charge. They thought it was too much, and the conversation ended. That was it. Something had to change! If I had required this person to review our content prior to the call, there never would have been one (which is fine when you’re meeting enough people who think what you charge is a bargain).

So that’s exactly what we did: We started telling prospective members to take 10 minutes to learn about our business, and if it resonated with them, we would set up a 15-minute phone call to answer any specific questions they had. This has worked very well. Several referrals have not bothered to get back to us, which means less time wasted for me. Those who do schedule a call are extremely interested and almost always become members.

I was recently turned on to Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Six Pixels of Separation. Marcus was struggling to keep his pool installation business afloat in 2008, and was spending a lot of time meeting potential customers at their homes to discuss his services. He kept getting the same questions over and over, and as we experienced with cadre, many of these prospects did not end up being candidates for his business. He was spending too much time traveling to, and meeting with, people who could have been ruled out as customers in five minutes, had there been a way for their questions to be answered ahead of time.

Marcus wised up. He created a blog for his business, and many of his articles provide ready answers to frequently asked questions. When someone thought they wanted to buy a pool, he began directing them to his website, where he provides a ton of useful information. Any general questions people have are answered there, and his website serves as a great qualifier of potential customers. (Incidentally, it has since become the most visited pool website in the world!) In his excellent blog post titled “Assignment Selling,” Marcus shares how he now assigns prospective customers homework before agreeing to meet with them. During the aforementioned podcast, Marcus said that he now tells people that if he’s coming to their house, it’s to sell them a pool. He admits that this sounds audacious, but the point he makes is meritorious: Businesses with great content have rights that other businesses do not.

The next time you’re thinking about meeting a potential client and neither of you knows much about the other, I encourage you to consider the alternatives. If you have a great website, an eBook, or have authored articles, send your prospect there before having a meeting. If you don’t have the content, consider scheduling a Skype call so you can at least save yourself the travel time. Still, I hope you’ll consider the time investment of developing some strong content, so that prospective clients can easily learn more about your business without having to take up so much of your time.

I can only speak from my own experience, but making this shift has freed up a lot of my time, and made me much more productive and efficient. Do you typically suggest meeting someone in person before learning more about their business? Do you agree to meet others when they make this request of you?

 


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Do you offer to help…or help to offer?

April 14, 2014

I have come across a number of professionals recently who complain that their efforts to help others have not been “paying off” – that, despite their willingness to help, those on the receiving end do not seem appreciative.

Upon learning more, it appears their idea of “help” is to give a prospective client free advice or a referral, for example, in the hopes that said prospect will hire them as a result. This is not help. It’s a sales strategy.

I’m not saying that giving free advice for the purpose of business development is a bad idea. It can be effective when done properly. If your real goal is to generate business, you should set clear expectations upfront. Let the potential client know that you will help them address part of their problem, and discuss how your help might be mutually beneficial, rather than making any assumptions. My good friend Ian Altman of Grow My Revenue touches on this here.

My point is that there is an important difference between offering to help as a business strategy and helping out of pure altruism. You truly help someone, whether by offering feedback or making a mutually beneficial connection, when you provide assistance that is intended to further that person’s professional or personal advancement (and likely someone else’s) – without expecting anything in return. A “payoff” is not the primary motivation.

Acting out of generosity should result in a more positive and/or productive outcome for the recipient than if you had not acted. People who approach helping in this way tend to attract one another, and almost always see their generosity repaid, even though this is not their intent.

When you help someone with the expectation of getting something in return, you may not see a return on your investment for a variety of reasons. The recipient might realize that your offer comes with strings attached and simply be put off. However, I believe the main reason for a lack of reciprocity in these situations is that people who expect something in return when they give are, ironically, not really open to reciprocity. They are naturally skeptical when someone offers to help them, assuming that accepting a favor will put them in debt to this person (since this is what they expect when they are “helping”).

Being in a position to truly help people is a great spot to be in, and your ability to deliver is invaluable. I just hope that anyone out there who thinks they’re helping and not getting the results they’re hoping for does not give up on helping altogether. Anytime you want to offer help, think about the true definition of this word, and make sure your approach – and your expectations – are in line with it.

What are your thoughts on this?

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The biggest networking time-waster

April 14, 2014

timewasterIf you’re anything like me, you’ve wasted more time attending networking events than you care to acknowledge. You show up, and after conversations with the animated hand gesture guy who forgets he’s holding wine spills it on you, and the woman who clearly doesn’t attend many of these rambles on about her business without ever asking you about yours, you never want to attend another networking event as long as you live.

But we keep going, because every once in a while, we meet someone who seems like they are there for the same reasons as us. They have a long-term outlook and are looking to authentically connect with other top professionals. Unfortunately, while encounters like this initially seem to justify venturing out to an event, they typically end up being the biggest time-wasters of all. Let me explain.

Say you go to a networking event and really hit it off with someone. The conversation is great and you think you could really help each other out. So you schedule a follow-up lunch. This either goes well, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, then from a time perspective you wasted at least one additional hour and would have been better off meeting Mr. Happy Hands and calling it a night. But let’s assume the lunch goes well. In most cases, these meetings do not produce immediate opportunities. (That’s not why you went though, right?) Most often they end with a mutual “This was great and I’ll keep you in mind for potential opportunities!” and you walk away hoping the time investment will bear fruit at some point in the future.

My question is do you have a plan or process in place for staying top of mind with all of the professionals you meet? If not, you’re wasting more time attending follow-up meetings than you would by striking out at the initial event.

Even if you’re good at staying in touch, it’s unlikely your fellow networkers are as organized as you are. After you’ve spent time with someone, will that person remember you six months from now when an opportunity presents itself? If so, will they know where to find your contact info? If not, why go to networking events and follow-up meetings at all?

I always used a manual process that combined my email and CRM software, and took a lot of time to set up. Recently, however, I discovered a phenomenal service called Contactually (affiliate link). It’s an email integration tool that allows you to create various buckets for contacts based on how often you should be in touch with them.

To give you an example of how this works, let’s say you want to check in with prospective clients every 90 days. Contactually cross-checks your email correspondence with other platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter, and sends a reminder email if you do not contact them within this timeframe. The team functionality, which tracks correspondence between your clients and employees, is outstanding. I encourage you to try the 30-day free trial. There is no software to download and it works with all the major email providers.

Now that you know about Contactually, you’ll do a great job of keeping in touch with your contacts. Perhaps you’re already great at this. Either way, if you don’t have an effective process for staying top of mind, you’re probably better off going to an event and not meeting anyone worthy of a follow-up – or skipping the event altogether. Worst case, it’s one hour of your time down the drain versus three.

Do you already have an effective process for staying in touch with professionals you meet at networking events? If so, I’d love to hear about it.