In 2008, I called my irregular BNI journal reports, “Notes From The Matrix.” We all saw the film and we know that the matrix is supposed to be a network. You had to take a pill to tap into it. Many of my friends (and especially my wife) think that I took a pill at one of my networks/cults. I won’t argue with you that I may have fallen down the rabbit-hole.
In 2009, my notes from the BNI meetings, are now the Kool-Aid Kronicles. BNI is an acquired taste. It’s very regimented and orderly. It’s also 7am every week. If you are going to do this 45+ times a year, you have to be very devoted to networking or crazy. So yes, I am sippin’ that Kool-Aid.
For the last eleven years, I have been a member of BNI. This networking tool and word of mouth marketing has kept my company afloat. Many of the professionals in my chapter have dispensed weekly nuggets of wisdom for years on how to be a better entrepreneur. Right now it looks a little rough out there, so it’s good to hear about everyday people who are keeping their heads and making things happen. Here are a few things I heard and learned on Wednesday from my colleagues:
The messenger delivered 75 Magnolia cupcakes (and a daughter) to Yankee Stadium for a party in corporate box.
The writing coach informed us on the power of words by pointing us to the short film, Story of a Sign.
The telephone bill reduction consultant was able to get a client’s $5K+ monthly phone bill down to a third of that, but the client went with the major phone company’s offer (which was double his offer), because of scare tactics.
The IT guy told a story about a company hiring him after their novice in-house IT person destroyed their server (they lost all of their data). Wow.
The database guy is looking for people suffering from carpal tunnel, from all the “cutting and pasting” they do in their cobbled together lists.
The Send Out Cards salesperson touted the company making the cover of Success From Home magazine.
The corporate real estate broker was mentioned in the New York Law Journal for his part in a major deal.
Three years ago I was invited to a Morton’s steakhouse for a networking event sponsored by UBS in White Plains. There was a room set up with free wine and appetizers. I’m talking all the lamb chops you could eat. But that is besides the point. After the initial mingling session, we were asked to go around the room and introduce ourselves. Many of these folks were members of other networking groups, so the commercials were very good and succinct…I am such and such, I do this and that for these types of clients, and I’m looking to connect with these types of companies or individuals. When I gave my elevator pitch about handling publicity for folks in entertainment, the server in the room thrust his biz card in my hand.
You know the drill. He was working at the restaurant between gigs. But this guy was a feature film director and well-respected 1st AD on various television shows. Soon after meeting him, he was back in Los Angeles working on more projects. We have stayed in contact with each other via email, phone, Facebook, and LinkedIn. This year looks like the year that we will work together. He has some great projects coming up.
So the moral of the story is not only should you never look down at those who serve your table, but also that you should stay in contact with people, even those that don’t hire you right away. First off, you don’t know who they know. You don’t know who they really are or who they are about to become. Being an entrepreneur is not about sprinting, it’s about preparing for the long marathon. Heck, this year it may be more appropriate to call it a triathlon.
photo credit: sea turtle
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.
Pictured: My dad and my son at Christmas 2008.
(I would also like to send a special shout out to my friend Lester Jack, who lost his 13 year old son, Yahwanathan to cancer on June 16. Peace be with you, my brother.)
Why do I have to be the shrimp in this picture? Anyway, this is from World Of Money‘s 2nd Annual Fundraiser in 2007. This one took place at Ashford & Simpson‘s Sugar Bar on West 72nd Street in Manhattan.
I’m hanging ex-Buffalo Bills/Atlanta Falcons player, Corey Louchiey and former Fieldston football All-State, Terrence Alexander. But I know these guys as Account Executives in the Design/Construction biz.
I continue to network with these guys, because they have introduced me to numerous people that have helped me or my circle of colleagues.
I just realized that I got my first full-time gig as a result of networking. It wasn’t about the bright young recent college graduate with the spectacular C.V. What’s funny is that in 1990, I didn’t understand what networking was all about. I don’t even think I used the term.
Here’s the story:
A friend of mine called me and said that the indie hip-hop label Tommy Boy was looking to hire an administrative assistant in the Media Relations department. The year prior, we were not friends. I did not know him. I was in a PR class and our assignment was to produce a music symposium and handle all the publicity campaigns in order to pack the house and get media there. I was reading the Music Paper and he was the only guy writing about hip-hop in the paper. I invited him to be a panelist. I also booked Doug E. Fresh to be a panelist, which was the big draw.
Ever since my friend arrived on CW Post’s sprawling campus to impart his wisdom to an auditorium full of eager students, we have been great friends ever since.
So let me get back to the story. My friend was good friends with the VP of Media Relations at Tommy Boy. She needed to hire someone yesterday, as she was going to Japan with Queen Latifah and Digital Underground. I got the job. And it was all about who I knew. And who that person knew.
And let me not forget to add that when she checked my references, she realized that another one of her really good friends was one of my supervisors at my first internship. That guy is my mentor. That really sealed the deal.
Folks have to realize that compiling great contacts along the way is essential to staying in the game. Soon-to-be-college-graduates should not only focus on GPA, but make sure they grab as many internships as possible. I really believe that internships are the first networking groups that young adults join, but I didn’t know it at the time I did my first one in 1988.
When you move up the ladder in whatever industry you are in, you will see a pattern. People are getting the titles and positions they crave because of spending time on the golf links with Ted. Or going to dinner with Susan. Or being on the same not-for-profit board as Geoff. Your work experience definitely matters, but there’s nothing wrong with having good relationships with people in a position to help you achieve your career goals. Is it nepotism?
It’s called Networking, and there’s nothing wrong with it. I would not have had this career, if I hadn’t gotten coffee for some good people.
(photo credit: explanatorium)