Best Practices10:45 with Dan Gorgone
Professional networking involves a lot more than following people online, or shaking hands at an event. Author C.C. Chapman joins us to share his insight on professional networking online and in real life.
Professional networking involves a lot more 0:00 than following people online or shaking hands at an event. 0:03 Networking is about making connections 0:06 that result in true value. 0:08 Whether it's a constructive discussion 0:10 across social networks or blogs 0:13 or collaborating with someone you've just met at a workshop, 0:15 networking only works 0:18 if the connections remain active, 0:20 and you stay involved. 0:22 For some more thoughts on professional networking, 0:24 we're joined once again by author C.C. Chapman. 0:27 So a lot of the designers and developers out there 0:30 that are members 0:33 may have never been to an industry event or workshop. 0:35 There's tons of them all over the place, 0:39 whether you want to learn code 0:42 or go to something that's a little bit bigger like a South by Southwest or something. 0:44 So if people have never been to events before, 0:47 what are some of the advantages and the opportunities 0:50 that are available for people 0:53 when they go to professional events? 0:55 [C.C. Chapman] Well the great thing about an event—doesn't matter the size or the scope of it— 0:57 is you're going to meet these people you've only connected with online. 0:59 You're going to have these new connections with people 1:02 that go beyond just a Like or a Share or a comment on your blog. 1:05 Plus if it's a good event, you're going to be learning about what's going on in the industry. 1:08 You're going to find out the latest technology, 1:12 who the thought leaders are, who the players are. 1:14 Usually the speakers at an event— 1:16 they bring in people to speak for a reason. 1:19 There are going to be people you're going to want to meet and connect with 1:22 and get your stuff in front of and maybe work with or learn from. 1:25 So getting out from behind your computer 1:27 and getting to events is crucial, 1:29 and it doesn't matter if it's just a networking event 1:31 at a bar down the street 1:33 or something larger where you get on a plane to travel to attend. 1:35 [Dan Gorgone] And there really is something very special 1:37 about going to an event and meeting people in person 1:40 for the first time, 1:43 and it's more than just putting the face to the name, 1:45 because everyone's got their avatars—you see what they look like, 1:48 but actually going and speaking to them in person 1:51 and talking about whatever— 1:54 sometimes all it takes is small talk, 1:56 sometimes it takes a really constructive discussion 1:58 about something that's going on—a project, a client, something like that, 2:02 and then you can really make that connection 2:05 that can lead to more, right? 2:07 [C.C. Chapman] For sure. 2:09 I mean, some of the best friendships and business partnerships 2:11 or client work I've done 2:14 has been from just meeting someone at a restaurant after an event 2:16 or seeing them speak 2:19 or even just sitting next to the person at an event 2:21 while waiting for a session to start. 2:24 Say hello to strangers, whether you're in the coffee line 2:26 or you're sitting and waiting for the session to start, 2:28 because you have no idea who the person sitting next to you is. 2:30 I mean, they could be the CEO of a company. 2:33 They could be another fellow designer. 2:35 Make those contacts, say hello to them, and start talking, 2:37 because you never know where it's going to go, 2:40 and it may not lead to something tomorrow 2:42 but 6 months, a year, longer down the road 2:44 it could lead to something really great. 2:46 [Dan Gorgone] And this is another example, too, 2:48 where professionalism really comes into play. 2:50 I mean, there's—because part of it is showing up, showing up on time, 2:53 showing up looking professional and not like a big slob, 2:58 but a personal example for me, 3:02 I used to work for a company 3:04 that had a lot of energy clients—energy businesses, 3:06 and I was helping out at an event, 3:11 and a gentleman came up to me— 3:13 I didn't know who any of these people were— 3:15 came up to me and he said, "Oh, can you point me towards the registration table?" 3:17 I said, "Oh, sure, sir. Go right this way. It's right over there. Happy to help." 3:20 Turns out he's the CEO of a billion-dollar energy company, right, 3:25 and wasn't I really glad when I found out later 3:29 that as a representative of the company I was working for 3:32 that I didn't embarrass myself, I didn't embarrass the company, 3:35 but actually I was doing my job, 3:38 and I was really just being professional, 3:41 being myself, and being helpful. 3:44 Now that's when you're representing a company. 3:46 When you're representing yourself, it's a lot of the same issues, right? 3:49 [C.C. Chapman] It's all the same issues, right? 3:52 I mean, our parents taught us to be good people, 3:54 to act a certain way 3:56 and not be bad about it, 3:59 and you do not know, especially in this world—in the tech sector especially— 4:01 you have no idea who's a CEO, who's not, 4:04 because it's not the— 4:07 in the old days when the white-haired older gentleman 4:09 with the blue suit and the—no! 4:11 You don't know who they are, 4:13 so just be good to everybody, be professional, 4:15 be helpful and courteous, 4:17 shake hands, say hello, 4:19 don't say something inappropriate. 4:21 All those things can come back to haunt you really fast, 4:23 especially in today's world, right? 4:26 It's a 2-second text message to the world, 4:28 and that can hurt you so bad, so fast, 4:30 and your reputation is all you've got. 4:34 Our parents used to warn us about developing a bad reputation. 4:36 As a parent, I'm trying to teach my kids— 4:39 don't worry about developing a bad reputation. 4:42 Work on just always developing a good reputation, 4:45 because once you get a good reputation, 4:47 it's invaluable. 4:49 [Dan Gorgone] Absolutely. 4:51 When you're out at events, 4:53 being able to network with other professionals 4:55 is key, 4:58 and the people that are having those same struggles that you are— 5:00 it's such a great opportunity 5:02 to just bounce ideas off each other, 5:04 tell war stories, and just be like, 5:06 "Aw, man, what I'm experiencing is not all that different 5:08 from what other people are struggling with." Right? 5:12 But when you go out there and you do have opportunities 5:14 to approach speakers, to approach people who 5:17 you sort of think, "Oh, they're at a different level. 5:20 Oh, they're a web celebrity" or something like that, 5:23 is it really all that challenging? 5:26 How do you approach someone like that? 5:28 [C.C. Chapman] They're no different. 5:31 Listen, I don't care who you are, 5:33 you're still just a human, right? 5:35 That person that's up on stage— 5:38 that person that to you is a rockstar 5:40 is still just another person, 5:42 and more often than not— 5:44 I speak at probably 50 or 60 events a year, 5:46 and I always giggle when people are like, 5:48 "C.C., you looked really busy. I didn't know if I could approach you," 5:50 because I'm the most approachable guy on the planet. 5:52 So are most speakers. 5:54 They want to meet the people who are excited by the work they're doing, 5:56 so wait after they're speaking. 6:00 Usually they get off stage, they've got some time, 6:02 wait for them and say—walk up to them and say, 6:04 "Hi, I'm so-and-so." 6:07 Always start with your name, always introduce yourself. 6:09 "I'm a big fan of your work." 6:11 If there's something specific that they've done recently 6:13 that you can reference, that always helps, 6:15 but don't be overly crazy. 6:17 Don't be that crazy, rabid fan like, 6:19 "Oh, my God! You're awesome! I love you!" 6:21 That's okay once in awhile, 6:23 but be careful about it—just be respectful. 6:25 They're excited, they're flattered to meet you. 6:27 They're excited when— 6:30 they're excited when their work excites other people, 6:32 so don't be shy. 6:34 Walk up and say, "Hello, I'm so-and-so." 6:36 Just don't slam a business card in their hand and say, 6:38 "I'm the best thing since sliced bread. Hire me." 6:40 Nobody likes that. Be respectful. 6:42 Just be respectful and say, 6:44 "Hello, I liked your work." Just go from there. 6:46 Who knows where it could go, but if you don't walk up to them, 6:48 if you don't say hello to them, it's never going to go anywhere, 6:51 so that might be the only opportunity you have, 6:53 so make the most of it. 6:56 [Dan Gorgone] So there's, of course, a huge difference 6:58 between the meetup down the street 7:01 and I talked by South by Southwest, right? 7:03 Literally tens of thousands of people— 7:06 who knows how many? 7:09 [C.C. Chapman] Thirty-thousand this past year, yeah. 7:11 [Dan Gorgone] They're all going, 7:13 and they're all attending, and they all want a piece 7:15 of the people that are there 7:17 and the perks and everything, right? 7:19 Now when you're attending an event like that, 7:21 and odds are you might get a chance to go to an event like that, 7:24 how can you successfully network 7:27 at something where the scope is so big? 7:30 [C.C. Chapman] Yeah, it's difficult. 7:32 Don't get me wrong—it's harder the bigger the event, 7:34 but the way to do it is to do your research upfront, 7:37 take the time, figure out— 7:39 you know we were talking about— 7:41 there's this simplified focus and attack. 7:43 Figure out who the people are that you really want to meet, 7:45 and then research, find out where they're going. 7:48 A lot of these bigger events, like South by Southwest and other events now 7:50 have ways where when you sign up for a session, 7:54 it shows where you're thinking about going, 7:56 so maybe you go to those sessions, 7:58 but if there's people you really want to meet— 8:00 something at a scale this size—and this works at small events, too—reach out to them. 8:02 Most of these people—their email addresses are out there. 8:06 You can find them or find their Twitter account or something. 8:08 Reach out to them and say, 8:10 "Hey, I see you're going to this event. So am I. 8:12 "I'd really love 5 minutes of your time 8:14 just to say hello and get to meet you." 8:16 People are flattered by that. I don't care who you are. 8:19 That's flattering, and more often than not, 8:22 if they have the time, they're going to give it to you. 8:24 They're going to be like, "Oh, hey. I'm going to be at this place. Maybe swing by, say hello." 8:26 But something that scale, you've got to reach out to those people 8:29 and say, "Hey, I would really like to meet you. 8:33 Can I buy you a cup of coffee, or can I just shake your hand?" 8:35 Don't be afraid to do that. 8:38 It doesn't cost you anything, but do the research upfront. Find out who's going to be there. 8:40 It can go a long, long way. 8:42 [Dan Gorgone] That's really validating, too, 8:44 because I've had people 8:47 email me 8:50 or hit me up on Twitter or something and say, 8:52 "Appreciate what you do" and things like that, 8:55 and it's so great, 8:57 but to make the leap from attendee to speaker 8:59 is something that I think there's plenty of— 9:03 are designers and developers out there that are interested in that, right? 9:06 You reach a certain point 9:08 with your expertise, 9:11 and you can pass on what you've learned. 9:13 You can go to events, you can organize events if you want to, right? 9:15 How is the experience 9:19 of being a speaker 9:21 different from being an attendee in that sort of way? 9:23 [C.C. Chapman] It's kind of a trip, 9:25 because you have the added pressure of— 9:27 as an attendee, you can be as anonymous as you want. 9:29 You can go and just sit in the audience 9:32 and nobody has to know who you are. 9:34 That's not the way to do it, but you can. 9:36 As a speaker, you've got a certain potential to live up. 9:38 People are there to see what you have to say. 9:40 They are there to learn from you. 9:42 Personally, it's a rush to be on stage. 9:44 I love to do that, 9:46 but it's also—it is more difficult, 9:48 because once you become a speaker 9:50 and people do want to meet you, you're time constrained, obviously, 9:52 all of the sudden, because you want to make time for them. 9:55 You want to make time for as many people as possible, 9:57 and sometimes you just can't, 9:59 so understand that if you are going to be a speaker 10:01 or approaching speakers, 10:03 sometimes they just don't have the time. 10:05 The good ones will say, "Hey, I would love to chat right now. Can I get a card? 10:07 I'll follow up with you after the fact," and hopefully they will, 10:10 and as a speaker, please do that! 10:12 Never take for granted the audience that is into you, 10:15 because they could go away just as fast as you got them. 10:18 [Dan Gorgone] Keep in mind that many companies want to hire people 10:21 that not only know their stuff 10:24 but also show an interest in the community, 10:27 both online and off. 10:29 Networking through professional organizations, 10:32 niche networks, and local groups 10:34 can lead to opportunities 10:36 to meet great people, 10:38 but it will also show your interest and devotion 10:40 to the industry you want to work in. 10:43
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