Through-the-Back-Door-photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Every year about this time, I get a slew of emails and phone calls from students looking to get a job in video and film production, which is a big part of how I make my living, and has been for 30 years.
I have to say, the video and film world hasn’t changed much over the year in terms of how you break in — this despite an ever-increasing number of video and film undergrad and graduate programs.
Few of us can afford to hire someone full-time these days, plus we’d be reluctant to hire an untried worker. Once, I hired someone for the summer who ended up falling asleep during an interview. Yes, it was hot; yes, the interview was long.
Students socializing … the way socializing ought to be
I don’t consider myself a networking specialist. In fact, I would kind of hate to be viewed that way, or even called “a networker.”
Nonetheless, I find myself in a town where I need to “get out” to get work. I’m in a town where people won’t hire you if they don’t know you. I probably attend at least four or five networking events a week, from coffees to lunches to organized events.
Yet, when it comes to networking and marketing, I would much prefer more collaborative terms: perhaps “socializing” for networking and “attracting followers” for marketing.
Still, networking vs. socializing are more commonly accepted terms.
“Socializing” and “attracting followers” are much closer to what it takes to generate excitement about you and/or your product(s) or service(s), and much closer to your target audience’s need for excitement in order to purchase a product or service.
Case in point.
The other evening I was at a socializing event at which an organizer exclaimed to the entire group, “You know what? It would be great if you could chat with five people you haven’t met before.” Game on.
I was immediately tapped by a Networking Woman who introduced herself and then launched into a monologue about her business. Sure, I asked questions, which kept her fueled. But after 10 minutes or so, she finally came to the realization that I was a human being. “So, what do YOU do?” It felt very wooden.
This isn’t socializing, or even networking. Would you approach someone at a cocktail party and deliver a speech about yourself? (OK, some would.) But, in general, you’d engage, entertain, and have a good time visiting with friends and getting to know new friends. There would be, or ought to be, something new and exciting you learn each time.
The same should be true of business socializing. Business socializing isn’t about “pushing.” It’s about pulling. Attracting people to you and creating a sense of excitement and trust. Otherwise, why talk to people at all?
In an ideal world, Networking Woman might have approached me this way: “Hi! You’re my first of five people to meet tonight. Have you been to these events before?” Or “Do you like meeting new people?” Or “Haven’t they done a great job putting this event together?” In other words, a way to strike up a conversation, not to preface a speech or elevator pitch.
If Networking Woman had done this, we might have had a chance to have a conversation and get to know each other. Sure, eventually she might have asked a question like, “So, have you had good experiences with home inspectors when you’ve bought and sold homes? I’m always interested in how people perceive my business.” (I am replacing her real business with another.)
This kind of question would have drawn me out, and would have engaged me with real memories and feelings. It also would have given Networking Woman some real feedback. As it was, she learned nothing from me.
And, as a result, I can’t even remember her name.
Japanese poster with QR codes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
OK. You can do a lot on the cheap.
Here are some of my recent favorite things to recommend to clients:
- QR codes. Museums now use these stamps instead of headsets, for those with smart phones who want audio guided tours. You can also place QR (quick response) codes on your business cards or promotional materials so that when smart phone users scan your QR code, they go to your home page or, for instance, a sales page. FREE.
- Google Voice. Have several different phone lines that you need to constantly check for messages? Wish you had transcribed versions of your phone messages? Check out Google Voice, which lets you channel all of your numbers through one phone. When someone calls, all of your phones ring. Answer on the one of your choice, or your callers leave a message in your Google Voice inbox. Really cool — you can switch between your phones during a call (say, if your cell phone loses power) — without your caller knowing. FREE.
- WordPress web sites. If you’re at all adventurous, you can set up a WP site on your own URL using a free or purchased design. The beauty of WordPress is that it’s a great CMS (content management system), one that’s really user friendly and also expandable via plugins. It’s often better to hire someone to implement your web site, however, because to have much real user interactivity you need plug-ins and without some guidance, you can easily get lost in the plug-in jungle. A trained WordPresser can also adapt your purchased or original design to your needs. On the other hand, you won’t hurt anything by trying, so if you’re a closet geek, go for it. FREE.
So, the answer to “I want my business to look really special” is to keep checking on new technologies and being flexible.