It used to be that people said that there was 6 degrees of separation between everyone. Many people know that Kevin Bacon game that people play to prove it. They name a film that such and such played on with Kevin, who worked with your cousins, friends’ uncles’ gardener, and BOOM.. there you have it! Someone who you know who knows someone who knows Kevin Bacon! There is also the Hollywood version that makes a point to prove that everyone in Hollywood is connect to Kevin Bacon through any amount of projects that they’d worked on. You get the point!
I’m finding more and more that networking is one of the greatest business skills of all time. It can move mountains and create opportunities that didn’t exist whatsoever until you met that special person. And now with the power of the internet, the world has shrunk so that everyone is the neighbor of one another. You can literally network on the computer with people to be in touch with the PERSON who you need to meet. It’s mind boggling!
We’re beating at the door of the good ol’ boys’ club and it feels GREAT!
But how do you break in? How do you get it started? Well, one way I’ve found is to actually HIRE a Professional Networker?
What is that you ask, and how is that different from a publicist or a marketing person? In my mind, Public Relations is how to position yourself or a company in the media or to the public. These people can be excellent sources for you. They’re going to do articles highlighting you or send press releases about you or make calls for you.
The marketing people will do similar work but they’ll do more repeated calling and branding of you or the company.
The Professional Networker? They position themselves anywhere and let people know how great you are. If and when they meet someone that fits the perfect client profile, they’ll introduce you as a friend to friend contact. It’s a lot less intimidating and a lot more informal. You have to select someone who is a natural networker. Pick a person who is friends with the rich, famous and the powerful. It doesn’t have to be the rich and powerful, just someone who isn’t afraid to meet them!
I’m one of those self made people I guess. I didn’t have any connections that got me launched doing anything that I’ve done, but I was blessed with a good education, supportive parents and a mom who pushed me out the door when I graduated, but besides that, I’ve been the one who has created and maintained my contacts throughout the years.
Just on one trip alone, the people I’ve met can help me or my clients a tremendous amount! I met the president of the cell phone company that I need to get a new contract and phone from. I met the president of the textile firm who might invest in another of my friend’s business who is raising money for his business. I put the textile president in touch with my friend Josh, the Broadway producer, who asked if he’d be interested in investing in a Broadway play.
Back at home, I am actually paid as a professional networker. I hook people up for other people when they are trying to find people to sell to or to recruit. I’m also being considered to be hired for this position by a recruiting firm.
The techniques I use are exactly the same as when I was a lecture agent years ago. My job was to put two people or two companies together. The object is to find out who needs what and who they need or want to meet. As I get to know the companies and their needs, I automatically can draw from a mental list of people who would fit into the role that they are seeking. I’m not a full time recruiter, but I do possess the same skills and have been paid when I’ve made some decent hook ups.
I happen to know a lot of people. I know people in nearly every job profession across the board. I know or have met people all across the country and most of the people are always willing to meet someone new.
The skills are teachable, learnable and definitely usable! It takes a lot of energy and follow-up but it’s worth it in the long run. Here are some of the valuable hook ups I’ve made; some have brought me finders fees, some not but here they are:
o I’ve gotten up and coming stars an agent. One turned into a regular gig on the Rosanne Barr show after I got him an agent. Others have made money for years from their public lectures.
o I’ve gotten many people on radio and TV because I introduced them to the hosts or the producers or the publicists
o I’ve helped financial companies recruit sales people
o I’ve helped financial professionals meet new clients
o I’ve introduced men to women and women to men. (There’s at least 1 marriage but many great relationships were established!)
o I’ve introduced two TV news anchors in the same city who are on competing stations and I’ve never even been to their city!
o I’ve helped friends and clients get tickets to great events, meet top notch lawyers, meet business partners, helped get items for silent auctions, and helped moms find good babysitters.
Networking is the answer to your problem. If you need to meet more people, hire more people, recruit more people or sell to more people, you can either become an expert networker or hire someone who is. Why cold call when you can be walked in the back door? Working smart can save you time, and it can make you money.
Its time you start doing what the stars have known all along. It’s not who you know, but who you can GET to know that matters. Then its all up to you!