The question is “…what are 7 billion free, empowered, connected people with net-connected supercomputers going to build by end of century?”
My initial thoughts: more neat and valuable projects like Linux will emerge to tackle different types of problems. Benedict Evans stated that Uber did not exist when iPhone arrived in his 2014 keynote but I think that there may have been people with Uber/Lyft ideas who did not get opportunity to productize and build a business. I recall reading stories of crackdown on Los Angeles Koreatown drivers taxing people around. What if these entrepreneurs had tools to develop around apps. As barriers to start new companies disappear, we may see the most interesting apps yet – and quicker – by more non-tech centric demographic. Yes, software is eating the world.
The good news is that collecting business cards and spamming people (both written and verbally) with why you’re so great is not actually networking. In fact, if you try to network like this, you’ll quickly find that not only does it not work, it’ll have the opposite effect and turn people away.
So then what is networking? In its simplest sense, I like to define it as actively looking for ways you can provide value to others with similar interests.
- It’s the #1 way to identify and secure business & career opportunities.
- The strength of weak ties: the more “weak” ties in your network the wider the variety of opportunities you’ll be exposed to. This topic could be its own blog post. If you’re interested in more check out Reid Hoffman’s post or the original research paper.
- Your network goes with you throughout your career.
Making your networking productive is as simple as following these…
Three tips for successful networking:
- Know your objective.
- Proactively engage…then listen.
1. Know Your Objective
“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter’.”
Without focusing your networking efforts, you’ll end up very busy, but frustrated at a perceived lack of progress. If you’re going to spend time attending events, you should spend a little time beforehand understanding why. What is it you need? Are you looking for business clients? Job leads? Potential employees? Advice?
These (and more) are all valid reasons for networking. But decide before the event which objectives you’re targeting. Going in blind and ‘seeing what happens’ leaves you open to missing what you really needed. Objectives don’t have to take a lot of time. For example, something as simple as “speak to at least 2 people I can follow-up with regarding career advice” is enough. Remember, you don’t need to meet everyone at an event to make it a ‘success’ – simply meeting your personal objectives makes it a success for you.
2. Proactively engage…then listen
If you feel uncomfortable at events, realize you’re far from the only one who feels that way. Getting started can be as simple as breaking the ice. Yes, I know that’s usually easier said than done, but one of the benefits of an event like MarketingCamp is that everyone is there for the same purpose. No one’s going to care or remember how a conversation was started, only that they enjoyed the conversation. So smile and say hello. Or get really fancy with “May I join you?” or “What brings you to MarketingCamp?”. And don’t hesitate to ask questions in the sessions at MarketingCamp. It’s a great way to generate follow-up conversations with the speaker or other attendees afterward.
Once you’re in the conversation, the most important thing to remember is to LISTEN. There’s no better way to find out how you can help someone than to ask questions and listen. But you have to really listen. Planning what you’re going to say next about yourself while smiling and nodding doesn’t count. Remember, networking is about actively looking for ways you can provide value to others. Make it about them and you’ll find that the opportunities to speak about yourself will come up naturally.
The most important part of networking, and unfortunately the most neglected, is to follow-up. Follow-up doesn’t need to take much time. In many cases, simply mentioning that it was nice to speak with them and offering a follow-up discussion is enough. If appropriate, let them know you’re open to assisting them in the future and to feel free to contact you. If they gave you advice, let them know what you did with that advice. If you offered to help them in some way, be sure to do so.
A final note on follow-up. Many people, myself included, use LinkedIn to maintain their network. It’s a wonderful tool when used appropriately. I don’t recommend using the generic LinkedIn invite text. Take a couple of minutes and write something personal to remind the recipient where you met, what you discussed, and why you’d like to stay connected. It’s not only a helpful reminder to the recipient, it also shows a little thought.
What are some networking tips you’ve found useful? I’d love to hear them. Let me know in the comments.
Product Marketing | Consumer Technology | Mentor @ 500 Startups
Startup advisor, former engineer, and enemy of the status quo. Jonathan connects startups with customers, partners, and investors to grow their business.
Expertise providing startups guidance and hands-on assistance with business model and growth strategy, customer and business development, and all aspects of Marketing – in particular, identifying product-market fit and leveraging it into product launches and Marketing campaigns that deliver results.
Jonathan is actively involved in the Silicon Valley startup world, as a mentor at 500 Startups, and an angel investor and advisor to several startups and Venture Capital funds. He also co-founded MarketingCamp, bringing together innovative Marketing thought-leaders from across Silicon Valley for full-day, participant-driven conferences.
We can understand the very root of all inherent problems by understanding the difference between content and context.
Context represents the overall field of information that gives content its meaning.
Content is the details of a particular situation.
Context is the overall field from which the details arise. Context sets the meaning for content.
Without context, content has no meaning.
A man purchased a carpet factory. He went to the local city hall and shared his ambition of completely carpeting the city so that no one would be uncomfortable walking in the city. A wise council member stood up and said why don’t you just make carpeted shoes?
A healthy mindset requires an understanding of what works within a ones context.
Here are a few questions you can use to help identify context for life.
1. What is it that gives my life meaning?
2. What do I value?
3. If you were to remove it from my life, would my life still have meaning?
4. How do I or will I share what I value with others?
With clarity of context, meaning, values and purpose become self evident. One is then able to share with the world what one is.
Known for his large sputnik like cranium and a stellar sense of humor, Jonathan’s intention is one of inspiring people to enjoy life as it is.
Growing up in the great outdoors of Colorado, Jonathan discovered a inner creative resource through exposure to beauty and unconditional love in early childhood. Jonathan’s intention is to inspire inner shifts in ones context by inviting one to examine through inquiry the beliefs and values one has integrated into an identity. This identity for many is the obstacle that seems to block ones ability to enjoy ones existence regardless of circumstances.
A typical day will find Jonathan coaching, leading all camp games, conversing on context, doing stand up comedy, building community or leading a his children into the exploration of the beauty of nature.
(Of course, all welcome to follow me too @charlesjo).
Next exercise coming up soon. Feedback is always welcome!
2nd exercise: Everyone follow @a16z and the entire team at Andreesen Horowitz:
The team writes a lot of interesting things on Twitter ranging from macroeconomics to tracking smart phone growth and market shares to robots in a future when human labor is not needed for us to survive.
If you follow @a16z, please consider mentioning “@charlesjo says to follow you @a16z.” It’s a personal project on social networking and community growth.
(Of course, all welcome to follow me too @charlesjo).
Next exercise coming up soon. Feedback always welcome!