There’s only one metric for measuring your effectiveness in business that actually matters – money. Not job offers, not potential partnerships, not potential deals – cold, hard, cash. A potential partnership is no better than a potential handjob, if you can’t close it doesn’t count. You can’t pay your rent with your potential because potential is worthless. In business and in life, cash is king.
In my life on this planet, guess how many dollars have been added to my bank account from networking?
Zip, zero, zilch – not one single dollar.
From conferences to networking events to startup drinks to socialite parties to joining the Freemasons – not a single one of these things has put a dollar in my bank account. Instead all my networking efforts have actually had the opposite effect, they’ve cost me money.
If something costs you money it’s a hobby, not a business. And if you’re poor you don’t have time for hobbies. How can you justify wasting your precious time and money without a return on your investment? You can’t, not if you’re serious.
I get it though, you’re on your mission, you want to make things happen and all the experts are telling you that you need to get out there and mingle. If you meet enough people good things will happen, right? Nope, not how it works in real life. In real life networking doesn’t work at all, here’s why broken down by event:
Why Networking Doesn’t Work
Networking groups are not a good use of your time. The fact that they let you join should be your first warning sign. If it’s easy to get in do you think anyone worthwhile is going to be there? Are decision makers with access to real money going to networking groups? F*ck no they’re not. Decision makers already get hounded all day by hungry salesmen, the last thing they want to do is go to a place where they’ll be subjected to more of the same.
The truth is you won’t find successful guys at networking events, you’ll find guys pretending to be successful. They’re the ones in tailored suits and trendy haircuts trying to play the part. The truth is these guys are racking up debt by the month trying to maintain that image. I know because I once was one.
No goodlooking, well dressed guy under 30 has any kind of money or connections unless he’s a trust fund kid. He’s just like you – acting the part. It’s the old guys in bad suits and cop haircuts that have real money.
Guys with real money don’t dress very well because one they don’t care and two they’re too old to know what’s fashionable. A networking event is really just a bunch of striving losers selling each other on how successful they are. Sure you could go to these things looking for a business partner but you don’t need another partner in your business who doesn’t have money. You need a partner with money and you’re not going to find him there.
A few years back my sales buddy and I decided if we can’t beat ’em we might as well join ‘em and got ourselves initiated as Freemasons. I figured Illuminati connections would take my book of business to the next level – it didn’t. All I got was a lighter wallet.
Now if we’d been willing to put 10 years in the masonic quarry grinding I’m sure we would have seen some benefits but after two years in we weren’t getting anywhere. I left with a lot of time and money invested and nothing to show for it.
Now there were definitely some hitters there but directly pitching guys for favors was frowned upon so we never took that route. The guys there were super nice but whatever power and access they had they certainly weren’t sharing with us.
The same goes for your local church or synagogue or whatever you’re into. Sure you might be able to make it work if you’re putting in 5 to 10 years at a few meetings per week but that’s an expensive if. Don’t bother with these groups unless you actually like going to the meetings and look at any benefits as a bonus.
You might have heard it said in some 30 year old business book that the best deals are done over golf and that you better learn to play if you’re serious about getting ahead. While that may be true I doubt those old f*cks are going to appreciate you pulling up to the tee to pitch them on your revenue-less company. The truth is you meet that guy somewhere else and accept his invitation to golf, if he offers.
My friend has been a member of the most exclusive club in Toronto for the past decade and hasn’t made a dime off it. He goes because he’s a WASP and likes doing white people sh*t like sailing and squash with his trust fund buddies. The old guys with money stick to themselves outside of polite small talk.
Much like fellowship groups if you put in 5 to 10 years of glad handing you might find some help from some of these guys but again, unless you love going to the club it’s not the best use of your time and money.
Conferences are definitely the most useful thing on this list but not if you’re there to network. Between the guys who pay for the big booths to the speakers at the event there are actually guys there who can put money in your wallet – if you can show them that you can add value to their lives. But that’s not going to be from networking.
If you’re going to conferences to network you’re doing it wrong. Networking means having pleasant conversations with non-decision makers in the hopes of something happening far off into the future. Instead of something happening you end giving out 40 business cards to guys who won’t remember you the next day.
Lastly are causes, now these aren’t business networking events but I had to throw this in here for good measure because I still see otherwise smart, motivated guys get caught up in this sh*t. Do you really have the time to play activist when you’re broke? Do you own your own revenue stream that will comfortably pay for all your expenses in the next five years? If not you don’t then you don’t have time to waste f*cking around. And if you don’t have any money you’re not going to change the world – that’s a guarantee.
Avoid causes altogether. These groups are merely an echo chamber for people who have an emotional reaction to an idea that they pretend is a rational belief. You can devote yourself to a cause when you have the money to actually make a difference.
So How Do You Actually Get Paid?
1) Build Something Of Value
Without building or getting something of value it’s impossible to get paid. Whether it’s building your own website or selling your services as a real estate agent you’re fulfilling demand and putting a price tag on your solution. In business you’re only as good as the value you bring, the second you stop being valuable you’re out of business.
2) Sell Directly To Your Customers
Once you have something of value the most effective way to get paid is to directly sell it to your customers – not networking, selling. That means cold calls, face to face meetings, Google Adwords, sales pages – whatever the most effective means for your industry is.
For my industry cold calling is pointless and Adwords won’t cover the cost of my books. The only move is to attract traffic through writing good articles and direct that traffic to well written sales pages (see what I did there).
If you have a product over $150 that you’re selling online then Facebook And Adwords can be great sales toosl. If you’re dropshipping products this is going to be your most effective selling method.
If you have a location dependent service business then cold calling is going to be your bread and butter. Yes cold calling is still the best sales tool in 2016 and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Cold emailing works but it’s not nearly as powerful. Pounding the phone, pitching the meet and closing in person is what it’s all about. You can also get good results with geotargeted Adwords campaigns.
3) Use Events To Sell Decision Makers Directly
If you’re in B2B sales you can make select, important events work for you but you have to be there to sell decision makers, not network with nobodies. This can be a good way to get face time with guys who never answer their phones. That means you make a list of the guys you need to pitch before you get there and you hit them hard.
When I sold ad space I closed a number of deals from contacts I met at conferences but that was because I was there to sell. And by selling I mean grabbing a CEO on his way to the washroom or pitching him in front of his VPs at his company Christmas party – shameless, uncomfortable, unfun selling.
You’ll know you’re selling and not networking because you feel like a social violator. Networking is fun, sales is not. Most of the time you’re better off calling these guys during business hours but if you’re getting the runaround from his people, a conference can be a great way to break through to the guy who actually signs the checks. It’s amazing how the second you get in front of the CEO his team actually returns your call the next day.
If you’re in B2C you can go to salesman-specific events where selling is actually encouraged. These tend to be small meetup groups with salesmen from different industries where everyone is encourage to pickup new clients from the group. My buddy got a few commercial currency clients that way.
With that said the vast majority of these pitches go nowhere, if you can get even a few deals out of a conference you’ve done well so you have to be able to judge if the ticket price is going to be worth it. Anyone who’s been in sales for over a year knows that even your best leads usually go nowhere, and that’s when you’re going H.A.M. You think these deals are just going to fall in your lap from pleasant, networking conversations – thef*ckouttahere with that.
Networking is for guys playing fantasy businessman, to get what you want you need to have something of value and sell the f*ck out of it. Forget about getting something for nothing because you’re a nice guy and you hovered around the right people at the right party.
Outside of your mom, your close friends and maybe your girl, no one cares about you. No one else is going to reach out their hand to help because you’re a nice guy he met at a party. Why would they? Instead your neediness and hunger will make you a target for vultures. There’s an entire industry built around peddling false hope to you – don’t buy in.
In business, you’re lucky just to find guys who won’t f*ck you over let alone someone who will go out of their way to help you for no gain in return. Now I’m not saying people won’t help you out when you need it, but you’re not going to find them at networking events. They’re going to be your close friends and you’re lucky to have even three guys like that in your life.
Networking with no concrete objectives and expecting something in return is a fool’s errand. All you’re going to do is increase your social obligations and decrease your bank account. Whether it’s money or women you have to sell to get what you want. Selling means closing deals not having pleasant conversations with at the hotel bar. Closing deals means you know what you’re pitching, to whom and for how much.
If you’re having a comfortable, pleasant conversation you’re networking with a non-decision maker who will promptly forget you the next day. Decision makers are not going to have a long conversation with a nobody.
Now I know you might know somebody who made something happen through some guy he met at some party. But that guy is the exception that proves the rule. Even a broken clock is right two times a day. And even after landing that job, think how much time and money he spent on memberships and drinks and food – time and money he could have spent building and selling his own business.
So, the moral of the story is build something of value, sell it and get rid of timewasters. If you’re not selling you’re wasting your time. Leave networking to the amateurs.