I recently had a great conversation with my good friend Richard Bailey on being an entrepreneur in 2012. There are certain ways you go about networking and asking for help without overstepping your boundaries. We witnessed people burn bridges, have over aggressive approaches, and even we made mistakes ourselves. It really didn’t hit home with us until we came upon a certain situation at pax.
I think it’s wonderful to ask for help from me or anyone. It becomes a problem when you feel like I’m obligated to do so. It turns me off, and makes me back away from you. Because at that moment is when I realize you don’t get it yet. The number one thing you have to know is that; nobody owes you anything. Especially me. These people usually become pests and never form relationships that actually mean anything. And by that I mean business, money, and connections. Small things like a party invite doesn’t make you as cool with someone as you may assume.
So here are a few pointers that I personally use to network and ask for help. I’m only human so even I may forget one or two of these from time to time.
Know when to run
Think of an introduction as a football. If I throw you the ball, the next step is for you to catch it and run to the goal for a touchdown. I’m the quarterback, your the receiver. You make me look good when you can catch my passes and score. But sometimes people don’t know when to run after catching a pass. Sometimes they would like for the quarterback to run with them. That’s not how football works. Once you have the ball, it’s now your responsibility to score, it’s out of my hands. If you can’t run, then don’t ask for the ball. And some people only throw the ball once so be sure.
Google it first
Please do yourself the largest favor in the world and use google. I don’t mind answering questions, but it all depends on who it’s from. If your supposed to be this guy running an online business with tons of connects why do I have to explain to you what a startup accelerator is. Are you my mom? If this is The culture you live in, than don’t make yourself look like an ass. I used to do that, but I figured out I was wasting my own time more than the other person. There’s so much valuable information that you can’t google in the world. Get to that stuff, google the rest.
Twitter isn’t so bad
When I read or hear about someone I need to know. The first thing I do is go to google to see if that person has a twitter. I read the recent tweets sometimes even further to see if we have some common ground and if this person is even active. Then I just let it sit for a few days, weeks, even months. I’m not going to reply to tweets if I don’t have a real opinion or reaction about what they are saying. It’s always good to seem authentic. In some cases I tweet them asking for an email to contact, only if I can’t find it myself. The most valuable connections outside of meetups, events, and friends came from twitter.
Make better decisions
This goes back to the statement from earlier about obligations. If you can’t handle your business, you shouldn’t be in business. Help from someone doesn’t mean they fix all your problems or fill in the gaps you made yourself. You have to pay the cost to be the boss. That means focus on your brand more, invest in more books, put more time to learning, go to places to meet like minded people. If you spend all weekend chasing women and partying then expect someone who spent that time grinding to pull you up from the hole. Meh, we got better things to do.
Everyone is selfish
Sure I know people are willing to give me advice expecting nothing in return. But remember there is always something given in order to get. That may be a connection, some help, all the way down to just the satisfaction of a good conversation. I always keep that in mind when talking with people.
Show me the love
I’m not even really going to talk about this one. I recommend you purchase the book “love is the killer app” from your favorite book store.
Thats really not a bunch of advice, but its a start.
I’m writing this post on my iPad on my way home from Boston. So excuse any small errors, I’ll fix them later.