“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. “

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard people say comments such as:

“I never get business at networking events.”

“I don’t have a need for that specific speaker.”

“Networking doesn’t work.”

And most recently, ” I have a blog and I network online. Why do I need to go to any events?”

Networking should not be about just exchanging business cards nor should it be done with the goal of making an immediate sale.

It should, however, be about visibility AS WELL as having the foresight of knowing WHO and what kind of people are going to be at what events. You see, I was able to quadruple the market share of our previous business in 18 months not just because I “networked” but because I went to where I predicted the people I wanted to meet would be. I went with the intention of making 3-5 quality connections to develop relationships with, to try to help THEM grow their business and in turn build social capital and brand awareness.

Visibility: capability of being readily noticed (Merriam-Webster)

BLINDING FLASH OF THE OBVIOUS – I went to as many events as possible to make myself visible and totally accessible. In fact, it got to the point that people could start to trust that they would inevitably see me at some event during the course of the week so people would start to come and say “I was going to call to talk about your services but I knew that I would see you at this (or that) event.”

This being said, the subject line is one of my all time favorite quotes is from Wayne Gretzky. I feel it is extremely applicable and I reflect on it often when deciding what events to attend, what social networking websites to frequent and how I invest my time. It goes, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. ”

How can you apply this to YOUR online and offline networking strategy?

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8 responses to ““I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. “

  1. I think this is Great. I certainly would rather be ” where the puck is going to be”. Could you give me some ideas on how to figure that out? How do I plan my networking strategically?

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  3. It’s also worth keeping in mind that there can be a delayed reaction. I went to an event in 2004 that is STILL paying off even now 🙂

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  5. Great post, Taryn. This quote is mine, “Build your network before you need it.” What you teach here keeps paying dividends.

    Keep Believing…
    Bille Baty

  6. What great insight!

    Sometimes I sell art at anime conventions; sometimes I leave quite happy with my profits and other times, I feel like I overworked for pennies. I meet other artists at the convention who are struggling to break even. After all, consider the demographics: 13-25 year olds who would rather spend their cash (which is little to begin with) on anime figurines and katanas. You have to really slash your prices to generate anything.

    But then, I visited this one artist’s table– one that everyone was crowded around– and to my surprise, practically everything was free! Buttons, bookmarks, small prints, stickers. I asked her why she was giving them away when she could be selling them and she told me that she was there to market her webcomic only.

    A great strategy, but one I admit did not strike me immediately. She used conventions to talk to existing fans, introduce prospective fans, AND she gave away cute buttons and stickers with her web address on them that people would display everywhere. Talk about advertising! Sometimes, it’s awkward for people to come to the other artists’ tables, especially to artists who were especially pushy. I was always shocked when I’d come up to a table and the artist would say, “Buy something! Please!” or even worse, “You gonna buy something or what?” (Yeah. Seriously.)

    Needless to say, I instantly walked away and did not return.

    I think too many people jump to the immediate idea of “How can I make profit off this?” Entrepreneurs must think that way (admit it: profits are our lifeblood!) BUT they can’t always jump at the most obvious method (SELLING art at convention) because everyone will be doing that. Instead, think of other ways to leverage the same opportunity, like MARKETING your art at conventions or just mingling at as many events as you can. It makes you different and I think it can be exponentially beneficial.

  7. @ pisaneschira One of the best tips Taryn gave me regarding more strategic networking is to figure out who or what sort of projects specifically you want to find right now.

    For example, I do graphic design but I have a few current ideal projects I’d love to work on. I’d love to work on promo materials for bars and entertainment venues. I’d love to do more work for musicians. I’d love to network with business consultants and see if I can extend my graphic services to their startup clients or clients are a struggling with marketing.

    I do way more than just graphics for bars and musicians and I want to network with a lot more people than just consultants but have a specific goal in mind lets you chart out your networking plans and stands out in people’s minds. “Oh yeah! My uncle owns this great place downtown” or “You’ve gotta meet MY consultant!”

    So simple, but it works. 🙂

    Also, simply listening to people at events will help you pinpoint how YOU can help THEM, be it your services or services from one of your own connections. When you provide help, you provide value. 🙂

    My latest blog entry has some ideas for questions you can ask. 🙂 http://kokorographix.com/?p=346

  8. Great post Taryn. The CEO of my old company used a photo of Gretzky with that quote in almost all of his presentations. Problem was, he didn’t get it.

    I have personally seen the power of networking both online and off. But the off is where the real magic happens. This is why I’m so miffed that I’m not at the 140 Character Conference right now. Because I can see the action online but know it would be so much more valuable to be in the off!

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