I need to start this post with a disclaimer: I have occasionally done work for Dell, and am friends and have been friends with several of their staff. I have a very personal wish and hope that Dell succeeds as a company, and many of the best social media stories ever told were told about Dell, especially about my friends like Lionel Menchaca and Richard Binhammer (both since moved on). I am biased towards Dell.
I’m an hour or two away from speaking to the board of directors of a major association whose charter is to help small businesses thrive. They want me to speak a bit, but the majority of the value of today will come from them picking my brain about specifics for their organization. I did the same thing differently via coaching yesterday with another company.
In both cases, the mindset required is to work backwards from the goal.
It’s a blessing that so many people want to interview me for their podcasts and blogs. I would never want to seem like I’m not grateful for the attention, because the opposite, when people stop calling, can be really depressing to some, and a lot of what we’re all seemingly striving for in this space is to capture some attention and share our perspective, or so it seems. One experience I encounter quite frequently with people who want to interview me, however, is that they perceive me to be “into” social media, and that I’ll want to talk a lot about it.
I’m Not Into Social Media
I am laughing because I wrote a very similar post almost exactly one year ago. A full year later, people still don’t believe me. But I’m not. I use the tools, but I don’t sit around obsessing about them. Let me give you a strange analogy.
I run a business magazine called Owner magazine and I helped Jacqueline Carly cofound her magazine, BossFit, about fitness and health. As owners, the goal is “grow the business.” It’s pretty simple. And I like to think of it that simply. But this got me thinking just how much of a difference there is between owners and marketers. And I can illustrate this with one crazy and lovable dynamo of a guy.
My Chocolate Store Doesn’t Know Who Gary Vaynerchuk Is
The owner of the little chocolate store in town has no idea who Gary Vaynerchuk is. I know because I asked her. But I was being silly. She doesn’t know who I am, except that I like her iced coffee. But if I tell her what Gary says about how to sell better, she gets it and loves it. She just put her first Facebook page together. She’s not sure why she did it, but she knows that people seem to use Facebook a lot.
If you do it right, everyone around you will be smarter than you. Everyone will have great ideas and thoughts you’ve never considered, and all kinds of brilliance to add to your experience. When you are fortunate enough to know a lot of smart people, your odds of this being true are even greater. Want to know how to surround yourself with smart people?
How to Find People Who Are Smarter Than You
Go where they are. The brilliant people who are interacting with each other in the Owner Mastery Foundation Group teach me something every time I go there. When I go to great events like the New Media Expo, I’m surrounded by brilliant people. When I visit gatherings like the one that Keith Griffis held in Cambridge the other night, I am lucky to meet brilliant people. And those who came to my very own MDC Boston event at the Hotel Colonnade in Boston? Well, they were super ultra smart.
I had the most fascinating experience recently. I put out a survey to the subscribers of my newsletter. The very last question on the survey asked whether you’d refer Owner magazine to their friends. Some number of them said, “I would, but I don’t even know the URL.” Others said, “I didn’t know you started a magazine.” And so on.
I swear, to ME, it feels like it’s all I talk about. I tweet almost 30 tweets a day almost every day pointing people to Owner. My About page starts by saying I’m publisher of Owner magazine. Ditto my social media profiles. My LinkedIn profile leads with it. I link to it all the damned time. And yet, people keep saying, “Oh! I didn’t know you were producing a business magazine.”
If you can’t see this presentation embedded below, click here. This is something nice that Brett Woodley put together for some presentation he was giving (I didn’t catch all the detail). It’s kind of a summary of me. Seemed like a lot of work, so I thought I’d share it.
When looking in from the outside on people who are successful (or who you take to be more successful than you), there’s a real risk that you might believe that it’s “easy for him” (or her). You might accidentally think that “well, they have all kinds of willpower.” You might believe “Well, they started out like me, but now every day is smooth sailing.”
Just like anyone else, I have days where attaining my goals is a struggle and a challenge. One difference between me and some folks is that I’ve worked very hard to translate my larger goals into a daily process. Because of this, I stay very intimately attached to how each day relates to my goals. You should know this, as well, though. My goals don’t care.
It’s amazing what happens when you become a magazine editor. You get to see a lot of people’s writing and think about what it means to deliver a piece of content that works well. Between my own project and the opportunity I’ve had lately to look at dozens and dozens of prospective authors’ works, I’m noticing something very recurring in people’s work: a strong urge for people to write their way off a cliff.
I’m at the New Media Expo event in Las Vegas, and my primary mission here is to help more people’s businesses succeed by introducing them to Owner magazine. To accomplish this goal, I’ve decided to help people here learn a better way to network at business events. Even if you’re not here, I want you to have the same chance to improve your business networking efforts.
How to Network At Business Events
Have Two Missions in Mind – There should be two important missions sharing space in your brain: 1.) How do I help other people succeed? and 2.) How do I grow my business? If you’re coming to the event without both sides of this equation, you’ll either be so selfless that you won’t get a great return for your time, or you’ll be so selfish that people will never want to see you at an event again. Be both. Help others. Help yourself. WITHOUT that whole “quid pro quo” expectation of “if I help you, I expect help” back.