“Networking”. Wow. What an ugly word.
Networkers are the people at conferences that seem to run on Energizer batteries, whose sole purpose for existing on this planet is to collect as many business cards as possible, while grin f****ng every individual they “meet”. That’s why it’s ugly, because of “those” people.
But the act of meeting new people shouldn’t be a bad word – it shouldn’t carry such negative connotations. Your network is one of the most valuable assets you have – for more than 50% of job seekers today, it’s how they’ll find their next job.
Don’t be a “Networker”, be a “Connector”
Networkers go through life thinking about themselves first, and the world second. Connectors think about the people they’re engaging with first, and how to help them. That simple distinction makes all the difference in the world.
Thoughts that go through a Networker’s mind:
“What can I get out of this person?”
“What can this person do for me?”
“How relevant is this person to my needs right now?”
“How influential is this person, can I use them in some way?”
Talking to people like that is excruciating. Their selfishness oozes out of them – it’s borderline creepy. Connectors, on the other hand, go through life thinking of others first, and themselves second.
Thoughts that go through a Connector’s mind:
“What are this person’s needs, and how can I help?”
“How can I help this person?”
“Do I know anyone who could be helpful to this person?”
“What’s the common ground I have with this person, what are some of our shared passions?” (Building genuine personal rapport).
Connectors spend all of their energy trying to add value to all of their relationships (both existing and new). They’re perpetually trying to discover people’s needs, and trying to help fulfill them. Connectors do all of this, mind you, without keeping score. They just build the karma bank knowing that somehow, someday, it will all probably work out. Being a connector is one of the most fulfilling things on the planet.
Try it sometime.
18 days of total effort, from deciding we’d build an alternative of our product for SXSW, to launch, to today.
Close to 1,000 event attendees registered.
Retweet by Eric Ries.
Here are our stats:
Press + Eric Ries
We put everything we had into locking in one major publication, and as we outlined in this post, we focused on Sarah Lacy at Pandodaily. Pando broke the story on our launch on February 28th, and they managed to generate a fair amount of traffic for us. Erin Griffith wrote a pretty awesome and compelling piece and we think that helped keep our conversion rates pretty high. PandoDaily sent us a total of 534 people, and Mashable sent us 663.
Hacker News + Eric Ries
With some of the data from the Pando piece, we decided to keep the momentum going and write a blog post for the HN community breaking down how we did it. Once it was up and running, we tweeted out to Eric Ries, who in turn retweeted it:
We also submitted the post to HN, where it made the front page and hovered around number for about an hour,
Unfortunately our analytics were down so we weren’t able to catch the Eric Ries tweet, but we did have it up for the HN post, and here are our stats from being Number 15 for about 50 minutes on February 29th:
As you can see, we managed to get about 600 views from Hacker news that hour, with 600 more coming in direct and via twitter referrals. Of those people, we converted about 220 to check out our SXSW service, which isn’t amazing, but we’ll take it! (About a 17% conversion rate from the blog post to checking out our service).
All in all, not bad for an 18 day push!
Ten days ago, we were approached by different conference organizers – they asked us to build Meeteor for their events. They said one of the biggest pain points conference goers have is that they just randomly meet people leading to a lot of “wasted” time talking to people they have no common interests with or way to build good rapport.
A lightbulb went off in each of our heads, almost instantly: What if we built an MVP of our conference/event offering for #SXSW?
It was perfect; we would leverage the matching algorithms we’ve built for Meeteor, and test them against a tech savvy “early adopter” crowd, for a new market.
Brilliant. High fives all around, time to get to business and MVP the sh*t out of this.
The Idea: Introduce you to the best people you should meet at #SXSW one week before the event starts.
Getting to MVP:
We went heads down for about 4 days designing the user experience and creating wireframes.
While planning the UX of the service we encountered an interesting Chicken & Egg problem: without a mass of about 200 people, the matches we would deliver would actually kinda suck. For that reason, we decided to build an initial experience that would hold off on showing any matches: our last screen in the registration process would simply let the user know that we would release our matches on March 2nd. This would make result in the best matches for each user, but would also delay the the point where a user gets value from Meeteor. In today’s world of instant gratification, that would, unfortunately, hurt our virality. (Why share something if it hasn’t done much for you?)
We took the wireframes and showed them to as many friends as possible. The feedback was universal – the registration page asked for too much information and the last screen was a complete downer. Nowhere in the registration process did we alert users that no matches would be immediately delivered, and getting them to share our service on the last page was a massive emotional conflict: “Why would I share something that did absolutely nothing for me right now?”
We cut our registration process as best we could to the point where people would shrug and say “that’s better.”
With the help of an awesome designer, we built a funny last screen, hoping that upbeat humor (the smoking monkey), and the value prop that you could unlock your matches a day before anyone else would get people talking about. Instead of leaving people with a downer, we tried to bring their energy and excitement back to a point where they’d be willing to help us spread the word.
Soft Launch + First Iteration:
We built it and got it in front of as many SXSW attendees as possible. We went to Quora’s SXSW section and posted there. We reached out to individuals like @konterkairert who posted in Quora about SXSW often, and got them to try our service.
We set up lists in Twitter to track people who mentioned SXSW and “meet” in the same tweet. We started pinging them, hard. Too hard, actually. One user, @JenFriel, called us out for our spamming…we apologized profusely and she was kind enough to accept our apologies. Instead of just reaching out to those people, we followed Jen’s feedback and started hyper customizing our reach out messages to each person. We’d pay attention to their profiles, read their tweet history, and try to weave a story in each tweet reach out. That worked better, as people felt like they were personally being approached.
The feedback was universal: People dig the monkey, but didn’t see that we had a share bar, and the registration process was still way too long. (Thank you @SeanPower and @ZachVerdin for taking the time to give us your detailed thoughts and reactions, they proved to be invaluable.)
Back to the drawing board…24 hours later, with the help of our awesome designer we had deployed this new registration page, and made the call to action on the last page (sharing) a bit more prominent.
Time to Blow It UP:
Running up against our March 2nd deadline, we decided it was time to go big or go home. We believed that we had honed the product to the point where people were intrigued enough to want to share it (the tweets were picking up), and it was time to supercharge the growth.
One thing we’ve learned in our time in startups is that the source of traffic significantly impacts conversion and virality – if someone you look up to refers you to our site, your general impression of our services is higher and more likely to result in you sharing our service with friends. For that reason, we decided we’d target two key influencers in our marketing strategy to break the news.
No big news here, but the two influencers we landed on were Sarah Lacy at PandoDaily, and Alexa Tsotsis at TechCrunch. Both have had impactful coverage of #SXSW in the past, and would be incredible at generating buzz for us. Knowing how hard it would be to even get one of them to acknowledge our existence, we decided we’d pick one and give them the exclusive – we picked Sarah Lacy at PandoDaily. We knew that they had less traffic than TechCrunch or Mashable, but we also believed that the traffic they did get was the cream of the crop: the smartest, most influential people in the valley. We traded traffic for the chance at getting in front of the right people
In order to increase our chances of getting on their radar, we decided to approach Sarah Lacy with an exclusive on breaking the news of our landing page and a deadline. The deadline would let us move on to another publication if we didn’t hear back from them, and the combination of an exclusive on our MVP and a deadline would make the story psychologically more attractive to them.
Didn’t hear back the first time I reached out, so I decided to try another email I had for Sarah again 24 hours later. Jackpot, we got an answer from Erin Griffith confirming that they were interested and would write the story.
Saturday morning, we get an email from Erin, asking for a one day extension. We grant it. It was Saturday morning at that point, and we felt a bit douchey for hitting them with a deadline to begin with.
Sunday rolls around and we hear nothing. Monday rolls around…still nothing. Monday 11AM PST, Erin breaks a story…..on Buddy Media. (Read: Not Meeteor) All of the worst case scenarios pop into our heads: We’re doomed, they’re not interested and it’s now too late to try to get someone else to cover us in time. We talk about scrapping the entire project.
The office had that awkward silence of disappointment. No one was blamed, but everyone was sad that our adventure and hustle was coming to an anticlimactic end. I started drafting this very blog post with the title: How We Failed to Launch our MVP. It was gloomy as shit, but would’ve made for an awesome HN post. Nothing like failure to drive upvotes.
Then, bam! Email comes through from Erin – she’s sorry she hasn’t gotten to our story yet, but promises to get it out by EOD if we’re still interested. We reply that we’re totally on board!
The story broke this morning at 7AM EST on PandoDaily’s front page. There hasn’t really been enough time to walk through the different stats, but we’ll make sure to post that tomorrow!
Curious to see what our MVP looks like? Check it out here.
A recent Jobvite study found that 1 in 6 jobs were found through a social network, and that 42% of these job seekers attributed their job to Twitter. (This is a full 2% ahead of LinkedIn, mind you, which came in at 40%). The power of Twitter is clear, and below are five key steps to connecting with the people you care about.
Build up a follower count so you don’t look like you might be spam, or lonely. I highly recommend searching for people who have #FollowBack in their profiles and following them. It’ll clutter your main stream, but that won’t matter after step 3.
Start building them, and if you’re targeting a specific niche, search for them. What I’ve found is that in the tech/startup community, there are a ton of people who have put in the work for you and have shared their lists publicly. (Robert Scoble @Scobleizer is the prime example for bay area startups and founders).
Additionally, you may want to just pull up the “Following” lists of influencers in specific geographies and go through it and follow those people you think are relevant to you. The second person that comes to mind is Steve Cheney in NYC – the list of people he follows is an amazing periscope view into the NYC tech scene.
I highly recommend you prioritize the different lists you have into degrees of importance to you. I, for example, have a “Priority” list (people I need to engage with TODAY), an HR Influencers list (a larger list of influencers in my industry that I should pay attention to), and a Tech Influencers List (cool peers I want to keep tabs on). In my TweetDeck view, they’re ranked in that order so that I engage with them in that order. One strategy I just started is replacing 5-10 people I’ve connected with on my “Priority” list with people from my other influencer lists. This helps me focus my efforts on a specific (read: manageable) number of people everyday.
I’m going to say this often, but it’s probably the most crucial element of your success on Twitter (and in life). Once you’ve figured out who you want to connect with, you have to offer something of value to them in order to get on their radar. Want Semil Shah (TechCrunch Contributor) to cover your startup? Easy. Pay attention to his needs. A few months ago he posted that he needed an intro into the NYT – if you could deliver on that need I can guarantee you’d be on his radar. He tweets out needs every other day, some small, some large, but adding value for any of them is a way for him to look at who you are, look at your profile, and be interested.
To do this right, you have to have twitter up for a large portion of your day, and you need to pay very careful attention to it. The second an influencer tweets out a question, a blog post, or an opinion, you want to respond within 30 seconds – 1 minute. My experience is that if you don’t have a reply in within that time frame, chances are your target influencer has moved on, already replied to people, and is onto a new topic.
You’re probably not going to get a reply from each individual you tweet out to every time. On the brighter side, every time you tweet at them, or reply to their tweets, they likely are in some way exposed to you and probably notice. If you do this often enough, and consistently enough, chances are they’ll know who you are, and will recognize you as someone who adds value and wants to help.
This is a new series on the best networking services, tools, and add-ons we can get our hands on. The first post in the series is dedicated to a service I couldn’t live without: Rapportive.
What Rapportive Does: Gets you rich contact profiles right inside Gmail.
Rapportive is an app that sits inside your email, right next to your opened messages. (Picture below). Every time you open an email, Rapportive gives you detailed information on the person who has emailed you. Information like their professional title and history, latest tweets, and even facebook pictures automatically populate next to your email.
It’s unbelievably powerful. When I have inbound from people I don’t know, I can very quickly get an idea of who they are (Facebook info), what they do (LinkedIn info), and what they’re passionate about (latest Tweets). This data informs how I respond, by giving me the data I need to build rapport. An example is that if I have an inbound message from a user who just tweeted about Klout, I can either make mention of Klout in my response, or tweet out to them and engage them in another medium.
It takes 2 minutes to install, and your inbox will forever be revolutionized.
Travelling is awesome because it’s an amazing way to connect with people you otherwise never would have. We all live structured lives: we wake up in the morning, say hello to our significant other or roommates, head to work, and come back. Those of us just out of college may get a bit more serendipity through going to gyms or bars on weekends, but chances are even then you’re not really meeting a ton of new interesting people on the time.
That’s why travelling is special – you’re given a unique opportunity to turn to the person or people next to you at a lounge or on the airplane, and strike up a conversation. (You don’t have to be loud and bother people around you, but you can still chat). What’s magical about that moment in time is that you’re presented with all the conversational topics you need to break the ice:
Nothing peeves me more than getting a reach-out email that says:
I saw your site, Meeteor, and would love to talk to you.
- John R.
Really? Is that the best you can do? How would you feel if you got that email?
Here’s how you can do better:
1) Agenda, agenda, agenda.
Tell me why you want to chat. Even if it’s just to chat, tell me that. It’s totally fine to simply want to connect, but even in that case, try to give me an idea of what you want to talk about. Are you interested in the networking space and want to learn more about our vision for the industry? Do you have a startup and you’re simply looking for some early-stage pointers? Both of those reasons are fine, but at least make it easy for me to understand why we’re talking and where my mind should be when we do connect. The last thing I want to do is get on the phone and be hit with a topic I’m not prepared for. Ideally, you’d send me a list of questions you’d like to go over before connecting. That helps me come to the table with specific ideas to share, and it brands you as an action-oriented person.
Since the majority of networking being done at this point of the year is related to job-searching, we thought we’d give you a hand. Below is a comprehensive list of behavioral questions we’ve seen over the years. Any MBA should be ready to answer each of these questions on a whim, and be able to draw from more than one example for each. If you’re looking for fellow consultants to do practice interviews with, don’t forget to enter “consulting” as an interest in Meeteor – we’ll go ahead and schedule times for you to meet up and do practice cases!
- What do you want to do as a career (both immediately after graduation and long-term)?
- How would you rate your quantitative skills?
- How would you rate your verbal skills?
- Why should we accept you as opposed to the other qualified
- Why should we take you as a sophomore when there are so many other juniors who are applying for an internship?
- Are you applying for any other internships? (Say that you are or that you will be. Don’t look like you’re only applying to X Firm. If they
- ask whether or not you think you’ll get those other internships, say yes. However, make sure they understand that X Firm is your first choice.)
- Do you have any questions for us?
- Is there anything you wished we had asked you?
- Is there anything else you’d like to tell us or anything you’d want us to know?
- Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
- Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
- Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
- Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.
- Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone’s opinion.
- Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
- Please discuss an important written document you were required to complete.
- Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
- Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
- Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split second decision.
- What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
- Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked
- you (or vice versa).
- Tell me about a difficult decision you’ve made in the last year.
- Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish and failed.
- Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.
As famed management consultant Peter Drucker aptly stated, “More business decisions occur over lunch and dinner than at any other time, yet no MBA courses are given on the subject.” If you’re a college student, the prospect of networking to find a job or internship probably isn’t at the front of your mind. Perhaps your main aim is to maximize your GPA, or maybe your focus is on extracurricular activities and leadership positions to make you stand out from the crowd. Yes, employers look at the entire package and the rigor of your courses, but, all else being equal, networking and establishing contacts with those in your industry of choice is what serves as the VIP pass that lets you cut the long queue for a job.
The Direct Connection
Let’s look at a case in point from Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations School. According to their 2010 Postgraduate Report of Bachelor’s Degree Recipients, 16% of graduates found their jobs through personal contacts and 3% found their jobs through alumni contacts. That’s a whopping 19% of students from the college who utilized contacts to find their jobs. Now where do you think these personal and alumni connections were made? No doubt some were pre-established family connections, but other than that, the rest of them came from students’ networking efforts —actively seeking out, developing, and maintaining connections with professionals or people involved in their industry of choice.
The Indirect Connection
According to a study made a few years ago by human resource company Epic Development and Evaluation, around 80% of available job postings are not openly advertised. With the high level of unemployment present today, a company will usually go to its employees first and ask them if they know anybody to fill an open spot. This gives businesses a preselected applicant pool, relieving them of the strain of going through the large number of qualified candidates who would have shown up if they had advertised publicly. This select pool is made up of people whom businesses know their employees trust, giving an additional incentive to hire them.
Now how do you exploit these “unseen” jobs? Network!
Last week I posted a general guide to help all you hungry job-seekers best organize the information on your resume. In the coming weeks I want to take the time to elaborate on some of these topics more specifically. Today we’ll talk about using action verbs to describe past experiences to employers clearly and confidently.
Potential employers will almost always look at the professional experience listed on a resume before anything else, so do yourself a solid by describing the responsibilities you’ve held at each previous job in a punchy, concise manner. The easiest and most efficient way to do this is by bulleting your job details with short phrases that begin with an action verb. Doing this eliminates fluffy clauses that are unnecessary when conveying the most relevant aspects of past responsibilities. These verbs should be written in the past tense unless you are describing a position that you’re currently holding. Clean bulletpoints and a consistent tense will create a smooth, cogent flow to your information and increase the overall elegance of your formatting.
Like I stressed last week, each of these bullets need to highlight tangible ways you contributed to your past employer. Describing specific contributions displays value and will make any applicant more memorable to his or her target firm than an applicant who just vaguely recounts past experiences. Even better would be to quantify your value by citing how your work improved sales by __% or raised ‘x’ amount of dollars.