For Media Professionals And Others In Business
By John W. Coleman,
President, Twin Oaks Communications
Networking is one of any business persons most powerful marketing tools. In the world of mediawhether its film, television, corporate video, events, internet or otherwhere its often said that its not what you know but who you know, your network of business relationships and friends in the industry translates into your net worth. According to networking expert Hank Blank, the opposite of networking is not working!
I read, not too long ago, that if the average person listed the names of everyone they know, the typical list would include 300 names or more. Now, consider that those 300 people know 300 more people who know another 300 people and you begin to see the value of networking.
One of the benefits provided by all MCAI (Media Communications Association International) chapters around the country is a regular monthly opportunity for networking with other media production professionals. The networking takes place during a social hour over refreshments and food prior to the evenings formal program. Each meeting features a useful presentation on a current topic relating to the latest developments in media creativity, technology or business, so youve always got something interesting to talk about.
Mr. Blank teaches that networking is a low cost but high return business building strategy. With todays production environment dominated by small companies and individual freelancers, those are important, sweet words. Networking can change your business development from cold calling to relationship selling which is far more powerful.
Yet most people dont really know how to network. They treat it as a casual and passive activity and dont maximize its benefits, Blank explains. Thats one reason the friendly environment the MCAI provides is so attractive: it makes networking easy. Im sure, like me, youve been to at least one giant business mixer where no one seems to want to meet anyone new. On the other hand, MCAI is an association. That means were all there for mutual benefit. It sets up a totally different dynamic. The atmosphere is much more one of: Come join us.
Hank Blank teaches that business people get more by promoting yourself less and doing more for others; or to adapt an old saw, Its the relationship, stupid! Long term MCAI member and past president of the LA/OC Chapter, Gary Stone, says it best; People like to do business with people they like. The wisdom behind Mr. Blanks advice is that its hard not to like someone whos willing to do something for you. But to learn to like someone youve got to get to know them. To help that process unfold MCAI meets regularly every month.
One of the most common misconceptions people have about networking is thinking that simply handing out a business card at a mixer or MCAI Meeting will get them business. It might, but remember, the best networking is about making a connection. That connection offers the opportunity to build a relationship. Business relationships are about keeping in touch with someone you have something in common with and who can be helpful to you down the roadas a client, a supplier/subcontractor or even a business partner. Members of the LA/OC Chapter of MCAI have reported that connections they made through the organization have resulted in all three.
A common mistake people make in networking is confusing it with partying. Networking canand should befun, but the goal should be about building your business in some form or another. And its not about instant results. When you create a relationship with a fellow professional you cant really be sure whenor howit will pay off. In fact, you should be willing to put yourself out for others without it being a quid-pro-quo. Blank says to think of your networking as printing financial and social currency. Hey, it worked for Don Corleone in The Godfather! Unless you plan on being out of business in a few years, think long term. Your network of friends and business acquaintances enhances your valuea form of career insurance.
Finally, a key premise of successful networking is follow-up. Whats easier than to follow up with another chance meeting at the next monthly MCAI gathering?
So, get out one night a month, and come to the MCAIs LA/OC Chapter meeting to help grow your business. Bring plenty of business cards and a smile. Youll meet some fellow professionals, share trade talk, get some information that will help you stay ahead of our ever-changing industry and make a few friends. And if youre smart, youll collect a few business cards and do some follow-up because you never know when you will need to call that personor when theyll call you!
About The Author:
JOHN W. COLEMAN is the president of Twin Oaks Communications in Mission Viejo, California. His company provides creative, production, distribution as well as consulting services for television and business, working in all media. Mr. Coleman is also the president of the LA/OC Chapter of MCAI for 2006-2008. As a producer-director-writer with over 25 years experience in television and new media he has produced TV programs, commercials and media presentations for companies large and small. You may contact John at www.twinoaks.tv or 949.707.1131