Networking

The Journey of your Goals.

The Journey was a special edition episode that I made. It’s a short film/music video I guess? Anyway this episode was meant to accomplish 4 objectives:

Still from Episode 7: The Journey

 

  • Number one was to talk about how we focus to much on our goals when we should focus more on our process and enjoy the climb. I was inspired by a Gary Vaynerchuck video where he talks about the climb. Of course the tone and style of my video is completely different for Gary’s. Mine is obviously more leaning to the geek side and instead of the climb I called it the Journey. Yeah an original title I know.
  • Number two objective was to be as creative as possible and of course being a filmmaker I wanted to to something epic. It does not have a Lord of the Rings budget; heck, it does not even have a Lord of the Rings knock off budget. However it’s my baby and I love it, warts and all. I always talk about how not to let perfection get the best of you and how we need to take action always instead of waiting the stars to align.
  • Number three was to practice my craft in adobe after effects. Which is one of the big reasons I make these videos. To keep polishing my skills as a filmmaker. The book so good they can’t ignore you makes a strong case for homing your skills. I highly recommend reading that book for advancing any career.
  • Number four was for collaborating. I have always wanted to work with Sarah Danko. We tried to work in another project which didn’t took off. When I came about the idea of shooting The Journey of course I called her first. This is an example of both networking and collaborating to do incredible projects and I hope it inspire you to interact with more people. The more connections you have the higher chances you have of succeeding in any project. You don’t have to be an extrovert, but don’t let introversion stop you from connecting to other people.

That’s it I hope you enjoy the video and that it will inspire you on your own personal journey.

 

Information zombies and their overnight success virus: Are you one of them?

This is a more a personal story on my reflections on the effects of trying to do many things at once. When I moved to Texas from Puerto Rico on the summer of 2010; I was trying to change my life completely and start working on my film career. Back then I was a completely different person, I was a mess. I knew that if I did not changed my environment and my psychology that my life was going nowhere. Much has change since then. It was 5 years ago and it feels like a lifetime has passed.

I bring this up because the internet or more specifically how people perceive the internet, has made people think that they can change fast. That somehow you can magically in a short period of time become a better person or become a successful entrepreneur, A YouTube or social media celebrity. You know this as “the overnight success” phenomenon.

I follow a lot of smart people which I have mentioned in the past like Tim Ferris, Gary Vaynerchuck, Seth Godin, Rammit Sethi and more recently Dorie Clark. Some of them as long as 5 years and all that time I have observed a common thread. That many of the fans devour desperatly their content; but they don’t necessary apply it, there just contented with knowing the theory of success, but not the practice. I have a name for this myself, the information zombie. I did this myself for a time and still have to remind myself of not to regress, by no means I say I’m perfect. Here’s how it works and how it can affect certain people.

Phase 1: Being exposed to the virus

You can become an information zombie by being exposed to the overnight success virus if you have extreme mental starvation and malnourishment; which can be caused by your past economical, psychological and social environment. You might have been raised in poverty, dysfunctional family, a lack of a positive role model. Alas, all the usual suspects that you have read in studies such as this one or this one. Making matters worst are the news you see on the media such as “First time screenwriter gets a million dollar offer.” It doesn’t matter that these are myths 98% of the time and the other 2% was luck or a certified genius. Still these kind of stories play tricks on your mind. You start thinking that you can be that overnight success, since your particular economical or mental situation may not have completely broken you. You still have a flicker of hope, a small fire, that you are desperately trying to cling on. This is called the hero’s journey, in this case your Luke Skywalker from Star Wars or Neo from the matrix, desperately trying to find out the truth.

Then comes the thought leader or the teacher; your Yoda. Here is where the real danger comes. You are so hungry to complete the journey that you fail on taking the precautions to protect yourself from the virus. This is Luke ignoring Yoda when he ignored the warning that he had to complete his training first and chooses to face Darth Vader instead. How that turn out for him? How many time successful people say over and over the same things before we catch on. It takes years to build a brand; which can be a business, your career, your network. However, we are so hungry that we try to do many things at the same time.

This is exactly what I did. At one point in my journey I wanted to be a traditional filmmaker, a freelancer, get out of debt, build my network, blogging, etc. All this despite that I heard time and time again from all my Yoda’s that I can only focus on one at the time.

Phase 2: Becoming a Zombie

Here where things can get real dark. If you are not careful you can lose yourself trying to change very quickly. You can become just like the undead going from eating brain to brain, reading and consuming finding only tactics. You try everything because you are multi-passionate and you want success and damn it…you want it NOW! Sadly all your efforts fail which is not so bad; if you are hyper aware, because you can move on. This is akin to getting shot in the head while you are human. The other alternative is that you don’t completely fail, your are just mediocre and you move at the slowest of paces. You start walking like the undead. Unfortunately many stay as a zombie all there lives. You get caught in this limbo of going through the motions, getting distracted with the flashy new thing just like the zombies watching the fireworks in a George Romero movie.

Phase 3: Finding a cure

The good news is that there is a cure, the bad news is that it’s a heavy treatment and it’s not easy. Just like the painful process of the chemotherapy, but a necessary one in other to survive. The first things to do when you are tackling to many things at once, is to stop what your doing and ask consult with mentors who have done what you are trying to do. If you don’t have mentors, find them. Do not try to figure things out on your own, because that’s how you got into this mess in the first place. Also don’t be tempted to substitute potential real life mentor’s that you can reach out to through networking with books. I’m speaking to all introverts who do this, because frankly books make it all sound easy. The authors of these books spent years with research and real life experiences and condense everything into a few pages of paper. Not to mention that the publishers edit most of these books to make it “marketable”. A real life mentor will give you all the nuances as well as the nuts and bolts of their experience. I wrote before on how to find a mentor and check the resources page for more in depth guidance of the process of connecting with other people.

Be aware, protect yourself from the virus!

How acting can help introverts in networking.

 

Last time I talked about how some introverts use excuses for not hustling. I mentioned that introvert thought leader Susan Cain took acting classes with a coach to help her prepare for public speaking. Since I’m involved with the film and fashion community to some extent,  I can assure you that taking acting classes or better yet; improve classes can help you leap forward with networking.

Assuming your not living under a rock and haven’t seen a movie, odds are you have seen your fare share of big geeky Hollywood blockbusters. Among actors who are real life introverts are Emma Watson, Audrey Hepburn, Steve Martin and Tom Hanks. These people learned to role play and become another person on screen. That same can be done in social situations. Like anything in life it takes practice and there are probably many instructors near you. Often times they will give a free class.

Acting may help reducing anxiety

In an article on the Huffington Post Jennifer Lawrence of the money printing machine movie franchise called the Hunger Games fame revealed that she used to have social anxiety until she decided to try acting. She reveled for eonline that before that, she tried a psychologist without success. Social anxiety often stems from overthinking. A potential solution is a famous acting tool that’s called the Meisner Technique, which allows actors to “get out of their heads” by living in the moment. That is precisely what me must do in social situations. The majority of people are always thinking about what people are thinking of them, but the moment you put all your attention to the person in front of you will create a deeper connection. Some people just have that talent like Bill Clinton or Gary Vaynerchuck. For the rest of us mortals we can still learn it. Just watch the video below to get a sense on how the Meisner technique works. You may laugh at first, but please notice how each actress are incredibly focused on the other and repeating each others sentences. In a sense it almost feels like a game. In other to win you must laser focus on the person in front of you.

Acting=Fake it till you make it

With acting you can role play and pretend you are more confident then you really are and overtime actually be more confident. The fake it till you make it mantra works best with acting once you learn the proper acting techniques. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy talks in depth about faking it. In reality you will reach for a feeling or a memory of your past of a moment you were confident and use it on the present moment. Acting is a very psychological profession and the best actors are able to reach deep within themselves and express very vividly emotions that are required for a character. So have that in mind next time you see a character crying on screen. That actor had to remember a time in their past, possibly open a scar in order for real tears to come out for your entertainment, so please give them some slack next time you feel to put down an actor. In our case we will use a positive emotions from our past to be more like James Bond or whatever film character inspires you to be more confident.

Acting will give you discipline

Actors like any artist are constantly honing their craft. The more you practice acting techniques the better actor you will become and will ultimately lead to better networking experiences. This will take time to master, but it’s better then a lifetime of being awkward without knowing it. In my case I know people are wondering about my facial paralysis and many times when I think there is a potential for long term collaboration I will bring it up make a light joke about it to break the tension. 80% of the time people stop focusing on my condition and start to open up. Actors many times will film themselves and adjust their posture and the sound of their voice. At the very least will perform in front of someone who will give them honest feedback. This is precisely what you should be doing. Ask you best friends to give you honest feedback about how you present yourself. Does this sound like a lot of work? Yes it is, but professionals are doing it all the time. Visit a toastmasters meeting and you will see feedback in action. Finally I encourage you to get to know an actor because they are experts at networking. Just go to any film meetup and you see how good they are at talking to people.

Why being authentic is the only path to success.

I finished reading Seth Godin’s book All marketeers are liars…tell stories and it has been another book that I can proudly recommend to anyone even if you are not a marketeer, because the book promotes being authentic. Authenticity is something that has been lost by many, but fortunately there are champions like Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin, Cal Newport, Chris Anderson, Amanda Palmer and countless others. I bring the subject because there are still people who are searching for short cuts in life despite that it has been argued and proven multiples times that to achieve anything of importance you must work hard. Of course that doesn’t sound sexy and many people don’t want to listen to that message. I used to get angry and frustrated about that, but thanks to Seth Godin’s book I know understand that it’s practically impossible to change the worldview of people. Science has just started to prove this is true. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan lead by Brendan Nyhan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds.

In another similar study, people who were misinformed had the strongest political opinions. In 2000, James Kuklinski of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; conducted an experiment in which 1,000 Illinois residents were asked questions about welfare. More than half indicated that they were confident that their answers were correct, but only 3 percent of the people answered more than half of the questions correctly. In the study, the ones who were the most confident they were right were the ones who knew the least about the topic. Kuklinski calls this phenomenon the “I know I’m right syndrome”.

All this science and recent research validates many points written decades ago by the likes of Dale Carnegie or as recent as Seth Godin. This is why the best way to advance your career, your business, your art or any other Enterprise is to make sure that your personal message is aligned with the personal beliefs of the people you want to listen to you. This requires that your message must be consistent and in other to be consistent with a message you must be authentic. You must believe in the own message you are trying to spread. In other words be more like Superman who is generally honest than Batman.

This is so important that I want to pause and make sure you understand this crystal clear in dramatic fashion.

If you want people to buy you, hire you or pay attention to you; then you must make sure that same people already believe your message AND you must believe in it also. If any of those two requirements is missing then your message will not be heard.

As it stands be prepared to spend lots of time and money if you desire is to make someone to change there point of view. I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’m just saying… good luck with that. Companies and non-profit organizations spend millions to change a worldview. Look how long is has taken the same sex marriage to be recognized by the states. In some instances changing a point of view can take centuries and they are certainly causes worth fighting for.

Networking for Introverts 101

Networking for Introverts 101

There are many myths about us introverts raging from that we are anti-social to that we can fix being an introvert ourselves. Of course non- are true, but you already knew that since you are probably introverted yourself. Still from time to time; we might want to get out our comfort zone in networking environments, particularly those of us with high career ambitions. We can grow our network without changing our nature by approaching things differently and use our strengths at our advantage. The strongest one being that we actually tend to listen to people’ instead of just blabbing out endlessly like some clueless extroverted people that don’t realize they are being annoying. This post will discuss networking for introverts in two social settings. In a networking event or mixers which may consist of large groups of people and on 1-on-1 situations where we excel.

Everything important has already been said in the past by the great thinkers and philosophers. Habits are the corner stone of everything of importance you want to do in life. That’s why everything that follows is designed to be implemented as some form of habit formation and using systems to adquire those habits. Below there is video from on entrepreneur.com that clearly explains why systems and habits are way more important than goals. The video will give a better understanding of why you should focus primarily on your everyday habits over setting a goal.

Make it official by scheduling time

Only 8% of Americans achieve their New Year resolutions. The problem might be that the majority of people have limited willpower. There is a significant amount of research finding that willpower is limited. Change is hard and the way to make it less painful is by making small changes that increment over time using automated systems. This has been proposed by BJ Fogg of Stanford University. Using all this research as pillars, we can build a framework to start developing all the social skills needed to interact with people. The most important thing is to start with small goals. Don’t expect to be the life of a party in one month (not that you want to) if all your life you have been uncomfortable with talking to strangers and the only way you could do it was by playing videogames in your basement. Start changing by scheduling time that will go towards activities that relate to your social goals. Use a calender to plan your activities on a weekly basis. I use google calender myself for it’s automatic reminders that I need to complete my scheduled tasks.

Building a habit of socializing in mixers

By starting with small goals and scheduling time you will actually be starting the process of building socializing habits.

The definition of a habit is a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

To re frame in another context habits are part of your personality and this is why only a small group of people are able to achieve their goals, because in other to accomplish a goal we need to develop a series of new habits which in turn requires us to change our personalities. Whoa.

This is why we cannot change overnight and it requires a lot of practice and patience. Sounds like a lot of work? It is, but it helps a lot if you keep it small. I’m talking Ant-Man kind of small here people.

I highly recommend using meetup.com to get the ball rolling to search for groups that you share similar interest. Make sure to sign on for a group that meets at least once a month minimum. In the first meeting talk to at least one person by your own initiative use the following template questions for starters. These questions are guaranteed to at minimum; make a 15 minute conversation, because it will inevitably lead to other questions. I have done this countless times and I end up always talking more than 15 minutes in worst case scenarios when I find the other person is on a non-chatty mood. Never approach anybody eating. Trust me I know.

  • Hi my name is______. What yours?

  • Have you been to this meetup before?

  • Have you been to other meetups like these? How those this compare to the others?

  • Are you from around here? If they come from another city follow up with the next question. Otherwise skip it.

  • What brought you here?

  • What do you do?

  • What’s your favorite thing to do when you are not working?

Don’t like the questions? Feel free to make up your own, just be sure to include as many open questions that won’t give you a Yes or No answer. When you ask them remember that things will go easier if you shut up and actually listen. Don’t think about yourself, think about the other person and you may find that their answers could easily lead to other topics of discussion, then you can add more questions of your own to the template questions.

To put it on a mathematical perspective, you should only talk 20% of the time and the other person should talk 80%. If it makes it easier to remember another way to concentrate on the other person rather than yourself is to always act like the host of the party. Of course introverts should have no problem with this. As you get comfortable in these conversations try to make yourself valuable by being of value to the other person by offering genuine compliments, give useful information that might help them on way or another or sharing stories that validate their points of views one way or another.

After you have asked these template questions to different people and you start feeling comfortable with yourself you will start noticing their body language. For example, If you notice their body not looking towards you at any time then make a graceful exit by saying the it was a pleasure to meet them and you will see them around and move on to the next person. Always follow up with people that you meet in mixers, at least with the ones you felt rapport.

Your body language

Your own body language affects any outcome in a group setting. You don’t want to be that person who is always looking at the phone pretending to be busy. You also don’t want to hover around people awkwardly. Always walk in a room with purpose and act as if you were a curious kid. When you enter the room say hi to the closest person on the door and exchange a few words of banter. Banter is a way talk or exchange remarks in a good-humored teasing way. It’s just meaningless conversation and you don’t need a reply. It’s absolutely critical that you smile after saying these lines. After all you are supposed to have fun. Here a few example lines of banter, make it your own so that it feels natural.

  • Hi, this is going to be an awesome party I can feel it.

  • You guys look like the life of the party here.

  • Quit your day job. I’ll double your salary. You can be my bodyguard.

Now this is what you do instead of just looking at your cellphone in a party/mixer. Just walk in the room and say hi to whoever is at the door. If there are drinks served then head straight to just check out where they are at, but don’t take one just yet. Then walk around the room saying your banter lines to whoever makes eye contact with you and next try to find the bathroom. Use it, even if it’s just to look at yourself in the mirror and then head back to get your drink. The purpose of all this is to just get a feel of all the people in the party. By then the majority of people should be aware of your presence and hopefully you would have established yourself as a person who has confidence. Then proceed to talk to one of the people you already said hi to (or a group of people) and work your way around always remembering to act curious about the world around you.

Now I know that for many introverts this may sound scary. However, it’s important not to expect things to go to smoothly the first time. Do it a few times and make an analysis after each mixer to think about what things you made right and what things need more practice. Also if you are being to nervous about the whole situation; it is probably because you are thinking about you, when you should really be focusing on the people and their feelings. Remember, it’s all about them not about you.

Meeting for coffee

There are many times when you may want to meet someone you don’t know in a 1 on 1 basis. Let’s say for example you want to meet a person for a company you would like to work for in the future. Do your research and go to Linkedin and find a few candidates and pick one (or a few) that you feel that you could connect to because of things you have in common. If you are lucky you might find that you already have friends in common either in Linkedin itself or Facebook. If that’s the case then reach out to friends in common to either ask them for an introduction or ask them if they recommend you to reach out to your person of interest yourself.

Now most people include in their profiles their personal websites and social networks, whether that be Twitter or Facebook. Start following them and make interactions with them online first so they can get a feel of who you are. Then you can just send them a very short and to the point e-mail and invite them for coffee to ask them questions about how it’s like to work in their company. Below is an example.

Hi John,

My name is X. Our mutual friend of ours XYZ, recommended me to reach out to you.

(Always mention what you have in common in the first line whether it’s a mutual friend or common interest)

I’d love to get your career advice for 15-20 minutes. I’m currently working at Wayne Enterprises, but lately I have becoming more interested in Lexcorp.

(Go straight to the point)

Do you think I could pick your brain on your job and how you came to Lexcorp? I’d especially love to know what skills are most helpful to handle your day to day activities.

(The phrase pick up your brain is always a compliment, because you acknowledge that they know more than you)

I can meet you for coffee or at your office…or wherever it’s convenient. I can work around you!

Would it be possible for us to meet?

(Make it easy for them, In many cases I suggest a date and time myself that may be convenient for them)

Make sure you have a clear purpose when trying to meet them 1 on 1. Don’t just invite them to talk about your life. As a guideline think of 1 to 5 professional questions (mostly about them) and only at the end ask them to give you some advice related to what your trying to accomplish. After the meeting follow up with other emails explaining how there advice is helping you to achieve your goals. For more in depth details of how to send e-mails check out my free ebook.

Networking for introverts doesn’t need to be a chore if you make it more about really making connections. It’s all about making truthful relationships and not about what you can get from the other person. Remember to always give without expecting anything in return and eventually with time people might help you…maybe, and that should be alright with you.

3 sure tactics introverts can use to crush it on Linkedin.

Before jumping to this article I just want to say that the trailer for The Avengers: Age of Ultron was mindblowing. Warner Brothers has a lot of work and trust to build. This week in adventures within the biotech company I work for. We were having a discussion about Linkedin and the best way how to use it. It was then when I thought that many geeks out there had the same questions and hence this short post. I have been using Linkedin myself for around 5 years now and here is what I can tell you.

Like a lot of people out there I started to add my contacts first and then proceeded to add people randomly. Which is of course is the wrong way to do it. I stopped sending invitations, because I realize that I was not going to really connect on a personal level with the majority of people. What is the purpose of having 500 connections on Linkedin, if when the time comes to ask for a job maybe only 2 will vouch for you and the only reason they would is that they already knew you before joining the site? There are two ways to best approach adding people on Linkedin.

1.Add people you have already actually met.

Instead of wasting time adding random people that don’t know you and therefore don’t trust you; try to adding people that you have actually met through networking groups, panel discussions, meet-ups and social gatherings. They have already spoken to you and probably there is already some rapport. However, it’s very important to follow up by contacting them frequently. Try to really be friends with them without waiting for something in return. If you feel that there was not enough rapport in that initial introduction don’t add them, because you will not follow up with them and trust won’t flourish.

2.Add people you would like to meet.

By the same token; if you have not connected with a person and would like to start doing so using Linkedin make sure to reach out to them by e-mail first or social media. Follow them on twitter or Facebook and try to build rapport first, before adding them on Linkedin. The key point here is to remember that they are real people with feelings and not a means to an end. I talk about this process more on my ebook (shameless plug, I know).

Right now I have 158 connections on Linkedin and I am in no hurry to reach 500. I rather have a strong network of peers and friends that we can all support each other than 500 connections that really cannot vouch for me because they don’t really know me.

3.If you really want to build your network faster, try meeting one important person weekly.

Networking and making true connections are your most important asset and currency. It has the potential to make collaborations and open doors you would not have thought off. This takes time I strongly recommend meeting one person weekly. That’s the best way to ensure long term growth.

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