Seth Godin’s Top 7 Tips for Becoming a Master Networker

Okay, I lied.SethGodin.jpg Seth has never written a book or detailed blog post about how to become a master networker. He’s written volumes on marketing though, and in my opinion, the two aren’t really that different. Networking is about finding people that can help you (the customers), figuring out a way to get their attention (the interruption), and then offering to form a relationship (the product) that’s beneficial to you both. Yes, it’s a mechanical way to look at relationships, and no, I don’t envision my loved ones as customers. I do believe that the line between business and relationships is fuzzier than most of us would want to admit. And I would guess Seth agrees. He continually blurs that line with his ideas. So, despite having no delectable quotes to base this post on, nor any sort of permission, I’m going to apply seven of his marketing principles to networking. Follow them, and you’ll be on your way to becoming both a master networker and a master marketer.

The Most Powerful People Are Often the Hardest to Reach In The Dip, Seth talks about how the harder something is, the more valuable it usually is. Starting a new search engine to dominate Google would be tough, but it would also be worth billions. Similarly, getting into Harvard is difficult, but it also sets you apart and helps you get a better job. The same is true with networking. If you can call someone on their cell phone and chat for an hour, chances are that they’re not very influential. On the other hand, powerful people like Oprah, Al Gore, and Bill Gates would make immensely valuable friends, but they’re also the hardest to get to know. To build a powerful network though, you need to know influential people. Just choose the right ones. If you’ve written the world’s greatest book on relationships, then Oprah would probably love to meet you, while Bill Gates could probably care less. So forget about Bill and spend your time getting to know Oprah.

Small Networks Can Make a Big Impact In Small Is the New Big, Seth collects blog posts about how small companies and organizations can do big things. Small blogs are challenging big media, small groups are starting big movements, and small devices connect us to a big world. It’s the same with networks. When you talk about networking, most people assume that the aim is to build a Rolodex overflowing with business cards, but that’s not always true. Sometimes, it’s not about the size of your network, but the depth of its relationships. If you can’t remember anything about half the people in your Rolodex, then you’re probably not as influential as you thought.

Nurturing Present Relationships Isn’t Enough Then again, nurturing present relationships isn’t enough, either. Your network will eventually erode. People move away, develop other interests, or just plain decide they don’t like you anymore. That’s life. Instead of spending all your time pursuing them though, you should continually reinvent your network, deepening your relationship with some people and letting others go. Seth applies these ideas to corporations in Survival Is Not Enough. For big companies, change is often something to survive, not thrive on. To maintain leadership though, you have to evolve with the market needs. Similarly, if your network is going to continue supporting you, then it needs to evolve with your needs.

Don’t Be Normal. Be Purple. If you were driving through the countryside and saw a normal cow, would you pull over to take a second look? Probably not. But what if the cow was purple? Would that get your attention? You bet it would! In Purple Cow , The Big Moo, and Free Prize Inside!, Seth covers this principle in detail. People are busy, and if you’re going to get their attention, then you need to do something different and surprising. You need to give them a reason to stop and take a second look. The same is true with networking. If you’re dressed like everyone else, say the same stuff as everyone else, and generally do your best to be normal, then people are going to ignore you. It’s better to be different, to take some part of yourself to the extreme. Example: Seth features his bald head. I feature my wheelchair. What stands out about you that you can leverage in a creative way?

You Can’t Build a Relationship without Permission Why do we collect business cards? You might think it’s just a way to remember someone’s contact information, but there are dozens of other ways to look that up. Really, it’s about permission. If someone gives you their business card, they are giving you permission to follow up with them. This is one of the keys to networking. Getting out there and meeting people is great, but to build a meaningful relationship, you need to follow up. If you meet someone at a fundraiser, call them the next day and schedule a lunch. Continue finding ways to interact with them until you know if it’s a fit. You can read about this principle in detail in Permission Marketing. Seth talks about the expense of interrupting people and the power of getting their permission to follow-up. Read it, if you haven’t already. It’s one of the foundations of both marketing and networking.

Sometimes, Great People Don’t Get along “A meatball sundae is the unfortunate result of mixing two good ideas.” In his book, Meatball Sundae, Seth talks about the way companies try to apply new technologies like blogs, social networks, and search engine marketing to old business models and strategies, usually resulting in a ridiculous combination. This one is kind of a stretch, but the idea also applies to networking. You can have your heart set on meeting legendary person, finally get a chance to connect with them, and they’ll absolutely rub you the wrong way. Realize that it’s part of life, and sometimes, not all great people get along. Stop trying to force the combination and move on to building more harmonious relationships.

If You Want Fame, Get Others to Talk about You Last but not least, we have Unleashing the Idea Virus. In this free e-book, Seth talks about creating ideas that other people have to talk about, transforming them into “viruses” that spread from the network of one individual to another, sometimes reaching millions of people. It’s the Holy Grail of marketing, and networking too. The key to connecting with powerful people or expanding your network isn’t frantically introducing yourself to everyone you come across. It’s getting others to introduce you. Not only will the introduction make it easier for you to connect with them, but it also gives you access to people you never even knew existed. With that in mind, would you do me a favor? On Moneymaking is already growing faster than I could have hoped for, but I’m guessing there are people you know that you haven’t told about it yet. Would you mind sending them an e-mail for me? You might notice that I’ve put a “Email this” link at the bottom of every post. If you wouldn’t mind, the next time I write a post that strikes you as special, please email it to anyone that you think might enjoy it. I’d sure appreciate it, and I’m sure they will too.