In a post titled Recognizing Opportunity and Taking It I told you of a networking event I went to in NY in spite of the fact that I wouldn’t know anyone including the organizer. So why did I go? Read the post, but the short answer is because success doesn’t come from talking about an event I could have gone to, it comes from taking action, being proactive, and going to the event.
There is a back story to this that was unnecessary in the original post but has special relevance now.
Before going to the event I naturally checked out Andrew Warner, the founder of mixergy.com who organized the event. On the website he had an interview that was free to watch at the time, with a social media marketing expert, Mari Smith. In the interview Mari mentions that to be successful you have to interact with people who are already successful and get them to interact with you. But how, Andrew asked.
The key, said Mari, was to ask for help in a mutually beneficial way. But first you have to cultivate that relationship, get on the radar of the person you’re looking to interact with. The more you learn about them, the more you can figure out what to offer them. Everyone has needs.
This had a profound effect on me and it was something that stuck with me as I headed out to the mixer. But what did I have to offer?
At the end of the night, after a lot of great conversations, I got the chance to talk to Andrew and I offered to give him a copy of my book. He took it but there was no guarantee he would read it or give it a second look. He asked me what I did for a living, why I wrote the book.
It was a passing comment that caught his attention. “My day job is at ABC News’” I said, “but my success has come from many different places.” I didn’t know it but I had just offered him something that he needed.
“Where can I find people,” he asked me, “that can write, use a camera, and do some editing?”
I know why he asked but the people I know are correspondents and anchors of national broadcasts, not what he was looking for. I told him that I could find the answer very easily and email him within a day or so.
We agreed and I sent him the email. I then followed him on twitter, which he reciprocated, but never knew if the information I gave him was of any use.
Until yesterday when I got this tweet:
What does this mean for me? Who knows and who really cares? If I only did this to get something in return then I did it for the wrong reason. Doing something of value for someone is a reward of its own. If he doesn’t like my book, he’s not going to praise it just because I did him a favor. He will remember me, however, and maybe need something again which I’ll be happy to help him with. Maybe one day I’ll find something that I need from him, something he can help me with.
The advice I got from his website and the luck of being in the city he was holding this event would have been worth nothing if I hadn’t recognized the opportunity and taken action.
What opportunities are out there for you and will you take them?