This blog post is actually a few days late — I wanted to post this on Monday — but I had to play major catch-up early this week and I had a long day of networking yesterday, so the post got relegated to the back-back burner. But now that I’ve got caught up on a few things, I finally have time to settle in and focus on this recap of my past week, and the information overload I experienced.
So, last Monday (not this past Monday, but the one before that), I received my weekly email of upcoming Chamber events, and a flyer for a week full of business workshops and networking caught my eye — mostly because it was free. In fact, I had to double check and make sure that it was free, because there was a lot going on. Many speakers were set to give presentations on a variety of topics, from strategies for digital marketing to jump-starting your networking skills, and at the end of the week, there was going to be a small Shark Tank-inspired pitch event. Best yet, the event took place just six miles from where I live. Suffice it to say, I was intrigued.
Then I noticed the event started that day. There was no way I would be able to make the workshops on Monday (luckily, they weren’t the ones that I was most interested in, so I didn’t feel bad that I had to miss them), but I quickly jumped to the website and signed up for the ones I was most interested in for the remainder of the week. Here’s a quick breakdown of what transpired.
I spent all day at the event. The first workshop was on digital marketing strategies. The speaker, Joe Von Gerichten, went over a variety of different ways to best expand your marketing efforts online, including building an effective email list and how to engage customers and slowly build a relationship with them so that they are interested in what you have to offer. Following this was Maggie Avants, a journalist who spoke about how to use the press to get your message out — and why you shouldn’t be afraid to be a source for stories, because even then, you are advertising yourself and your business.
There was a pretty big break here, but I utilized the time as effectively as I could. The location where the event took place is called Coworking Connection, which is a community of business owners and entrepreneurs who are able to rent desk space and meeting rooms so that they might have a secondary office away from their home office. I spoke to a few people who are members of Coworking Connection, including workshop speakers Joe Von Gerichten and Patrick Antrim. (Over the course of the week, I grew more and more fond of the positive environment and felt it would be a good place to get away from the distractions of home, so I ended up becoming a member. We’ll see how it works out).
Finally, I attended a workshop run by Kimberly Davidson, who works for the city of Murrieta. She spoke about how to start a business in Murrieta and then took questions about what was happening in the city and what we can expect in the future. It was fun and pretty informative, and though it ended at around 3:30, I remained for over two and half hours, talking to some other Coworking Connection members as well as a couple of the the other attendees. A totally worthwhile experience.
The morning started with a terrific workshop by Mike Stromsoe, who spoke about how to create a winning mindset for success. Most of what Mike spoke of were ideas and concepts that I already had grasp of already, and things that I already try to put forward in my own personal and business relationships, however, he was able to put it into a better perspective and really quantify it in a way that I was never able to fully grasp.
After this, I sat down with Joe Von Gerichten to discuss the possibility of ghost writing a book he’s preparing to write. It was a powerful little meeting, and though I can’t disclose any details here, we talked for about two hours, not only about his book and where he was in the process, but we got to know each other a lot better, and in the process, Joe somehow talked me into participating in the Shark Tank event by pitching my new film to the panel of investors. I wasn’t going to do it because when I think Shark Tank, I think inventors and manufacturing type businesses, which I am neither, so I didn’t think I had anything to pitch. I guess I was wrong.
Another pretty full day of workshops, which included Wes Schaeffer’s excellent workshop on how to close a sale. He introduced concepts and ideas that I never even thought of before, and gave tips and tricks to making yourself appear more professional with personalized meeting agendas and other minor tweaks that can be made to raise your game in earning business. This was followed by a workshop by Jay Goth on how to attract investors. It was much more geared toward products and businesses, but there was still plenty of information I can transfer over into reaching out to investors for my films. After this workshop, I spoke to Jay about whether he had any connections to film investors, and he said he’d talk to a couple of people and find out.
The day wrapped with a workshop by Patrick Ellis on how to jump-start your networking skills, which ended up being one of the most important workshops that I attended, as it really focused on how to navigate networking events and how to stand out and build relationships. I didn’t stick around too long after this, but I had to get home to finalize the preparations for my Shark Tank pitch!
Today was Shark Tank day, and the morning was a chance to get some help and feedback on the pitches before they were presented to the “sharks” (which included Jay Goth, who mentioned, that he talked to someone who he could pass information for my film onto; so now he would be able to learn a bit more about it before passing the information on).
(In between this initial help and the actual event, I snuck away to chill my mind out in front of a movie screen.)
There ended up being five people who presented to the investors, but there could only be one winner… and it wasn’t me. But it was definitely a learning experience for me, and I did peak the interest of several of the investors with the story. Don’t worry, you’ll hopefully find out soon enough about the pitch and the film when the Kickstarter Campaign for the film goes live.
I spent the weekend at a couple of different pool parties, and for the most part chilling out, giving myself some time to try and process all of the information. I still need to review and go over the notes I took, and maybe go back through the videos of the workshops (which are all linked above), but from what I was able to take away from this week of workshops was worth every minute of my time spent there.
In fact, I got not one, but two opportunities to apply some of what I learned at these workshops yesterday.
The first was a speed networking event, and it was exactly how you would imagine it to be. There were about twenty people there, and we all sat down face-to-face with one other person for approximately five minutes, each of us getting two or so minutes to discuss what we did. When the final bell rang, we got up and shifted to the next seat to do it all over again. After the event was over, we then had a small lunch and a chance to network a little more with some of the people we felt we might like to get to know better.
I would say that it was definitely a less intimidating way of networking. At a lot of networking events, people have their little cliques, or there are already established groups, and it’s a little daunting to try and “join” them in conversation without feeling awkward about it. Here, it was very structured and it was meant to give us a chance to meet someone without feeling that initial awkwardness. The problem is, there’s no time to actually build a relationship, except after the event, at which point, a lot of people just left without so much as a howdoyoudo. But it was fun. I met a couple of people that I chatted with that I felt could become good business relationships.
A couple of hours later, I joined wedding and event planner, Selina Rose, at a networking event on a cruise ship in San Diego. The event was absolutely huge (a couple hundred people at least), but totally worth the small cost of admission. There was some great food (though I hardly ate, because of how picky I am!), some free gambling (Selina and I played a little blackjack — and in fifteen minutes, Selina hit four blackjacks!), some entertainment and a quick tour of San Diego Harbor. Neither of us met a whole lot of people, but of the ones we did, the majority were solid contacts that we spent hours with at a time, and which we both could build strong relationships with in the future.
If there was one thing that I was able to take away from the workshops, it was this: as the saying goes — Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.
In networking and business, you can give away a thousand business cards to strangers and maybe find one client; but if you can build just one solid relationship, you’ll have business for a long time to come.