On my last day in Hong Kong, I had the honor of being the worst-dressed person at a Chamber of Commerce business networking luncheon and speech. The speech was about Hong Kong, so I didn’t learn anything applicable to my business, but I did learn a valuable lesson on how I should network.
We sat at a table with other members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. The typical conversation went like this:
Me: Hi, I’m Mike, good to meet you.
Him: Hi, I’m John. (exchange business cards)
Him: Oh, founder of your company. So what do you do?
Me: I run a network of fitness and nutrition websites that helps users find the best information and lowest prices on different nutritional products. How about you?
Him: I’m a consultant.
Me: (…awkward silence…)
Me: Ummm, doing what?
Him: I’m like a janitor. I clean up problems.
Me: (…awkward silence…)
Me: Oh, ok. Well I’m gonna go over there so that I don’t breathe any of your stale carbon dioxide.
Out of the 8 other people at our table, this was basically the jist of 7 of the conversations. By the end, I quickly recognized the futility and simply started talking about my personal travels and how much I liked Hong Kong, as
- These people didn’t give a shit about Internet Marketing and had no use for me
- I didn’t own a sweatshop somewhere in China where they could run a Kaizen event, so I had no use for them, and
- They wouldn’t know a dumbbell or high-protein meal if it smacked them in the face, so they had no use for my web platform.
This reminded me of the time I went to the “South Bay Internet Entrepreneurs” meetup.com meeting. Some guy gave an INCREDIBLE on-site architectural SEO presentation, and out of the 30 people in attendance, 2 others besides myself actually had a clue. The other 27 were wastes of space who were merely looking for easy “Make Monies Online” schemes.
After complaining about the idiocy that meeting, my friend Larry explained it best: “Because REAL entprepreneurs are busy WORKING, not going to lame meetup.com meetings”.
Lessons learned? Just like you need to focus on a niche (and divide that niche by 1000) in your small business pursuits, you need to stay within your niche when socially networking. Going to general business luncheons like this is where you find generally boring people with no specific passion who are generally clueless.
“If you like ‘all’ music, you like NO music”
– Chuck Klosterman
So I need to start networking better within the fitness/health/nutrition industry. I need to meet personal trainers, dieticians, health counselors, etc.
The reason I haven’t been confident enough to do this yet is because PricePlow is what I consider an absolute wasteland of a website*. It’s on my roadmap to fix it all up in a monstrous project, and even though it’s not there yet, now is the time to plant the seeds in my niche so that I have a better social network ready to go when it’s time to rock.
However, I will attend the Affiliate Summit West. These guys might not all be in the health niche, but they do similar things as I do and use similar tools. I don’t care for 99% of ad networks that will be at this convention… but the party will be awesome and I’m going to learn some new tactics.
Besides that, it’s time to stick with my niche and away from these “consultants”, who I still can’t figure out what in the hell they do anyway.
* It’s never easy for a parent to admit the truth in that that their child is stupid, ugly, and fat… but this is the case so let’s not beat around the bush.