#028: How Writer John Corcoran Networked His Way Into the Clinton White House

Why do so many writers avoid networking as a marketing strategy?

Some will tell you that they just can’t find the time. Others claim that there are no good networking opportunities where they live. And many will admit that they put it off because they’re shy and introverted.

These might be true to a certain extent. But I’ve found that you can overcome any of these challenges when you follow a simple, proven framework.

Without a framework or roadmap, it’s very difficult to navigate the networking waters — especially if networking is something you’re afraid to do.

My guest this week is John Corcoran, a writer turned solo attorney who developed a simple framework for networking more effectively. His approached has worked so well that it landed him a staff writer position at the Clinton White House and a speechwriting gig in the California Governor’s office during the Davis Administration.

He attributes these achievements to his methodical yet authentic approach to networking. And in this episode, he details this approach and how you can use it to network with greater confidence.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or on Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

What does networking mean to you?

Networking is about more than just meeting people. It’s about staying top of mind. If you don’t keep in touch, you fall off people’s radar. And when an opportunity comes up, people won’t think to contact you. Success happens when preparation meets opportunity.

What if I’m introverted or really shy?

You don’t need to be a great conversationalist to be a good net-worker. In fact, being an excellent conversationalist can get in the way. Networking is about nurturing relationships over time, so you need to be genuinely interested in other people and ask questions.

Most people enjoy talking about themselves and the things they’re interested in. So by simply being curious you can overcome shyness.

Ask more follow up questions. Find out about that person, and retain some of that information. Later, you may meet someone with similar interests, and you can connect the two of them—which is another way of being helpful.

You have an actual system you’ve developed for networking. Tell us more about that.

John developed his system over many years. Most people understand the value of networking but don’t have a system for doing it. They end up using a scatter-shot approach.

John’s system is comprised of seven steps:

• Step 1: Adopt the right mindset

• Step 2: Create “target lists”

• Step 3: Create a 12-month networking schedule

• Step 4: Master face-to-face networking

• Step 5: Create an easy follow-up system

• Step 6: Network using social media

• Step 7: Measure results and adapt

Step 1: Adopt the right mindset

Instead of asking, “What can others do for me?” ask, “What can I do for others?” Many people start thinking immediately, “Is this person useful to me?” and “What can I get out of them,” when they meet someone.

You won’t know if that person’s going to be helpful to you for maybe weeks or months. So instead, figure out how you can be helpful to them. Then follow up. People will appreciate you; and then they’ll find ways to be helpful to you.

It’s not wrong to try and meet as many people as possible at networking events. You want to make the most of your time. But you have to be genuine about it. When you’re talking to someone, don’t let your eyes wander around the room, searching for the next person.

Step 2: Create your “target lists”

Develop three target lists:

1. Conversation list – people you want to have a conversation with

2. Organization list – organizations you want connect with

3. Event list – events you want to go to.

Use your lists to assess if you’re doing the right things to connect with these people, organizations and events. Often, it’s better to go deep with a handful of events/groups instead of spreading yourself too thin.

Step 3: Create a 12-month networking schedule

Once you’ve completed your lists, put important networking opportunities into your daily calendar. Check with organizations to see what events are coming up. Create a regular schedule of networking to prevent yourself from missing good ones.

Step 4: Master face-to-face event networking

Social media is still no substitute for face-to-face networking. Pick the right events and go. If you’re getting frustrated with networking, it may be because you’re going to the wrong type of event.

If your goal is to land clients, go to events where potential clients also go. Don’t limit yourself to events where only your peers go.

Step 5: Create an easy follow-up system

Most people don’t get in back in touch with people until they need something, which makes people feel used.

Following up is the low hanging fruit of networking, because so many people don’t do it. There are many affordable online systems that can help you keep in touch with your contacts, such as Contractually, Salesforce, and Yesware.

When you fail to nurture these relationships, you doom yourself to the marketing hamster wheel.

Step 6: Network using social media – in 15 minutes per day

When using social media, make the most of your time and really engage. Comment, “like” and give feedback. Don’t just look. It’s too easy to get caught up in the tools and forget about the fundamental point of interacting in an authentic way.

Social media is a great way to nurture relationships you first established in person.

Step 7: Measure results and adapt

See what’s working, what’s not and make changes over time. Start by tracking everything that comes in. Do this as simply as possible, using a spreadsheet or pad of paper. Track where every new piece of business comes from. Over time, patterns will emerge, and you’ll be able to see which organizations and events are most valuable to you.

Tell us about your e-book:

John’s e-book is How to Create your Personal Networking Plan. He’s made it available FREE to listeners of this broadcast at http://smartbusinessrevolution.com/ed/

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Till next time,