Tag Archive | "networking"

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It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows You: Breaking Into Someone’s Top 100 List


This post was originally published on LinkedIn, April 21, 2014.

How many times have you heard someone say, “It’s all who you know” within the context of getting ahead in your career? Probably a lot.

Interestingly, just the opposite is true. It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.

Thought experiment: Consider the social networks of celebrities, national politicians, or CEOs. Obviously there’s a small number of people who they “know,” meaning that they know them by name and remember something about them and wouldn’t mind a conversation with them. However, most their power in society is derived from the fact that a preponderance of strangers know them. That’s why they can get tickets to a sold-out show, or a million Instagram followers, or a private audience with the President to discuss their new charitable initiative.

Now consider the people you “know” (or think you know). Common scenario: You got someone’s business card at an event nine months ago and sent them a follow-up email about how nice it was to have met them. Now, there’s something you want from them – an introduction related to an advertised job, their attendance at an event you’re planning, a donation to your spouse’s charity. If you didn’t make a memorable impression when you met them or subsequently, the fact that you “know them” means nearly nothing. What matters is if they “know you” – in other words, that they remember you and think something positive about you that motivates them to respond to a call-to-action.

Confession: I meet lots of people who don’t make a memorable impression on me. It’s not atypical for me tobecome a victim of the cocktail party scenario where they approach me a year later with a huge “Hi!!” and I look at them with a blank stare. Often, the story is like the above – they met me after a talk I gave at a conference two years ago and we connected on LinkedIn and they read my writing but we haven’t had a conversation nor have I heard anything about them since. It sounds harsh, but I can only keep track of so many people; They know me, but I don’t know them.

Because people can only keep track of the activities of about one hundred people who are currently important to them, business networking is actually far more ruthless than you’ve probably been led to believe. If you can’t break into your target’s “Top 100 List” within a reasonably short amount of time, they have no bandwidth to “know you” and thus can’t really be of any use to you. You may as well have not met them in the first place.

Why do some (non-celebrity) people tend to break into lots of personal Top 100 Lists and others don’t? I previously wrote that your brand is the sentence people say about you behind your back. Simply put, some people’s sentences are more memorable and meaningful than others. Contrast, for example, “Bob’s in marketing, I think he works for a big company in New York” and “John’s one of the most creative marketing execs to come out of New York in the last decade.” If there’s truth in the latter statement, it follows that over time John is more likely to “be known” by many more people than poor ambiguous Bob.

Knowing people doesn’t scale, but being known to people scales infinitely. Therefore, a good strategy for meaningfully expanding your professional network should include activities that grow the number of people who know you (There are also network effects at play here: the more people who know you, the more conversations there are about you, and the more people hear about you, the more people know you, ad infinitum). Such activities might include public speaking, guest writing for popular blogs in your specialty area, or appearing in a television interview. Or it might be an invention that you launch on Kickstarter to much acclaim, or something else physical that you create which garners attention. You should also give careful consideration to the “narrative on the street” about you: What is that key detail that sets you apart from so many others?

It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.

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You Worry About Powerful Registered Lobbyists; I’ll Worry About Powerful Unregistered Non-Lobbyists


Today the Washington Post ran a story about how the Obama administration will bar registered lobbyists from sitting on the nearly 1,000 advisory panels to the Federal government. These are panels of subject matter experts with named like the Defense Science Board who conduct studies that the government doesn’t have time to perform, and provide subject-matter expertise the government doesn’t necessarily have.

These new rules about lobbyists sitting on Federal advisory panels will be ineffective at “curbing negative influence” on the government for at least two reasons.

One, lobbying firms will find simple ways around the new rules. They will change people’s job descriptions, alter the number of hours they spend lobbying on behalf of clients, and other maneuveurs to make employees eligible for advisory panels under the new rules, in cases where it is important. Tom Daschle is the ultimate example of effectively lobbying without being an actual registered lobbyist. New people will also be hired as non-lobbyists to sit on these boards in situations where it makes sense to have a presence on them.

Two, unregistered non-lobbyists can be just as influential, devious, and self-interested as registered lobbyists. There are many people who have all kinds of special interests that do and will sit on these boards, and they will use the information they glean from them in ways that may help the country, but may also help them. And a great many of these people work in the private sector. Is there anything wrong with that? Not necessarily, it’s just that it’s not much different than what lobbyists do. And more dangerously, an unregistered non-lobbyist is much closer to a wolf in sheep’s clothing – you don’t see them coming until it’s too late.

My biggest problem with stories like these is that they report the ‘action’ (ban lobbyists) but spend little if any time talking about the ‘reaction’ (skirting the rules to get what you want anyway). But the reaction is at least as important, if not more so. Stories like the one in the Post make me think of a terrorist who defeats a billion dollar spy satellite with a baseball cap.

In government, in business, in life, when the action is high-effort and the reaction is low-effort, it’s a loser.

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Animal Behavior: How Microsharing is Like the Honeybee Waggle Dance


Some of my readers may know that my background is in scientific research, and more specifically on the neurogenetics of animal behavior. One of the projects I was fortunate to be involved with was the International Honeybee Genome Project, within which I analyzed a family of proteins that likely underlies some of the social instincts that species exhibits. One behavior that honeybees perform is the “waggle dance,” in which a forgaging bee leaves the hive in search of a food resource, finds it, and then returns to the hive to report the good news via dancing. The speed of the dance is inversely related to the distance to the food, and the angle at which the dance is performed is directly related to the placement of the food in relation to the sun’s place in the sky (amazing, right?). Honeybees have been doing this for a long time, long before humans invented these “new” social media tools. Twitter and similar microsharing services like Identi.ca perform the same basic function. Twitter caught fire at the SXSW conference, where people would report that a certain afterparty was awesome, or too crowded, and attract or repel others to/from the location with the “resources” (free booze). Is this really so different from a waggle dance?

I had an interesting discussion about digital communication today at the international marketing and communications firm Fleishman-Hillard (thanks Rachelle Lacroix!) today, and one thing we discussed was why so many people seemingly still know very little about social media, generally speaking. Related to that, I’m fascinated by people’s fascination with the fact that I’m a scientist who’s gotten interested in social media and Government 2.0 – to me it just makes sense. It’s just one big animal behavior problem.

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My Quick Take on the Twitter-LinkedIn Deal


Anyone who talks to me a lot about Twitter knows that I often mention LinkedIn during those conversations. Why? It’s a storehouse of Rolodex information from high-income, business-oriented Internet users who know enough to be there but often have some trepidation about “social media” at the bleeding edge like Twitter and Facebook. And those are precisely the kind of users that Twitter needs to attract in order to grow and stave off competition.

Well, tonight Twitter and LinkedIn will announce a deal, according to ReadWriteWeb. It will allow people from LinkedIn to post to Twitter and vice versa, basically. I don’t know what exactly LinkedIn gets out of it – perhaps it’s just a maneuver to seem more hip and stay relevant. But from Twitter’s point of view, this seems like an obvious move to me. They effectively get tens of millions of novel users in a strategically important demographic.

If Twitter’s goal is to become communications infrastructure, and their strategy is to build a huge, dependent user base, then a deal with LinkedIn appears to be a prudent tactic.

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Social Networking: the Two Dirtiest Words in Government 2.0


Next week I’ll be speaking at a Sweets and Treats event called Social Networking: The Two Dirtiest Words in Government 2.0, which has been organized by Debbie Weil and is sponsored by Neighborhood America.

Sweets and Tweets features leading voices from DC’s diverse technology community talking about the use of social media by the public and private sector, from the White House and federal agencies to local startups. Previous events featured Mark Walsh on crowdsourcing and Andrew Wilson, who runs Flu.gov.

Neighborhood America is a terrific enterprise software company that has been doing cool things in the Gov 2.0 space before it was Gov 2.0, and Neighborhood America’s CIO Jim Haughwout will fly up from Florida to attend the event and mingle.

This is a private, after-hours event at the very cool Baked & Wired store in Georgetown. Attendees get free cupcakes, lots of time to mingle, and hopefully some food for thought about how social networking – those two dirty words – fits into the workplace, both within the government and beyond it.

Sweets and Tweets is Tuesday, November 17, 2009 from 7:00 – 8:15 PM, and you can get your tickets here: http://sweetsandtweets3.eventbrite.com/ (If you read about it here, use special discount code “sweeter3″ when you register!)

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Seed-Funded Psychometric Web Identity Startup Looking for Chief Scientist


So my buddy Tim Koelkebeck of Apps for Democracy fame has a new startup called MyType that’s looking for a chief scientist. And the company sounds like they might be on to something important (I have a Ph.D. in animal behavior, so I know this stuff, okay?? :)   How can I deny Tim access to my social network of govies, techies, and influencers? Hope that some of you or your colleagues find this job posting useful!

About MyType

MyType intends to develop a psychological identity platform that will allow web users to incorporate a psychometric model of their personality into their online identities. This will enable websites to perform “likemind collaborative filtering”, e.g. Amazon could recommend books, the New York Times could personalize headlines, ad networks could target ads, and Google could alter search results based on personality.

Our alpha Facebook application’s ~50,000 monthly active users have answered tens of millions of psychometric questions, linked their Twitter accounts, and generally been willing to volunteer any information that we can analyze and provide minimal feedback on.  We’re releasing a more viral beta application around Thanksgiving.

Role of the Chief Scientist

We’re looking for a top-notch data mining/machine learning scientist to predict user preferences via psychometric models and develop a general identity model that combines the best of various psychometric measures.  You must be proficient in the LAMP stack as you will be doing some app development in addition to analysis.

Practical Considerations

We’re offering a startup salary and equity.  Location not important for now, but must be willing to move to SF if we raise another round.

Contact

If interested contact tim@mytype.com please!

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What’s Your Bumper Sticker?


Recently in a basement parking garage underneath a hotel, my friend and I came across a vintage light blue Jaguar. Beyond the style and grace indicating an older gentleman owner, what was really interesting about this car were the books on display in the rear window – being shown as if it were a display case, and the car a used bookstore.

The books were clearly intellectual – one was published by the CATO Institute, another was written by Ayn Rand. There were six in total. A curious thing, having books deliberately stood up, clearly on display for an audience in the back of a car. My friend asked me why he might have them there.

I said, they’re his bumper sticker.

Everybody has a bumper sticker. It’s the thing you want to publicly display that tells people something about who you are. Don’t say you don’t – your bumper sticker is the funny saying on your t-shirt, the conference sticker on your laptop, the witty quotation on your website, the avatar on your Twitter account, even the color of the rubber skin protecting your Blackberry or iPhone. These are all signals to other people.

The man with the blue Jaguar displaying the books might seem silly, but he probably strikes up one conversation a week with a valet driver getting his Master’s degree, or the beautiful woman in the Whole Foods parking lot, or the professor attending the same book reading or wine tasting he is. Those conversations might lead to further networking, event invitations, and intellectual dates. This man more than likely uses his interests, skills, and creative nature to use his bumper sticker as a networking tool.

So many people are intimidated by using Twitter to meet new people, or going to a cocktail party or business networking event where they don’t know anybody. But there are even more creative ways to display who you are, and get people to approach you.

What’s your bumper sticker?

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