BY TJ Walker
Many would-be gurus are so focused on twittering, blogging, podcasting and other technologies they can do from their bedroom, that they overlook the importance of socializing with other key influencers. This may sound silly considering I just wrote a chapter on why networking is a waste of time. But it’s not a waste of time once you have established your niche and a degree of expertise.
The reality is that most gurus and experts I know are highly social people. And people connections are often what make one person pole-vault over another. In an Internet age, people often look down on old fashion social networking, but a case can be made that when everyone gets a thousand emails a day, the personal connection is more important than ever. It goes back to the old New Yorker cartoon of a dog typing on a computer with the caption reading “on the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” Well that’s not true in the real world. If someone meets you at a cocktail party, they can tell if you are a dog or not and they can tell if they want to spend time with you and associate with you.
William f. Buckley was the guru of modern conservatism of the 2nd half of the 20th century. He was a multimedia phenomenon with best-selling books, top rated TV shows, syndicated columns, magazines and lectures. What else was he known for? Buckley and his wife went to parties every night in Manhattan. He knew everyone in the media and they knew him. Even people who disagreed with his politics loved him personally.
Andy Warhol was the guru of the modern art world. Did he stay up painting till 3 in the morning? No, he was at Studio 54 hanging out with celebrities.
Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post fame is a celebrated blogger and multimedia guru, but she’s also a world renowned party attendee and giver. She makes friends everywhere!
Betty Friedan was the guru of modern feminism—she sold millions and millions of books. But was she holed away in her library every night? No. She was famous for going to five parties a night in the Hamptons and in Manhattan.
So what’s the point of all of this? Well, people like to deal with people they know and trust. And people like to do business with people they like. So if you are working from home in Idaho and the only thing the TV producer in New York city knows about you is from pixels on a screen, it’s going to be hard to get that person to book you on a show much less hire you to appear regularly on a network.
Connections made during social situations are often the most important ones that can propel you career as a guru. I have done more than 50 national TV appearances on the Fox News Channel only because I became friends with a Bill O’Reilly producer who happened to be in y Fire Island summer share house in 1998.
I began frequent appearances on video segments on the Wall Street Journal’s website because I met the editor at a cocktail party at the Danish ambassador’s home in Manhattan.
Yes, I still market via websites, email and Internet video, but it is these personal connections at social events that often helped me gain entrée to major media outlets.
It is true that there are some celebrities like Howard Stern and David Letterman who are famously shy and don’t socialize. They don’t have to because they are already famous. But if you aren’t already famous, I recommend you maximize your chances by meeting as many interesting people in your world, face to face, as possible.
Of course the trick is you can’t seem like you are networking, you have to be genuinely interested in other people and their careers. Then, when appropriate, you can tell them what you do and sometimes, friends can work together and help each other out.