Naïve Networking: How Wasting an Entrepreneur’s Time Can Spoil a First Impression

Posted on July 8, 2008. Filed under: -- Book Summaries, -- Entrepreneurship And YOU, Networking | Tags: , , , , , , , |


Posted by Molly Greaves, and found on http://www.actonmba.org

Naïve Networking:  How Wasting an Entrepreneur’s Time Can Spoil a First Impression 

 

The Call Entrepreneurs Dread 

“Hi, my name is Tom Matthews. Bob Smith suggested we meet. Is there any time in the 

next six weeks we could get together for lunch?” 

“Can we have lunch, just to get to know each other better?”  

You have no idea how much busy entrepreneurs hate to hear these words.  Despite 

knowing that the meeting almost certainly is a waste of time, common courtesy to the 

caller and “Bob Smith” means the entrepreneur has little choice but to squeeze something 

else into his eighty hour work week, meaning that work, family or charitable duties must 

suffer. 

Finally, it’s the day of the meeting. Thankfully, the entrepreneur’s assistant has managed 

to convert the lunch to a short meeting. 

“Nice to meet you.” 

“Nice to meet you.” 

“So how do you know Bob?” 

“We met a few weeks ago, and your name came up.” 

Another ten minutes are wasted on empty pleasantries, like the weather and the latest 

sports scores.  Finally the moment comes. 

“So what can I do to help?” 

“Well, I’m not sure.  I’m just trying to network with as many people as possible.  I’m 

thinking about changing careers.” (Heavy sigh from the entrepreneur.) 

“So what kind of job would interest you?” 

“Well, I’m not sure.  Something that’s really exciting and pays well. I’m really open to 

anything.” (Another heavy sigh.) 

 2 

Then, if you are really unlucky, the guest begins to recount, in agonizing detail, his life 

story.  This takes another fifteen minutes. Time moves slowly. Very slowly. Finally, the 

meeting is over.  Another half hour wasted.   

What’s wrong with this picture? 

So what went wrong?  Is the entrepreneur unsociable? Selfish?  No, not at all. Even the 

most charitable person wants to know – what’s in it for me?  Even if “what’s in it for me” 

is the joy of helping someone else. 

Basically, as an entrepreneur with a family and obligations to my community and church, 

every minute of every day is already taken.  That means there’s an opportunity cost for 

every new task accepted.  If you waste my time because you haven’t thought about your 

own goals, you are telling me that, at best, you are naïve; at worst, self absorbed.  Not 

exactly the best first impression. 

It is a waste of time to use personal interviews to learn about an industry or decide what 

you should do with your life.  A stranger or casual acquaintance doesn’t know you well 

enough to give you personal career advice and general career advice isn’t very valuable.  

If you want to learn more about an industry, it’s more efficient and effective to read about 

the industry first and then interview front line workers—not bother a CEO with general 

questions. 

Save interviews and interactions with busy entrepreneurs until you know exactly what 

you need.  Someone who can help you naturally becomes your mentor, so make it as easy 

as possible for them to help by having a specific request. 

But, But, But…… 

“But don’t entrepreneurs want to make new friends?”  Sure, but at their own choosing, 

not as a social obligation because it’s rude to refuse to see you.  Sometimes random 

meetings do lead to long lasting friendships, but the odds are against it. 

“But I just need someone to listen to me.” Sorry, that’s not an entrepreneur’s 

responsibility.  That’s the job of a spouse, friend or counselor. 

“But I need to learn more about your industry.”  Fine. Read a book. I’ll even send you a 

list of books by e-mail. Surf the internet. Talk to salespeople and operators.  I can’t tell 

you enough about my industry in thirty minutes to do you much good.  You need to do 

hours and hours of reading to even scratch the surface. 

“But I’d like to meet influential people.” So would I.  That doesn’t mean they want to 

meet me. 

“But I’m really talented and wonderful.”  I’m sure you are. Now do something to prove 

it.  Like doing your homework before you burden busy people with meaningless 

interviews.  

 

 It’s Not about You 

“Can you introduce me to Michael Dell? I’d like to ask him some questions about the 

computer industry.” 

Amazingly enough, just last year an incoming student made this request.  He never 

stopped to ask whether Michael Dell would have any interest in meeting him. Or what 

Michael would have to push aside to make time for such a meeting.  He never stopped to 

consider how much personal capital it would take me to set up such a meeting or what the 

cost would be to me if he wasted Michael’s time. 

The first rule of “networking”—by the way, I hate that word – is that you must put 

yourself in the shoes of the other person.  Why would they want to meet you?  How can 

they help with the least possible expenditure of time or effort?  How can you make such 

an encounter enjoyable for the other person? 

If you cannot recast your idea of networking: “Here’s what I need;” into one of humble 

service:  “I’ve got something to give to the world, and with just a little help from you I 

can make my dream a reality;” you shouldn’t expect to get far.  Bottom line: You cannot 

expect the world to revolve around you and what you need. 

Some Suggestions 

The suggestions below will help you get the most out of personal interviews: 

1. Do your personal soul searching and industry homework first

Take a personal inventory.  Take aptitude tests.  Ask those who know you well what 

you do better than most.  Do whatever it takes to narrow your search to a few 

industries.  Read about these industries and the leading companies and people. 

Personal interviews with teachers, entrepreneurs and executives should not be used to 

narrow your search or learn about jobs or industries.  A stranger or casual acquaintance 

doesn’t know you well enough to map out your career. This is a very inefficient use of 

a busy person’s time. 

2. Be specific about what you need. Make sure the other person understands how a 

little effort on their part can make a big difference in your life. 

READ THE REST of the PDF here!  

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Get SEEN in Austin—SOLAR ENERGY ENTREPRENEUR NETWORK

Posted on July 7, 2008. Filed under: -- Austin Related, -- Energy/Being GREEN, -- What MOLLY's Up To | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |


By Molly Greaves

I recently found this group and now I’m happily going to attend as many events as possible in the future.  It’s a great resources for local Austinites, and I even met some folks from down in San Antonio.  Nice.

Austin
Solar
Energy
Entrepreneurs
Network

Meet and discuss opportunities for starting and growing business in Central Texas in the Solar Energy Industry.

 

Vision: To establish Central Texas as a leading center of Solar Innovation

Purpose: Provide networking opportunities for professionals to generate and attract Solar Energy businesses to Central Texas.

Who should attend?

  • Entrepreneurs who are starting, or looking to start a solar-based business
  • Investors looking to invest in the fast growing solar industry
  • Technologists looking to share ideas for new products or services
  • Employers in the solar field looking to hire people
  • People looking to join solar startups
  • Attorneys, Bankers and service providers interested in growing with the solar industry

 

Solar energy, including photovoltaics, solar thermal, or concentrated solar power, is growing at a
rate of over 30% per year and is forecast to be a $70B+ industry by 2012. Central Texas is well
positioned to become one of the nation’s leading centers of innovation for this exciting and
important technology. With resources like Austin Energy, the Clean Energy Incubator, the
University of Texas, and a strong base of venture capital and entrepreneurial talent, Austin can,
and should, compete with other areas in establishing or attracting solar energy startups. It takes
individuals and investors like you with a passion for renewable energy and a willingness to get
involved in starting and growing new companies to make it happen. We welcome you to join us,
network to find people with similar goals, or just be SEEN with solar entrepreneurs.
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Reaching Out To Your Alumni Can Be Fun and Strategic—Even If You Are 50 Years Younger Than They Are!

Posted on July 6, 2008. Filed under: -- Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |


 I’m extremely proud of the education I received from Duquesne University, and really appreciate the Leadership & Change Management degree I earned from their business school. So much in fact, that I recently started reaching out to fellow Duquesne business school grads to network with them, to let them know I’m here to help them if I ever can, and also to learn about  how they’ve put their education to use. It’s amazing what people have done.

As I had thought, this has been a great group of people to network with because right out of the gate, I knew that we had a common set of values we shared and could talk about. Important values Duquesne instills in it’s graduates including integrity, ethics, and leadership; characteristics I look for with those that I like to surround myself with. Plus, if they graduated from the business school, it’s also likely they probably enjoy chatting about business too.

I have had great encounters via email with many caring Duquesne grads. I even recently met with someone face-face  from Duquesne’s Leadership and Advancement Department when she was down in Austin last month. We had a great time…and got to hang out for almost 6 hours! It was really nice to show someone from Pittsburgh around Austin. I’m also now planning to attend a holiday cocktail party in November with a bunch of alum that are flying into Austin to catch up on the lake. Recently, someone that graduated more than 50 years before I did said he would talk about his business experience on a podcast I’m going to launch soon. What a great conversation we had, and I cant wait to talk with him again to learn more. He was a very funny man, and I’m so happy to have Duquesne in common with him.

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Congratulations Austin Business Journal’s Best Places To Work 2008!!

Posted on June 26, 2008. Filed under: -- On MY Calendar, -- What MOLLY's Up To | Tags: , , , , |


 by Molly Malone

There were over 700 people in attendance for Austin Business Journal’s Best Places to Work 2008 banquet today at the Hilton, and I was one of them.  I was probably one of a handful of people that went just for the heck of it, since I’m currently self-employed.  It was worth every dime to see and hear the great ways that local Austin companies appreciate their employees. The crowd was charged and rallying for each other, and they were full of so much energy.  I, along with the people at my banquet table, felt like we were at a pep-rally!

The crowd really went nuts when the various company perk offerings were announced. For example, all 51 employees at Profit Fuel enjoy free lunch, EVERYDAY at work!  I thought it was really cool that the Heart Hospital of Austin allows monthly birthday lunches with the CEO, and that those lucky folks at Texas Medical Liability Trust leave work every Friday at 1pm! Or how about those lucky folks at DPR Construction who enjoy Friday afternoon happy hours at their in-house saloon? Awesome. 

Anyhow, here is how Austin stacked up this year. I’ve typed them in alphabetical order for you below.

Accountability Resources

Adlucent

agileTCP

Alamo Title Company

Alterpoint, Inc.

Armbrust and Brown LLP

Austin Regional Clinic

Bazaarvoice, Inc

Brigham Exploration Company

BuildASign.com

Capital Certified Development Corp

Commercial Texas

Community Impact Newspaper

CompassLearning

DMX Inc.

DPR Construction Inc

Dresser Wayne

Express Information Systems

Giordani, Schurig, Beckett and Tackett, LLP

Goodwill Industries of Austin

Hilton Hotels

Hoovers Inc

IE Discovery

Inquisite

JOSCO Products

LandAmerica Austin Title

LifeSize Communications

Maxwell Locke and Ritter LLP

McQueary Henry Bowles Troy LLP

NetWos

Optaros

Padgett, Stratemann, & Co. LLP

ProfitFuel Inc

Richard P. Slaughter Associates

Rogers-O’Brien Construction Company

Sente Mortgage

Silicon Laboratories

SpawGlass Contractors

SpeakTECH

Springbox

St. David’s Health Care

State Farm Insurance

Sweet Leaf Tea

Texas Medical Liability Trust

The Steam Team

Transwestern

Vintage IT Services

Watkins Insurance Group

Wells Fargo Bank

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