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The best networking tip I’ve ever gotten in my life

The best networking tip ever came from the most boring networking event in history, and changed how I received referrals forever.




Chinese throwing stars, knives, singing, and networking

I went to a networking event 10 years ago and was bored out of my mind. There were speakers that droned on about industry stuff and overdressed professionals with stacks of business cards in their hands like Chinese throwing stars I knew were about to be thrown at my face, whether I liked it or not.

These professional networking ninjas were intimidating to this fresh-faced college graduate, I mean, they had on pantyhose and blazers in the Texas heat – these people weren’t playing around. After the speakers finally ceased, we said like the Pledge of Allegiance, sung happy birthday to someone, and did the drawing for a set of knives (notice a theme?), it was time to network.

You’d think a bloody turkey leg had just been thrown into an overcrowded pond of piranhas – the frenzy was on. Shallow platitudes were passed, “hello, my name is Debbie and I am an insurance agent. Here are 14 copies of my card, please send my information along to your friends and family and I’m never to busy for referrals, and now I have to go give 20 copies to that prospect over there who looks like they might send me more business than you, byeeee!”

It wasn’t my cup of tea, but I was in grown up land, so I had to act like it, even if I refused to wear pantyhose.

Back when I sucked at networking

I met a “professional networker,” whatever that means. He gave a brief introduction of himself and offered me a card. I dug through my purse to find my card as I told him that (remember, this was a former life) I was in multi-family property management. Then, he asked me what kind of referrals I prefer.

“People looking for an apartment?”

He asked me to be more specific. “People looking for an apartment that aren’t criminals and can afford more than $X per month?”

I was being coached. I could tell. He said, “I will keep that in mind in case I come across someone like that. I make most of my money from public speaking, so if your company is ever looking for someone to keynote at their corporate meetings or you hear of an opportunity in the multi-family industry, that is my favorite type of referral.”

Then, he said, “if you can think of a specific type of prospect you’d like referred to you, you have my email.”

Well, thoughts of Fair Housing laws swirled through my mind. I can’t say “yeah, please send me native Texans who love Jesus and have a fat bank account and skinny butt.” That’s not right.

And here is the best networking tip ever

But it got me to thinking. I could say that many of our residents tend to be people relocating to Austin, often involved in technologies like semiconducting, so if he hears of anyone about to move to town, that’s a slam dunk for me, or if he has any great HR connections at semiconductors, I’d like to connect with them so I can make a deal with their relos.

The best networking tip I’ve ever gotten in my life was indirect, but it was that I needed to be specific about what type of referrals I prefer – to this day, I know that this guy wanted to keynote or speak at multi-family events, a very specific niche. It was a concise description that planted a specific memory in my mind – had he said, “I’m a public speaker,” I would have filed that under “okay, who cares?”

When networking, do more than stalk people like a ninja with a stack of cards – nail your pitch and more specifically, be able to tell people exactly what kind of referrals you love.

“I’m a Realtor who loves working with first time buyers considering living on the north side” is much more actionable than “I’m a Realtor.” “I am a dog groomer and specialize in long hair dogs which are tricky” is much more actionable than “I’m a dog groomer. “I sell insurance” is easy to file under “doesn’t everyone?” but “I love connecting entrepreneurs with affordable business insurance” is much more intriguing.

Give people somewhere to mentally file your skills and there is a higher obligation level for people to refer – our brains are wired to make connections, so make the connection for them!

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  1. Me

    August 8, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Small typo in the above “and I’m never to busy for referrals” should be “too” not “to”.

  2. halffiction

    August 8, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Great advice. When I ran networking events for ad professionals, there was this guy I called “Old Orange Man” an old copywriter desperate for work. He would literally come to my events and paper everyone with his orange business cards. “Take my card!” he’d say, not even saying who he was or what he did. Often he’d hit more than one event in a night if he could. One thing I learned, it’s better to receive than to give when dealing with business cards. I follow up with people – always. Giving someone my beautiful business card? I try not to waste the paper.

  3. rolandestrada

    August 8, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Great post. As I’ve been driving my tail off lately way out of my area, I started to think I could make a great living just focusing my attention to just one or two cities near my office instead an entire county. As they say “Work smarter, not harder”.

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Business News

Big retailers are opting for refunds instead of returns

(BUSINESS NEWS) Due to increased shipping costs, big companies like Amazon and Walmart are opting to give out a refund rather than accepting small items returned.



Package delivery people holding deliveries. Refund instead of returns are common now.

The holidays are over, and now some people are ready to return an item that didn’t quite work out or wasn’t on their Christmas list. Whatever the reason, some retailers are giving customers a refund and letting them keep the product, too.

When Vancouver, Washington resident, Lorie Anderson, tried returning makeup from Target and batteries from Walmart she had purchased online, the retailers told her she could keep or donate the products. “They were inexpensive, and it wouldn’t make much financial sense to return them by mail,” said Ms. Anderson, 38. “It’s a hassle to pack up the box and drop it at the post office or UPS. This was one less thing I had to worry about.” Inc., Walmart Inc., and other companies are changing the way they handle returns this year, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The companies are using artificial intelligence (AI) to weigh the costs of processing physical returns versus just issuing a refund and having customers keep the item.

For instance, if it costs more to ship an inexpensive or larger item than it is to refund the purchase price, companies are giving customers a refund and telling them to keep the products also. Due to an increase in online shopping, it makes sense for companies to change how they manage returns.

Locus Robotics chief executive Rick Faulk told the Journal that the biggest expense when it comes to processing returns is shipping costs. “Returning to a store is significantly cheaper because the retailer can save the freight, which can run 15% to 20% of the cost,” Faulk said.

But, returning products to physical stores isn’t something a lot of people are wanting to do. According to the return processing firm Narvar, online returns increased by 70% in 2020. With people still hunkered down because of the pandemic, changing how to handle returns is a good thing for companies to consider to reduce shipping expenses.

While it might be nice to keep the makeup or batteries for free, don’t expect to return that new PS5 and get to keep it for free, too. According to WSJ, a Walmart spokesperson said the company lets someone keep a refunded item only if the company doesn’t plan on reselling it. And, besides taking the economic costs into consideration, the companies look at the customer’s purchase history as well.

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Business News

Google workers have formed company’s first labor union

(BUSINESS NEWS) A number of Google employees have agreed to commit 1% of their salary to labor union dues to support employee activism and fight workplace discrimination.



Google complex with human sized chessboard, where a labor union has been formed.

On Monday morning, Google workers announced that they have formed a union with the support of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the largest communications and media labor union in the U.S.

The new union, Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) was organized in secret for about a year and formed to support employee activism, and fight discrimination and unfairness in the workplace.

“From fighting the ‘real names’ policy, to opposing Project Maven, to protesting the egregious, multi-million dollar payouts that have been given to executives who’ve committed sexual harassment, we’ve seen first-hand that Alphabet responds when we act collectively. Our new union provides a sustainable structure to ensure that our shared values as Alphabet employees are respected even after the headlines fade,” stated Program Manager Nicki Anselmo in a press release.

AWU is the first union in the company’s history, and it is open to all employees and contractors at any Alphabet company in the United States and Canada. The cost of membership is 1% of an employee’s total compensation, and the money collected will be used to fund the union organization.

In a response to the announcement, Google’s Director of People Operations, Kara Silverstein, said, “We’ve always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace for our workforce. Of course, our employees have protected labor rights that we support. But as we’ve always done, we’ll continue engaging directly with all our employees.”

Unlike other labor unions, the AWU is considered a “Minority Union”. This means it doesn’t need formal recognition from the National Labor Relations Board. However, it also means Alphabet can’t be forced to meet the union’s demands until a majority of employees support it.

So far, the number of members in the union represents a very small portion of Google’s workforce, but it’s growing every day. When the news of the union was first announced on Monday, roughly 230 employees made up the union. Less than 24 hours later, there were 400 employees in the union, and now that number jumped to over 500 employees.

Unions among Silicon Valley’s tech giants are rare, but labor activism is slowly picking up speed, especially with more workers speaking out and organizing.

“The Alphabet Workers Union will be the structure that ensures Google workers can actively push for real changes at the company, from the kinds of contracts Google accepts to employee classification to wage and compensation issues. All issues relevant to Google as a workplace will be the purview of the union and its members,” stated the AWU in a press release.

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Business News

Ticketmaster caught red-handed hacking, hit with major fines

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ticketmaster has agreed to pay $10 million to resolve criminal charges after hacking into a competitor’s network specifically to sabotage.



Person open on hacking computer screen, typing on keyboard.

Live Nation’s Ticketmaster agreed to pay $10 million to resolve criminal charges after admitting to hacking into a competitor’s network and scheming to “choke off” the ticket seller company and “cut [victim company] off at the knees”.

Ticketmaster admitted hiring former employee, Stephen Mead, from startup rival CrowdSurge (which merged with Songkick) in 2013. In 2012, Mead signed a separation agreement to keep his previous company’s information confidential. When he joined Live Nation, Mead provided that confidential information to the former head of the Artist Services division, Zeeshan Zaidi, and other Ticketmaster employees. The hacking information shared with the company included usernames, passwords, data analytics, and other insider secrets.

“When employees walk out of one company and into another, it’s illegal for them to take proprietary information with them. Ticketmaster used stolen information to gain an advantage over its competition, and then promoted the employees who broke the law. This investigation is a perfect example of why these laws exist – to protect consumers from being cheated in what should be a fair market place,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.

In January 2014, Mead gave a Ticketmaster executive multiple sets of login information to Toolboxes, the competitor’s password-protected app that provides real-time data about tickets sold through the company. Later, at an Artists Services Summit, Mead logged into a Toolbox and demonstrated the product to Live Nation and Ticketmaster employees. Information collected from the Toolboxes were used to “benchmark” Ticketmaster’s offerings against the competitor.

“Ticketmaster employees repeatedly – and illegally – accessed a competitor’s computers without authorization using stolen passwords to unlawfully collect business intelligence,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DuCharme in a statement. “Further, Ticketmaster’s employees brazenly held a division-wide ‘summit’ at which the stolen passwords were used to access the victim company’s computers, as if that were an appropriate business tactic.”

The hacking violations were first reported in 2017 when CrowdSurge sued Live Nation for antitrust violations. A spokesperson told The Verge, “Ticketmaster terminated both Zaidi and Mead in 2017, after their conduct came to light. Their actions violated our corporate policies and were inconsistent with our values. We are pleased that this matter is now resolved.”

To resolve the case, Ticketmaster will pay a $10 million criminal penalty, create a compliance and ethics program, and report to the United States Attorney’s Office annually during a three-year term. If the agreement is breached, Ticketmaster will be charged with: “One count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, one count of computer intrusion for commercial advantage, one count of computer intrusion in furtherance of fraud, one count of wire fraud conspiracy and one count of wire fraud.”

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