Find Your Valley, Alley, or Prairie

“Fish where the fish are” is an axiom common to marketers, salespeople, and business professionals everywhere. It means that in order to find the leads you need, you’d got to search where they’re most likely to be found – you hunt for deer in the forest, not in the desert. The same principle can be applied to networking.

When it comes to technology hotbeds, Silicon Valley is an area known the world over. What’s interesting is that although it may be the largest region of its kind, it’s not the only region by far. Portland has the Silicon Forest, New York the Silicon Alley, and the Midwest the Silicon Prairie, all with their own subtleties and cultural qualities (one site lists over 79 such Siliconia). Within each of these areas there are hot spots in town favored by technology types – if you’re seeking out someone in that field, find those places.

While serendipity plays a large factor in networking, your odds will only improve if you can be serendipitous in the right places. It might be an office building, a coffee shop, or an area bar. Wherever the venue, you should identify these locations in your city. Start spending time there each week and you may find that the networking comes to you.

Where are your town’s technology hot spots? Do you find it’s easier to meet people there than at networking events?

Turn to Silicon Prairie News for all things startups in Des Moines, Omaha, and Kansas City, plus see a hyperlocal profile of Des Moines’ Silicon Sixth Avenue in a Des Moines Sunday Register feature.

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How to Become the Go-To Expert for Your Niche

As an entrepreneur or business professional, there aren’t many situations where people don’t want to be an expert. If you’re starting a company, you want to be seen as the expert in your niche; the person that customers will turn to. If you’re working for a business and have a specific skill set, you want to be seen as the expert in the eyes of your employer – it may lead to promotions or more responsibilities. But while the motivation for being an expert is clearly apparent, the how of becoming an expert is not.

In a recent article for Small Business Trends, author Lisa Barone shares five tips for establishing your expertise:

  1. Start Small – pick your “one thing” and do it better than anyone else.
  2. Learn Everything You Can – read blogs, magazines, and books on your subject; understand the ins and the outs.
  3. Create a Plan for Sharing Your Knowledge – maybe you’ll start a blog or a local meetup group; whatever it is, start with a plan.
  4. Share Opinions, Even Difficult Ones – every story is looking for an expert to quote; get comfortable with sharing your thoughts.
  5. Live What You Preach – put your advice into practice; let people see your expertise reflected in what you do.

Most of us can easily identify our “one thing,” but how do you stack up on the other tips Lisa mentions? Are you continuing to learn about your space? Do you have a plan for how you’ll share what you know? Are you actively contributing to the dialogue in your industry?

Anyone can say that they’re an expert, but it’s the way we shine through in these areas that determines how our expertise is perceived.

What other tips would you add to Lisa’s list? What have you done to promote yourself as an expert in your field?


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Networking is a Dirty Word

Unless I’m talking to an office support technician, the term “networking” tends to bring a scowl to my face. For me it generally means standing in a room full of crowded people, blindly introducing myself and my line of work to utter strangers.

There are no warnings about people you should avoid, nor are there signals to point out the best people to meet. Because of these things, most people dread attending any sort of networking event – simply because there’s no way to tell how beneficial it will be. It’s not to say that every networking opportunity needs to result in a sale, but it is a lot of work and you expect some sort of return.

Even social networking has begun to be impacted, becoming a place where users collect followers and chase Klout scores rather than focus on building relationships. It’s time somebody did something about it.

As we build Introvio, we’re not creating yet another networking website. Introvio will be a platform that helps you get things done. You’ll share your request, find someone who can make the introduction, then move forward and take action. That’s where we’re headed, and I hope you’ll join us.

How have you challenged the status quo of networking?

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Introducing Introvio

With the survey results tallied plus all the talk about feedback and facilitating connections, today seems like the perfect time to introduce you to Introvio.

Introvio is a platform that leverages the network effect to help people get the introductions they need. Whether you’re looking for a job, a mentor, a sales lead, or something else, the common denominator is the initial introduction.

Being introduced to someone else by a mutual aquaintance or contact will always go over better than a cold call. Introvio’s goal is to help you facilitate those trusted introductions.

The platform isn’t ready to launch just yet, but in the meantime you can sign up to receive updates by email or follow us on Twitter.

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