Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

April 20, 2010

The Power of Face-to-Face Networking

Filed under: Marketing — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 4:11 pm

Over the years my local work has dropped way off. Luckily for my continued mortgage payments, work outside the market has and continues to increase. My website placement on the web is a great part of this, as well as direct target marketing, social media, various “agents” around the world and the introduction of pay-to-play websites.

My face-to-face marketing efforts had pretty much dwindled down to monthly MCA-I meetings where I would have the word Voice Talent written under my name on my stick on name tag. That is usually the extent of my “sell” at these meetings – primarily because most of them think that they can’t afford me. I should probably try to change that impression somehow. Or maybe they are right. But I should open the conversation.

But after a rather disappointing 2009 economically, where my electronic marketing efforts were dramatically reduced due to an increase in personal time after moving my mom out to be closer to me, I decided to jump-start my local marketing efforts with some more face-to-face networking.

One week I attended 3 such events in a row – two on one night – and followed it up the next week with another. With good results (see the end of the post for details.)

Now, not all of these networking events were worth the parking and glass of wine costs.

The first was a huge party for IT geeks – their March Mingle (sdtechscene.org). It was free and the food was fabulous – new Italian restaurant on 30th Street in North Park (Il Postino). Met some nice people there. Still following up with some of them. Cost – $12 glass of wine. Free parking on the street.

The next night I attended an industry event held by a vendor. It was free, parking was discounted, the food was great, and I had a chance to spend some quality time with of the folks I see at those other meetings.

On a tip from one of those guys, I re-parked my car in a $10 lot near the Old Spaghetti Factory where I paid $15 for entry (plus the fee for having to get money out of an ATM) and another $10 or so for a glass of wine to rub shoulders with multi-level marketers (Nu-Skin, Send Out Cards, and some strange ***IRS alert*** travel website), anti-aging compounds distributors and get out of debt plans. I did meet some cool guys running a non-profit for performers (sdeag.org). But most of the people I met must have taken some sort of super networking course where they clasp your hand and look you in the eye and with all the sincerity they can muster ask you who your ideal customer is. Over all it was a huge disappointment. I didn’t need food, but if I had, it was sparse.

So I was not really keen on going the next week to what looked like a similar kind of networking event, but ultimately decided to go (Campbell Networks). It was held at a brand new night club downtown on 4th (FLUXX) and the crowd was diverse and successful. I connected with several people, a couple of them I knew already who then introduced me to people they knew – which is always good. Came home from that event energized – $7 for parking and $11 for a glass of wine.

The result of all this crazy face-to-face contact? One job contracted and completed, another inquiry fielded, and several referrals (both directions). Additionally, I connected with potential support services for my mom. I also won a two-night stay at a beach side hotel in a business card drawing sponsored by “It’s all about the Kids!”

I’ll keep looking for the right face-to-face networking opportunities. But I promise I won’t clasp your hand and stare into your eyes asking who your ideal customer might be.

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4 Comments »

  1. Connie,
    It’s interesting that I have been reflecting on this very thing.

    I have also watched how in my neck of the woods it might seem that a giant vacuum has sucked a good deal of the work away. 2008 for example was a very good year for me, but when I did my yearly analysis, it revealed that only 21% of my gross billings could be traced to my beloved Bay Area.

    What makes this sadder still is that I have spent thousands of hours over the past few years volunteering, coordinating, supporting and otherwise serving my local ad community, gaming community and business community in general. On top of that add the membership fees, donations, luncheon and fundraising fees, raffle ticket fees, etc. As a BAARC board member, I work with other ad industry people to help Bay Area Advertising people in financial need. It dawned on me that if some of our contributors and supporters didn’t spend hundreds of thousands of dollars producing their projects in Canada or overseas, we might not have so many local ad folks in need.

    I now am considerably more choosy about what events I support and mixers I attend. I too have picked up a job here or there probably as a result of attending a mixer, however I have gotten a lot better about things.

    I’m glad you are having some good experiences, but buying potential clients drinks at $12 a piece, while having to stand up for 4 or 5 hours at a time,can leave one struggling to justify both the marketing costs and wear and tear on the body and soul

    Comment by j.s. gilbert — April 20, 2010 @ 4:59 pm

  2. Great article, Connie. I always dislike having to walk up to groups of people whom I don’t know, interrupt their conversation, and introduce myself. Several times this has resulted in potential work, but usually it’s just really awkward.

    But I do find it’s easier with half a glass of wine under my belt! It’s just stopping at the half glass that’s the trick! :)

    Comment by Craig Burnett — April 20, 2010 @ 9:48 pm

  3. Oh – I’m not buying wine for anyone. Just a glass for myself.

    But I do understand the time spent volunteering, the fees, the other donations. When I was producing, I used my networks to find people to hire. When I stopped producing and went full-time VO, I guess I just expected that my network would reciprocate. It took many years before I actually started to try to close a deal. Just spent (and still do) a lot of time volunteering. Ironically it was those in my network, but outside of my town who have hired me for their projects.

    I’ve always wondered when I would have the time to do some volunteering for pure altruistic reasons, and then I realize just how much I give to a professional association without actually getting much in return from a dollar point of view, so it perhaps I have been altruistic without realizing it. This is not to discount the several good friends over the years though.

    Comment by connieterwilliger — April 20, 2010 @ 10:21 pm

  4. Is the glass half full or half empty, that’s what I want to know! After speed dating we now have entered the world of speed networking. The other day, I heard a story about speed-pitching your business plan to a group of investors. A sort of “Dragon’s Den” condensed into two minutes. Is this the Twitter version of enchanting a crowd? It seems like the restaurant is get the better part of the deal. Or is it the owner of the parking lot?

    Seriously… I commend you for getting yourself out there and do the meet-and-greet and stop-and-chat. At least everyone involved is clear about the purpose of the meeting. This is not some kind of under the radar sales campaign, disguised as “social networking”.

    Tonight, I promise to raise my glass to your continued success, Connie! May it forever be filled with love, joy and happiness!

    Comment by Paul Strikwerda — April 25, 2010 @ 8:54 am


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