Ninety percent of life may just be showing up, but oftentimes it’s those who stick around who get the greatest benefit.
One of my favorite things to do whenever I go see a speaker, attend a networking event, or do anything special that has someone notable in attendance, is to be one of the last people who leave. This strategy has paid off for me on many occasions.
The second time I ever hung out Jason Falls, before he became my No Bullshit Social Media co-author was after he spoke at a social media event in Indianapolis. I decided to stick around for a while, and see if I could talk with him. Instead, several of us went to a good dinner that involved wine and gumbo. We got to know each other well enough that I was able to hang out with him further, and develop a relationship that became a book.
The day I wrote this, I got to attend a meet-and-greet with Canadian writer and humorist, Stuart McClean, host of The Vinyl Cafe, because my wife and I were hanging out in the lobby, chatting with his producer after a Vinyl Cafe concert in Indianapolis. It’s the third time I’ve gotten to meet Stuart, having interviewed him twice before, and he remembered who I was. (Which, for a Vinyl Cafe nerd like me, was quite the thrill!)
I’ve met people who have become friends, clients, and valuable referral partners, because I stuck around, chatting with other people who stayed. When I speak, I always stick around until the last person leaves the room, rather than rushing off to go back home or to my hotel room. Those are the people I remember the most, and whose cards are at the top of the pile when it’s time to start sending emails and following Twitter users.
At every event, there are a few people who leave early, for whatever reason. Some people leave so early, you have to wonder why they ever came in the first place. Most people leave as soon as the event is over, ready to go home or to dinner. And few — a very, very few — stick around to see what happens after everything else is done.
This is where the real networking begins. What often happens is that the host, the special guest, and anyone left standing, will have a chance to hang out and get to know each other better. You get to start up new relationships, have a chance to meet some influencers and thought leaders, and meet people who could make a big impact on your professional career.
No, you didn’t get home early. No, you won’t eat dinner until 10:30. Yes, you’re missing your favorite TV show. But these problems are minor. While everyone else is safely tucked away into their home, bellies full, and snuggled up on the couch, you’re sitting in a restaurant booth for three hours, having interesting conversations with some really smart people.
Ninety percent of success may be just showing up, but that’s what 99 percent of the people are doing. It’s the 1 percent, those fortunate few, who get to hang with the people everyone else came to see, and then left when it was all over.
Erik Deckers is the owner of Professional Blog Service, and the co-author of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself and No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing. His third book, The Owned Media Doctrine, will be available this summer.