Sean: I started out as a freelancer. Grew it from a one-man team, we're now a 50 man team, but how do you network when you're a one-man team, and you've got no company logo, and you got no company records, you don't have your receipts. No one knows who you are. And I started out when I was 22 years old. Hence the book CEO of 22.
How do you network well? Cause a lot of people will look at you and say you're two years. To service my business, you or too inexperienced. There's a lot of X factors in between. Where do you start?
Mark: Well, first on the note of being too young, being told no. Anyone starting a business, and that can include your personal consulting business. You are going to be told no over and over. 'I don't want to hire you. I don't want to work with you. I don't want to work for you. I don't want to partner with you.' Lots and lots of nos. You need a lot of perseverance. You also need to understand where the 'No's' are coming from, and what's motivating that.
If they're all saying because you've never done this. Is there a way you can go out and do that? You, if you want to do graphic design work, you can be a graphic designer as we rebuild a website for a nonprofit. And on the other side, he'd come out and say, look, I have helped to create a website or someone who's interested in doing copywriting. You can do copywriting for the website, or you can be the programmer for the website. And so you start to gain experience. Now it's volunteer work, but it's still a real experience you say, I deliver that, look at my work.
But now when it comes to networking, a mistake people make is to think, I only want to network with people in my field. Don't limit yourself that way, because you want a broad network. Cause you never know when someone's brother or someone's neighbor suddenly needs someone with your skillset, but also you want to, when you network put yourself out there.
I don't have a website. I don't have a logo. I don't have a brand. In fact, the way I landed, one of my clients is because I'm a member of the New York City CTO Club, where a group of CTOs, come together, and once a month we get together for breakfast. We hear a speaker.
We also have a very active mailing list. On this list, people ask questions. I need help with this, thank you for doing that. Can anyone recommend this? I am very active on that list. I am always answering questions and helping out. This does a few things, one, it just makes me a good person. I help out others but also makes me visible.
Not just that they know my name, but when they hear me answer a bunch of questions on a topic, "Mark seems to know something about that." In fact, I've actually been interviewing these past few years when I've been answering these questions. I don't know with whom or for what job, but I am conveying myself as an expert. This, by the way, is why people will write books, do podcasts, do blogs, put content out there.
It is saying, look at what I know. And so when I said, I am looking to do some fractional CTO work to help out these companies part-time, because I want to do some time marketing my book. I had one of the members of the CTO club reach down and say, "you know what? I have a need. You'd be great." Right. I was 90% of the way to the job because she had gotten to know me over the years through everything I talked about.
And so all of us do that, put yourself out there. Help others. And that's how you're building up your reputation and brand.
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