by Dr. Monroe Mann, PhD
Founder, Break Diving, Inc., & Co-Author, “Guerrilla Networking” with Jay Conrad Levinson
(c) 2008 by Monroe Mann
Note: this article originally appeared on the CNBC Blog at https://www.cnbc.com/id/25939877/
STOP MEETING PEOPLE!
Remember, guerrilla networking is not about meeting people. If you are spending all of your time meeting people, then you are not taking the time to develop yourself into the type of person others want to meet.
It’s a simple philosophy, and one that will revolutionize your entire life if implemented.
Here’s a quick story to illustrate: I played a small role in the film, Swimfan. I played the lead character’s ex-boyfriend, Jake Donnelly. If you watch the film, you’ll see me in the beginning, middle, and end. Small role, no lines, but first major credit—I was stoked. On the set, I spent every moment trying to convince the director and producer to upgrade my role and give me a speaking role—an upgrade I knew I could handle because I know I’m a good actor.
Well, the upgrade never came. And at the end of the shoot, I thought to myself, “There has GOT to be an easier way to get noticed in this business.” Suddenly a thought occurred to me: maybe I should stop trying to get cast in films, and instead, write my own scripts, produce them, find the money, and cast myself in leading roles. Not only did it work like a charm, but something else happened too. Something truly amazing. Everyone started calling me. Actors wanting roles. Directors wanting jobs. Agents submitting clients. Heck, even investors seeking a hoped-for return on their hard-earned income.
What happened? Simple really: I had simply transformed myself from “desperate actor” into “independent producer.” I had turned myself from someone no one wanted to deal with into the person who had the wherewithal to make everyone’s Hollywood dreams come true. I had become the person everyone else wanted to meet.
And that’s how it all began. And that is exactly what you need to do as well, no matter what field you may be in: become the type of person who everyone else in your field wants to meet and work with.
I want to take a brief moment now to expand on some networking tips mentioned on the show:
a) You have GOT to become cool. This means doing lots and lots of cool things. In other words, don’t listen to people who tell you that “you have to focus.” If you can do fifteen different things all at the same time, and do them well, then more power to you. That is SO cool. In 2005, I served 11 months in Iraq as an intelligence officer and military adviser to the 4th Iraqi Army. While there, I wrote a book called ‘Battle Cries for the Underdog”, shot 75 hours of what I am now editing into the world’s first comedy documentary about Iraq, and I convinced Jay Levinson to co-write ‘Guerrilla Networking’ with me. Was I neglecting my 12-hour day job in Iraq? Not at all. In fact, I was nominated for a bronze star for my efforts. My point is that you have a lot more time in each day than you realize. Guys: Do not limit yourself!
b) Produce your own projects. Don’t wait around for someone to discover how great you are. Prove how great you are. Whether you’re a stock broker or an entrepreneur, or anything in between, one of the keys to networking success is convincing others that you are worthy of the other person’s time. However, more often than not, in order to prove this, you need an ‘opportunity’ to prove yourself, right? Folks, listen to me here: YOU HAVE GOT TO CREATE YOUR OWN OPPORTUNITIES. Just like Donny says over and over, more than ever, your success is in your hands. As scary as it may be, take charge! Take the bull by its horns! Get into the ring and prove how great you are. Produce your own event; produce your own conference call; produce your own company report; produce your own networking opportunities! Today, with my partners Phil Malandrino and Greg Cilmi, I am hosting and producing a new talk-show called, “Before the Big Break”. We’ve already shot the entire first season of episodes with guests ranging from the producer of Pretty Woman (Gary Goldstein) to the founder and CSO of the awesome music site, Pandora (Tim Westergren). Not only has this project afforded me an opportunity to meet and become friends with all of these cool people, but talk about an awesome ten-second pitch (Remember the ten-second rule?)—“So, Monroe, what are you up to?” “Well, we just left the Vans Warped Tour where we interviewed the rock band Ludo for my new celebrity talk-show.” The response is always the same: Really? How cool! When is it airing? Ooh, that sounds awesome. You starting to get it?
Here’s one last bit of wisdom:
c) Just find the courage to get rejected. On the show today, a few callers said that they didn’t know how to approach others at networking events, and how to get the conversation started. My advice? As my drill sergeants used to tell me in basic training, “Suck it up and drive on! Stop coming up with excuses!” Folks, this is your future at stake here. If you can’t find the courage to talk to people who are in a potential position to help you, how do you ever expect to succeed? Years ago, I was the biggest wallflower when it came to pretty girls. I would always dream of talking to them and dream of asking them out, but I just could never find the courage. One day, I realized, “Monroe, if you never ask out a pretty girl, you are never going to get a date with a pretty girl!” So, after I graduated college, I made a pact with myself: from that point forward, whenever I saw a pretty girl, no matter how out of my league she may be, I forced myself to talk to her–even if it meant that she would slap me, and curse me for even talking to her.
But guess what? No one slapped me. No one cursed me. And hey, once in a while, that pretty girl even said yes. And the worse that ever happened? She said no. But so what? Big deal. I didn’t have a date before I asked her; I didn’t have one after I asked her. No loss at all.
In fact, to show you how much I believe in my networking principles, I am going to risk embarrassing myself greatly by publicly saying hi to the charming and beautiful meteorologist Britta Merwin, who I found the courage to say hi and introduce myself to in the hallway today at CNBC headquarters. Britta, would you like to come to that launch party with me? Maybe, just maybe, she’ll accept my invitation. Or not. But here’s the point: nothing ventured, nothing gained. And one day my dream girl will say, ‘Yes’.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to contact me. And since this is a blog entry on networking: if you’re an investor, and are eager to invest in ready-to-shoot tv and film projects with A/B list actors, let me know. My partner Phil and I have quite the slate!
I look forward to meeting you all… AT THE TOP!
EDITOR’S NOTE: a) Donny refers to the former host of CNBC’s The Big Idea, and b) Britta said no. Why? Engaged! Ha! But I guess that’s a good reason.