Category Archives: Networking

The Number of Friends you have can affect your future employment opportunities

It should come as no surprise that the number of friends and professional connections you have affects your health in life. The more social you are, the more people you have looking out for you. The more connections you have in life the more you are aware of what is happening around you. We all like to think that we don’t need anyone else in life to help us because we feel that we are bothering that person but the truth is that when you create a healthy relationship with someone where the give and take are roughly equal, in a sense, then you will see that we very much need people in our lives. The truth of the matter though is that our social circles also affects our career options in life.

Our social life is directly linked to our health which means the more events you attend and the more people you meet, the more energetic you are to get out and meet more people. Social fears and phobias develop in youth when a child is prevented from going out and exploring the world on their own. They never learn social skills by learning to strike up conversations with strangers. The problem with the age of 18 is that society somehow thinks its a magical number where someone just is expected to know how to deal with everything in life all of a sudden because they turned 18; not if they are not allowed to learn and do things on their own before then.

Many young adults, and people in general, feel they are socially awkward and rather than risk looking like a fool in front of other people they just stay home and watch on-demand entertainment (a habit that is destroying traditional TV watching). The reason Dale Carnegie made a huge success on his books was because he first tapped into the area of social-psychology by teaching people how to interact with one another and showing them how to make friends by using very simple techniques. Those same skills are still being taught today in seminars and workshops which can cost a lot of money. So why don’t schools focus on teaching students social skills that literally can make or break one’s whole life experiences? The reason? It’s too soft a skill to teach and many certain groups of people would feel that their children are being brain-washed by some left or right wing thinking. How sad.

Your Future Employment
It’s no surprise that people with the jobs they like the most are usually connected to a number of other people. For example, Bob in senior accounting will let his best friend know there is an opening coming soon and that if his friend wants to apply he should send his stuff right away to so and so. Study after study keeps confirming that the more people you know the easier it is to get a job. Infact, it has been proven that the more social people are in school the higher their success rate later in life. You can read here for some networking career tips here from Yale’s career center on how to get better at networking.

The great thing about school is that you are constantly surrounded by people so it is easier to make connections, find out what is happening in your community, and learn about job opportunities faster. Group projects enable people to make new connections and learn about people’s strengths and weaknesses. The schools that create the best creative people focus on group projects for all their work because it gets people to learn to work together and maximize their strengths but also connections. Teens and young adults are exposed to a number of new people daily because of their school life so the number of opportunities in life is dependent on the number of friends they have and the connections of their friend’s friends.

The interesting thing about social groups is that they get smaller as you get older because life switches from doing school daily for 12 years surrounded by a lot of people to going to college and learning more but in a less crowded manner. In school you have people around you all the time that you know, whereas, in college you are surrounded by a lot of people you don’t know so your social circle shrinks. This is why they say to join student organizations because it will help you make new friends with people who share your same interests. After college your social circle shrinks again because you are constantly working and have less time to spend with friends. Your friends social time also shrinks because they might be more focused on career goals and might be starting a family.

Social groups change from the teens to the 20s and  the 30s, from large groups of people to smaller groups to pairs. This kind of social shock for some can limit people’s social opportunities. The people who are not tied down enjoy more opportunities in their life and career because they do not have to discuss their decision with anyone else. They advance faster in their career and can travel more. The challenge with getting older though is that it does get harder to make new friends because there are less opportunities to join organizations and meet people if you are not social. This is why the website meetup.com is so huge because it allows people to find groups of people with similar interests but for many though it can still be a challenge just to show up to one because of social phobias. But if everyone has them why not make the first move by introducing yourself?

Social Skills Over Time
This is an area that most people do not think about because most people think their social skills are fine or that they do not need to make any new friends. The truth is that people need to always refine their people skills because those that know how to talk with others to get stuff done go farther in life than those that do not know how to start a conversation. Growing up in school it is easier to start conversations with other people because you are surrounded by so many people you grew up with so it is easier to just jump right in to any group of people and start talking

In college you have to be more forward in order to talk with other people otherwise you will be left by yourself most of the time. You cannot expect other people to approach you so you have to get out and do stuff and many times just go right up to people and say, “hi.” The last part is a huge challenge for majority of people because of fear. In the workspace it can get a litter easier to strike up a conversation with someone because everyone works for the same employer making it easier to have something to say in the beginning. It is not uncommon to develop work friendships because everyone is working on the same projects and have something to talk about afterwards. Then Ttere are those groups of people who just want to come in and impress the boss so they work longer hours, finish their work faster, and get more done at the expense of talking to people and making friends.

People who work in the same job for many years risk losing the understanding of what it takes to find a job. They expect that they will always have the same job. Those are the people who will have a culture shock when they are finally let go and have to find a new job again. The challenge with that is that they do not realize that after all those years they should have been making more friends and connections and updating their skills in order to stay marketable to other companies instead of working hard all the time and ignoring social outings with co-workers. The risk with getting too comfortable in your current job is that you can lose your job at anytime and have nothing to show for what you’ve done. The connections you make in your 30s and 40s have a huge impact on your employment in your 50s and 60s when it is harder to employ older individuals.

Social Evolution
Again this is an area that most people do not spend time thinking about because they are too focused on themselves for anything. The myth that if you just do your job really well and meet all your deadlines your company will reward you with a promotion, bonus, and job security. Job security isn’t real anymore and everyone is at risk for losing their job at any moment. In many cases the people who finish their assigned work the fastest might make it harder for the company to find them work to do and see a reason for demoting you to part-time instead of full-time or just hiring on a case-by-case basis. This can come as a shock to someone who believed that as long as they did what was asked of them, they would be rewarded. That is just not the case anymore.

Researchers, Connie Wanberg, Ruth Kanfer, Darla J. Hamann, and Zhen Zhang went through many studies across different disciplines to analyze social behavior on employment and what they found was that people who are younger tend to be unemployed for shorter periods of time than older individuals. This is all due to the fact that younger people are exposed to more social groups and interact with more people on a daily basis so they hear about more opportunities faster. Older individuals, on the other hand, are unemployed longer because of the nature of many things, including their social circles, which tend to be smaller because they value the quality of certain relationships more than maintaining larger groups of friendships. The other issue is that older individuals are out of touch with the ways of finding a job in today’s economy. If a person in their 50s and 60s, and maybe even 70s were to look for a job they would have to understand that they will not find it in any kind of newspaper or walking door-to-door to shops and businesses. They will have to learn how to perform certain actions that are common in the workplace now that were not taught when they were in school.

The number of social connections gets smaller as people get older and the only way to fix that is by maintaining the ones you have now and going out and meeting more people. The results of the researcher’s study found that if you want to make it easier on yourself for finding a job when you are older, you need to maintain the relationships you have at work and outside in your 30s and 40s so that you have connections to new job opportunities in your 50s and 60s. Those friendships from long ago will help you manage new job opportunities in the future. Infact, older people are realizing that with the new gig economy happening, they can find new sources of income that can help offset the growing costs of living. This is very important to learn because it can mean an improved way of living. For others who still want to continue working, it is helpful to understand the importance of always meeting new people in life.

In the movie, The Intern, a older man realizes that retirement is not all what he hoped it would be. He spends time with a few people but he knows his time could be better spent working again. The long days of having nothing to do got to him so he applied for a job. He found a flyer looking for older people who would like to work for a startup fashion company. He took the information and called them up. In the movie you see this man grow his social circle by ten-fold and make new friends. He quickly realized how outdated his technical skills were but not his executive skills. Many older people will enjoy this movie because for some it will strike a chord in their heart in knowing that they would like to work again like they used to when they were younger. The other part that is touching about the movie is that the older man watches how frantic all these young people are working knowing what is at the end for all of them. I thoroughly enjoyed the film because no matter where you work, there will always be someone there after you to fill in the spot so rather than focus on putting in the long hours, one should focus on the friends they will make everywhere they go because you never know when you might need to call on that person for a favor or a lead to a new job later on in life. Do yourself the favor of going and seeing this movie because it has so many interesting things to say about the workplace for older people who are can still provide value.

If you are stuck about how to improve your social circle, look back at some of my past articles on networking but start first with Never Eat Alone and The Fine Art of Small Talk. Those should help you get started. You can look in the book section of this website to find out other books to read on networking.


News Article

To Get A Job in your 50s, Maintain friendships in your 40s

The Sharing Economy Attracts Older Adults

Advertisements

The Importance of SXSW & Why You Should be There Every Year

South by Southwest is officially over which means that it is only 51 weeks away until the next SXSW festival which mean you have plenty of time now to save up and buy yourself a badge for next year and attend. For those that can not afford SXSW badges, I will explain to you what I learned doing SXSW this year for less than $20 dollars. Yes you read that correctly, having done SXSW so many times, being a resident of Austin, and living right next to downtown has its many perks.

SXSW had tons of opportunities for everyone to enjoy and experience so saying that it had nothing that appealed to you means that you really have no clue why this festival is considered to be one of the top festivals to attend in the whole world. It is ranked number one by Fuse website for Music Festival, which is understandable since half of the week is dedicated to just music acts. Business leaders, investors, and startup wannabes all come to SXSW from all corners of the world to find out what the latest trends are. Film makers, producers, and celebrities all come to Austin to screen their movies and make deals and talk about what new projects studios have in the works. The number of new movie ideas that blossomed during the film portion is enormous considering all who were here. If you went out walking about you would have seen celebrities all over the place just enjoying themselves. I told a friend some of the hot spots celebrities like to relax and enjoy themselves at and you know what he did? He spent most of his time at those places getting to meet people he thought would be surrounded by body guards just sitting down and enjoying a drink and talking to people. It completely took him by surprise how approachable some of them were but he was happy because he got to meet some of his favorite movie stars all in person.

Understanding SXSW Hype
You hear about this festival down in the southern region of the US and think, “what could those people possible know down there? They are so far away from where all the action is going on how could they say what the trends are?” Easy, SXSW brings the best minds down here to get away and talk with similar minded people about what it is they do all year. People attend these events because they all are trying to find the same answer to the same question, on hopefully what is the company’s dime, “How’d you get so successful doing that?”

The hype about this festival is surrounded around the same idea of seeing all these successful and important people walking about with those special badges around their necks that get them into private events. If you don’t have the money for those badges then you miss out on all the big stuff (hint: I got into some pretty big events and didn’t have a badge so it can be done). The truth of the matter though is that most of those badge holders are there trying to keep up with the trends so they can run back to their companies and help them prepare for what is coming in the next few months.

The big stuff for nerds, educators, and geeks all happens a week before the music festival portion. The education portion brings teachers, educational entrepreneurs, school district administrators and even technology companies down to learn about some of the new teaching styles, innovation in apps that improve learning, and other ways teachers can engage more people to learn now that we live in a world where being connected is constant. The challenge for educators in any form is how do you get people to take learning seriously now when information is always there online now?

This poses a challenge for many other people, especially companies that have to hire those students later on. People with shallow educations are a liability to companies later on that depend on creative individuals to innovate. Hence why they send their best employees down to SXSW to catch up and stay ahead.

SXSW is all about finding out what will be happening in the coming year, in terms of, technology, startup companies launching (remember Twitter exploded at SXSW in 2007), and new gadgets but also what films to look out for later in the year. So when you mix all this information together with other little films trying to screen and small businesses trying to expand their brand at SXSW with a zero dollar budget you begin to understand why hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world come to Austin for a week or two.

Remember SXSW does everything it can to help those first-timers navigate the large open space that is Austin by creating a page on their website for newbies. You can check out their page but I will point out one thing that their page does not cover, how to get the most out of the event and what to pay attention to, with or without a badge. SXSW does not cater to those without badges so that is why other opportunities have popped up to fill that need. SXSW has the official events they list on their website, twitter, and app but they do not list the unofficial events and knowing how to find that stuff takes skill and talent.

What I got out of SXSW 2015
Every year I learn something new about SXSW and the people who come to Austin. This year they included this in an infograph and the books they hand out only to badge holders. I got my hands on one and found some surprising information.  The average age this year was 36 and the top skill that all badge holders had was social media skills. This tells you that this is not a young person’s festival for Interactive and judging by all the tweets that I read over the past week, while showing people how to do SXSW, I learned that a lot of them couldn’t wait to get back to their hotel rooms, lock the doors, order room service, and enjoy the peace and quiet that they don’t normally get back home because a certain portion of them have kids.

One of the first events I attended was the Job Market fair that was in the new JW Marriott hotel. I went, not looking for a job, but to find out what kind of jobs companies were hiring for but also the kind of people they were interested in talking with. I will say it is funny when recruiters find out that you are not there looking for a job but instead want to learn about the new hiring trends because you already have a job. That is when their whole personalities change and they switch from presentation mode to letting down their guard. They are so used to selling all day long that it is rare for them to talk with someone that is NOT looking for work.

Here is what I learned from that job fair
– Companies are mainly looking for coders in all languages
– Sales, marketing, business, finance, and all the other regular areas they are hiring for as well
– The well prepared come dressed up ready to hand out resumes but few ready to relocate
– Most had just resumes to handout but nothing different to offer – here’s what I mean
– Recruiters are only interested in a few things about your skills – how many years of experience you have doing one or two skills really well, what have you created recently on your own, if you are willing to move, & are you currently employed. They don’t care about the name of your school.
– The well prepared carry business cards with them everywhere
– The top items of swag given out were tech gadgets (powerbanks, USB mini stereos, flashdrives, & styluses for tablets and phones)
– Employers will ask to see some of your work right there on the spot if you are a coder
– Companies expected that most people attending were either proficient or experts with basic business software programs, used social media fluently, and understood mobile technology well.

All this information is great to know if you are looking for a job but more importantly it tells you what companies are expecting people to learn in school and college. Coding is not just a skill that only a select few should learn now it is a skill that all people will need to learn because right now companies do not have enough of them. Check out my list of education resources to find out how to get started learning how to code for free.

Attendee Statistics
People come from all corners of the world to attend this great festival but what are most of them looking for? I pulled these stats from the interactive book that polled their badge holders asking what they were after. Here were the goals for those that attended
– 62% said Find New Business Opportunities
– 36% Connect with Existing Clients
– 24% No Particular Goals
– 16% Seek Employment/Contract Work
– 15% Hire Talented People
– 11% Launch a new Product or Service
– 9% Seek Investors
– 6% Invest in New Companies

The last stat corresponds with the number of attendees who are considered wealthy and probably investors, which is around less than 10%.

So what do these stats tell you about what people are looking for at this festival? Remember, these are all those people who purchased badges and look important walking around. Most of the people there wanted to either quit their job or find more work and a quarter of them had no clue what they wanted to get out of the festival. If a quarter of the people had no clue then that means they were just walking around and taking in all the sights and probably only attending a handful of lectures at a time.

The part that got my attention was the last few stats. This is the section that tells you who are the ones with money and/or influence. They attend the festival to sit in on a few talks and see what products are being demonstrated but to find those diamonds in the rough. They walk around looking for companies trying to launch grassroots style and find out a little more about what they do. They attend the official events but they also attend the events that are not official in hopes of finding that one unique idea.

People I Met
In the class before SXSW I taught, “How to Grow Your Business with SXSW.” One of the things I mentioned about the festival was that you were going to see a lot of posters and people passing out flyers everywhere and even chalk signs on crosswalks. Low and behold that is exactly what I saw as I was exploring; I had one guy introduce himself to me while we were waiting in line, he gave me his flyer to ask if I could check out his youtube page. Another time I got handed postcards that were an invite to a special screening about the American Inventor (you can watch it here now available on YouTube that screened at SXSW) and how it is harder now to bring an idea to life because of current patent laws.

I attended a lecture on how to build, run, and manage a kids’ maker space for STEM education. The thing that surprised me the most was that the event was open to anyone but there were very few people there. Maybe less than twenty at most but I did make the most of my time introducing myself and talking about how other people can improve their locations. I met one interesting man who told me he was having trouble getting people to teach at his locations but he had plenty of space. I informed him that he had the opposite problem of mine, I have the teachers but no space to teach in. So you see a great connection was made from being at these events.

I met a musician who provided free rides at SXSW that was working to become a DJ and said that he tried to take advantage of many of the opportunities there to meet some big names. He is hoping he can turn his work into something he can do at next year’s festival. I was glad to find the main options of getting free rides because getting around SXSW on foot can be difficult but good exercise.

Then while taking a break at Starbucks I saw two company employees from the Yo app so I introduced myself to find out what Yo was hoping to accomplish at SXSW. I was told they were promoting their brand by offering free breakfast every morning if you just sent a special Yo message but unfortunately their campaign did not work since the service was terrible judging by these tweets. I know that other people did get their meals but it doesn’t look like they got the reception they were after according to this tweet. Hopefully the founder was joking. In all the tweets being sent during SXSW I saw very few talking about Yo though.

Another time my friends and I were all enjoying some free lunch when one of them sat down at this table and started talking to people there. Well it turns out one of the people at the table just so happened to be a speaker for the Interactive panels. My friend kept asking this person questions about their job and what they plan to talk about and the more my friend asked the more amazed he was to find out who he was talking to. He didn’t think he would run into a speaker for SXSW that also happened to work on a show that he enjoyed watching. It turns out the guy was a writer. I told my friend that he needed to make sure they exchanged information and kept in touch, which they both did.

The one app that took SXSW by storm was MeerKat. This awesome app is set to change the whole streaming world by taking a new model of communicating to large audience members in real time and improving on it. I will talk about this more in the trends section.

This is just a small portion of all that happened to me while I was there. I’ve been told I need to put together a business that teaches people how to do SXSW. I’m considering it.

SXSW Trends from this Year’s Festival
In this article that was just posted, as of the writing of this article, you can see that people are still writing about all the stuff that happened during Southby. The conference covered a number of items that will soon start to impact out lives, one that just launched today actually, driverless cars and personal robots. The issue of robots and A.I.s entering our lives is quite profound as Dr. Cynthia Breazeal talked about in her SXSW talk on, “The Personal Side of Robots.” If you are not familiar with who she is this is the lady who created an Indiegogo campaign to bring Jibo, the world’s first family robot, into people’s homes. Her campaign caught media attention for going way pass her goal and raising over $2 million dollars from a goal of only $100k.

While walking around one of the things you caught a lot of people doing was holding cardboard boxes in front of their faces. If you are familiar with this idea then you know it was Google’s campaign to teach people about how to create their own virtual reality headset, much like the one for Oculus Rift, out of cardboard and their smartphones. You simply fold the cardboard pieces and you have something that looks like this below

All you do is drop your phone into the slot and it changes your dept of vision to make it look like virtual reality. This is a layout of how it folds.

Pretty cool little toy which is why I picked up two of them in case one broke from wear and tear. So why were people playing with them? Well Google Fiber decided to make a big push during Southby by setting up shop in their downtown location where people could come in and pick up a free headset and some stickers saying where they wanted Google Fiber next in Austin. I got a few of those plus a nice t-shirt.

I didn’t get to attend the Robot Petting Zoo, yea I know just the name sounds awesome, but I did get to meet some of the makers of one of the top robotic sport’s team. It turns out the little guy was busy playing soccer but I took his picture anyways.

Robots

Alright so after all the fun here is what alot of people were after while they were down there taking in all this information. I will mention some of the trends but then list a few of the topics that were covered at Interactive.

1. People want to learn from other people about how to improve what they’re doing back home
This might sound like common sense but it is how people behave and operate in new places. People go to conferences in hopes of finding that one person who has the solution to their problem back home. I would talk with so many people about the struggles of their business only to tell them where to look online about how to fix or improve what they were doing.

One business owner said that they were using a portion of their retail store to encourage kids to learn how to build stuff. They told me this came from the idea of seeing so many bored kids in front of their store so they figured why not make a separate space for the kids to teach them stuff while the parents shop. The parents and kids loved it but they ran into a problem of growth so that is when I told them about this TED talk about how one tutoring center turned into a world wide phenomenon. It had a few ideas that any business struggling with growth can learn from.

2. Businesses are becoming more of a secondary degree for work than a standard option
Chances are today you probably know someone who is an Uber driver or works as a freelancer cutting hair through hairstylist apps or even people who do odd jobs here and there. This new consumer-to-consumer economy is taking off faster than most companies know what to do. People can earn a very comfortable living with just service apps alone now and the best part of about them is that there is no set schedule to follow, you simple log in when you are ready to start work and log off when your tired. This creates an easier way for people to connect with others instead of going through an temp agency or having to apply for jobs online all the time. (Maybe the end for Monster.com? Who knows)

The interesting thing about this new way of living is that many major companies are getting in on the action too by creating new brands under their company name in order to keep consumer’s focused on the service instead of the company that owns or runs it. The challenge is that major companies have the money to sink into these apps in order to get a large share of this new collaborative sharing economy that is going on between consumers. All these apps make money by taking a share of the money that is transacted between the two parties. Basically the app is a more efficient method of connecting two people with similar interests and needs.

3. Meerkat Dominated Apps
If this is the first time learning about Meerkat then let me tell you why it was the new hot commodity that everyone was talking about. If you are a gamer than you know all about Twitch and how it has changed the whole landscape of video games by turning it into a spectator sport now. Video game players can turn on their twitch account and start streaming their game playing to all their followers and anyone watching. Well, Meerkat does the same thing except it is on your phone now. So you could build a following of people to find out what you are doing right at that moment and stream it.

Think Facetime but instead of 1-to-1 call it is 1-to-all your followers in real time. That is why so many people love the app because now instead of sitting at your computer and using a web cam to stream what you are doing you can now use your phone and stream wherever. What does this do to the internet and service usage? It puts a huge demand on internet service and requires high amounts of bandwidth. Curious to read what people are saying about this breakout hit? Click the articles below.

Meerkat Restores Faith in SXSW’s Startup Magic

Meerkat stole the show at SXSW. Sorry, Twitter

Why Meerkat, the breakout app of SXSW, is more than a flash in the pan

4. SXSW encourages the Entrepreneur Scene
If you walked around chances are you probably ran into a few guys and girls shoving flyers into your hands trying to get you to attend their launch party or swag party, which is where companies give out swag in hopes that you check out their products and learn more about who they are and what they do. I got a pretty sweet expensive swag bag from one of these little parties. During my time at one of these parties I talked with a lot of the CEO’s who were right there to talk about their products. One guy was happy to talk his product and how he started his company so getting to meet the people in charge is not hard to do if you know how to put yourself out there. You never know where they might be in a few months or next year but at least you got to meet and learn about how they got their idea and turned it into reality.

SXSW created the startup village which has grown to help startup companies gain more appeal and attention. But why is the startup village so important to entrepreneurs and why would you want to get your company in there next year? Easy, it connects existing companies that are failing to innovate with up-and-coming companies. There might be a consultant who is flown into check out what new businesses are coming up and what products they have to offer, so “John” might be asked to find a new business that his company might be able to do business with. This is how startup companies find new clients so it keeps them growing. What you don’t hear about are those meetings during dinner time with the startup CEO and co-founders and the consultant to talk about the details and work out a contract together. That is how the movers and shakers work.

5. Advertising is all about Getting into People’s Habits
Ex Machina is a movie that premiered at SXSW and it touches on the issue of robots and intelligence, but more importantly emotional intelligence. In order to get more people aware of the movie the studio created a brilliant ad campaign to get people interested in watching the movie by playing with their emotions. They launched a tinder account that looked like a normal 25 year old female just looking for love in Austin. If you were one of the unlucky ones to fall for it then you were not alone. Many guys apparently fell for it because just when you thought the conversation with her was getting interesting she linked you over to her instagram page where , at the time, it listed a film trailer for the movie and the poster for the film, the studio has since added more content now. All in all, it got a lot of people talking about SXSW and the innovation of marketing and advertising that went into that campaign.

6. Interacting with People Face to Face tops them all
All the apps and wearables and technology out there is pretty damn impressive now but nothing beats and probably will never beat face-to-face interaction. The best part about SXSW are the connections you make for a brief moment during the day and if you know how to make the connection you ask to meet for dinner and talk more in person. You want that face-to-face connection before that person heads back home because without it there is not much to learn about the person except what they write in their email.

The after parties are where the real deals happen and the magic takes place. The movers and the shakers all know this so they attend as many after parties they can get themselves into. They work the rooms for the free drinks and then see if they can connect with anyone. The whole idea is to find someone that has the “it” charm in what they say and do. They are looking for someone who looks like they know what they are doing, and once they find them then they see what all they have to offer that might be of benefit to one another.

Maybe you are shy and not sure what to do, but the best thing you can do is just to get out there and talk. This is why during SXSW there are so many parties with free drinks to help loosen people up to talk. Yes the free drinks also draw in the crowds but for the shy people who need a little pushing it helps them to not be afraid to go up and talk to someone. This worked for a number of people and the connections they picked up in the end were well worth it.

7. Robots are becoming more a part of our lives
It is hard to imagine that our lives are becoming more like what we watch in movies. Minority Report is one of those movies that when it came out people were astounded at seeing people swiping in the air to move things like it was magic and now we have those kinds of TVs and motion detectors, like Kinect and Leap Motion. If you show a kid that movie today it will not impress them except the cool cars and flying suits but everything else they can pretty much do today. But where do you think they got the inspiration from? That’s right, movies.

Now that driverless cars are going to become the norm in the next few years and robots have already been slowly entering our homes it will start to be our responsibility to learn how to treat them properly and what they should be allowed to do and not do. The latter part will be difficult seeing how we now have robots that are designed to learn on their own so how will we be able to regulate how much they learn or what they learn or even what they are allowed to do with that information once they’ve learned it?

In the robot petting zoo there are drones that can act as search and rescue but also ones that can build things so it will be very interesting to see how robotic drone technology will evolve in the coming year. This is why the FCC is having a hard time figuring out the rules because the potential of what drones are capable of is enormous and they don’t want to limit that but they also have to protect and respect people’s privacy, but seeing how nothing on the internet or our phones is private anymore I don’t see why they are worried about drones as the problem.

A few of the topics at Interactive were

– What Tech Startups Should be Doing Next – Jessica Lawrence
– The Future Role of Tech in Dining and Food – David Chang, Matt Buchanan
– Secrets of Growth Hacking: From Zero to $50M – Neil Patel, Sean Ellie, Tammy Camp
– You Are Everywhere – Kristina Halvorson
– World Leaders on Twitter: What they can teach us – Alexander Ekkelenkamp, Aurelie Valtat, Matthias Lüfkens


SXSW is an amazing festival to attend and if you live in Austin there really is no reason NOT to be here experiencing it all. It is just one week out of the year to plan for this that thousands of people make the time to be at. One of the best part is also the gaming portion.

The Gaming Expo was a fantastic experience that all gamers should experience at one point. For all the kids and families who did attend I commend those parents for doing a great job of taking their kids there and for the parents who just dropped them off to experience the whole thing on their own, I say, you are a great parent for doing that. Keep it up!

Gaming Expo

I learned quite a bit at the gaming expo and since I had all the time to enjoy myself here is what I did there. I attended a Zombie quiz show and got some free swag for it. I finally learned how to play the famous board game The Settlers of Catan and another game by the same makers called, Patchwork, which was a lot of fun. So how did I learn how to play? The game makers had tables set up with different versions of Catan setup on each one and if you wanted to learn how to play all you had to do was sit in on a tutorial, taught by one of their instructors there, and play along. So now when someone asks if I have Sheep in exchange for two coals, I know what they mean. After playing for awhile they gave me a nice swag bag that came with a character expansion pack for free including a Catan metal pin to wear which I got for having learned how to play.

I also made it a point to get a picture with the sweet Delorean from BTTF

After that I played a lot of video games that are still being tested out and got to see some cool video game characters walking around which I got my picture with. Afterwards I made my way over to the Maker Square space set up at the Long Center where I got to make some cool things, including a badge that I had to solider together in order for it to work, which looks like that in the picture.

All in all the whole experience was a lot of fun but also a lot of learning about where the gaming industry is headed. So now to the part you have been waiting for, what do I get out of all this? I’ll tell you.

How did you do SXSW for less than $20 bucks?
Easy, here is how I did it. I monitored twitter ahead of time (about a week or two) to find out what all the special hashtags were for finding the free events, free food, and free parties. I left those tabs open on my phone the whole time I was there and checked them ALL the time. I managed to get free food starting from the official day it started (Friday) until midday Tuesday. I got some free morning snacks during Pi Day (3/14/15). In the picture below they had little Pi’s in both apple and raspberry, because you know, Raspberry Pi? Get it? haha. I also found where my birthday was in Pi, and if you want to learn where yours is at then go to mypiday.com.

Pi

Not bad for managing my time there considering I also got to see Jimmy Kimmel live at the Long Center as well. You need Twitter in order to get around SXSW otherwise you miss all the free stuff popping up all around you. All you really need to survive is free food and then you can just walk up to events happening all around you. The cost for me was the bus rides into downtown and extra things I wanted to buy. Parking downtown is a nightmare during that time and not worth paying for.how to get around SXSW

How people did SXSW before Twitter just amazes me but it also says that you had to have a badge in order to get the book that told you were all the official stuff was. I have no idea how people found the unofficial stuff without Twitter.


Experience SXSW at Home
In case you missed SXSW, guess what! You can still watch all the panels that took place from the comfort of your own home. SXSW has put up majority of the lectures on youtube so I will put the link below so you can find the talks you want to watch. Then after that link I included the visual representation of those talks created by ImageThink. A lot of those images are very helpful in getting the main points from the talks.

Interactive Talks SXSW YouTube

Visual Form of Interactive Talks

Just find the video title and match it with the slide title to see the talk visually.


My time at SXSW was absolutely fun and I always tell people that they need to get out and enjoy it because there is no reason to pass up one of the best festivals in the world if it is right in your own backyard. People spend thousands of dollars to be there so why not take advantage of it for practically nothing?

Thanks for all the fun SXSW, I had a blast and can’t wait to do it all over again next year, hopefully this time as a speaker at Interactive. Austin you look beautiful and I had so much fun walking around everywhere.

Skyline of Austin

If you would like to learn what other cool festivals you should attend this year I posted the link below to some of the best ones including one for women.

Festivals Female Entrepreneurs Can’t Miss

9 Conferences in 2015 that are worth your time and money

Considered one of the Most Innovate Festivals to attend, Invite-Only (Awesomeness Fest)

How to Network a Room

You contemplate attending an event. You say to yourself, “I don’t need to go, I already know plenty of people and besides, who else am I going to meet that I don’t already know?” You know there will be lots of people there and a part of you knows that you should be there but you figure you have other things to work on so you pass up the event. But there is another side of you that is not a fan of these events because you know that to get anything out of it requires you go up to people and talk. The fear of putting yourself in front of others makes you feel vulnerable and helpless, almost like you are begging them for help. The truth of the matter though is that these events are what help spread your career out in ways you never imagined. Don’t forget, they need your help just as much as you need theirs.

The Hell of Networking
Networking can be like hell when it is part of your job to be at events where passing out cards can seem like a waste of time. How many times have you gotten home after an event only to forget who that person was you were talking to? Many industries are popping up to help alleviate that problem, like Vistaprint, the savor of creating any kind of card to hand out to people. Unless you put your face on your card, no one will remember what you look like and what you do.

This is part of why people hate attending networking events. They find the table with the free drinks and hover there until someone else is lingering there and you make the usual insulting remark, “Boy, I hate coming to these networking events.” Whereby the other person replies, “yea, me too. The last time I was here I went home with like twenty cards, all of which went straight to the trash.” This ends with both laughing about how silly the whole thing is but ironically enough each giving the other their card because they enjoyed their time together making fun of everyone else.

Images of these from movies and past networking experiences conjures up bad feelings about networking parties and events. It is easy to see why so many people stay home at night instead of getting out and meeting people. The former doesn’t require any effort because it allows you to stick to your routine, and last time I checked nobody likes it when you mess with the status quo. The truth of the matter is that if you want to advanced your career, make a name for yourself, you need to be out networking.

The Many Faces of Networking
Networking comes in many different forms. Most people are introduced to these events in disguised called “parties” while growing up in school. At first the dance parties in middle school just consisted of boys on one side and girls on the other until some fateful soul makes the attempt to cross the line and asked one to dance. In high school things tend to change with parties being more open and free going at friends’ houses whereby your friends start to introduce you to more people you see in passing but don’t really know.

This is how your social circles start to expand and why the popular kids stay popular because they are always meeting new people and making new friends. The kids who don’t have many friends fear the aspect of getting rejected when they meet new people hence why they stay home more. This is an issue that continues for many who did not have a large social upbringing of always meeting new people. People with a poor social upbringing go on to attend less social events, less networking parties, and host less home events themselves.

College campuses provide many opportunities for people to explore their interests. This is why they say in student orientation, go out and join student organizations. You will meet new people who share the same interests, attend more social events that carry the same theme, and improve your social and networking skills all at the same time. Now think about all the people who go to college just for the courses and then ignore all the social events (or because they have to work) only to find that it is harder to find a job if and when they graduate. It has been shown over and over again that 80% of jobs are found through people you know and word-of-mouth referral. If this is where majority of jobs are found then why do people keep ignoring networking events? Partly because they have terrible networking skills.

College is filled with many opportunities to improve your social skills but the challenge to that is that you have to want to improve yourself first. You have to be aware of your lack of skills to know that you need help improving them. Many people grow up thinking that they don’t need these “soft skills” because they are not as important as having engineering skills or programming skills so they spend more time working on those to make themselves look good for who ever is hiring. Pro-Tip: Companies are more likely to hire someone from one of their current employee referrals than a new hire. Why? The company knows that the current employee has the skills and education needed to work at the company which translate to the type of people they socialize with. If they are friends with that person then they must same similar interests and skills. Pro Tip: Skills matter more than the name of the school you attended.

After college, if you still can not find jobs, applying online is a waste of time because you will only find the short end jobs that always need filling, why? Because most people don’t want to work in those jobs that is why those same job ads are always there. The turnover rate is high. The next networking landscape is specialized networking events. If you are an actor find networking events for your industry, if you are a programmer find networking events just for that, if you want to create businesses then network at incubators and pitch competitions. The challenge with this now is that once you find your area to connect with, how do you know what to do once you get there?

How to Work a Room
1. Approach with a Goal in Mind
Many people attend programs, workshops, and special events with no specific goal in mind. It is common to hear from people that they are only attending to find out what people are talking about and to get a feel for the “market trends” as they like to put it. This is just a simple way of saying, “I don’t know what I am looking for so I am just going with the flow.”

If you are attending a networking group or workshop on industrial design have in mind a few types of people you would like to meet and talk with. Once you have that figured out put a few more limitations on that, like, people who are currently employed with a design firm or industrial (engineering) firm. This will ensure that you are talking with people who understand what is happening in the market and that you learn more about their company and what positions they are hiring for. This also puts you in touch with currently employed contacts instead of people looking for work just like you. It is not uncommon to attend events like this and run into HR managers looking to hire talent right there on the spot. You just have to have the people skills to find them and know how to talk with them.

I attended a design workshop once where, when asked by the speaker how many were looking for work and how many were HR managers who had the ability to hire on the spot, half the room raised their hands looking for work and the other half were HR managers. The speaker then took it upon himself to tell the engineers literally what to say, “ok guys do you see the hands still up in the air? Here is what you do, go up to the person and say, “Hello, my name is so-and-so. I work as a such and such developer or engineer, please tell me more about the positions your company is hiring for.” It is not a secret that engineers have the worst people skills but this goes to show that many people still do not know how to work a room.

2. Work on your opening line
How many times have you run into people and you have to start the conversation? This can get trying for people who have to carry the whole conversation which creates a negative impression about you if you don’t have things to ask or talk about. People like talking with people who have something to share and say. When you meet a new person you should have an opening line that tells a little bit about yourself and leaves room open for the person to ask questions.

Examples: Hi, my name is Matthew, I teach middle school math for a private school and run an educational theater program on the weekends for low-income students. What do you do?

Hi, I’m Johnson, I’m a python coder for small businesses. How about yourself?

Hi, I’m Eric, so what brought you to tonight’s event?

Hi, I’m Frank, so how do you know the host of the party?

There are just a few opening lines to help you get a feel for how you should think about approaching others. You want to have something interesting to share or talk about in the beginning to help get the conversation going. If you can use humor to start things off then even better. Here are 8 more ideas on how to get a good first impression.

3. Stick to the 5 Minute Rule
It is great once you have a conversation going with people in a room. Sometimes the momentum is so great that you don’t want it to end so you figure you should play it safe and just enjoy your time. The truth of the matter is that you came to network and meet new people and you can not do that if you spend all your time talking to one person.

One of the rules that is popular in networking is the 5 minute rule. This means that in five minutes you should be able to introduce yourself, find out a little bit about the other person, share some ideas and connections, exchange business cards and set up a meeting to talk later. That is where the real connections happen later on. The event is to talk to as many people as you can so you can learn about who all is in the room and how you can help them and how they can help you. You spread out those connections throughout the week to meet up for lunch and talk further.

The 5 minute rule is a bit intimidating for new people because it requires a lot of advanced social skills to keep the conversation causal but not forced, friendly but not pushy, and easy going the whole way through. Sometimes the other person might go off on a tangent to tell a story so as to not come off as rude or pushy it requires some skill to bring the conversation back on track and move on.

This rule has exceptions of course, especially if there are not that many people at the event so there is no need to feel rushed but many times when these events only last an hour it can be hard to figure who to spend time with. If after you have talked with everyone then feel free to go back and finish a conversation with someone you enjoyed meeting.

4. Create special reminders on the back of business cards
It can be difficult to remember all the people you talked with at an event, especially if you attend at least three a week. The challenge with business cards is figuring out what to do with all of them after you have them. They take up space if you don’t plan on calling all of them back. The other challenge, once you have them, is remembering exactly what the both of you talked about. A simple trick is to draw or write something on the back of the card to remind you of what you both talked about.

This is really helpful because it keeps your memory on track and helps you pick up where you left off with the person. The simple act of remembering what you both talked about also leaves a positive impression with the person because it shows you cared to remember. The little things really do make a lasting impression with people.

5. Use Humor only if you know how
Humor is a fun tool to use if you know how it works. There are many people who are naturally funny and then there are those that couldn’t tell a joke to save their life. Being funny is a skill but a hard skill to learn if you did not grow up in a home where laughter was a common sound. Understanding the structure and dynamic to a joke is hard to learn in the beginning but worth the effort in the end. Once you know how to tell jokes and you have a natural wit then use it throughout your conversation. People enjoy being around others who can make them laugh and since laughter is the best medicine make sure to administer it when needed.

Humor is a great way to help break the icy feel of a conversation or a tense moment. Humor does many things for people who know how to use it correctly so if you have trouble with being funny or want to be remembered more then here are a few books to read.

How to be Funny on Purpose – Edgar E. Willis
How to be Funny – Davis Prick

6. Always Follow Up
This part is hard for many people afterwards. They feel the connection might not have been there as they thought. When you put to much thinking into something it starts to look different in a new light. Don’t over analyze something because you have no idea what else that person might be working on.

There are many great things you can say about what you remembered from the conversation from last night. It is important in your follow up to mention about meeting up sometime and talking further either for a quick coffee in the morning or lunch. Be sure to mention that you will also share their contact information with people who might be interested in their services. This shows that you are aware of what it is that they do but also willing to take your time to help give them more exposure. You will be surprised how much that really means to people to hear that. They will also feel the same about your services as well and offer the same help in return.


The last part is how you start to gain more exposure for yourself and your line of work. You need the help from other people to get your name out there. If you think that having a killer website and business cards is all that you need then you still do not understand the power of networking. The points I have listed here are just a few that I use when networking so understand there are a lot more things to consider. When you work as a freelancer or entrepreneur your whole line of work relies on excellent people skills. You need to understand how people are and how they present themselves in those kinds of situations.

This is why it is important to start attending as many events as possible. It doesn’t always have to be a networking event to meet people. Meetup.com is a perfect place to meet people of similar interests and connect through there. Once you start to improve your people skills then you can improve your networking skills and start landing job after job. But the only way to do that is to practice, practice, practice, and get yourself in front of people all the time.

Here are a few books you will want to read and study to get the most out of networking. Just remember, networking comes in all forms and just when you think you don’t need to attend anymore that probably means you need to connect with a new group of people to help you see a new perspective in life. Sometimes to get out of a rut the best thing to do is get into something new and challenging.

News Articles

How to Network Like Pro

5 Ways to Tame Your Busy Schedule and Network Like a Pro

How To Network The Right Way: Eight Tips

How to Network Like You Really Mean It

Business networking tips and techniques

Business Card Tips

Creating a Great Business Card

7 Ways to Make Your Business Card Your Best Marketing Tool

30 of the Most Creative Business Cards Ever

51 Creative Business Cards That Will Make You Look Twice

Awesome Business Cards

Books

How to Work a Room – Susan RoAne

Never Eat Alone – Keith Ferrazzi

Who’s Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success–and Won’t Let You Fail – Keith Kerrazzi

The Fine Art of Small Talk – Debra Fine

The Art of Mingling – Jeanne Martinet

The Art of Conversation: A Guided Tour of a Neglected Pleasure – Catherine Blyth

Confident Conversation: How to Communicate Successfully in Any Situation – Mike Bechtle

People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts – Robert Bolton

25 Ways to Win with People: How to Make Others Feel Like a Million Bucks – John C. Maxwell

How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less – Nicholas Boothman

Networking like a Pro – Ivan Misner

Masters of Networking: Building Relationships for Your Pocketbook and Soul – Ivan Misner

Effortless Small Talk: Learn How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere… Even If You’re Painfully Shy – Andy Arnott

Networking Is Not Working: Stop Collecting Business Cards and Start Making Meaningful Connections – Derek Coburn

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love – Cal Newport

Social Fluency: Genuine Social Habits to Work a Room, Own a Conversation, and be Instantly Likeable…Even Introverts! – Patrick King

How To Be Social: Improve Your Social Skills to be Outgoing & Able to Walk Into Any Room, Work it like a Pro – Gabriel Angelo