In reality, Community Outreach is anyone inside of netlogx that interfaces with anyone outside of netlogx. Community Outreach, in terms of team title, comprises Nick Petrone, Stacy Shew, and myself. We are a relatively new team and our priority is to build connections in the private sector and explore potential opportunities that may exist for netlogx. We are, however, NOT selling.
Our day-to-day lives are truly an exercise in tenacity, resilience, and an epidermal layer of animal hide supported by an infrastructure of patience required only by preschool teachers, research scientists, and anyone waiting for “the right thing” to be done.
Building a relationship is not as simple as it used to be; hurtling up to the sandbox or swing set and saying “Hi I am xxxxxxxx, do you want to be my best friend?”
Being able to penetrate a company is tantamount to passing through a vacuum seal on a space ship, so the best place to start trying to connect is at an event. I truly believe that 99% (well maybe 95%) of people bring some value to society, and we should be respectful, sincere, and personal in our interactions with everyone; however, at an event that can be very time consuming.
We have all attended events, anywhere from 20 to 2000 people. How difficult can it be? Starting up conversation with a total stranger, without sounding like a lounge lizard, is always so easy, right? “Do you come here often?” does not work so well, and walking away without being rude from someone who is selling body oils, silk scarves, or landscaping and would have no need for netlogx’ services is a challenge.
I hear those cynics among you, “well you are at the wrong event!” If it were only that simple. These events attract a plethora of business people because there really is a huge opportunity for everyone to learn from each other; from experts in plenary sessions and from stories recounted by successful small business owners and the sage wisdom, advice and experience from the muckety mucks in the C suites!
We are usually handed name badges, with or without company names attached. Half the time we are wearing the wrong glasses to read because we are looking for faces, so the first weirdo move we make is staring at the chest area trying to ascertain from the small print of a name tag if this will be a valuable person to “make friends” with. To be close enough to do that you are breaking the human bubble and an opener of sorts is required. Your motives change, rightly or wrongly, into social banter and a discovery exercise about who else they know or you know that can be mutually beneficial. It is a circuitous route to an end goal that is still blocked by an air lock.
Supposing we do make a connection, we can’t “sell” at this point of the relationship, so you search for mutual interest, trying to listen carefully to store information about what is important to them or identify their needs and then attempt to secure another meeting. The buying process is long and trying to determine where, if anywhere, this person fits into that process is challenging. So typically there is a card exchange and all looks good until you start to try and reconnect. Crickets. We connect on LinkedIn, with some luck, at least if they are active on LinkedIn we can learn more about their interests. We email again. We call and talk to a machine.
When did it become socially acceptable to ignore emails? If someone talks directly to you, how rude would it be to just not respond? I would rather read a “no thank you, not at this time” than just be ignored. Your follow up can consist of information that, from that early conversation or LinkedIn, you have deemed may be pertinent to this person, or another invite to an event or just a coffee. Being ignored leads to following up repeatedly. The resulting moral dilemma is are you “following up” or are you stalking?!
We think we are providing value, offering industry information, in the hopes conversation will follow and lead to further exposure to decision makers. We are trying to establish netlogx as thought leaders and Subject Matter Experts with people in a variety of industries dealing with their own budgets, business processes, IT infrastructure, and security that is working well until it is not working well.
The reality is that we have to delve into our clients as much as we can to learn about them and there are more walls than gates. Our timelines may be very different. We may identify the right company, the right person, the right service, but it may be the wrong time.
We have to court a lot of frogs and there are very few royal weddings. When you say or hear people say, “what does the Community Outreach team do all day?” Come talk to us, we will happily share and if you have ideas or leads we are very receptive. That may just be the conversation that leads to a great opportunity for netlogx.