Expert Advice On Business Networking And Tips On Developing Your Networking Skills

Joe Pulizzi interview – Founder and Chief Content Officer of Junta42

Joe Pulizzi is the founder and chief content officer of Junta42. Joe is also president of Z Squared Media, LLC, Junta42’s parent company. Previously as Vice President for Penton Media, Inc., the largest independent business media company in North America, Joe worked with global Fortune 1000 marketers from a variety of vertical and horizontal sectors, becoming one of the leading experts in content marketing and custom publishing strategy.

Awarded “Top Mover and Shaker Under 35” by Cleveland20/30, Joe is a board member of the Custom Publishing Council, former chairperson of American Business Media’s Custom Media Committee, and an editorial advisory board member for B2B Marketing Trends. His background includes employment at two .com companies and teaching public speaking and communication theory for Penn State University, where he received a Master of Arts in Communications (MAC).

Joe also writes one of the leading content marketing blogs on the Internet, The Content Marketing Revolution, the official blog of Junta42.

Josh: How do you define Business Networking and why do you feel it is important?

Joe Pulizzi: Business networking is all about helping others succeed, and in the process, finding colleagues with like skills and passions. Any business, no matter how big or small, cannot function without getting help along the way. Much of that help comes from networking.

Josh: Can you share a few ideas that someone could put into practice that would help them to improve their business networking skills?

Joe Pulizzi: I’ve found the most effective way to network is through blogging. I’ve met more people through my blog that anything else I’ve ever done. The best part is that those people that are drawn to your blog almost always share a passion with you.

I recommend that anyone who is serious about business networking start a blog. For those that just can’t fathom the idea, read and comment on the top 20 blogs in your area. That alone will lead to vast networking opportunities.

Josh: For some people knowing where to go to network in the first place is a problem. Can you share some specific resources, events, or places that you have found helpful for meeting new people and growing your business network (either offline or online)?

Joe Pulizzi: Outside of the blogging, which is #1, I’ve found that trade shows and associations are a great way to meet new people. The key is follow up. First meet someone, then follow up through email, or better yet, send them a linkedin or Facebook invitation. That way, you’re sure to stay in touch with them.

Josh: Joe, how do you keep track of your networking contacts? Do you have any particular system in place for managing your business networking relationships?

Joe Pulizzi: I don’t keep a separate networking system, but LinkedIn would probably be the most complete. I try to make sure that every few months I send something out to each contact. Just from that activity alone, I usually find new business opportunities. I also use Facebook, Twitter, Plaxo and my own website, Junta42.com, to keep up with my network. Whenever there is a new internet tool, I like to at least try it. You never know what can help until you give it a taste.

Josh: Do you see any common mistakes people tend to make when it comes to attempting to make business connections? If so, what are they and what corrections could they make in your opinion which would help them to be more effective in their approach towards networking?

Joe Pulizzi: Yes. I feel some people try to force a relationship. They make contact and then almost abuse the opportunity from the start by asking for too many things. I had one person contact me through LinkedIn. We accepted contacts with each other, and the next day I was hit up with 5 introduction requests. It was easy to break off contact with that person.

The key is to start slow. Trust won’t happen until there is regular communication between the two people. That’s why blogging is so important. If you comment on someone’s blog for a period of time, they begin to trust you even if they’ve never met you before.

Josh: How important has networking been in your own professional life. Can you share an example or two where it has made a difference?

Joe Pulizzi: It’s hard to separate my business life from networking. I wouldn’t be at this place in my career without the people I have met. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to start a business.

As for an example, here’s an easy one. When I left Penton Media in March of 2007 to start my new job, I had no business lined up. Within 6 months, I had more consulting business than I knew what to do with. All of that business came from direct referrals from people I had met within the last year. It was simply awesome. One of the biggest ones came from a referral from someone who was featured in a local magazine. I liked the story and sent an email introduction. He emailed back that we should grab coffee. We became friends and colleagues, and that led to a number of new business contacts for me.

I believe if you treat every person as important, and as a unique opportunity, special things can happen.

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