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

Mike McAllen interview – co-founder of Grass Shack Events & Media

Mike McAllen is one of the cofounders of Grass Shack Events & Media worldwide boutique production company based in the San Francisco Bay Area with offices in Honolulu and New York City.

Mike spent several years running the production department of the largest corporate production company in California before starting Grass Shack Events & Media.

Grass Shack concentrates on communicating clients messages through corporate events & meetings, videos, and new media. Grass Shack has been involved with Social Media initiatives for several clients via podcasting, setting up blogs and other technology based communication tools to further the communications of their clients.

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

Mike McAllen: The landscape of interactions has changed dramatically in the last few years. With the addition of technology based sites for networking it has only enhanced the face to face meet up opportunities for all businesses.

I feel business networking is the foundation of good sales and marketing. Most all sales are relationship driven so always expanding your network is essential.

Josh: Can you share an idea or two that someone could put into practice that would help them to improve their business networking skills?

Mike McAllen: I think picking an online business network and a face to face network and concentrating on getting the most out of them is the best practice. For example join LinkedIn and a couple of industry groups in Linkedin and really get involved. Same with a face to face group such as the American Marketing Association or what ever industry association that correlate to your business. And get involved! Volunteer to help.

Josh: What is your favorite (preferred) business or social networking site? In your opinion what are the key features which are most valuable to you? What makes the resources you use most appealing to you, as opposed to the other online networking resources and sites that are available?

Mike McAllen: I built a blog/podcast called MeetingsPodcast.com which targets my companies industry this past year and have been joined by two industry friends. This site has been a great way for me to get involved with my community. We as a team have weekly roundtable podcasts and also weekly interviews with industry folks.

We also branch off and use Linkedin, Facebook, and twitter to enhance and find like minded people in our space. The Key features are to build relationships and help others in our business and to make friends. The most appealing thing about the networking sites we use is we are comfortable with them and they are the most popular sites.

I get a constant stream of new networking sites daily and you have to draw the line somewhere. But find the one or two you enjoy and stick to them.

Josh: Do you see any common mistakes that 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 with others?

Mike McAllen: I think going to a networking site and blurting out what your company does in every message you send or write has a negative effect and falls on deaf ears.

I read somewhere that you should treat social networking sites like a cocktail party. Would you walk up to a group of people and blurt out what you do for a living? Or would you say hello, listen for a bit and then comment and join the conversation? This is how I try and network.

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

Mike McAllen: I have so many examples or finding a resource in some city I am visiting but just putting out on LinkedIn or twitter that I need some help. Just recently I was in Dallas for an event and needed a production assistant I had four great leads in an hour. But of course I try and spend time helping the community also.

Doing a little research to help someone when you see someone looking for help pays dividends. First it feels good to help someone and second you just made another connection which as you know could lead to more business. Plus that person is now part of your community.

– Happy Networking! Josh Hinds
(Follow me on: twitter)

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