Networking in four words – You’re Doing It Wrong

People keep telling you that networking works for them, but when you go to networking events, you try to sell sell sell but nobody buys.

That’s because you’re doing it wrong.

Selling is not how you network. People can smell your desperation, but even if they couldn’t, selling is not how you network. Nobody wants to be sold to. You don’t, so why should they? Stop doing it. It doesn’t work.

You may never do business with someone you meet at a networking event. But you might know someone who needs what they do. You meet people at networking events, and you connect them with other people you’ve met at networking events, and they do business with each other, and they’re both happy.

Meanwhile, they’re doing the same thing for you.

You will feel more comfortable when you network this way, because you will not be selling. Not your product, not your service, and not your integrity. You’ll be helping people, which is what you’d rather be doing. You’ll be more comfortable that way. More natural. More human.

You’ll also be more successful.

Let’s face it. Ratcheting up the quantity of cold calls because only 0.1% converts is painful. You don’t want to do that. You want to network the way I’ve described. Now you have my permission.


The above was inspired by an excellent presentation given by Terri DeBoo, Business Growth Advisor, Ideas @ Work, Nope, she doesn’t have dollar signs in her eyes.


I saw Terri at the NorthWest Chapter of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. You may have noticed how well I network online. I recently noticed that I really got good at it when I quit posting sales pitches. The same applies to in-person networking.

Last year, I met Tom at an event, then introduced him to Trish at another event without actually knowing what business either of them was in. Tom became Trish’s customer, he was happy, she was happy, I was happy. The end. That’s what networking is. Story over.

Until, six months later, when Trish’s company wrote some ebooks about Tom’s business and decided they needed editing. Guess who they called?

Networking 101, and I hadn’t even met Terri yet.

Thank you Terri!

5 Common Marketing Myths Debunked plus 3 Truisms

1) Social Media is Magic
“This really works, and if you don’t believe me, look at what the big companies are doing.” Um, you’re not a big company. You don’t have their budget. You didn’t write a 300-page business card of a book, full of bad advice to help you sell seminars to big corporations with more money than sense. Their advice doesn’t apply to you.

2) Email Lists – Buy, Rent, Spam, Win
Just like junk mail but you don’t have to buy stamps. I focus on being easy to find, not knocking on doors and screaming “buy my stuff.” If somebody needs an editor, they’ll look for one. If they don’t, all the emails in the world won’t turn them into customers. So not only is it annoying to send and annoying to receive, but it doesn’t work. Don’t buy lists, don’t harvest, don’t do mass emailing.

3) Search Engines… Yeah, that’s the ticket
If you know what terms your ideal customer would look for, use those terms in your content. But write your content for humans first. Always be useful. Always be helpful. Ask yourself, “Would I do this if there were no search engines?” If the answer is “no,” then don’t do it. That’s how you make yourself findable by search engines, not by keyword density and SEO voodoo from pseudo-experts who are just guessing anyway. One algorithm update and they freak out because they’re not adding value, just gaming a system. Not only is that a bad way for you to actually connect with potential customers you can actually help, but it doesn’t work. Let Google punish you one time and you’ll regret every slurp of the snake oil, because that’s worse than paying for something you never receive. That’s paying money to actively screw yourself over.

4) Blogging – Write any damn thing and they will come
If you have something to say, say it. If you’re trying to meet a posting quota, don’t bother. Quotas and schedules are artificial, there’s already too much content in the world, and the way to solve that is not to create more useless content. This is why the good stuff that you and I write is so hard to find. Why do you read the blogs that you read? Your readers will read your blog for the same reason. Quality, not quantity, meaning you have my permission to blog monthly instead of daily if you want. Yearly might not be frequent enough.

5) You Must Do This To Succeed
Whatever it is, no you must not. If you know why it would be good for you to do it, then do it. But if the only reason you have is that some internet guru said so… You know your business better than he does, and now I question his credibility because he insisted that we must do something. Don’t believe him unless he makes sense. For you.

If that doesn’t work, well, what does?

1) Your Website
Ten years from now, all your favorite social media sites will be gone. Your website and your email address won’t be. How many Twitter followers do I have? Over 75,000. How many visit my website? Maybe twenty. So I’m a loser. Are you?

2) Help People Find You
That’s the biggest challenge, isn’t it? But again, big ad budgets aren’t the answer. You’ll just spend money, which will make somebody happy, but it won’t be you. The way to help people find you is to be targeted, focused, and above all helpful. Feel free to use any tactic you’ve heard about, but blend them into your own strategy. My strategy involves minimal self-promotion, and just enough blogging and social media to stay “top of mind.” Since my name happens to be my USP, that’s enough. Anyone can find me without trying very hard. That’s what works for me, but I have no idea what works for you. You’ll just have to figure that one out for yourself.

3) Know Your Customer
This is the beginning of all that works. Know your ideal customer. Know his interests, know his problems, know what he’s looking for, know where he’ll go to find it. Keep that in front of your mind as you decide what to try, what to write, where to spend. If it’s a tactic that would never convince you to buy, it probably won’t convince him or her to buy either. To succeed, you need to build relationships and solve problems. This leads to satisfied customers, steady income, and the joy of making the world a better place.

Free Copy of Teach Yourself Creative Writing

At Zhejiang University, I spent a semester teaching Advanced English Writing to 59 students. The next semester, it was 158 students, and the following semester it was 193 students. A few years later, I taught about a dozen Americans online. These are my lesson plans. Work through them and be a better writer. Or use them in class. Or just laugh at them. I don’t care.

The usual Kindle price is 99 cents, but this week it’s free if you click right here.

The 78-page paperback is $5.70 and you should click the link just to see the cat on the cover.

The hardcover version is a figment of my imagination, and the stone tablets with the cuneiform aren’t ready yet because I carve slowly.

But I Don’t Have Enough Editing To Hire An Editor

Every author needs an editor. When you read your own writing, you don’t see what you wrote. You see what you thought. That’s why you’re so much better at spotting the mistakes of others than the ones in your own writing.

Anything you write must establish your credibility, which it won’t do if you’re unclear or if you make too many simple “oops” mistakes.

I probably haven’t told you anything you don’t already know.

And yet, most businesses just plain don’t produce enough literature for a full-time editor.

  • At All-Spec Static Control, I spent two weeks doing nothing but editing the new catalog. They printed one every three months. What would they have me do the rest of the time?
  • The English Channel was published in Hong Kong every month. I could edit an issue in an intense two days, but they had me in the office five days a week. What would they have me do the rest of the time?
  • I spent eight years at Eastern Instruments doing enough editing to make it part of my job title. (Titles are cheaper than raises.) They probably produced more literature than any ten-person outfit you’ll ever find. But even so, they couldn’t give me forty hours a week of it. Not even close.

I could go on, but we’d all get bored.

Ideally, you want everything you write to be edited by a professional, who had no part in writing it, before anybody else ever sees it. So, do you hire a full-time editor, find that person enough other job functions to do when there’s no editing to do, and hope for the best? Do you hire a part-time editor and let the editing pile up on that person’s days off? Do you give up on the “professional” part and just grab whoever’s walking by? Or do you outsource?

Outsourcing your editing and proofreading gets you greater expertise, a lower price, faster service, and fewer headaches than hiring an employee to do it.

The whole point of outsourcing is to lower your stress levels. Otherwise, fire that contractor.

Eleven Quotations Worth Sharing

The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion. (Thomas Paine)

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened. (Winston Churchill)

Everyone thinks of changing others, but no one thinks of changing himself. (Leo Tolstoy)

A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be. (Albert Einstein)

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. (Aldous Huxley)

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. (Lao Tzu)

All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone. (Blaise Pascal)

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. (George Bernard Shaw)

We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do. (Ethel Barrett)

It is never too late to become what you might have been. (George Eliot)

It’s not God’s job to make the world a better place. It’s yours. (Sara Robinson)

Croatan Bookery, Kill Devil Hills, Norman H. Hinton, and Vantage Press

booksI recommend Croatan Bookery, the used bookstore attached to Roanoke Press in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, to anyone who feels like driving all the way up to the northeast tip of North Carolina. I didn’t expect such a large and impressive selection in such a small town.

I bought three books. The first is a novel that I’ll review on Goodreads as always.

The second is a first edition from 1917 called The Knack of Managing. It cites the example of a 60-page report from a consulting firm that’s totally accurate but fails to contain a single fact the hiring company didn’t already know. Not only is this a real-world story we can all relate to, but it describes the book. 100% accurate, and filled with facts I already knew.

My third book is Sayings a la carte about Business and Life by Norman H. Hinton. It was published in 1989 by Vantage Press, so you know what that means. You’ve never seen it in a library or bookstore and you never will. I could lie about it. I could steal from it. I could just make stuff up. But instead, I’d rather share a few favorites. Here we go…

A great manager is full of vinegar and vision – as distinguished from acid and gas.

The great manager has a rare breadth of vision – he can lift high his eyes without losing sight of the bottom line.

A great manager doesn’t call his mistakes “learning experiences” – he calls them “mistakes” no matter how much he learns from them.

A great manager overcomes the temptation to shroud his failures in silence and bury them in nameless graves.

A long memory for how it was to be an individual employee, makes the great manager a great listener.

It pays to have a larger purpose in doing business than just having it pay.

A failure unexamined is a total failure.

That some executive offices resemble throne rooms is not always coincidental.

The operative purpose of many meetings is simply to be held.

When the team reaches a new consensus, a yesman suddenly realizes that’s what he believes all along.

When a manager tells his people he doesn’t want to be surrounded by a bunch of yesmen, he expects them to say “yes” to that, too.

Charisma is the spice of leadership, not its substance.

Among planners, there are those who sternly navigate by the ship’s wake instead of the stars.

When a business succeeds for unanticipated reasons, these may be quietly added to the original plan.

Schooling is only a step toward an education.

The student who starts thinking for himself has already outgrown most colleges.

To thine own self be true – if you know who that is.

A wealth of data is no cure for poverty of thought.

A belief unexamined and unfelt is not really held – only professed.

Ignorance is no excuse for stupidity.

When logic tries to do battle with prejudice, it’s no contest.

Choose your mental ruts carefully – you may be spinning your wheels in them for a lifetime.

The person who appears to be listening with rapt attention may just be waiting for a cue to his own lines – and hears only the cue.

What is billed as a dialogue may turn out to be a couple of face-to-face monologues.

Money is wonderful: if you can’t find happiness where you are, you can go any place you wish – and continue the fruitless search there.

Money is the root of evil to about the same extent that soap is the cause of compulsive handwashing.

Human nature is so versatile, it can confirm almost any theory of human behavior.

Most stubborn of all is the person who has to seem certain because he isn’t.

Candor is a virtue more admired than practiced.

“I don’t know” is sometimes an understatement.

Everyone wants to be discovered, but no one wants to be found out.

The Perils and Pitfalls of Self-Editing

You write a letter, a website, a spec sheet, a tech manual, your company’s response to an RFP, a novel, an inspirational self-help guide to leadership and personal growth, a blog entry.

Then you edit yourself.

Well, I hope you edit yourself.

Then what?

Editing your own writing is harder than editing somebody else’s writing. When you edit your own writing, you know what you meant to say. When you edit someone else’s writing, all you have to go on is what they’ve actually written.

Let me unleash Mark Twain on you. Here’s what he wrote in 1898:

You think you are reading proof, whereas you are merely reading your own mind; your statement of the thing is full of holes & vacancies but you don’t know it, because you are filling them from your mind as you go along.

This happens whenever you self-edit. It happens whenever I self-edit. It’s so much easier to catch another person’s mistakes than it is to catch your own.

The best trick I’ve got for self-editing is to put your writing away, go do something else, clear your mind, forget what you’ve written, go back to it with fresh eyes, and be amazed at what you find.

What do you do next? Well, if it’s at all possible, I put the writing away until my head clears yet again, then go back and find more things I missed. Hopefully we’re past the “oops” stage of mistakes at this point and into the more in-depth improvements. But not necessarily.

How many times do you repeat this process? With one of my novels, it could be a dozen times or more. For a customer, four or five times is the norm. With a blog post like this, maybe two or three times. But whatever’s right. Doing it too much is better than not doing it enough.

What I really want, ideally, is to read my thing all the way through and not find a single problem large or small.

Then I give it to my lovely wife and she spots what I overlooked, because nobody can self-edit perfectly.

If you don’t have an editor “in house,” outsource it.

Is it impossible to have an editor on call?

Yes. Yes, it is. Thank you for reading.

I’m serious.

You don’t know when you’re going to write. You don’t know how much you’re going to write. You don’t know how much time it will take you to get your document ready for editing.

If you hire a full-time editor, what will he or she do when there’s nothing to edit?

If you hire a part-time editor, you’ll end up writing when the editor isn’t around because Murphy’s Law says so.

Meanwhile, if you send something out unedited, will it always be simple, clear, easy to understand, and impossible to misunderstand? No. No, it will not. It might even have bloopers of the sort that Michael so many people get a perverse pleasure from mocking.

The best solution is to do what I did and marry your editor, but then you might write sixteen books, and good luck on getting that kind of loyalty from an editor spouse.

Okay, the best solution is to find a self-employed editor who spends too much time online every day and send him an edit while he’s already at the computer playing games doing something useful. It doesn’t have to be me. It just needs to be somebody. Every author needs an editor.

So while it’s still impossible to have an editor on call, you can get close. If you give the editor a little warning, he’ll clear a spot on his schedule for you. Just don’t say “Be ready for me to send you something in about an hour” and then make him wait three days. You’re not the plumber or the cable TV installer. You’re more professional than that.

[That wasn't nice. I used to be the copier repair guy. I know how hard it is to predict when you'll show up. But I did always get the day right. That's not too much to ask, is it?]

How people find my blog

It’s been ages since I wrote one of these columns, but what makes this one unique is how boring it is. Let’s get started!

  • my life so boring
    life is boring
    bored nothing to strive for
    my life boring quotes
    life is boring quotes
    boring quotes

When I titled my latest nonfiction work Why Is My Life So Boring?, I just knew I was tapping into something.

  • program yourself to a can do attitude

The phrase sounds like guru voodoo, but the theme is part of the aforementioned Why Is My Life So Boring? The question isn’t whether or not we’re programmed. Of course we are. But if you don’t program yourself, you’re letting others do it for you. And if you are programming yourself, why not make it positive rather than negative?

  • information on united electronics institute tampa, fl

Life at UEI in Tampa was never boring. It’s where I earned my A.S. Degree in Electronics Technology, and it’s probably worth its own blog post. I’m stunned that a fellow graduate is looking for information on the place. I graduated in 1983 and returned in 1989 for a free refresher course. The facilities were much improved, the lab work was damn impressive, the tests actually tested something besides your ability to pay, and tuition had quadrupled. I felt their days were numbered, since they cost more than any of Florida’s state universities, and I was correct. They closed soon after.

  • how much editors make money?
    make money blogging and editing from home
    how to earn money editing to make money
    why do all the gurus tell you theirs is free and then charge you money for their programs
    how much does scribendi pay its editors

Step One. Learn how to spell editing.

Oh, those crazy gurus. Could it be that they make enough money charging for their programs to never actually implement them?

There’s so much good free information out there that I don’t even recommend paying $3.51 for my own book on how to make money editing from home. Just click the link in the black menu bar at the top of this page.

In that book, I set up a website for the long term, used Elance and Guru to jump-start my recommendations, and relied on Scribendi as a safety net during the lean times. Now it’s all LinkedIn, my website, and in-person networking. I quit Guru, I quit Elance, and I quit Scribendi, and it feels great to be busy enough without the trio. But they’ll still get you started.

If you want to learn how much Scribendi pays, go to their site, not mine. The editor gets half of what the customer pays, but you didn’t hear that from me.

Write a blog post a week, get rich, travel the world because free plane tickets and hotel rooms come from the same magical mystical place that your income is coming from. Oh, don’t you wish.

I know how to build an editing business. The same way we build any other business. Be honest, be the best at what you do, find customers who need what you do, treat them fairly, bust your ass, overdeliver, and build your business one customer at a time. I love editing because (1) words and (2) I can get repeat business lasting eight or ten years from a single customer, which is easier than finding new ones all the time.

  • how to write a thesis

Be clear, be simple, be easy to understand and impossible to misunderstand. If you can delete a word, sentence, or paragraph without sacrificing clarity or meaning, do it. It’s outta there! Less is always better. The way to increase word count isn’t by adding words, but by presenting more information. That’s how to write the whole paper. Any paper.

For a thesis statement, you’ll probably write one to get you started, then change it after you’ve written the whole paper and know exactly what it’s about. And because your initial thesis statement might be boring.

  • dilbert and business writing

One of my favorite blog posts is on that very topic, and Scott Adams wrote all except one sentence.

Climbing the Currituck Beach Light Station

With a name like that, you think there’s no suspense. But you’re wrong. I don’t say whether or not I succeeded.

Let’s start with a photo of the light house. One of the few photos of Jan and I together, courtesy of a nice man from Ohio who was just passing by.


Currituck Beach is in Corolla, North Carolina, one of the barrier islands. Nags Head, Okracoke, Roanoke, and Hatteras are the ones you may have heard of. Okay, maybe not Okracoke, but I like the word. We were at Nags Head, but you can probably drive from one end to the other in a little over two hours, so knock yourself out.

Here’s Jan again, looking beautiful again. This is the residence of the people who worked in the light house. Two people alternating 12-hour shifts. Note that Jan’s on the ground. She stayed there.


The lighthouse is old enough not to meet modern building codes, so before I climbed, I signed a waiver saying that nobody would get sued if I died up there. I haven’t sued anybody since I got back to America. What’s wrong with me? Anyway, I signed. Let’s climb.

It’s 220 steps to the top. Here’s a picture I took about halfway up.


Taking photos like that is scary. Leaning out, hoping I won’t fall, hoping I won’t drop my camera. Let’s look out a couple of windows. These weren’t so bad, since the walls are nice and thick. Three feet thick at the parapet and five feet eight inches at the base. First time I’ve ever used parapet in a sentence? Probably. The little black dot on the ground that you probably won’t notice in the first photo is Jan. She didn’t see me either.



It’s 162 feet to the top. I took this photo from inside, before stepping out onto the scary platform, hat off, glasses off, hanging onto the railing and walking around. I used to be such a badass, but this was scary. I loved it.


I put the camera away after that. Well, after one more photo of the stairs, because those can be taken from inside.


Back on the ground, here are some photos from the adjoining park.



Finally, check out what the climb did to my hair.


You can see professional photos at but you won’t see my hair.