Moving to Vancouver. Online and offline networking experience
Some of you, my closest ones, already know that this September - October 2009 I move for some years, no idea how many, to Vancouver, Canada. Besides practical issues like arrange immigration papers, rent an apartment, open a bank account and so the first goal to achieve here is to get a job.
You move to a city in the other side of the hemisphere, how do you that? Go figure.
Sure I'm going to state the obvious if I say that nobody is going to offer you a nice job if they don't have a clear idea of who the hell you are, what you have to offer and, previous to any real deal, meeting you in person. Put my brain to work.
I have never been a naturally born public relations guy, I always hated networking for business purposes and self promoting is not definitely my best art although I consider myself an affable one who likes to practice the noble art of conversation.
To add a grain of salt, English talking is not something I feel comfortable with. I have to improve it a lot and being aware I had not my best weapon fully loaded made me feel not self-confident. Fortunately I'm stubborn as a mule and nothing is going to make me dismount the horse I'm breaking.
Here I want to share the way I've been doing it for the pure pleasure of putting it under your magnifying glass to examine critically.
Some keywords to start, bad mailing to finish
Months before moving to the city and as a SEO brained the most easy and expected thing to do was asking google.ca (not .es) about 'seo', 'seo consultant', 'search marketing' and some more related plus the location 'vancouver', them write down in a spreadsheet first 50 results more or less quickly filtering some of them.
First task, distinguish big players from medium, little ones or freelancers (analytics style: relevancy and segmentation). Which ones are the nice to target and contact? Taking a look at their website gives you some idea how serious a business can be.
Unforgivable mistake for online marketing agencies or freelance marketeers having a bad, outdated, non-usable site. You can no imagine how bad quite a lot they are. I should have made a case study.
After collecting their contact details, email or contact fom URL, postal address, phone, etc I sent a quite dense (first error) email explaining the purpose, remarking my experience, knowledge and asking for a job opportunity. I did it in the middle of August (second error).
In conclusion very low response (sometimes I wonder if Canadians read their email but this is another story) and the ones answering back had nothing to offer.
Marketing is learning by failure.
Shake hands online and arrange visits offline
Let's do it old school way, try to get (digitally) in contact and arrange meetings once in the city. I planed to visit Vancouver for 10 days middle September before moving first days of October with this purpose in mind.
Linkedin has helped a lot. Performing searches with related keywords and city you can guess, who is who locally in a certain industry, names and pictures, companies size and specialties and so.
100% of the people I asked to be part of my contacts accepted maybe because I wrote something more personal than the default message and immediately, I started following the ones having Twitter accounts.
That was my way to create some 'awareness'. Before showing up everybody had an slightly idea who I was more or less (the crazy guy from Barcelona coming here while everybody wants to be there).
I could arrange some few but interesting meetings. That was starting to rock!
Hint #1: update your profile pics often, you have no idea how hard can be recognize anybody in a jam packed bar during networking meetings if the pic is outdated.
Fortune knocks at my door: IMC Vancouver '09
Don't remember how it came to me but discovered Internet Marketing Conference was scheduled around the days I was planing to move to the city so no better chance to have all the relevant professionals and companies under the same roof three days in a row.
Luky guy: Launch Party 8 same week
"Launch Party Vancouver is a lively mixer for the city's brightest entrepreneurs, tech junkies, and bloggers, who are doing it, have done it or want to make their ideas happen" in plain English: networking for internet ones.
Two events in a week, what else I could ask? Vancouver seems to be the city of non stop events. Could this be the reason for so many expensive cars here?
The way they do networking helps a lot. People is really friendly, they come to you, introduce themselves and hand in a business card, then you tell your story.
Hint #2: Get printed and take with you business or personal cards. I felt ridiculous telling everybody I had no cards. Fortunately, yes, they have and I could get their contacting details.
Results of the 'self promoting in a rush' experiment
After every IMC day or event, going back home, check the cards collected and continue building relationships.
Even better, people introduced me to third ones I did not recognized or knew nothing about in an early stage of it increasing my chances to achieve the original goal.
Hint #3: Thank those who accept you to be one of their contacts at Linkedin and send a direct message or mention those who follow you on twitter. It is all about human relationships no matter the tools you use, old basic rules of conventional requirements as to social behavior are always a must.
Everything together allowed me to meet 99% of the people contacted previously via Linkedin+Twitter. By the way I use Hootsuite, the finest and more professional Twitter client to manage accounts.
Most of the preferred ones in my list of companies offered themselves to have a more formal meting at their offices to know in detail about my professional background, experience and expertise, isn't it amazingly fantastic?
In fact there was another networking party organized by IMC in a boat but adjusting timezones and all this stress made me to desist as job was mostly done.
Today after IMC closing I enjoyed alone a cold Corona at Art Gallery terrace while a jazz quartet was playing Davis, Coltrane and Monk standards watching the life pass by at always busy Robson Street.
Thank you all amigos for your time and patience with my horrible English.