Colin Wright on Minimalist Business Networking

April 21st, 2010 § 0 comments

How minimalism can help you focus on networking

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Colin Wright is one of my favorite minimalists. He’s built a sustainable design studio with a 6-figure income, while moving to a new continent every 4 months. He blogs at Exile Lifestyle about lifestyle design, minimalism, and working from anywhere.

Since leaving the United States last year, he’s been through dozens of countries: Buenos Aires, Peru, Australia and now New Zealand. Meanwhile, he reduced his physical possessions to just 51 things.

I interviewed Colin for the first time last year, when he was still in South America.

An interview on minimalism, networking, and building awesome relationships.

When you’re building a location independent business, it’s incredibly important to develop good networking skills.

Colin is one of the networking masters — using his skills to get himself onto TV in New Zealand, build strong relationships with clients, and build network of remarkable bloggers to support his business.

Today, Colin released his first premium e-book, Networking Awesomely. This is a follow up to his two other two free e-books available on his site.

While Colin’s e-book isn’t exactly minimalist focused, I can’t stress how important it is to build strong relationships when building your location independent business. I learned a number of important networking strategies while reading my preview copy of Networking Awesomely.

I imagine that this e-book isn’t for everyone! That’s okay. I enjoyed learning how to network better, and if you’re into making human business connections, this can teach you more than you need to know.

Included in the e-book is 26 short essays by other rockstar networkers, including myself! I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to contribute to this project.

How to Network Awesomely with Colin Wright.

Anyway, here’s the interview. We spoke about building relationships in unexpected places, helping people, and how minimalism can lead you to focus on making strong connections.

Everett Bogue: You relocate to a new continent every few months. What is one strategy that you have for meeting people in new places?

Colin Wright: A big part of meeting people in a completely unfamiliar place where you don’t know anyone is to figure out a way to get yourself on the right people’s radar and position yourself from the get-go as someone worth knowing.

This can mean many things, but for me this usually means getting in contact with people of influence who live where I’ve moved and then meeting more people through that group.

In Argentina I made a lot of fantastic connections through a social network called A Small World, and in particular through one connector named Justo, who was also a member. Justo and his wife love to introduce people around and have visitors over for tea and conversation, and they are also entrepreneurs, so they run with the kind of people I want to meet.

In New Zealand I made an appearance on a widely-watched morning TV show, which led to hundreds of emails, invitations and new opportunities. Being on TV gave me an immediate advantage in networking in that people knew something about me and what I did, and could even recognize me in public. Boom, instant network.

Doing a quick search on Twitter to see who is active in your area is a great way to meet people, too, as generally folks who are active on social networks are more likely to want to make new connections.

Everett: What is one way our readers can break the ice with a new contact in a
strange place?

Colin: Do something nice for them.

Invite them out to an event you’re going to, share a meal, offer your services, whatever. If you pay it forward a bit, the other person will know right away that you aren’t a threat, and in fact can be an asset to them. This gives them incentive to help you out where they can, as well.

Everett: Can being minimalist help you focus on meeting people and developing quality relationships?

Colin: Absolutely. If you are focused on accumulating possessions, generally you spend more time trying to earn earn earn and the dollar becomes the main priority.

If you are focused on meeting new people and having novel experiences, on the other hand, money ceases to be quite so important, making it easier not to be such a penny-pincher and to take opportunities as they come along.

As a minimalist, I find I’m also a lot less stressed out, which is great for my mood when dealing with other people.

Everett: Are there any common networking practices that you’ve learned to avoid?

Colin: Yes! The hard sell drives me crazy.

You’ve seen this before, I’m sure; somebody with a big personality comes on very strong, hamfistedly dominates the conversation and then immediately focuses on making a sale, be it a product, service or idea.

What’s worse, you’re at a wedding. Or a funeral. Or the aquarium. You couldn’t care less about what he’s talking about, but he’s been told to be persistent and to guide the conversation and to use certain marketing tactics that more or less guilt or shame you into buying.

Does this seem like a good way to build a network? Even if this guy sells you something, you won’t want to ever hang out with him again, much less be a long-term customer.

Screw that.

Everett: The Internet has changed how we network on a fundamental level. In
your view, how has networking changed since the good old days?

Colin: I think we have a much wider array of tools to choose from, and therefore a wider array of tools that can be abused and used incorrectly.

That’s not to say that social media and new technologies shouldn’t be used for networking – on the contrary, they are amazingly powerful and I make use of them every day! – but to focus completely on metrics and numbers and ‘Followers’ over valuable connections and real, legitimate relationships is a BIG mistake that far too many people make.

Like the Buddhists say, everything in moderation.

Everett: What’s the one most effective way that you apply your energy to build relationships online?

Colin: I create content that people get value from.

Blog posts, videos, ebooks, Tweets about interesting things that I read…all of these things allow me to show my expertise on various subjects while at the same time helping other people gain more expertise in those fields. To put this kind of information out into the ether really builds up one’s visibility and networking prestige.

Everett: Ultimately, what do you think is the most awesome way to spend your energy when networking?

Colin: Out having fun, of course! At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, anyway.

If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.


Thanks so much for the interview Colin.

If you’re interested in the cutting edge of networking from anywhere in the world, you can learn more about Networking Awesomely at Exile Lifestyle.

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