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An Interview with Julien Smith

Dave Delaney

Julien SmithJulien Smith defines himself as a guy who makes interesting stuff that people spread all over the internet. While this is true, there is a whole lot more to Julien. Julien co-authored the New York Times best-selling book, Trust Agents with Chris Brogan. He most recently published his free eBook, The Flinch, as a part of Seth Godin's Domino Project. His latest book, The Impact Equation, co-authored with Brogan will be available in October.

I have known Julien since 2006, as an early podcaster. I invited Julien to an interview on New Networking to learn more about his thoughts and tips on business networking.

D - Thanks for joining me Julien. How do you define "networking"?

J - Networking is now an unusable term. I think what you mean is "connecting with people on purpose". As you do this, the value of your knowledge assets expands so it can help others, and likewise for them.

D's Note: I believe networking is still an important term (just look at the name of this site). I agree with Julien's sentiment. However, in order for us to learn from one another about networking, we need to give it a name.

D - In Trust Agents, you included Jeff Pulver's famous quote, "You live or die by your database." How do you keep your database organized?

J - I actually let Google organize it. It goes into my massive Gmail archive and is immediately searchable. But the way I follow up is through lots of organized to-do lists and reminders. I use Action Method and RE.minder for iPhone. They make my life so much easier.

D - Did networking come naturally to you? How have you learned to do it better?

J - The thing was that I always knew I had to meet people because I began in media. When I thought about how to get my podcast known, I knew that meeting other podcasters would mean they would talk about me and my show, so I did it. And since it was working, I would keep doing it, and I kept doing it all the way to where I am right now (and will continue to forever).

It was always hard for me to meet people, but it always made sense, so I kept going.

D - I expect you meet tons of people by speaking at conferences and on your book tours. How do you remember people's names?

J - I admit I have a tendency not to, but what I tend to do to help myself is I repeat people's names immediately after meeting them. Sometimes I do it twice. Also I ask for people's cards. And then I fundamentally seek out something interesting about the person that I can remember. This makes it a lot easier.

D - You wrote an inspirational book called The Flinch. How does it apply to introverted people who may be too shy to attend an event?

J - You'll notice that people are never intimidated by talking to people that they like, so the real problem with meeting people is that they have difficulty finding comfortable ways to talk to them and like them. But if you learn to do this, and find things you like in each person, it becomes easy.

The key is to find interest markers in each person

I only recently discovered that I don't ask enough about people when I meet them. I tended to drive conversation without asking about themselves--but I've stopped that now, and I now ask questions. We get to more interesting places because of it. But fundamentally, the key is to find interest markers in each person, and speak to the good parts of that person-- the parts you're interested in.

D - Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share about networking?

J - Network building has to be done consistently, whether you feel like it or not. In the long term, it's one of the most valuable things you can do, but it's only after you've done it a while that you see that. So it's tempting to quit, but you shouldn't. You'll see why later.

D - Thank you for the interview Julien. Where can people find you?

J - People can find me at In Over Your Head.

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