I am the Chairman Emeritus of the Wharton Club of New York. I’ve been the president and the chairman. Over the years these titles have been very useful for my various business and sales endeavors.
Probably not surprising as that Wharton word carries some credibility and I’ve found having the title president or chairman of the largest alumni association for the school has some credibility too.
How did I achieve securing these positions? Mostly I went to the school and I volunteered to take on a position in the alumni club.
I’m not the only one that’s ever benefited from helping an association, Tim Ferriss, bestselling author of the “4 Hour Work Week” credits volunteering for the Silicon Valley Association of Startup Entrepreneurs as the reason he got off the dime in Silicon Valley, having moved there with no connections at all.
It turns out volunteer-run organizations nearly always need more volunteers. You see most people decide they are too busy to donate any of their time to help an organization where they don’t get a paycheck.
Investing in being an insider
One of the basic questions for you in this blog is whether you are a sales professional or business owner that is in their business for the long-term. I pretty much assume you are building a career here and not taking part in selling while you really hope to make it big in movies.
If you’re in this gig for the long haul, I believe you need to make smart investments now so they payoff for you bigtime down the road. One example is becoming integrated in part of a network that includes your target clients.
If you volunteer to help in an organization that serves your target clients, you will likely need to do a bunch of work for free (your investment) but you will likely meet a bunch of people that will then introduce you to even more people, including people most likely great prospects for your business (the payoff).
The great thing about being a volunteer for an organization is that you get a title and position and with this you get credibility.
You can use your title at the organization’s events to standout and meet people. You don’t need to be just an attendee anymore, you can be “the VP of events”, “the Head of IT” etc. for the organization. The organization’s events become your events. You become one of the hosts. I’ve found it very helpful psychologically to be a host. I find myself greeting people and meeting way more people than if I feel like an attendee.
When you’re not at one of your organization’s events , you still have the title. You can approach people that share a bond or possible bond with the organization’s mission using your position.
I shared this networking template in a previous post. Notice how I used my position in the alumni club to increase my chances of connecting. I’ve had other Wharton alums use this template and we’ve noticed my success rate is nearly always higher. Why? Probably because of the credibility from my title.
Subject: Wharton Networking Request
Hoping you’ll “take the call” from a fellow Whartonite (and chairman of the NY alumni club.)
I’m wondering if we could speak briefly (10 mins) about online marketing at Big Company? I’d like your guidance on the best person to speak to there.
My firm (Startup Co) enables marketers to generate leads and awareness using social media–and to do this on a large scale. The effect is similar to Google but utilizes social media rather than search.
I’d love to return any help, so please let me know if there’s any way I can help you. (Maybe we can keep in-touch and I can help down the road).
Nigel (WG 93)
If you’re in your market for the long haul, becoming an insider is priceless. It will make your selling WAY easier. A great way to start getting to know lots of people in your prospect base is to volunteer for an organization that serves them. Go ahead, raise your hand.