Pure Networking

I've been layin', waitin' for your next mistake

I put in work, and watch my status escalate

Now, I'mma start collectin' props, connectin' plots

Networkin' like a conference

–Gang Starr, Work

This is embarrassing, but here goes.

I counted up how many times, since February 2023, I've left the house for a primarily social purpose – where the outing was first about doing something social and secondarily about something else. The total number: maybe 3? If we expand the definition to an outing that's primarily about something else but incidentally involves social interaction with more than 1 or 2 people, the number is still in the single digits.

Weird? Maybe. I bet more than a few of you have similar numbers.

It's not always like this for me. My level of "social Brownian Motion" has fluctuated throughout life based on various life circumstances. Some of us have lives that are arranged in a way that produces a lot of social interaction as a byproduct of that life – you chat with people while getting one of those revolting kombucha drinks at the cafe at the coworking space; you're often on both sides of the "so what do for a living?" question because you're interacting with strangers often; you have functional small-talk skills because you accompany your extroverted spouse to their work events and need to not look like a psycho in order to stay married; etc.

Others of us have great lives that produce almost no social Brownian Motion. We work from home in offices that cubicle-dwellers would envy. We opt for the self-checkout, even if the line is longer there. We order it online or we've done all the research before we walk into the store. We live in the sticks and like it that way. Etc.

One of the really wise things my wife often says about introverts is "at a party, introverts need a job to feel comfortable". Set the table, make sure everybody's drink is full, do stuff in the kitchen, take coats at the door, etc.

In my experience, she's right about this. The ability to focus on a task that, as a by-product, produces social interaction is so very helpful for the most introverted among us. This is the opposite of what I refer to as “Pure Networking”.

When the starting point is my model of how non-professional buyers find service providers, the ways that we can intercept their search for an us-shaped service provider looks like the following:

(y’all email readers can tap this image to embiggen it)

Pure Networking is all about meeting potential buyers or those who can be helpful to us in the quest to meet potential buyers.

I am quite introverted but I know a surprisingly large number of people because of the "job" I have at "the party" (writing several books, this email list, etc.). If I had needed to meet that large number of people first through pure networking in order to do the kind of work I do, it would have never happened. If I'd had to write "I will meet more people through pure networking" on the blackboard 100 times each day I didn't meet more people, I'd choose the blackboard every time for the delicious solitary think time it provides. The job I have is nice, but it's not so nice that I would do <shudder> pure networking to have it!

Pure networking works for some of us as a way to intercept more opportunity. [1] For many of us, it does not.

During a meeting a week or two ago, a thought partner said something very wise: don’t compare your ideology’s theoretical best to reality’s actual worst. They're not the same thing and it's not even close to a fair comparison. One of those has to contend with the complexity and constraints of the real world. The other doesn't. This has implications for lead generation, I think.

It's been an… interesting… two years for my wife and I. I'll skip the details for now, but during this rather chaotic time one of the big "in my bones" learnings has been that a consistent application of a small portion of the good ideas out there beats trying (and failing) to fully (dogmatically) apply all those good ideas.

On a different recent thought partner call, I said "blah blah blah some people just aren't cut out to be authorities/thought leaders." My thought partner asked what I meant by that. For your context, I wasn't slagging on anybody in particular or even a group of anybodies in general. Rather I was reflecting on how my previous business model was, in large part, based on an effort to seduce folks into laying hold of the tools of thought leadership and using those tools for their benefit.

I think it took me seeing that those tools aren't enough for my business to thrive to get me to the place where I could say "some people just aren't cut out to be authorities/thought leaders." Some of us (me included) just don't have sufficient stability in our life to do what's needed for effective thought leadership. Some of us question our point of view on things (marketing, in my case, and the questioning was via small-scale research) and find our POV upended as a result and need to change other things in our business as a result. Some of us (me included, as of late) don't have whatever energy source is required to regularly turn thought into a useful resource for clients/prospects (or, perhaps, the necessary freedom from ADHD/bad habits/life distractions to effectively channel that energy source) via content marketing, publishing, and so on.

Laying hold of the tools of thought leadership is one "job" that we introverts can give ourselves to avoid having to use pure networking to intercept more opportunity. If you're cut out for thought leadership, or can fit yourself to the job's demands, it's likely the best available tool for intercepting more opportunity.

80/20 Agency Marketing is 4 done-for-you services for the rest of us. 😃

I have bandwidth to take on a few more 80/20 Agency Marketing clients, and I’d really like a few more clients for this service, so if any of the services look interesting and in-budget for you, please reach out. I'm happy to meet with you via video call, explain more, answer questions, and try to be helpful to you in the specific positioning, lead generation, and small-scale research ways I’m qualified to be.

And if you know someone who is needing more opportunity for their services and struggling to find it because the whole content marketing/thought leadership/authority thing is not a fit for them, please let them know that this service exists. It would mean a lot to me if you’d also follow up with them in a week or so to see if they took action on your recommendation.

I forgot to do a For Fun Poll in the last email. I really enjoy doing these, so it musta been the life chaos (couldn't be increasing forgetfulness for… you know… ah… reasons). 😃

For Fun Poll:


  1. To be more pedantically accurate, there are approaches to Pure Networking that are more suited to introverts. Generally, these involve intentional 1:1 interactions that leverage the Internet, video calls, and so forth. I’m not saying Pure Networking is a completely un-usable tool for introverts, just that it comes less naturally for us and the way it just naturally happens for others through “social Brownian Motion” often doesn’t happen for us.