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Networking for Fun & Profit – Five Fantastic Dallas Groups

These five organizations for business networking work well for small-and-medium sized business (SMB) owners in Dallas. I discovered them by weeding through several other groups over the last three years of living here. I have personally attended functions hosted by each one listed. In my opinion, they pass the test. So you have a well-rounded perspective I give at least one positive and negative about each group.

Some are niche groups related to marketing and advertising, while the others work for any profession. There are many more groups as well as charity-focused societies in Dallas including other popular ones I have heard of (Dallas Margarita Society, Sterling Society), but I can not vouch for them yet. Coincidentally I may be joining the invite-only Dallas Margarita Society soon, and will then will be able to report. There are also many socially focused groups. I plan on posting a list of my favorite ones in the future.

Sometimes business networking groups can get a bad name. At groups strictly devoted to gaining business referrals you’ll find a lot of hard selling start ups, MLM recruiters, and “life couches.” Some meet once or twice a week in the middle of the day, when if their businesses were booming they would not have time to do.

I refer to these groups below as “organizations for networking” not networking groups because these groups are not strictly devoted to gaining referrals, but exist for many other reasons: charity work, good will, corporate citizenship, industry learning, and personal development. Business development and networking are the tertiary benefits. Whether you are looking for a job, seeking clients/vendors, or just want to build your business connections for a rainy day I recommend checking these out.

Five Fantastic Dallas Organizations for Networking

  1. Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce
  2. I found this group after researching several other Dallas Chambers and was sold after a representative came out and spoke with me.

    Positive: The largest chamber of the half a dozen other Dallas chambers. Lots of established businesses with money and top level people/decision makers attending.
    Negative: It’s expensive to join. The lowest level was $700 three years ago when I paid for it for the company I was working for at the time. You could ride the low cost “prospective member events” without paying for the membership for years if so inclined, but to receive their “member benefits” you have to join. It is what you make of it.
    Attended: One new members introduction meeting & obtained five business leads, before learning about a division of the Greater Chamber second on the list.

  3. Young Professionals of Greater Dallas
  4. I found this group soon after joining the Greater Chamber, but never officially joined.

    Benefit: Lots of young people in varying professional jobs. They may be young, but they are serious about connecting and making things happen, they do not just engage in the social aspect in which many orgs labeled with “young” do.
    It was relatively inexpensive to join ($125 at the time), with at least 12 events a year.

    Negative: It’s not a large group and business value could dry up fast if you have a niche business, but the social aspect will not.
    Attended: Three after hours networking functions 2005 – 2006

  5. Netparty
  6. Positive: Some of the most friendly people from a wide variety of companies who are not the “usual networking type, ” but decided to come because of the free food and Netparty’s smart at opt-in email list marketing. Typically 300-400 show throughout the night. Someone very ambitious could make a lot of local connections in a short period of time by just attending once.
    Negative: Only occurs once a quarter.
    Attended: Three after hours networking functions (all they have had) 2007 – 2008, have received over a dozen new contacts and three to four potential business clients.

  7. DFW Interactive Marketing Association
  8. This is an amazing group niche focused toward Interactive Marketers and professionals working in businesses and non-profit orgs with interactive divisions.

    Positive:Great for learning and making connections within the industry. They have monthly high content, no sales pitch, seminars in Las Colinas with big name leaders in the industry.
    Negative:In general, everyone is in the same industry, so it has less new client potential.
    Attended: Three after hours “prospective member” networking functions 2007 – 2008, with coworkers have received a few leads an job candidates.

  9. Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce
  10. Similar to the Greater Chamber, but is in no way affiliated, this non-profit group caters to young professionals in the 21 – 39 age range.

    Positive: Lots of leadership opportunities such as being on the board, sub committees, and event planning groups. They have at least three events a month, if not more.

    Negative: In general, even harder to find potential clients because of the social focus. There seems to be almost too many meetings, for meetings sake.

    Attended: Dozens of after hours networking functions 2005 – 2008 with many friends and acquaintances made.

Beginner Tips for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Sr. VP of Network Solutions Stephanie Leffler goes over three beginner tips for SEO.Here are her tips.
1. Write relevant, authoritative, content
2. Build relevant backlinks
3. Unique Keyword Title tags & Meta Tags

This is a very simpled version, but good beginner tips for marketing your website on the search engines.

Six Keys to Influencing, Building Value & Driving Action

How do you make someone want something? Whether in dating or a business service or product here are six keys or principles to influencing, building value & driving people to action. Think of what you want someone else to want. Picture it clearly in your mind with all the details you can muster. Picture someone using your service or product. How can you implement these principles in your marketing to reach that outcome?

  1. Demonstrate Rarity (there are relatively few to go around).
  2. Prove other people want it (social proof).
  3. Tell him/her they can’t have it (rebellion).
  4. Exhibit uniqueness ( similar to rarity only one-of-a-kind)
  5. Show exclusiveness (only a select group can have it)
  6. Make it available for only a short period of time.

I am sure there are many more ways to build value, but if you use these six you can go far with whatever your goal.

Do you Believe in Hypnosis?

Hypnosis has been practiced since the late 1800s, although many of the most effective techniques were discovered in the 1970s. Lately, learning about hypnosis has been a fascinating subject to me. I’m not talking about cheesy stage shows where people bark like dogs or lip sync to pop songs for the audience’s enjoyment, but the kind that actually helps people achieve personal goals and break bad habits in which the conscience mind is standing in the way of — smoking cessation, weight loss, gaining confidence, phobia extinction, business success.

By doing some research I found the only accredited hypnotherapy college in the US. It may not be the only accredited one, but it’s the only .edu that has a verifiable curriculum and government-funded financial aid (like any other private or public university). They have been running the program for 40 years (1968).

I am considering their distance learning course, which is free. Some may say, “You get what you pay for,” but they have addressed why they use this freemium business model, and it will be worth it to at least get the basics without having to invest too much yet. Of course one can not learn to build a house by watching a video or reading about it, just as you can not learn to hypnotize solely by listening to online lectures.

If I do take the course, I would plan on finding a mentor here in Dallas, in which I would plan to trade services with while under his/her part time tutelage. By the time I get certified I will have already owned the domain for a few years and with a little marketing can have an automatic part time practice. Secondly after a couple years in practice, I could use some of my future expertise to diversify my info marketing exit plan.

I studied psychology in college for my first two years before changing majors. I am still fascinated by it. My love for the theories became overshadowed by thoughts of having to listen to people’s problems for hours on end. I have recently felt the need to want help more people and I feel like hypnosis may achieve faster results and more people can be served.

Are you Addicted to Your Inbox?

The American Journal of Psychiatry has recently published a trade paper in support of adding “Internet Addiction” as a category in the next version of the DSM V, making it an official disorder.

I would not say that I am addicted to the Internet like some people whose virtual world has become more active than his or her real world. Although, I am mildly curious about certain potentially addictive sites like Second Life, the level to which some take it is a little disturbing. I do believe it will become harder and harder to manage the upcoming Millennial workforce because of all the social networking sites they have become accustom to keeping up their profiles on.

Many people use the Internet as an escape from their real lives, much like TV has been for over fifty years. He/she can get caught up in email, filing out surveys, or playing solitaire. It doesn’t have to be one specific site.

I’m not a hard core social networking site junkie (at least anymore). The newness wore off years ago. Although I still check for messages, I’m done spending too much time building Zuckerberg & Murdoch’s content.

Recently, I have realized the devastating effects of email checking on work productivity. It’s not the act of checking email, but the tangents that it causes — links to sites, newsletters, fwds. Some productivity and management experts say that checking your email in the morning is one of the worst time killers. I have recently adopted a new approach at work, based on a Timothy Ferris suggestion, I do not check my email until 11am when I get to work. I want to make sure I have at least 2 1/2 client billable hours completed before doing it, and then 4 – 5 hours after lunch. What about need-to-know info or “emergencies?” These rarely happen, if at all.

Busy Does Not Equal Productive
Also, being busy does not necessarily mean you are being effective or productive. I want to do things that are effective, not just so I can say I’m doing something. This is not conventionally accepted, especially in large corporations where you could waive a bunch of papers, shoot a bunch of emails around, and make some loud phone calls and you’ll be perceived as a productive employee. I’ve narrowed my job down to two things: writing and finding link opportunities. When I can not think of anything to do for a specific client, I’ll just start writing which is valuable for publishing articles and building website content.

The reason I am even thinking about this is, other than the fact that I want to be more productive, a person’s mindset completely changes when working for themselves verses working as an employee of another business. When working for yourself, or building your own business from the ground up, one must be very wary that the things they are doing are bringing them closer to a contract or bringing real value to the product or service for their client. I’m practicing to help my own businesses take off. Although I am not in a sales role at work, every hour toward client work can either have value toward their marketing goals or not. As a small business owner, the founder is the original sales person, which is what is in store for me. Luckily, most of my selling will be in print where more of my selling skills lie. So what is my solution to the inbox addiction?

Stick to an Email Schedule
I learned in door-to-door sales that a schedule is everything. Giving yourself arbitrary time limits and planning to only do certain activities during that time. I eventually only want to check work email at 11am and 4:00pm and not spend more than 30 minutes each time responding. I plan on sticking with a schedule and consequently that means only checking my personal email at the same frequency, since I fwd my work email.

I’m Flipping Out Over “The Flip” Camcorder

I just finished writing an article for a new business site we launched two days ago. I’m not going to mention it here yet, but will eventually. It’s so great to get back into blogging for myself again. I’m just now feeling the therapeutic affects that have been missing for a few years.

This business is actually more service-based, but within one year should afford me the resources I need to create multiple information products I want to create. My first information product (an ebook), should be out within the next month or so, I’ll share it here. Two Internet info marketing gurus (Eben Pagan & Yanik Silver) I have been following for years have recommended running consumer surveys and writing a sales letter first before even writing it. I’ll put both of those up here, and after I have gathered enough data I’ll write the book.

I just ordered The Flip Video Camcorder because I plan on doing some video blogging as well as tutorials and content fodder for my other sites. This was recommended for quality for the price by some other known Internet marketing gurus. The reviews were well-rounded explaining the strengths and weaknesses of the device. To be honest, the more simple it is, the better.

Here is the main customer review of many reviews for The Flip Camcorder I read which others seemed to agree with:

By Railgun
* Inexpensive.
* Conveniently small size (fits in a shirt pocket).
* Easy to use.
* Easy to just drag movie clip files straight over to hard drive (they are stored in the DCIM folder sequentially).
* Movie files in the AVI format (but see Con comment about codec below).
* Easy enough to delete clips you don’t want to keep.
* Play straight to TV.
* Seems durable though no protection for lens or playback screen.
* Uses ordinary AA batteries.

* Menu buttons a little hard to press (zoom & volume control)
* USB connector arm bad idea. Should have just been a USB socket. Never matches up with the USB socket on any computer or laptop so you have to get an extension cable anyway which can be difficult to connect without breaking the arm off.
* Uses DivX codec (technically 3ivx, Wiki the difference if you really want to know) which means having to install one of a variety of 3rd party plug-ins. Would have been nice if they could have used H.264 but using 3ivx probably helps keep the cost down by using a less powerful chip.
* Included software was a hack job, UI is terrible.
* Silly proprietary interface at the top to burn contents to DVD at participating stores. Just a way for water to get in, should have been a memory card slot.
* Included carrying bag just gets lint all over it – don’t use it.
* Sound playback level is lost once the unit turns off which means having to turn the sound down every time you turn it on.

If you really want to record some video to edit on your computer but don’t want to shell out hundreds for a digital video camera, this is a worthy alternative. Go ahead and get the 1 GB version (1 hour) since there is no memory card slot or upgrade path. After installing a DivX plugin on your computer, you should have no problem editing the clips in your favorite movie editing program like iMovie. I had to install a plugin on both my Intel MacBookPro and Dell 8600 Windows XP (SP2).

Accept that you are going to have to purchase a short USB extension cable unless your USB ports are on the side and the extension arm lines-up perfectly (i.e. the computer doesn’t put any weight on the arm). Even a short 3 ft cable like Cables To Go 19003 3-Feet USB A/A Extension Cable will do. The kind you need is a USB A socket on one end and USB A plug on the other (if you can connect the cable ends to themselves and make a hoop you probably have the correct one).

This is a great first try but there is lots of room for improvement like replacing the connector arm with a USB socket, ditching the DVD burning interface for a memory card slot and making the menu UI buttons easier to push.

Over the next three years, my dream is to build multiple Internet-based information product businesses that will produce residual income while I sleep. Videos will be apart of the information package for what I plan to sell. Since people consume information differently, I plan on offering multiple formats including ebooks, videos, DVD, CD, and podcasting. I just realized I this blog is going to help keep my accountable for my dreams and goals. I plan on using on of Robert Cialdini’s Six “Weapons of Influence,” commitment and consistency, to keep myself on track.

The 4-Hour Work Week Book Review

I read a book last summer really opened my eyes. It was written by a late 20s Internet entrepreneur who calls himself a “drug dealer,” but actually just sells natural brain and body supplements. The book is called The 4-Hour Work Week Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich. Instead of being a small business owner in order to “buy yourself a job” you should strive to be the owner in a hands off business that creates passive income (Robert Kiyosaki-ish). Unlike Kyosaki this guy is really living and didn’t make his fortune in telling others how to make theirs through books. You can Order 4-Hour Workweek at

And So it Begins…again

This is a amazing. I now have a blog with my name as the domain. I have had a few blogs over the years, which I won’t post here since those days are long gone. I realized something. Why be someone else’s user generated content? Facebook and MySpace are prime examples. Marc Zuckerberg and the owners of MySpace (Murdock and his bunch) get millions in advertising $$$ because other people put content on their domains. Why not build up my own content and form a loyal audience like I had before when it was on someone else’s network? That way I own it.

Anyway. I will be inviting some select people from my old LJ days to read my new blog, as well as the new people in my life I have become acquainted with in the last two to three years. This blog will mostly be personal, but from time to time I may spew some Internet marketing tips for those interested.