Before I get started on

by francine Hardaway on October 31, 2006

Before I get started on why I can’t get my Slingbox to change the channel on my TV even after I’ve read all the Help instructions, let me remind you that if you hate getting these in your email box, you can go directly to the blog they come from at, and if you use a feedreader, like Google Reader ( you can have this blog fed to your desktop.

And if you are planning to attend the already highly successful (which means the room will be full) First Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference on Nov. 8, you had better go to and sign up.

Never mind about the Slingbox; it’s too negative. Let’s talk about the power of networks. When I got the idea for the entrepreneurship conference it was because there is no such thing as a superfluity of networking opportunities in a high growth business community. If you doubt me, go to, which is a list of networking opportunities in the Bay Area. On any given day, there is more happening than you can ever attend. You get to sort by region, by date, event type, and industry segment. I bought a house up there about a year and a half ago, and by judiciously attending a FEW events (I’m only up there in the summer and about one weekend a month during the rest of the year) I have already begun a second network, which I am valiantly trying to connect to my primary network.

Every time you go to one of these networking events and talk to somebody new, you either learn something, find a customer, make a friend, make contact with someone who can help you later, or just begin to think differently.

But most small businesspeople, entrepreneurs, or managers either don’t realize the full value of networking, or thing there’s some mystery to it.

Well, there IS a mystery to it: it’s the mystery of manifestation. The universe is always manifesting what you need, if you just take the time to look around you and find it.

Yes, that sounds “way out there.” But I built a business on it. Many of you have heard me say this before, but when I was first going into business, I would volunteer to hostess a fundraisers, or do their publicity pro bono. At those events, I met the people who would later become my clients. And as soon as I had two dollars to rub together, I began to buy tickets to those fundraisers, and get on their mailing lists and committees. On those committees, I met local bigwigs who would have never taken my phone calls.

Unless you network, you never know who actually has money to lend, invest, or spend on your business. And you never find out who your ideal teammates are. They are all working for someone else right now, going to these same events, waiting to hear your story about why they should jump ship and go to work for you.

So that’s why I planned the conference, and why I told the panelists they could not use Powerpoints during their presentations, sit at the front of the room at a dais, or speak without being spoken to. I wanted the panelists to learn as much from the attendees as the other way around. Think of this conference as “user-generated content,” much like that on the Web. In some circles, it’s called an “unconference.”

And I’m taking a page from my daughter’s book — I’m not letting people sit down for lunch without standing on a buffet line. My daughter did this for her wedding dinner, because her guests came from all over the world, and no one knew anyone else except the bride and groom. Not as elegant, perhaps, but a great way for strangers wearing nametags to ask the person ahead of behind them “what does your company do.” And perhaps, then, not to go sit down with the same three people they knew from before, but rather drift to a table with a stranger.

So next Wednesday, when the conference occurs, I will not care much what is said from the front of the room. I will only care what people say to one another.

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