Beto Did It and So Can You

$6.1 million. One email.

I wasn’t surprised when Texan Democratic Presidential Candidate Beto O’Rourke raised over $6.1 million online within the first 24 hours of announcing his run for President. Likewise, Bernie Sanders raised almost as much-- $5.9 million-- from 223,047 individual donors online. All in one day.

Listen, I’m not a fan of the “B Men”: Beto, Bernie, Biden. I understand O’Rourke’s energy and charisma and I admire his strong effort as a Senatorial candidate in Texas but I find it shocking that a man of no greater accomplishment than many of the dads I know can become a front runner against such accomplished women as Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris. But this is not not a political column!

No, this is a note about networking.

When I was working for John Kerry for President and the Democratic National Committee in 2003 and 2004, I had the dubious fortune of being part of a small cohort of people who figured out how to raise lots and lots of money through online fundraising emails. When these emails, written often in the voice of the candidate and sent to our opt in email list, started raising serious cash, it was revelatory.

Imagine a world where, instead of going to several tedious and time consuming rubber chicken fundraising events in a day, a candidate could have his junior staff blast out an email and raise the same amount of money! How much time and energy could a candidate save (and imagine, if you're an introvert, the amount of energy and stress you could save?

I was equally struck when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she doesn’t do “call time,” the twenty plus hours a week most elected officials spend literally dialing for dollars. She trusts that the word of mouth her work will engender (not to mention the PR and attention she gains from it) will bring donors at a higher rate than dialing for dollars will. (Again, not defending AOC, but noting her methods).

What does this have to do with networking? Replace fundraising with networking in this analogy. If your networking is strategic, online enabled, and reliant on the impact of your work rather than the tenacity of your asks, you can spend a lot less time doing it. Even better, you can network from behind your screen, not at an overwhelming “networking event.”

We think about networking all wrong. We conflate it with the amount of effort we put in and the number of people we meet, rather than the content we create to move specific audiences to take a desired action, or the noteworthy quality of the work we do.

Last week a woman at one of my talks was exasperated. She has a startup, she explained, and she wants to find a technical co founder to join her team. “Well,” I asked, “how are you searching for this person?” She explained that she was out networking every night, in hopes of meeting someone. But it wasn’t working and she was feeling dispirited and overwhelmed.

I told her to stop networking, and start being strategic. Who does she know who knows great tech people? What’s one organization she might connect with where there are people with technical knowledge who she could meet? In some cases, less is more.

How are you doing more with less when it comes to building your network? What’s a piece of great content you can create that does your network building for you?

Kris-Ann RaceComment