Importance of Networking to Your Bottom Line

I turned on my computer yesterday and there was a sale for a personalized penguin Christmas ornament. The next email was from ShareASale: “An affiliate transaction has taken place”.

I wondered if it could be from that person with an obsession for tuxedoed birds, and sure enough: “The affiliate who referred this transaction: Jennifer Goode”.

Jen is a respected peer, friend, as well as owner of a little plushie traveling penguin that has become semi-famous. SAS emails give you the option to “Click to Send Affiliate a Bonus for this Transaction”, but I opted to log into Yahoo Chat to bust her chops… er… congratulate her… instead!

As we were chatting, another penguin sale came in – accompanied with another SAS email. Yep! It was Jen again! Amazingly, a third penguin sale and a third SAS email came as we were chatting. And defying all odds, it was another Jen referral!

In the course of an hour, I made money. Jen, who is the owner of Jen Goode Designs and My Penguin Travels (above me and the penguin in question), made money. My outsourced program manager (OPM), TeamLoxly made money. ShareASale made money. My merchant bank and three customer credit cards made money.

I thought about the events that led up to these sales, and if it weren’t for networking, none of them would have occurred. While this article is not a discussion on “the art of networking”, it is a discussion on the importance of networking.

From Networking to Friendships

Four years ago I was posting on ABestWeb (ABW), which is technically networking. At that time I knew Deborah Carney, Owner of TeamLoxly, as a regular poster, but nothing more.

That fall I attended an online convention called eComExpo, for the purpose of, you guessed it, networking. I joined a private chat in a merchant’s booth that happened to include Debbie and a few others. When the merchant left the virtual booth at 5pm, we “trashed the booth” through the middle of the night! Debbie and I became fast friends that day, exchanging IMs, and networking on a daily basis.

The following year Debbie took over the CafePress affiliate program. She brought up a particular CafePress shopkeeper, Jen Goode, frequently. I became familiar with Jen’s work – very talented – but I considered CP shopkeepers artists, not fellow marketers. In an effort to be helpful, an important part of networking, I occasionally gave her marketing advice, and we too became friends.

When Jen first developed her now iconic penguin character, it blew me away! We brainstormed all kinds of different ideas which ranged from the typical to the outright crazy.

The winter of 2006, I finally got to meet Jen in person at Affiliate Summit, which we both attended in order to network (I bet you’re seeing a trend here). I was impressed not only by her artistic talents, but by her passion and intelligence.

My niche is personalized gifts. While the penguins were only “quasi-personalized”, since users could request penguins for all occasions but not necessarily for specific occasions, I told Jen I would add them to my sites where applicable. For example, I have listed her Fishing Penguin in my personalized fishing gifts category.

(Pictured to the left Deborah Carney and Jen Goode at Affiliate Summit West 2009.)

Collaborating with Friends

In the meantime, I had been networking with Loxly, and she had got to know my personalized gift site intimately. As the CafePress affiliate manager, she  knew a lot of shopkeepers whose sites could offer my products. One day she called and asked if I would be willing to develop a merchant site in order to launch an affiliate program. She felt there were affiliates that were a perfect fit for the kind of niche products I had become an expert  at. And we could leverage our mutual contacts from our networking efforts to make it the kind of program we had been  talking about on the forums.

The goal was not to create a Top 10 merchant but rather to create a safe, parasite free, no problem program that could remain on good terms with affiliates in a niche we knew well. I agreed, and we launched the Engraved Crystal Shoppe program.

I hired a second OPM and we all met at Jen’s house in Colorado last June. As happens with creative types, occasionally drama does ensue. What happened with the other OPM has been embarrassingly well documented elsewhere. What I learned is that the ability to meet in person and hash out ideas is an important facet of networking and relationship building often forgot by many online professionals. Why? Well, because they are too busy being online.

Fast forward to last month’s Think Tank in Newport Beach, which was an intimate and intense networking opportunity hosted by ShareASale.

At the event I happened to mention to Jen that I actually carry two personalized penguin items on my merchant site. What I didn’t know is that she had started a site Nothing But Penguins which featured non-Goode original penguin products. But apparently, communicating with Jen paid off and she added my two penguin products to her site, and as I stated above, a lot of people got rich as a direct result (Ok I maybe overexagerating on the rich part – but sales did indeed happen – and without proof to the contrary, I’ll take full credit for their success!).

Moral of the story? Get out there! Network! Mingle! Talk! Good things happen from interacting with your peers.

About Billy Kay

You can find Billy Kay on Twitter @billykay.

8 Responses to Importance of Networking to Your Bottom Line

  1. […] Revenews Article by Billy Kay Skype The Mail Order Shoppe The Personalized Gifts Affiliate Program Affiliate Summit eComExpo […]

  2. And here's a link to the corresponding podcast we recorded about this 🙂

  3. […] Revenews Article by Billy Kay Skype ABestWeb Affiliate Marketing Forum The Mail Order Shoppe The Personalized Gifts Affiliate Program Affiliate Summit eComExpo […]

  4. […] Revenews Article by Billy Kay Skype ABestWeb Affiliate Marketing Forum The Mail Order Shoppe The Personalized Gifts Affiliate Program Affiliate Summit eComExpo […]

  5. Great article Billy! Very timely for the conferences coming up – hopefully people take your advice!

  6. […] The show was part of Deborah Carney’s Affiliate ABCs series, and it centered about a blog post on by Billy Kay, “Importance of Networking to Your Bottom Line.” […]

  7. […] Revenews Article by Billy Kay Skype ABestWeb Affiliate Marketing Forum The Mail Order Shoppe The Personalized Gifts Affiliate Program Affiliate Summit eComExpo […]

  8. Anonymous says:

    It is the same situation with me on Christmas festival. It is a good festival and there are lots of sale on Christmas festival. I also got lots of mails of sale. 

    personalised gift