Hey guys. I got a question the other morning from a trader who’s struggling to “break into the community”, he says he’s been trying to contact other profitable traders and guys he wishes he was friends with. However he isn’t getting a very welcomed response from these guys, he doesn’t know why, and he is frustrated.
So. How do you work on this? I’ll use my personal story of how I did it to kind of narrate a general guideline of what it takes in my experience. The amount of effort and work involved is astronomical, so be prepared for that if this is the route you’re going to try and take. I’ll explain how I went about building a follower base, and how I was able to create friendships & trading relationships with some of the guys who I considered “idols” when I was starting out.
Q: What is the most effective way to network?
A: Know somebody. They’ll plug you everywhere, introduce you to the right people, and give you immediate credibility, bam, you’re done. (Wouldn’t that be nice? Unfortunately very, very few people are lucky enough to take this route. And I certainly wasn’t one of them.)
And chances are, if you’re eagerly reading this post right now, you probably don’t know anybody either. And that’s OK, you can still network effectively if you’re willing to put the time and effort into doing it properly, which is what I wanted to discuss today.
The absolute golden rule of networking:
Successful networking is all about GIVING(producing/creating), not reaching out and asking questions, or TAKING (consuming). You must add liquidity to the relationships you want to create.
You need to find a way to make yourself an asset to someone who doesn’t know you yet. If you can figure out a way to do that, the sky is the limit.
The Two Groups
There are two types of people in our world of FinTwit. Creators, and consumers. If you are strictly a consumer, you’ll never get anywhere. Asking for help constantly is not networking, even though that’s how most people go about attempting to do it. Most guys just take shots in the dark contacting their idols, trying to ask questions and get information from them in hopes of starting a conversation and creating a relationship with the individual. But all that is, is consuming. This is totally backwards and will never work.
I’m not an optimist, I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist. Most successful traders operate under this ideology as well, there’s really no room for anything else if you ask me. Trading is what it is.
We conjure up thoughts in our head often times to support whichever side of the trade we’re on, but the reality is, it is what it is. Accepting reality is often one of the hardest tasks a trader faces. So a focus on realism is the best way to operate – don’t be delusional, be real. Lets relate this to networking now.
Here’s a reality of life – nobody gives a crap about you.
If they don’t know you, they simply do not give a crap about you. That’s just how it works. So where am I going with this? How does this relate to effectively networking and navigating through/breaking into the trading community?
What you need to do if you want your idols or higher level traders to care about you and take notice of what you’re doing, is this. To quote the Godfather, “Make them an offer they can’t refuse.” And by that, here’s what I mean. We just established that since you’re a “nobody” when you first start out trading, the people you want recognition from don’t care about you. Not because they’re assholes, but simply because they do not know you. And guess what? Repeatedly asking them questions and trying to get information from them is not going to help your cause. You need to DO SOMETHING yourself first. Find some way to advertise that you are not just another lazy helpless trader in desperate need of guidance, and prove you can be a value add contributor to the trading society.
How to Network
Networking is all about giving. Do something to differentiate yourself from the crowd, advertise that you are not simply dead weight looking for coattails to ride, but that you are an intelligent, hardworking, up-and-coming trader. For me, I went about trying to accomplish this by writing my blog. When I started the blog during the latter half of 2015, I had about 40 Twitter followers. I started writing detailed recaps of my trades. Nobody read it at the beginning. I would get like 15-20 page hits on each one maybe. But that didn’t stop me, I just kept posting. This is the part that most people struggle with – following through with something. Everyone can get a quick burst of motivation and start something, but very few actually have the discipline to follow though and finish the job.
How to Add Value
You don’t have to write a blog, that’s just what I did. But you must do something, and you have to finish the job, whatever you choose to do. Follow through. You have to give the community something. That something could be posting PnL also. I did it early on. While it’s not my favorite method for a number of reasons, it is a very effective way to garner attention and get yourself out there. Are you a profitable trader and want to be taken seriously? Well, prove it. PnL posts are one way to do that. You just need to showcase yourself somehow and be consistent in your campaign, whatever you choose to go with. If you can do that, good things will happen.
A quick note on PnL posting…don’t post once every 3 days or only when you have a big green day, and leave out all the red days. People will not respect you for this. You may get praise from a few shallow idiots, but the majority of the community will receive this type of behavior as a negative. “Oh this guy only posts his good days. Does he ever lose?” Whether you are blogging, posting PnL, or whatever else you end up doing, you have to be REAL.I can’t stress this enough. I think part of the reason my blog caught on the way it did was because of my writing style and how I post. I’m not tooting my own horn here, this is just what it is. I don’t sugarcoat anything, I talk openly about my struggles, I showcase the good with the bad, and that’s what people respond to. They respond to traders that are real, traders that are relatable. Because the reality is that this journey we go on in pursuit of profitability is an ugly one. Nobody want’s to see you claim that you win 95% of the time and you are God’s Gift to trading and a cocky, arrogant prick. Be real, and good things will happen.
Blog, post charts with entries and exits, give explanations for what you’ve been trading, post PnL every day, research trading articles online that would interest people and share them on your Twitter page, post good trading quotes and nuggets of wisdom, all these things will go a long way for boosting your notoriety in the FinTwit community and increasing your follower base. And fair warning: you’re going to have to do all of this for a long time. Again…you must follow through with whatever you choose to do. People like consistency, they like dedication and hard work, and they like REAL. Worry less about your “image”, and more about the truth, and good things will happen.
Lets look at it from another angle now and talk about some other early challenges that you will face in this pursuit to be recognized & effectively network.
Barriers to Entry
There are barriers to entry here. You are likely not associating with those you want to because you are not there yet yourself. This is the same reason I can’t call up Warren Buffett and hang out with him. I would LOVE to do that, but its obviously not going to happen, he associates with others on his level, not me. There are barriers to entry.
Someone said something to me once that I carry with me always. He said “If you can convince someone you care, and that you are genuine, then you can do anything” and I truly believe that. HOWEVER, you don’t just go from a nobody to speaking with Warren Buffett, right? So how do you get there?
I’ve been pretty fortunate that I worked my way into Nate, Eric, Alex & some other’s trading circle, and consider them friends now. We talk on the phone, trade together, its a lot of fun and the future is bright. But I didn’t just go from knowing nobody to speaking with these guys on a regular basis. It is a VERY slow and arduous process, and there are some important things to consider. You have to bring value to the relationship, and find common ground. Nobody wants to babysit you and teach you, if you want relationships with successful people, you need to become successful yourself first. And even once you are successful & profitable, you don’t just jump right up to the top and speak with the cream of the crop. Start small.
So to keep the trading theme going, I started out alone, knowing no one. I was a complete nobody. Then I found some peers, other traders like me, unprofitable but smart and trying to make it. Then eventually I graduated to reaching out to new people, still “nobodys”, but now profitable traders. And as I associated with all these people, I learned new things, shared knowledge, and became a better trader. I could now be an ASSET to a relationship, not BAGGAGE. Does that make sense?
Climbing the Ladder
It’s a stepping stone analogy, all the way up to the endgame of creating relationships with some of the best in the game. Just like trading profitability is a stepping stone game. First you lose a ton of money, then you learn to lose less money, then you learn to hover over/under break even, then you learn to make a little money, then a lot of money, so on and so forth. All of this stuff takes much more time and effort than you’re probably anticipating it to, so be prepared for quite the task ahead. However, it is do-able. You can do this.
So you start out alone. Learn the trading basics & get informed. Then you go find peers trying to accomplish the same goals as you on a path to profitability. Trade with them for a while. Learn things from them, share your thoughts and grow. Then as you outgrow that, look for the next tier up (new peers if your current group is not progressing at the same rate as you). And slowly work your way up that ladder.
I know I am being repetitive here, but it’s for a reason – this is very important. You need to do something to differentiate yourself from the rest of the crowd. For me again, it was writing blog posts. That was my way of saying “Hey, take me seriously, I know what I’m talking about and I’m dedicated” to all the people that I was a “nobody” to, now they begin to take notice a little. And that’s all you need, a few people to take notice. Once you get that, then you look for you “big break.”
The Big Break
I had a big trading day at the time in 2015, I think I made like $2700 or something, it felt like a million bucks. I posted my PnL and a blog to go with it – then I tweeted it out @ Nate mentioning that everything I had learned from Investors Underground had been paying off – and he ended up re-tweeting it. The Bao (Modern Rock) saw it, he also re-tweeted it. I got like 400 followers that night & over the next few days, and that was the seed that got the ball rolling for me. You just need one “big break” so to speak to get the ball rolling, and then the rest will take care of itself as long as yo follow through and continue to do what got you to that point thus far. So that’s what I did, continued to relentlessly post blogs & do everything in my power to ADD VALUEÂ to the trading community, in any way possible. Once you see a glimmer of light and opportunity, you need to grab it and do not let go. If you start to feel like you’ve “made it” – this is when you need to the gas the hardest. Never be content. Use your twitter account effectively as well. Think of witty or helpful nuggets of information that the trading community would appreciate. Tweet them out, people will like them, re-tweet them, that’s passive networking & building a follower base all by itself right there.
This is not a “Well I’m just gonna start DMing successful people and hope they’ll talk to me” situation – hell no. First, find a way to differentiate yourself from the crowd, and showcase successful characteristics that people can grab onto about you. Once you’re able to prove you’re the real deal, the you begin to reach out to your “idols” a little more aggressively, look for common ground with the person to start a conversation about, so on and so forth. This is the method that worked for me.
Be genuine, be engaging, and be honest. Forget your “image” and your constant insecure desire to be liked and accepted. Be real. Ironically enough, this will get you accepted much quicker than being fake or staged.
Did you hear me? And I mean really hear me. Be genuine. Be engaging, be honest, and FOLLOW THROUGH in everything you do.
If you can do that, you’ll be destined for great things and you won’t be stopped.