Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Marketing, Startups and Networking in Los Angeles – Cliff Allen

imageCliff Allen is someone I've known for quite a few years and he's a go to person for me when I'm thinking about issues around marketing, sales, technology, startups and networking.

Of course, when I started thinking about Visible Networking, I immediately went to Cliff to check in to see how he's doing and to get his feedback, thoughts and ideas on the concept.

Cliff, remind me about your background?

My first career was spent building radio and television stations, then running the programming side of those businesses. I moved into writing software to analyze audience data, and wrote a lot of computer graphics software. In 1986 I started an advertising and public relations firm to serve software and hardware companies, which became a marketing consulting business ( when I moved to L.A. in 1998.

Along the way, I co-authored three books on one-to-one marketing ( to help marketers learn how to built and nature relationships with their customers.

It's great to know that you have the radio and TV background. One of the places where eHarmony really took off was on radio. Lots of online marketing before that, but we had some great results when we were picked up by a national radio program. Hey, radio. Maybe that would make sense as a marketing channel.

What are you working on now?

A few years ago, my CTO spotted a need that local groups and organizations have in handling RSVPs and registrations for meetings and events. After a considerable amount of market research, we created the SureToMeet system that’s now used by organizations around the country.

I also write about holding events (, and I’m writing a series about integrating marketing strategy with marketing tactics (

I've been following both of your blogs for a while. Great stuff. Of course, part of the reason that I went to you when I started thinking about visible networking is that you run a company that's right in the middle of this. So, naturally I have to ask:

What are your thoughts on my concerns around networking and particularly visible networking?

Different types of people need different types of networking. For those of us who are online throughout the day, “visible networking” online is a lot more productive than driving across L.A. for face-to-face general networking events. I like the thread of comments that occur on popular blogs, especially those blogs that notify you when additional comments have been posted.

Blogs also make it easy for new people to find those interesting conversation. LinkedIn discussion areas are good, but it’s frustrating when people send me links to discussions in LinkedIn Groups where I’m not a member (and can’t join without leaving another group). In this era of “open source” everything, open conversations on blogs make a lot of sense.

That's great to hear. I'm going to be curious to see how this unfolds. Certainly having a chance to engage a bit with you, Cliff, is great. Normally we drive across town to spend two minutes together at an event. Never get all that deep.

Any specific thoughts on things I should do to make Visible Networking better? What have you seen elsewhere that works?

What keeps you up at night?

Growing our business! We’re pleased with its growth but, as with any Web-based business, we’re looking for additional organizations we can help.

It's good to hear that a person who I go to for marketing advice has the same challenge as the rest of us. What's working and not working for you? Are you leveraging social media at all? What do you think about using Browse My Stuff / a Topic Hub to reach influencers in the meeting organizer space?

On a separate note, Cliff, should I add your to the B2B Marketing Zone?

And while I'm on the subject of your blog, you've got great stuff, but what are some of your best posts that I should go look at?

Since I have two blogs, here are a few from both:

Events Should Be Money Well Spent

Seems to echo some of my concerns about the value of events. It's interesting to see that from someone who runs a company that helps people hold events.

Top 10 Business Networking Tips Series

Using Storytelling in Networking

Great points about business networking and how storytelling is a better way to network. So, natural question for me. How do these tips change when you are talking about visible networking? Cliff, what recommendations do you have for me?image

Marketing 2.0 Strategy

Mind Maps Make Marketing More Meaningful

Good post talking to mind shift related to marketing today. The one on mind maps makes me wonder: (1) Cliff, where's your mind map for SureToMeet? (2) How do these mind maps change in a 2.0 world?

What networking events in Los Angeles or Southern California do you go to? What was the best one you’ve been to recently?

For most of this year I’ve shifted my networking to events where there is a speaker, who sets the theme, and meetings where there is a purpose and agenda.

For events where there is a speaker who is matched to the audience I like MOTM ( For meetings aimed at helping salespeople network, I like B2B Power Exchange (

If the MOTM is worth the drive out to the valley, that's saying something.

Besides Tony Karrer for software/web development in Los Angeles ;) who are some of your go to people in Los Angeles?

Here are a few people who keep me plugged into what’s happening:

I know Kurt and Heather. I'll have to get to know Hannah, Alan and Susan. Thanks for the pointers.

Where can I find you for more visible networking?

Here’s where I hang out:

Cliff, I'm looking forward to diving in a bit deeper on this stuff with you over the next few days/weeks.

And, since this is one of my first attempts at visible networking, I hope that people will chime in with thoughts around what aspects of this works and doesn't work for you.

1 comment:

Cliff Allen said...

It's been good to catch up and, yes, at mixer events its hard to do more than say "hi" because we're trying to meet several new contacts.

Ah, the mind maps! I've been surprised at how well they work for capturing and sharing information. That Marketing Strategy mind map template unfolds 3-4 levels to show task-level details of exactly what needs to be done. It's the best way I've found to help marketers integrate their marketing strategy and marketing programs.

In our 2.0 would, a few mind map systems are available for Web use. However, it's going to take some special knowledge management needs to use interactive mind maps well.

Your idea of "Visible Networking" can help people take the "glad to meet you" networking to the next level -- "glad to know you" relationships.

I've added a comment to your Visible Networking post on how I see the concept.

And, yes, your Browse My Stuff technology is pulling together blogs along a theme. I use your SoCal site every morning to keep up with what local tech bloggers are saying. And, your B-to-B site has some great blogs -- I'd be honored to be included.

I think the Visible Networking concept, combined with your Browse My Stuff technology, will help a lot of us make our networking much more productive.