When experts are ready to create more conversations with perfect prospects, they call Tobin at bookofexperts.com. He's been called an introverted savant with a superpower for helping you find your tribe and sparking conversations out of thin air. This new book is called Experts Never Chase, because deep down we all know that chasing undermines the hard-won trust and authority of subject matter experts so he helps entrepreneurs find the easy path dialog that drives sales.
Why did you write the book, Experts Never Chase? What's the big idea behind it?
So our book just came out last month. We launched on May the fourth, and since we launched, we've had a successful Kickstarter, which was a unique experience to launch the book with that and I think we're on four or five bestseller lists now. So that's been a new experience for me, I've never done the book thing. My co-author on the book, Cat Stancik has published once before so she had a little bit more experience and it has been great getting some help from friends and experts in that space of what it looks like to launch and market your book. The funny thing is when we did the Kickstarter, we used the exact same process that is outlined in the book. So I think that that was a really fun way to validate that and show people what we're doing at the same time for why they might be interested in the book. The book is not for everyone, but it's really written for expert-based entrepreneurs, so coaches, consultants, people who talk about clients instead of customers, and particularly folks that are feeling like it's harder than it should be. Like, it's really hard to get that next couple of clients and if I had just a couple more clients coming into the mix, it would really change my business, my life, my work-life balance. So the book is how to make that happen without feeling like you have to chase those clients, those prospective clients around because when you do that, it really undoes a lot of the good work that we seek to make in the world.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that you see in our online space of expert-based entrepreneurs and what would really help them out?
The challenge that I'm seeing goes right back to what you described of this reaction of, "I get these messages, and I have no interest in them," so it's this challenge to scale. We've been sold a bill of goods of I'm going to create a business that's like an ATM, it's going to work while I sleep so everything I do in my business has to be built to scale, built to grow big. Relationships are a little bit different because the minute we start treating other individuals like a number on our spreadsheet. We've all done that funnel math where we try talking to 1,000 contacts where that ends in let's say three clients coming out at the bottom of that funnel. What we don't factor into that math is the 997 people at the start, who received that first message and said, "This is probably someone I'll never do business with," because of that first impression. So I think the challenge is how to change that and how to create relationships in a systematic, predictable and consistent way, but not scalable so that you lose that human-to-human connection. Business is done by one person doing business with another. There are other industries, where their consumers and customers and I came out of that world. That was my background, I had to reinvent myself four or five years ago. I was a build your list, push the send button. We sent two emails that produced a million and a half dollars in the nonprofit space. That was my world, like the one to many kinds of digital marketing. But I grew really frustrated because I saw that it wasn't working as consistently as it should because 2 out of 10 people were opening emails, and you'd work really hard to send better emails, and it might go up to 3 out of 10 people. So about four or five years ago went all-in on this one-to-one, talk to people the way I would want to be approached and converse with, build real relationships, and trust that good things are gonna flow from that. Then I had to get more systematic about it myself.
How are you getting those results?
There are three big questions that come up when we do this process and the book was written from the workshops that I do. When I first approached my co-author about doing the book together, she said, "You realize I'm kind of a competitor, right?" But I think that the book is better for having both our voices in it. We didn't hold anything back from the book and we tackle three big questions that come up. The first is how do I find my right fit prospects? Usually, when people they asked this question, it feels like such a big hurdle, such a big boulder that's been dropped in front of them that they can't even imagine how to get started. Because they're looking around and they don't see where their next client could be coming from. So we show them a few strategies in the book, walk them through. The response we get from folks, after they answer this question, they'll get on the other side, and they'll look back over their shoulder and they're like, "That wasn't really the problem, my real problem is I have a handful of people that I would love to do business with, but I don't know how to start this because every time I reach out to people, I feel weird about it, and they run the other way. How do I start a conversation with someone I really want to do business with?" So the same thing happens, we walk through a couple of strategies that have worked really well. It's not a script. Just note that if you guys are hearing this if someone's trying to sell you on a script that's going to make you a million dollars. Scripts don't work because, by the time someone receives that message, you can feel it. We all know when we're getting marketing from someone else, and no one responds well, but if you can send a message and the person on the other end, the receiving end, 100% knows that that message was meant for them alone, that's one of the ways you can make a positive first impression on people. You can personalize, not just first name, but for example, Lori, with you, we started the podcast this way. I said social currency is a brilliant way to have this conversation to talk about what you're doing because it captures so much. There's a whole economy around giving and receiving of attention right now. So that would be how I would reach out to you to make sure that this is a conversation about you and something you care about and not just a copy and paste that everybody else got. The third thing that always comes up and it's always in this order, how do I find my people, what do I say to them to spark a conversation? The third question is how do we take that conversation and turn it into a sales conversation? My co-author says, "How do you go from talking about the weather to talking about whether we should be doing business together or not?" There an art having a really good conversation with someone and to figure out that there may be business here and to do it in an elegant way that everyone feels great about they feel invited into it. It's really about getting permission, getting people the opportunity to raise their hand and say, "Yeah, tell me a little bit more about that." So the book walks through a bunch of examples that have worked really well for me and for the clients that we've worked with in workshops. It's not one phrase that wins at all, it's more the content of when you deliver this, and that you let them feel like they have control of the conversation, that then you get permission which allows you to enter into the specifics of what it might look like if you do business together.
Can you share one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences?
So I have been that guy too where networking is intimidating. The idea of going to the Chamber of Commerce meeting and having to network that way, is really hard for me, honestly. As a business owner, I've forced myself to do that, but it does make me tense up a little bit even thinking about being in that environment. Let me share with you what has really helped me and I think I've cultivated and nurtured this in the online environment, but I'm now finding it works every bit as well in real life. I can have conversations with people, I can genuinely look for the awesome in that. So what is cool about this other person, what are they doing? It doesn't have to be that we went to the same high school or college since everyone's trying to find that rapport. It's really just as a human being, what are they doing that is really cool that I can find to compliment them? That's one of the first things that I'm going to do. The reason I start there is it feels really good to be validated by others and to be recognized and seen for the hard work that we're doing. So if we can start a conversation there, I found it kind of takes off much more easily for both sides, we just all feel good about it. The second thing is I can put my agenda on the back burner for a while. For me, that means hearing what's going on in the other person's world. I might ask them a question like, "So if I did run into someone who was a perfect prospect for you, how would I recognize them?" A question like that creates an opportunity to have a little bit of a deeper conversation and maybe I actually can make a connection. If there's business to be had that can wait a little bit too because we do business with people that we know, like, and trust and there's reciprocity and all that in place. But if I can really understand who the other person is on the other side of the dialog, I potentially could help them. That's agenda number one for me, I'm probably going to make an introduction to someone else in my network that I know will appreciate them, maybe needs what they have, maybe I'll hear them say that they're stuck with something that they don't fully know or understand yet, but there's someone I know that could be really helpful for them. So connecting those dots between people can become the reason for having that conversation. Then, only then if someone says something that you can help with at that point, it gives you an opportunity to say, "Oh, that's kind of interesting, tell me more about that," and if I don't earn that, then I don't deserve to have that conversation.
How do you stay in front of and best nurture your network?
I think this is one of the big challenges in this space, which is as you're starting to network with more people, how do you do it in an intelligent way so that they are real relationships and it's not you touched a person one time and you never see them again? That really doesn't serve either side. So one of the tools that I found helpful is a CRM called getdex.com. This has become my favorite tool and the one piece of software that I would most hate to give up. Dex is a Rolodex essentially and it will not replace your CRM. So if anyone out there is saying, "Yeah, I got this covered, I've got HubSpot," that won't work because that's not what dex is. Dex does one thing and it does it really well. It tells you who to connect with or who to talk to and when like the follow-up part of it. So as you and I chat, I'll make a few notes in the record of the timeline of our conversation. Then all my folks that I want to stay in touch with are on-timers, they're in buckets. So for this group of people, I want to make sure that I check-in and see what's going on in their world, look at their content, make sure I'm commenting and staying relevant and up to date with them, at least on a monthly basis. For other people, it might be a couple of times a year where I don't want to lose touch, but it's not a business relationship that I need to stay top of mind with either. So I'm just using this tool and before using dex, I really struggled because I was doing this on paper and it just wasn't working. But this tool plugs into LinkedIn plugs into email, and Facebook so I can make my notes right there, as I'm conversing with people. So it's been a great addition.
What advice would you offer business professionals who are looking to grow their network?
I think I'm going to go back and reuse one that I've already shared, but I'm going to emphasize it because I think it's that important. That is to find the awesome in other people first. As entrepreneurs, we are very sensitive to taking care of our people. So if you have a newsletter, if you have a YouTube channel, your network on LinkedIn, wherever your people are where you're actively growing your audience and nurturing those relationships when someone shows up and engages with you, we are very in tune with taking care of those people, it's a great way to get to know folks. So when you show up and you find the awesome in someone else, it's a natural interface to really connect with them. So for example, for a podcaster like you, Lori, the ratings and reviews on podcasts, that is the currency of podcasting, right. So if someone wants to connect with you, the smartest thing they could do is to leave you a five-star review. Then what I would do is I'd take a screenshot and I'd shoot you an email and say, "Lori, I'm really enjoying the podcast, I just left your review, this is what I said." Now you and I are going to have a completely different conversation because of the context of how we first connected so this is the approach that I prefer. The alternative, what we've been all been told for years is to show up and bring value, like give value to people. There's a problem with this and I did this years ago. There was a lawyer who had paid big money to have the back of the Yellow Page book, and I looked at his website and his local listings online. I could see he had a lot of holes in his online marketing, even though he was spending a lot of money on the yellow pages. So I reached out to him thinking that I was doing him a favor, sharing all these mistakes that he made. I thought I was giving him value, he probably thought I was the biggest ass in the world. So I learned by that mistake that even though I thought I was giving value, that's a terrible way to deliver it. So show up, find the awesome first, and delivering value can come later. There's still a lot of substance in that, but it's not the best way to show up on someone's doorstep.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less than or differently with regards to your professional career?
I think my answer on what I'm doing today is different from what I would say if I could go back and talk to my 20-year-old self. If I could go back and talk to my 20-year-old self, I really would have focused on the list building. I just turned 50 so we're talking about a 30 year period of time where the ability to build an audience of people that had a core interest in common and what I didn't understand back then was if you build a big enough group of people, you can monetize it in really interesting ways. I'm a little bit of a Star Wars nerd so when I was 20 years old if someone said you can create a newsletter that is all about the nerdy Star Wars stuff that you're interested in, I think I wouldn't have believed that. I would have questioned how that would become a business. If you look at our world today, it's amazing how all these passionate communities have been built around a topic or a niche that people really care about a lot and once you've gathered the crowd, you can have sponsors, you can directly sell things that that group asked for. There are so many different ways to monetize it in a way that people will love you for and I would have loved to counsel my younger self on that.
Do you have any final word or advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Nope, I just really appreciate what you're doing to get the information out. I think anyone that hears this and if you're interested in connecting, let's have a real conversation.
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Check out Tobin’s new book: Search “Experts Never Chase” on Amazon