Melinda is a sales coach who specializes in helping female entrepreneurs sell to corporations. Not only does she coach how to sell, she still practices her own sales. Melinda works as a sales executive and holds an impressive track record of over $40 million. With 20 plus years of b2b sales experience, she is determined to help other women expand their impact by selling to big companies. She also leads a Facebook community of amazing women trailblazers called B2B Women Making Big Sales.
How do small business owners sell to big clients?
Yeah, I think this is usually the first question people have. When we are small entrepreneurs, and we look at other people going after or working with more established businesses and corporations, and a lot of times they look at fellow entrepreneurs that are able to have an impressive client list. A lot of people often ask me, how can I sell to corporations, and I personally think in today's world, the world has gone through so many changes and companies are actually becoming more flexible in terms of looking for consultants or companies or business owners to work with me. So I've worked with a lot of women that told me the same thing. Sometimes companies are looking for employees, but because of different reasons, they started looking for consultants to help them with different services or different solutions. But the first thing that when people are thinking about starting to go after corporations, the first thing they often have is that, "How do I get started? Is it even possible?" I like to say the first step when it comes to going after corporate clients is all about the target. If you want to stand out and compete with other people, especially more established competitors, the first thing you need to ask yourself is, can I be more specific or targeted in terms of my marketing? Can I find an industry that is highly specialized, and in terms of what I do, can I be considered as a specialist in terms of my service offering. Your positioning statements should be the first thing you stand out for because business prospects or business clients are super busy, they often do not have a lot of time to listen to a long speech or long elevator speech. So to have a very clear understanding of how you stand out how you can be a specialist should really be the first thing that you want to focus on. But if you are able to stand out within a very specialized industry or something you offer, I personally think that there is a great opportunity for you out there to go after corporate clients because you are going to tell them, "Hey, I'm going to stand out from my more established competitors because working with me, you get to have direct access to me, you are able to work with me rather than some other teams or other companies where they have a lot of turnovers." I think that for small entrepreneurs when it comes to going after corporate clients, our customer service and personalized approach is definitely a way to that will appeal to a lot of corporate clients.
How do small business owners stand out when they're selling to these big clients?
Yeah, definitely niching down. I often tell people that in terms of sales perspective, the first thing, industry can be a really great way for you to stand out from your competitors. It's one thing to say, "Hey, I'm a marketing consultant," or you can say, "I'm a marketing consultant that really specializes in sporting industries," and that instantly helps you stand out from your competitors. So to really find an industry that you're passionate about, and one thing you can look at is to look at your past experience. A lot of women when they start out probably already have years of experience, either in the corporate world or from their education, or where they're located. So you can also always look back to your professional experience, and try to ask yourself, in terms of experience I have, what industry can I specialize in, and that is a great way to really stay focused, to stand out. Similar to a lot of marketing conversations people might have with you, it's niching down. But I think by niching down for corporate clients, when you're having a sales conversation, it becomes really easy for you to understand and it also allows you to have a better impact in terms of your sales activities. Think about this, if you want to go after companies in the sports industry, it's one thing to go after one or two prospects in the industry, but if you decide to niche down and focus on this industry, then you can easily go after all the companies within that industry, and continue to have a sales conversation that's very industry-specific, rather than going after a broad range of market. If you have a sales communication style message that is more broad-based, by niching down to a specific industry, then you can go after one industry at a time. Every time you go after one industry, you're more likely to stand out because you're focusing and you're being the specialist of the specific industry. So that's definitely the first thing that you need to think about and a lot of women I support within our Executive Lounge Program, I also ask them to really have a very clear understanding of their competitors. By knowing the bigger competitors, you can also understand how you're going to be different from those competitors and that should be the next step in terms of helping you stand out from the competitors.
How do you manage your sales process as a busy entrepreneur?
That's led to a little bit of that industry-specific sales strategy. The way I help female entrepreneurs sell, the way we design it, it all happens for a reason. First of all, by niching down, you are less likely to feel overwhelmed. By focusing on one industry you are going to start to connect with people that tend to know each other. I've been selling for 20 years, I've sold in different industries around the world, but every time I get into one industry here's what I noticed: I noticed that everybody tends to know each other. So if you are able to niche down and focus on specific industries, a small number of industries, and the more you network with people, you're going to notice that people tend to know each other. A lot of people in the marketing positions within the sports industry, I bet you that most people know each other, and people tend to go from one business to the other. So the more you network, and the more you connect with people, you are going to become the insider of that industry and that is how you stop being overwhelmed. If you try to go after a lot of people, one of the biggest mistakes I hear entrepreneurs face is that they will go after a broad range of industries, and then they end up having hundreds of prospects on their CRM client management systems and they will have hundreds of prospects and not knowing how to follow up, or people will be telling me, "Oh, my God, LinkedIn, I'm getting so many messages, and I'm having trouble managing them," but if you're able to really prioritize and know who you want to go after and make sure that you connect with people that are really going to give you those 5-6 figure sales, that is the first step to avoid feeling overwhelmed, and you've definitely got to have a very clear sales system. I teach a five-step sales system, and we focus on one step at a time. Always asking yourself, where am I in this step within this sales success plan, where am I, and what should I do to just simply move forward? So that's definitely the second one, and once you have that system down, I encourage you to probably outsource part of your sales success plan to somebody else and that is when you can start thriving and start to feel less overwhelmed. But definitely, it's a step-by-step process. It's about niching down because the more you can know, within one specific industry, you are going to be known and people are going to start talking about you and refer your clients. That is the reason why I'm able to do what I do while still being a director of sales for another company. I had to start building my relationship and connect with a lot of people, but now I am known and while I'm known, I'm able to offer time to female entrepreneurs as support to go in after big clients. So it is possible to do that.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
I'm just looking at the most recent thing. I am in sporting goods, I represent another company and we go after large sports brand. So one thing that came to mind is that these days I'm going after the boxing industry. I've been attending trade shows for a long time and every year I will be going to trade shows. A lot of times when you go in after trade shows you meet different kinds of people and recently, I was just going after this boxing industry and I remember two years ago somebody briefly introduced me to the top r&d person, within a boxing company a really important brand. That is really something that really resonated with me in terms of networking stories you were talking about is that you really don't know the kind of people you're going to connect with. But two years ago, when I bumped into the person, and we had a common connection, I call it super connectors and the person introduced me to this top r&d person of this boxing brand. This just reminded me that whenever we do networking, we always got to think long-term. Two years ago I met this person, and today this person would be my ideal client and I'm super grateful. If I were to try to reach out to this person on LinkedIn, and try to connect with this person, first of all, this person doesn't even have a LinkedIn profile. It would have taken me so much longer to try to track down this person and let alone getting a meeting or a face-to-face meeting with this person. But just by two years ago, being able to network with people, especially industry insiders, people that are hanging out in the industry within the industries, I was able to get a business card of my ideal client. Two years later I'm super grateful to be able to have his business card, and I've kept it and that would have saved me so much trouble tried to reach out to or figure out what that person is. Again, back to if you have a good right target, and if your target is specific enough, you really are going to notice that the more you network, the more you meet people, everybody knows each other. That also goes to your reputation because you've got to have a great reputation to make sure that people are going to talk about you positively. But that turned out to be a great opportunity for me to meet my ideal clients two years later. You just never know where your business is going to take you out who might end up benefiting, or what networking event might end up being super beneficial.
As you've met people from all over how do you best stay in front of our best nurture these relationships that you're creating?
I think, first of all, you've got to have a very simple to implement client relationship system. It doesn't have to be fancy, a lot of people like to use HubSpot, I like to keep my sales on a client management system. Also making sure that you prioritize those people that are important to your target industry. I talked within my group, I talk to the women I support a lot about the super connectors to really recognize that a small group of people could provide the most impact on your sales. So when you're networking with people, I think the first thing to really keep in mind and avoid feeling overwhelmed is to prioritize the most important connections you want to keep in touch with and have a simple system. Some ladies in my group use something as simple as Excel but have simple systems so that you stay focused when it's time to do your sales s you don't have hundreds of prospects that you need to follow up. Focus on your most important prospects and focus on nurturing relationships with them. I think staying focused is also another very important thing for busy entrepreneurs. Let's face it, we have so many things to do, I support mostly female entrepreneurs and I always tell the ladies, we don't just have to sell, we have to manage our clients, manage our people, some of us are moms, daughters, friends, we have so many things to manage. So keep your system as simple as possible. Don't overcomplicate it and stay focused.
What advice would you offer to the business professional who is really looking to grow their network?
I often talk about the super connectors. Super connectors are specifically designed for people who are going after 5-6 figure decision-makers like businesses and corporations. A lot of times, when you try to reach out to decision-makers, many of them don't hang out on LinkedIn. I think that is a lot of challenges entrepreneurs or professionals face is that they'll be posting a lot on LinkedIn, but their content is only consumed by smaller professionals, but most decision-makers often are not consuming content on LinkedIn, or sometimes they don't even have LinkedIn messages. So reaching out to super connectors, and try to develop opportunities for business referrals is another opportunity or another sales strategy I often share with my fellow entrepreneurs or women I support. But basically, super connectors are the people that would be connected to your decision-makers, but that is also open to networking opportunities. One thing when it comes to superconductors that you want to keep in mind is there are a lot of different people that might be able to give you business referral opportunities, look for those super connectors because these people could potentially get your foot in the door with your business decision-makers, and be conscious and spend time to nurture those relationships. I often joke about this, but sometimes I'm nicer to my super connectors than my actual prospective clients. But these are the people that first of all, have a huge amount of industry knowledge that you probably couldn't get by googling or by talking to other people. So these people, have been in the industry for a long time, and they could probably share a lot of information and knowledge with you. These are the people you're able to create win-win relationships with, these are the people that could refer you clients and give you that business introduction. Oftentimes, a lot of professionals and entrepreneurs, all know that business introduction is the most powerful way to get the attention of decision-makers or corporate clients. So yes, when you're building your network, look for those that are able to introduce you to your ideal clients.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I would say focus on the next best step. So I often talked about how I've got a success plan and these are the five steps to getting more corporate clients. But in terms of day-to-day, I would encourage myself to focus on the next best step and really just focus on making that progress. I am a very impatient person, I'm going to be very frank about it. I'm always trying to do better go after different things over the years, I've gone to different markets. But looking back, I would tell myself don't be so impatient, but just focus on the next best step, what is the next best step I should focus on, and enjoy the process. I am proud to say that even though I've been selling for 20 years, and I've done 1000s of cold calls, and I also like to joke about this, frankly, I probably been rejected more than most people I know. But I have to say, I've really enjoyed this process and I continue to love being an entrepreneur. There have been ups and downs, but if I were to talk to myself, 20 years ago, I'd say enjoy the ride, focus on your next best step and just focus on doing it with more joy and more purpose, and enjoy the ride because I always thought I'd be so happy if I made it or if I closed this deal. Turned out that I did close those deals, but I continued to want to grow and I continued to want to go after the next big plan. So it doesn't stop, this whole process never stops and it's more about the journey. Seriously, your journey is your destination, the more I've been in sales and as an entrepreneur, the more I appreciate what they're saying. So just have fun and enjoy whatever you're doing every single day and stay focused on your next best job and continue to grow and appreciate people we know every single day. I know we've talked so much about sports, and I love the fact that I've got somebody to talk about hockey with so enjoy the people you know and have fun.
What final word of advice you have to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I think the most important thing that I would like to share with everybody listening when is when somebody is in front of you, I would say listen, pay close attention and just focus on listening. So many people come to me and say, "Hey, what is the step-by-step script to closing sales?" While I do have lots of sales scripts and sales templates, I always like to remind people when it comes to sales or even any relationship you're trying to build in your business world, it's about the person in front of you. While there are still those templates, those scripts, we will often consume different content about the strategies and a step-by-step process when you are in front of anybody, just listen closely and ask yourself, how do I create a win-win relationship with this person? How can I support the person? How can I help the person? Always be helpful, and being helpful is the best way to build a relationship because a lot of times, we don't know what might happen. As I said, two years ago I had a simple networking opportunity, and boom, two years later, this person now is my ideal client. I would say focus on the person in front of you, always be helpful, and create win-win situations. The more creativity you've got, the better you are at creating win-win relationships, and the more likely you're going to build that powerful network. The essence of a powerful network, or even closing sales is all about having a win-win relationship where the person knows that if he or she works with you, there is going to be a win-win relationship. That, in essence, is the foundation of any successful sales relationship or business relationship. So yeah, I would say just focus on listening to the person and then genuinely create a win-win relationship, and be creative in terms of how can I support this person and if you're able to help this person, then this person is going to be very happy to refer your clients to give you a business or share knowledge with you. So always be helpful. I think Dale Carnegie once said, "If you're able to help that person, the person in front of you, then you can achieve anything." I'm paraphrasing it, but I really believe that for me, I think that's part of the reason why every time I do networking events or when I'm in front of prospective clients, I'm able to have a pretty good closing rate because of that sincere desire to really want to help people and I'm always trying to find ways to support and help people.
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Mike graduated in 2015 from William Paterson University, where he studied New and Digital Marketing Methods. During his senior year, he accepted an internship at an advertising agency that specialized in marketing for manufacturing and logistics companies. This is where he developed his passion for manufacturing that ultimately led him to the New Jersey Manufacturing Extensions Program where he can actively make a difference and support the industry.
Why are you advocating so vigorously for the manufacturing industry?
It kind of goes off of the fact that it's been stigmatized. Manufacturing, when people think about it, they think the dark, dirty, dangerous facilities in the Henry Ford videos of the assembly line where right now it's so beyond that image, where it without talking about advocating for it, students, young adults won't know that the industry average salary in New Jersey is over $94,000 a year. That impact on the nation of high-paying jobs, the impact to the GDP of the nation itself is just too important to forget about or let dwindle. So those factors really are the sole reason why people need to speak up for manufacturing and get that underappreciated opportunity in the forefront, where there's so much opportunity, there's so much value for the workers, the communities, the states, the nation. Without advocating for it, it's just gonna get forgotten because when I was in school, I was told that all manufacturing went overseas. So I didn't look at the industry and I think that was a miss. But glad I made it to where I can actually talk about it and engage with students and engage with the local communities to make sure people know about the opportunities.
How can manufacturers ensure the success of their business and the industry as a whole here in the US?
It goes back to advocacy. Stay engaged with the local community, and really the local government, because, in New Jersey, the legislature thought that all manufacturing moved. They're lawyers, they're business people and professional services, they're not necessarily manufacturers, so they didn't know the industry existed, especially to the extent it does, where New Jersey has over 11,000 manufacturing and stem firms. So if manufacturers get engaged, speak up and come together at events, you have an opportunity to convince or at least showcase the value of the industry to let the local government know where they can create legislation and bills, and laws to support the industry. What you put in is what you get out of it. If you're looking internally, you can look forward and really take into consideration of continuous improvement mindset. That continuous improvement mindset could be that advocacy push, that engagement, always trying to improve how you engage with your local community or your production line. How can you advance yourself to really kind of drive your own business forward in a way? It's not all new tech, but there is a lot of new tech involved too so don't be turned away by buzzwords where the buzzwords are really, at least pieces of stuff you can implement today. Systems, automation processes, robotics that you can implement today. Lastly, never, never, ever be too busy to approve. That's my biggest thing. If you're too busy to improve, you're just going to keep on taking steps backward. It's not going to stay the same, you're not going to continue that growth. You're always going to have to improve and find that time to take those steps forward.
Can the manufacturing industry benefit from Digital networking tools to help promote themselves in the industry?
It doesn't necessarily have to be that much of a shift off of improving your business or improving your standing within the state in terms of an industry because digital tools are all a different way that you can kind of get the word out there and advocate for yourself, find and connect with thought leaders who might have some insight of how you can find continuous improvement for yourself in business. So you can look inwards, and again, look towards the community, look towards the government and figure out different ways that you can promote yourself as a thought leader or connect with people that are thought leaders in the industry to learn from speak up about. Also, USA manufacturing hour on Twitter is a great chat, #USAMFGHOUR. It happens every Thursday, it's a big community of manufacturers that come together, they all talk on Twitter answered questions on a specific topic and it's just a great networking opportunity. You can use these digital tools like Twitter, or even if you want to look at automation, for continuous improvement, use these digital tools to really bolster your business, bolster your brand, bolster your image, and get the most out of what these technologies can offer. It doesn't just have to be kind of a superficial thing, it really could be a tool to be used to improve your manufacturing operation as a whole.
Can you share with us one of your most successful or favorite networking stories that you've had?
It goes back to the USA Manufacturing Hour and maybe it's not my most successful, but it's a great kind of case study for how networking can kind of evolve. So we were doing one of these Twitter chats, which evolved into a zoom mixer, and everyone's going around the zoom call introducing themselves and I was kind of just writing names down that resonated with me. The conversations were great, the breakout sessions were great, but one name and one person and one company in there really stood out. They seem familiar so I reached out and direct messaged them in the zoom chat and as I hit send, they hit send and we connected. We had a meeting after the zoom chat and we're talking both in manufacturing marketing spaces, different mediums. I'm copy communications, they were digital and photography and video. We were just talking and we realized we ended up knowing the same people, actually family friends from when we were children. So how weird that is, and how funny that is in and of itself is just an interesting story of how connections are made. But it actually turned into a pretty good friendship and because we are all in that same networking circle, we've actually been able to create this great professional relationship where we share ideas, share contacts, and it's astonishing how many of the same people we knew, or how many people that I've been engaged with, that they've been trying to get in touch with, and vice versa. So we really became this great little team of just friends that are in the same industry, after the same kind of work, and have been able to bounce ideas back and forth and really grow our network together. So because of that, it really helped expand our reach. We've had actually, national news networks reach out to us because of the engagement that we've been able to do and the PR that we've been able to put out through these networking events. So it really goes to show that a small coincidence of how it took an hour of my time today to get on that mixer to really kind of expand the reach in a big, big way.
As you continue to meet new people and expand and grow your community, how do you stay in front of them and best nurture these relationships?
I love to do reminders on my Outlook calendar. Sometimes I'll just put a, "Hey, let's just throw a time on the calendar in the next quarter," we'll connect we'll touch base, we'll shoot an email back and forth to see if there's a reason to get on a call. It really is just constant maintenance. That's a challenging part of any relationship, right? That nurturing, staying engaged, but the digital tools that we have are just fantastic. We have the Outlook calendar, we have LinkedIn, we have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, it's easy to keep on sharing content. You know what? When they pop up on my newsfeed, and I haven't spoken to them in a while, I'm gonna shoot him a text to see if everything's good has business. But also creating opportunities to re-engage. We have Manufacturing Matters, our quarterly magazine that takes contributors, advertising opportunities, and it's great. Every quarter there's new reasons to reach out to new contacts that we've made over the quarter, over the year, over the decade, and reach out say, "Hey, do you want to contribute an article? How's everything going?" So it's about creating your own reasons to reach out, opportunities, content that is mutually beneficial, has been the most beneficial, and of course, utilizing those digital tools that we have at our fingertips.
What advice would you offer the business professionals looking to grow their network?
Get out there, talk to Lori, get connected with the local communities and also your social communities? When I first started going to Manufacturer Hour, I said to myself, "There's no way there's going to be a Twitter following per manufacturer." Not only was I wrong, there already was, but getting engaged and getting actively engaged in it helped it grow and it just snowballs. You'd be so surprised how many places there are for niche industries. So just going out and doing a quick Google search, a quick networking event. Just go out there and talk to people, that's really everything. Whether it's on Twitter, whether it's on LinkedIn, stay consistent with it and really educate yourself so when you have those meetings, you have those conversations where you can provide value and then they can provide value back. So it's a two-way street there.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
That's a good question. Probably fewer video games and TV. More industry publications and case studies. Education is everything and staying plugged in with the industry is everything. I was lucky enough to start my career in this specific space at 22 so that's really where I kind of dove in and started learning about the industry and reading all those articles. I would also tell myself to take a few more English classes and writing classes to hone that in and even more so because right now, content is always king, whether it's video, audio, or written! So any production courses that you can use to produce your own content, whether it's an article on LinkedIn, a quick little video that you're going to shoot and share to your network. Learning the industry, I would put that number one, and then two, anything that can help you my 20-year-old self produced better, more consistent content.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with and do you think you can do it within the sixth degree?
I know exactly who! Jim Womack, no relation by the way. They call him the godfather of Lean Manufacturing which is a methodology that helps cut out waste in a production operation. When I was learning about the industry reading about Lean, it's a great topic for manufacturers because it's a great way to do more with fewer people and fewer resources. The name Womack kept on popping up, my own last name, and I was so confused and then Jim Womack ended up being the person that really kind of brought Lean to the forefront in America from Japan. So I know Harry Moser actually owns a house right next to him so I think I can get him.
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Jeff is a life architect, owner of Creative Web Studios, and mentor to young entrepreneurs. Many people will tell you where to go, what to do and how to live, but there's a higher path and calling inside of you that only you can unearth. It's time to stop living by other people's scripts and expectations for your life and have your own awakening.
So let's talk about your marketing agency. How did you get started?
Sure. So I followed up a pretty typical entrepreneurial dream. If you're like me, you go to school, perhaps your parents tell you to go to college, or they want to push you to get some stable jobs somewhere. So I did all that I had a good run, I went to the University of North Florida, got my computer science degree, and quickly here in Jacksonville, Florida launched out into corporate working at a large municipality, so electric, water, wastewater, and there are about 2000 people there. I enjoyed it and had a pension plan to work there for 32 years get 80% of your salary for life. I rose to the top there in leadership and got an interim director position and I remember I had this epiphany one day I was in this old civil service looking wood panel building well maintained, but from like the 60s, and I just looked across the table and this awesome colleague, Richard was there. He was about seven years out from retirement, and he just made a marginal amount of money more than me. I was just like, dude, I gotta do this for like 25 more years, day after day, you know, do this 45-minute commute and I just realized it wasn't for me. So I had a computer science degree, I minored in graphic design so I had all this creativity. At that time, in 2005, websites were really starting to pop and they were kind of hard to build. So I started moonlighting on the side, and I hatched this little six-month plan in 2005 where I said I'll just give it a go for a year and if it works out great, and if it doesn't, I'll just hop back into corporate so boom, that independence, autonomy, that entrepreneurial dream, that's how I founded the agency back in 2005.
How did you set it up so that the business is running without your day-to-day involvement?
Yeah, so over time, and it's taken a while I just slowly fired myself from positions and for a few reasons. Some stuff I was never good at, I was pretty sloppy at the invoicing and collecting. Obviously, I ultimately did it, but you can really get that stuff on a machine and I'll have problems there. So that was an example of something as soon as I could get like the CPA help or like the accounts receivable help I did, but then other things just logically made sense. So I was going out on my own, and I sold five websites, and say, a site at the time took me 40 hours to code. Well, that's 200 hours just for the coding part of the site. So at that point, I really couldn't go in on any more business so I just saw certain stuff I had mastered and I was good at, it was time for someone else to do it. So slowly but surely I started to outsource stuff. Coding is pretty technical so you can outsource it and not have to worry about the language barrier. Then finally, I got to the point today where I love selling but different people do an amazing job at it so when leads come in, they do it. So I just slowly fired myself and changed my position and got to go into more of a leadership role, like giving back and helping others and doing some mentoring. So that's been the progression, fire yourself from things that you've mastered, like give someone else the opportunity and things that you're never good at, get those off your plate as soon as possible.
What are the biggest marketing mistakes that you see small businesses making?
What I find is business owners don't take into account everything that goes into their online presence. So a lot of times we might focus on redesigning the site, or we might be like, I want to show up for spine pain relief doctor so we'll launch a Google AdWords campaign and focus just on that. All those things are going to be great, the website should be up to par, Google text ads, Google AdWords can be a good route to go. But a lot of times, the practice owner doesn't take into account all the various ways that their practice may be found. Let's just say Jacksonville, Jackspinepain.com. Well, as a prospective patient, or someone doing research having been referred to them, I'm most likely not going to type in that domain name. So I'm going to Google like Jacksonville spine and pain center, maybe some variant of the doctor's name, and then that Google search results page is going to return and that's where it gets interesting. There are the maps listings, and there might be multiple locations for a bigger Medical Center and there are the reviews there, there are health grades where the doctors are listed, there are social media that comes up for them. So all these are potential avenues for your customers to find you and I find a lot of times businesses, you know, they'll really focus on trying to hit a home run with one area and not take into account the whole journey in having each of those pieces at least buttoned up or where to some degree. For doctors like reviews are super important and a lot of times in spine pain, perhaps it's a more elderly population so useability on the site. That's kind of how we like to guide people, take a comprehensive look at their online presence because a lot of times they think, "Oh, we're just gonna start posting on social it's gonna fix everything," or, "Oh, we just need to get some better reviews and we're don," and it doesn't work like that, no marketing works like that frankly.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
For sure, and it's actually going on right now. So last fall I started guesting on podcasts. I had some time to give back and talk about entrepreneurship, mentoring, marketing. So randomly I stumbled in this community and they're at podmax.co and they hosted this a virtual all-day event and as part of attending, you get to guest on three podcasts. So I find that the podcasting community, even what we're doing right now is really open-minded. Everybody's out to help each other, it's not competitive. You and I both run digital agencies but the chances of us stumbling on the same client and like pitching to the same people is slim to none. So I find that being a guest on a podcast, or in our case, we started our own and we are 20 episodes in right now, it's just been a wonderful way to connect with people, have conversations that we're already having kind of like you and I would talk about this if we weren't on a podcast. But being on a podcast really forces us to say it in a way that would be useful to the masses and be useful to your audience here. So I love podcasts for networking, I've gotten the most value out of that. I put one-second one on there, with the pandemic and people being so comfortable on zoom, having those virtual ones to ones has been really cool. People at times have been isolated, or you've always gone to like some physical conference and all the rigor more doing that and I find that getting a nice home office setup and getting the lighting good and virtual coffees have been really fun. So those are two things I've been knocking out a lot during the last six months and really meeting some cool people.
How do you stay in front of and best nurture these relationships?
So that's something we're figuring out now. Previously, I wasn't active on social media and didn't really have a reason to be. At the time, when I first put out that message on mentoring out there, I realized the power of social media. That's so funny, but I didn't have any need to build a personal brand or do anything like that and as part of this experience I did launch my own website and own brand. I really honed in on what I was about with entrepreneurship, with marketing with mentoring. Out of that I, you know, got on social and for me, I found that Facebook and LinkedIn have been awesome. So as I've guessed it on these podcasts, many times the guest or the host will produce a little video snippet, take out a high point, do a bunch of tagging and when we have guests on there, we do the same. So we'll get this little video snippet going, that pulls out the high point of their interview, tagged them up mentioned their thing that's going on, and a lot of times, they'll be shared on that network. So it's been really cool as we've met various guests, other marketing agency owners, ours is about growing your business. So it's really cool to bring out these stories and see them share it out on their network and we’re tagged in them.
What advice would you offer that professional who's really looking to grow their network?
Find something that works for you that you can sustain. Having launched our own podcast a couple of months ago and determining what networks to get on, it's whatever creates the least friction. So do that. So if you like to write, write! Get it out there in an email newsletter, get it out there on a blog, get it out there in social media, and have it be more written and verbal. If you like to connect with people like I do. I'll do like a live with Jeff and I'll get people on a little five-minute live q&a on my Facebook page. So for me, I love connecting with other people. I love sharing their stories, I love the energy that comes from doing a live so for me, that's the most frictionless way. Having that podcast live and knowing this Friday at 12 just excites me and gets me going, where someone really might like writing and so there's still a place for blogs, there's still a place for an email newsletter. Consistency is the main thing so the thing that causes the least amount of friction, do that thing and do it for a long while before you change it.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
So I had a computer science degree and I could code the website, either graphic design monitor enjoyed the design, but I kind of moved at a pretty slow pace when it came to delegating and getting stuff off my plate. I had a lot of pleasure in building out the team and the leadership aspect of it. So I would tell my younger self, "Hey, move a little faster for getting some stuff off your plate." I had to think big picture and give someone else an opportunity so I could build a team together. A lot of times I have remote workers that just kind of stayed in a little box and it's a lot more rewarding for me at least to connect with others. So I'd say Jeff, get out of your shell, delegate more quickly and you'll have greater life satisfaction.
Connect with Jeff
Jeff’s Website: https://www.jeffvenn.com/
Create Web Studios: https://createwebstudios.com/
Gail has a Degree in Journalism and Masters in curiosity! She guides clients to success with a marketing strategy centered around telling stories and making the right connections. How? Sign up, suit up, show up. Her resume includes media fundraising, advertising, PR, and owning a b&b. Gail now is a powerhouse connector, strategic brand consultant, and keynote speaker with a focus on manufacturing. She is a Twitter evangelist, a passionate networker, and an avid storyteller.
As I stated in the bio, but you're calling yourself a chief curiosity officer. Why is curiosity so important to you in the new virtual manufacturing marketing world?
Well, with curiosity, I encourage people to use it. First of all, I use it because that's how I really did the pivot into learning more about this world because I was a journalist, which I covered a lot of different topics. But manufacturing, I did not know much about that, and certainly, I've been doing work in mold-making, which is a very niche world and I use curiosity for me to learn. But then when I'm teaching now and working with clients in that world, I'm encouraging them to be curious about marketing, curious about outreach, curious about how can they make a change from the traditional trade shows. Especially since the pandemic, things have changed, and it's a disruption, not an interruption. So we're not going to go back to the way it was, it forever changed how we're going to be doing things and even if we go back to live, there's still going to be a digital component. So curiosity is like a muscle, if you're not using it, it just won't grow and curiosity is about growing, learning, and exploring the virtual world that for some people may seem overwhelming to them and may even seem a bit scary. So that's why I say number one if you're curious, you can learn so many new things, and become more adept at how to use all these virtual technologies.
Can you share some tips to help salespeople that are in the manufacturing industry that are trying to get away from the trade shows to best understand selling in the digital marketing world?
It is about asking those questions and first doing your research. So I always say before you try to sell to anyone, first learn about who your clients are and what they're looking for. What's happening is those same clients are doing that with you. They're doing research about your company, they're looking at your social media, they're looking at websites, they want to know who you are before they're even gonna think about buying from you. So you need as a salesperson to do the same thing. Dig in, find out who they are as much as possible. There's a lot of information you can find online about someone and some people and I've had some salespeople kind of feel uncomfortable with that they feel like "Well, I'm nosing around." I said, "In this world, if someone posts something publicly, they post it on a social media platform, it is done because they want to share something." So that's one tip is to do your research. The other thing is instead of selling, be generous with your information, share your knowledge, try to be a guide to who you're trying to sell to. So if you're in an engineering role, as a salesperson, you want to share all the intricacies of what goes into everything. Give me some insights, and I mean, give me meaning the person looking at your profile. One of the big stop gaps for a lot of the people in sales that I'm finding manufacturing is they go, "They're gonna know this," or, "If I explain this, most people already know this, I don't want them to think that I don't know it." So I said, "You'd be surprised at what people may want to learn about, and the people that may be doing the research aren't always the people that know about how that tool works, or what machine is on that tool. So be that guide, share information, and also share a bit of information about yourself. So if you have an interest in, for example, I may post something related to cycling, I got into cycling. So you need to focus on what are some of the interests that I have that might relate to even my role. We know when it comes to connecting with people, if you have a common interest it can be beneficial. Now, Lori, I know from your podcast that I know you're into cycling, so that we had a conversation about cycling, and what bike you use and so that's another thing. I make the correlation back to trade shows as well, when they went to a trade show, they would have been having these casual conversations. So it's about taking those casual conversations in real life and bringing them over to the virtual world.
Why do you think there's a resistance to virtual networking especially in the manufacturing space?
This is something I've actually been studying because as I came into this world of working in the manufacturing sector and trying to understand it. When I find resistance, I'm the kind of person I step back and I question why is that, what's happening? So I did a lot of listening, I asked for some feedback and it comes down to one is a lack of understanding of how social media works. So that means we need to do better in how we're explaining that. The other is fear. Fear of the unknown and most people naturally don't like change. It's like those comfortable shoes, right? You get into this comfortable lifestyle and then if someone comes along and says "Let's change," sometimes we resist. Now maybe because I've had some life changes for myself but I think it's also I can roll with things fairly easy and I actually find change exciting. I know not everybody is as excited about changes as I am so it's about trying to find that middle ground that balance and again, that goes back to utilizing curiosity because the more you're learning, the more you're asking questions, without fail, you will overcome some of those fears. It's like anything we fear things we don't know, we don't understand and once we learn about it, it makes it so much easier. So that's the work I'm doing right now is really taking a few steps back and also showing not telling. A lot of it goes back to what I say, "You have to just show up." Step one is just show up and trust in the process and then you can overcome. So in terms of why is there resistance, it goes back to, they've done trade shows before and that's the way they've always done it which worked for them. So there is a resistance to change. So mindset is also big and I've had these talks that if you're not going to have that open mind, then you're probably going to have some difficulties. So you have to make some decisions, and for me, I use the example of I get up at 5:30, I have my cold shower, I do my workout before I start my day because I'm not going to do it at the end of the day. I know I won't so if I'm going to get my workouts in my mindset is that I put my feet on the floor and I begin and I have conversations in my head like, "I don't want to do this." I think of all the excuses, but I just say, "Get going get going," and it's the same thing with networking when it comes to manufacturing. Sometimes you've got to do things you don't want to do as much.
Can you share one of your favorite networking stories with our listeners?
I have so many and networking has been the foundation of probably everything I've done from my high school days through to now but I'm going to give one that's more recent because it shows the trajectory of where I've come from on Twitter over to even being here today talking to you. So I started using Twitter. Then I was on a Twitter chat with Madalyn Sklar called Twitter Smarter and from there I met Nathalie Gregg, who had a Twitter chat called Lead Loudly. So I was on there and connected somehow with Jen Wagman, who introduced me to the USA Manufacturing Hour Twitter chat, which I did not know about. I'm now involved in that and they had a live networking event where I met Kurt Anderson who then introduces me to Sam Gupta and he also introduced me to you! So through all of this, I have been taking this path, and each of those people I now know and I know I can call them up, I can have a conversation and they have helped open doors for me. So that's my favorite networking because I can almost see this map taking me across all different networks from Twitter to LinkedIn, to zoom, and all of these other different platforms. So I didn't know some of them, but the reason I say just show up is because when I just show up, that's where the magic happens.
How do you stay in front of, invest, and nurture the relationships you're creating?
For me, I would say certain things are like breathing for me. So I do it naturally and I'm on so many different platforms and it's not that I'm there all the time and I'm not always online, I have a very active life outside of sitting at my computer on my phone. But it's about consistency. For example, in some of the networking groups that I go to, I try to show up regularly, maybe not all the time, but there are certain ones that it's like listening to podcasts, right? I listened to them, I have a system, and I try to just plan it into my day. People often say, "Well, I don't have time to do everything you do, Gail," and I said, "Well, we all have the same 24 hours." The same people sometimes that I hear say, "I have no time," will binge watch something on Netflix, and I'm like, "How do you have time to watch 30 programs on a Saturday, that seems strange to me." But that's because that's not a priority in my life and it's not like I don't watch Netflix shows, but I watch them differently. So to me, building relationships is crucial to my life, to my soul, and it's not just for work either. I do this because I love connecting to people and it just happens to provide phenomenal success to me from a business perspective. That's what I'm trying to work with the salespeople I say, "If you want to have an endless sales funnel, or you want to have an endless supply of people who will come to buy from you, stay connected with people build those relationships," and I very seldom ever really go on when I'm on my social media and promote what I do. In fact, a lot of people actually say, "What do you do exactly?" Because most people come and say that they want to work with me because of the relationships that were built or word of mouth.
What advice would you offer the business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
A lot of times people want to jump into multiple platforms and they get overwhelmed by everything. So I bring it down to the basics of if you are looking to build your business and build your contacts, you really need to start by building those relationships and connecting to people. So there are lots of opportunities now because there are groups, there are Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, there's the Friday webinar series with Kurt Anderson on the Ecommerce for Success and I show up on Fridays because they have phenomenal guests. But there's a chat down the side when the people are speaking, and people drop their LinkedIn and so it's very live in terms of I can be listening to the person speaking but we have side conversations over on the chat. So that's what I encourage people to do and it's about just showing up. So when I show up even if I think that I don't think that guests will apply to me, I still show up and have always felt like it’s worthwhile and have always connected with a new person. So that's the first thing to do. I often tell people don't worry so much about feeling you have to post every day or that you have to send out massive amounts of connections. I'm going to say this anybody listening to is that if you're on LinkedIn, and you decide that you're going to send out all these connections to people, I would say slow down, figure out why you're connecting to people and for sure, do not connect and then send them a sales pitch. I get quite a few of those and I don't even respond. Instead, for example, I may listen to someone on a podcast and I really love what they have to say. So I'll send them a connection, say I heard them on this podcast, tell them what I found interesting or what resonated with them, ask them if they'd be interested in connecting, and I leave it at that. Sometimes I just follow someone first just so I can see their information and sometimes they will send me a connection. So it's about building relationships first and setting aside the selling, don't try to push what you have on to people, instead build those relationships. I say this because manufacturers did this when they went to trade shows. So I often say, "What did you do at a tradeshow? Did you walk up to someone put your hand out said hello, and then say, do you want to buy a tool for me?" I know they didn't do that so I tell them not to do that on social media. So instead, I think I may have heard it, even by one of your guests, it's social media, not social selling. So be social, be engaging, be generous, be kind, I think that you can disagree with someone and not have to always make it a public disagreement. So just find people that you feel you can have a conversation with.
This is a really good question because it really makes you think about what would I do. Maybe when I was younger I would answer differently because my life has actually taken a different path than I thought I was going to take from high school. Probably I'd say, to keep doing what I'm doing because I'm now in a place in my life that I actually love what I do, I'm not looking to say, "Hey, when do I get to retire?" I love the people I'm meeting so I probably just say keeping curious and keep showing up even more. Maybe one thing I'd say is to own your power a bit earlier in life. I think I might have thought of ways that instead of shrinking back sometimes, own your power and now I use that as part of my planning and work with clients is own your power.
What is the final word of advice that you'd offer listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
First, your mindset, you have to decide this is what you want, and break it down into bite-sized pieces. I use the analogy of when I'm planning out a campaign for a salesperson, sometimes people at the start of the year, they'll say, "I want to do a marathon," for example. Well, you can have that as your goal and it can sit there staring at you for a long time. But if you then break it down and say, "I'm going to start with first walking around the block once a day during week one, week two I'm going to double that, week three I'm going to do a little light jog," so you put it into bite-sized pieces. I say the same thing when it comes to networking so first show up and just listen. and break it down into steps and ask for help, there are people like myself out here willing to help. Listen to podcasts, become educated, I listen to a lot of manufacturing podcasts as well and that's how I've learned. So start somewhere, then show up.
Connect with Gail
He is the founder of Voice Express Corporation, with multiple patents covering the personalization of voice-enabled print media, and VOT (the voice of things), Stern has been at the forefront of using voice to drive commerce and customer engagement. Stern's products have been used in over 60 million Build-a-Bears in sentiment expression, photo imaging, direct mail, packaging, and point of sale signage to name a few.
Does every product, service, and brand need a voice, and how do you discover that voice?
I think when we're in school, we're always asked to find our own voice, whether we're writing or whether we're an artist. Think of a child where the first thing that they do, the first interaction that they have is to hear their loved one mother's or father's voice and to start to gurgle and interact with the world through voice. So voice is very primal and it's also a primal trigger. There were some brands that really kind of feature themselves and define themselves through audio. There were others, especially business to business type brands that might not realize that they have a voice too and they have a voice in the larger sense of the world in the sense that whether you sell a spring or a widget or personal care products when the customer uses it, your brand should be delivering a message that is more than just the physical product or service. So our company, as you said, is involved with linking products that can speak, can engage, can interact with the consumer. But I would suggest that anyone listening who is involved with any sort of branding, whether it be a product, a service, or just their own personal capital, needs to have a voice and needs to explore ways to engage with that voice and to flesh out all of the different personalities, characteristics, and aspects of that voice.
How does a brand innovate and keep fresh?
It's part of the sense of a voice and there is kind of a new tagline out there. It's called conversational commerce and it doesn't necessarily relate to products like mine that literally talk. But ultimately, whenever you have a customer who's interacting with a product, there's a conversation, and it's a two-way conversation. So brands that are growing, are constantly listening to their customers and hoping that their customers are also listening to them. One of the things that we did during the past year and so many brands have pivoted is we started offering our products on Amazon. We did it for the obvious reasons of having another channel of revenue, but more to the point because we are a technology enabler and many times stand quietly, silently behind the brand, when you offer something direct to consumer through Amazon so that we don't have to get involved with customer service, shipping, and delivery, it enables us to everyday look at the comments and look at the way that our customers are using our products. Frankly, most of our best ideas literally come from our customers. So I think the secret to growth is really listening to the users of your products, watching how they engage with your products or services and that's the best source of innovation.
What is the future of voice and what do you see happening with the voice of things?
Well, I think the biggest misconception about voice in terms of the recent introduction of smart speakers like Alexa or Google Home, or even Siri is that these are voice assistants, they're smart, they're artificial intelligence-driven. It's all true, but at a much lower level their interfaces are more in line with a mouse or a touchscreen, they're simply a way of interacting with other devices that maybe don't need touch and maybe have a higher level of privacy because every voice has its own coding. But I think that a voice, on the one hand, has to be put up on a pedestal in terms of, "Wow, this is amazing what you can do with it!" But on the other hand, it has to be integrated into all of the simple, trivial, habitual things that we do, and again, it's not the end-all of everything. When it's appropriate, when you need a hands-free environment, voice is great. Sometimes you need to move from voice, to screen, to mouse, to a touchpad. So it's just another tool in the arsenal, but it's a very powerful tool and the beautiful thing about it is the more it gets us the better it gets. So I think that we are going to find voice integration and voice interaction in more and more products, and it's going to impact how we humanoids converse because we're going to learn to appreciate that voice is something that needs to be used just to establish a conversation and an interaction.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
Well, I've started my company from the beginning, and we're 20 plus years old as a virtual company, pretty much. We manufacture a lot of stuff in the Far East. I have software programmers and hardware engineers that I've worked with for over 20 years, but it's based on a network. It's a kind of a precursor of the gig economy and I just love waking up in the morning and not knowing who I'm going to be talking to, where they're located, what timezone they're on. But I think what you need to do in terms of networking, is to be open to the serendipity of finding relationships, finding things in common and I think people are very open to that. So networking is something that one should look at as something that is actually enjoyable and opens up your little world to the global economy in ways that never could happen before. We can network today as we've never networked before.
How do you stay in front of them best nurture these relationships, especially on a global level?
Well, I think the most important thing, and this is a trite answer, but character. You need to know and your network of friends and associates need to know that your word is your word, that if you say you're going to help, if you say you're going to look into something you will. That is this cement of any network that people have confidence in you. We talked today about influences, and we are all micro-influencers, and we're all brand ambassadors, and all of that is based on trust in someone else expanding your reach which ultimately, is what networking is about.
What advice would you offer to those business professionals really looking to grow their network?
You have to be seen and heard, you can't grow a network by living in a cave. So it's not giving up everything that you've done and dedicating an hour a day to troll, whether it's LinkedIn or other social networking platforms. I just think it means that doing what you do integrate into your life, the ability when you get a good idea, to share it, or when you embark on a project to share that journey. You have to integrate it into your life, as opposed to segregating it out of your life. If you do that, then it becomes something very natural and I think that is probably not only the best way to do it, but if you if you're talking to somebody and they want to network, more than likely if you ask them to change the way they do business or work, it's a tough lift. But if you ask them to enhance the way they do what they're doing already or to share it more, or to be open to learning from others, then networking can become much more natural.
I think delegating is my biggest challenge. I'm an entrepreneur and it's wonderful to sing the praises of being a virtual company, and having all of these networks, but in my particular regard, the challenge is on the other side to be able to let go and to launch an idea and let other people take it from there. Ultimately, that is the most profound way we can network. It comes to when we raise children and all of a sudden they say something that we didn't teach them but they extrapolated from something that we said so you kind of see your ideas take on a new life. It's the same in business and I just have to learn and I'm constantly striving to throw out an idea or throw out a project, and then see where it goes using its own inertia.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with and do you think you can do it within the sixth degree?
There are so many people that I admire in the tech world. I think that I have some people that I've looked at forever, some of them are no longer with us, whether it's a Steve Jobs or others. But I think that actually, to focus on just one person is probably selling oneself short. I think that one has to find the Steve Jobs or the iconic person inside of pretty much everyone. If we drill down, I think we'll rather than trying to extend our six degrees, I think within six degrees, we can find all of the role models and mentors that we probably need.
Do you have any final word or advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Always experiment or try something new. The worst that can happen is you fail, but no one has succeeded without failing and keep trying, and ultimately, something is going to work out. Sometimes you send out 100 messages, 100 emails, you post X amount of times, and it's that one lead that can change everything. So keep at it, keep trying, always experiment and try something new.
Connect with Geoffrey
If you want a sample of Geoffrey’s new product, Connect, reach out to me (lori.highby@keystoneclick) and if you are one of the first 25 listeners to reach out, you will receive your sample!
After almost 30 years with Monofrax, Valerie has progressed from Clerk to Marketing Manager. She's just beginning to network and has found that the last year of virtual networking meetings and webinars was the perfect place to start. Just don't ask her to attend a speed networking event!
I'm curious why you're not interested in speed networking, is there any reason why?
Speed networking is sort of my worst nightmare. I mean, frankly, it's the business version of speed dating, and I'm just like, "Oh, this is so bad," and especially for someone who's an introvert that likes to have a few moments to think before they answer on anything, the pressure is a little too much.
I totally understand. So tell me a bit about Monofrax and what you guys do.
The short boring answer is that we are a manufacturer of fused cast refractories. The more interesting answer is that we are a foundry that does not pour steel, we pour artificial stone.
What exactly is artificial stone?
Well, first of all, we're at twice the temperature of lava, which I think is really cool and we're pouring blocks that are to be used for the linings of glass furnaces and metal furnaces.
So who's your buyer that's buying from you?
Predominantly our customers are the glass industry and light steel or light metal. We've also been used for nuclear vitrification and we have a global presence and we have been selling worldwide for the last 30 years.
What's it like coming into a marketing role without any experience in that space?
It was a little frightening because I have no background and no experience. But on the other hand, I consider it a huge advantage because if I'd taken marketing 30 years ago in college, things have changed so much since then that I'm looking at it with fresh eyes. Nothing is out of the question and I'm just willing to throw myself into it completely.
What was your biggest challenge that you faced moving into this role?
The biggest challenge has been the organization, marketing, strategy, and plans. All of those things that I probably would have learned if I'd studied in college. The rest of it would be the writing for social media, and articles for industry magazines, those things came a lot easier.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking experiences that you’ve had?
My favorite probably is when this all started and I can either blame or credit Kurt Anderson, for all of this who I know he's been a guest on your podcast. I attended a Manufacturing Marketing World Conference back in 2019, sat in the center of the room and this gentleman comes and sits next to me and starts a conversation. He's as energetic as always, he's the biggest cheerleader for manufacturing and that's where it all started. I started talking to him and then when he started his manufacturing Ecommerce Success Series, I started attending that and I started networking with the people that were also in that attending and it sort of just started rolling from there.
As you continue to connect and meet with new people, how do you best nurture these relationships that you're creating?
I'm probably not really good at the nurturing part, I'm better at the connecting part because I go to a webinar, if it's one that's weekly or bi-weekly and I consistently go I get to the point where I recognize the other people in the room. Then it's much easier to go down the chat list or look at the people in the gallery and go, "Oh, okay, I need to connect with this person, and then I can write them a quick message on LinkedIn and say, Hey, I see you're attending the same webinar." So I already have my script prepared, because we're doing something together at the same time, we have the same interest and it just makes it a whole lot easier to do that.
What advice would you offer that business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
Probably to do something very similar, where you're going to a webinar series or something else like that and on a consistent basis, you're seeing the same people and you can start to come up with a list of who looks interesting who can help you, which is my primary reason for networking because since I'm new to marketing, I'm looking for all the people that I can that are experts because I figured why not learn from the best? Then you'll know who you would be interested in marketing and networking with which makes it a whole lot easier.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, would you tell yourself to do more or less than or differently with regards to your professional career?
I think if I went back to my 20-year-old self, I would say, take more risks. Don't be quite so afraid of doing things, you're more capable than you think you are.
Connect with Valerie:
Andy was a business executive who learned to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing, highly uncertain environment. Now, he's a leadership coach and career strategist who helps individuals who want to go from just getting by, to having insanely awesome careers. Andy is a Certified Professional Coach, has an MBA in management, is certified as an expert in Lead Management Systems, and is a Board Certified Healthcare Administrator.
I'm curious to learn about what led you to change careers and become a leadership coach, could you tell us a bit about that process?
Wow, that's a great question. Not to be boastful, but I had a pretty successful career. As you mentioned in the intro, my career was in healthcare administration and so I had a really good career, I had some great mentors and I worked for some great organizations. But I got to a point in my career, kind of a crossroads, where I thought that I've got the second half of my career to look forward to, and how do I really want to spend that? What I really enjoyed most about my career, up to that point was helping develop others in seeing future leaders grow and develop and advance their careers. I was involved in a lot of extracurricular professional organizations and such, where I found myself speaking to large audiences about career advancement, working with individuals, one on one mentoring individuals. So when I got to that crossroads, in my career, I made the decision that what I enjoy most about leadership is helping others develop as leaders. I found this thing called coaching, that, quite frankly, I didn't know much about myself. It's just one of those things that just really spoke to me and really hit on a lot of my personal values and passions. Over the last few years, I took the time to deliberately make that transition and become certified and I'm enjoying the heck out of working with folks as they want to advance their careers and have those insanely awesome careers.
It sounds like more and more people are finding coaching as a pathway to their career advancement, why do you think that is?
We can't ignore what happened over the last year, but up into and through and even now, to this point, the corporate environment, the business world itself has just become so competitive and so fast-paced and constantly evolving. New changes are happening every day, especially with innovation and, and the digital era that we're in. It's hard for a leader to keep up with everything so you have a lot of working professionals, you have dual-income families where the husband and the wife, or the spouses are both working and raising families. So there's just a lot on people's plates these days. I think individuals are looking for ways to continue to have that competitive advantage in the workplace, and continue to advance their careers. For so long coaching has been this wizard behind the curtain kind of thing, if you will, where folks have heard of it, but don't really know much about it, and haven't looked into it all that much and one of the things that have really helped coaching kind of launch more into the mainstream and be more evident, is the digitization of it. So many organizations are going to online virtual platforms, much like we're doing here with the podcast, where you can work with a coach from your home, the coach can be anywhere in the world. So it's a great opportunity to work with somebody to put together your plan of action. The biggest thing about a coach is that a coach is not an advisor, they're not a counselor, they're not a mentor, they don't have all the answers for you, a coach really believes that you have all the answers you need and that you know your path forward, you have the skills that will make you successful. So a coach kind of helps draw that out and package that up in such a way that you have the vision and the pathway forward, to help with your success. Individuals are looking for things like work-life balance, or career advancement, or maybe even thinking about a career change themselves and are curious about the steps to make that career change. The idea of becoming a solopreneur these days is very attractive and so folks trying to maybe get out of the corporate grind like me, and looking to put their thoughts together into, "Is that the right move for me? Should I make that move? What are the pros and cons of all of that?" A coach is really there to help you think through all of those kinds of things and really press you to take some action.
What are some of the myths that you hear around coaching that you'd like to dispel?
I think the biggest myth is that coaching is needed when you have a performance improvement plan, or when your organization has decided that they need to see your performance improve. So it's almost punitive, in a sense that coaching has traditionally been looked at that way. Everything that I just described up until this point, would really dispel that myth. It is a very proactive way to manage yourself, manage your career, manage your life, manage your family, your finances, and so on and so forth. Anything you can think of that you want to improve on, a coach can help you with that. I think a lot of folks also tend to lump mentors and coaches together. Those are similar, but there are some differences there. A mentor to somebody you go to when you want to walk in their shoes, and you want to learn the way that they got to where they are so you're looking to understand exactly what they did and follow in their footsteps. Again, as I said a minute ago, coaching is not that. Coaching believes you already know what you want to do, what you need to do, and is going to help you put those thoughts into action. I think the last myth with coaching, that I think is important to understand is that, like mentoring folks, especially in leadership, tend to think that attending leadership development programs or signing up for leadership development cohorts is similar. I always like to think that leadership development is one thing that is very helpful. I had a lot of opportunities in my past career with leadership development, and it was great and it helped me advance my career, but there was never a partner that I had through any leadership development program who was going to help me put a lot of what I learned in development programs into play. So what I like about coaching is that you have that accountability partner who is going to make sure that all of the skills and abilities that you've acquired through the years, whether it be through experience or whether it be through formal development, that you're employing those in the workplace and in your field of expertise, and really bringing out the best in yourself. Then coaches make sure they are holding you accountable to making sure that you are performing at your best.
Can you help me do that by sharing with our listeners, one of your most successful favorite networking experiences that you've had?
I didn't realize until a short time ago that I would label myself as kind of a perpetual networker. It is something that's always been important to me, especially in my career to be involved in various ways especially through professional organizations. For me, I was a member and still am a member and have been in leadership roles with the American College of Healthcare Executives. So again, that was my past career as a healthcare executive. Now, as a leadership coach, I still work with many healthcare executives as well. So it's still important to me to maintain that networking relationship with the American College of Healthcare Executives. But even personally, getting involved with things at school, with the kids, with the church, with things in the community. I think it's important to have a balance so that you don't overindulge yourself in networking. My favorite networking experiences, though, are those ones where you really develop lasting relationships. So one in particular, that I'm thinking of was early on in my career when I was first getting into leadership and really looking at how could I formulate that my vision and my career goals. I reached out to somebody who was a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives who ended up becoming a really close friend of mine. We talk regularly, our kids ended up playing on the same little league team together for a while. So we kind of followed each other in terms of our career path and obviously, I'm on a different path now than he is, but it was something that we always found each other is kind of confidants and friends and, helpful advisors, if you will, and mentors to each other. I can't say enough about the value of networking in terms of developing those types of relationships that you can always leverage because we all need what I call your personal Board of Directors, for your career or life, and networking is a great way to build that personal Board of Directors.
How do you stay in front of these relationships that you're creating and cultivating your community?
I think one of the silver linings to really come out of this pandemic is the ability to stay connected virtually. When we were all working from home, and it was difficult to go out to networking events or have a lunch meeting or anything like that, you found that you can stay in touch virtually by having virtual coffee sessions, or even just messaging on LinkedIn, just to check in with folks. I always made it a goal throughout the last year to, check in with a certain number of folks a week. They were who I was going to check in with just to see how things are going. What was great about that was I was reaching out to folks that were outside of my immediate area of where I lived so I was able to connect with folks across the country, who otherwise, I would not have been able to connect with and probably would have lost touch with. I can't say enough about what this last year has done for us as individuals in terms of our ability to network and expand our horizons, and meet new people and establish new connections and stay connected with old connections as well.
I really think what I would have told my younger self was to pace myself a little bit more. I think I became so focused on climbing the quote, unquote, ladder, that I missed some opportunities and experiences. I think if anything, I would go back and tell myself to just pace things out and to not get out over the tips of my skis because there's a burnout factor that's real for a lot of us when we're trying to chase something relentlessly, and missing opportunities in other ways. So that would be one of the big things because even though I definitely enjoyed my 20s and it was later in my 20s when I first started having a family, I think that that is important. You're only young once, and there's a lot to enjoy about life other than focusing too much on your career.
Do you have any final words of advice for listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Get out there and connect with folks on LinkedIn. Look for those in companies that you are interested in working for, or organizations that you're interested in being a part of, and don't be afraid to just send that connection on LinkedIn. I always like to say to attach a note to it as well. Just send a nice personal note of, "Hey, I'm interested in your company," or, "I'm interested in learning more about your organization and would you mind being my connection?" It just adds an extra little personal touch that helps to create a stronger connection, rather than just adding to your list of how many are in your network. Just get out there and do it is the best advice I can give.
Connect with Andy
John brings his experience of lead generation, marketing automation, and social media marketing to up Optessa. started out his career with New York, Community Bancorp as a marketing assistant and later worked for iCIMS and Hermetic Solutions Group and Versatile Roles, driving new business and elevating the brand within their respective industries. John holds a bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing and advertising from Seton Hall University.
How do you determine the channels where you have a presence online?
So I always start with doing research. I think that there are no shortage of platforms that are available to anyone these days, and there seems to be a new one every week or new features so I think it all starts with doing your research. The other piece that a lot of people forget is that you don't have to be on every single one of them. I don't think anyone really has the time to do this effectively so you have to stick to the channels where you feel you can provide the most value, jump on, and start engaging. For myself, I spend the bulk of my time on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook because that's where most of my customers are, my communities are, individuals within the industries I serve are providing value, or have a robust presence if you will. Once you've actually joined those channels and selected them, you have to start building credibility, you have to start engaging, you have to start providing value and that's another piece where when you're online, it can't always be a sales pitch. I say that a lot in the chats and in the communities I'm a part of. I tend to provide thought leadership pieces, blog posts, reports that I come by that are relevant for my industry, and I have individual look to me and my company to kind of be that soundboard of what's happening or what's trending. Then I let pieces like my website or my social profile do the selling for me, and I make sure that where I drive them gives the opportunity to engage with me, get in contact with me or members of my team so I'm less spending less time selling. So I think once you're on those channels, you have to find your way of providing value without being too salesy. So get your research, don't join every channel, you will not have enough time to have a presence on each of the channels effectively and once you're there, spend a lot of time on they're building credibility, provide value, and don't sell people every minute you're on there. Have a nice balance between the value provide and what you're selling, as well.
Why are online communities vital to the success of a business today?
Communities were what I really started doing back when I was with Hermetic Solutions Group and it was one of those things again, going back to I just said like, I was just doing my research. I had to understand where my buyers were, where my audiences were, and where I can provide the most value and ultimately return to my business. So I started building communities online, and it started with just getting that profile. So when you're looking at Twitter or LinkedIn, specifically, you have the ability to create a profile, add images, add a bio, put links, and start engaging and having people go to these profiles as an extension of your website. So I was building those communities online and then I was struggling with what next? Now what? I'm on there now, how do people find me? I really gravitated towards the online communities and what people were saying about certain topics, topics using different industry hashtags, Twitter chats had been huge, events have been tremendous and always follow the event hashtag. I tended to shy away from what's trending topics, because to me, sometimes it feels like the brand, or the company or the person is trying to stretch their purpose or their tie back to the trending topics so I kind of stay away from those. But going back to online communities, they're vital. I mean, no matter the size of your business, you need to be online, take the COVID-19, take the pandemic out of it. I think even before that, I think there was a shift of going online where more people were looking to online forums, or online channels or social media, where they're getting their news where they were talking with family and friends, where they were doing more of their networking for business, I think it was all gravitating more online. I saw a stat where the adoption of social media in the last year went up over 13%, which is another 490 million people who joined a social network in the last year. Facebook has always been the leader, but there are so many other channels, microchannels that are starting to nip at the heel of Facebook, and they're starting to provide more value to their users because they're starting to do things differently and they're starting to innovate. I think the more that this innovation is happening with these different platforms, I think you're gonna see those numbers of the users online, jump and be consistently growing by 10% year over year. Now the use of the platform's you know, some people are on them very casually, some check it every now and again, but your users like myself use it every day. Every day you can find me either sending out a tweet or a post on LinkedIn or sharing something to Facebook. I'm very active on there and I make sure that I'm engaging with my communities so they know that they can find me, they know if they send me something on one of those channels I'm going to respond, or at least I'm going to see it. As a business you have to embrace the online communities, they're not going away. The tools that are on and available, are only going to get better and I think it is only going to increase in frequency, just look at the start of things like Clubhouse or Twitter spaces and the different stories and fleets and everything else. Every channel seems to be doing very similar things, but you still see pockets where people only still use Twitter, only use LinkedIn, or people will stay with Facebook, and that's fine. But you also get people that are on all of them who share across all the platforms. So I think it's vital that if you have a business, you're trying to sell something, and you're just trying to stay relevant this day and age, you have to be online.
How do you know if things are actually working? Is it just looking at the metrics, or is it engagement? What's your take on that?
I think the piece of it when you're doing your community and I would you just said him on touch upon is there's a lot of negativity on the social platforms and it's a lot of what people see is that people just go on it and use it to complain. I think if you're a business and a customer tries reaching out, or a potential client tries reaching out and you don't answer them, that's potential money left on the table, you have to be there. You have to understand that if you have a Twitter page or a Twitter profile, and you never check it, but someone that's researching your company is sending you messages or is interacting with you and tagging you in posts and you are dormant, they're not going to engage you and then potentially you can miss out on a business opportunity with them. I would say there's a lot more positive going out on the social platforms, I don't think it's all negative. I think the negative outweighs the positive at times, but I think it quickly snaps back like a rubber band and I think people get back to business, back to what they're doing. But your question related to metrics, and how to measure what to do here. Vanity metrics are good and need to be your obsession when you're first starting out with a new profile. So if you're just starting a new profile, you want to make sure you build a following base, get those subscribers, get that community around you because that bolsters your profile and makes you feel good. When you see those numbers go up, you get those email notifications, and you start seeing the numbers go up, and you're feeling good. You can also look at what I call the thoughtless actions in many metrics. Those are things like people that are doing simple retweets, liking your posts, or simple reactions to your story. There's no real engagement, just minimal, it's almost like the person wants to like acknowledge they saw it. It's good still, but I would rather see the engagement piece of it and I think after some time of you starting to build up your profile and get those numbers and you get a follower base, and I'm not saying you need to get to thousands of followers. It doesn't matter the size of your follower base because as long as they are fans, and they are engaging with you, and you're responding to them, and you're just consistently providing value to him, I think that's enough to say you have a presence online, and when engaging can kind of look like because there are certain people that have 1000s of followers, and they put a post up and they get no interaction, no engagement, there's nothing there. Like I said, sharing it just because this celebrity said it or whatever it is, isn't really engagement. How many times you see celebrities or politicians or anyone really taking the time to really respond to every single thing that person has said, or really going back and liking or doing something that you did. There's no real engagement there. But I really think vanity is good as you start, I think that you need to make sure that you don't see a dip in the vanity metrics. If you start seeing people not following you, or unsubscribing, or if you start posting on a consistent basis, but you're not seeing as many likes or retweets, or you're not seeing those things, you might have to rethink what you're sharing because there could be that idea that your content is getting tired. I'm not saying message fatigue in terms of repetition, because that's almost like repurposing your content. But if you're saying the same thing, if you're sharing the same white paper, like people don't want to see that, they want to see new, they want exciting, they want something that you're providing more value to them. As you are building online communities you get that engagement, you actually start having conversations with people and you have conversations about different topics. If it's a topic about a product or service that you're offering even better because now you're having almost like a sales conversation without even knowing it. So you're just engaging with them, you're going back and forth, they're asking you questions, you're responding. Or you could be responding to a gripe that someone has, or you could be just offering advice. If you can speak about something, you know, I'm in service and if I can help you or if I know a software that can help or I have experience with software, I'm absolutely going to give my two cents about it if someone asks, or they're in a community in which we engage on a consistent basis, because why not? I'm here to help! Everyone should be here to help and, and bring people up instead of tearing them down on the social network. So I think vanity is good to start. I think that you should pay attention to it, focus on it, but then you should quickly look at who is engaging with me? What do they do? What are the topics and subjects that matter to them? Then see where you can take those conversations to either help your business or also help build your credibility as well.
So I love Twitter chats and I think it's an absolutely unbelievable way to network. Usually, the Twitter chats are an hour each week so there's a consistency to it. I think you jump in and you engage, and you learn from others in these Twitter chats in these communities and your network. People are always looking for on social media that return and the return is what you make of it. So you can engage with people, and then you can say, "Okay, I engaged with you for an hour, now I'm going to go away." But recently, I've been taking the conversations a step further and I've reached out to a number of individuals that I've engaged with on a community or Twitter chat for about a couple of months now. I didn't do it after my first time there, but after some time you start providing value, engaging, and getting to know the people, you can research a little bit, you can understand what they're doing, their business is doing, and you learn from them, now it's time to take the conversation to a new level. You have to reach out, you have to network, you have to better understand what all those around are doing, how you can service them, it's pretty much how we connected and why I'm on with you, which is fantastic. You have to step out, you have to take it upon yourself to network and go above and beyond. You'd be surprised that a lot more people are open and receptive to it. People forget that behind the handles online are people and there are people behind the brands. You get to know their names, you can understand who they are. You see a lot of brands and a lot of social media managers now starting to sign their names on tweets and Twitter, for example, because they want to be addressed by name, they don't want to be at x company, they want to be @Lori, or like when I'm tweeting for up Optessa, I always say it's John, or my product manager, Alex will put Alex. There are others that are doing and as well because there's a person behind there. You have to understand who's tweeting because there could be multiple people, there could be different individuals that are taking different stances. There could be a salesperson on the other end, or there could be a social manager on the other end, it could be the CEO. So it's very important when you're networking or when you're online to go and look and see the opportunities that can present themselves with consistent engagement, and don't be afraid to jump in. I would say I've had more conversations with people in the last three months than I have in three years and it was just due to the simple fact that I started to engage with people outside of the normal channel and I use Twitter chats as that gateway. So I'm consistent with a number of them, there are about eight of them that I am a frequent member of the chat there on my Twitter profile. I'm able to speak intelligently about almost everyone that engages so I know about their companies. We've either had side conversations after the chats, or I paid attention and made my own notes about them during the chats. So you had to figure out ways to network and you have to do stuff that's not your norma. It's amazing, but you can still pick up the phone, and still call people and still engage with them or shoot them a text. So there are plenty of ways to network and I think the more people do it, and the more you do it, the more you're going to like. Like I said, in the last three months, I think I've had over a dozen conversations where people on the phone or zoom or whatever it is, that I would not have gotten in front of if I didn't utilize Twitter, and the chats and decided upon myself to say that I'm going to call someone and we're gonna have a conversation. It always comes from a genuine place of I want to learn more about you and I also want to tell you about me.
How do you nurture your network and your community?
I consistently engage especially on Twitter because it's so fast-paced. I think from the Twitter chat in the communities that I'm a part of there are unbelievable opportunities within them to consistently reach out to them. On a weekly basis, you have the chat, but then you're also able to follow them, you're also able to check out their website, or their blog, or the content they're sharing outside of the chat and I make sure I show up. Of course, life happens, and there are things that get in the way and I do miss a couple of chats because there are things that come up outside of my control, but I make sure that if I can be present, I'm present. I network with the teams, I speak with them and it's not all business. People are talking about what's happening in their lives, cool new renovations, or what happened over the weekend, it's beyond the business conversation. It's almost like you nurture it to the point where you become friends, just by your tweets, and you become friends by engaging them enough on social media that you know so much about them. You know so much about people and you haven't even met them before and that's the best thing.
I would definitely say I should have networked more. I spent more time focused on the tasks within the company and didn't dedicate enough time to go into events, or networking efficiently. I also think I would have done a lot more certifications and training as well because that's another huge area where you can network and grow. I've recently done a couple of marketing certifications, and I just learned so much in those times and there is an investment, but at the same time you always have to invest in yourself. So if I had to go back and kick myself when I was 20 I would definitely say, go to that happy hour, or networking event and really start making those connections. As I progressed in my career and changed roles, I've built relationships with the people I worked around, and I've always been able to go back to them and every time I've had the conversations if I was changing a career, or if I needed advice, they were always so happy to provide it. I like to say that to others, as well that if I can help you, or if we've crossed paths, please reach out to me, I'm very open. But yeah, if I had to go back and kick myself at 20, I would definitely say, network, and also spend more time investing in yourself from a certification and training standpoint, because those are the things that people can't take away from you and things that just helped build and bolster your professional profile.
Do you have any final words of advice to offer listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Do your research and don't try to be everywhere. Like Tic Toc is great, but if you don't have a reason to be on there, please don't. Pick your platform, do your research, and engage meaning you have to be there, you have to be present, you have to engage. I'm very active, like I said on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook every now and again, but you can definitely find me on Twitter. I'm happy to answer any questions, happy to welcome into any communities I'm a part of, I'm also open to introductions into new ones as well. I think providing value, engage with communities you pick, and also taking part in more of what profiles you're sticking with is crucial. I think if you have a presence, be present on that channel and it'll make itself out and I think there'll be a lot of value in the long run for you.
Connect with John
Andrew is the founder of Fangled Group, a strategy-first multilingual Global Marketing and Sales Consultant, and has successfully driven business growth in more than 120 countries, driving revenue in the 10s of billions of dollars. He's also the host of the Fangled Cast podcast where incredible guests take deep dives into relevant topics for the business world.
Let's talk a little bit about brand. What do you mean by converting every touch into ferocious advocates for your brand?
Well, one of the things that gets missed is that in the business world, everybody talks about this idea of the mission statement, we talk about your brand story. A mission statement is that thing that goes up on the wall that people talk about to sort of prime themselves before a planning meeting, whereas a mission statement is really who your company is and the brand is what are they saying about you when you're not there? So when we talk about converting every touch, most companies talk about converting customers into brand advocates and I think it falls short. So when you think about the number of people who don't do business with you but love your company. I mean, if you go to like a luxury brand, how many people out there love Ferrari but could never own one? So what we talk about every touch is every person who comes in contact with your employees, your company, your products, your services, leaves going, "I wish that I could do business with them, and not only that, I love what they do so much that I'm going to tell people about it." That's what we mean by every touch becoming ferocious advocates.
Another area that you really focus on is, as opposed to competitors, you talk about alternatives. What exactly is the difference?
It's a fun one to get into because sometimes people say, "You're just splitting pairs," but I'm not. So imagine that you're a manufacturer of construction nails and you get asked who are your competitors and your answer would be all of these other guys that also make construction nails. We say, well, a construction nail is a solution to bonding two things together. So your competitors are nails, yes, but the alternative solutions could be screws, it could be adhesive, it could be tape, it could be making products that snap together, it could be twine. All of those are alternative solutions to the problem that the person who's buying a nail would see. So when we do a, quote, competitive landscape, it's not just other people who make what you make, it's other people who make solutions to the problem that your product could solve.
How can people turn boring video meetings, which we are all having today into memorable events?
When you look at the typical zoom meeting, it's a bunch of heads in a box and occasionally people will do some sort of weird background, they don't have their lighting right, you're looking up their nose, they don't have the camera angle. So phase one of being better in terms of video in terms of meetings and things like that, is getting all of that correct. But then there's the next level, there's how do you, for example, share your screen in a way that you're really giving the person the impression that you're in the room. We use open-source software that we teach people how to use, that literally creates a TV studio on your computer, that shows up in your zoom meeting and your blue jeans, with your Teams meetings, so that you can truly control the environment, you can shrink yourself down, put your PowerPoint up, and grow back up if somebody asked questions, you can re-engage and all that type of stuff. The same tech works if you're making videos. So when people get to see you almost as a performer, the same way they would if you were in the boardroom with a PowerPoint or a video up on the screen, you can recreate that. But it came out of somebody asking the question, "How the heck can I be in the room, but I can't be in the room?" We've looked at all these techniques and started teaching how to do that as a side project within the Fangled groups division we call innovation. All of that stuff, if you're a lousy presenter will make you a lousy presenter with gimmicks, but if you're a good presenter, it'll really be able to enhance and give you a creative edge so that when three different companies pitch your customer, you're the one they're going to remember.
So it was about I would say three months ago, I was in a very odd networking group. I was experimenting trying to see how people would see the video course that we do so I went into some networking groups I wouldn't normally join. There was a gentleman in that networking group who I would put on the scale most people would have some not nice things to say because he was a very odd guy and it got to the point that people were like private messaging each other, "What's what's with this dude?" Well, I found it interesting and looked at what he did and what company he was within that networking group, and connected, because I wanted to talk to him just to see a little bit more. He ended up introducing me to a very good client that we just took on board. So one of the things that I always talk about in networking, and almost all of the success stories that we've had from truly being able to land clients, or getting people to introduce us to important people, is don't look and judge, ask and listen and recognize the value of folks, because it's a powerful, powerful tool to get through doors if you would never get on a cold call.
As you continue to reach out and connect and meet new people, how do you stay in front of, invest, and nurture these relationships?
It's about communication and I use two methods. One of them is something I learned back in the days before computers were on our desks, called backdating. What I'll do is if I meet somebody, and I know that there's going to be the next step, I throw something on my calendar based on the day, not just making it a to-do list so that I get to it. So I sort of automated that way. The other is I do have marked on my schedule every day, early in the morning, a 30 minute period of time where I go through all of the notes that are in a special place that I keep them to make sure that I'm not letting any of the opportunities where the connections that could lead to opportunity slip. I'm not above sending somebody a note going, "I was in the meeting yesterday talking about something that related to our conversation, we should get back together and take it to the next level." People, people don't get asked questions that really dig into who they are as people and everybody likes to talk about themselves. So if you take your notes, and you keep tracking away, that you're not just looking at the data, but you're also looking at the person behind it, so they can feel like you care and you're interested, it always helps build those relationships. Sometimes, people I've met, every six months or so we touch base, and then three or four years later turns into something.
What advice would you offer to a business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
To make sure that you're connecting with people and not names. If you send me a connection request on LinkedIn because you think that I should be in your network, I probably won't respond to it unless there's something in there that's meaningful, either mutually beneficial or, "Hey, I saw your podcast, we talked about this topic, I'd like some more information on that," something that tells me that you're interested in the person, not just a guy with a title that you want in your network. Then once you connect, don't just pitch somebody. It's fascinating to me, you connect with somebody and within two seconds, it's, "We have this and you need it." I always respond with, "How do you know?" Then I disconnect.
Back when I was in my 20s, I was extremely adventurous and bold which is what took me overseas and all those kinds of things. I would probably tell myself to be a little bit more cautious financially in terms of putting money away than I did in those years. But I wouldn't have cut back on any of the bold moves that I made that created my career.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with? And do you think you could do it within the sixth degree?
Unfortunately, the people I'd like to connect with most are no longer on the planet so it would be six feet, not six degrees. There's a guy Ian Brenner, who's with the Euro group, who I would love to have a conversation with. He's a brilliant expert in the global community. It would either be him or Marshall, Goldman, the author of What Got You Here Won't Get You There, one of the most influential books I read in my early career. I think I would just try to reach out directly to them and tell them why I want to connect.
What would be your final word of advice for our listeners about growing and supporting your network?
Make sure that you always lead with the idea of service and being kind and remove all of those detractors from your network so that you can really grow and be of value and get value from your network.
Connect with Andrew:
Check out Andrew’s Virtual Presenter Course at https://virtualpresentercourse.com/
Danielle is the leading authority on the science behind caffeine and energy drinks, the best-selling author of How To Get Shit Done When You Feel Like Shit, the host of the Caffeine at Midnight podcast. As the founder of GEG Research and Consulting, she helps people who work long hours and use caffeine to get through the day. Green Eyed Guide (GEG) has helped workers, nurses, college students and small business owners beat burnout with caffeine science.
So you say you help people beat burnout with caffeine science. What does that mean?
Essentially, caffeine is the number one coping mechanism when it comes to stress or sleep deprivation. During the last survey that Forbes did, which was before Coronavirus, 67% of employed Americans said they struggled with burnout in the workplace. I imagine that it's more than 67% since Coronavirus, but that's the best number that we have. So essentially what this means is that people are using caffeine throughout the day to help them juggle all their roles and responsibility and there are certain situations where caffeine can actually backfire, it can actually make your mood worse and your anxiety worse and your sleep deprivation even worse. So what I do in my workshops is I go through my system called the five levels of fatigue. I teach people how to identify every level of fatigue and then we talk about the ways that you can beat or manage that particular level of fatigue with and without caffeine. Ultimately, what it's doing is it's teaching people how to drink caffeine strategically so that you get the benefits of caffeine like improved focus and improved mood, but you also know when not to have caffeine and that way you're not compounding that anxiety and that burnout that you have because you have that caffeine strategy. So it's a comprehensive plan that addresses the caffeine as well as you know, your physical and your mental health.
What's your favorite caffeine-related tip to share with the coffee drinkers listening right now?
Well, I am a huge dog lover and so I have something called the barks doggy law, which is really a law about moderation. Essentially, what happens in this barks doggy law is that if you're bored, or you're tired, one cute little doggie can come along and then your mood goes up a little bit. Then maybe another dog comes, another dog comes, another dog comes and then you're surrounded by like, 50 yapping dogs, and it's no longer cute, it's no longer improving your mood, and it's actually making your mood worse and is actually making it hard to focus. That's because performance improves to a point with increasing stimulation, and then you become overstimulated and your performance decreases. That's what happens when you have too much caffeine. So there's a sweet spot in this Barks doggy law and essentially, it is finding your sweet spot where your stimulation is just enough to improve your performance, but not enough so that you're overstimulated and it pushes you over the cliff. This is my favorite tip to give caffeine drinkers because the amount of caffeine that you might need to get you to that sweet spot might vary day to day based on what other stimulation you have in your environment. If it's a relatively low-key day, maybe one cup of coffee will do. But when shit hits the fan, you might need more caffeine, but you also need to make sure you don't fall off that cliff where it makes you even more frazzled. So that's my favorite tip, find your caffeine sweet spot by nursing your caffeine and being extra aware of how stimulated you feel.
How do you connect with your ideal clients?
It really does require me to be a chameleon, because it depends on who I'm talking to. I've learned this the hard way, if I'm talking to someone like an HR rep, they might not care so much about my background in biochemistry and food science, or how many years I spent studying caffeine. They want to know how they can keep their workers happy and safe and how can they keep them from quitting because that's all the stuff that's going to hurt their bottom line. So when I'm networking, I do the best I can to identify the pain points of the person who I'm talking to. My target audience is usually someone in operations or human resources, someone that has the power to book me for a workshop with their employees to walk them through the five levels of fatigue. Certain people want to know that I am a published author, and I've published research papers and I've got degrees in biochemistry, blah, blah, blah. Other people don't care and they want to know that I've been there on the manufacturing floor, that I've worked nightshift, they want to know that I can actually relate to what their day-to-day struggles are.
Can you share with our listeners your most successful or favorite networking experience that you've had?
So one of my most successful networking experiences was actually me stalking different food science groups on Instagram. I would go through Instagram and be like, "Oh, I see you have a speaker, did you know I also speak I speak about caffeine and energy drinks, could I be a speaker for your food science group? I've got quite a lot of gigs that way. But one of them in particular was actually with the California State University of Long Beach. California is my home state so I'm happy to have that type of connection. So stalking the Cal State University of Long Beach Food Science group connected me with a food science professor there and since that initial interaction on Instagram, I've done four guest lectures for her class and we've actually submitted research papers together. So she's one of my favorite connections, my favorite source of referrals and I just love working with her as a scientist. So I never would have met her if it wasn't for me reaching out to people on Instagram.
As you continue to build your network, how do you stay in front of and best nurture these relationships?
Well, it is a struggle. I find that I go too long without calling my grandma. So for a long time, I was looking for a system like, "How do I remember to call my friends and my clients and my customers and my own relatives?" So what I found is that Zendesk has an app called Cell and in it, you can load your contacts and you can load tasks and reminders. So that's probably been the most effective system I've found for helping me stay in front of my network and keep track of leads as well as keep track of previous clients as well as keep track of my best friends, who are great supporters of my work and supporters of me as a person. That app is kind of my go-to for staying in front of my network.
What advice would you offer that business professional is really looking to grow their network?
Not all networking groups are created equal. When I first got started, I joined a specific chamber of commerce organization, which had a very high fee to join. Every other week, they had breakfast meetings, and you were supposed to say who you've done one on ones with and what I found after a year of being in that group was I got zero leads, but I had 60 on ones. Because they put so much pressure on doing these one on ones with people that became the goal. So you ended up having a lot of disingenuous meetings that were just a waste of time or people that weren't trying to help you, they were just trying to turn you into a customer as opposed to a source of referrals. So I found another networking group that was free and already being part of them for like three months I've made $1,000 in book sales and workshops, and caffeine treat boxes. So it just goes to show you that the networking group that might work best for you might not be what works best for your friends. So look around and try something out and be wary of the ones that require a heavy fee upfront because that may or may not work for you.
If you could go back to your 20 year old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I would definitely tell my 20 year old self to go to a different college, study a different major, do a different thesis. But aside from those life changing decisions, I would just tell myself to do more speaking gigs and to get more pictures and testimonials. Essentially, I've been speaking about energy drinks since 2004, but I didn't take a lot of pictures, I didn't get a lot of quotes or testimonials. I could have used that to prove that I really have been doing this for decades. We didn't really have cell phones back then and energy drinks have changed a lot, and so has cellular technology. So I really wish I would have gotten more quotes or pictures or testimonials from all the speaking gigs that I did back then.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with and do you think you can do it within the sixth degree?
I would love to connect with Pierre Bouvier, who is the frontman for the band Simple Plan who are one of my favorite bands of all time. I would love to do a caffeine and fatigue workshop with musicians that have been through tours and endless road trips where it's exhausting and you've got to perform. They're drinking a lot of caffeine, there's caffeine everywhere. I would love to do a workshop with bands that I admire. I might be six degrees connected with Pierra, but that would be a dream come true.
Do you have any offer to share with our listeners?
So if your listeners enjoy drinking caffeine, then I have a free download, which is called the energy drink report card. This is by far my most popular download and what it is it's a PDF that has not just energy drinks, but also the top selling coffees like Starbucks doubleshot and also the top selling teas like Arizona iced tea or Honest Tea, different things that are ready to drink, not the not the type of keys that you brew in a cup or the type of coffees that you have to make in a machine. But where do the top selling energy drinks, coffees and teas fall on a scale of you can drink this every day versus avoid this at all costs. So in this download, you can see where the different things fall in a red, yellow or green category. So ultimately, this is showing you like how good or bad this is for your health. You can get the energy drink report card https://greeneyedguide.com/freebies/
Connect with Danielle
Ted is a Safety Operations Executive from Appleton, Wisconsin with a passion for people development. He has been in the construction industry for 20 years and has built multiple high-performance teams. Ted has a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and has been a CHST Board Certified safety professional since 2008. Ted was on the National Safety Council committee and Mobile Crane Safety and the past President of Fox Valley Safety Council and Wisconsin Tripartite Safety. He has been published in multiple research studies with CII Research Team 284 and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks on leading indicators. Ted adds value and mitigates risk to organizations by monitoring, mentoring, and developing high-performing teams through active leadership and innovative learning.
How long have you been in the safety world?
Well, I've been in health and safety for approximately 25 years. The majority of it's been in construction and as I've gone through the years, I kind of started out in the field, as that person learning about construction, because I really didn't know, I learned a lot of interesting stories, I should say while working with a lot of great construction people that kind of mentored me in health and safety. As I went through my career, I was fortunate enough to be able to go through and become a safety director and watch out for companies on the worker comp, make sure the training is done. So a lot of that type of stuff that I've done for the last 25 years, and I just am very passionate about keeping people safe and keeping families together.
How did you get into safety?
Well, I graduated from Oshkosh, as you were saying in the introduction, and I wanted to be a law enforcement officer. So I became a police officer and wanted to be the Barney Fife of the area if you will and it just wasn't the right fit for me. As I got out of law enforcement, I got a job as a safety consultant for a local safety company here in Appleton and I was learning all these different regulations, and I kind of found myself enjoying them, and being able to go into some of these companies and help them along the way. So just understanding safety and behaviors, how to work with people, but also I really enjoyed learning the business side of safety, which is also very crucial within organizations. So I think it was kind of a unique story, I started off in college on one path and didn't like that and found health and safety.
When did you decide to start Total Health and Safety then or why did you decide to start?
One of the reasons why I wanted to start Total Health and Safety was because I believe that there's a lot of companies out there right now, small to medium size, either manufacturing or construction companies that really don't necessarily have a safety person that they can rely on. A lot of times its human resources or somebody else that's filling in a little bit, but their main role is something else and I believe that we could come in at low overhead and be able to help companies grow their organization, and really get that return on the dollar for the services that were performed by keeping their worker comp down and more importantly, keeping their families together, and their employees happy at work.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking stories that you have?
Well, it's kind of funny, I think the one that I just had today was a good example. I met with a person several months ago, on a different networking thing and we were just chatting and we got to know each other a little bit more and more and I found out that his brother actually owns a construction company. Through all that, his brother came in here and I just got done talking to him for an hour or so about safety. So you just never know where any of those networking conversations are there. They are so important to a small company like ours to be able to go out there and talk to people and get to know about them.
How do you stay in front of or best nurture your community?
That's one question that I'm always kind of asking myself because it's tough. In a small business, as you know, and I'm sure a lot of listeners know, there are so many things that can distract you away from it. But I really find that there's such great return on networking, that you have to stick with it, and you have to stay honest with it because, as I said, you never know where it's gonna go and you want to make sure that you're making good quality connections that will last your lifetime.
What advice would you offer those business professionals looking to grow their network?
I think, one thing that I'm very passionate about is that any opportunities you have to network with people, even though you may not be in your area of expertise, that you still take advantage of those and grow from them. One thing that I've learned is to ask a lot of questions and ask for referrals when you're talking to those people because people want to help people, and with networking, that's what allows you to be able to keep on growing is because people want to help each other, you want to help other people they want to help you. So it can really become a very vital part of your business.
I think if I go back to my 20s, I think the first thing that I would probably do is start the business a little bit earlier. But also, I think, really learn networking, because that is so vital in whatever you do, especially for my business and just talking to people. Networking, to me, is everything vital to both relationships, and the business.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you would love to connect with and do you think you could do it within the sixth degree?
I think if there was anybody that I could, it would probably be Scott Geller. He's a safety professional out of Virginia University who's done a lot of behavior-based safety so he'd probably be my choice. I would start it probably on LinkedIn and try to connect with him there. If I was successful there, then I would try to schedule something from there like a short chat just to get the norm a little bit. Hopefully, that will grow from there. If for some reason that didn't work, there's always this thing that a lot of people forget about, it's called the US mail. I think mailing somebody something and maybe not an envelope, maybe a box or something to make it a little bit unique and different to get their attention so they actually read what you sent them.
Do you have any final word or advice that you'd like to offer our listeners with regard to growing and supporting your network?
I think you've got to get out there and do it. Some people sometimes are a little nervous about meeting people and talking to people, but you have to realize people want to help people. Once you get to know somebody, they're going to bend over backward to help you so I think networking gives you that ability. Kind of like Lori was just saying about being able to reach out and have people in your back pocket to help you accomplish things. Also, just remember, you're giving them a good feeling when they're helping you too. So just get as involved as you can in networking. Network, network, network is what I always try to say!
Connect with Ted
Sam has been an ERP thought leader in the digital transformation space for nearly two decades with a primary focus on financial systems and ERP. He has been part of large transformation initiatives for Fortune 500 corporations but now spends time consulting with SMEs as a principal consultant at ElevatIQ. Sam regularly speaks at industry conferences and contributes his experiences through many popular blogs and publications. He also hosts a podcast called WBSRocks.
Why are manufacturers not exploring these marketing opportunities right now?
When we look at the manufacturing landscape, especially if we talk about the SMB manufacturers, their business model, traditionally, if we look at the manufacturing supply chain, we had the manufacturer, we had the distributor, and we had the retailers. So just going back 20 or 30 years, manufacturers never had to worry about building their brand, because they had distributors who could actually sell for them. But now things are changing in the world, right? The skillset that they needed to develop, to be able to market, to be able to educate their distributors, they never had that. They were selling through distributors, they always had sort of the sales mindset, they had salespeople who were really good at talking about their products, but they never had to worry about marketing and that is the primary barrier, in my opinion, for manufacturers in understanding why they should worry about the marketing aspect and why they should pay attention to marketing to be able to create the opportunities they already have.
With that being one of the key barriers, what do you anticipate how this next phase of growth can happen and what can these SMB manufacturers do to get to the next stage?
I don't know whether you want to call this as next phase of growth, or the next phase of disruption. So there are some disruptions happening in the startup space, right. We have a lot of startups that are really good at marketing because they were never good at let's say the traditional manufacturing just because they had to compete with some of these established channels and their relationships. They had to figure out how to do the marketing because otherwise, they cannot compete with the traditional manufacturers. So disruption is happening in the startup space. Now, their products are going to be slightly more superior and the reason for that is because they are better at manufacturing as well. Just because they are utilizing the newer technologies, they are slightly more innovative. Looking at the traditional manufacture, they are going to face tremendous competition from these startups just because their products are going to be easier. They are going to build let's say the b2c channels which are going to be direct to consumers as opposed to going through the distribution channel. So manufacturers are going to face tons and tons of competition from these startups, plus, the lines are really blurring between your distribution and manufacturers just because some of the manufacturers are directly marketing to the consumers and the distributors, what they are trying to do is they are trying to develop their own in house capabilities to be able to develop these products. Now, they have competition from their own distributors, who were supposed to be their sales and marketing channel. So it's going to be a very interesting play overall and I think manufacturers need to think a lot more about what they can do to make sure their market share is protected.
How do you see the buyers and the decision-makers play into this?
Well, let's look at the buyer types depending upon the kind of products. If we are talking about some of the spaces such as food and beverage manufacturing, in that case, the buyers are going to be slightly smaller overall, in terms of their buying power because of the way they buy their product, and the dollar amount that they spend on a specific product is going to be far lower as well. But if you look at the b2b space and the industrial buyer space, the buyer there is going to be completely different, because the products that they are trying to buy are going to be slightly more sophisticated. They are going to spend a lot more time researching these products before they can talk to the salesperson. Again, going 20 years back, if any of the industrial buyers really wanted to buy the product, what they would do is they'll go with word of mouth. If they are already working with somebody, they'll ask them if they know someone who sells that product and these channels were already developed. But now, the way the buying cycle looks at this point in time in the manufacturing space is if anybody wants to buy anything, they are going to research on Google first. There is a saying that I think they performed roughly 80 clicks before they talk to any salesperson. So this is happening on Google so somebody needs to be selling this. So either you could be selling this, or your competitors can sell. So that's why the whole buyer mindset is changing, the buyer behavior is changing overall, from the marketing perspective for the manufacturers.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking stories that you've had?
I'm actually going to talk about some of the things that I have personally done pre-COVID, versus what I have done post-COVID. So before I wanted to really network, what I would do is, I would try to find some of the physical channels, and I did not post as much on LinkedIn. But now after COVID, what I'm really doing is I am posting a lot more on LinkedIn, just because when you have the follower accounts on LinkedIn, what happens is that is actually going to increase the visibility of your post which is going to increase the overall influence over LinkedIn that is going to help develop your personal brand. I am actually personally trusting a lot more on LinkedIn networking pos- COVID and I think that is going to continue overall, as we move along. So I don't know if I have any specific story from the networking perspective. So when I used to network, let's say if I go to my physical events, sometimes I used to be afraid when I was not comfortable talking about the subject. But now, after I mastered whatever I want to speak about, then typically, I am very confident.
How do you stay in front of our best nurture your network or your community?
The best way to nurture for me would be how I can stay on top of my buyers’ minds is how I like to define. So these are going to be either buyer, or these are going to be the people who are hanging out with my buyers. So there are multiple channels that I typically like to follow. It could be from the social media perspective. So as I mentioned, the only reason why we are doing LinkedIn is because that actually gets us in front of the buyers. They are always seeing that I'm always present on LinkedIn. We don't necessarily get a lot of leads from LinkedIn directly, but that actually helps in creating this brand presence that people are calling us and that actually helps overall in strengthening the brand and also in terms of visibility.
What advice would you offer the business professional who's looking to grow their network?
The advice I'm going to offer is number one, you need to be super comprehensive in your strategy. So you cannot rely just on one channel. Identify which channel is the right suited for your audience. Sometimes what people do is they will simply go for either LinkedIn or Twitter or let's say Instagram, but they don't really know where their buyers are hanging out. So understanding where your buyers are, figure that out, and then figure out what kind of message they are going to understand and then understand the nuances of the platform as well. Those three are going to be equally applicable in terms of actually creating the posts on LinkedIn. That does not mean that everybody's seeing your post and you are investing your time in the right direction. Sometimes your best angle could be just the cold calling. Just because you might have let's say five buyers in the market, if you are approaching the masses and if you are targeting a lot of people, then you need to figure out how to how to approach each customer and each message as well.
I did not respect inbound marketing at all to be honest, because the space that I'm in has very expensive purchases. So we used to be very outbound very sales focused, and one of the misconception or misunderstanding I had, and I still argue with a lot of marketers, what we used to tell them is, "I'm cold calling my CFOs on a daily basis and they are not really listening to me," so I know who is going to buy for me, I'm already in touch with them and they are not really talking to me. But you are telling me that this is the same CFO who's not talking to me over the phone, this CFO is going to come to my website and will read my content and then going to ask me to show my product, which did not make a lot of sense. So after COVID, what happened is everything changed, because we are not getting as much result from our outbound efforts. So we had to find ways to be successful in the market. We started doing a lot more content, just because we had time. Now when I talk to my customer, the whole perception changed. It was the same pace that I was doing in the album scenario, but now they want to trust me, just because they know my brand. So if I were to go 20 years back, one of the things that I would do is I would start from marketing, and I would take a marketing-driven approach, and I would take a community-driven approach, as opposed to a sales-driven approach.
Do you have any final words of advice to offer listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
The only thing I would say is just to figure out how to be a thought leader in your space. I know that this term gets thrown around a lot, the best way to be a thought leader is just open up yourself, go out there and talk about whatever you know. It could be a very small thing or it could be a big thing. Just open up and either start a blog, podcast, YouTube channel, whatever! Just open up yourself, be transparent, and put your content out there. Trust me, people will trust you.
Connect with Sam
Check out Sam’s podcast! https://wbs.rocks/
Visit Sam’s website: https://www.elevatiq.com/
Sam’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samguptausa/
Matan is the founder of Fit Hit, an Inc. 5000 fastest growing company in the US. As a former special-ops Krav Maga Warfare Officer, and after training 1000s of special ops pro athletes World Champs and regular folks, Matan recognized that empowerment to training is key to success, not just in violent situations, but in general. Fit Hit helps people tap into their potential, develop a healthy lifestyle, increase mental fortitude, and learn how to handle themselves.
What would you say to entrepreneurs who simply can't find the time to invest in their own well-being?
That's a great question. A lot of my students are entrepreneurs and high-level managers, creators, people that rely on their creativity to succeed. So we actually have a little in-house joke that we say and it's called more abs, more money! We're basically connecting your personal well-being and fitness level, to your levels of income and how much money you make. Now, most people can't see the direct line between the two. But I can tell you, there have been several researchers on the subject that have looked at over 1500 CEOs, and what they found was that CEOs that take the time to train, hold themselves up to higher standards when it comes to their nutrition level and their well being overall tend to have more successful companies, better returns to their investments, and more profit. It's not that hard to figure out why right? It's because really, how you do anything is how you do everything. So when you start putting your own well-being as not as important as something else, you don't actually show up in their business as the best version of yourself. If you're an entrepreneur, your capacity to create is what's gonna make or break you, how much drive do you have? Do you think that you'll be able to do more when your health is on point when you have energy that lasts through the entire day, and you're not bogged down by 6 pm or 7 pm, when you just bounce out of bed right in the morning, right? Because your body can carry you like that and you're gonna spending the first 30-45 minutes doing morning scrolling in your bed because you don't have the energy to get up. So what we tell entrepreneurs is that if they're not putting their own physical well-being first, their business is taking the hit, not just their own physic. I recommend to a lot of entrepreneurs to do it that once you get into the process of actually taking care of your body and being aware of what your fat percentage is and so on, I've actually mapped out my fat percentage put it in a graph over time because I keep track of it and my bank account, and what I've noticed is that the two moves kind of like in the same pattern. When I'm at my fittest, my company does really well and if I let go, I can see the changes in the company. If I can show for myself, that means that I can also show up for my business and for my employees. But if I don't even show up for myself, are you really giving the people who depend on you, your team, your staff, the best version of you, or a run-down version of you?
What can entrepreneurs do to beat the stress eating and some of these other bad habits that we've all picked up over the last year?
I can tell you that one of the reasons that so many have gained weight during COVID, and I'm looking at entrepreneurs, specifically, is that we are a breed that is driven by control. We have our own business because for better or worse, we like to control the outcome of things. Some are more successful than others, but even when you talk to people that are not that successful in business, and they're business owners, they'll tell you, I'd rather be here than get a job, right? They like the ability to control their successes and even if they fail, it’s still something that keeps them motivated keeps them going and they're very much connected to it. Then COVID happens and what happened when COVID happened is we lost a significant amount of control of what we can do in our lives. So in the first few months of COVID, with lockdowns, and all this other stuff, if you are any type of retail business, you couldn't operate it all, the way that you used to. We lost control of who we can meet, we lost control of where we can go we lost control of our late we can stay at night, whether I can get food from this place or that place. What happens to people when they lose control? What happens to anybody that loses control? There are direct emotions that go right with it like anger, sadness, and fear which are all the result of loss of control. So what we've seen, because we interview everybody that trained with us, is that when people lost control of things, it made it easy for them to just give up control on everything else, even on things that could be under their control. So even though you have full control of your nutrition because you lost control over everything else, it feels comfortable to just flush down to drain your habits, and then you talk to people. Now for entrepreneurs, if you are sad, and afraid, anxious, and angry, that doesn't work for the business, you have to mitigate those emotions if you're going to show up for the business. So what I recommend to entrepreneurs that are finding themselves in this emotional roller coaster that 2020 has brought in is that anytime there is a lack of control, which is to become very aggressive with taking control where you can. There are actually four aspects that every entrepreneur must take control of all the time. The first one is nutrition. What you put in your body has a huge effect on how you feel and if you're not feeling at your best, you're not gonna show up as your best, you're not going to have the best ideas, you're not going to have the best execution and you're not going to have the energy. So where most people basically turned to junk food and fast food, alcohol, we recommended to our community to go even more hardcore on clean nutrition during this time. You're not going to find comfort in bad food because that just leads to a whole other can of worms with your body and your mind. So the first thing that you want to control these your nutrition, the second thing you want to control is your fitness level. Now gyms got closed down. So what? "Well, if the gym is closed, I can't do anything." No, there was a lot that you can do. You can train at home, you can train outside, you can be active, there are a million things that you can do. But you have to first admit to yourself that you need to take control of your physical fitness. When you do that, you're already starting to make movement in the right direction. Then the third thing is that this is an opportunity for you to gain control of your knowledge base. So you can spend the time just aimlessly scrolling and getting angry at everything that's happening in this country, or you can start seeking out advantages. Seek out the knowledge that would make you better at what you are, that will inspire you, that will move you forward. Then the fourth element is I always recommend people to also take control of hobbies of things that are not directly related to their business and just grow in other directions. So when you force yourself to take control of these things that you can, you are no longer a victim to those horrible emotions that come with the initial loss of control because you continue having control over the things that you can. So your nutrition can be up to par you don't have to go to junk food and alcohol, you don't have to sit on your sofa all day even in lockdown, right? You don't have to be immobile just because the gym shut down. There are options, take control over that! You don't have to be a mindless zombie even though all your friends may be mindless zombies right now, and people around you are mindless zombies right now. If you take this time to get better, create better offerings, become more professional, find a new market, find a new niche, the whole experience of loss of control becomes way easier.
How did you take Krav Maga, this kind of aggressive approach, and make it something that is accessible to women?
That was the challenge when I set out to create Fit Hit. I come from the military world and when I started training, my clients were for the most part, within that world. Police officers, security companies, special ops, and government agencies, were the clients. But when I was in New York, even within the very first year, I started getting more familiar with violence against women, and how prevalent it is in the United States. It was much worse than I thought it would be, like one in every six women is going to get sexually assaulted in her lifetime. That's like one roll of the dice. You start talking to women, and everybody either has been assaulted or knows somebody that has been assaulted. I was just thinking to myself that I have all this knowledge and I have this skill set that is completely transferable. The beauty of Krav Maga is that you don't have to be the strongest person to be able to do it, they're teaching it to kids straight out of high school in the military because that's what Israel is. So how do you turn these 18-19-year-old kids to be very efficient with a striking, you have to give them a system that is not reliant on size or strength. So if you give women a system to defend themselves, not relying on size and strength, you're actually giving them a power that they can then use to not be a part of that horrible statistic that just kept creeping up. So for me to be able to create an environment to attract these women, I couldn't just come out and say, "Hey, ladies, I'm about to teach you the most aggressive self-defense system in the world, it's only being taught at special ops and law enforcement these days, so let's go," because most women, right off the bat, are not attracted to that concept. I know it because that's how I started, that was my first Google ad! I created a great school for Krav Maga, but women were only maybe 15% or 20%. From day one, I wanted to attract women, but I just didn't know what was the right message, what was the right way to put it all together. But I knew what problem I wanted to solve in the world and it was the problem of victimization especially for women because there was nothing like that. So most women, even though the solutions are out there just don't do that. So I had to bend their reality in order to make it happen and the way that I did that is that I didn't come out with so we create a new product. It is an upscale fitness experience that has nutrition built in, community, mental fortitude, it is one of the most beautiful spaces you would ever go into in New York City right now. We put on music and lights, and we build a whole fashion line to go along with it and we put females in the forefront of it so the women that are teaching the classes are all these badass women and they're also beautiful and feminine at the same time. But they're also very strong and very accomplished, very powerful, and they have conviction in what they do. We put all of that together and on the way, you're going to learn a little Krav Maga! We didn't lead with Krav Maga, we lead with, “You’re going to lose 25 pounds, let me show you how.” That became the draw for the female population and the beauty of it is that it didn't take long because women fell in love with this type of training. See, the problem was it's not that this training is not for women, it's just that women have been falsely convinced over the years that they're not supposed to be a fighter, they're not supposed to be aggressive, they're not supposed to say no and are not supposed to hit back, and all it takes is one hour for us to break all of that. What we did is we created these human-like punching bags so instead of hitting other people, they're hitting a thing that looks like a person. Within like 10 seconds, they feel that they have an impact behind her punches. Fighting is in our DNA, fighting is not a male or female thing, it's literally in everybody's DNA. It's part of our survival mechanism, but because we don't need to survive that much these days it just stays dormant. So all we did is we gave a more attractive offer and then when we exposed women to what we knew that they would in their core being would be attracted to you because we all have an aggressive side. No matter how quiet it is, no matter how silent it is, no matter how many years other people have tried to squash it, it's there. The end results are instantaneous, we probably have the highest retention rate of any gym in the country, because once they try it, they don't want to go sit on a bicycle to nowhere! What if you even burn more calories, but you also learn some new skills your body moves in us in a different way and when you leave the class, that information stays with you? You leave the class you go out into an NYC street and some guy looks at you weird. You're no longer paralyzed, which was the case for most women before they started this training.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking stories that you've had?
This was a long time ago when I didn't even have a location yet, I was just like a hired gun and I would just be hired to train for certain things. I wanted to open up a facility so I was looking for investors, partners, anything that can give me a leg up. So I was talking to somebody who is a poker player and she just mentioned she knew I was looking for investors and that there was this illegal poker game that was going to happen that night at some random location in New York City. She gave me the name of one person to look for and if I got him on your side, he will find you. So I was like, "Okay, great," and I to my girlfriend I was like, "Hey, listen, dear, we are going to an illegal poker game, I've never played poker in my life, I don't know how to play, we are just going to be social and nice and see what's what." We get to this building and there's this guard, his security guard standing out there and he's like, "Can I help you?" I told him I was here for the game, he asked for my name, and when I told him my name he said I wasn't on the list. Then I give him that one guy's name and they let me in. So we go in there and there's like, this social gathering, which was very small with everybody sitting around the poker table. We're just sitting like a sofa and I don't know who that person is that I'm looking for, but I figured by being there, I'll be able to see what's going on. So for like, 30 minutes, I'm just sitting there, not even talking to anybody. Then at some point, this guy raises his head and he's like, "Hey, you're Matan?" I said yeah and he was like "Oh yeah, this woman told me that you're gonna be here. Hey guys, this is Matan, he's like the baddest Krav Maga fighter ever so if anybody wants to train, we'd like a super commando guy, that's your guy!" I was like, "Great, man I thought you and I will be able to talk later on," and he's like, "No, I don't have any time for that, but thanks for coming." But then there was another guy at that table and he was like, "Oh, you teach Krav Maga, give me your card, I'm doing this charity event if you want to donate a couple of classes that might open you up." That little social gathering and social conversation that guy didn't just put me in this huge charity event that gave me huge exposure and huge opportunity to go over it, he became my client. Later on, he also became my first investor. So just taking advantage of the fact that I could get into a room with a bunch of people, be able to get the conversation even though the original guy that I came there for, didn't even want to have a conversation with me. Just being exposed to other people that could make a difference in your life got me, my first investor. From there, it was pretty easy to open up my first location.
I would say if I could go back to my 20s, I would work way harder on getting access to mentors, and getting mentorship from people who have walked the walk. The interesting thing is that super-successful entrepreneurs are more likely to take on a younger person to mentor than an older person or mentor because there's a certain sense of pride when you take somebody who doesn't know much and you start giving them tools and then they go out and kill it. I started looking for mentorship way later in life. I was in my mid-30s and I ended up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to get the mentorship and it always paid back and dividends. Paying for mentorship is great, but when you're super young, a lot of times you have access that you don't even know that you have just because you're young, you're hungry, and you're ambitious, and you don't have all the answers and nobody expects you to have all the answers. So I would say if anybody is that super early age, work on connecting with mentors. You never know when you're going to run into them so you have to make yourself available to run into these people. I would tell myself and there anybody that may be in the position that I was is you want to recognize success when you see it early and get close to it because it gives you shortcuts. It can save you years of trial and error, not to mention money.
I would say a person that I've been completely fascinated with over the past five years, Elan Musk. He doesn't build businesses, he creates industries. Most people would be lucky to be very successful in just one aspect, but he seems to innovate in completely different industries. I heard him say something and I think as an entrepreneur you need to hear it. There are two things that he said that really stuck with me and I'm happy that he said it because it makes a lot of the emotions that you may feel as an entrepreneur and during hard times, that's really kind of find their place. He said, "Being asked for nor is like chewing glass and staring into the abyss: You have to be prepared for long periods of difficulty before you make it on the other side," and then the second thing that he said which was in reply, somebody asked him, "What can you tell young entrepreneurs that need to be motivated?" He said, "If you need somebody to motivate, you should probably not want to be an entrepreneur." I just love the idea that you have to find the motivation from within all the time as an entrepreneur. There's not going to be anybody there, that's going to push you to be the best that you can be in your business unless you hire them to do it. But our voice will always tell them to look deeper, listen to that part of you wants to push forward. So I would say that without a doubt if I had stronger social skills and networking skills than I do, that would push hard to get on the circle with Elon Musk.
Connect with Matan
LeTeisha was born in Richmond, Virginia, she graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in 1994. She is a serial entrepreneur and has been self-employed for over 17 years. LeTeisha uses her life experiences to motivate and to find ways to help others. She's the Founder and CEO of A Better Day Than Yesterday Initiative Program, where they help families rebuild their relationships during and after incarceration, divorce, and deployment. She specializes in re-entry and family reunification.
How did you get started in the work that you do?
I was invited to a five-day event to speak on a panel for entrepreneurs about entrepreneurship and it was a Father's Day event. On that panel, it was me, other invites, government agencies, and returning citizens. So the guy asked me, "How do you rebuild a relationship with someone that's been incarcerated?" When he asked me that, it took everything out of me. On that ride home, God said, that's your purpose because two weeks prior to that I asked him, "What is my purpose? What am I here?" I know I'm here to be an entrepreneur, I know I'm here to help people, but I'm not being fulfilled, I'm not feeling successful in any of it. After that event, he let me know that was it because my dad and I weren’t talking at the time and he had been home at that point for 16 years. We had a terrible disconnect when he came home, trying to rebuild our relationship. So that's how I got started and I've been affected by incarceration since I was five years old so it actually started way before I realized I was here for this purpose.
What keeps you motivated to keep doing what you're doing?
I know there's a need for it and I'm surrounded by it. My son just came home which made it more personal other than my father, my brother, my aunt, my uncle, and my mother. So my son came on July 13, 2020, last year during a pandemic, and he was incarcerated for 18 months. Just being around the kids that are in our programs, and how they talk about their relationship with their father or their mother who are incarcerated, it touches your heart. So, you know you have work to do, and you just have to keep doing it so I just feel that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
Do you work with the families that are anticipating the re-entry on how to best prepare, or what does that relationship look like?
So the idea of it is to get with the family before the person is actually going to be serving the time so that we can navigate the family through the system throughout their journey. Before the pandemic we were going into the institutions, bringing awareness to the unintentional victim, and the father wound. So now during the pandemic and we're reconstructing our program, we're waiting right now on IRB approval for a study to do on six families to help them navigate after incarceration, how to start rebuilding that relationship and that's the 12-week program. During that pro 12 week program, they were there in life skill every week. Every Monday they will do a debriefing with a social worker and an intern, and then every four weeks, they will do a family engagement activity. Then on the 12th week, they will do a weekend retreat from Friday to that Sunday. So right now, this is the first time we're ever doing the family as a whole because before we were doing it as pieces, like we were talking to the parent and do something with the parent, but it would not be their child that's in the program. So now we're doing it while we're selecting the whole family that was affected to participate in this 12-week program.
How many years has it been since you started this work, and does your program serve across the US, or mainly locally?
This is the fourth year now. You have to find your niche, but when it all boils down to I never strayed away from the point of the family. The only thing that we added on that just became part of our initiative is called Operation Freedom Package which is open to anyone that's been incarcerated, regardless of conviction other than sex offenders. Now that we are going virtually we're able to assist all across the world. That's the best part about it, because we were just limited to Virginia and now we have a family in Delaware, and we have that Father’s house in Petersburg. So I can't wait to make that connection when visitation opens back up and we're able to make that connection happen between the children and their parents.
Can you share with our listeners some of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
One of my favorite networking experiences was when I was looking for a motivational speaker to speak for our Build a Dad workshop and it was through word of mouth and I was meeting everybody on the phone. Just so happen I came across this guy named Vincent White, and he was busy that weekend that we were having the event. I had met the guy that gave me Vincent's number at a networking event, and I just so happened to talk to Vince and he gave me another person's number whose name was Mr. White and his wife actually sent him the flyer earlier that day and asked him if he knew me and he was like, "No, I don't know anything about it," So when I called him, I had known that his wife had forwarded him that flyer and he said, "Hey my wife just showed me your flyer," and then we laughed about it and we and he's been my mentor to this day.
How do you stay in front of and nurture the relationships you have created?
So I attend networking events, virtually or in-person by just keeping people in the loop of what I'm doing, forming groups where we can share our information on what we're doing so that we can stay connected. Also, just by partnering and doing events and things, which helps to keep the relationship going, especially if they have turned out good events and everybody's taking a group interest in what we're doing and growing their business as well as mine.
What advice would you offer that business professional is really looking to grow their network?
I would suggest they join different networking groups, social groups. Then somebody is dependent on what that professional is, there's always a Facebook group, there's always a group that's going to be doing free workshops that you find on Eventbrite. You can always look for hashtags to find a networking group in your city or state. I just think, drawing in different groups is what helped me and then once I started joining these different groups, I got to see what type of person I needed to connect with, and then I got to know who to connect with.
I would say that I would have wanted to party more! I mean, I party, don't get me wrong. I would just say, I am glad that I did party when I did, I'm glad I had my kids when I did because now I have grown a lot more and I'm more mature and more focused now. So back then, when you're growing up without guidance, and if you're not that focused person, you will tend to not think about the things you should think about and I'm glad it happened how it happened, and I'm glad it's happening now. Because now my kids are grown and now I'm able to put my focus on my mission and I'm happy about the journey. So I really wouldn't change anything, I just think I would have partied a bit more!
Connect with Lateisha
A Better Day Than Yesterday’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abetterdaythanyesterday
LeTeisha’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
David launched his first web business in the year 2000 and his first podcast in 2006. Since then, he's worked on the agency side as a Head of SEO, in-house as Head of Digital Marketing, and for a trading company as a Digital Marketing Course Producer. He's built his own podcast, Digital Marketing Radio up to 20,000 downloads a month, and in 2019 he founded his own podcast production agency for b2b brands called Casting Cred. You can find David over at castingcred.com!
So you were way ahead of the whole podcasting trend, weren't you?
I was! It was only a bit of fun for me back then around 2006 or so. I published a few shows then and got quite a few listeners and didn't really think too much of it. I just thought of it as a bit of fun rather than actually a serious marketing channel, which I probably should have done.
What mistakes do you see big brands making with their podcasts in 2021?
Oh, there are a lot of big mistakes. There's just horrific quality that you actually hear. There's just not a lot of thought that goes into podcasts by many b2b brands. I compare it back to how brands used to actually think of their websites back in about 2004, 2005, 2006 because back then, brands used to get the intern or a junior person within the business to design the website for their brand and this is a multi-million dollar brand you're talking about here. They just didn't appreciate that digital presence can actually relate to how your brand is perceived in its entirety and actually switch people off from using that brand. So as I said, back then, about 15 years ago or so, brands used to get these lowly paid people to design their websites for them and think nothing for it and the senior people didn't even look at the websites. Exactly the same thing is happening with podcasts nowadays, in 2021. Even in the upcoming years, what brands are doing is they're getting these people who are interested in podcasts, junior in the business, but probably don't know that much about producing professional quality audio, probably don't know that much about brand identity, what needs to be said, what doesn't need to be said to produce the shows in their behalf and they're producing amateurish sounding shows. These reflect how their audience perceived these brands and it's just not a good idea.
What are some of the equipment that you recommend for podcasting?
Sure, and for many big brands out there this probably the biggest mistake, to begin with, is that they just go with the microphone that they've already got kicking around the office or in someone's home. In general, if a business does webinars, then they've got a big condenser microphone sitting in front of them in the middle of a boardroom table and a condenser microphone is good in that it picks up the full frequency of a human voice. However, it also picks up everything else that's going on around the room. It picks up the air conditioner unit, it picks up a computer fan noise, it picks up someone shutting the door two rooms away from where you are it's not an ideal microphone to use for a podcast. Condenser microphones are wonderful if you're in a professional studio environment if you really have a decent soundproof room that you're operating in. Otherwise, I highly recommend the use of a dynamic microphone. So a dynamic microphone is less sensitive and it means that it needs to be closer to your mouth, it needs to be roughly three or four inches away from your mouth and 45 degrees away from your mouth so you're speaking over it just to get the best quality from that microphone. But if you do that is not gonna pick up all the rest of the noise from around the room. So then the question after that becomes, okay, what type of dynamic microphone that you use? There are very few dynamic microphones available that have both what's called an XLR and a USB out. So if you are looking for your dynamic microphone to easily connect to your computer, you're looking for a USB out from the dynamic microphone. So if that's the case, then you're looking for either a Samsung Q2U or an Audio-Technica ATR-2100x. So those are the two main microphones, there are a couple of small up-and-coming brands that are just in the process of launching similar microphones. But those are the two main microphones that I would highly recommend. In addition to that, you need a windscreen. So something to go on top of the microphone to stop sudden bursts of air going into the microphone just to make your sound a little bit more pleasant for the user and you want a boom arm. So something to hold the microphone right next to your face, rather than actually you having to duck down, or have the microphone too far away from your mouth.
Let's switch a little bit here to talk about the six steps of publishing a podcast to publishing a book. So I'm really curious about what you've got to say about this?
So several times, I've been crazy enough to host an eight-hour live stream, and have 100 plus guests on there at the same time, and a lot of other people say, "Well, how on earth do you do that? Do you think I should do something similar for my brand?" And my immediate answer is no! You don't want to do that, it's just too much hassle. Another reason that I say no, is that it's actually too difficult or you're juggling too many balls when you haven't done audio podcasting, videos, live streaming, and steps like that beforehand. You really want to work up towards being able to host multiple people at the same time, be on there for a very long time, look into the camera, or deal with the audience at the same time. So I recommend working up towards doing that. And obviously, you talked about publishing a book. So one of the last big live streams I did I published a book, as a result of doing that. I figured out having an eight-hour live stream, you end up being able to produce roughly 60,000 words of transcripts, and then you can turn that into a book. It's just about as much work turning out a 60,000-word transcript into a book by rewriting it because obviously, people don't write in the same way that they actually articulate things verbally. So it's not necessarily easier, but it's just a path that is a relatively slightly more convenient way to publish a book. But in terms of the steps towards doing that, I highly recommend starting off with an audio-only podcast and starting off with a fairly basic podcast equipment-wise using the microphones that are recommended. Then when you're started, focus on the audio podcast, get comfortable with using the microphone, get comfortable with what your show structure is going to be like, and then you'll hone that naturally over the first 10 to 20 episodes or so. Then when you get comfortable with doing that, you can start to do things like you do Lori, which is to record the whole show as a one-off, have your intro, have your outro, have your midsection recorded as part of the whole show. That way, you're doing less editing afterward so it's easier to produce. You don't have much editing to do afterward at all. Then move on to video after that, and move on to pre-recorded video. Don't do live video straight away if you're doing your show, do it pre-recorded so you don't have to think of an audience and if you make mistakes, you can restart and you don't get so nervous in front of guests. Step four is live streaming while you record a podcast. The whole additional challenging element to that is, of course, the audience. If you've got people watching live, if you've got questions coming in. Ideally, you can listen to what the person that you're interviewing is saying, but at the same time, see what the audience is saying. Bring their questions into the mix at the appropriate time, engage with him at the same time, or perhaps even type back to them at the same time. You don't want to be doing that if you're not comfortable using a microphone, if you're not comfortable with podcasting, or if you're not comfortable even with looking into the camera, to begin with just to do the intros and the outros and to acknowledge people at the very beginning of your video. Then simply you get to that big summit that I was talking about, that's like 12 live streams all in one take. So once you're comfortable with the live streams, it's bringing everything together, it's doing it for a longer time, it's having 100 plus guests involved in a single project. So it's just a case of making those relationships which is obviously what this show is all about and the wonderful thing about doing a podcast, apart from the fact that you get people listening to your content is the quality of the relationships that you make with the guests that you end up talking to. You can ideally maintain those relationships by doing things like hosting a virtual summit and getting people back on with you perhaps on an annual basis.
I think networking is all about the quality rather than the quantity. You can talk about some articles that have been written like 1000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly, and similar advice has been shared by Seth Godin. If you get to that number of people that engage with you and like your content on a regular basis, then you're going to be successful. But in my experience, the number is even less if you put in the effort to really ensure that the relationships that you build are of high quality. That's why I love podcasting because it's such a wonderful way to build a relationship, to begin with, and then it gives you that opportunity to maintain the relationship because if you go to networking events, I know we're talking in COVID times it's a little bit more challenging to meet face to face, and perhaps even meet new people. But if you imagine a conventional face-to-face networking event, you'd do really well to have five minutes uninterrupted with anyone. It's challenging sometimes just to discover what someone else does, and make them aware of what you do, and then remember them afterward and then get back to them and really build any kind of meaningful relationship. The internet, podcasting, or just online discussions that aren't even necessarily broadcasted online give us a wonderful opportunity to have a higher quality conversation or lengthier conversation. So I think if you can aim to have 10 of those conversations a month on a regular basis, and then maintain the relationships with people that you think would be beneficial to you and your business in the future and you could be beneficial to them, then that would be probably a wonderful use of podcasting as a wonderful way to network and build maintain those relationships.
How do you best nurture your network and stay in front of these individuals?
I used to think in the past that what you had to do was published on a regular basis. But to a certain degree, that's just one-way communication so it's good to try and maintain those relationships. I've been very fortunate to as well as host bowl and podcast, host podcasts for other people, and produce podcasts for other people so it gives me a reason to get back in contact with these people. So the people that have been probably the best guests or the people that have been the most valuable in terms of potential relationships have been the ones that I've kept in touch with. I think initially going back to about 2015 when I did my first big online live stream, and I had about 60 people join me for that one. I just went back into people who have been guests before and I viewed it as a great piece of content to produce. But then thinking about it afterward, I suddenly realized it's not about the content, it's about relationships, it's about the network, it's about maintaining that. So that's why I try and do an annual basis, I give myself a reason to get back in touch with people and I encourage people to do the same. To think of a reason to reach back to who you've had conversations with in the past, and help them. So not necessarily even to produce something of value to what you're trying to do, but just to see if there's anything else you can do to assist them. I think you need to be really aware of what they're currently doing, and maybe suggests something specific that you could do to help them or a reason to have a follow-up conversation. I liken that to messages that I receive on LinkedIn, and probably 1 in 50, I reckon have actually really looked at me and my business and what I do, and crafted message based on that. The messages that I get saying something like, "Oh, it would be great to find out more about Casting Cred and what you do, shall we arrange a call?" No, I ignore those messages because it's so blatantly obvious that they've just taken my company name from some automatic script and added it to a standard intro message. I'm not interested in having a conversation if you haven't taken the opportunity to check out what I do. Check out what I do and demonstrate that you've actually looked at what I do and then we'll have a conversation.
What advice would you offer that business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
It doesn't happen overnight so you've got to accept that it's a long-term game. It's easy to reach out to people and get disappointed if they don't engage with you, but have you actually published anything and demonstrated that you are likely to be of genuine interest to the person that you're trying to reach out to? I go back to podcasting because I'm a podcaster and I think podcasting is a wonderful way to do it. I would quite often publish a podcast based upon the quality of conversations that I have with someone and be willing to publish a podcast, even if it didn't have any listeners, because of the quality of conversations that I'm having with people. I know people that I'm interviewing wouldn't necessarily be happy to have the conversation published to no one, but I think that's a good way to approach podcasting. I would encourage anyone listening to consider starting a webinar series or a podcast or some kind of content series that gives them an opportunity or reason to reach out to people. Maybe an initial starting point even before that is a blog because most people have a blog associated with a website. Put together an article about a particular topic and ask 10 moderately successful people within certain niches about their opinion on the particular subject. I say moderately successful because you're never likely to get someone like, let's give Seth Gordon as an example to actually contribute. But if you have someone who's moderately successful in a very niche industry, then they're really happy to contribute. So you can probably get 10 people to contribute to blog posts, you don't even have to speak to them, you can have a contact form for them to fill in and share their advice. Then you can promote what they do afterward, you can connect with them on LinkedIn, you can maintain that relationship. That's probably a great starting point to building a decent network.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of us have or differently with regards to your professional career?
It's very easy to look back with hindsight saying you should do this, you shouldn't do this. I've done lots of different jobs in my time. I'm in my 40s now so I was probably too old to just work in digital marketing or in the digital world. So as a first career, I actually managed restaurants and pubs, and hotels. It was a great experience to have because as a 20-year-old I was managing teams of people. So I got great managerial experience to do that. Perhaps maybe I treated life a little bit too seriously. I would say just to relax a little bit as well and try more things. I think that back then I felt that you had to try and have a career and I think that I grew up as part of the generation that was still told you go through school, you try to go through university, and then you try to get yourself a profession, and you stay with that profession for life. Life's not really like that nowadays. I would certainly tell myself to try different things, don't take life too seriously, work hard, but also play hard at the same time.
Any final word of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Success and building a big network is really a long time coming. Don't measure what you're doing with short-term measurements, like how many followers have I gained in the last week or a month or even year? It's all about the quality of relationships that you make 10 years down the line. So if you're not bothered by time, what would you do differently now if you knew that the numbers don't matter and it's all about quality?
Connect with David
David’s website: https://castingcred.com/
David’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidbain/
Gina is a leader in the women in sales movement. Gina's career in sales started very early in life when she would pitch your parents on important issues like her version of how grandma's vase ended up on the floor in a million pieces! She would routinely beat out her competition (aka her six siblings) for best storytelling in a dramatic role. Throughout her 20 plus years in sales and marketing in the US, Europe, and emerging economies, Gina has continued to employ those same storytelling skills in selling and other persuasive arguments.
So talking about women in general, what are some of the things that you think are holding back women from getting into leadership positions?
Well, it's not for lack of trying and it's not even for lack of perceived opportunities on the part of the companies. Many well-meaning corporations want to bring women up through leadership, and really give them opportunities. What they are kind of unaware of is that they're still environmental issues and cultural issues within companies that don't promote the same kind of allegiance to opportunities. For instance, there's like this disconnect, companies will tell me that they want to elevate women into leadership, but the women just don't speak up in meetings, they don't share their ideas. So it's hard to get sponsorship opportunities for them to give them big promotions and things. Whereas the women will tell you that they don't feel heard or seen, or they try to speak up in meetings, and they try to share their ideas and they get blank stares and then Bob will say the same thing five minutes ago and they're like, "Oh, yeah, way to go, Bob!" My apologies to all Bob's listening, that's just the name I use. It's just these kinds of underlying cultural anomalies that happen, and they keep women from actually feeling like they are heard and seen. It's really a problem because it stops them from asking for what they want, asking for the positions they want, or letting their employers know that they want those positions. Whereas a guy will say, "I am going after that VP role," and he will make it known to everybody that he wants it. So that's where the disconnect is. Companies feel like they're giving opportunities to women, and they're not taking them, but women don't feel the same way. They don't feel that they are given the same visibility and the same opportunities to share ideas and that's really holding women back.
Let's talk about actions that can be taken to help women in the workplace. How can women help themselves achieve their career goals?
Well, there's a lot of things and this is where it sounds easy, right? So if you're not getting hurt in meetings, just speak up more? Well, if you don't perceive that there is support for your ideas, or if you have tried to speak up in meetings, and you're shut down or ignored, or dismissed almost which I have heard from many women, then it's harder to go ahead and just speak up. So that's where mentors, coaches, sponsors come in and we can talk a little bit about the difference between mentors and sponsors. But where these things come in, because once you get someone who you can be as your sounding board, and you can talk through how you can handle this. Also, women can help women. If you see something happening in a meeting, if you see that Bob said something that Mary just said a few minutes ago, and Bob's getting the attaboys say, "Wow, Bob, that was great and you know? Mary was just talking about that five minutes ago." Have your sisters back! Do these things that really can help both you and her get heard better because it puts people on call that you were aware of what just happened, and you're not going to just sit there. So that takes getting used to, it takes practice. It's not something that comes all the time. But I would say one of the biggest ways that women can help themselves is to get a mentor and be honest about what it is you want to achieve, what your career goals are, where your aspirations lie. Do you want to go after a leadership position? And if so, how might you do it? How might you get around these things that you see as holding you back?
On the other hand, how can employers help women on their team?
That is one of the places that I try to coach employers on a little bit. Be aware of these things. It's not enough to say that women aren't speaking up, why aren't these speaking up? What's actually happening in those meetings? If you stop and look around, and really start to appreciate the dynamics that are happening, if women are getting elbowed out of the conversation, or one person is always dominating, you are the person to put a stop to that. That's kind of a trickle-down thing, if you're the CEO of a company, and you aren't meeting your equity and inclusion goals, then you need to start having meetings with your managers and your directors and ask what's going on? Why aren't we recruiting more women? Why what's happening in meetings? And if you're the person running those meetings, make sure you give women not just a moment where you suddenly say, "Barb, what do you think?" Because if the environment has never really been supportive, or open, to just turn the spotlight might leave them frozen in their tracks. So I would say, think about what's going on in your office in your meetings, and make sure that there is an open and inviting opportunity to speak, and that the follow on isn't just kind of, "Are you done? Is that it? Okay? So Bob, what do you think about this?" That doesn't do it, so really work on those things. Then one of the things that I preach all the time is to make sure that they have professional development opportunities because that is such a crucial piece of one; letting them know that you actually are behind their career development. It's a vote of confidence, it will buy you some allegiance too and it will help strengthen your succession plan. So doing those few things, which is just a little bit of time and a little bit of investment can make a world of difference.
Can you share with my listeners one of your favorite networking experiences that you've had?
I will say honestly and like everybody else I so miss being in person and it's unfortunate that you are not in the DC area, but one of my favorite networking events is The Institute for Excellence in Sales. They have had and will have again monthly programs and the great thing is the networking is awesome. You meet other salespeople in this instance, but they're from all kinds of companies, tech companies, government contracting companies and you meet really interesting people. Then you get treated to a phenomenal speaker who presents on the art and science of selling and I have met some of the most wonderful people through that program. Now, of course, we're expanding who we network with because of COVID in this virtual world and it's really opened up a lot of things. One; we are really leaning on platforms like Linkedin and through LinkedIn, I have done some exceptional networking and I probably would not have given it that much time if we weren't in this situation. I have found great organizations and networking opportunities in that way and I have people reaching out to me all the time too and there are just so many ways to network these days that are a heck of a lot less frightening than walking up to somebody at an in-person networking event which I know can be scary, especially when you're new, straight out of college, or new to a new industry or something because you have to go up and make small talk and do all those things that maybe don't come easily to you. So it's a brave new world when it comes to networking if you haven't tried it before, but it is such a crucial piece of your career growth and in sales.
How do you best stay in front of and nurture your network?
This is an interesting question because content is king as they say and people put so much time and energy into their content now. I have to wonder sometimes if the return on investment is actually there in terms of how much time it takes. Now, if you have a whole team making content then it might be. I like to do a lot of commenting on what interests them. I will do content too but I feel, at least for myself that the thing that works best for me so I can stay in front of people that I want to do business with and that I admire is to really engage in a conversation over the content that matters to them. So I will put my own content out there but I make sure that their content is seen and heard and shared and liked so that we have an engaging conversation around things that really are of interest to them.
What advice would you offer that business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
In this virtual time, I would see who's doing business with the companies you want to do business with, and connect with them, and then connect with those companies and businesses. It's a multi-step process and then look for associations and organizations that are in the field of business that you are selling to, and make sure you join them and get in those conversations. When we can do things back in person, go to those events, muster up the courage to speak to people. After you do it a few 100 times it's easy. But really professional organizations, not just in your particular line of business, but in adjacent ones. Think a little broadly and then find those organizations and get involved and build your network with a wider base. Try not to be too narrow.
If you could go back to Your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
It's interesting that you asked that because, as you know, I run The Women in Sales Leadership Forum. I bring in all these amazing women to talk to all the amazing women that go through it and they talk about mentors and sponsors and programs. One, I think to myself that I wish there was more of this for women when I started my professional career, which there wasn't. Two, I have always been a little bit of an adrenaline junkie, I get off on new and exciting, and I like to do things that are super challenging and I get bored kind of easily. It's gotten a little better as I've gotten older, but I would get bored with the situation, or I would get frustrated for many of the reasons that we talked about earlier of how I was treated, or how all women were treated in a company and so I would leave, rather than figuring out a way to fight the fight. I realize now that there were some really great opportunities that I walked away from so that I would not walk away from those interests. If you have a job you love, but you're not crazy about the company, find that mentor, and figure out if there are things that you could be doing differently, or how you can ask for what you need, what you want, and what you deserve instead of getting fed up and walking away. So that would be my advice and is the thing I wish I could change.
Any final word of advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Really think about ways to help support other women. What can you be doing? What do they need? And make sure you never let something get said or done and wish you had said or done something about it because it's those micro situations that kind of build and they take the wind out of people’s sails. So just make sure you have somebody back all the time, and then someone will have yours.
Connect with Gina:
Visit Gina’s Website: https://i4esbd.com/
Connect with Gina on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ginastracuzzi/
Ellen is The Founder and President of White Knight Productions and is the Founder of The Boardroom, an online community for entrepreneurs to connect network, and grow their businesses. Her first book Ready, Set, Grit, Three Steps To Success In Life, Business, and The Pursuit of Happiness comes out this spring.
Why don't you tell me a little bit about how White Knight Productions has adapted to work with clients nationwide?
So when we started, we are a 12-year-old company, we've been around for a while. We make videos and animations and help people with marketing. That's not the only thing we do, but we do a lot of marketing work. The vast majority of what we do is visual. When we started the company 12 years ago, we were focusing on local clients, regional clients, the whole traditional way of doing video production. Over the years, that has really changed dramatically, where now we do work with clients all over the country. I as the principal in the agency, I've worked very hard to foster relationships with videographers around the country, and relationships with our clients throughout the country, and have found a kind of innovative ways to service them without necessarily being there on site. Sometimes especially pre COVID we would fly out and attend a shoot, or other meetings in different locations. But these days, we do so much via remote video capture. We do so many meetings via zoom and that but it's interesting how we've really been able to expand our reach. First by changing our mindset and then by looking for solutions to manifest what we were looking to make happen.
Let's talk about some misconceptions that people have when working with a video production company.
Well, a lot of people think it's got to be super expensive when they hire a video company. I feel like a lot of people feel concerned that their brand won't be well reflected, or that they're going to be giving up control over the messaging or the project. Also just that it's inconvenient and a little bit scary. But you put a camera in front of people, many people who just aren't used to it and it's super intimidating, and you throw up some lights and add a few people in the mix and it can be very scary to step up there and be in the spotlight. It can be scary even if you're used to speaking, even people that are used to public speaking, or we've had experiences with CEOs of large medical groups, for example, that have been super intimidated by the camera. So one of the things that we do as a video company, is we work very hard to make sure everybody's comfortable, and kind of forgets that the cameras there. Eventually, it takes a little work and a little soothing sometimes. But it's always our goal to make people enjoy the experience and also to realize that there are different ways to work with a video team. Sometimes traditional video can be pricey because there's a lot that goes into it. People forget all the planning that goes into it, all the scripting, and all that stuff. But for us, I can't speak for every video company, but I'm sure this is the same for others as well. We always try to work with our clients to make the whole process very collaborative, and also to find solutions that work within their budget, and that help them reach their goals.
So you're extremely driven in supporting other entrepreneurs and building community, why is that and what is your vision, ultimately?
That's a huge part of what I'm so passionate about. Me as a small business owner, I know firsthand how challenging it can be and how lonely it can be sometimes, especially when you're going through something challenging. In my company, 2015 was a really tough year for us, and as I said, we've been around for 12 years. We grew very quickly the first few years and 2015 was our come to Jesus moment. It was really hard and at that time I didn't really have the right people who I could talk to. I was a member of networking groups, but you typically don't go to networking groups and just spill all your problems. Of course, I have friends, but a lot of my friends didn't understand the nuances of running a business and my family was supportive, but they didn't really get it. After I survived that time and rebuilt the company, I really got driven on this community-building thing, because I started hearing similar stories from other people, and it's really important to me to try to support other small or medium-sized business owners who might not have that support network. Also just to try to help other people grow their businesses. Over the years, I have had great mentors, I've had great coaches, and learned a whole heck of a lot from making some big mistakes. I just think, when we have the opportunity to help others and give somebody a hand or build a community that's supportive, we should take that opportunity. It's something I love doing and it's my passion project. So you mentioned I had built The Boardroom, which is an online community for entrepreneurs and I've been doing these talks every Friday for years. This is our fourth year of hosting free webinars really for anyone, but they're targeted to entrepreneurs. I'm scheduled to talk and one soon, I'm so excited. Oh, all your listeners come and join us!
Can you help me do that by sharing with our listeners one of your favorite or most successful networking experiences that you've had?
I think maybe I would like to share some thoughts about networking, rather than a specific experience, although I also will share an experience with you in just a moment. I think that one of the big keys to successful networking is to shift your mindset away from your own personal goals like, "Oh, I really want to get one new client at this networking event," or, "I really want to close a new deal." That is the wrong way to go into networking, in my view, it much more so should be about service and connection, and relationship building that's so important. I think that is my biggest tip for going into networking events. Then also, if you have the opportunity to stand up and introduce yourself, to try to be memorable and I'm thinking back and this will segue into my experience that I'd like to share. So thinking back to a guy who was my mentor for a while, he's a sales coach. He used to work at a very large corporation, he was very high up at this corporation, and then he went up by himself. But he's just full of knowledge and he's just one of these people that you just want to listen to you all day long. He was a big proponent of being memorable, you know, just like break the mold, if you have to get up and introduce yourself. He always would only bring three business cards to a networking event, which is interesting. So you had to like earn the right to get one of his business cards and I think that learning from him, is probably part of my success story with networking is just to be very intentional about who you're connecting with. Of course, he would take other people's business cards, but like to give it was different. That's just his philosophy, I'm not saying it's the right way, but it's interesting to follow somebody like that and watch how they expertly make connections and build relationships in a very intentional way. There was another one where I was hosting one of my Friday talks that I had mentioned where I was talking to a new connection, someone had introduced me to this woman, because she actually is looking for a videographer, but not for a few months. So we just started the conversation and I invited her to this event and she had shared it with me, she's also looking for someone to help with web and SEO, but she was too busy to come to the event. She's like, "I think it's just not a good fit for me, I'm too busy," and it's funny because I met the person there who was perfect for her web SEO and I thought of her and I connected them. But I was like, "If you could have just come on here by yourself, you could have met this person firsthand." I think it's never a waste of time to go out and meet people and get a chance to talk about what you do and what you're looking for.
What advice would you offer to business professionals really looking to grow their network?
I think right now in a time where much of what we're doing is online. I think LinkedIn is a great place to grow your network and a good strategy for LinkedIn is going in and finding people you want to connect with. Please do not connect with them and start selling them things right away, that's super annoying, please don't do that. I even started saying to people, when they try to do that, I just write a message to them saying that it's my pet peeve and asking them not to do that. What I do recommend is finding people that you would like to connect to maybe like to do business with, and start following them, start commenting on their posts. Give thoughtful comments, thoughtful feedback, and start conversations that way because then you begin to build a relationship, and you begin to have something to talk about. Then perhaps you have a better opportunity, a better chance that they might accept your invitation to have a further conversation and that can be an exploratory conversation. I don't think anybody enjoys a sales pitch, it's a lot better to approach things with curiosity, and a place of service. I don't think you can go wrong with either of those.
I would definitely tell myself to chill out. I was so worried about so many things that I had no control over and everything has a funny way of working out. So I think I would just have tried to worry less and enjoy the moment more just knowing it was all going to be perfect. I try to tell my kids that because now they're in their early 20s and it's a hard thing to hear. Maybe we just have to live it for ourselves. But I do feel like that's a truth, just believe that things are working out for you.
Do you have any final word or advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I think I would just say do not underestimate the importance of doing this. It's probably your most valuable asset or one of your most valuable assets. I really didn't realize this fully myself until COVID shut everything down and we still had quite a bit of work and when I looked at it and analyze it, it was all from my network, it was all from people who we'd been introduced to or referred to or worked with or someone told somebody about us and suddenly we had work. I just never could have accomplished any of that with a straight-up advertising campaign. It would have been a lot more expensive and probably not as effective. So nurturing that network is something I now intentionally prioritize all the time, it's super important
Connect with Elin:
Kurt Anderson founded an e-commerce company in 1995 that was ranked three times on the Internet Retailer Magazine's Top 1000 E-Commerce Companies. Since selling that company, Kurt has served as an e-commerce consultant serving manufacturers. He is the author of Stop Being The Best Kept Secret, and founder of b2btail.com an e-commerce resource guide for manufacturers.
How does a custom manufacturer enter the e-commerce market?
Certainly, as we all know, in this world that we're living in today, everything has drastically changed. So a little different dynamic, prior to 2020 and now there's a tremendous sense of urgency. So with e-commerce, as I'm looking out my window, the UPS man just left and dropped off an Amazon package. So Amazon most manufacturers, especially that custom side where they don't have a proprietary product or a finished good, you're like, "Well, hey, I'm left out of that e-commerce party." Original equipment manufacturers that had those finished goods are an easier slide-in for them and it's much more challenging for the custom manufacturer. So the custom manufacturer, they bend metal, they cut steel, fabricate something, injection, mold, printed circuit boards, you know, they're always making something for somebody else. So the preach that I have is how do you scale your proprietary process? Because what these custom manufacturers have over the years, they've perfected a proprietary process, and it's just trying to walk them through the steps of how do we convert that proprietary process into a proprietary good?
How would you answer that question?
A big thing with e-commerce, and again, if you look at your company, your website like you guys do an amazing job helping your clients with pay per click, SEO, trying to be found, trying to help them stop being the best-kept secret, right? And you're an expert at that lead generation so I think one myth to dispel is so many of those custom manufacturers that well e-commerce is Amazon at my door. No, it's actually Lori coming in and her team and helping you with that lead gen and driving that traffic to their website. Now if they're going after again, I'd been metal I cut steel. You know this, you know, you're a keyword expert. If you go really broad, man, you're still gonna be the best-kept secret. It's so hard to be found for CNC machining, or fabricating metal but if you do CNC machining for turbine engines because I'm in the northwest and I'm in the supply chain of aerospace or I bend metal for tractors and I'm trying to find and target Caterpillar or something. So I think like going after those long-tail keywords and for you and I speak in the SEO language, we're trying to help them with that keyword strategy by going deep in what you and I call those longtail keywords. That longtail keyword is the opportunity for the e-commerce opportunity. So it's actually it's that 80-20 rule where they're like, "Hey, tell me about your business," And we're like, "We crank out these little trinkets and our 80-20 rule, 80% comes from the 20%." Where is that 20% and can we start creating an e-commerce opportunity? Could we put those products actually, on your website? Could we take those products and put them on an online marketplace? That's kind of the process of getting into that e-commerce opportunity here.
So you've mentioned Amazon and a couple of other marketplaces. Do you recommend that manufacturers use those?
I'm super bullish on the online marketplaces for manufacturers and again, from the OEM side, that original equipment manufacturer, absolutely. So you've got Digi key, which if you're in the electrical field in any capacity, they have a great marketplace. We've talked about Zorro, you have like McMaster car. And then of course the big granddaddy of them all Amazon. Here's a scary thing, so we do a lot of webinars with the manufacturing extension partnerships, if you're familiar with those, the MEP, so they're all over the country. So I do a lot of webinars at a lot of different MEPs. So actually today, we're in the midst of doing a 12 part webinar series at IMAC, which is the Illinois MEP. And our speaker today was Brian Beck who is just a phenomenal Amazon guru. He wrote a book called Billion Dollar b2b E-Commerce so he spoke today at Illinois, he shared that 70% of product search is now started on Amazon. So even if you're a custom manufacturer and you're like, "Oh, well, you know what, that's not for me, or I don't need to be on Amazon." If there's an ideal client out there that's looking for the product that you make every day and you're denying yourself by not being on Amazon, you've just lost basically a 70% opportunity of being found for that product. So that's scary.
Do you have manufacturers using any sort of configurators to allow customers to really customize offerings that they have?
I'm a big baseball fan so I'll use a baseball analogy. So configurators or rate, my strike zone. I am so bullish on configurators for manufacturers and what this does, and again, with like the services that you and your team provide what you do, this is what I always preach, and I'm sure you love it, and this is what you do with your clients. I'm always preaching to them how do you help that ideal client? That buyer at Boeing, the buyer at Caterpillar, maybe it's just another small custom job shop. How do we get our soul mates to make a buying decision on a Friday night at midnight, without having to wait for us to open up our doors on a Monday morning? So with that strategy, that configurator is just such a powerful example. In my book, I go through a step-by-step how a small custom manufacturer uses a configurator and they're connecting with Virgin Hyperloop, Boeing, Halliburton, just again, allowing buyers to come on their website, configure and create their product 24/7. It was super easy, it was super cheap. This was a manufacturer he's a digital immigrant, very resistant to technology, very resistant to change and we put up a configurator and he's just blown away by the opportunities that this configurator has created. When your custom job shop, you're almost like, "Hey, let's just take everything that walks in the door." But when you narrow that down, we talked about that long-tail key strategy, what are your true core strengths? If you can apply it with a configurator and there's a lot of companies that are doing amazing work with configurators your neighbors right in Wisconsin.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking stories or experiences that you've had?
So you and I do a lot of educating, a lot of webinars and what have you, and what I love when you open up your podcasts, you talk about who you know. So I do a lot of LinkedIn workshops at MEPs (manufacturing extension partnerships) and different trade groups. I have a slide and I say we grew up hearing "Hey, it's not what, you know, it's who you know." With LinkedIn, I like to take it one step further. It's not what you know, it's not who you know, it's what you know about who you know. So, Lori and I were just talking earlier, and Lori has volunteered and offered to be on our weekly webinar series. Lori and I connected and immediately we're both bouncing back and forth. One of the first people that came to mind was Harry Moser, and Harry if you're manufacturing Boy, you know, Harry. He is the official cheerleader of US manufacturing. And so I know he was just on your podcast, he's coming up on our webinar. Just a lot of people love his mission, what he's pushing out and he's a delight to know. So that's a great example of networking. I could share dozens of others, but I was just thrilled when I saw that he was on your podcast, and how we're building this community to help support manufacturers together.
How do you stay in front of and nurture the network that you've created?
I think we both have a hunger for that education piece of sharing. I never ever claim myself self to be an expert, I've just been in e-commerce since 1995. So that means two things, it means I'm an old dude and I have a lot of war wounds and scars and tons of mistakes that I've made that I love to share with folks of what not to do as much as things of what to do. So, again, jumping on podcasts with great people like you, a lot of webinars. You know, as I mentioned, with the manufacturing, extension partnerships, I work with a lot of the MEPs around the country, we do our Friday webinar series, it's free every single Friday. So just really beating that drum pretty heavy of helping manufacturers. A big initiative that we're doing, we started this Co-Op it's, it's called E-Commerce Management and the big drum that we're beating is how do you help manufacturers? How can we teach them to fish? So many people have been burnt with bad marketing, and I've had examples where a manufacturer will hire a PPC firm for 50 grand a year and have zero results because of bad keywords and I'll do an audit on what they're doing and it's just sad. So what we've been really preaching is with the MEPs that we're working with, we're starting a do it with you model of how can we help the manufacturers that have a marketing team, and teach them how to fish and even some of the marketing folks that are at manufacturers are a little bit more sophisticated, and they're like, "Well, you know what, I don't necessarily need someone to teach me how to fish but boy, I could learn some new fishing spots, or some new fishing strategies," if you will. So they feel alone in a silo and then what the great thing is, is building them up, and then handing them off to a firm like yourself to get that high-level professional nurturing that they need for the folks that need a firm like yours, but they're just hesitant because they're hearing these horror stories. Well, if you can teach them a little bit and do it with them, then they're like, "Okay, this is like trying to build my bathroom or my kitchen on my own. It's fun, it sounded great on paper, but now I need the professional to come in and help me."
What advice do you have for that business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
If you're in a b2b space, and because I'm an older dude, I'm a LinkedIn junkie. That's how I make a living, that's where my connections are, there are just amazing people of high integrity. The thing is, it's just like in person, you know, Lori, you're super active on your profile with nonprofit groups in your community, and you gravitate towards certain people pre COVID when we could go out and play and socialize. You gravitate towards certain people that have the same values and people that you respect or admire, or even people that are at a place where you're like, "You know what? I want to get to where they are," and you gravitate towards those people. On LinkedIn, you can do the exact same thing you can weed out through some of the clutter, or some of the folks. I tell everybody, I'm not for everyone, I know that. But for the manufacturer that wants to be e-commerce, I hope I'm your guy. How can we resonate and connect and help lift each other up? So my long-winded answer is I'm a big LinkedIn guy. I think it's a great place for b2b connections.
So if you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I try to live in the present so I try not to dwell on the past too much. Maybe I'll be cliche and say don't sweat the small stuff, don't do this, don't do that. But I think if I were to go back to my 20-year-old self, I would tell myself to have a sense of urgency on a daily basis because it doesn't cost you anything. It doesn't have to add anxiety or stress. You're a great athlete, you're super involved with your community with hockey and I haven't seen you play, but I'm assuming that you're probably pretty aggressive. I always have the saying, "Hey, you know, can we leave it all in a field?" For you, can you leave it on the ice? So for us as professionals, if I were to go back to my 20-year-old Kurt, I'd be like, "Dude, just give everything you've got every day, it doesn't cost you a penny to work harder." Of course, work smarter, I'm not saying working longer hours or seven days a week, but just come in an unapologetic enthusiasm for what you do. So that would be my advice.
Do you have any final words of advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Kudos to you for listening to this podcast so you're looking to grow you're looking to improve. This digital sprint that we're in right now is not going to slow down anytime soon. So you know link up with these experts such as Lori, catch a webinar, catch these podcasts, team up with her firm and really you just have to stop be the best-kept secret.
Connect with Kurt
Kurt’s Website: https://b2btail.com/
Elisa has been practicing law for over 20 years specializing in business and corporate law. Elisa helps you with all aspects of your business from forming an entity, starting a business, buying or selling a business, drafting, reviewing, and negotiating all types of contracts. Are you starting a new franchise or buying or selling a franchise? Definitely connect with Elisa. Assisting with real estate transactions involving leasing, buying, and selling, she's got you covered.
When is it important to find an attorney when starting or buying a business?
I think as soon as you know that you want to start, you just want to form your entity or you're looking to buy a business or start a business. There's a lot of steps, there's a lot of information on the internet, and it's all valuable. But you really need to hook up with someone who can make sure that you're protected in terms of making sure that your structure is right, that you filed all the correct forms, that you have everything you need so that you're not scrambling at a later date for documents or for what you need. So the sooner the better is always what I tell people.
What do you say to people that just say they're going to Google for the templates for these contracts?
It's a great resource, but there are two drawbacks. The biggest one came up for people during PPP, I had a lot of lenders calling me because they had people that started their own business, and they went ahead and filed their articles online. They might have gotten the EIM because they had an accountant or CPA, but they didn't have their operating agreement or their shareholders agreement and you needed that to get some of the PPP money. So I drafted a lot of those for people, a lot of times people follow the instructions, but they don't think it's necessary, or they'll use a template for an operating agreement or a contract and it doesn't always fit their situation. The biggest issue comes up when people are doing a lot of research and they're cutting and pasting from different sources. Then you have a contract that at the end of the day conflicts within itself. That does not help anyone if an issue arises between partners, members, or if you're sued. So Google is a great resource, but you've got to know where you're inserting it, how it's used, and how it relates to other provisions within a contract.
Do you recommend getting an attorney up front and not just when you're actually ready to sign a contract?
There's a lot of different aspects to it when you're looking to buy. First of all, there's a lot of people you need that are involved, that need to look at things. So when people come to me, one of the greatest benefits with my network in the last few years it's the best of the best that I get to work with. So if you come to me at the beginning, when you're starting to look, we can get you with the right lender, we can get you with a CPA, there are other people to look at the documents. So when you take us first, we might do a letter of intent, we might do an asset purchase agreement or stock purchase agreement, but you want to make sure that everything's in there, so that you can do your due diligence, and that we're bringing other people on. CPAs are great at looking at the financials. So the sooner you bring an attorney on or someone in your network on like a CPA, that will hook you up with the other people like the insurance people, the lenders, the better because you can waste a lot of time and money, a lot of time too just trying to see where you're at. Whereas once you get the attorney or you get somebody that's going to work with you, you're able to move forward on it and see whether or not it's actually a viable purchase for you.
Word on the street is you're literally available 24 seven, why are you so accessible?
I am. With what I do, no one's going to die, and no one's going to jail. Now my firm partner does criminal so yes, some people do go to jail. But most of the time when people are calling me at unusual hours, meaning it's 11 o'clock on a Friday night, it's because they're up and they're worried about something. I always think that I'm up, and my phone rings, and I can pick it up, I might as well pick it up and see what's bothering you. Chances are, it's not that serious. I understand that at the moment it is for you, but we can resolve it. So I just feel as if there's no need for people to have to wait till eight o'clock on a Monday to call me. Sometimes if you just call me I explain to you why you should be worried or you shouldn't be worried, or what we're doing to make sure that nothing negative happens. A lot of times I have clients where we’re working on matters for them and it is forefront in their mind. They're not going to lose their house, they won’t lose their job, but it's all-encompassing. So if I can help you for just a moment remember that nothing bad is going to happen it helps people feel better. So I am pretty much 24/7. There are a couple of other attorneys on LinkedIn that I've gotten to know and other states that are the same way, so I'm not the only one. My firm partner does the same thing, mostly because he does criminal law and we have to be able to respond to those people right away.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking stories that you had?
So I just started networking about two and a half years ago and it is amazing. You get to reach out and meet the most incredible people that can help your clients. It isn't so much about gathering leads for yourself, it's more who can I meet that I that can help my clients? My best networking story is a LinkedIn one about a year and a half ago. It was Labor Day and I was at work and heavy hitter at the time on LinkedIn posted a picture of himself about a business and he had cotton candy. I realized it was Labor Day and I had not had any cotton candy all summer. I commented, "I haven't had cotton candy all summer, I've been in my office," and within five or six minutes, he responded and said, "Somebody get this girl cotton candy!" Within another four or five minutes, I'm one of the top producers of organic cotton candy, who actually supplies to Disney, called me and messaged on LinkedIn that he was sending me a case of his cotton candy, and he did. I was just blown away. There were a bunch of attorneys out in New York that caught onto that because they knew who he was and they thought it was kind of amazing situation because it's little Elisa from Wisconsin, and all these big-time attorneys and these people out in New York, and one of the attorneys works in Miami, and I am licensed in Florida as well as Wisconsin and he and I have been doing business now. So to me, that's just amazing.
How do you stay in front of and nurture these relationships that you're creating?
I think a lot of it is just continuously showing up for the networking events. This is a personal statement, I'm better in person, I find zoom more exhausting than when you're in person. But I think that you have to stay on it even if you're you know your desk is covered with work and you think, "Well, I still need to show up to this event because other people may need something that I have or may need a contact that I have." The other part of it that I feel very strongly about and I've been very fortunate because a lot of the networking groups that I'm in feel the same way that when we get a referral from someone. Obviously, I treat everyone with the same amount of respect and I'm grateful my phone is ringing, but at the same time, if you refer someone to me, you are really putting yourself out there because if I don't take care of them, that's a poor reflection on you. So I think one of the joint feelings that all the people in a couple of my networking groups have is that when we get a referral, we are so grateful that we realize what we do impacts, not just the person that needs the assistance, but the person that gave the referral. So we all treat each other that way and so there's this mutual respect with these groups of people. I think it just betters all of our clients and it betters ourselves in our own work.
What advice would you offer the business professionals looking to grow their network?
You have to take chances, you have to be willing to step into some networks that you're not sure if you belong there or not. You also have to know when to leave, there are some networking groups I've been in where I am not a good fit for them, I just know it. So you have to be able to say, alright, this isn't working for me, or it's not working for them so I need to move to another group and find another group that works better for you, in terms of what you can bring to the table for other people, and then what they can bring to you for your client base. But I don't think there's any shame in moving around and trying different groups and then saying, sometimes people outgrow groups, I've heard people say that. I'm in one group I love and I've been in it for almost two and a half years now since I started networking. Some people say I've outgrown it, and that's fine for them. I obviously haven't outgrown it, I think it's a great group so you have to accept that sometimes maybe you do outgrow things, maybe you don't.
I think that I would definitely tell myself I needed to network earlier on. I think the biggest thing I would have told myself is well, one is technology. I've never ever been a big technology person I've only really gotten into it in the last five to six years and I love it now. So I probably wouldn't tell myself to take a little more interest in technology. There isn't anything I wouldn't have done. I got out of undergrad, I've always worked, and going to school full time I got my master's degree. Then when I had enough money, I could go to law school. So there isn't anything that I would do differently because it gave me experiences that I had and I met people that have played into my life all along. I think the one thing that's interesting that I do share with a lot of people is one of the largest transitions that I had was a year and a half ago and I didn't have anything to do with it. I was working with another attorney who is now my firm partner. He does criminal law and we met through a mutual client and he said we should merge and I'm like, "I'm not merging, I'm better by myself, but I'll refer to you." He's a great litigator and I was referring to him and he said we really should merge. This is after about a year and a half and I'm like I really don't want to merge my practice, I'm used to just it running on my own, it's easier. One Saturday, I was sitting at my desk at work, and I got an email and I'm looking to the left at it as I'm drafting a document, I'll never forget it and he merged us without telling me. I don't really think you're supposed to do that. Then he called me three minutes later and said, "I'm at Chase Bank, could you come down?" And I'm like, "What are you doing?" He says, "I just merged us, I don't care what you think we're merging, come down here we’re opening up business accounts." It's a great story and it's funny, but the truth is it's taken us a year and a half to get our act together, but it's actually working. It was probably one of the best decisions I didn't make that someone else made for me.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who is the one person that you'd love to connect with and do you think you can do it within the sixth degree?
There are so many people that I would like to connect with. I think that there have been few people that have wanted to connect with that I've been able to. There's one attorney that's on LinkedIn that posts a lot, and I've met other people around him and I really would like to reach out to him. I could do it directly within one degree, but I'm just afraid to. It's sort of like one of those where the person so high up that you think you just don't want to do that. But at the same time, I'm only one degree away. So I think I have a better chance I just have to get brave and do it.
Do you have any final words of advice to offer listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I think that you just have to always remember that your clients and your customers are very important. And when you're in your networking groups, you have to look at all the people that you're with, that they're your customers, your clients as well, and that you're both going to work together to help each other's clients and customers so that their businesses do better. Because when my clients succeed, I succeed. So I just feel like that's the best way to stay in front of your network and just remember what the purpose is.
Connect with Elisa:
Visit Elisa’s Website: https://www.praktesslaw.com/
Suzanne notices a variety of creative ways people are branding themselves, both consciously and unconsciously, but is a successful business brand that results from powerful marketing. When the hype subsides, what keeps a good brand going strong? What is the real secret to consistent brand growth and advocacy? With over two and a half decades of strategic communication, employee brand engagement, and internal brand development, Suzanne's inside-out brand-building strategy creates the clarity and actions necessary for her clients to drive consistency, distinction, and advocacy long term.
In your terms, what is your definition of a personal brand?
So a personal brand is really just a perception. It lives in the minds of the owner and eventually to its market. So it lives in my mind and your mind and all of our audience's minds. It's based on experience, and emotion and then the products and services of that experience. So it's really all about perception and when people realize that in the first seven seconds of contact with somebody else, others are forming 11 impressions of you through their sensory perceptions. So what do you want those perceptions to be?
Could you tell us more about the 11 impressions that you’re speaking about?
We're all human beings. So our ability to perceive and begin to judge and perceive things based on our own filters kicks in gear the moment we meet people. Social Capital is all about networking so we can dig into what that means when you're out there networking. That's really powerful to know and to get super clear on your personal brand value position in what you want others to begin perceiving from you right off the bat.
Let's talk a little bit about the difference between marketing and branding. Can you bring some clarity to that?
This is my favorite topic because this is why I'm in business. When I do a lot of my workshops and pieces of training, that this is the big "Aha" moment. One of my pet peeves as a brand expert is knowing that oftentimes marketing and branding are used in the same sentence for the same reasons and depicting the same meaning. If I could just explain that you market a brand. So marketing is this verb, it's this thing, you go out and you disseminate and communicate information or the message of the brand. If you haven't yet fully defined the brand, and you're out there spending, money marketing, what are you actually marketing? So the brand is actually that perception. Have I stopped and defined those pieces and parts that helped create the value position perception that I want others to have of what it is that I do and who I am? So the effort for branding is really about the effort in assigning meaning. Assigning meaning to what that brand stands for and that's what the book is all about. That's what my whole last, basically 30 years, of being in this industry has been to help the client identify, define, and then align themselves into that value position so that they can become what they want to be known for. Alignment is a big piece and that's about the experience, the delivery, the follow-through, the vernacular you use, your messaging. All of that is walking the talk basically.
How do you brand multiple sub-brand companies under a bigger corporate brand?
That's a great question and I've had the opportunity to do that several times. It seems really complicated, but when you understand that there's this mothership brand that should espouse a set of core values that all the other sub-brands should operate under. So it's this section of the brand DNA process where we uncover those core values. That set of core values should be fluid and infused throughout all of the other brands to be a part of that mothership. But the caveat here is each of those sub-brands can then have values or have a set of personality attributes, a collective set of personality attributes. So that means that you may have a really fun, maybe it's outdoorsy, love the environment personality of a sub-brand. Maybe it's a product or a company within this, bigger mothership and then you might have something that's a bit more luxurious or high end that's still under that same company. Those two sub-brands will have different personalities, but they will all espouse the same values of the mothership brands so to speak. So there's that connection, there's that link, there still that resonance from the value position of the buyer, knowing that this mothership brand is this named company. You can look at Apple and all the different sub-brands that they have right now including electric vehicles. Google also, they've got their fingers in so many different things, but the value construct of the mothership company is really the glue or the coherence that keeps them all in alignment with that particular brand promise.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking experiences that you've had?
Well, I was invited to go to a small group of women who supported the franchise industry so to speak. Because I was new, I was able to get like two more minutes in what I call my brand identity statement which is basically your elevator pitch. This was on the fly, I had no idea that they were going to ask me to do this, but within that two minutes, I got one of my biggest clients from just being super clear on what it is that I delivered to that particular market. At the time I was very conscious that I was in a room full of women who ran franchises and that was the topic or the theme. So I had to on the fly adjust what my value position was to the franchise market. When you know your stuff and you're crystal clear on who you are, you can do that in a heartbeat and within two minutes, you can land big-time clients. It's a really powerful thing to spend time on, and get clear on.
How do you stay in front of them best nurture the relationships that you've been creating?
Well, I am quite the networker. I love getting out there and meeting people and I love speaking so I do a lot of that to networking groups. I also have a newsletter that I send out. I'm on social media and almost every day in terms of posting something in some social media realm. I also have a YouTube channel and I have a series now I started called 90 Seconds of Personal Brand Clarity and the videos are short snippets and tips and techniques to help you get more top of mind with your brand and ways to do that, from my books, specifically my personal brand clarity book. I also have a series called Brand Bites which I started several years ago. These are about three minutes and it digs in a little bit deeper with some examples of branding tips and techniques that I run. So people who subscribe to that it's called Personal Brand Clarity on YouTube, then they'll get all the new notices. So that's nurturing a little bit, but I just like to be out there.
What advice would you offer that professional who's really looking to grow their network?
I think that from the inside out, which is always where I start, it's never about the doing, it's always about the being first. Until you get super clear on who you are as a brand and personal brand and get consistent in building that trust in your value position. So once you figure out what your value position is, and you talk about it on a regular basis, you may sound like a broken record to yourself, but it's reinforcement to your market when you do that. Even when you're out there networking in person, constantly say the same things so that people get to know you, they carve out that superpower that you have that you're super good at and that you are the go-to expert in your industry for that. So it's really about staying consistent. The second thing is being authentic and this is about being authentic to who you are. I always say in my workshops, you cannot be authentic when you don't know who you are yet. Who are you authentic to? When you do the work, then you have something to step into and stay aligned with. Then, of course, there's always distinction. What is it that makes you different than your closest competitor? Maybe localize it and see what your closest competitor is in your area.
I would probably tell myself to start asking for the sale sooner. Really just get in that confidence space that you can solve that problem and ask for the sale. 20 years go by before you really get the feel for your level of expertise and feeling comfortable, but I probably should have done that earlier. But now I do it all the time.
Do you have any final words of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I would just go back to knowing your value position and live it consistently. And the way to do that is find that process find that way to flush that out, and which is you know, why I wrote the book, Personal Brand Clarity so that when you get more confident in that space, you can conquer anything and sales become so easy.
Connect with Suzanne:
William has over 10 years of consulting, coaching, sales, leadership, and workforce development experience. His calling is to help individuals and businesses awaken their hidden potential by educating them on the mental success principles that have been articulated by all major cultures over the past 5000 years. He has infused these universal truths into his educational materials and personal philosophy because we must learn from our history.
How do you define success?
My definition of success is becoming the best version of yourself. For me, I believe that in life, we don't have problems or challenges, we have opportunities, and being successful is simply meeting every single challenge and making it an opportunity to learn and to grow. As opposed to seeing it as an impediment or barrier, seeing it as an opportunity to catapult us or to be a leg up, to go to the next level in our lives and whatever endeavor that we're going after. So success is deeply personal and it can only be defined by self, but a small still voice will always lead you on the road to success.
How does mindset impact our ability to network effectively?
Yes, so I think when it comes to mindset, and networking, one thing that I've heard so much because I was in workforce development for about three years before my most recent role. The biggest challenge that I saw with our interns in this workforce development firm that I also faced early in my career was the fear of saying something wrong, the fear of not being good enough. I think when it comes to the mindset component of this networking game, it's really about making sure that before you walk through the door, or turn on the zoom chat, that you have it within your mind that you are good enough to do anything and any question that you're going to be asked, you can be able to answer it articulately. A lot of times when you're meeting someone, you have to ask and answer questions. So asking questions isn't necessarily that hard, but answering them if you get nervous, and your mind shuts down can be tough. So overall, what that boils down to is having an unshakable belief in yourself. Do you believe that you are worthy of the best because life has to offer? And if so, when you go into a networking event, you bring that confidence in with you, and you have the ability and the courage to simply let it flow. Let that confidence, let that knowledge, let that wisdom flow, let the personality flow. The biggest thing that we tend to do in our personal lives, networking or otherwise, is that we tend to stop the flow of our own what I like to call divine intelligence which is the ability to create something from nothing, the ability to have answers when you didn't even understand what the question was. There's something deeper within us that allows us to be to tap into that. We have to trust ourselves to access it. We're putting our foot on the holes of the Divine or the energetic flow in our lives when we operate in fear and doubt.
Why do we operate in fear and doubt? Why is that our natural behavior?
So I think overall, this may be a very esoteric answer. But I think when it comes to fear and doubt, I think it's been embedded into our culture worldwide, for hundreds, if not thousands of years. If you look back in history, there was always to whatever degree some kind of mythology or religion or whatever else around, something that is fear-based, an entity or energy that will affect you and hurt you and cause you to do things that you don't want to do. What I would say is what I've learned, as I've gotten deeper in my spiritual and faith journey, is that I realize that the only enemy we have is the inner meat. So take the word, enemy, and the "e-n-e" and enemy just replace it with inner, "i-n-n-e-r". The inner me, the unresolved issues, doubts, and feelings of unworthiness and unforgiveness within ourselves cause all the problems in our lives. It's not something on the outside of us to start to get us, it's our negative subconscious programming, which is our habitual behaviors and beliefs. Many times that are not our own, because the subconscious mind is programmed and put into default mode within the first seven years of life because that's our default settings that allow us to survive in our environment. But if we're around negative fearful people, then chances are more than 50%, that we're going to be negative and fearful. Not because we want to, not because we made that decision, but because it was taught, it was trained to us. So that's the nature versus nurture thing and it's so true. But as adults, we have the responsibility to begin to review and assess, why do I think that way? Why do I feel that way about myself or other people or the opportunities in my life? It's not giving me anything, it's not making me feel good, it's not making me feel empowered, or worthy, you’re loved, but I'm constantly thinking and feeling this way. I just encourage people, if you don't like the results that you're getting, you need to do something different. The question is, what is that, and that's why I teach on the subconscious mind. Because that goes into root cause analysis that you can do on your own. I'm not saying you shouldn't seek therapy if you need it. I'm not saying that. I'm all for that as well. But we have the ability to go into our own deeper mind, identify the negative thoughts, feelings, and ideas, and then be able to say, wait a minute, 95% of these things, is crap that I picked up growing up, that I don't really like the way that my influencers believed and thought, it doesn't make me feel good. Now, it's tough for me to do something different. I no longer think that I have to work twice as hard because I'm a minority, quote, unquote, in this country. Because the idea and the etymology when you think about working twice as hard, what does that tell your subconscious mind? What is that informing your life energy? Give me more struggle, because I must work twice as hard. As opposed to saying I can do whatever I want. I can be whomever I want to be in this life and I demand success. The universe tends to give you what you believe to be true for yourself in your life.
Can you go a little bit deeper into how the subconscious ties into what you do and why it’s so important to you?
I will say, first and foremost, the reason why I concluded after years and years of study, is this: In my personal life I had many challenges to that face, like everyone else. So when I thought of difficult things, it was just my challenges that I thought were hard and tough and difficult and all that stuff. As I began to come through those and begin to learn from our mistakes, and to grow personally and professionally, the one promise I made to myself is that once I get to the deepest root cause understanding of why this needed to happen in my life, I will never go through this again. These things wouldn't happen again. I felt the pain and the frustration and the fear long enough. Once I get this stuff figured out within myself, I will never let this happen again because I've already learned my lesson. I don't have to do it again, right? So from a subconscious perspective, the reason why that is a core teaching of mine is, first of all, I learned what is called a psychologically The Law of Mind. Many great thinkers have talked about this in different ways, but The Law of Mind can be summarized in this phrase: What you think you feel, what you feel you imagine, and what you imagine you become. So what it does is give you a roadmap to how manifestation occurs in your life. First and foremost is thought. Second is your feelings or your emotions, your emotional nature and we all know if you cannot control your emotions. You can't be successful without having control of your emotions, being able to be patient, and be able not to respond to every negative thing that people quote, unquote, try to bring at you. The last piece is imagination. Albert Einstein, one of his most famous quotes, and I'd never heard until about two years ago, states, "Imagination is more important, the knowledge, knowledge is limited but imagination circles the globe." What he was blatantly saying was that when he could not find the answers, he had to go and tap into the infinite ocean of possibility, which is his imagination, that can create something from nothing. To go and pull something from this invisible place, and bring it into his awareness, write it down on paper, work it out in his lab and create something that never existed before. So I want to go back to thought quickly, thought is so important, because thought, as Dr. Joseph Murphy stated, his first cause in our lives, meaning. If we want to see the root cause of any issue in our lives, based on who we perceive it to be, check your thoughts. It's a guarantee that if you check your thoughts, your thoughts have been in the equivalent, negative or fearful or doubtful. Because you thought it and went into your emotional nature, which began to impact your vision for the future, or your regrets of the past, in your mind's eye, your visual faculty, and that is causing the results in your life to perpetuate you doing positive outcomes or negative outcomes. So when we know that, then we can become conscious creators. That is why people need to know how not why. If you have some negative subconscious programming, those negative words are going to say, yes, that's exactly it, you're not good enough. But the truth is, once you understand how our mind works, thoughts, feelings, imagination, follow the trail, identify these areas in your life, and you will get the answers to almost every problem. It's so important because once you know, then it takes away fear. You don't have to be afraid of the things that aren't working out. Check your emotions, get them under control, stop being so impatient, stop being so scared, being afraid, is never giving you anything. When you calm your emotion, now you can think clearly and then you can begin to say, I'm going to control my imagination on what I see. I now decide to see myself in a better place than I am because I'm calm and now I can hear the intuition and now I'm beginning to get that insight. Then you get that Albert Einstein effect where imagination is more important knowledge and that you are creating or manifesting what you want. It's not magic, it's science.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking experiences that you've had?
Yeah, I would say one of the best networking experiences that I ever had was when I was still living in Houston, Texas, where I grew up. I was at a networking event, while I was in a program that was offered through the Greater Houston African American Chamber called the Houston Black Leadership Institute. So they always had great business leaders come in to talk to us at all kinds of events, like black state senators from this from the state would be there. I just remember my first networking event, I walked in there, and I saw at the time was state representative Sylvester Turner. I saw Sheila Jackson Lee there, I saw senator Boris Miles. People that I've seen on TV only and I even knew who they were already especially the ones that I named others had no research, we were researching all these photos. I was like, "I've learned all these things about who they are, but I don't know what to ask them." What I wanted to ask them was how they were so successful, but of course, I had to kind of synthesize that and figure out how to ask that to them and have a good conversation. So I did okay the first time around, but what it showed me is, is that no matter who is in the room, the networking event, either I believe in myself, and I believe that I deserve to be in that room or not. If I believe I deserve to be in that room, virtually or in person, I'm going to go in there and make some great connections, and have some follow-ups. If I don't go in there with the inner belief and confidence, then I'm not going to go in there and be my best version and make as many connections as I could. So that experience taught me that fear could not be a part of my networking experience, or it would be a waste of my time, or simply just not as effective as it could have been. Not just to get something out of it, but I could be connecting with people who I can help, or who could help me learn and grow. That's what it's all about, relationships are king. Your network will always be very closely aligned with your net worth. If you are friends and associated with highly successful people who are multimillionaires, over time, you will naturally flow into that because you have an energetic connection with those kinds of people who think in a certain kind of way, which results in financial success, peace of mind, harmonious relationships. You have to get your energetic connection or harmony with the state of being or reality that you want in order to get it. Networking is a great way to do it because there tend to be people who are further ahead than you, that are closer to where you want to be or where you want to be, and if you can connect with them, you're also connecting with your future vision, because it's an opportunity to learn what it is to be in their operation You see how they're calm or how they're kind of fitting in or whatever else, and you begin to mimic that which is retraining your subconscious mind. So networking is not just to meet people, networking is harmonizing towards your future vision, especially when there are individuals that are in alignment with that. Make sure that when you're networking that you have at least five people that you are making your business connect with before you leave there. You may not get all five, but if you get three of them, and they're in alignment with where you want to go, and what you need to learn, wow, what could that mean for you? You do that five times in a full year, that's 15 new connections that are going to help you go directly towards where you want to go, or at least point you in the right direction. What could that mean for you in a year's time? That could be a promotion, starting a business, start investing in real estate, you'd have no idea, there's infinite potential out there. Remember what Albert Einstein said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." So you don't have to know everything, just believe that is possible and go in there with that intention, and let it flow. You'll be in good shape.
How do you best stay in front of and nurture this community in your network that you create?
For me, it's been interesting since COVID. Before I was just having coffees and or breakfast meetings, I'll just say connected with people that have become friends, or that I want to cultivate relationships with. What I would say what I've had to do is to create one on one zoom chats. So LinkedIn has been key to just reach out to people because it's for business purposes and it's for business setup. If you don't have their contact information, LinkedIn is great, but if you do, of course, you can reach out to them directly and set up coffee meet-ups. A lot of times what I've noticed that there have been mastermind groups and things like that, which are just groups of people who are like-minded, who truly jam out on growth mindset type of ideas, or, or investments or business or whatever. As you connect with those individuals, you will find out over time, I can promise you that mastermind groups and other little small groups that are meeting stay connected. Once you get invited into those circles, once again, it would be the equivalent that was happening in person. So that's a way to kind of stay in front of people.
Can you look back at your 20-year-old self right now and let me know what would you tell yourself if you do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I would probably be telling myself to keep your head up and to trust yourself more. I would say around 20 years old was when a lot of the tumultuous learnings began to happen in my life. That time of my life showed me that who I truly was was formless and I had no limitation. It just took me a while to see that, as I would simply just tell myself to relax, and trust yourself. Things are not just going to be fine, but they're going to be amazing. I probably would have also written down the Law of Mind. What you think you feel, what you feel you imagine, what you imagine you become, and say, "I want you to read this five times a day, for the next two months, every single day, read it and continue to meditate on it, and continue to let that phrase resonate with you. What does that really mean for you?" And I won't even give them the answer. Let that resonate because that once again, who was the key to seeing the path to peace of mind, and mental and emotional freedom which is unlocked so much greater success in other areas of my life, relationally and professionally. Now I can believe in myself and I can check myself when I need to get back in gear as opposed to having to blame other people to argue other people down or point the finger at other people. No, it is me that needs to change, not anybody else, because I can't control them, but I can control me.
Do you have any final words of advice for our listeners?
I would just say final words around networking in general, put yourself out there, take the risk. It's a risk to get out of bed, you can roll your ankle, it's a risk to go outside and hop in the car, you can get into a car wreck. But once again, you're not thinking about that, you're living your life. You're doing the best you can with what you have and you'll continue to expand your knowledge and experience to be able to be better and better and better. Put yourself out there, nothing bad is going to happen. The best thing that will happen quote-unquote or the worst thing that will happen is that you learn. Good, better, and different, you will learn. These are opportunities so the more you put yourself out there, the more opportunities you have to learn from the good and the quote-unquote bad. But remember, look at those as opportunities to get better and before you know it, you will begin to master that practice and the more authentic self that you bring to the table each and every time that your network, the more you will connect with the right people who have the right context, who will take you to the right places to get the right results. And you'll be able to do the same thing for other people. That is when what they call serendipity or being in flow happens is when you stop thinking about it and just trust yourself and let it happen. Take action consistently towards your goal to what you want and you will see such a drastic change in your life, you will think that either it's magic, or you got lucky. It's not luck though, it's operating under universal law and that starts first and foremost with trusting yourself. Networking is just an extension of who you are becoming so let that be a part of the amazing powerful being in result.
Connect with William
Jamila is a personal branding strategist and coach from Trinidad and Tobago. She works with entrepreneurs who want to market their businesses by leading from the front with thought leadership and personal branding. She focuses on helping people create strong personal brands by improving three big C's. They are shifting mindsets and creating a strategy so they can be more confident about their next move.
I'm curious about your three big C's, can you talk about that a bit?
So my three big C's in terms of personal branding. It's confidence, content, and communication. The reason I narrowed down to these three C's is that personal branding, first of all, is so broad. I find it important to focus on these three areas because the people I work with tend to lack these three things the most. So the first thing is people feeling more confident to declare themselves as the expert that they are. So they may be doing their thing, they may have been serving their clients or selling or whatever the case may be. But now they've gone to a space where they have to be a lot more open and out there with that message. So it's helping them do the things prepare themselves in such a way so that they can actually be more confident about stepping out into the market and owning their position. The second thing is having people being smarter with content, and leveraging the things that they would have learned already foresee, which would include more strategic thoughts and direction, etc. to inform the content that they're putting out there so that they can use it to position themselves as the expert, like the goto person in the industry. The third is helping people become better communicators. So if you don't understand things like inbox etiquette, you know, how do you actually engage people with direct messaging in a way that is not creepy or gross? How to look for potential partners because of course, with personal branding, a huge part of that is networking and expanding your work or your quote-unquote Rolodex. But expanding that as much as possible, not just with people who you can sell to, but people with who you can partner with. So I help people and I also help them leverage media to be able to get themselves onto shows like this. So podcasts and web shows on any other form of media. The main thing is to be able to increase their credibility and put them in a position to be seen as the go-to person in their field so they can own a space and own that position in the market.
Do you think branding is more valuable now than it was 20 years ago before social media?
Yes, I think it is more valuable. I think it's just as valuable as it used to be, but I just think that more people are catching on though I do recognize that. Technology has in a sense flattened the media landscape. So before where there were like a lot of gatekeepers to be the ones to decide who would get on TV, who would get coverage in a newspaper or in a magazine or get on a radio show. Now we don't have to rely on media anymore to give us a chance we can't actually create our own space. So it has now become more imperative for individuals or people or companies to know who they are and how they stand out in the market. It's no longer enough to rely on just word of mouth because you're dealing with so many amazing people who are now coming out onto the market and stepping into this space. Even if you are great where you are, being where you are only is not enough. So recognizing the need for branding and personal branding has become supercritical in our very flattened media landscape.
What type of person is typically more successful at using personal branding as a marketing strategy for their business?
So the type of person who is committed to the cause, the type of person who is ready to step off into the audience and understand the power of influence, so they believe, and they understand the power of already engaging people and they know the power of relationships. So there are some people who may be less inclined to do things like that, and they're more quick kind of want to be in and out, or there are some people who may be more of the introverted type and they may not necessarily want to leverage something like personal branding in the traditional way. But the person who would really enjoy this type of marketing, because I don't want anybody to necessarily do something that they don't like, right. So the person who would enjoy it is somebody who understands the power of influence, somebody who is ready to step out and find somebody who is about service because this type of marketing strategy really is rooted in you understanding the need to serve others first, and then being able to reap the benefits of it on your business. Second, so you're ready, but they have to put in your time. It's almost like you're planting seeds and we're given that those seeds time to mature into trees, and then they give you the fruit. So those are the type of people who would really benefit from that. You've got to be willing to put in the work, you've got to be willing to serve first, you have to be willing to go out there and meet people and you really must understand the power of influence and how it can actually create momentum and a very long-standing and solid foundation for your brand.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking stories or experiences that you've had?
I think some of my favorites definitely are the ones prior to COVID when I would actually go out and leave my house. Those things tend to make conversations a lot more easily because people would have met me, or they would have come across my content somewhere maybe on social media or maybe on the TV. One of the things that happened recently is last year, I wrote a book, and one of the local newspapers here did a story on me and I was on the cover of the magazine. They used my picture, or the cover the issue I was on to advertise for the newspaper. Every time at a certain time of day, they would run this particular ad. I didn't have a TV at the time so I never actually saw the ad. Then I would go to places and people look at me like "You were in this ad!" and I would be like, "What are these people talking about?" This guy actually messaged me on LinkedIn and he said, "I felt I had a divine moment," I was like, "What do you mean?" And he said, "Well, I saw your picture come up on LinkedIn, and other suggested contact and I thought you looked interesting so I added you and then I go and sit in for my TV and I see you on my TV and same exact dress and I felt like it was a divine sign from above to add and talk to you on LinkedIn." So I wound up agreeing to talk and so that's actually one of my favorite stories.
How do you best nurture these relationships that you've created?
Most of my nurturing kind of happens online now. Before I when I go to events where people would be so practical. We had LinkedIn Local which was very active here in Trinidad and Tobago. But now that we are basically digital, I mentioned, I engage with people's content online, I reach out every so often and send them private messages. Just like if I have friends, or if I have close contact, I would definitely reach out to them from time to time. For those I really want to be able to engage with I might send them a personalized email, maybe give them a call, or send them a WhatsApp message, or I definitely like to send voice notes as well. So I think it's important to personalize messages and to connect with people from time to time to let them know that you remember them, particularly if you see that they have achieved something significant. So we have these congratulatory notes that you could actually send the people when they would have gotten a promotion and so on. But instead of sending a generic note, I will actually call them or I will send them a personalized video congratulating them or something like that. That tends to be almost like a surprise to them so that's when I keep my relationships alive. I also partner with people as much as possible for them to create different pieces of content.
What advice would you have for that business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
I'd say be open-minded. Be open to meeting people from all walks of life as you will meet people from all walks of life. I'd also say to be proactive. Don't wait for somebody to reach out to you or think that your content may be quote-unquote selling itself or speaking for itself. Your job is always to take the bull by the horns, and be proactive in seeking out people. So every day making sure to do something to engage with new people and show up in a personable way. Don't try to shortcut the process. Don't try to automate things. Please don't try to automate relationships, it doesn't work like that. Put in the effort, be proactive and I guarantee you you have seen the fruits of your labor come before you.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your personal career?
I'd tell myself to manage your money better so that you can do more things in the future. You don't have to buy every new pair of shoes you see. I'd tell myself in terms of my personal brand, just be more proud and be more brave. I think I tell myself that too because I think in our 20s a lot of us second guess ourselves. I would say be more brave and, pursue more opportunities. Talk to people that you want to talk to, don't assume that they may not want to speak to you or don't assume that it may be an unpleasant experience. Be less afraid and be more brave and score your opportunities.
So we've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with and do you think you can do it within the sixth degree?
There's a guy called Paul Carrack Brunson who was somebody who worked with Oprah. I really love her style of content, I love the things that he advocates for. I know he's not very far away in terms of degrees of separation, but I don't know what it is. I probably need to be more aggressive and take my own advice to be more brave in order to connect with him.
Do you have any final words of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I'd say as I said before, just be proactive and take it one day at a time. Plant your seeds, allow them to bear fruit, don't be that person who's constantly staring at the dirt, hoping that some sort of food comes out. Other than that, look for ways and if you can come up with new ways to establish a relationship because after all, it is about building relationships. Everything wouldn't start in the same way, but the better you are at initiating that contact, and the more times you do it, the better you become, the more you'd find that your network expands and you'll be connected with people who are not just valuable from the point of view, who can buy from you but really good people who are just great people to know and potentially partner with and you may even find yourself with a few new friends as well. So I'd say go for it, just keep at it and you'll definitely see the fruits of your labor!
Connect with Jamila
Jamila’s website: https://jbannisterbranding.com/
He is the founder of The Reshoring Initiative after being president of GF Machining Solutions for 22 years. Awards include Industry Week's Manufacturing Hall of Fame, he's participated actively in President Obama's January 11, 2012, Insourcing Forum, member of the Department of Commerce Investment Advisory Council. He's frequently been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, New York Times, New Yorker, and USA Today and seen on Fox Business Market Watch and other programs. Harry has a BS and MS in Engineering from MIT and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Harry, welcome to the show.
Can you share a little bit about what the mission of The Reshoring Initiative is?
So we're a nonprofit and our mission is to bring 5 million manufacturing jobs to the US from offshore by a combination of reshoring by US companies, and FDI, foreign direct investment by foreign companies. We picked 5 million because that's the amount it would take to balance the trade deficit, the goods trade deficit so that then our imports and exports would be about equal so to our mission is to increase our manufacturing by about 40%. So to recover what we've lost from the increasing trade deficit over the last 40 years.
Has the current state with the pandemic been a positive or negative impact on your mission?
For our work, our revenue has quadrupled, because companies now realize that it's too dangerous, too risky to be so dependent on offshore, especially China. What we do is show them that they can make products here in many cases and be at least equally profitable. So so we overcome that. "Well, I'd love to make it here, but I can't afford to", we overcome that issue.
So I want to talk a little bit about this trade deficit. Why does the US have a trade deficit problem?
Your trade balance is the difference between your exports and your imports. So we import $800 billion a year more than we export and that's because our costs, our prices are too high here. We have a method to compare pricing in the US and other countries and our price leaving the factory is about 20% higher than Europe, and about 40% higher than China, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, and consumer wants to buy something inexpensively, the company goes work and get at least expensively and as a result, we have a trade deficit. In classical economics, that should go away quickly because the currency should adjust. If you have a big trade deficit, your currency should go down in value versus other currencies and that would make you more competitive or competitive once again, and the trade deficit would go away. But the US is the reserve currency, and having the banks and institutions where foreigners want to store their money for safety, all those trillions of dollars flowing in forces the dollar up instead of having the goods trade deficit adjust. So one of the things we recommend is to have the US Government Act reduce the value of the dollar by 20, or 30% so that our companies would once again be competitive.
How can our listeners help you achieve these goals here?
If they work for a manufacturing company of any kind, or distributor of goods, or retailer, they could suggest to the company producing or sourcing more in the country. Our tools are helpful, for that we have the TCL estimator that helps the company do the math correctly on the costs associated with importing or exporting, and therefore that would be helpful for their companies also useful for selling. So for the small company to convince this customer to buy from them instead of importing, for example. But also, as consumers, when they're out looking to buy something, they should at least look a little bit, spend a little time looking for the Made in USA product. One of the things I wrote recently is, a lot of people are out buying things just because it's fun to buy things. If you're buying something, not because you need it, but just for the pleasure of buying it, then wait until you can find something made in the USA that you could buy that you don't need instead of something made in China that you don't need.
Can you share with our listeners your most successful or favorite networking experience that you've had?
I've got a couple. First I was at a Hawaii located annual convention of the National Tooling and Machining Association and I'm standing there at the reception one night, I'm talking to bill and Dwayne comes over and Dwayne says, "Bill, don't let Harry take you to dinner," and Bill said, "Why not? He's a nice enough guy," and then Dwayne say, "Well, about four years ago, Harry took Shirly and me to dinner and since then, we've bought $4 million worth of his machines." In the last case, I was at a wedding. Like a nice, fancy Country Club, very nice. I went over to her mother and said, "Anybody here in manufacturing? "I'm tired of talking to lawyers and doctors." Someone named John said they were in manufacturing. I talked to john learned about his company and they were planning to get an EDM machine, that's like, $150,000. I said, "Okay, we'll be in touch," and so in our newsletter that month, I talked about the wedding lead, and then about two months later, I talked about the wedding order that we had got because of the lead I got at the wedding. I said, "For all the salesmen out there, I'm selling at the wedding, make sure you're at least selling 40 hours a week out in your job."
Let's talk about nurturing your network. Regardless of the size, small or large, it's extremely important to stay in front of that community that you've created. How do you do that?
Traditionally, I did it in person, because when I was president of the company, I spent a third of my time visiting customers and prospective customers, going to trade shows, etc. so I met 1000s and 1000s of people. Since then, still a lot of conferences until COVID. Last year, I did 60 podcasts and webinars and this year, I've already got 23 signed up for 2021. So getting in front of them that way and then I get interviewed maybe once a week by the media, we put out an article of some kind every week that gets published. Then everything that we put out, and everything that gets written about us when we get interviewed we post on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, what have you. Sometimes we'll post an article and get 3000 views, something like that.
What advice would you offer to business professionals looking to grow their network?
Once we get back to in person, you know, the physical being with them with each other, work for the crowd, what I call continuously but gently. So when I'm at a conference and there's a reception, people will come over to me and say, "Harry, you're the best networker we've ever seen." So I have a methodology of coming up to people saying, hello, introducing myself, and then I focus first on them. I get them to tell me what they do, all that kind of stuff. It doesn't take long takes it two minutes, three minutes to learn enough. So then I can offer them some advice, offer them a lead, offer them an introduction, offer them something of value. Then when I get around to telling them what I do, I've earned their trust and their interest. Therefore, we've established a relationship. Seek to give before you receive maybe would be sort of a biblical way of looking at it.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I got the engineering degrees at MIT. In some ways, I'd have been better off if I like done an apprenticeship first because I'm not very hands-on. People say you're an MIT engineer, fix my bicycle and I don't know. So if I'd had two years or four years of hands-on making things I think I'd have been a better engineer because of that. On the other hand, it would have been quite a detour in my career and I probably wouldn't have achieved everything I've achieved. So it would have been different, but that's one of the things I have thought about.
Let's talk about the six degrees of separation. If there's any person that specifically that you'd love to connect with, and how do you think you'd go about doing that?
At the moment, President Biden. So anybody out there that knows him, I'd appreciate the introduction or someone who knows someone who's on his staff. I did an article for Industry Week recently critiquing Trump's results and Biden's proposals from the viewpoint of reshoring, what will bring the manufacturing jobs back best to the country. I agreed with some of Biden's plans and disagreed with others and I'm convinced that his team does not fully understand the underlying root cause problems and we'd love to help them with that. I did meet with Obama, in a meeting at the White House. I tried to get to Trump but I never succeeded, even though he said he wanted the things that we want, but it never happened. So I'm reaching out to Biden through sort of peripheral contacts that have sought our advice for the campaign and say, "Okay, I gave you the advice now, this time to give us some access." We'll see what happens.
Do you have any final word or advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
My advice would be to read the book I’m currently reading. It's called The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov and it's based 1000s of years into the future, and there's the human humanity has spread out over the galaxy. There's one world that's the world where the Emperor lives and the whole world covered with steel and 100 billion people live there, but the infrastructure and the organization is starting to decline and they're worried about eventually the whole thing coming apart and riots and rebellion and looting and everything else. But the main character, Harry Selden, has developed psychohistory in which he forecasts what will happen in the future of mankind, and how to adjust that so that it comes out more favorably. So it's a great mind-expanding series for anybody that that would find science fiction to be worth reading.
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Email Harry and include “Social Capital” in the subject line if you have any questions!
Growing tired of the corporate grind, Mike and his co-founder Kevin started their digital marketing agency, Prime Digital. Four and a half years later, Prime Digital helps small businesses all over the US and Canada attract more customers through search engine optimization, and web design, among other things. Going into 2021 they focused on making business owners aware of ADA compliance and how it can protect their business and help them save money.
What is website accessibility and ADA compliance?
So website accessibility has to do with making your website accessible to everybody, whether they have some form of disability or not, whether they're blind, colorblind, some kind of motor impairment. ADA compliance is basically making sure that your website complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. If somebody's using a screen reader, or if they need to adjust the size of the font on your website, or change the color contrast, whatever makes it easier for them to read it and navigate it, and clearly understand the information on your website, is really what it comes down to. That's what we're trying to spread awareness on nowadays, I would say around 20% of America has some form of disability like that. So we don't want to exclude a fifth of the country from the internet and websites and access to everyday needs, everybody uses the internet. So we want to make sure that it's accessible to everyone.
Why is ADA compliance beneficial to the small business owner?
So it's beneficial to them because if you decide to take some actions in making your website's ADA compliant, the government will give you half of what you spend up to $10,250 back in the form of a tax credit at the end of the year. You do have to be eligible for it so as a small business, you can qualify in one of two ways. You can either have less than 30 full-time employees or be doing under a million dollars a year in annual revenue. If you meet either one of those and if you spend five grand, eight grand, whatever it is, you'll receive half of that spend back in tax credit and you can get that every year that you're eligible for it.
What can business owners do to be compliant?
So I would reach out to a web design agency that can support this, make sure that they understand some of the laws, there's a lot of resources out there. You can use accessibility.com as a good one to catch up and learn a little bit more about what it entails and that's really the first place to start.
I've seen a number of widgets and plugins, to support some of that. Is that what you recommend or is it more of a custom-coded experience to be accessible?
Yeah, so there are a lot of those out there. Unfortunately, there really aren't any shortcuts to compliance. There's a lot of big companies, you'd be surprised that might throw in a plugin, or use one of these overlay tools, but it's not enough to get you in 100% compliance. There are going to be things that people could still poke at and find that might be an issue. There are some evaluation tools that we use to uncover some of those areas of opportunity to clean up the website a little bit. We want to avoid plugins and things like that. It's building a website, it might be a little bit of code, but for the most part, it's just a regular web builder that we can use and making sure that we're following the checklist and making sure that everything that you want on your website is going to be compliant.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking stories or experiences that you've had?
So I belong to a CrossFit gym which is a little bit different than Planet Fitness, or like LA Fitness or something like that, where you go to the gym and you don't talk to anybody, you just kind of workout in. CrossFit is a little bit more personable and I've been going to that same gym for probably seven to eight years now with the same people and working out with them every day. So you obviously get to know these people, they're friends, and I had an opportunity probably four or five years ago. One of the coaches there had a boot camp workout type of class, and I had an opportunity to build a website for her. Once I did that I was able to build rebuild a new design for my gym’s website. Then when people started to get wind of who did these websites, people had no idea what I was doing, they would just see me at the gym, they were asking about work. So once I started to find out that I was the guy for web design, or SEO, or marketing, it just brought me some opportunities to network with people that are in my gym because are business professionals that go there. Myself and a few others that were doing business together, and we worked out together, we ended up starting our own networking group that was a little bit more laid back, not so uptight, just more getting people that we knew could benefit from networking with each other. We had relationships with other people and we started to organically build our own networking group. We all had our own relationships so we would go out and support each other as fundraisers or other networking events that they belong to, stuff for their own companies. We would just kind of be a team and put ourselves in positions of meeting people that we knew each other and wanted to be business with. So it was just an easier way to network. I enjoyed networking in that way, where you weren't pressured to, like, show up at an event and create a relationship out of thin air. You had people that you knew, you're going to these events with your friends, basically. So it was a little bit more organic, and it was just a nice way to develop relationships that way.
How do you nurture these relationships that you've created?
I guess it's a combination of things. I think the go-to for everybody's pretty much social media, especially now with not being able to network as often and especially in person you try to post a little bit more, you know, maybe on Facebook, or Instagram. So on the social media site, I tried to do a mix of that. I'll record a video, post it on LinkedIn, post it in some groups, maybe post some case studies. Probably my best networking tip, in general, is just giving a lot more than you take. It's a back and forth relationship, but you really are in the business of helping people that's just going to be natural and you're just going to naturally want to help people and just give as much as you can, and that's eventually going to come back around to you. It's a lot more than just doing the posting and just hoping the content gets out there. Go out on LinkedIn, see what other people are posting. Can you leave a comment? Can you chime in or engage with their content? Can you share it? Little things like that go a long way for people, especially on a platform like LinkedIn where organic reach is so much more powerful than a Facebook where you're not really reaching as much of your followers as you would think. Even just a few likes and comments and shares, could really spread to a few 100 people, so you never know who that's going to be put in front of. So when it comes to that, I try to just see what other people are doing and repost their content or leave a comment with advice or answer a question. I think that's the best way to nurture your network. Going back to the organic thing, you're not actively looking for business. Just helping people is going to lead to those opportunities to get there.
What advice would you have for those professionals that want to grow their network?
So advice like that, I would say don't beat around the bush. If you're trying to get something out of networking, or you're having conversations with people, you want to be upfront. You don't want to schmooze them too much, you want to build a genuine relationship and you want to say, "Hey, here's what I do, these are the types of people like to do business with," and really, just make them a friend. People like to do business with people they already know that they know, like, and trust. So you want to check off each one of those boxes before even mentioning like, "Hey, let's hop on a call," or offer some kind of business. It's so much easier to get behind a friend than it is a total stranger so if you can genuinely make that type of relationship happen and support each other that way then the networking and business aspect is going to go a lot farther than it would when you just try to jam up instead of thin air like I was talking about earlier. The other thing I would advise is to go to who has your customers. Who already has your client base that you can speak with and benefit from a relationship with and see how you guys can help each other out?
If I was 20 again, I would tell myself to just be a little smarter, invest a little bit more in myself, take better care of myself, too. Because at that age you can get away with, you know, running yourself into the ground. You've got a ton of energy, but you forget the developing skills par that's definitely super important. I would tell myself to spend more time on developing my computer skills, my personal skills, getting better at just building rapport, and developing relationships. Those are obviously some important things that if you're able to do early on in your career, it's just going to make you look like a professional. If you develop those skills early on, it's gonna make you seen a little bit more mature, and people are going to want to do business with you. But just being smart and taking care of your body. Maybe reading more, developing little habits like that, that is absolutely going to set yourself apart from everybody else. At that age, everyone is probably partying and not taking school seriously are things like that. I know that was me and if I had even just tweaked a couple of little things like getting out of bed earlier, something like that. I think would impact where you're at 10 years later.
Let's talk about the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you love to connect with and do you think you could do it within the sixth degree?
I had trouble narrowing it down to one person, I did get it down to two. They kind of overlap a little bit. So I'm actually, I'm still in mourning, but I'm a big Kansas City Chiefs fan even though I'm in New York. I've been a fan my whole life, and we just got destroyed in Super Bowl. I would love to meet or have a conversation with Patrick Mahomes. But I would probably narrow it down between him or Paul Rudd. He's hilarious and is probably my favorite actor. I think if I like to ask around, I could probably connect with somebody in the NFL somewhere around here, that could probably connect to another guy that's played with somebody that's played with someone on the Chiefs maybe that I can even get in touch with maybe Mahomes. Or even get in touch with somebody on the Chiefs that knows Paul Rudd. I think that could be done in six degrees, I'd really have to figure out who the best resource that would be, but I think it is possible.
Any final words of advice offer listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Yeah, it's pretty simple. You don't get we don't ask for so don't be afraid to comment on some of these posts, or share it, or ask them if they know somebody. You're there to help people and if you can do that, they're going to help you right back because it's a cyclical thing. There's so much stuff going on that the more positivity that you can put out there, I think it just works exponentially. You spread it here and there, and people are going to do the same for others. So don't be afraid to put yourself out there, and you never know what you're gonna get back.
Connect with Mike:
Phone Number: 516-500-1080
Mike is the CEO of People Building Incorporated and the powerhouse behind the What Are You Made of Movement. He is a performance coach, author, dynamic public speaker, visionary, and thought leader. He has been featured by Yahoo Finance as one of the top business leaders to follow in 2020 and is on a mission to build people. He is driven to inspire others and he measures his success on how he is able to help others achieve greatness. C-Roc had a fire lit in him at an early age, that fire has ignited him with a fierce desire to compel people to see the greatness inside themselves using past life events to fuel their fire.
I'm really curious about everything that you've got around this, what are you made of movement, so let me just ask you, what are you made of?
People ask me that all the time so I'm gonna do my best with this. I'm made of rocket fuel. I'm a go, go, go kind of guy, I have a saying, thrust is a must, go forward fast. So that also leads me into times where I need to focus on taking a step back and breathing sometimes so I just recently got into meditation. But the reason I made a rocket fuel is that I came up with this concept. I'll tell you a quick story, coming from a broken home and not remembering my parents together, I went through a lot of conflict as a child with this. For three years I lived with my dad and during that period of time, my dad got remarried, and anytime you have Child Support, custody battle things, Stepparents involved, other agendas, you know, there's conflict. As a kid, you're the main link between your parents, for them to even have to talk anymore, and sometimes that can carry a heavy burden. During that time I went through a lot of mental abuse, psychological abuse, threats, and things that no kid should ever deal with. I'm not telling you this to feel sorry for me to play victim, I just want to share with you where this rocket fuel law came from. But when I'd had enough at one point, when I turned about 10, and a half or 11 years old, and I was coming home from my mom's house one weekend, and I said, "I'm not feeling right," and she goes, "What's the matter? You seem anxious." We were going over these hills on these really hilly roads in southeastern Pennsylvania and I was afraid to tell her actually. When you go through abuse, it's a tough situation to come out about it, because you're afraid of what may happen, what might happen, or if anybody's gonna believe you. So I ended up telling her and she said, "That's not normal, Mikey, you don't need to go through that, that's not something you should be dealing with." She ended up filing court papers, she told me at that time that you need to stick to your guns if I do this because she didn't want to go through all that and have me change my mind. But she also told me that in life, you need to stick to your guns when you believe in something because if you don't, then what's going to happen is people will try to change your mind or beliefs based on their own agenda or to justify their position in life. So it was a lesson I carry to this day about sticking to my guns and being stubborn. So when my dad finally got the court papers served to him I was coming home from school one day and it's a day that I dreaded waited for a long time didn't know when it was coming. My dad, who was my hero had a masonry business, big forearms, rough hands. I always looked up to him for how hard of a worker he was, he always carried $100 bills in his pocket with a rubber band around it and I thought that was the coolest thing because he used to flash it and show us what we got with money. It wasn't about greed or anything, it was just cool, you know. So when I confirmed he asked me if I really wanted to move back with my mom, and I remember her telling me to stick to my guns. He said, your mom doesn't have it that well, like, why would you want to go there? They don't have any money, you have everything you need here, and that I must be must have been blinded to the fact of what was going on. I said, "No I made my decision up." He said, "Okay," so he takes that $100 bills out of his pocket, peel one-off, crumple it up, and throw it at me and said, "You're going to need this then when you're living on the streets with your mother." So the reason I tell you that story is because at that moment, the stubbornness kicked in, and I'm like, there's no way I'm gonna need that I got this. I'm 11 years old thinking I'm gonna take over the world, where that came from, that's another story. But I just knew that no, I'm not gonna need that you're wrong. This is not the way somebody should live and so that sparked the fire in me, though, that sparks something. So for 30, some years, I've been living off of this thing where I'm going to prove him wrong, I'm going to show him. So everything I did, I always tried to be the best of my graph. If you're looking at a line graph, you want to gradually uptick in your graph. That's a healthy graph of production or relationship, worth or, taking care of yourself. I looked at my graphs and they were always going up. Two years ago, I assessed this. I'm like, what makes me different than anyone else? Why are some people struggling all the time and on a rollercoaster ride, and here, my graphs always keep going up? I gotta figure this out because if I can bottle it, and reverse engineer it, I can teach people this, and I can change the world. So I basically looked back and said, it's this fire, this fuel. I'm turning everything that comes my way that would stop most people or slow them down and I would store it in my tank instead of my trunk, where it would weigh me down. I was stored in my tank, where I could convert it to rocket fuel for my future. I've come up with this thing where, I call it a law now because it's a proactive approach to handling setbacks, difficulties, let downs, disappointments. If you can prepare yourself properly to be able to handle anything that comes your way that would normally stop and slow you down and converted into rocket fuel, you can become unstoppable. So that's where the rocket fuel thing came from, when you asked me what I'm made of, that's where it comes from. I'm living a living demonstration of this, I don't just talk about it, I live it. If anybody's around me, they know, I'm an animal when it comes to getting things done. I go forward, fast, thrust is a must. Anything that comes my way, I don't get upset about it, I see it as an opportunity. As long as I'm living and I want to live, every experience is worth going through and so I use it as training or fuel to move forward.
I go fast, hard, but then at some point, like the fuel is burnt out. So you believe that you have an endless supply of fuel?
Well, yeah, because my stepdad George, stepped in when I was 11. He showed me what it meant to be a man and, George wasn't really good with money, getting money. He was good with stretching money for a long way. He lived off a little bit of money. But for my whole life, he was really hard on us, not physically, but making sure we understood right from wrong and the lessons we're going to need to learn in life. AHe passed away in January 2019 suddenly have a heart attack and at that moment, I wasn't ready for my mentor to go I was 40 something but still was wanting a mentor. But it was time for us to move to another mentor and at that moment where he passed about two weeks later, I felt his energy come inside of me. My brother Casey, we talked about this because see, George was a really passionate guy. George would sit on a couch at a party and be real quiet, but then if you got talking about football, baseball, hunting, fishing, whatever, crabbing, which we do in Maryland, he would jump off the couch like a madman and I get in your face and it was in a brutal, deep voice and everybody would be thrown back by but he's so passionate. I felt this passion somewhere around two weeks after he passed come into me and now it feels like I really don't get burnt out. I sleep seven to eight hours a day so when I go to bed like I lay down to watch a show with my wife, I don't make it to the show, I go out and then I wake up early, ready to go and once I'm up, I'm going. My mission is so powerful. Some days are better than others, of course, but I just don't have an energy limit. I don't believe in limits. I believe that you can have all the energy you want as long as you get your seven to eight hours of sleep, eat well, take care of your body, meditate. I really think that meditating is a good thing that I needed. I started to look at areas where I needed to prove and that was one area I thought I could benefit from so I spent some time with a guy that taught me how to meditate.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking experiences or stories that you've had?
I do a lot of outreach via social media, whether it's Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram. I have a DM campaign where I direct messaged people that I would want to connect with. I throw a big net, actually. It's targeted in a way, but I throw a pretty big net and the reason I do that is because I know there's somebody out there that I can help make a difference too. And of course, vice versa, there's somebody out there that can help me through challenges or problems, or have a big impact together. So one day, I got an Instagram message back from a guy named Jared. So I sent him a DM he answers, we end up doing an Instagram Live. His name's Jared Yellin, we did this live and we connected right away, and we're like, what the heck, this is cool. So I told him my purpose, he told me what he does, and come to find out we're now partners in a tech company that could be sold for billions. By the way, I'm not a tech person. Now I am, but I wasn't. There are so many ideas out there that go to die in a grave because people don't know how to act on them. I don't believe in coincidences, I believe that all of your decisions and actions are going towards things that happen at some point. But we just kept connected and now here we are, and we're getting ready to come out with a minimal viable product of a truly, truly distributable product that's going to change, self help personal development, entrepreneurship. It's a phenomenal product, it's called Blueprinted. Basically, it's going to take people that are successful, and allow them to reverse engineer their success in a project management forum, rather than videos, rather than a lecture. What I found is I found that people want to accomplish things but they don't know the first step. They don't know the second step or the third, or fourth, or they don't know how long something should take if they're on the right track, if they're doing it right. They don't know the big picture and they're mostly individually focused, they're just focused on what they have in front of them and what they can see, rather than being Omni focus, which is seeing the whole playing field. This platform is going to allow people to see the whole playing field of what they want to accomplish, from successful people that they can choose because people that are successful are going to upload their blueprints into the system. Then people are going to go buy those blueprints and it's going to allow the blueprinters to be able to support anybody that buys their blueprint via one on one coaching, group coaching calls, to guide them through the step-by-step process to become successful.
How do you best stay in front of and nurture these relationships in this community that you've created?
Well, you know, I find that to be a challenge because I do have a large network. Ever since I started the movement, the podcast, the book, my network has grown exponentially. So I was talking to my coach about that recently and I said, "Man, how do I nourish the network that I have the relationships that I have because I feel like I might be missing out or leaving some people behind?" I think that you need to make sure that people understand you genuinely want to know when you can help them. So anytime you're communicating with someone, don't just say "Hey, see you later it was great seeing you." Don't say that, disrupt their pattern a little bit. We go through things in life automatically. We're on autopilot a lot and there are patterns that we have. It's like if somebody hands a business card to you, and you just take the business card and then you look at it real quick and then you put it in your pocket or your purse. But what if I handed you a business card and you went to grab it, I'm I pulled back? You would look up to me and you would say "What's next?" Then I can say, "I really love helping people and before I give this to you, I want you to know that if you ever need anything that I have that is of value, please, please reach out to me." That pattern interruption right away would make a difference. I think it's very important to break people's patterns and do things differently than most people do so that they remember you. The other thing is when you need something, there's nothing wrong with reaching out to people in your network and saying, "Hey, I have a problem, I need to help with a solution, do you mind if I pick your brain a little bit?" I think that also for me, what I do is I just keep pushing energy out in the world. I'm connected with people on all platforms so that I just keep pushing stuff out so they're constantly seeing me. That way, if they need something, they know where to reach me and if I need something I just can reach out. I try not taking until I've given quite a bit though.
What advice would you offer that professional who's looking to grow their network?
Intentionally spend a dedicated time every single day reaching out to people. Obviously, with everything that's going on, you don't see as many in person so what are you going to do about that? To me, I think if you set a target for yourself every single day of reach out to people to let them know you're thinking about them, or whatever the case is, that's, that's the way I do it now. I have a mortgage company, by the way, that I've run a division for with three of my best friends and my little brother. We're always coaching and building our people in our organization. In doing that, we're talking to them all the time, too about targets like, "What are your targets today for reaching out to people?" You can't just sit in your office wait for the phone to ring, it's not gonna ring. So what are you doing to control and develop and create your own economy?
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self what would you tell yourself to do more or less of her differently with regards to your professional career?
In regards to my professional career, I would get really clear on what I wanted. Now, obviously what you want can change as you get older. Here's what I did: I started chasing girls, and drinking and partying like a dummy. The reason I say that is I was 18 until I drank a beer for the first time. I was so focused on what I wanted out of life. In school, I was a football player and I was so dedicated and lived a clean life and then when I got to college for some reason, being exposed to alcohol and parties and girls, got me screwed up and I lost my intentional focus and purpose. When you do that, and you shift your focus on things that don't really serve that purpose, they serve an unhealthy purpose, things go downhill real quick, your health, your finances, your relationships, the way you think about yourself, how you feel about yourself. So what I would go back and tell my 20-year-old self would be to stay on your purpose. I would probably go back to myself as an 18-year-old and talk to that person and say, "Listen, serve yourself to your purpose that you designed originally for yourself. You can let it adapt, but don't go down the road where you're just drifting, and chasing things that don't serve you." Every decision we make thought in our head, word we speak, and action we take is either going towards an ideal life or away from it.
Let's talk about your book for a minute. What can you share about that?
The book was gonna be called What Are You Made Of? But the people I'm working with on the book said, "You talk about fuel a lot and rockets and this and that." I said, "Well, there's already a book called rocket fuel out there, but that's an entrepreneurial book so I can name mine Rocket Fuel, mine's gonna be I'm gonna market it harder." So I named it Rocket Fuel, Convert Setbacks, Become Unstoppable. It's all about stories in my life anecdotes from my journey of being mentored by super successful people. It's showing you how to proactively prepare yourself to take setbacks and convert them into rocket fuel. It's got to be proactive, too, because in the closer proximity you are to adversity or setback, there's more chaos, there's more emotion, and it's very hard to think clearly and see hope. There's very little light at the end of the tunnel. So we proactively work on this and the book talks about that, and it talks about how you can prepare yourself physically, spiritually, mentally, relationships, financially, professionally, how to prepare yourself to be able to handle anything comes that comes your way, and react quickly to look for opportunity, rather than sulking in a setback. Grant Cardone, if you've heard of him, he wrote the foreword for the book. He talks about what rocket fuels meant to him in his life and business, which is very powerful validation for my law. Just like John Maxwell has leadership laws, I created this rocket fuel law. It's coming out in March!
What's your final word of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I think that we all have an obligation, a duty to live a certain standard because you can't tell people to do things or say you're going to do things for people if you're not living it every day to the best of your abilities. So in order to help people and be able to really provide value to your network, you have to live a certain standard based on your purpose that you've developed. I would say that and also just go be unstoppable. Nothing can stop you if you take everything that's designed to stop you or appears that it's going to stop you and convert it into rocket fuel for your future. So go be unstoppable!
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Join Mike’s Weekly Coaching Community: https://mikecroc.com/coaching
Learn More About Mike’s Book: https://www.mikecroc.com/book