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Do you really need to travel to meet people when we have the internet?
Traveling is expensive and I’m an introvert. Those seem like two good enough reasons to stick to online-relationships.
But the value of face-to-face conversations cannot be overstated. You will build more rapport in a day you spend with someone in person than you will with tweets and instant messages over the course of a year.
In this energy-filled episode, we explore the multifaceted nuances and benefits of in-person networking. Networking may seem like a lame word, but we encourage you to disassociate from any stigmas you have with it. What we’re really talking about is good old-fashioned relationship building.
Once you understand that a single conversation can completely revolutionize your business, you start to see the power and value of these kinds of interactions and why they’re worth the investment.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- When you give someone a lot of value, they feel compelled to give back in some way.
- Getting business shouldn’t be your number one goal when networking.
- Networking is about making a connection.
- You don’t have to talk to everyone at a meetup—talk to one person until they’re done talking.
- You never meet people outside your circle without interacting with new people.
- To make introductions the proper way, reach out individually.
- If you’re going to a conference, meetup, or a one-on-one meeting, provide value and you’ll be respected for it.
- It doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert or you don’t like people, liking people is how you’ll be successful.
- 03:16 Sean: We’re talking about networking, but Matt is saying that having personal rapport built between you and another person lends itself well to business. I was thinking networking is good for teaming up with people or getting connections and contacts, but these people that you meet when you’re traveling around may eventually hire you, because they’re thinking, “I know this guy who does this thing that we need.”
- 03:50 Matt: Or they might refer you, which is huge in any industry. That’s how we get a lot of our businesses. This big government contract we’re working on right now was a referral. We’re talking millions of dollars from a referral just for doing good work and establishing relationships. It’s not hard. I’m glad I found Gary Vaynerchuck and picked up on what he does, what’s made his business successful. His new book, Jab Jab Jab Right Hook, is all about giving, giving, giving, and then asking for money. That’s something we do with a lot of our customers.
- 04:43 Obviously, you have to charge them because you have overhead, expenses, and all that stuff, but we try to charge the most minimal amount in the beginning. We’re still working for full price, we don’t give a discount, but we throw in free services every time. While we’re doing this, we’re building relationships with our clients. We’re talking about their dog, how the cat died, that grandma is in the hospital, that they might be away for a while and need some dog-sitting, and so on. We build that relationship and give them free stuff, which guilts them into getting you to take on more responsibility or giving you more money outright.
- 05:39 Sean: It’s reciprocity in action.
When you give someone a lot of value, they feel compelled to give back in some way.
- 05:46 Matt: When you do that with bigger contracts, the loads of extra money from giving a little bit is incredible. People that start businesses are hungry for the money because that’s what they’re there for; they think, “I hate my full-time day job, so I’m going to start my own business so I can make a ton of money.” A lot of people I meet want to be like me, making a lot of money while doing what I love. But today, for instance, I was up till 6am with some of my employees to fix some of our trucks.
- 06:41 I woke up at 9am to race over here to the podcast. Owning your business isn’t the most fun thing. Don’t do it for the money. Do it for the whole thing, the whole package of the business—the people, the flexibility, and yourself. If you do it for just the money, your quality level goes down, because you only care about the money. You want to be in and out, and you can’t do that.
Face to Face is Best
- 07:30 Sean: Matt, could you compare meeting with someone in person vs. sending them an email or text message or talking on the phone? What is the difference between those experiences?
- 07:43 Matt: I have customers I’ve never even met. They found us on the internet and they email us back and forth. They like it that way, and that’s fine, but there’s nothing better than meeting with your client face to face. I like face to face, even if it’s just a video conference, because you get a feeling for that person, how they think and what they like. That’s why you want to talk to them about their personal life, too. You know how to work with them, what to offer them, and how to build a relationship with them to get more of their business. It’s a give and take game.
Ask yourself, “What can I give this client that will make them jump for joy?”
- 08:36 On our last episode, we talked about random bonuses. I give random bonuses to my employees to see what makes them jump, what makes them move. Do the same thing with your client. What is going to make these guys think I’m the best person in the world through whatever service I’m offering them? You can’t do this through email, because you can’t really get a feel for them. When you talk to them face to face, you get a feeling for them and what they think.
What Do We Mean by “Networking”?
- 09:10 Sean: A lot of people have a connotation with the word “networking;” they think it sounds like corporate nonsense, slimy business guys trading cards. Get away from the stigma of the word. We can define what we mean by networking, because it’s not just about giving people your card. Networking is about making a connection. On the seanwes podcast, we recently talked about mastering the effective elevator pitch. Elevator pitches are not just for elevators or trying to pitch your thing so someone buys from you right away. You’re not trying to close the deal, you’re trying to start a conversation. That’s what we mean by networking: get in person, build some rapport, and start a conversation. Don’t necessarily try and close the deal right here.
- 10:13 Maybe you randomly meet someone who says, “Hey, can you do a job for me?” That’s not usually what happens. You’re planting a seed. Help them think, “We’re friends now. Let’s keep in touch.” Kyle says, “Traveling to network allows me to get out of my usual routine and meet some really great people from places I’ve never been and may never otherwise go. It’s always a great investment into both my business and personal sanity. I’m also growing to be much more confident at these events as a result. I know people, I’m excited to see people, and it’s growing easier to meet new people.”
- 10:56 Jeff Sheldon says, “I usually cringe when I hear the word ‘networking.’ It usually implies seeing what you can get from other people rather than just having a genuine interest or friendship. The best ‘networking’ has nothing to do with exchanging business cards the first time you meet someone. It’s more about a real relationship that may eventually lead to working together in the future.”
Getting business shouldn’t be your number one goal when networking.
- 11:27 Matt: Obviously, that’s on the list, and it’s part of why we network, but go in there to build a relationship. Start with some small talk. Don’t think of them as clients; think of them as a friend who could lead to business. That way, you feel comfortable talking to them. You don’t want to be nervous because you’re trying to get their business. It’s hard enough to walk up to a stranger, especially if you’re an introvert. Sean, how did you start with networking?
- 12:00 Sean: For me, it was meetups. That was the first thing I did. It would be a 150 mile round trip, and I would think, “Why am I making this long trip if I’m just going to sit in the corner? That’s ridiculous.” If I’m going to go to this thing and make an investment, I need to make it worth it. I need to get some face time with people and talk with them. Over time, you go to a few meetups, see people a few times, and build a little bit of a relationship. You can’t always point to exactly what that results in. Maybe you’re friends on Twitter and they re-tweet your thing, helping you get the word out about your launch. It’s valuable to have the kinds of relationships where you can bounce ideas off of people.
- 12:54 I’ve had some very big, pivotal moments of clarity in my business come from a discussion I had at a meetup. Once I had those experiences, I realized how truly valuable it was and why it was so worth driving 150 miles to spend a couple of hours talking to people. Not every conversation is going to be gold, but it’s always worth it. That one conversation you have that makes a big difference is worth the trip.
- 13:28 Matt: One thing I like to improve on is my, “What do you do for a living?” speech.
- 13:50 Sean: I’m going to give you the short version of what we talked about in the elevator pitch episode: your elevator speech should be what you do, who you do it for—and a lot of people stop there. They’ll say, “I do video for this company that produces media,” but that’s boring. They’re forgetting the “why.” Say, “I do this for these people so that they can…” What’s the reason? What are you helping them do? That makes it a little bit more interesting.
- 14:14 Matt: It’s not too short and it’s not too long. Gary Vee was talking about the same thing. People ask him, “What do you do?” Someone like him can’t explain that, so he just says that he runs a media company, and sometimes, if he’s brave enough, he’ll say that he’s an angel investor. The same thing is true for me. How do I tell a new person, especially at my age, that I own 18 businesses? You can’t say that. It would take me all day to tell them how I do it, because it’s been a process. I usually start with whatever’s close to their industry so that they can relate and we can start a conversation.
- 15:00 Sean: Matt and I are going to San Fransisco at the end of October. Do you think that it would be worth it for someone not in San Fransisco but in California to drive out for a meetup on October 31st?
- 15:38 Matt: I think it would be good. I would want to meet Sean. It’s good to ask questions, and this is why we go to meetups. We build relationships and keep an open mind to what the other people are doing.
There are always gold nuggets you can take away from somebody at a meetup.
- 16:47 Sean: We’re recording this show ahead of time and we’re doing two parts because I’m going on a business retreat. It’s probably going to cost me about $1,000 and I’m probably not going to be here for the next recording date; that’s why we’re doing two episodes. By the time someone hears these, it could already be October, and they need to be thinking about how to get to the meetup. Because it’s so far in advance, we don’t have all the details. Go check out our Twitter if you’re in the San Fransisco or California area and we’ll get you some more details there.
When Should You Start?
- 18:06 Steve asked, “Should I wait to start networking?”
- 18:18 Matt: Stop waiting, get out there, and the worst thing that can happen is that you meet some great people, build friendships, they refer you, and they call you for some business at some point. Even if you don’t get anything out of it, it’s a great learning experience. It’s practice, and practice makes perfect. Let’s say it’s your first meetup and you’re super nervous; get there and talk to one person. When I first started, I was 13 years old trying to talk to 30 year olds. I wasn’t an introvert but I was shy because I grew up in a sheltered environment, but I thought, “I have to try.” I spoke to my first business person who headed up a major grocery chain here in Texas.
- 19:15 I walk up to him and start talking to him, asking how long he’s been doing his company, whether he likes it here, why he got into working here, and so on. He started talking to me about it. My whole purpose was to start networking, figure out how to network and what to talk about. You can see if that person feels comfortable talking to you about certain things and you shift as you go. You start to learn what things to bring up; you can bring up the same things with the next person and just gage their reaction. Since this guy at my first networking event was the manager of all these HEBs, I was able to get my snowcone shop to multiple locations through him! I wasn’t going in for that. Go in just to try and start networking and perfect your elevator pitch.
- 20:19 Sean: I would give the same advice to a beginner that I would give to someone wanting to be more advanced, which is this: just focus on one person. If you’re beginning, you’re thinking, “Oh my gosh. If I go to this meetup, there’s going to be 50 people, and that’s overwhelming. I’m introverted, scared, or nervous.” That’s a lot of people to talk to.
You don’t have to talk to everyone at a meetup.
Find one person and talk to them.
- 20:43 You get more accustomed to that, build up more confidence, and you start to think, “I can talk to more people!” The advice I would give that person who wants to be more advanced is the same—stop trying to talk to all 50 people and hone in on one. Go deep and get that engagement. Talk to one person until they’re done talking. Don’t be the one to cut off or end the conversation with your body language, looking over your shoulder for the next interesting person to talk to. Start where you are and network locally.You don’t have to be taking trips. Look for local meetups going on, find one other friend, or make a meetup happen.
- 21:50 Matt: I understand that it’s hard. This whole thing of doing what you love is not easy, but we do it because we’re trying to do something we’re passionate about. There’s parts of the business that we’re not going to be good at or feel comfortable in, but that’s all part of it. Like Sean was saying, you don’t go into a meetup with a purpose of talking to all 50 people. Remember, they’re not all extroverts who do this every day. They’re putting on a confidence show, but they’re nervous just like you. Go up to them and initiate some sort of conversation: “Hey, how are you doing? What do you do?” Just start talking and it’s really not that hard. The hardest part is talking to the first one, but after that, you get some confidence and you move with it. You’ll see the people who’s body language makes them easier to approach; start with them.
- 23:27 Sean: Eric says, “I love traveling so much. Exploring new places is one of those things that makes me feel so alive, and I want it to be part of my ‘lambo lifestyle goal.’ I often convince myself that I can and should go travel because it could be good for networking somewhere even though I might not have that much lined up networking-wise.” This reminded me of a really good tip. Maybe after this we can talk about the value of connections, because once you understand this, it’s invaluable.
Once you understand the power of one connection, one relationship, or one piece of advice at the right time, it’s a matter of putting money in to get money out.
- 24:25 Let’s say I want to meet Christopher. He’s in the Community and he’s from San Fransisco. I can say, “Hey Christopher, are you available on the 31st? It’s a Saturday. Can you do lunch at 12pm?” He says, “No, I’m in Hawaii.” I say, “That’s okay, no problem. Maybe next time.”
- 25:27 I don’t even go to San Fransisco. I wasn’t actually planning to go, I was going to meet Christopher in this example. If he says that he’s out of town, I don’t even have to go. If he says, “Yeah, sure,” then I book the ticket. That’s the advance-tactic. I learned this from Ryan Delk, who works at Gumroad. You tell the person, “Hey, I’m going to be in town. Can you meet at this time?” If they can’t do it, you don’t have to go. Maybe you do that with three people. If two of them say yes, it’s probably worth the trip. If all of them say no or that they’re gone, you don’t have to go. It’s a brilliant little tactic.
Network Across Industries
- 26:33 Aneeqah says, “Any tips on networking with people who are vastly different from you? Different industry, large age difference, etc. Should you just focus on connecting with people who are similar to you?” I told her that I’m sure Matt has some great insights on this. Matt, what do you do? How do you network with people in different industries?
- 26:54 Matt: I like chatting with people in other industries. That’s why I hit it off so great with Sean. First off, because of his work ethic, I thought, “I’ve got to meet his guy and talk to him more. I don’t get how he does these things.” Also, you get to see what’s working for their industry. Obviously, you’re in separate industries, so what you do in your business is not going to work for mine. You’ve got to keep an open mind and see what that other person is doing, even if it’s just something like how he communicates with a customer. There could be a nugget in there that you could take and do in your business. That’s why I love talking to people in other industries.
- 27:37 If I talk to somebody in the property management or roofing business, we’re all doing pretty much the same thing. If you step outside of the comfort zone, that’s where magic happens. You get to see what other people are doing that is totally different, but there might be a small thing you could take out of there and do in your industry. That’s what I look for, because I know that those are the things people in my industry won’t look for. They’re sticking to our industry. That will allow you to be successful. I always tell my interns, “The reason we’re going to be successful over other people doing the same thing is that we’re going to put our own personal twist on this business that’s going to make it stand out from other businesses.”
Bringing unique things other industries are doing into your own business will make you stand out—your competition isn’t doing that.
- 28:55 Sean: Because I primarily go to design conferences, I’ve seriously considered going to totally different conferences, like financial, business, or marketing conferences, or even totally different from that. Think about that. If you go to a real estate conference and everyone’s real estate and you’re real estate, you’re just another person. If you go to a different one, you’re the person who stands out there. “I remember you—you were the only design guy at the real estate conference.” Then you’re special. They say, “No one else here does design. Can you do a website for my real estate business?”
- 29:44 If you’re a video guy at a real estate conference, there aren’t going to be other video guys there. Boom. That’s why I like to listen to random industry podcasts or read different industry books or blogs. You get one little idea, and you think, “Oh wow, I never would have thought to do that in my business.”
- 30:17 Matt: It’s the little things you bring to your business that make it work in so many different ways. It makes you gain traction so much faster because you’re bringing that unique twist to your business.
Connecting the Right Way
- 30:31 Sean: Sarah asks, “What are other ways or events than meetups or conferences that one should consider to go to for networking?” When you’re traveling to network, don’t just think that networking equals conferences or meetups. It could just be one-on-one. I signed up for a decent sized newsletter from a 12 person media company, and the next day someone replied to me from their business. It was a brand new personalized email mentioning me by name, saying they were also from San Antonio and that they had been following my work for several years. I thought, “Wow, that’s impressive.”
- 31:22 He’s in San Fransisco and they’re putting on a conference. I pitched myself as someone to speak at their conference. If I were able to meet him in San Fransisco, guaranteed, that would be worth the whole trip. Don’t think of it as having to go to a meetup.
If you make one connection with one other person, it’s worth the trip to make that meetup happen.
- 32:10 Matt: There are some clients I’ve just gone for. They’re a friend of a friend, and I’ll say, “So-and-so mentioned that you do this and this,” and I explain a little bit about myself. I’ll say, “Hey, would you mind going out to dinner with me? I’d love to chat with you.” There’s a lot of nos, but every now and then you get a yes. That’s another way of networking, and that could benefit your business. That could be someone you’re trying to get something out of or just a relationship to get referrals.
- 32:43 Sean: If you were to break that down into steps as a strategy for someone, what would they do?
- 32:49 Matt: Lots of times, I’ll go meet up with friends or go to real estate meetups. There are so many meetups on every platform. I like to go to real estate meetups and chat, see what other people are doing. I’ll meet somebody there that knows the building owner of a massive skyscraper. I’ll think, “I want to meet him.” Don’t think of it as using that person. Let’s say I just met Sean, and he knows Cory, who is a billionaire that owns a building I want to manage completely, interior and exterior. I’m not going to be able to meet him by sending him a message on Twitter; this guy’s busy. I’m going to have to be introduced by somebody.
- 33:47 I’m going to go talk to Sean, not knowing that he knows Cory the billionaire. I’m going to build a relationship with Sean without asking if he knows any famous people in my industry. No, you want this person to have a relationship with you and trust you. I’ll talk to Sean about a bunch of different things, and after a few times of going out to coffee, dinner, or the golf course, then Sean makes a statement like, “Hey, I know that you run this business. Maybe you could help one of my friends, the billionaire Cory, with some of his stuff.” There you go. That golden egg is pretty much in your lap. You still have to do some work, but you never would have met Cory without this other guy you met. You might meet that connecting person through a meetup or a friend of a friend.
You never meet people outside your circle without interacting with new people.
- 35:26 Sean: Here’s a tip for people making introductions between other people. Don’t just send out a double email to the two people. Maybe you got this one person saying, “Can I meet so-and-so?” You haven’t even talked to your friend that this guy wants to meet, but you send an email to both of them and say, “Hey, I thought you guys were great and should meet each other, so Matt, Cory—Cory, Matt. Okay, bye!” That is the worst, most disrespectful thing. Immediately after that, the person who wants to meet your friend is eager, but it seems like an ask. It comes off terrible. The person who’s time is being requested feels bad because they’re busy. It feels gross because someone is trying to take from them, and it’s also kind of awkward because their friend, you, exploited your relationship.
- 36:26 To make introductions the proper way, reach out individually. If someone talks to you and says, “I really want to meet someone,” say, “I’ll see what I can do.” This relationship you have with the billionaire is precious and the reason this will work is because your word means something to that person. Don’t waste that; it’s a special thing. If you do want to spend it, think about it first, and then reach out to the person the first guy is trying to meet. Say, “Hey, would it be okay if I introduced you to this guy? Here’s what he’s about.” Get a yes from them first and then put it together. That’s the most respectful way to go about it.
- 37:24 Set this up the right way and be very selective about the people you pair together. Don’t try to be a matchmaker; people will come to not like you. They’re going to associate this awkward feeling with you. You need to be very selective about this, and if you set it up right by getting permission ahead of time, then people will associate the value of the connection with you. Matt, you and I met because our wives got together. If we had a friend who introduced us, we would attribute the value of this connection to this person had they done it right.
It’s worth setting up meetings right because people will see you as the valuable connector.
- 39:19 Cory: Right now, I’m doing everything Matt and Sean are saying. I met this guy, Andy White, at a conference Sean had us travel to. While I was talking to him I thought, “I don’t really know if I’m into what this guy is into. We don’t really have the same thing going on.” I started to look over my shoulder like you were saying, but then I decided to give him my full attention. It turns out that he’s actually from Dallas, which is where we were for the conference. I told him, “I’d love to meet up the next time I’m in town.” I might be traveling in October, but instead of going straight home, I’m willing to go to Dallas to meet him.
- 40:13 I’m asking him, “Do you want to meet up one-on-one?” I have the intention to not get anything out of this. I have some valuable things to say about relationships and people, and I want to share that with him. No matter what industry he’s in, that will be helpful. In the back of my mind, I’ll be honest, he’s a creative director at Gateway, which is a really huge church, so I kind of hope he’ll connect me to other filmmakers. That would be nice, but that’s not the focus. This show is on the seanwes network, and there are a lot of good shows on it that are all about providing value to the listener. That’s what we’re about here.
If you’re going to a conference, meetup, or a one-on-one meeting, provide value and you’ll be respected for it.
- 41:29 Matt: When you go into a meeting like that, not expecting something out of this person, there’s usually a positive outcome. You just met this person—take them out on a few dates. Don’t try to go all the way home; be respectful.
- 41:44 Sean: I didn’t ask Matt to do a podcast right away.
What is the Value of Connections?
- 41:55 “How do you manage traveling for networking when you have a day job?” Matt, how did you manage anything when you had a day job?
- 42:12 Matt: You have to put it on paper. Plan it out a little bit, talk to your spouse if you have one. You have to make time. When I was just starting my journey and I was still in my day job trying to make time, in the back of my mind I was envious of people who were full time into their passion. You finally have to get to the point where you say, “I’m in my position, I’m going to try to make the best of it, and I’m going to try to get out of it.” You start having to make small goals, and as you meet those goals, you get a rhythm going and you feel encouraged. You’re ready to go. You really do just have to make time; set time aside for it.
- 43:04 If you’ve been in a day job enough, you should have some sort of flexibility. I had been at my company for a while, to where I could just leave at 2pm. There were a few times I was working at the day job doing a podcast, and I just left. I’d go do some stuff and then come over here. I know that not everybody is in this position, but the company I was at was really supportive of me getting to my Lambo Goal and wanted to help me by giving me flexibility.
- 43:46 Sean: Matt gave them so much. He poured into that job and went the extra mile. A lot of these people are doing day jobs they don’t care about and aren’t investing in. Matt was giving and giving, so everyone there loved him. They still give him presents.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert or you don’t like people, liking people is how you’ll be successful.
- 44:39 Matt: Like Sean said, I had this day job, I and used to talk to people a little bit. I had a Lambo picture in my office, so they would see it and it’s a conversation starter. People would say, “A Lambo, really? You’re just a typical guy who wants a Lambo.” I would say, “I’m glad you asked. Sit down.” I would literally have an hour-long conversation with this person, and my boss didn’t even care. I did the Lambo pitch for every single one of the employees who worked at my company. There are other companies that worked at this complex where I was, so I talked with them about the Lambo. By the time I left, everybody had a Lambo on their desk, their computer, or somewhere. It wasn’t about the car; it was about the overall goal.
- 45:45 Sean: Why do you think your boss was so okay with that? What had you invested in the boss?
- 45:51 Matt: I asked her one day, and she said, “Matt, people are more productive after they’ve talked to you because they’re enthused about life, even if they don’t like their job.” People started to get the Lambo concept and think, “There’s a bigger goal in life than just right now.” A lot of times, people came into my office to complain, and their boss knew I would fix them up. I’m not saying this out of pride. Apparently, I have a personality where people just come to me and talk. People feel comfortable and that’s great, because it gives me opportunities to help people, and that’s what I love.
- 46:52 I built a great relationship with my coworkers and picked them up. They hate their day job, but they’re getting stuff done, and the owners love me because they’re making more money. These coworkers of mine would give me presents and buy me gift cards. I still get presents from them now that I’m gone. I got a gift card for $100 at Whataburger the other day from a coworker, and he said, “I gave you this card because I want lunch and to steal an hour away from you. I want one of your Lambo pep talks.”
- 47:51 Sean: It’s tempting to say, “Hey, can I pick your brain? Can we get coffee? I want some free time from you.” I want to highlight what this person just did; this is brilliant. You want to steal this tactic. Don’t buy Matt a burger to get his advice for an hour; that’s insulting. They gave him a gift that could get him ten burgers and then asked to share one of those burgers with him to get some time. Don’t offer to buy someone a coffee, which implies that you think their time is worth $4.95 an hour—that’s insulting. How about giving a $100 gift card to their favorite coffee shop?
- 48:32 Matt: Then you’re thinking, “Dang, this person really wants to talk to me.” Not only that, but this guy knew that Whataburger was one of the places I like to eat. Not only did this guy put in the time to listen, but he wanted to get my attention. That’s something you have to remember while you’re doing these meetups. Ask them, “Let’s go get dinner.”
If you’re trying to get something out of someone, give them something that pertains to them that will get their attention.
- 49:40 Sean: In the next episode, part 2, you’ll hear the conclusion of the burger story, why I’m spending $1,000 to take a trip I think will net me tens of thousands of dollars, we’ll talk about rekindling connections that have failed before, and going deeper into building relationships with people you know.