This week, we’re going to be talking about success through networking and building more authentic relationships. I believe the only way to unlock your potential is to tap into the experience of others. And if you can’t tell, I’ve tried so hard to match my voice to Brandon. But this is not Brandon. This is Dave Burlin.
Before we dive in, I’m going to talk about relationships today. One of the best ways to build relationships is to be part of a mastermind group. I do have a mastermind coming up. We’re now accepting applications for March. We’ve got a few different levels, so this is going to be great. If you’ve never been a part of a mastermind or if you are a part of a mastermind and you’ve wanted to take another step and go to another level to help you scale your organization, we’ve got some heavy hitters that are coming in sitting at some of those tables. If you want to learn more, check out davemeansbusiness.com/mastermind and drop an application there.
Let’s dive in. When it comes to building relationships, it generally gets associated with the word networking. Many people I meet get frustrated with the word networking. I’m no different. In fact, I get pissed off whenever I go to a networking event. I start talking to somebody and the first thing they do is ask, “What do you do?” When they ask what I do, they start looking at their watch and not paying attention. They’re basically just waiting for me to finish talking. Hopefully, they can ask me what I do. Then as soon as I do, they go into pitch mode. I couldn’t figure out why that is.
For the last three years, I’ve been talking about the idea of #whynetworking. Why are people trying to build authentic relationships? Because it’s definitely a conversation in every line of every industry, education, and employment. People say, “Oh, I’m just trying to build my network.” We know that it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know. But why is it that me, like so many other people, go to these networking events and we get frustrated?
As I started to dive into the topic of #whynetworking, I started asking more questions than that. I hosted my own events. I started taking polls. I said, “By show of hands, how many people came here to build more authentic relationships.” Almost every single hand goes up. And the I say, “How many people came here to introduce your product and services in your company to more people?” Those hands just stay right up, and they even reach a little bit higher. Then I ask, “How many people came here with the attempt to become somebody else’s customer and to be sold?” People look around and their hands go down.
What I found was that most people get it wrong with the word networking. They confuse networking with prospecting. It’s not your fault because we’re told that to grow your business, you want to go to these networking events. You want to meet more people. I think what happens is people get into the networking mode and they immediately shift into prospecting mode. It’s taking me three years to find out what is that difference. Why does that happen? It was a simple discovery. It’s the definition of networking versus the definition of prospecting.
Prospecting vs Networking
The definition of prospecting is an attempt to get new business and search for buyers. The goal is to move prospects through a sales funnel or cycle with the goal to get them to convert into clients. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t sell people. I’m saying there’s a time for it. I know that a networking event may not be the time for it because by show of hands, they all go down when they say they show up to be sold. But everybody did show up to build relationships. Everybody did show up to introduce their product or services to more people.
The definition of networking is simply an exchange of services or information through individuals, groups, and institutions, specifically to cultivate productive relationships in regard to employment or business. If people come to network and build new relationships, the first thing they fall back on is their sales process, which does have a process. That’s where people start to get frustrated. What happens is as soon as you go into a pitch mode, you’re not trying to build relationships, you’re trying to sell something. And as soon as you go into that sales mode, you may not realize that you’re in an offensive posture putting them in a defensive posture. Perfect example: Think about every time that you go to buy a car or even think about going to buy a car, you have to get in this offensive posture because you know that as soon as you walk in the lot, they’re all going to put you in a defensive posture. If you’re like me, I had to take my grandpa with me every time I wanted to buy a car just because I didn’t want to be overwhelmed. Even later, as I got into the world of sales, I still took people with me because that’s an environment that I’m not very comfortable with. Why would we want to put people in that defensive posture? Because now we’re not building relationships. In fact, we may be breaking relationships before they even have the opportunity to take shape.
When I sit down with people, I want to sit down and believe that I cannot sell the person that’s sitting in front of me. Now, before I sound like a hippie running around hugging trees, let me be clear. Trust me, there is a time to sell people. I’ve been in business to business sales across multiple industries across the United States. I’ve helped scale organizations into more than 10 cities across the country. There’s a time for sales. We didn’t come for prospecting. We came for networking. Every time I know that people go into that pitch mode, because they got a process for it, we got to ask more questions. Now we got to introduce our product, do a mini presentation, set him up for a call to action. What if there’s a process for networking? That’s the idea behind #whynetworking. I believe there are principles to that process. The principles are very simple.
The Principles for Networking
Number one, you just have to show up. Number two, you can serve other people. Every time I go to an event, I show up. I think, “Wow, who are the people that are closest in my relationships right now that I might be able to introduce somebody to today?” Even better, “Who’s going to need something or someone that I haven’t talked to in years?” And I get to go back through my network, and I get to reconnect with that person for me first and then for that person. The third principle is to share. This may sound like a kindergarten rule but most of the best things that we learned in life, we learned in kindergarten. It’s important to share with other people. One way to do that is if you’re going to an event, share it with somebody else. If you can’t go to an event, share it with one person who might be relevant. Share it with your boss, share it with a colleague, share it with a potential prospect as just a reason to reach out. Say, “Hey, I’ve got this friend who’s got an amazing event going on. I can’t make it, but I bought you tickets. If you’d like to pass them on, maybe you can go to my place.” That’s the third step in the process.
The fourth process is synergy. I want you to think long term. Most of the people that you meet will not be passing out the same business card that they were two years ago. Sometimes, two months ago. If you look at what happened last year with the pandemic, there are 20 million people who aren’t passing out business cards at all. Time has changed. Roles changed. Roles that you hold and the relationships that you make, while you’re in those roles, can be critical to your next step.
A lot of times you can go back through your whole entire network and there is opportunity there. But you have to unlock it. Networking isn’t about getting the next sale. It’s about unlocking opportunities through other people’s network and expanding your reach. If you continue to show up, you continue to serve and you continue to share. Those people are going to be very excited to connect you with the people you need. I don’t know how many times I’ve left, and I get phone calls, emails or private LinkedIn messages where somebody said, “Hey, we should reach out. I heard you’re a veteran.” or “Hey, I heard you like books. I followed your stuff.” People are doing that because nowhere in that meeting or transaction did I try to sell them anything. I just listened. I was able to connect them with the things that they needed. Sometimes I get a little serious.
The fifth part of this is to always remember to smile. I have a resting green face and a lot of times I get really serious. I get really focused and I’m having the best time of my life. I get too serious and a lot of people go because they’re trying to figure out who is the best person I can try to sell on the situation, who’s the most impactful person I can reach. And when you have that frumpy face, you’re closing off relationships before they even happen. Now, I like to stand out. Most places I go, I travel with a gigantic white boombox. It’s very compelling. It starts some of the most phenomenal conversations on the planet. It’s allowed me to get into some really unique situations. I walked down the main dragon—Nashville, Las Vegas, Dallas, rocking this boombox. If I have a frumpy face, people get out of the way, but they get out of the way for the wrong reason. If I smile, people say, “I like that guy. What’s he doing?” And they want to talk to me. They want to learn what the boombox does. Is it really just there to meet people? That’s exactly what it’s for. But you got to smile to open the opportunity so you can have these great conversations.
The final principle and the final step to the whole equation is to shop local. Shop among the people that you’re serving. Be somebody else’s customer even though you didn’t design to do that. Can you do all the things that you’re doing? Yes. Can you get a better deal? If you shop around on insurance and go to something like Geico? Absolutely. If you order something from Amazon, you’re going to get the cheapest price. They’re going to get it to you faster than anybody else on the planet. But guess what? Amazon’s not going to be there to hold your hand when you get fired. They’re definitely not going to be there to introduce you to the next opportunity when you get laid off. If you shop local and you shop among people who also do business in your community and people that you’re trying to build relationships with, immediately they can connect you to their whole network. If you’re in the b2b space, it’s amazing because they’re connected to people that you might not be otherwise. So, the final step is shop local. What if that is the system that replaces the sales cycle? If we come to sell people in a place that people don’t want to be sold, we have the opportunity to break that relationship before it’s even born.
Finally, now that you have all the information, you have a different way. I’d love to challenge you to show up and do that. I found that there are four places where you can go to begin to build more authentic relationships.
One, you can easily be an attendee. You can go to a virtual event. You can go to a live event. You could show up. You could watch a speaker. You can keep to yourself and just take away and that’s fine. You could be a member of a group. The second way is you can start to host events. You can start to be an admin of groups. You can start to facilitate other things and events that bring people together. And slowly, you start to connect in a totally different way. Those are the two primary ways that you can show up and begin to exercise and flex your wide networking sales cycle.
You can also go to a growth experience i.e., mastermind, retreat. You can go through a challenge. I went through the Marine Corps. I’m definitely not suggesting that everybody go to the Marine Corps, but I was challenged to change and evolve who I was and the people around me. I built relationships that will never break. So, what can you do? Can you go to a mastermind? Can you go to a retreat?
Finally, the fourth and final phase is you can host those events, which is where I’ve decided to take that energy to the highest level. That’s where I have the opportunity for you to show up. Whether you’ve been to a mastermind before or you just want to join a book club, we have the opportunity for you to just start out and try something and hold yourself accountable for a couple of weeks. We have the ability for you to commit to some serious people at the table and grow from one another. Take the next biggest step that you haven’t taken because you’re just not sure how to get there. We have those opportunities too. The opportunity that I want to share is we’re taking applications now. If you just want to get started, sign up. If you’re ready to go to the next level, sign up.
This has been such a great honor to hijack today’s post and I’ve absolutely loved everything that Brandon has done. We connected through some of our networks. It was just one simple phone call where we didn’t try to sell each other that our relationship has evolved. Through that, I’ve introduced him to so many of the most incredible people that I know. I love to call my friends and I’m excited to see where this relationship will continue to go and all of the opportunities that we’re going to unlock through each other. If you’re interested in taking it to the next level in any shape or form, stop by davemeansbusiness.com/mastermind and get registered. Let’s go and grow.
“Networking isn’t about getting the next sale. It’s about unlocking opportunities through other people’s network and expanding your reach.” – Dave Burlin
“It’s not about what you know, it’s who you know.” – Dave Burlin
“I’m not saying you shouldn’t sell people, I’m saying there’s a time for it.” – Dave Burlin
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