Yesterday – December 5th, 2015 – I gave a keynote speech to the Hartford Springfield Speakers Network group up in East Windsor, Connecticut. This is an amazing group consisting of authors, speakers, coaches, consultants, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, marketers, and more – the movers and shakers of New England. I’ve been actively attending the group over the last year and I’ve witnessed some incredible speakers come in and deliver powerful keynotes, so the fact that gave Bill Corbett (the creator of the group and the person who runs it) gave me this opportunity was both an honor and a privilege.
From the bottom of my heart, I can’t even begin to describe the value of the connections I made in this group. I’ve gotten a bunch of speaking opportunities over the last year just from business owners I’ve met here. As we will see in this post, there is a lot of power in putting yourself out there.
Lunch With Trevor Smith
After talking with many of the group members after the keynote and being told it was a great speech, I grabbed lunch with Trevor Smith of Blue Sky Consulting. Blue Sky Consulting is a training and development company that enhances employee engagement, morale, and productivity through the use of laughter and improvisational techniques. I met Trevor at the beginning of the year and we stayed connected. I’m featuring Trevor in my next book, Reach Your Mountaintop: Move Beyond Doubt and Achieve More.
During our conversation at a local diner, while I ate a delicious omelette and some eggs, Trevor encouraged me to connect with my alma mater McDaniel College and share with them my epic story of becoming a Professional Speaker. I’m also an author and business consultant and Trevor felt this is worth sharing with others.
“You have a great story,” Trevor said. “I’m sure your college would love to feature your success story in their publications.”
To hear these kind words from Trevor, who owns his own company and runs a fantastic business, was certainly humbling. He does a great job of lifting other people up and making them feel worthwhile – that’s part of what has led Trevor to where he is today.
Doing Business the Right Way
The rest of the conversation was fantastic and we talked about how we can help each other. I mentioned to Trevor that I have experienced people in the world who have criticized me (not in a constructive way, but in an insulting way) and tried to get me to buy their services before they provided value or established a friendship. I’m all for constructive feedback, but if someone is going to tear me down for no apparent reason and then quickly follow that up with asking me to pay them for something, I’m rubbed the wrong way.
“Some people are pushy,” Trevor said, “but that’s not the right way to do business.”
The right way to do business is to first provide value. Listen to someone, encourage them, and provide them with something useful. Then provide constructive feedback and ask for their business, if that’s the logical and legitimate next step. Some people operate under the business model of “if I tear you down, you will think you need my services and will therefore pay me immediately.” This is an outdated and badly misplaced business model that needs to be discarded.
The Power of Networking
As you can tell, Trevor and I had a fantastic conversation. There’s a lot more I can share with you, but as we wrap-up this discussion let’s zoom out and look at the big picture. Here are they key benefits found in the power of networking and meeting face-to-face with wonderful people such as Trevor:
- Your business influence expands as you find ways to collaborate with the people you network with
- You realize you are not the only person experiencing a certain occurrence (in my case, getting several coaches who operated by attacking me, immediately asking for my business, and then making me think there was something wrong with me for being put off by this)
- In a very practical, genuine, and action-oriented way, you feel uplifted, encouraged, and inspired
- You realize you are more connected with other people out there than you may have initially thought
- You get the honor and privilege of receiving wisdom from others (I received lots of insight and wisdom from Trevor’s years of experience)
- You learn the value of giving first, receiving second
- You shatter your doubts and train yourself to stop giving into your worries. Yes, there is the occasional bad egg, but most people want to help you
Get Out There and Network!
As someone who spent several painstaking years writing my first book, I 100% understand there are times when you need to say no to certain activities and just get stuff done. But even while I was writing my first book, I found a publisher because I put myself out there and networked. Don’t think of networking as a separate activity. Think of it as an integrated way to enhance every other aspect of your life.
The power of your network is huge. Lewis Howes says, “other than my hustle, my most important business asset is my network.” And John Lee Dumas, who featured me on his Entrepreneur on Fire podcast says, “you are the average of the five people you hang out with the most.”
They are right. I am being featured on Tiny Buddha, a community that has more than 2,000,000 people, because of another connection I made through the Hartford Springfield Speakers Network group, a wonderful woman named Cloris Kylie. This is a dream come true and only happened because I networked. There are tens of thousands of other stories out there of people who found value in networking.
This post has only scratched the surface, but hopefully has given you a glimpse into the power of networking.
Find the right balance that works for you and always remember to network. You never know who you might meet and who can help you get to the next level. Get out there and network!
See you at The Mountaintop.