- If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve come across somebody at a conference or in a meeting and thought you’d love to meet that person. Or maybe you’ve read a book and thought you’d love to speak with the author one day. That’s typically where most people’s thinking stops but unless you develop that confidence to go out there and connect to these people, your competition will get ahead of you and you won’t reach your full potential.
- In this episode I’ll share three habits I’ve developed to become a power networker that will help you tap the wisdom, expertise and networks of other people.
- Number one you have to be bold. I get that you might be afraid to be bold with your requests. You might think, well, “Who am I to ask?” But if you’re not the one asking; if you don’t take that step to reach out to someone to try to connect to someone then someone else will. When I was starting out my Mexican restaurant chain Chilango, I attended a ton of conferences, with the objective of learning about the industry and meeting interesting people. At one conference, the person who’d brought Krispy Kreme donuts to the UK market was speaking. After introducing myself and building the relationship he eventually became an investor in the business.
- Number two, ask for intros. We’re living in a hyper connected world and you can ask someone else for intros and eventually find your way to the person that you’re meeting. For example I met Evan Carmichael, an incredible YouTuber with a couple of million subscribers. There wasn’t anything that I could see directly that Evan might be able to do for me, so I simply asked “Evan, do you know anybody in your network who’s a CEO that I might better connect with. He introduced me by email to a guy named Steven Kelly, the former CEO of Sage who I ended up running Wartime CEO with.
- Number three, I like to call following the trail. When you meet someone try to build the relationship with them in a long term way that will give you access to as much of their network as possible. Leave no stone unturned, never judge a book by its cover because one intro can lead to the next and if you just keep following it you’ll be surprised where it might go.
If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve come across somebody at a conference, or maybe in a meeting, and you thought, wow, if I really got to know this person, it would really help me in my career; really help propel me a bit further ahead, or maybe get somewhere a bit more quickly. Or maybe you’ve read a book and you thought, wow, this author’s amazing. I’d really love to meet that person. That’s typically where most people’s thinking stops when they meet someone who they find inspiring or they admire. And unless you really develop that confidence to go out there and connect to these people, these people who could actually present to you something which could elevate your business or your life, or take you to another level, unless you make that move and become a power networker, you’re just going to be leaving so much on the table.
Your competition will get ahead of you and you won’t reach your full potential. We can’t get to wherever it is that we want to go in life without the help of others. And it creates a network effect when you really tap into the wisdom, expertise, and even the networks of others. Hi, my name is Eric Partaker and I help CEOs, entrepreneurs, and individuals just close that gap between who they are and who they’d like to be on all dimensions, whether it’s in their business or in their life, whether it’s within their health or within their relationships. And today I want to share with you three networking power habits that I use to really get out there and meet people, connect with people who I find interesting, who could be potentially valuable. And these habits have really propelled me. And look, I wasn’t always like this.
I remember back to starting out in business, starting out in life, and I was pretty hesitant to reach out to people. If I read a book, for example, I wouldn’t even fathom the idea of getting in touch with the author. If I was at a conference or heard somebody speak, I didn’t feel too easy about reaching out and speaking with that person. But over time I developed a core set of habits that have really taken me to a completely different level. And I want to take you through each of those three things today, but then also give you some stories that illustrate exactly what I do in each of those areas, with the hope that you can apply this to your business in life and get ahead through the power of networking.
So number one, and it sounds very simple, but it is this simple – you have to be bold. I get that you might be afraid to be bold with your requests. You might think, well, who am I to ask? But look, if you’re not the one asking; if you don’t take that step to reach out to someone to try to connect to someone; someone else will. People are connecting left, right, and center all around you. And it’s up to you to make that move. And here’s the other great thing. As you practice being bold with your requests, you get stronger and more confident at it, and it becomes easier to do.
I’ll give you an example of being bold. So, what I mean is, you must always be bold with your requests. Always, always realize that there is a way to connect to just about anyone out there. I’ll give you an example with the Mexican restaurant chain that I built in the UK called Chilango. I didn’t have anybody on the investor side of things that came from any big food brands, or that could really help the business from an industry point of view, besides investors who are providing just general business advice, and pure cash. I really wanted to get some more industry people, some people from big brands. So I started to attend various food and restaurant conferences in the UK. And anytime I heard someone speak at a conference in a way that I was philosophically aligned to, that came from a brand that I respected or admired, I just made it a point to introduce myself after that speaker gave their talk during the break. I was just bold with my request.
So, I’ll give you an example. One of the people that I heard speak in the UK, this is going years back, was the person who bought Krispy Kreme, the donuts from the US to the UK market. And when he spoke at a conference, I just was really fascinated with his approach to business building and all of his advice. And after he spoke, I tracked him down during the break, and I simply introduced myself. I said, “hi, my name is Eric”. I paid him a compliment: “really, really enjoyed what you had to say earlier”. And I relayed what he had said to some of my own thoughts with my business and what I was doing with building up the restaurant chain.
And then I made my ask. I said, I’d really love to tell you a bit more about the business. I think there might be a way where we could work together on this. Could I please treat you to a lunch at one of the restaurants? Sure enough. He said, “yes”. And then shortly following that he actually became an investor and joined the advisory board of the restaurant. So I was able to not only connect to a person in a brand that I admired, but now suddenly be able to tap into that wisdom on a more regular basis. I’ll give you another example. Recently, I entered an international speaking competition. It was all held online. It was all virtual. At the end of the competition, we were all being judged and different judges came on screen to provide feedback to the various contestants, including me and a couple of the names I recognize.
One of them was Pat Flynn from the Smart Passive Income website and podcast. And another one was John Lee Dumas from the podcast Entrepreneurs on Fire. Now, I didn’t really connect much with them during the event other than hearing them deliver feedback. But afterwards, I reached out to both of them via their websites and said, “Hey, I was one of the speakers in the recent speaking contest. I was the first person to speak in the finals. I’d love to connect with you and see if there’s an opportunity for me to share my message to your audience, or perhaps a way in which we could work together”. I got emails back from someone on Pat’s team, also someone on John Lee Dumas’s team, and sure enough, I ended up going on to both of their podcasts, where I was not only able to talk a bit about my approaches to peak performance and identity-based change in productivity and antifragility, but also share a bit of my story and even had the opportunity to talk about my book The Three Alarms, which is all about identity-based change and how you can reach your highest potential.
So those are a few examples of how I was bold with my request, but I also encourage my clients to be bold with their requests to be bold and in terms of who they reach out to. One of my clients is a pretty high up executive in an equipment manufacturing company, a multibillion dollar company and he really wants to get on that next level, up the executive team. I’ve encouraged him to go ahead and email the CEO, two levels up, and just state his ambition. I’d really love to be a part of your team. I told them to write to the CEO, ask to interview him, ask to find a time where you can understand what drove his success, and how he navigated the challenges along the way, and also express your interest in how you might be able to help him with some of the ideas that you have, or any other initiatives that the CEO might have in mind that you could get involved with.
A key thing that I recommended that he do is recognize that the CEO is busy, but show your enthusiasm and so he actually said, “I recognize that you’re busy, but I’d still love to get a meeting in the calendar, even if that’s six or 12 months from today”. And just him saying that, as you can imagine, will put a smile on the CEO’s face, showing how determined he is to want to get in touch. The other thing that you can do is you can ask for introductions or ask people effectively to connect you to someone else. I was recently attending a conference and there was a particular guest speaker, an author who I really wanted to get in touch with; really wanted to connect to. So the first thing I did when I entered the event is I went up to all the people, helping out with those attending.
I said, “Could you help me please?” and the woman said, “Sure, what can I do for you?” And I said, “I really want to meet this person. Can you tell me where they’ll be sitting in the room?” A bold request, but I’m doing it by asking for, effectively, an introduction to someone else or a way to connect. And she admired the request. She said, “Yeah, actually all the guest speakers will be sitting at this table in the room”. And so what did I do? As soon as I went into the room, I looked immediately in the direction of that table. Sure enough. I saw the person I wanted to connect to and strategically placed myself standing next to the person. And then when that opportunity arrived, when he was finished speaking with another person, I stepped in, introduced myself and then made my bold requests, which resulted in us having breakfast the following morning before the second day of the event was to start. And that meeting actually led to me coming up with the name of the book that I referenced earlier, The Three Alarms. So, lots of things came together there.
I’ll give you one other example. And this goes to a recent event that I’ve done for CEOs and leaders to help them navigate the current crisis period that the world economy is in and still come out stronger as a result. I was attending a training event in Puerto Rico in January. And I met Evan Carmichael. You might have heard of Evan. He’s an incredible YouTuber, and has a couple of million subscribers. And there wasn’t anything that I could see directly that Evan might be able to do for me, but I thought he would certainly know a lot of people in his network. So I simply asked Evan, “Evan, do you know anybody in your network? Who’s a CEO that I might better connect with or develop a relationship with because my aim is to help CEOs, entrepreneurs, and leaders really develop their leadership skills and get to that next level, whatever that next level is for them”. And I was living in the UK at the time, in London. And Evan said, “I know the former CEO of Sage, which is one of the UKs largest tech companies”. And he introduced me by email to a guy named Steven Kelly. Steven and I have never met in person, but decided to collaborate on an event for CEOs to help them navigate the current crisis, and emerge stronger as a result. And it was a fantastic success. We had over 200 business leaders register for each of these two events, both of which resulted in one-on-one coaching clients for me.
So that’s an example of how you can ask someone else for intros and eventually find your way to the person that you’re meeting. So be bold with your requests, ask for intros, and then number three, I like to call following the trail. So I kind of think of this as combining it all. So this story goes back to me reading a book, influenced by a very famous book, by Robert Cialdini. And after I read that book, I thought, well, this is fantastic. I really want to get in touch with Robert and see if there’s any way that we could just connect and meet and just discuss some of the topics in his book further. Robert was, at the time, based in Arizona, and I was living in London. And so instead what Robert did was his office connected me with his business partner in the UK.
I ended up meeting this gentleman named Steve – Steve led a whole behavioral science team in the UK. And they, as a result of that meeting, ended up investing in the Mexican restaurant chain that I had created to help us from a behavioral science point of view – what’s the right way to be messaging things on our menu? What are the right scripts or things that our staff can be saying to guests when they came into the restaurant? But then in a meeting that I was having with Steve at his office, I noticed a book that he had on his shelf. And then the title of the book was Scaling Up by Verne Harnish, all about how to scale your business across the dimensions of strategy, execution, people, and cash. I was familiar with the book and with Vern as well, I noticed the book and I simply said to Steve, yeah, that’s a really great book.
And Steve said, yeah, I know Vern. And right there, I made my request. Ah, really, do you think you could introduce me to Vern? I’d really like to meet him because I really love his book. And he said, by all means, I can certainly introduce you. Steve introduced me to Vern. And then the next thing I knew, I was speaking at one of Vern’s scaling up summits. I spoke at his scaling up summit in Atlanta to over a thousand CEOs and their teams. I spoke on a scaling up summit in London, and I even ended up doing a mastermind in peak performance for all of his 100 plus scaling up coaches – all of that because I followed that trail and sorta combined it all, being bold, asking for intros – and all of these things combined in my life have really helped me reach a higher level.
Like I said earlier, you won’t reach your full potential unless you can get into that habit of networking and benefiting from the wisdom, wisdom and of others. So three main takeaways are be bold, definitely when it comes to networking, make your requests, be confident, because if you’re not doing it, someone else will. And you’ll be surprised with the responses that you get. Often, these people are more than happy to connect with you and potentially even work with you. Ask for intros, ask others who you think might be able to help you or who might have some information that could help you or connect you to someone who does, and then follow that trail. Leave no stone unturned, never judge a book by its cover. One intro can lead to the next and just keep following it. And you’ll be surprised where it might go.