Back by popular demand, I'm bringing back this post, and adding new things I've learnt a long the way, 6 months later. Hope you like it!
Before writing this post, I scrolled my way through my Instagram feed to look at what I was up to this time last year and was in awe of the stark contrast with my reality today:
This was me on my 1 1/2 hour commute to work waiting with thousands of other commuters, for a train I could actually fit in.
Now? I’m writing this from my beautiful office in sunny Portugal with my 2 designers & 2 developers working besides me, brand new apple mac computers and even an 8th floor view of the city. (pinch me please!) Oh and for the cherry on top of the cake - we just hit 6 figures last week, 10 months into our business!
In Bschool (the online course that launched me into the entrepreneurial world), Marie Forleo encourages us to reach out to an influencer, advice I also later received in Chris Ducker's mastermind in London - so I decided I had to take action. I decided to take this advice & reached out to Selena Soo after I listened to her interview on entrepreneur on fire, and was inspired by her story of genuine networking. After all, I kept seeing pictures of her with Marie, Danielle LaPorte, Ramit Sethi and many others – and she was only in her second year of her business. I figured if I was to learn how to reach out to even bigger influencers it would be from her.
I took the advice she gave in the interview – I was genuine, didn’t have an agenda and sent a quick and short e-mail picking up on one of the tips she had given, and letting her know how much difference implementing it had made.
Next thing I knew, I was on a plane to NY to go spend the week helping her with her mastermind and getting the chance to meet Lewis Howes, Derek Halpern, Ramit Sethi, The Simple Green Smoothie ladies and many, many more great entrepreneurs I used to admire from afar.
Under the mentoring of Selena, I was given all the tools I needed to turn these acquaintances from "that volunteer girl that was helping Selena at her house" to strong working relationships. She helped me draft the right follow up e-mails, how and when to ask about the possibility of working with these influencers, and even how to approach new ones that I haven't yet met.
Joana's the only designer I hired a second time. And there will soon be a third, fourth, fifth and more.
- Derek Halpern, founder of Social Triggers
To my pleasant surprise, Selena shared this entire story on Chris Ducker's New Business Podcast. I was in near tears of gratitude when I found myself listening to two of my all time favourite entrepreneurs talk about me for over 10 mins in a Podcast. Hearing it from them first hand will probably be better than me telling the story and hopefully illustrate the power of genuine networking. It is also filled with golden nuggets so I strongly recommend you listen to it. :) (Oh and if you like to listen to some amazing business advise - subscribe to Chris's Podcast! I can't get enough of it!)
1. Only reach out if you have something worthwhile saying!
In the past when I reached out to Selena, Marie Forleo or Derek Halpern I always waited until I had something valuable for them to hear (and always got a reply). Of course we all love these entrepreneurs and it’s easy to send an e-mail “Omg, I love your work. It has changed my life.” But chances are, that e-mail will go un-replied to. Can you relate?
So what do I mean by something valuable for them to hear? Well, these entrepreneurs are ambitious and always want to push their craft to the next level, so give them some positive feedback they can use for a case study, testimonial or for themselves to have the reassurance that what they are teaching is making a difference. With Selena for example, I let her know how her that I had applied one of her techniques from her newsletter and that had helped me quit my job. Then asked a quick question about a new tip of hers and got a conversation started. After that, our relationship grew organically.
2. Respect their time
If you are reaching out to these top people, chances are their time is very limited. Help save them time. Don’t send long essays. After I had met Derek at Selena’s party, he asked for me to send him some of my work. At the time, all I had was a long PDF with sales slides about me, my work process and my prices but I put myself in Derek’s shoes and thought – he won’t have time to read all this. I selected only 3 projects which I thought would be of interest to him, and on the last slide opened it to a chat if he wanted to know anything else.
3. Add that special touch
For Christmas, instead of sending out a mass mail to all my list, I design and get printed beautiful letterpress cards and mail them out to my clients and my favourite influencers. This gives that extra touch and keeps me on top of their mind. They don’t always reply, but they start to recognise my logo and my name, and I’ve noticed, have began to interact more with me on facebook after I’ve done that.
4. Invest in conferences:
In April of this year I invested 5,000$ to go to Chris Ducker's Tropical Think Tank (at time of writing there are only 3 tickets left for 2016). For someone in her first year of business, this is a big scary investment. "How can you guarantee return on investment?" people asked.
I betted on this conference for several reasons, it's location being an obvious one, the value I get from Chris being another important one, but I think what sold it was the intimacy of it. 50 attendees, 9 influencers, all in the same resort day and night. I knew I was going to have enough time to form great relationships, and that was exactly what happened.
I'll tell you this again: I didn't go into conversations with an agenda! Everyone can sniff that, and they will most likely drift away. I found common hobbies to talk about, funny stories, showed interest in learning more about the other person. I made some of my now closest friends there, had the most fun I've had in a while talking to some really great people and until a few months later, couldn't really give you proof of how these relationships were beneficial to my business because I didn't really sell to anyone.
5. Make a solid effort to keep in touch.
This is a tricky one I'm still struggling with, but good news, there's an app for that! The best resource for this is to go to Matthew Kimberley's website (a tropical think tank speaker, soon to be rebranded by us so keep posted!) and get his freebie on how to generate new clients also through networking. It's an amazing resource and has really taken my networking to the next level.
Nevertheless, I can say it's working as I just spent the last 10 days in NYC seeing some of the TTT speakers again and getting introduced to other amazing influencers by them.
Just remember, keep it genuine, and don't force a relationship no matter how beneficial you think that influencer will be to your business. You'll be surprised you were wrong.
These might seem small but have made the world of difference to my company’s growth. It helped me to slowly (notice I italicised that word – don’t be impatient about this) grow my relationship with these entrepreneurs and keep me at the top of their mind as the go to person for graphic design.
Now when it came to actually turning these connections into clients – that was Selena’s work! I’ve been a student of Selena for the past 8 months, and what she has taught me is priceless. Now she will be teaching all of her top tips in her new online course INFLUENCE. If you too want to take your business to the next level through networking with top influencers and be seen as the expert in your field, then I recommend you check it out:
Since taking the course Influence last year, I can let you know that the people I met on that conference, whether directly or indirectly, helped me generate multiple 5 figures per month. As you can see, you don't need to be a speaker to monetarily benefit from conferences, you just need to make strong connections when you're there.
Needless to say I signed up for the next year's Tropical Think Tank then and there and now make an effort to travel to cities where my new connections are to keep this relationships strong and make new ones. What a fun way to keep your business running, whilst really enriching your personal life right? And after all, they do say you're the average of the 5 people you spend time with the most.
So what are you waiting for? Click below to sign up to Selena's webinar on Monday 4th of October. :)