PreneurCast is a marketing podcast. Each week, author and marketer Pete Williams and digital media producer Dom Goucher discuss entrepreneurship, business, internet marketing and productivity.
Dom interviews John Davy, someone who has made a living from Networking: getting out there and meeting people and building a circle of contacts to share business opportunities with. John discusses the benefits and shares tips on how you can get started.
Pete interviews John about the tips on starting your own network and the benefit of having one
Action Step: Investigate networking groups, trade shows and conferences in your market where you might meet people and grow your circle of contacts, then attend some and get networking!
Tech Tip: Consider having short-run business cards printed specifically for an event.
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Networking for Business
Dom Goucher: Welcome everybody to this week’s PreneurCast. And some of you will be glad to know but some of you will be sad to know, it’s just me this week. Pete is on his honeymoon. Congratulations to Pete. He’s out and about in some other exotic location and has left me to ‘man the store’. So this week, rather than just listen to me warble on, I’ve brought somebody in to have a chat with, and I’ll get that in a minute.
So the intro’s going to be pretty brief because Pete won’t be able to liken me to Barbie dolls and other fictional characters. Just wanted to draw your attention, as always, to our sponsors for this week. Our first sponsor is Read it for Me, the book-review service. Hopefully, by now, most of you have tried this out. But if you haven’t, please do go to ReadItFor.Me/PreneurCast, and just watch the video there that Pete and I made about the inside of their membership area.
It’s a great demonstration of the fantastic multimedia reviews that they do for business and personal development books. It’s not just a review service though; we also use it to review books that we might have read (in the various formats that we consume stuff) because their summaries are awesome, great reminders and great ways to help you remember the core piece of content from each of those books.
So pop over to ReadItFor.Me/PreneurCast. And if you sign up for the trial, you’ll get an ongoing discount as a PreneurCast listener. Just a little bit of giving back to the audience there. As I said, this week, it’s me on my own. I brought somebody in to have a chat. Now, I’ve not brought in a luminary from the internet marketing world, and I’ve not brought in, well, anybody that you’ve heard of I don’t think, because I’ve brought in one of our PreneurCast listeners.
It’s a guy called John Davy. John has been listening to the show, been in contact with us. What makes John interesting is John’s a bit of an expert on networking. Now, this is something that we really haven’t talked about so far on PreneurCast: the art of getting yourself out and about. I have been known to refer to it as being a ‘shaky-hand man’ in the past, mainly aimed at people that do it a little bit too heavy handedly.
But I’m sure we’ve all been on the receiving end of somebody networking. I’m sure we’ve all wanted to grow our network of contacts, the people who know about us and what we can do, and the people who we know. Having a chat with John offline, I’ve really picked up some great tips and some great insights into this. But John’s made pretty much a living of it. So I’m going to bring John on now and have a bit of a chat, and let’s just see what we can bring to the PreneurCast listeners in terms of how networking can help. John, thanks for joining us this week.
John Davy: Hello Dom. How are you doing?
Dom: I’m great, mate. I’m great. Obviously not as well as Pete, whichever exotic location he’s in right now. But you just got back from somewhere as well, haven’t you?
John: Yeah, I just spent a week in the very sandy spot known as Saudi Arabia.
Dom: And we’ll come back to that in a bit because that’s kind of part in parcel of what you do.
Dom: And you got there through what you do.
Dom: If I can ask you just a little bit, before we get into the nitty-gritty of networking, what’s your background?
John: Well, I guess like a lot of people, I’ve done an awful lot of things in my time. From sort of school days at various different schools through to a little bit of a career with the Metropolitan Police in London. From there, I did a little trip and went around the world for about a year and a half, and then came back. I could have either gone back into doing the police and that sort of thing, but I sort of headed off into a more sales and marketing role, and started it with a few small companies like a lot of people do.
It was sort of financial services and things like that, which was a bit awkward because it was at the start of a recession. It was a little bit like learning to drive in a Land Rover. It was a bit tricky. But it was something I liked and enjoyed, and then you learn as you’re going along. I sold car rentals. I’ve sold manila folders of files and all sorts of different bits and bobs.
Realistically, the way I’ve done it all the way through has been via what we’re discussing, which is networking and making friends with people as much as anything else. The reality is, I suppose it’s something that I’ve done really since I was a kid at school, just making friends with people is what I like doing. More recently, I’ve been working with a company that’s been quite significantly involved with the Olympic Games in London, which is happening in a few months time, and bringing forward a few contracts with them.
And then we went through a bit of a chop and a change in September last year when I pretty much set out on my own now. I’m doing a number of things, but they all really revolve around networking which is obviously how we got to start talking, Dom.
Dom: Yeah, so you kind of began to give a little bit of an introduction. But just so that we’re all on – as our American friends would say – so we’re all on the same page, to you, what is networking and why is it important to business?
John: I think it literally is as simple as making friends with people. There’s a very old adage, and some of these do hold true as you know, and the original one is people do buy off people they like. Online, it’s an interesting thing because I think it becomes a lot more generic and you don’t necessarily have to know people to communicate with them.
But as you put the old shaky hand thing, I think that’s definitely, definitely still got a place. It does make a difference if you look at somebody in the eye and literally shake their hand, and talk to them, and create that bond and relationship. It helps.
Dom: You mentioned about online there. I do think – and this is something I’m going to flag to the listeners; where you are specifically, at the moment anyway, your history is in literally being physically around people and becoming known by them and learning about them.
Dom: Which is part and parcel of networking. But there will be parts of this that I think map to the online space, and I might call that out as we go through.
Dom: But can you give me an example of a specific benefit to you or to a business of this making friends, of being known to people, or you knowing people?
John: Well, I suppose, off the top of my head and where we are right now, as you know – and I’ll explain to your listeners, I’m associated with one or two different businesses, one of which is carbon fiber technology, which realistically is starting to work now.
We’re doing some work on making it work on an online basis, but the origins of that come from about three or four years ago, which was literally meeting a guy called Tom Andrews as a byproduct of something completely different, and then keeping in touch. Not a lot of pressure in terms of us needing to do things at any one time, but developing a relationship and a friendship more critically that when the time is right.
Tom introduced this idea of this wacky carbon fiber mask thing which he thinks is going to revolutionize the telecoms industry, etc. It was quite interesting to me when I first heard about it; but I was doing the Olympic Games, so that didn’t work. But we kept talking and that’s the primary thing. You talk, you chat, you just keep in the loop of what’s going on. And as I say, in September when that time came that I wanted to make a change and do something a little bit different, he was the first person I rang.
And what do you know, he still had the opportunity and it was probably a little bit better position than it was when we originally spoke. That’s how these things happen. It’s just remembering and keeping in touch and tapping people on the shoulder all the time, on a very physical if not verbal communicative sense that helps you develop and helps you move these things forward.
Dom: So how do you meet people? How do you get in touch with people? How does it all start?
John: Well, I guess in some ways, it starts like being back at school; you’ve got to put your hand up, you’ve got to get spotted by people, and you need to put yourself in places where other people are going to be. And I suppose that in some ways, you need to be a little targeted by what your – to quote the online phraseology – your niche or your piece of business is affiliated or specializes towards.
And again, if I give the example of the Olympics, there were a number of things that – well number one, local. The London Organising Committee for the game used to set up big, what they called ‘working parties,’ for people who were interested in being involved with that organization, and that setup could go to and attend. You could even speak at some of these things as well.
If you had the nerve to go up and put yourself in the line, you could go and talk to people at these events as well, and then literally stick your hand up, ask a question. If there are people who you see who have been speaking or people who are there that you’re interested to meet, make sure you go up and shake their hand and say something to them. That’s actually scary to some people. If I’m being absolutely honest, on occasion, it’s scary to me.
You get into a room where you don’t know anybody. Well, you could leave the room in the same position or you could wander up and say, “Hello, how are you?” Sometimes, it works; sometimes, gloriously, it doesn’t. But I guess the one thing about that is once you have shaked a hand with somebody and had five minutes with them, the next time you are in the same room you know the person, and it’s that little bit easier to just go up and talk to them again.
Dom: That’s a very good point. Now I just want to pick up on a couple of things that you said there. Because I’m one of those people – and this is probably going to come as a little bit of a surprise to the listeners, because here I am talking to myself in a room somewhere in the backend of Spain. But basically, I’m putting myself out there and seem like some kind of media luminary.
But in fact, I’m quite a shy person in public and in situations where, as you put it, a roomful of people you don’t know. I find it quite difficult to just wander up to random people and go, “Hey, hi, how are you doing?” I’m always stuck for something to say or an approach. Is there anything in particular, any tips for that?
John: It happens to me. It happens to everybody. I don’t think that’s anything necessarily to be afraid of, because it can be a little bit awkward. But I think you just start somewhere. Literally, a “Hello, I’m John Davy,” or, “I’m Dom Goucher,” or I’m who I am, and this is what I do. And sometimes, it works. Sometimes, you can then extend off and responses and feedback will allow you to sort of progress along that path, which might diverse and go places, and all kinds of different things.
And other times, you’re going to get people that are going to stare you in the face and go, “You’re not very interesting.” I think at that point, there’s an element of skin of the rhino. Don’t get offended if people don’t want to talk to you. It sort of doesn’t matter. To an extent, at these events, you’ve got a fixed period of time, you’ve got a number of people in a room. I’m not going to say run around and talk to everybody, but it’s just a matter of you’ve got to be a little bit brave.
You’ve got to put a bit of a face on, and you’ve got to go up to people and just say hello. There’s no great unlocking secret here. There’s no great answer to that question, in some ways. But the positive side of it is if you do actually pluck up the courage a little bit and don’t get necessarily offended that people don’t want to talk to you, people will.
Dom: That’s a good philosophy. One thing that I actually found by accident – because in the online marketing space, there are a lot of conferences; there are a lot of people doing just general conferences or teaching conferences, and I attended a few of those in the last few years. Something that I found helped me was, as you say, you say put your hand up.
But what I did was I found, I noticed people who asked questions. If those people asked what I thought was an intelligent question, and if I thought that I could add value to the answer that; say, the person at the front had given an answer, but they’ve got limited time. If I felt I could add value to the person that put their hand up, then in the breaks, it gave me a way to approach people.
John: Absolutely, 100%. That really is a very easy way to do things. And the other – not that I’ve done it an awful lot – but I have stood up on occasions and spoke to people, and that is unbelievably brilliant because you’ve got maybe a hundred or a couple of hundred people in a room. And in some ways, they’re forced to be there or they paid to be there.
They sit and listen to what you say. But the fact that you’ve stood up on a stage if you like and read some kind of prepared piece to them, afterwards, they’ll all come up to you because they feel they know you already. They certainly know your name, and it does ease them into feeling more comfortable to talking.
But you’re absolutely right; people ask you questions, you’ve already seen somebody who’s prepared to talk, because he’s asked a question. So if you go up to him and say, “Look, that was an interesting question you asked, blah blah blah,” you’re moving on. So yeah, that’s a great little technique.
Dom: Let’s say we start a conversation somewhere, and this is really why I got you on. Because a lot of the time on PreneurCast, we talk about theoretical things, or we talk about business and growing your profits and things like that. It’s a little bit impersonal. We do talk about handling customers and dealing with customers and things like that, but it’s still to me a little bit impersonal.
What I love about what you do is it’s so personal, but it’s also so scary for people like me and I’m sure a lot of people out there. I know a lot of people go to conferences or maybe even knowledgably go to a networking event, but don’t actually do anything about it.
So what are the things, what’s your goal? What do you got to remember? If you just go to one of these events – obviously let’s make it explicit; you’ve actually got to talk to people, otherwise you’re not networking. But after that, what kind of things are you looking out for when you’re talking to people?
John: It could be anything and everything to an extent. Again, I think we’ll come back to a thing I said earlier in that I said it’s the same in everything. You’re going to go to an event that’s of interest to you. And really, it’s what do you want to do? You want to find out information; you want to find out things you don’t know that you can potentially use in the progression and the promotion of your own interests and your own business.
And it’s a bit like trade shows or conferences, they’re the same thing. You get an awful lot of like-minded people in the same room, so there’s an immense amount of value in the potential conversations you could had because you don’t know everything I know, Dom. I certainly don’t know everything you do. But chances are, if we’re sitting in a room, you might overhear other people talking about different things.
You know, there is an argument that you can just go around and listen at these events and listen to what other people are saying, and you can get a lot of value out of it. But like with everything else, I suppose it’s the more you put in, the more you get out. To an extent, I thought, and the way I do it sometimes – like I said, I’m not always comfortable at these things, I get just as scared as anybody else in some of these environments, certainly when you think people are playing above your field of where you are, then it does get a little bit scary.
But I don’t think I’ve ever been to an occasion where I can’t put a sort of persona on of, “Right, I am John Davy. But maybe I’m now John Davy at a conference or at a seminar,” and I just put a little bit of a shell around me that isn’t going to be offended if people aren’t necessarily interested in what I’m going to say.
And you just get to that point of possibly in some ways playing a little bit of a numbers game, and just talk to one or two people, talk to three, talk to four, pop around, shake a hand. If they don’t talk to you, somebody next door. If you don’t want to do it, stand or listen. As I say, you can gain other things in different ways.
Dom: That’s, again, a good perspective on it. The big thing, people have stereotypes in their mind. The stereotype of networking is, as I jokingly said, and please don’t take offense, but this shaky-hand man; the guy who runs around the room, runs up to you, shakes your hand, forces a business card on you, and almost leaves you in a bewildered state. And that’s not a good thing to do. That’s not going to benefit you, is it, really?
John: There’s different ways of doing everything, and look, yes, I’ve experienced that and seen it on a number of occasions. They’re like automaton machines. It’s a bit like Terminator coming ‘round and you see this blur flying around with somebody and they come up and they say, “Hello. How are you? Who are you?” And you tell them, and by the time you said “Who are you?” they’ve given you a card and they’re gone.
And I personally, I don’t really see the value in that. I don’t see how they can take it onboard, but people do that. It’s just there’s all sort of different ways that people can do things, and that is one of them which I wouldn’t necessarily adhere to myself or recommend in a lot of cases because it does wind people up as well. It’s a bit like spamming.
Dom: Yeah. I think there is a correlation here, between the online world and the offline, real world as it were. And that is to me anyway, it’s about adding value. You said from your point of view what you want to get is knowledge of people out there that may be useful to your business or information that may be useful to your business in the future. If you think about it like this, I’m sure if you’re out there looking for that, other people are out there looking for that as well.
So maybe you can speak to this. But in my mind, if when, like my example of answering somebody who’s already asked a question; if you can take yourself up to that person and add value by saying, “Hey, here’s an extra piece of information about your question,” or, “I’ve got some experience in that field,” or whatever, to me, that is a more positive step towards building that relationship. Because the thing is that you’re not just after information, you really are after building a relationship with these people.
John: And you’re showing an interest in them.
John: Which is one of the best ways you can get something in return from somebody, is to actually be interested in what they do and their physical specific interest that they have. I think that, as you well know with me, the online side of this is sort of a relatively recent thing. But as a networking individual, the tools that the internet provides are utterly incredible for helping you with this process.
I think what I’m coming to is like putting together the tools that you have in the likes of Twitter and Facebook, and all these different things, but then using them in your physical touch, handshake element to what you do. An example might be of that is if you are going to a conference and you know who the speakers are going to be, or there’s an exhibitor list. It’s so easy nowadays to go onto Twitter and do some research and build a list of a specific number of people at a conference.
So you already know them before you go. That gives you certain advantages if you like in terms of the fact that if there’s somebody you’re specifically interested in and they’re tweeting about stuff, well that sort of gives you another solution of what you just said, that you can walk up to this person and talk to them about something that they’re already interested in, what kind of a head start does that give you?
Dom: That’s brilliant. I mean, that’s literally, that was the next question I had for you, was, it was, “If for example you go to a conference or an event and you know somebody that you’re interested in talking to, how would you approach that person?” Again, it’s interesting to look at things from both sides of the coin. It’s one thing to sit at the back of a room, see somebody put their hand up and ask a question, and you approach that person in the break.
But you gave the example of a great thing to let people talk to you is to be the guy who stood on the stage. But being the guy who sat at the back of the room, looking at the guy who stood on the stage, that’s quite a big mountain to climb. Quite a few great little tips all in one go, to use the online resources that are available to us and have to do some research to find out what that person’s been talking about, what they’re interested in, and then that gives you the opening line, especially again if you can add value.
John: There’s one other thing that just pops in my head so I’m going to say it. When I was in Saudi, I was in a conference over there and I was a bit bored because nothing was going on, and I got on my apps thing and found this thing. I don’t know if you’ve heard about it, but it’s called Sonar. It basically links into everybody who’s on a Twitter account and stuff that’s in the room, and comes up with all their details.
So what I said before about you can research on Twitter, well you can actually do that when you’re sitting in the room, because it just beacons in what everybody who is around you who’s registered on Twitter or Facebook or whatever, and it tells you all about them. I’ll just chuck that in there.
Dom: Wow. That’s pretty scary, but an example of the power of technology. And very often it is just that one little thing that can break the ice, that can give you an introduction, an opening line.
John: Anything that can give you an advantage really, isn’t it?
Dom: Yeah, anything that can get you over that initial fear. So let’s just break out these very specific examples for a second about how you do it, and let’s get back to why. Can you give us an example of how you knowing one person and then meeting another person, let’s say, has allowed you to build and kind of grow your network? And if it happened to just include the very exotic location of Saudi, Saudi Arabia, then that would be a great example.
John: Yeah. Well, that all originated out of one phone call that came in. I have no idea who gave him the number and why, but I was sitting outside a pub in Tetbury called The Snooty Fox. This phone goes off and there’s a guy at the end of the phone called Jo Otayek who I’ve never spoke to before in my life. He just wanted to chat and he was talking about an event called the Race of Champions, which you may have heard, but I’ll just give a brief explanation.
They build a motorsport circuit in a stadium. In the case I was involved in, we did it in Wembley Stadium in London. The likes of Michael Schumacher come and race around, and they end up with a champion at the end of the night. It’s a very popular event. This guy was in Saudi and he worked for Red Bull. He also was moved onto a company called Sela Sport over there. They wanted to look at staging the event over there and apparently, I was the expert at doing it.
So we had a chat, and the next thing that happens is I always tend to – when you finish a conversation, one of the most important things to do is follow up on it and do something. To quote one of your phrases, “do an action point on it.” In this case, I did what everybody did and Googled up the company he was working with. The first thing I found was that they sponsored the Saudi National Team for some inordinate amount of money.
He definitely had my attention at that point, and look, I did my best to cultivate him, give him the information that he needed to help him make a decision, and invited him to come and see a trade show that we were doing over in the UK, which he did. We had a couple of days together then, so you develop the relationship. We got on, we were at least acquainted, if not getting near to being not necessarily friends, but we were certainly well-acquainted.
At the end of that two-day period – this is about three or four years ago, we just had a conversation about, “Well, look, you’re here, I’m there. We need something on occasions and you need something on occasions. Why don’t we act as eyes and ears for each other in our relative countries?” From that little acorn has sprung this business which I now have, I can say international facilities and sourcing, which is literally about facilitating and sourcing products for people in different places.
It relies entirely on networks of people. So for example Jo might ring me up and say, – well, I’ll give you the example. The first bit of business we did, he wanted a 1989 Lamborghini clutch for a Lamborghini ’89 Countach. He said, “Can you find us one?” And I did. We sold it for, I don’t know, US$6,500. So the sale number 1 of my business was a Lamborghini secondhand clutch going to Saudi Arabia.
That came out of one phone call outside a pub. And then tapping on the shoulder, keeping in touch, giving the information that people need, not asking anything particularly of them, but waiting for that opportunity to actually act on something and do something that can generate a little bit of business for you. That business last year, by the way, just to let you know, turned over about half a million dollars.
Dom: And all based upon networking.
John: Yeah, exactly that. From my backroom, from my office, from my bedroom.
Dom: It’s a great example. I am aware of that and many other examples. You and I have talked about this offline, and that’s really why I’ve got you on the call, because you really are the embodiment of the power of networking. To kind of just bring this back together into one place, really networking is about first of all meeting people in one way or another, and letting those people know what you can do, what is your core competency or what your business is about, what you’re good at, that kind of thing.
And finding out about them, and then maintaining the relationship, maintaining contact with them, so that over time if you’re aware of something that’s of interest or benefit to them in their business, you can basically give them a referral. And if they’re aware of something that’s relevant to you, you’ll get one back. It’s a mutual thing, yeah?
John: Exactly that, yes.
Dom: Picking that apart, we talked about meeting people, we talked about why you might want to do it. What about staying in contact? What kind of things do you do to stay in contact with people?
John: Well, that’s where, to an extent, the social media stuff comes in. I’m old enough in the tooth to remember when it was a notebook and a Filofax and that kind of stuff. Obviously, we’ve changed substantially since then and you can keep in contact with people all over the world very, very easily. To me, that’s exactly where the internet comes into play. But also, the other thing is verbal and physical communication.
I tend to be one of those people that even in my social life, I’m the bloke that always rings up and says, “Bet you want to go out and have a beer.” Whereas, I’m sure there’s a lot of people that would sit in a little cocoon in places and never ever go out unless somebody actually rung them up and asked them. I mean, it seems like most of my mates are like that to be absolutely honest. But I’m the bloke that will always ring up, and I’ll do that in business.
A mate of mine used to say it’s like the Rolodex, and you have this list of people you’re in touch with. Nowadays, your Rolodex’s your mobile phone. So it’s all your address directories and your contact numbers. What happens to me is I’m driving along and I’m bored, so I just ring people. It might just be ringing them to say, “Hello, how you doing? What’s going on?” Nothing more than that, talk about football, talk about anything that you want, it doesn’t matter. But every now and then, you ring them.
Either you might have a point or they might have a point. But if you don’t talk to them, they don’t talk to you. And to me, that’s where the’ workflow,’ to quote again the online phrase, comes in that you’ve got to keep just gently tapping people on the shoulder. They need to know you’re still there. And that’s about maintenance and then in some ways development of that relationship that you care about them, you’re interested in them, you do keep ringing them.
Dom: Great, great. And that, to me, does map to the online world and the less direct contact you talked about right at the beginning, the opportunities the new technologies are bringing us. Because, for example, this podcast is a way that I let people know, and Pete lets people know, what the topics that we’re interested in, what we’re up to right now, and what we’re good at.
John: And it humanizes what you’re doing.
Dom: And it humanizes what we’re doing. Just like blogging.
Dom: Blogging is a great way to let people know. And if you’re in a more structured business or you’ve got a bit more of a client base, maybe you’ve even been sending out emails with an autoresponder sequence to just keep people up-to-date with what’s going on in your business. It’s a great way to just keep in touch with a lot of people. It’s slightly more impersonal but it just makes sure everybody gets some idea of what’s going on.
John: You can just come back to it, if you like, a balance then of what you’re going to do. Because there’s a lot of, to me, there’s a lot of my sort of interest in the online thing comes partly based out of the idea that everything’s dictating down that digital path, and you don’t almost have to talk to people. Well, what I say is well, yeah, to an extent you’re right, but you do have to talk to people, you do have to communicate and physically keep in touch with people to make the absolute best and the optimum approach to what you’re doing.
Dom: I agree. I mean, despite being heavily involved in the online world at the end of the day, and my clients will attest to this, the first thing that happens, I get referrals, in fact my entire business is referral-based.
John: Which is why we’re talking. I mean, that’s exactly how we came together, was because of a physical relationship that I have with somebody else who you know who said go and talk to this guy. That’s so important, that people – and it’s developing trust.
Dom: Yeah, especially for the kind of services that my company offers. You know, I’ve got something to sell, it’s quite a specialist service. It’s quite high-end, and the people that I work with, I want to get on with them, I have long-term ongoing relationships with my clients. So getting those clients through referrals is a great way for me to do that. But in order to do that, in order for people to refer the right people to me, I need to get out there to my existing client base and talk to them and let them know what kind of clients I want and what kind of services I offer.
Because if people aren’t aware of what you do, they can’t tell anybody else, and that to me is one of these core things about what we’re talking about here. Is wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, whether it’s you’ve gone to a conference or you’re at one of these networking events, whether it’s a networking breakfast or a huge event or whether you’re online and just talking about things, to me, it’s really core that you’ve got your story sorted out.
John: Yep, you’re absolutely right. And what that does is it develops and it allows people to trust you. And the best way that people can trust you is by being in touch with you on all manner of levels. But probably the best one is when they can shake you in the hand and stare you in the eye. All those sensory perceptions that people make their minds up on things really comes into focus, I think, when you’re standing in the same room and you’re physically talking with somebody.
That whole history of your life is about how you closet and put things in a box, and sometimes you get it wrong and sometimes you get it right. But as you go through life, your ability to assess people and see if you’re going to get on with people, see if they’re going to become your friends, on the whole, takes place when you’re physically in a room with them.
Dom: And I think you made a good point indirectly there which is the more you do this, the easier it gets.
John: You’re right there. Absolutely. Some people are naturally shy. And you said yourself, you probably wouldn’t believe that I’m shy but there are occasions when I am. What I’d like to get out to people about that is look, it’s not an uncommon thing. Don’t be embarrassed about it because we all get it in one form or another.
Especially when you’re out of your comfort zone, of people you work with on whatever level or you’re not in an industry you understand; it becomes a little bit more difficult. But the one thing it does, if you do talk to people, if you do take that brave step and just dip your toe in the water, it gets easier every time.
Dom: Yeah. I can absolutely attest to this. The first conference I went to, I don’t think that I really came away from it with very much at all. And then the next time – the two things that helped me was: looking for those people who asked the questions and seeing if I could add value, and the other one was just being ready with, again, what’s referred to in other circles, it was an elevator pitch.
It’s not really an elevator pitch, it’s just being able to succinctly tell people who you are and what you do. Here’s a thing. I probably haven’t told you this, but because of my very varied background, I know a lot about lots of different things including print. And I came across two things that have helped me a lot. One of them is something from Pete’s world. Pete talks about a service called Send Out Cards.
We talked a lot, in this call, about physical contact and doing things physically. Pete uses Send Out Cards, which is an online digital card printing service. They’re like greeting cards; to order cards that are bespoke, that are customized to the person you’re sending it to. So they’re each printed individually for the people. There’s other services out there that do it in different parts of the world, but Pete uses it to regularly keep in contact with people. If you remember somebody’s birthday, for example.
Dom: So that’s a way of following up, because one of the points you made was follow up with people.
John: Yeah. I mean, it’s hugely important.
Dom: Yeah, hugely important. And different ways of doing it, including making yourself stand out by sending a card rather than the standard email which can be a little bit impersonal. But on the upfront side, I had another thing that I worked out, based on a similar system. There’s a service out there that I use – and I’ll put a link to all this in the show notes.
These people will print a hundred cards for a very reasonable price. A hundred business cards, and they’ve got a couple of distinctive shapes. Some of them are smaller, some of them are rounded corners. But when you have a service that can print you 100 cards for a reasonable price, you get to the point where you could actually have cards made for a particular event.
And I did this a couple of times. I actually had a card which had my brand information and my general kind of message on the front. But on the back, I actually wrote a little kind of witty passage that was specific to the event. I wrote something like, “I went to the Manchester conference in August 2011, and I met this guy called Dom Goucher. He knows a lot about podcasting, and online marketing, and digital video. I should give him a call on this number or I should send him an email on this address.”
It basically encapsulates all in one little thing everything that you want to achieve by talking to people. It gives them that little reminder that they can take away. So rather than just having a standard business card that says, “John Davy, International Facilities, etc., etc,” which might tell them what you do in a vague way, but it doesn’t really give them all the information that you want them to have. You can, very cheaply and easily, get these things done that you can just hand out. It’s a little CV, a little resume for you.
John: Especially if you’re at a trade show or anything like that, or a specific conference. If you can make it bespoke to that place and they’ll remember the conference and they’ll remember you being part of it, sounds like a cracking idea.
Dom: Yeah. And that again worked for me also as a talking point. If you feel the conversation slowing down, because you talked about that, the one thing I don’t have is that rhino skin. If I started talking to somebody and the whole room goes quiet and a tumbleweed whistles past…
John: Yeah, never good. Never good.
Dom: Never good. I still haven’t mastered the art of shuffling away quietly.
John: I have, you see. Look, you can’t help it. Sometimes that happens. And you also find on the outside of that, there are a lot of people who feel the same way as you. And the fact that you actually just take the time to say hello, nine times out of 10, it’s an ice breaker and it lets you develop and go. You know, it’s not all bad for sure.
Dom: That’s a good point that you made there though. That if you were in a room full of people and you don’t know anybody, just think that maybe nobody else does either. As you said earlier, especially if you go to a conference or an event that’s focused on a particular topic or niche, you do have something in common with those people. It’s that niche, it’s that topic, it’s whatever you’ve gone to the conference about. There’s definitely got to be something you have in coming, because you’re in the same room.
John: Exactly right. And they’re all there to do what you’re hoping to do.
Dom: Yeah. So we’re getting close to time, it’s been a great chat. I’ve picked up some tips and it’s a great perspective to hear that somebody who does this for a living and is very successful at it still has the same problems that the rest of us have.
John: We’re all human.
Dom: We’re all human, yeah. Last time I looked, anyway. Although Pete, I’m not so sure about because that guy’s just got energy coming out of his ears. Have you got like a top five tips for somebody getting started or who wants to start using networking, be a more effective networker?
John: Yeah. The basic premise is put your brave face on and stick your hand up if you can. Because you’ve got this opportunity and this room full of people that are doing what you’re doing. If you can stick your hand up, you’ve got a chance you’re going to go somewhere. And the other thing is, there’s a number of little things like taking your time. What this is not about is getting introduced to somebody and doing the speed-dating, speed-network thing of introduce, and try and sell to somebody immediately.
If you take time to smell the roses and really listen to people and show an interest in what they’re doing, then you’re going to do a little bit better than you might if you didn’t. That’s pretty important. Again, coming back to the point of following up, once you’ve made all that effort and you’ve got brave and you’ve spoken to somebody and you’ve done that first bit and go over it, well, don’t forget them. Don’t leave them and let them forget you. Just keep in their minds.
You don’t have to be in their faces all the time, but just drop them a line. As you say, give them that card that you developed for the event and just keep them in your head. Then just keep gently tapping them on the shoulder. The one thing that I’ve found recently and I think is a massive tool for that human element of networking is the social tools you can get to do.
The Twitters, the Facebooks, the various things people allow and publish so many things about themselves that you would never have known about just a few years ago. So it’s just about bringing in all these little tools in together that can help you with these networking events, and maybe doing a little bit of advanced research before you go somewhere never hurts as well. So four or five things there hopefully that people might find a bit of use to them.
Dom: That’s great John. I love the summary, I do like it. One of the reasons that I asked you to come on the call is that you do strongly believe that it’s a mutual thing, that as you say, you need to listen to people. You don’t need to walk straight up to them and expect something to happen or for you to get something from them immediately.
John: I think that’s vital because nobody likes – people buy because they want to buy from you. I’m sorry; just let me get a phrase that works. You can either sell something to somebody, or you can get them mentally to want to buy from you. And I think that latter one is the best thing to do. How you do that is you don’t actually go out and do your double-glazing salesman, and try and tie him into a corner and do something. You want to become their friend. You want to become their friend who’s interesting to them partly because you’ve got something to offer.
Dom: Yeah. As we can both attest, you’ve built an entire business on networking over your career, which is a very successful business. My business, my media production business, is successful by and large thanks to my network of clients who have made referrals and suggested me and my services to their friends and colleagues. I haven’t actually actively gone out there and asked for the referral, I’ve got that referral through having done a good job and through having made clear the services that I offer; and the people can refer their friends and colleagues to me, just like you.
John: That’s because you’re Dom Goucher. You are Dom who has this talent of doing things at high-end production of various things. But people know you. It’s not like you’re ATA Video Services or something like that, you’re a person.
Dom: And that’s a really good point actually. Yeah, that’s a really good point. It is me. It’s not my business that’s getting the referral, it is that personal aspect of it. And that’s quite important to remember. And I think that’s a great place to wrap all this up, John. I really appreciate your time. I know you’re a busy guy, flying all over the world, so it’s not been that different from having Pete on the call, really.
John: Well, just thanks very much for inviting me on because it’s been a great pleasure. I hope we can do it again sometime, that would be great.
Dom: Yeah, that’s great. Now before we go, you said that you were just getting started in the online space. Is there a way online that people can find you and find out more about you?
John: Funnily enough, there is. We have a website called BizNetworkGuy.com. That’s in its early infancy days, but it’s going to hopefully add a bit of online content and tips and suggestions. I’d like it to be, again, the networking thing is going to be great if we can persuade people to feed back into it and come up with their own ideas and their own experiences, and it’s a little bit holistic hopefully in that approach.
If you visit that site, there are a couple of other things that I’m running at the moment which is a little bit more on the tangible business fronts. So you can get a sense of what I’m doing in different areas like the Middle East and the stuff there. There’s a carbon fiber technology system that we’re doing some work with, and you’ll be able to find links to those things there. But the networking hub, the real bit of what my ethos, life is about is BizNetworkGuy.
Dom: That’s great. Hopefully, people pop over. I’ve put a link to that in the show notes. People can pop over and visit it. But you’re more than welcome, thank you very much for your time, John. Well, hopefully, you’ll tap me on the shoulder later on in the year and let me know how you’re getting on.
John: I won’t be worrying about that too much. Cheers.
Dom: Cheers, John.
John: Thank you.
Dom: OK folks, that was John Davy, Biz Network Guy at BizNetworkGuy.com, really appreciate John popping on. As I said, it was interesting for me to get a little personal side to things, a little bit more direct, hands-on. Because in business, you do come across people that you meet, wherever they are. My one tip to add to something that John said is be on the lookout, have it in your mind, be on the lookout for people who might be interesting or useful additions to your network of people.
You should always be open to people. You should always have a chat with people who you meet and be friendly. It’s not about, “Ooh, what can they do for me?” which is kind of the wrong attitude, as John said. It’s just about getting yourself known. But my summary of that is, as John says, put your hand up, get yourself out there. So before we close, I just talk about our second sponsor, not our last sponsor.
Audible Books, a fantastic service for listening to content which is a great way to consume it. And like with Read It For Me, we’ve got a deal for you, a free trial. If you head to AudibleTrial.com/PreneurCast, you can get access to a free trial and a free download of any one of the books from their library of over 100,000 titles that you can download and listen to on your portable audio playing device. I do recommend you do that, a little bit of a bonus for being a PreneurCast listener there.
I’m going to wrap it up because we’re getting to time. Thanks, everybody, for listening just to me and to John; and thanks for coming, John. Next week, we’ll see how Pete recovers from his honeymoon. It could be another grab bag surprise episode. If you’ve got any ideas, just in the same way that John dropped us a line and let us know what he’s about, drop us a line at preneurcast [at] preneurgroup [dot] com, and let us know if there’s something you want to hear more about.
If there’s somebody who you’d like us to try and get as an interview, or if you think that you would like to be interviewed on the show, if you’ve got something interesting to add to the audience, because this is an audience driven show. We love your feedback on the site over at PremeurMedia.tv, and on the iTunes, we love to get reviews there. So that’s it from me, on my own, and see you next week.
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