Don’t miss the exclusive interview with Craig Ballantyne on how to build your network.
Based on your personal experience in the entrepreneurial world, is it more of who you know rather than what you know?
On the farm, you make friends with other farmers, and so I’m out to make a lot of friends with a lot of people. I mean like true friends. I don’t need an Ivy degree to define networking, I just want to make friends.
I want to build relationships with other people that are genuine and authentic, and from that maybe we can offer value to one another?
When you were doing your fitness business back in Turbulence Training, was that how you connected with like-minded fitness folks?
The industry that I was in really lends itself to having that friendly atmosphere and environment in the first place. Most fitness people are in that industry to go and help people.
I was just going and trying to figure out:
- How can I add value to somebody?
- How can I go to an event and get somebody to talk to me long enough?
Maybe go and have a beer with, or just do stuff that really does seem like what a friend would do, what friendly people would do, and have that … Maybe it’s like that Midwestern values that I appreciate so much that, that’s what you do.
You just go and you take care of one another, and build part of a community. The fitness community is very strong, and I really believe that this can be transferred into a lot of other communities as well.
How did you figure out what events to go to where you would get the most valuable information and relationships from the people attending?
You really need to know who you want to meet, who you need to meet, and then make sure that overlaps with your interests.
Then make sure there is a really dense number of people.
You need to figure out okay, what’s going to be my social crutch going into this. If you can be a speaker, great, it’s going to put more stress on you in certain ways, but if you’re a speaker, people are going to approach you, and you won’t have to approach them.
You go with at least one friend who is very social and can bring you into conversations, or you figure out, how can I get recognized on stage?
Did you ever get to the point where you actually had a script for what to say, and how to exchange contact information, and get what you needed quickly?
No, it became more of a, oh well, this guy’s going, I’m just going to hang out with him for a bit till I get a few other people connected. Then the pressures off, and you’re able to get into that social circle.
What did people do to engage you successfully? Can you think of anything specific that really got you out of your shell a little bit, more comfortable?
It’s the introduction, the introduction is so important, whether it’s an email introduction just on a regular intro, or whether it’s an email introduction for somebody going to a seminar, or whether it’s an in person, like you’re standing there, and you know somebody, and then you see me, and you bring me over and you say, “This is Craig, and he does this, this, and this,” rather than, “This is Craig, well I gotta go get a drink.”
How do you even begin to find those gigs, or they usually invitation-only, how does that work?
Well, I think the biggest mistake that most people make Jeff, is they think, “Well, I don’t do speaking, but I’d love to do speaking, so I’ll go to the biggest event in my industry, and try and get on stage for that.”
It’s pretty clear that with a rational mind that’s not going to happen. You gotta go and get experience speaking, you gotta go and get experience speaking in small events, you gotta be on as many podcasts as possible.
You need networking to get the position of strength as a speaker. You also need to be someone who can add value, who’s going to have a different message to share, who knows the audience really well.
I’m wondering if when you transitioned from fitness to ETR, Early to Rise, did that networking formula change, or that approach change at all?
The book was huge, absolutely, I mean the book was a game changer for me. It still would be a game changer for people, you can go out and create print on demand one copy of a book. You can just go and do print on demand, one at a time, and start shipping it out.
The book, it’s an amazing business card, that’s something that’s been known for years and years and years.
We went one step further with the Perfect Day Formula, we put it in a kit. That has allowed me to show up differently, instead of me just saying, “Hey, I want to send you a copy of my book.” I get to send them a copy of my life’s work in a box as I call it, and that just totally changes the conversation.
At what point in one’s career does it make sense to write a book? Is that something that you start working on early on to position yourself as an expert in your field? Do you have to wait a little bit to get some experience, and then write that book, and use it as a calling card?
I think it depends on what industry you’re in, and what your goal is:
- If I am a trainer, no, I’m probably not going to do a book right away.
- If I am a real estate agent, still probably not going to a book right away.
- If I’m a financial advisor, absolutely I’m going to go, and I’m going to do a book, a print on demand book that I can give to prospective clients.
Books need to be great books, but at the same time, a book needs to be looked at as not just a business card, but also as a sales letter. It’s a long, long sales letter full of great information that basically builds a friendship with you and the reader.
The reader at the end goes, “Wow, I know a lot about this person. I understand their investment philosophy, I can see how there are parallels, they would understand me. They mention some success stories in their book. I really like this person, I want to go to the next level and have a conversation with them.”
The thing with a financial advisor, is you only need to give that book out 100 times, and then you pretty much have a book of business
Do you use any of the networking sites like Meetup and Shapr, is that valuable to you at all?
I personally haven’t used Meetup for professional stuff, sometimes I look at Meetup in different cities for personal interest stuff.
I use LinkedIn, I know a lot of people, I have a lot of connections on LinkedIn. Most of my networking actually comes through Instagram, which most people might not look at as a business thing, but it’s definitely a business media to me.
Tell the listeners how you build up a profile so it attracts the right people.
Right, so what you want to do is create value on Instagram. You want to be posting only stuff that is purposeful.
Now you’re going to start to grow your influence and then creating a video that’s going to inspire somebody, or going to give them a tip that’s actually going to be beneficial.
If you’re committed to it, you can really, really make incredible progress here. Another thing that you want to do then is to create the stories and engage people in conversation and direct messaging.
The thing that I love about Instagram, is that it’s still fairly intimate in the way that you can go and connect with people who are very high up. For example, I have 11,000 followers, Ed Mylett has 600,000 followers, and it was very easy for me and him to have a conversation on Instagram because I liked and commented on his stuff.
What about LinkedIn then? If that’s been your focus at Instagram, how do you use LinkedIn for professional networking?
That’s a good question, I don’t know, I certainly haven’t developed business from it. I’ve caught up with a few people from my past where I lost touch with them through LinkedIn. We do put up good content on LinkedIn, but it hasn’t been a game changer for me in terms of business.
Where do phone calls fit in that process, or do they much anymore at all?
I’ve never been a big fan of phone calls, and I find most people are not a fan of phone calls in my social circle. Now it’s ironic that we say that because we do so much podcasting now.
I do a lot of 15 second Instagram direct message videos. You can really say a lot, and you can get that body language, a smile, a thank you, here’s what you need to do next, and all in 15 seconds.
It’s so much better than a five-minute phone call.
Have you ever done a cold call, and I use that in quotes, like just cold reached out to somebody, and would you recommend that?
It’s very rare that I will start it myself. I almost always know somebody who knows that person, and then I will say, “Hey, can you make the introduction, say this, this, and this.”
Then when that introduction is made I can say, “Hey, can I send you a copy of my book,” very formulaic, very friendly, you’re offering a gift, and so there’s really no pressure.
Do you belong to any professional groups or organizations?
I think it’s definitely related to the context of the industry. Certain industries, yeah, it’s very common for you to be on the National Speakers Association or something like that. This Dentist Association and you should really be in that because you have to be in that in order to go the annual event. That annual event is super valuable, so it really depends.
For me, I’m not personally in any professional things, because I don’t even know what profession I’m in these days. It’s difficult for me to fit myself into that box, but if there was a box that was appropriate, then I would probably go in it if everything was worthwhile for me, and for meeting the right people.
Really it sounds like you just have to weigh the possibility of getting decent contacts at the events hosted by these organizations, rather than treating membership as a credential?
Yeah, I would say so for sure. That’s definitely changed in the last 20 years, wherein the last 10 years, where everyone’s made their own celebrity and made their own status. It’s changing even more rapidly, and I would imagine everybody is more self-assigning themselves to a group, or a movement, as opposed to some type of regulating or governing body.
Do you ever worry that some of the people you’re reaching out to might see that as being too pushy or aggressive at all?
I was once referred to as a very aggressive marketer, and I took it as a very nice compliment. I look at it this way, a preacher is not going apologize for preaching Jesus, and because that’s what his mission is, and he makes no apologies for it.
If somebody truly believes in their product, whether it’s a weight loss product, whether it’s a nutritional supplement, they should be zealous about it. You know what? A lot of people need help, and if you’re not out there saying, “Hey, you know what? You should really read my book because your family life is about to crumble if you don’t get organization and better communication.”
How do you nurture that relationship? How do you stay in touch with them? How often should you be communicating just to keep it alive, even if you don’t need anything specifically from them?
I get on it right away, I’m just like, “Hey, I just wanted to follow-up and say hey thanks.” I always like, “Hey, what can I do next to move it ahead? Can I send a book? I have a print newsletter that I try and get everybody on as quickly as possible, because hey, I’ve got this really valuable print newsletter, and it’s super awesome. I want to get that into them as well, so we just get started as soon as I can.
I don’t want to lose that momentum, you don’t want them to forget about you. Again, still going with another gift for them, so let’s say well I don’t have a book, what can I do instead?
Do you have certain methods or techniques or approaches that you’d recommend for sharing gratitude?
I still love the thank you card, I think it’s a really, really great thing.
First of all, it’s a piece of direct mail, most people are not expecting anything nice in the mail. Then they get a thank you card, it’s handwritten, and if it’s written around something that is clearly specified, and not a generic thank you card that just says, “Hey thanks, I really like you.”
No, it says, “Hey thanks, here’s what I really love about you, you’re amazing, this, that, and the other thing.” I think that can really warm somebody’s heart, and build a relationship about as fast as possible without actually being in person with somebody.
That is the way that I approach things, and mentioning them, giving them public recognition is really power through the Instagram stories. Retweeting something that they’ve said, whatever you can do to pump them up while being genuine about it.
I’d love to hear what you think about today’s show. Do you think I’m a complete fool for the way I approach networking? Let me know how the advice has actually helped you build your own network. Keep me posted, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send me message on Instagram @realcraigballantyne, or Twitter @craigballantyne. I just want to thank you again for listening to Early to Rise Radio, and thank you for sharing it.
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