Years ago one of my friends moved to San Francisco to form a tech start up.
I was both proud of him, and excited for him.
A little over a year after he left, I ended up following him with my own new company. Yes, the Revolutionary Club was born!
We had drinks, and one of the first things he said to me was this: “I’m so excited we can finally talk!”
And I said: “What do you mean? We talk all the time.”
And he said: “If you haven’t been an entrepreneur, you just don’t get it. Now you get it. Now we can finally talk about business.”
That conversation always stuck with me because he was (and is) so right. Once you take the plunge into owning your own business things CHANGE. It’s scary, difficult, hard, stress-inducing, and as supportive as your friends and family are (and I hope that they are!), they just don’t get it until they have done it themselves.
So I believe that one of the most important things that YOU can do as a business owner is to get the right people around you at the right time. People who get it and can mentally support you.
People who have ideas and advice because they’ve done it too.
People who can give you a pep talk because they have walked in your shoes and they can tell you its possible when you start to doubt yourself and your skills.
These people can help your business succeed exponentially. They can be the difference between sinking or swimming as a coach/entrepreneur.
How do you connect with these magical people (without being annoying or feeling weird?)
I’ve got some great concrete ideas for you on how to find these people (and what to ask them) in this free guide, so I’d start here.
Once you know how to find these people, and what to ask, the big question is: “How do I actually connect with them?”
To help you, I have another story!
Often times people see one of these interviews, and then want to connect with me more personally to learn more about business or ask me questions about how I got to where I am today.
I love it when people want to connect with me or join my community! Yay!
But you know what I don’t love? The way in which many choose to do it.
For example, the one thing that many people think to do is friend me on Facebook.
THIS DRIVES ME INSANE.
I don’t want to be friends on Facebook with random strangers I don’t know. Please don’t ask me to deal with random picnic photos or cat updates in my newsfeed.
I know, it’s seems like such a small thing but…
…here’s why I’m all hot and bothered: I’m a public person because I have a business. That means that I have many public channels with which to connect. These public forums require a lot of my time, and my team’s time, to maintain and manage, but we do it cheerfully because we love people.
However, that leaves me little time or space for my personal channels that I save for friends and family, and I want those to be a non-business space (instead of one filled with random strangers).
So for those people who found the Revolutionary Club and Coach Pony or saw an interview and decided they wanted to connect further with me, they have many options: From liking or following either of my business pages on Facebook, joining my email community by going to any page on either of my websites, joining my free FB groups, or following me on LinkedIn (Pro tip: Always write a personal connection request if you want any hope of a response or connection), or they can follow me on Twitter.
See – options! 🙂
Bottom Line: 5 minutes of research can make starting a business relationship so much easier
I’m not sharing this story to make anyone feel bad or try and make me look good, that’s definitely not my intent. We all know that I’m a couch loving, nacho-eating machine, I’m not special.
BUT, I do want you, or anyone looking to connect with business mentors or influencers, to get used to doing the research on people BEFORE you connect with them, so you know the best way to make that connection. When you give someone your time first, they are so much more likely to respond in kind.
Check out their website, review their contact page, and of course, use social media :).
As you know, social media is the best for those of us who love our couches. It’s such a great way to start building a relationship and getting to know business mentors from afar.
I’ve gotten to know people in my community really well over social media. People engage me in my groups or on my business page or my LinkedIn feed, and I’m happy to get to know them better. Some have even joined my team that way :).
Things that have worked to get my attention:
1) People commenting regularly on my LinkedIn posts. You may think I don’t know – but me (and my team) oh, we notice!
2) Commenting in my FB groups. People who engage often and with a positive approach grab my attention and I’m likely to remember them and be willing to go to bat for them further.
3) People who buy my products and then reach out. If you’ve invested in something I have to offer, I’m much more likely to give my time to you later because I know you are serious. There are plenty of people out there who take before they give, and I don’t want to waste my time on them (because I don’t think they value it).
4) Writing a great personal note on LinkedIn. So few people do, so the ones that do stand out!
I still use social media to connect with my own business heroes
When I first arrived in San Francisco and was building my business, I used Twitter to connect with influencers and people I admired in the online business world.
I followed them, learned about them, did a little business Twitter flirting, and over time got to know them better – and ultimately ended up meeting many of them in person (which was amazing!).
When I built my Networking Masterclass, I also used my skills as a testing ground for the training – and as a part of that process I connected with both Vicki from the Real Housewives (that was both fun and random!) and Amy Cuddy (of the famous TED talk on body language). All I did was what I described above: I researched them, used their preferred social media channels, and then just reached out in a sincere yet genuinely excited way.
Don’t be afraid of traveling because hugs are awesome
I took a few years off of in-person networking when I bought my house. I was working on a few big projects and I accidentally became a hermit.
But now I’m getting back out in the world and I recognize that I’ve fallen behind in my in-person connections.
So to that end I’m attending a few conferences this fall in an effort to better connect with some of my informal business mentors. (I say informal because they don’t know me, but I’ve been following them for years because I’m a stalker :)).
I’m also using that time to connect with coaching friends and peers, because that mental support is priceless.
NOTHING replaces that personal connection because 90% of how we communicate is through body language, which makes any personal interaction immediately far deeper and richer than an email or a social media comment.
And, anyone attending a conference is basically signaling: “Hey, I’m open to meeting people and networking” which makes conferences an awesome channel to use to connect with fellow business owners.
So before I head to the conference this week, I’ll be doing some research and making a list of people I want to be sure to spend time with. Some I’ve “met” online, some I’ve met in person and want to deepen our connection, and some I’ve never met but secretly want to hug because they are so awesome :).
Before I connect with these people on my list, I’ll make sure to spend a couple of minutes checking out their social media feeds and seeing what they’ve been up to so I’m better prepared to chat.
What about people who aren’t public figures?
Well, if you are a coach who is building a business, almost everyone you will want to connect with as a potential mentor is also in business. That means that 98% of them will have some sort of “public” presence that you can find.
But if you do have someone in mind who doesn’t, then go back to basics. Rely on LinkedIn as a platform to reach out to them to connect (and start by following them there to see what they post), because LinkedIn is designed for professional connections.
If they have no easy social media presence then use email (google can help you figure out an email address) and reach out with a thoughtful note showing you’ve done your research and you’ve thought about why you two should connect. Saying “we should connect sometime” is not a good reason :).
Come up with something specific, or just send a note of appreciation to start. Everyone loves feeling appreciated and that’s a good first step to building a relationship!
Need more help?
No problem! Make sure you read our free and fancy-pants guide on how to set up your business and actually make money as a coach. We cover all sorts of helpful stuff, including how to find these magical mentors and what to ask them when you do!