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Ambitious Lifestyle Business Podcast #017

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ALB#017 Your network equals your net worth

A cliche, for sure. But like many cliches, there’s some truth to be had there – and that’s been our experience of networking. There’s no instant return, but the more quality we add to our network, the more success we’ve encountered.

For this episode, we’ve roped in our very first guest. We were adamant from the start that we didn’t want the Big Idea Podcast to be an endless procession of guests, leaving us asking the same banal, generic questions each week, but we will bring one in where they know a lot more about a subject than we do.

And that’s clearly the case for the “King of Networking” in Plymouth, Mike Turner of Tin Digital. There’s very few people in Plymouth who don’t know who Mike is – on a recent visit to his office, we popped out for lunch which involved a 2 minute walk to a local cafe, during which at least 10 people said hello to Mike by name – that’s the power of networking.

Enjoy this episode – it’s a long one, but a good one!

Podcast Summary

Below is the transcription of our podcast for you to read through if you prefer:

John: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 17 of the Big Idea Podcast. My name’s John, here as always with Jason.

Jason: Hi there, John.

John: And this week we are joined by a very special guest, we are joined by Mr. Mike Turner. Good morning, Mike.

Mike: Hello everybody.

John: We are going to be talking about networking today, and when I first mentioned to a member of my Mastermind group last year that I wanted to get more into networking, I wanted to do more talking to people, more getting the word out there, and actually talking to real people. Because having run a digital business for, what? 17 years, there was very little of actual talking to real people that I did. I heard time and time again, “You need to speak to Mike Turner. He is the king of networking.” Infamous.

Mike: You never said dodgy [inaudible 00:00:53].

John: We thought we’d rope you in because we’ve been doing networking for about six months now, and we’ve done very, very well with it I think but I would say that’s absolutely true, you certainly are the king of networking.

Mike: Oh thank you.

John: Perfect example I think is when we first met you in the office here and we went to lunch.

Mike: Oh yeah, my god, yeah yeah yeah.

John: What’s that, about 100 yards from here?

Mike: Yeah.

John: And how many people did we meet on the way?

Mike: Probably about five or six. You thought that I’d set it up if I remember rightly.

John: Just everybody walked along like, “Hi Mike.” “Oh, hi Mike.” “Oh, good to see you.”

Mike: It was like one of the Hollywood movies wasn’t it? You know [crosstalk 00:01:32] Groundhog day, it was … Yeah.

John: How did you get into networking? How did you become the king of networking in Plymouth? Because you’re not even from Plymouth are you?

Mike: Well no, I don’t know that I’m a king of networking in Plymouth, but thank you very much for calling me that. I got involved in networking in Plymouth quite purely and simply I moved back here about very nearly four years ago, four years in July. When I first moved back I had no intention whatsoever specifically of doing business in Plymouth. My business was in London, I was quite happy running backwards and forwards to London every couple of weeks on the train, until the railway line broke. You remember all of a sudden [crosstalk 00:02:14]. We were cut off from the rest of the world by virtue of the railway line. It made me rethink a little bit about where I was doing business and how I was doing business.

I had already been running a thing in London called the Six O’clock Club. I started four years ago, January. So January, 2013. The Six O’clock Club was set up just to give me an excuse to go for a beer after work in London. That’s not strictly true, but yeah, it was certainly set up just to have a regular meeting place for primarily independent business owners in London on a monthly basis. I’d been doing that in London, and then obviously my lifeline to London cut off, but I thought, “Well I know what I’ll do, I need to meet some people here in Plymouth.” I worked on the principle very simply, that if you want to meet a large number of people locally, it’s actually better to throw your own party than it is to go to somebody else’s. When you go to somebody else’s gig you might speak to two or three people around you, if you’re really unlucky you’re going to get caught in a corner and you can’t get away and you’ll speak to one person all evening or all morning.

The beauty of hosting your own networking event is you get to meet lots of people. So that was it. Hence the Six O’clock Club in Plymouth, we started on the 6th of the 6th at six o’clock in the evening, and six people turned up. Just to sort of anybody out there that’s into devil worship, this is exactly what networking is all about. Yeah, we started on the 6th of June, 2014 with six people. The following month we had, I think, about 16 people. It clashed with a football match but we still managed to get about 16 people, most of whom had come for the big screen in the bar that we were in. We’ve grown from there and we’ve grown combination of things, organically. So people coming and thinking, “Hey, this is fun.” Then telling their mates. We have used social media a lot, but then that’s a given seeing as that’s the business that I’m in. We’ve grown I think primarily because we offer something that is unique in Plymouth. Nobody else has done after work networking thing that we do with the Six O’clock Club.

That’s been it. So yeah, here we are three and a half years on in Plymouth. Is it three and a half years? Roughly. Three years on. Sorry, three years on in Plymouth. We now regularly get about 60 or 70 people a month to our group at The Refectory Bar in Plymouth, and we’ve just recently set up a group in Torpoint as well, we had 28 people turn up for the first one.

John: Excellent.

Mike: Which is good. We’re branching out from there. We’re now doing a breakfast next month, we’re doing other events as well. That’s been it. So yeah, how did I get involved? Primarily out of necessity. I needed to meet people. I didn’t know anybody in Plymouth when I started, literally my parents, my sister, that was it. I needed to get to meet people.

John: That’s interesting, because most people would have just said, “Well I’ll go along to BNI, or I’ll go along to some …” Because I am the newbie here, you’re not from the area, you’ve literally come in, most people would say, “Well, what’s existing? What can I tag along to?” So to actually say, “Yeah,” like you say, “I’m going to throw my own party.” Hats off to you.

Mike: Thank you. I did a lot of other people’s stuff as well, so it wasn’t just about, “I’ll do my own thing and nothing else.” Chamber of Commerce has helped. Other networking groups, breakfast networking groups that I’ve joined along the way as well. There’s still a certain amount of that. Big thing, I mean yeah, it’s funny you mention BNI. BNI, the principle of BNI, this whole thing about givers gain is something that’s very dear to my heart despite never having actually been a member of BNI. I do think you have to give, yeah. It’s a fundamental part of networking. If you’re going to make a success of networking you have to go out with an attitude of giving. Rather than going networking thinking, “What can I get?” Thinking what you can get out of it is very short sighted. If that’s the attitude you go with you’re not going to get very much to be honest.

John: Is that one of the common mistakes that newbies make, or is it not just newbies? Is that …

Mike: It’s a common mistake generally, with people that look at networking. I think it’s a common mistake in business generally. Whether you’re networking or whether you’re in business, people who are only out for themselves rather than thinking about the other guy in any kind of relationship. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling newspapers in a corner shop or you’re selling a high end service or product delivering a multi-million project. You need to be thinking about the other person in that relationship, and if you’re not thinking about the other person then to be frank you’re going to miss out because if you’re not thinking about them, they probably are. If they are, then you’re not going to benefit as much as you might otherwise benefit. I think that attitude of sharing, developing a relationship is really very, very important. Fundamentally important for me.

John: I mean we’ve all seen them, we go to events and you got people who are working the room and they’re just making sure that everyone’s got a card. Literally they’ll hand out cards and it’s in the toilets, and it’s like you don’t want to work with those people. You actually avoid those people.

Mike: Well you do end up avoiding that kind of person, yeah, because that kind of person, it’s all about them and actually business should be all about the other person. So no, it doesn’t work.

John: A lot of our members, a lot of our listeners, will be perhaps networking virgins, never been to an event before. What would your advice be to someone who literally …

Mike: Bring money, buy beer.

John: For example, we had spent what? 16 years, 17 years working online. We’ve done networking within our industry in terms of people knew what we do. To go out to the general public and say, “Right, we’re going to meet up with a florist or an MOT garage and say well now we’re going to try and explain what affiliate marketing is to you.” You see the eyes glaze over.

Mike: Yeah. Again, I mean yeah, come back to this idea of giving. I’ve been told, and unfortunately I don’t practise it enough, two of these, one of these. If you’re at a networking event, A, you need to be clear about what it is you actually do, so getting your own pitch right, getting your purpose. I’m not talking about that 60 second elevator thing particularly, but just understanding what value you can add to other people. That’s important. But then from there it’s actually showing a genuine interest in other people. If you’re talking to somebody else, actually have a conversation with them, listen to what they have to say, and pick up on what they have to say.

If you can think of something that might benefit them, so let’s say for arguments sake you and I having a conversation, you’re talking about you know, “Hey, I’m looking for a great place to buy half-sleeve shirts.” I can say, “Ah, there’s the man that you need to speak to, the king of half-sleeve shirts in Plymouth.” It’s actually having that kind of rapport I suppose. It’s tricky if you’re not comfortable with speaking to other people. If you’re not comfortable with speaking to other people it becomes a bit like going to a party. Just stick them with one or two people that you do feel comfortable with. Identify another wallflower and go and talk to that other wallflower.

John: Because that’s another thing that certainly I know I struggled with first few events, is oh my god, I don’t know anybody here, and everyone seems to know everyone else. You just see all these little groups and these little cliques and you think, “Oh my god, I can’t possibly go over and speak to them.” Whereas actually, they’re normally just really friendly people. Again, how do you, as a solo entrepreneur, as a single business owner, walk into a room full of people who you don’t know and strike up conversation?

Mike: There’s a certain amount of taking a plunge. I mean like yeah, you’re going to have to do that. I still now, people look at me and go, “Oh my god, Mike, you go networking, you must be able to do all of this all the time.” Yet I was in London just a couple of months ago at an event where I knew two other people out of about 70 or 80 people and it was really obvious that a lot of them knew each other. Then it is just a question of, “Hi. This is me.” Understand your own pitch. “My name’s Mike, this is what I do. What’s your name?” In that it’s not rocket science.

John: Is that something that just comes with practise do you think?

Mike: It is practise and you do have to take the plunge. There is a point where you have to make the commitment and go for it.

John: It’s going back to the fear episode, isn’t it? [crosstalk 00:11:07]

Jason: I was about to say that, coming out of your comfort zone and the go first principle that you have subscribed to recently and that’s kind of making sure you’re the first person to go. If you want a smile from somebody then smile at them first and [crosstalk 00:11:18] smile back. Absolutely, that and being able to go up and say, “Hi Mike, I’m Jason.” Before waiting for other people to come to you because other people in the room, I guess, are in that same situation as well. They’re also holding back. Not wanting to go up to say hello to anybody because that’s out of their comfort zone. Just being that person first to be able to break the ice often gets you the results that you’re looking for.

Mike: in any given situation, I mean yeah we had a Six O’clock Club last week didn’t we? You guys came along to it, and there were people there that had come for the first time. In that kind of situation I try and make a point, but I know now, I’m confident that there are other people there that will make a point of going and saying hello to those people. There’s nothing better, I don’t think, than being the first one. Be the one that instigates a conversation. We’re all capable of that, despite the fear. I know that fear is a huge a barrier. Yeah, we’re all capable of being the first one.

John: There was some survey, I think we talked about it in the previous podcast, where people were asked about networking and fear, and they were asked something along the lines of, “Is the fear of networking for you worse than it is for other people?” 90% of people said, “Yes, it’s worse for me than it is for anyone else.” That can’t physically be true.

Mike: No it can’t be true. I think we’re looking at another area here, that whole thing with fear. Because your fear, your greatest fears, are probably different from my greatest fears. Overcoming fear, the very first thing to do is take that first step to be quite frank, you do have to boldly go. It’s no different in a networking environment.

Jason: To be honest I guess the first step was actually turning up. You’ve overcome a few-

Mike: Yeah.

Jason: You might not have made it for a first few months thinking, “I don’t want to go there, I don’t want to go.” Then when you walk into the room, you’ve overcome that first major hurdle because you’ve actually turned up haven’t you? So that’s a good place to then, “Oh well actually I managed that bit.” So it’s like the next bit is just speaking to somebody.

Mike: Yeah. I can still remember my very first networking event. As in an event that was organised as a networking event that I went to. I was still on crutches following an accident. I had to get a cab to a pub about 10 miles away from where I lived. I turned up there, I didn’t know who I was going to meet. I didn’t have a clue other than I was going to talk into this pub and there would be people there who were there for networking. I don’t stroll into the pub, I sort of hobble into the pub like this on crutches, and I identify there’s two or three people here, they’re obviously because they were all looking like rabbits in headlights standing in a corner with glasses. Then I went to the bar, bought a drink, and then realised that now I’m on crutches with a drink. The networking event was going to be upstairs.

John: Oh brilliant.

Mike: So the first thing I actually had to overcome was finding somebody who would take my drink upstairs. Straight away I was forced into a situation where I had to talk to people and I had to trust in my vulnerability. I think that trust in your own vulnerability and actually appreciating that other people are just as vulnerable as you, that worked. The beer went upstairs, I actually found somebody that would ferry me beers.

John: Three more, five more-

Mike: Exactly. So a few more during the course of the evening. That made a huge difference. Actually trusting in my vulnerability helped me to overcome that fear.

Jason: Also I had something very similar last week actually, I went to a brand new event and didn’t know, hadn’t been there before. I know you’d been there the previous month, John, but I hadn’t been there before so didn’t really know anybody there. When you go in, apparently, you’ve got to put your number plate into the machine to say that you’ve arrived kind of thing. Of course I didn’t know what a number plate was, and this woman beside me she said, “Oh yeah, I wrote my down.” She just got hers out and done hers. It was like, “I’ve got it on my camera [inaudible 00:15:29]. She said, “Oh, you’re coming for this meeting?” “Yeah I am, yeah.” She said, “Oh, did you know where you’re going?” I said, “No, I’ll follow you.”

Then it was automatically ice breaker because we both went to the same place. She said, “I might be taking you on the wrong path, because it might be a different room this week.” It was really good, managed to break the ice outside of the room taking somebody in that actually [inaudible 00:15:47] so that’s another option as well. “Are you going to the Six O’clock Club? Oh it’s upstairs isn’t it, is that right?” Just kind of following them along really and then you’re walking into a room with somebody else.

Mike: You’ll soon get a reputation though, hanging around outside.

Jason: I think I’ve already got that reputation.

John: That is two good examples of a complete ice breaker which isn’t, “What do you do?”

Mike: Yeah, really important.

John: You know, because that’s the initial … I mean the first one we went to, the first Six O’clock Club, we were the rabbits in headlights. As soon as someone said, “What do you do?” We looked at each other like, “Oh, what do we do? Right okay, whoa.” Then you try and rattle off this elevator pitch that you’ve memorised which isn’t, “Well we do this, and we do that.” There’s a 10 minute version of what we do which normally involves salt and pepper pots and all sorts of things being moved around to demonstrate what we do. Then there’s the five second version where people go, “So what, you build websites?” “No no no, we don’t build websites.” “Oh, no I don’t get it.”

Mike: Yeah, does this not come back to that whole idea of pitch or understanding the purpose, the hole that you fill in somebody else’s life? I think when you can enunciate that, when you can actually say, “Right well this is what I do.” In just a few words, literally. No more than about eight or ten words, which you guys could do.

John: Oh absolutely, yeah.

Mike: I know you can do it. We had conversations and it comes back to this is the little thing-

John: There’s two pages there of me attempting to do that.

Mike: That two pages is actually only eight or ten words when you really nail it down. Certainly in the end I’m able to do that, it then requires further explanation but at least you can say at the beginning, “This is what we do.”

John: I think that that ice breaker is critical. Again, also you said about vulnerability, but remembering that everyone else in the room has those same vulnerabilities-

Mike: Oh they do.

John: … because those 90% of people said that networking is worse for them than it is for other people. Well 90% of people in the room are feeling that way. You’re not the only one feeling nervous, you’re not the only one feeling intimidated.

Mike: But it’s a common fear isn’t it? It’s the same as the fear of public speaking. It’s that feeling of being naked in a room full of other people that are fully clothed, and you’re not. Everybody else is the same under their half-sleeve shirt or whatever it is they’re wearing as you. It’s as simple as that. My thinking is always go for it. What’s the worst that can happen?

John: Well exactly. I mean we’ve never had anyone turn their back on us or say, “No, don’t want to speak to you.”

Mike: Actually. I [crosstalk 00:18:23] I have a story about that but I don’t know that this is the right place to say it, because I could upset a lot of people of a certain nationality not too far away from here with that story.

John: Well look, let’s remove the names to protect the innocent then.

Mike: Well no no no, it’s not a question of removing the name, it’s removing the … It becomes a very complicated story and it revolves around the fact that I now live in Cornwall, but apparently at the wrong end of Cornwall and we’ll keep it at that for the moment.

John: Oh, you’re at the Devon end?

Mike: I am at the Devon end of Cornwall, yeah. We have a PL postcode which never goes down too well in Cornwall really. So yeah.

John: We haven’t got too many listeners in Cornwall, it’s all right.

Mike: Really?

John: They haven’t got internet [inaudible 00:19:05]

Mike: Actually, they’ve got really fast internet everywhere other than the Devon end.

John: That is quite deliberate I think.

Mike: Yeah I think so. I think so. It means that they can talk to themselves down there quite happily.

John: I was listening to Tim Ferriss once and he was talking about how you approach, as a single person, how you approach a group of people who are talking. Because it’s easy to look around a room and say, “Oh there’s someone on their own over there.” Smile, make eye contact, go over there, talk to them. With a group, you almost feel like, “Oh, I don’t want to interrupt them.”

Mike: Oh there is a classic thing for this. I mean, yeah, we almost need to be stood up to be able to do this, but yeah, [inaudible 00:19:47] understand the body language, it’s as simple as that. I mean I’ll give you another little hint as well in a minute, but this one to do with body language. Let’s say for arguments sake the three of us are standing somewhere, it doesn’t matter where you are, at breakfast networking, lunchtime, wherever you are, you’re networking. If the three of us are standing in conversation and we are in an intent conversation, we are all going to be facing each other. It’s as simple as that. Yet if on the other hand, and in a situation like that you don’t want to approach people because you’re just going to stand on the outside of a group of people like a complete and utter lemon.

You might want to just sidle by and stand there for a few seconds in the hope that the group might open up, but if that group doesn’t open up within the first few seconds, just pretend that you were looking at something over in a far corner and carry on to it, to somebody else. What you’re looking for are people that are very obviously having an open conversation. They might just be talking generally about the weather and they’re typically going to either be standing, so not quite face to face, but at a slight angle. Or if they’re not standing at a slight angle, they’re going to be looking around while they’re talking. They’re not going to be maintaining that face to face eye contact. Look for people like that.

Those are the kind of people that you can literally stand next to for a few seconds with your drink or with whatever it is you’ve got in your hand, and just smile. It is that smile thing, is really quite important, because that smile is the gateway to the soul or something. It’s that sort of real immediate ice breaker opener, that when you smile at somebody they’re likely to smile back, and if they smile back, hey you’re there.

John: That’s picking up women isn’t it?

Mike: Yeah, there’s that, how do you think I learnt?

Jason: I think networking’s a little bit like speed dating really.

Mike: Well yeah, speed networking.

Jason: Like you said, you’re still building a relationship aren’t you? That’s the bottom line. Whether it’s one to spend the rest of your life with, or to do business with. It’s the same kind of concept.

Mike: You’re at the first step in that, aren’t you? Very much. Yeah, it’s maybe not quite exactly the same kind of relationship but it’s certainly the same kind of emotions and the same kind of reactions, actions are going on, certainly. Without a doubt. Yeah, it is very much about the opener to a relationship.

John: It’s similar outcomes as well. You should be looking for one or two quality leads.

Mike: Exactly. Well yeah, I don’t even think about it as being leads. My strapline for my business is, “Discover, connect, engage.” This point of a relationship or this point with networking is about establishing a connexion. The first thing you want to do is like, is this somebody that I actually want to have a conversation with. Is there going to be a useful outcome from this? If it’s a useful outcome, then you’re then into engagement. You’ll start talking and one of the first things that we all do is try and find the thing we have in common. It’s like, “My god, I can’t believe it. You went on holiday to Goa once.” It’s that kind of … You’ll immediately try and establish some kind of rapport because-

John: I had my honeymoon in Goa.

Mike: Hmm?

John: I had my honeymoon in Goa.

Mike: Did you really?

John: [crosstalk 00:23:03]

Mike: You do immediately try and establish something in common, this is basic instinct. This is that fight or flight mode isn’t it, coming into operation. Yeah, that’s another reason why it’s important to actually ask questions and listen to other people. Rather than just, “Hey, my name’s Mike, this is what we do [babba dabba dabba 00:23:25]” And reel off half a dozen things, “So if you want any of those things you know where to come and get me, there’s my card.” You’re not going to get anywhere doing that. You actually want to establish what common ground that we have.

John: What’s some of the worst things you’ve seen at a networking event? In terms of the standard littering people with business cards, or-

Mike: Well it is that. It’s entirely that. It’s people coming in and just storming through an event. “My name’s Mike, here’s my card. My name’s Mike, here’s my card.” They’re not listening at all. They’re not engaging with anybody. They’re not interested in other people. Or the ones that come in and it’ll be an immediate, they’ll say hello to me, “Oh, so you’re organising this?” “Yes.” “Any accountants here?” “I just want to speak to accountants, nobody else. And only really important accountants.” It’s like, “Well …” Being polite because we’re being recorded, but … off.

John: We have got a beeper I think.

Mike: Is there? Yeah, that might come in handy. I don’t know if Facebook actually do that on Live, but no certainly that kind of behavior’s not going to get you anywhere at all. Then the other thing that I’ve seen on a number of occasions has been people getting drunk, with after work networking, and they don’t just get drunk. I’ve seen people that are outrageously drunk.

John: So what starts off as a little bit of dutch courage.

Mike: Yeah, ends up with falling over. Then of course things can start to get inappropriate. We mentioned speed dating, and it becomes that sort of like, “Hey, you look attractive.” I’ve seen that happen. Yeah, I’ve seen that happen on more than one occasion. I think you need to keep that sense of propriety and keep that sense of what are you doing there. It is a business environment at the end of the day. It’s great going out after work drinks, and I’m as guilty as anybody of having one too many after work drinks, but you need to keep that sense of what you’re doing there.

John: Yeah, what’s the objective of actually being there, as you say you are there representing your company aren’t you?

Mike: Absolutely that. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a business of one or a business of 1000, you are representing that business and what it is that you do, so it’s important.

John: I was trying to think earlier, I’m sure it was Dale Carnegie talking about the listening, and I’m sure it was him that said, “If you want to be interesting, be interested.”

Mike: Yeah. Great quote.

John: There’s an example I think of someone who, as an experiment they did on an aeroplane, and they sat somebody next to three random people on this flight. They had to score them on how interesting they were. This one particular person scored like maximum points on every single possible scale for how interesting he was. They asked these people afterwards why was he so interesting? “Oh, he was a really nice guy, he was fantastic.” “Okay, so where does he live?” “Oh, I don’t know.” “What does he do?”

Mike: I’ve heard this story, yeah.

John: “Oh I’m not sure actually.” “How many children has he got?” “I don’t know.” Because he didn’t give any information out about himself at all, he just listened the whole time. He may have emphasised with at certain points, he may have said, “Oh yeah, I’ve had a similar situation.” But most people can’t wait to dive in there with the you know, “I went to Goa once.” “Oh yeah, I went there on my honeymoon. Oh it was great. We had a cruise, we went to the Seychelles, we went to Kenya, it was great, yeah.” “Oh yeah yeah, it was lovely, yeah. I also went to …” “Oh yeah, I’ve been there too, oh it’s brilliant.” No, I’m trying to actually have a conversation here. So many people are willing to just take over the conversation aren’t they?

Mike: Yeah. Sometimes that’s nerves. Sometimes it’s a nervous reaction, you’ll just sort of come out with stuff constantly and you can’t be stopped. In those sort of circumstances I think take a deep breath. Again, remember why you’re there. It helps, certainly.

John: Definitely. So that’s some of the bad things, what about the good things? What have you seen done really well? Who’s a really good networker?

Mike: Good network, god almighty.

John: Even, I’ll tell you what, who’s a good networker that necessarily shouldn’t be. Perhaps they’re not a natural people person.

Mike: I can’t say things like this on … You know, this is going to be recorded.

John: You don’t need to name names, but just-

Mike: No no no. I’ve seen plenty of examples of good networking. Good networking tends to be people who listen. Good networking tends to be, again, people who make introductions. They’ll actually welcome people into … So go back to that situation, two, three people in a group. A good networker will welcome somebody in and they will also introduce that person to everybody else who’s there. Here’s a tip actually, if you forget somebody’s name-

John: Which I do, quite often.

Mike: And me, okay. This is a good tip. Let’s say, we’re going to pretend for arguments sake here, I can’t remember who this is. I know that I’m talking to John and I say, “John, this is … What’s your name again?” And you say?

Jason: Jason.

Mike: “No no no no no, your surname, your surname.”

Jason: Ah, very good.

Mike: It works, believe me. I have done that on so many occasions.

John: Well it did work, you’ve now put it out there publicly [crosstalk 00:28:53]

Mike: That’s something that you have to do. I wish that when I was younger I’d gone on one of these memory courses where you pick up the fact that Jason wears glasses and sweeps his hair to one side or whatever. That you actually remember things, what is it they call it? Mnemonics, isn’t it? That thing where you sort of remember that sequence of things that this must be Jason Brockman because he fits the bill to this thing that I remember. Have you never heard of those?

John: I’ve not heard of that, no.

Mike: We should all go away and study this, I’ll tell you. Because this does make a difference. When you can meet somebody and recollect the last time you met them. Because unfortunately one by-product of the last three years has been the number of people I’ve met that I have struggled to think well where did I meet this person?

John: Yeah, what context? Where was it? What we talked about?

Mike: Yeah, because when you see somebody out of context, or they have their hair differently, or they’re wearing, I don’t know, bright orange when they always used to wear bright blue, or whatever it happens to be, then yeah, it does become a struggle.

John: I’m renowned for meeting somebody, shaking their hand, saying, “Nice to meet you.” And they say, “Yeah, we’ve met three times before.”

Mike: They say, “Yes [inaudible 00:30:10]

John: It’s nice to see you again.

Jason: I think one thing I’m probably guilty of [inaudible 00:30:17] is actually you strike up a good relationship and you talk, and then you say, “Oh yeah, we could do this together, we could do that together.” Then never do the follow up. I know we talk in a business as a follow up, you should follow up until you die kind of thing, is that in sales-

John: Not ’till you die, ’till they buy or ’till they die.

Jason: [crosstalk 00:30:31] Following up is really important too, and that’s something which I think a lot of people are absolutely guilty of. You’ve collected the cards, you’ve done all the difficult part, but the other part was just crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s.

Mike: This though is a common problem in business generally and I’m struggling to remember the exact statistic here. But it’s something like 60% of companies at a business show … So yeah, you go to a business show, you pay all the money to be there and you’ve got the stand and all the literature, and the freebie pens you’re going to give away, and all of that stuff. Then you collect a load of data. There’s something like 60% of companies don’t follow up on it.

John: Or do anything with it at all.

Mike: Yeah exactly. They’ve spent a few thousand pounds on being at a trade show and do nothing with the data they’ve collected. It is important that you follow up. Last Thursday, Six O’clock Club, I was fortunate to be invited to a thing at the Holiday Inn afterwards, and I went there, I met a couple of people, never met before, business card exchanged thing. For me, I’m not quite on the way home, but certainly he had a follow up the following day. “Hi, great to meet you last night.” If that’s all there is, then great to meet you last night. But if there is any kind of follow up, then, “How about a coffee? How about a phone call?” Or give something away. If you were talking, I don’t know, on a specific subject, actually send them a link to something. That, “Hey, I was thinking of you and you might be interested in this.” That’s a great way to carry on a conversation. It’s really important.

John: It’s also a great way to reaffirm who that person is and what they do, because it reminds yourself, and you’ve got a physical copy that then if you email someone saying, “It was great to meet you. I know we talked briefly about X, Y, Z, it was really nice to talk to you and understand what you do.”

Mike: It’s easy in this day and age. I mean by the time you got SMS and email and so on, but Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. There’s really no excuse why you can’t follow up one way or another with somebody. Even if it’s only you that’s following up, they don’t come back, at least you’ve made that positive approach.

John: Again, I’ve seen bad follow up as well in terms of, you know, you meet someone who sells carpets and the next thing is you’re on their mailing list for carpets. It’s like, “Okay, that’s not target market.”

Mike: Or they’ve turned up at the door.

John: Yeah.

Mike: With a carpet on the van.

John: Bit of underlay under the …

Mike: Just [inaudible 00:32:55] here’s some carpet we still got on the van. No, there is that. There is that. Yeah, technically of course you shouldn’t be sending … You shouldn’t be taking the business cards, and taking them back and putting them in the spam list.

John: Put them in your CRM.

Mike: You should at the very least be asking permission for that. But that’s where that follow up email or that follow up Facebook message, whatever, is a good opportunity to do that. “Hi, great to see you. Would you mind if …” At least you’ve given them the opportunity then to say, “No, you must be kidding me. I was trying to get away from you and your halitosis all night.” Yeah, there is that opportunity.

John: Again, would you think perhaps people are too inclined not to think about their target markets. They think, “When I go networking everyone’s my target market.” Rather than, if I sell carpets, “Oh everyone wants carpets.” No actually, who in this room deals with people who need carpets? Who knows someone who is chair of the board of a housing association? Because those are sort of really quality connexions you can get. Rather than selling one person one carpet. That’s the sort of real quality you can get out of by approaching it in the right way.

Mike: Yeah, I think that requires a certain amount of forethought doesn’t it, John? That you actually go, if you go networking, it’s easy to be a busy fool. You could go networking even in Plymouth, on every day of the week somewhere doing something. Whether it’s going to a workshop or a seminar of some sort, or whether it’s going out for after work drinks or breakfast, it’s easy to do. It’s easy to be a busy fool. It’s actually not that difficult to do something purposefully and go out with the attitude of, “Right, well what I want to do is obviously get my message across that this is who I am and what I do.” But yeah, this is the kind of person I’m looking for. There’s a fine line between that and how many accountants are there here?

John: Yeah, exactly.

Mike: I think there is a fine line there. Another big thing with networking is to remember that it’s not necessarily an immediate return. You need to put in some groundwork. With your business generally, that’s exactly what you’ve been doing. You’re looking for people that are complimentary like Andy Hill, what a good looking bunch. I can read this from here. Andy is a good networker, as it happens, and I’ll call him out on that. He does a very good job. Andy turns up, he’s always interesting, always has plenty to say himself, but he’s always looking to hear back from other people.

John: [crosstalk 00:35:41] as well isn’t he?

Mike: Yeah. Yeah, so great network.

John: Fantastic.

Mike: [Bracken 00:35:45] I can see there above him as well on this list. Bracken again has always got something interesting to say. I think that’s a part of the deal. It’s not necessarily something interesting to say about your business, sometimes it’s having something interesting to say about what’s going on in the world.

John: No, exactly, yeah. Again, as I say, it’s getting that relationship with people. We’ve had to treat it, I think, as a long term investment because we treat everything as a long term investment. We’re not looking at necessarily what it’s going to cost us 20 quid to go to this networking event, we need to see 30 quid back. It’s, it’s going to cost us, I don’t know, say 400 quid to go for the next three months, six months, can we get one or two quality contacts out of that which long-term could pay £10,000?

Mike: Exactly. For my part, I try and steer clear of thinking about how much money I’ve actually spent on networking over the last three years particularly. But if I started to attribute that spend, I do attribute it to a marketing budget and I started to really think about it and quantify it, it becomes scary. What I do know without a doubt for me, certainly, is that the amount of time that’s been invested has seen a good return.

John: I think that’s probably the reason we’ve not done it before is because we’ve worked in digital marketing, and we’ve worked in affiliate marketing, where everything, every internal investment is tracked to the nth degree. If I’m going to spend £200 going to networking events, I want to know I’m going to see £400 back in my bank account.

Mike: You could track it, there’s no reason why you can’t track it in much the same way as you do with the Facebook ads or whatever else it happens to be, because it is pretty damn obvious. You take a certain amount for time, a certain amount for the intrinsic costs of being wherever you are, and then measure the return that comes back. But my experience tends to be that there’s not necessarily a direct return. It doesn’t always equate.

John: It’s a snowball effect isn’t it?

Mike: Yeah, exactly.

John: We tried something last week at the Six O’clock Club. Actually, it wasn’t at there, it was in my office. You got a Facebook group for the Six O’clock Club and I went Live on the wall.

Mike: You did, go Live, yes.

Jason: Mr. Facebook video.

John: I thought I’m going to try something different because we are still relatively new to the Six O’clock Club so our faces are not necessarily that well known. I thought well actually I want … It’s a very easy way to get our faces out to a lot of people and say, “Look, this is what we do.” Again, I wasn’t selling in any way, but it is a case of, ” look, this is what we do. We run this business, we run that business. We mentor ambitious lifestyle business owners. This is my face.” I held up a lovely photo of Jason because he wasn’t in the room. I said, “Look, if you want to come-”

Mike: Yeah exactly. I was concerned you had one of those on your desk actually.

Jason: [crosstalk 00:38:51]

Mike: Oh thank you, it’ll have pride of place in my drawer.

John: [inaudible 00:38:58] I went live on Facebook and I thought well look, literally it will just be, “This is what we do, if you want to come and chat to us we’re going to be there at-” This is about two hours before the event. “We’re going to be there tonight, come and have a chat with us.” I walked in the door and the first comment I had was, “You’re Mr. Facebook Live.” I was like, “Well that’s worked.”

Mike: No no no, I was actually really impressed with that. Really impressed. I thought that was a great idea. It was a really good idea.

John: Because again, I’m still at that nervous point whereby randomly approaching strangers is not something I’m completely comfortable with, but I thought, “Actually yeah, I’m now pretty comfortable with talking to a camera so let’s do that.”

Mike: That was a great idea, really good idea. Well done for that.

John: Didn’t get a huge number of people commenting, but I had one or two, and I had that one quality conversation that actually, “Oh, that could lead somewhere useful.” This was like for the two minutes of my time doing that. Because I mean some network events you get a delegate list first, you know who’s coming. Then the danger with that is, “Oh, I want to speak to that person, that person, that person.” And that’s [crosstalk 00:40:02] you speak to.

Mike: There is a little bit of that targeting. There’s also, I get asked this periodically, “Can we have a list of the people that are here? Can we have a list of the people that came?” And so on and so on. We have a couple of issues with this. One is data protection because we’re not set up through the system that we use for booking to actually ask permission of every individual person, “Can we pass your details on to anybody that asks?” Also, a big issue with the Six O’clock Club of course is that it’s a free event. Typically at free events if you 100 people say they’ll come, maybe 60 or 65 will. There’s always going to be a dropout. Then you’re in a situation where you turn up and that guy that you saw, or that lady you saw on the list, isn’t there. Now you’re getting cross at me and it’s like, “Hold on a second.” Those are issues.

Ironically an issue that we’re looking to address going forward with the Six O’clock Club, but it’s taking a fair amount of planning, and the biggest part of the planning is data protection. Because the last thing that anybody wants is to suddenly find themselves deluged with email or spam of one kind or another, the result of having been at a networking event.

John: We’ve had that, or certainly I have. I’ve attended an event and then the next day I’ve had follow up from people I’ve never spoken to.

Mike: Yeah, exactly.

John: You know, telling me how lovely it was to meet them [crosstalk 00:41:32].

Mike: I’ve had exactly the same kind of thing and it’s entirely that. It’s where somebody’s got the list and they’re just working their way through the list, and they are to all intensive purposes spamming every one of them. That, for me, is completely the opposite of anything that I believe in as far as networking is concerned. Yeah, difficult to police, but it’s certainly something that I would want to avoid, definitely. I’m just looking there as well, there’s-

John: There’s some questions coming up. We’ll do all the Q&A after the podcast guys, just to keep it going. Because otherwise your poor people listening on iTunes won’t have a clue what’s going on.

Mike: Right.

Jason: But if you are listening on iTunes and you want to catch up with what is going on, then you can come to our Facebook Live, because we’re recording this live on Facebook in our Facebook group, which you can find by going to bigidea.co.uk/facebook so you could catch up with the question and answers on there.

John: Certainly can.

Mike: That was pretty much seamless.

Jason: I was just going to ask you, Mike, being so open as you are and obviously available through lots of channels and social, how do you be selective, because as you said being a busy fool is ever so easy in networking because there is something going on every day of the week. How do you be selective about that because you could fill your time going to lots of networking groups and business things. I’m guessing you couldn’t afford to do that from a business point of view.

Mike: Selective in terms of which events or which networking events do I attend?

Jason: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mike: Well right at the very beginning, I’ve sort of got two different timeframes to this because right at the very beginning when I first started networking which was about 12 years ago, the first time I went to a organised networking event, what I did realise ironically was that I’d been doing this networking thing all of my life without really appreciating it, because having … I was in the clothing business. We used to have regular trade shows and every one of those trade shows of course you’d get talking to loads of people that were at a trade show. I had been doing it, but in that informal way. When I first started doing formal networking I went to lots of events. It doesn’t take a long time to actually realise which ones work best for you in terms of not just how many business cards did you come back with, but which ones did I feel good at being at? Which ones am I getting something out of. I think there’s a fair amount of trial and error to start off with.

I subscribed to my mentor, came up with sort of … Not even a theory because I subscribed to this particular, I think it works in practise. The way business used to be done was closed, selective, and controlling. So you played your cards close to your chest, you were very picky about who you had conversations with, let alone did business with. Then you, in any given environment, would want to be controlling. You’d want to come out on top of any relationship in business. The internet is forcing us, as a society, to be completely the opposite. Now, because everything is out in the world and not even Donald Trump can hide tweets because somebody has screen-shotted that straight away. The internet is forcing us to be open and transparent in our business. It’s actually forcing us to accept random connexions.

Coming back to this thing about the carpets, contract carpets. A random connexion could be you’re talking to somebody who is the wife, husband, best mate, of somebody that can really help you. Those random connexions actually, in my experience over the last 10 or 12 years, have been some of the best things that have happened to me and my business. The other part is being supportive. The supportive part of it is actually collaborating with other people, but come back to that business about the networking events that you attend, I think you have to go and try a large number. Then ultimately you will find the ones or the type of event that suits you best.

I probably don’t go to as many events now as I did three years ago. The kind of events that I go to still vary. I do go to breakfast networking events. I don’t tend to do a lot during the day because my business keeps my busy during the day. During the day I would want to go to something perhaps a bigger event, something that has additional value to it. Whether it’s a trade show, whether it’s a lunch with speakers, whether it’s … I’m off to something on Wednesday to do with Mayflower. This is sort of a community event of businesses getting together to make a difference for the fact that the Mayflower celebrations are happening in three years time.

Daytime, typically I go to events like that. After work is sort of let your hair down a little bit. Maybe it is after work drinks. Sometimes it’s a meal. One of the best things I go to in Plymouth for instance after work is at City College, who run an event about six, seven times a year. It’s a networking, stand-up chat, sit down dinner, good speaker who has something interesting to say about the city. That’s a good event. I think you need to try a few. What is it they say, you have to kiss a load of frogs before you find a prince?

John: Yeah, and you get a gut feeling [inaudible 00:47:14]

Mike: You do, yeah. You do. There are people that have come to the Six O’clock Club even for instance that I can think of one person in particular, two people that were there at the very first one who still come now regularly nearly three years on. There have been a number of people, quite a large number of people who have come, maybe come a few times, or maybe even come once, and don’t come again. It’s not for everybody, there’s no one size fits all.

Jason: How do you turn the frogs? Whether that’s at a networking event, or whether that’s actually you’ve had an invitation, how do you turn down that invitation?

Mike: Turn down the invitation, I mean yeah, it’s easy to turn down invitations to things if you’re busy generally. I think that’s just how you have to be. When you get caught with somebody at a networking event-

Jason: That was the [crosstalk 00:48:00]

Mike: When you’re caught in that kind of situation, you can either be really naughty and introduce that person to somebody else.

Jason: Ah yes.

Mike: Yeah, that’s one way of doing it. You can always excuse yourself to go to the loo and never come back, is another way of doing it. I tend to tell people that what they’ve had to say has been really interesting, thank you. One thing I will do with people is say, “Look, I don’t want to monopolise your time. You’re here to network with people, you should go and speak to others.” I do do that. Yeah, it’s just a question of one way or another. That’s probably the fairest way of doing it isn’t it? Is to tell people you don’t want to monopolise their time. I don’t think I’ve ever said that to either of you have I?

Jason: No no. Because again, ending the conversation is a little bit difficult, or certainly I find it difficult is that once you’re engaged in the conversation, I find it very rude to go, I’m looking over there now and I’ve found someone I want to speak to. I’m enjoying speaking to you but I now want to go and speak to him over there.

Mike: That is a good closer. Actually saying to people, “Look, we’re all here to network with other people. We’re all here to meet as many people as we can meet during the course of an evening.” Or an afternoon, or a breakfast, whatever it happens to be. Give them the opportunity to go and speak to others. There’s one way of doing it.

John: Because that’s the point, you don’t want to appear rude, do you? But you also want to say, “It’s lovely talking to you, I’ll see you later.”

Mike: No no no, you see, you don’t do the, “I’ll see you later.” That’s a bit like Chandler in Friends. For those of you who don’t remember, Chandler in Friends had this dreadful habit of saying like, “Yeah, that was really great. We must do lunch sometime.” Because you don’t want to say that if you don’t mean it. Be true. I mean really, that’s fundamental, is actually honesty is the best policy. You can let people down kindly, but don’t under any circumstances tell somebody you don’t want to see again, “Hey, let’s do this again tomorrow.” So yeah, avoid that one.

John: Cool. Well we must do this again sometime.

Mike: Let’s do lunch.

John: Oh dear. Is there any parting gifts that you would give to anyone who’s a complete newbie and thinking, “Well, if I have to choose my first event.” Let’s assume they’re not Plymouth based so it’s not going to be the Six O’clock Club.

Mike: I think if it’s your first event, I mean if possible go with somebody else, but once you’re there split up. I have on god knows how many occasions split people up who have come with a friend.

John: [crosstalk 00:50:56]

Mike: Well exactly. The two of you come together joined at the hip and don’t want to be more than three feet apart when you come to the Six O’clock Club. It would actually do you both the world of good to go and stand at opposite ends of the bar and talk to the people that are there.

Jason: [inaudible 00:51:13].

Mike: Yeah, you could do that. You could gradually move everybody. Carrel them like a couple of sheepdogs.

John: That’s what I was just thinking, one man and his dog there.

Mike: No, I mean if you’re really, really that nervous and you do get the opportunity go with a friend, but actually make an agreement that when you get there you will talk to other people and then hook up again towards the end.

John: We can have an open relationship, we can talk to other people.

Mike: Otherwise, good things to go to are things where strangers are going to gather. It’s no good, if you go to a breakfast networking thing for the first time, chances are everybody there is going to be regulars that have come for months or years, and unless you’ve been invited specifically as somebody’s guest, you’re going to struggle because you’re standing there with people that are catching up on last week’s conversations. Whereas if you go to an event, let’s say that … I’m trying to think off the top of my head, but it is an event organised by the university or by the local Chamber of Commerce that is a bit of an open invite and you know that you’re going to get lots of people there who don’t necessarily know each other that well, or don’t see each other frequently. Go to something like that, because that gives you the opportunity to have random conversations and you never know what comes with those random conversations.

John: Certainly don’t.

Mike: Yeah, it’s as simple as. I mean yeah, if there is the equivalent of a Six O’clock Club type event, they’re good things to go to. It’s the easiest form of networking. Turn up at a bar, grab a drink, talk to people. Take a stack of business cards just in case you need to pass them out. This was designed to be simple networking. There’s no speeches, there’s no nothing. It’s completely open conversation.

Jason: Is there a good place to find [inaudible 00:53:10] because obviously we’re in Plymouth [crosstalk 00:53:11] is there a good place online that [crosstalk 00:53:14]

Mike: Online, two very, very good places. Again the Six O’clock Club when I first started it, I started it as a Meetup group, you heard of Meetup?

Jason: Yeah.

Mike: Meetup.com. Brilliant place to see events that are going on local to you. The other one is Event Brite. We run all of our events currently through Eventbrite, so eventbrite.com, that’s B-R-I-T-E .com. Yeah, you’ll see a whole stack of stuff. In fact I was looking on there for something else yesterday and saw something going on on Wednesday morning that I’m going to go to in Plymouth, so yeah. Great places to start.

Jason: Brilliant, thank you.

John: Excellent. Well thank you very much for joining us, Mike.

Mike: Thank you, it’s been an absolute pleasure.

John: It’s been really, really useful. Hopefully the listeners at home find it useful. We’re going to carry on with the live Q&A in the Facebook group now, so [inaudible 00:54:07]

Jason: Just before we do, we ought to be really courteous and say, so Mike, what do you do?

Mike: What do we do? In a few words we help businesses grow their business using social media. That’s what we do. Then we’ll have the 10 minute version which involves websites, and lead funnels, and god knows what else. That’s what we do, we help people with their social media. In fact the bit I love best is coaching individuals with their social media.

Jason: You do that through Tin Digital?

Mike: tindigital.com otherwise on Facebook you’ll find as Super Socialise Me.

Jason: Awesome. We’ll drop links to those both in our show notes.

Mike: Thank you very much, thank you very much. Been an absolute pleasure.

John: Show notes will be at bigidea.co.uk/podcast.

Jason: Well done mate.

John: We only give out two links on this podcast and I always get them the wrong way around, so there you go. Yeah, thank you for joining us on the podcast this week guys. As I say, I hope you find that useful. Please keep the conversation going in the Facebook group. As I say we’re going to do a live Q&A right now for the Facebook Live viewers but if you come in there later in the week we can [inaudible 00:55:16] question and we will catch up later in the week. Jason, did you have a tool of the week this week?

Jason: No.

John: Good.

Jason: We’ve done plenty this week. Event Brite sounds like a fantastic tool this week.

John: Event Brite is our tool of the week this week. Thanks for listening guys and we’ll see you next week. Bye-bye.

Jason: Bye.

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