Wanna know one of the BEST secrets to get ahead in your life and achieve or create anything you want?
It’s so simple, but almost nobody really does it.
But today, I’m gonna help you change that.
Here’s the BIG secret:
When you know how to connect with others – i.e. meet and make friends with all kinds of people – you can create ANYTHING you want.
I firmly believe that.
And frankly, it’s true.
You’ve probably heard the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
There’s a lot of truth to it.
Sure, you need skills and knowledge. But remember that no matter what your goals are in life, business, relationships, etc – it will ALWAYS involve other people.
So it only makes sense that to get ahead, we need to learn how to connect and make friends with others and strengthen the relationships we already have.
And when I reverse engineer my own career and the successes that I’ve had, there have been some very key pivotal points. And what they all have in common is me knowing how to connect and get involved with other “tribes” (groups of influential people) and sort of work my way in there.
Now before I go any further, you might be thinking:
“Networking? Really, James? That’s what I need to do to get ahead? But I’m AN INTROVERT!!”
Listen, I’m the biggest introvert you’ll meet. I’m not some “rah-rah” let’s go meet people kind of guy.
I recharge being alone, going for walks with my dog, reading, and generally staying behind the scenes.
So don’t worry. I get it.
I’m going to share with you strategies that work SUPER WELL for introverts, since I had to develop them myself, being an introvert.
So not to worry. And don’t let that “introvert” belief stop you from using the information in this chapter for getting ahead. Okay, onward.
The Story of How I Used This Principle To Get My First Job
When I was out of school, this was about 11 years ago, it was time for me to look for a job.
I was doing what I thought you’re supposed to do – get a degree, and then get a good-paying job.
At first, I went out and interviewed at a bunch of places. But after so many interviews and no job offers, I realized this was a crappy system.
It’s like trying to win the lottery.
But that’s when I came to the conclusion that I was responsible for any results I wanted to create. I didn’t want to be at the mercy of some interviewer. Or the economy. Or too much competition.
So what did I do?
Well, I’m a big believer in you are who you surround yourself with. So I thought to myself, “who do I want to be around?”
Instantly, the answer came to me – the Chamber of Commerce. That’s where CEOs hang out, right? And politicians. The movers and shakers.
Once I realized that I knew I had to get a job there.
Now let me pause for a sec and just say – notice how I wasn’t thinking “Oh, I’m going to go to the Chamber of Commerce and see if they’re hiring.”
Not at all. Instead, I was like, I NEED to get a job there. I’m GOING to get a job there.
Then it was just a matter of figuring out how.
I was able to talk to the hiring manager and build a relationship (using the strategies I’m about to share with you).
And guess what? I got the job and that manager became my boss.
Throughout my life, I’ve done the exact same thing for everything I’ve wanted to achieve.
When I left the Chamber of Commerce and wanted to get started with my own business, I wanted to mentor with Eben Pagan (who I introduced you to in the Welcome section of this book).
So I networked my way into his business, worked as a coach with him for five years. And today, I’m now his business partner, running a 7-figure online business!
This is why I have networking at the top of the list of ways to get ahead in EVERY area of life.
How To Connect With Influential People And Get Ahead
So one of the things I realized about connecting with people is we’re all human.
And if you connect on sort of like a business or “professional” level, that’s a certain type of relationship. But when you connect on a personal level, as a human, it is a totally different type of relationship.
You can talk to me about business and sure, we’ll connect. But it’ll be surface level.
But, for example, I LOVE fish, aquariums, fish tanks, etc. So if you and I have a conversation about THAT, we’ll connect on a whole different (and deeper) level.
And so the stuff that’s near and dear to us, if you can connect with somebody on that level, you’re going to have a much better connection.
So keep that in mind as you read the following strategies for connecting with others. It’s so important to think in terms of making a REAL human connection. Not just for getting ahead in business or whatever.
Ok, so here are the strategies you can start using today:
Know Who You Want To Connect With And Why: This is such an important concept. So, as humans, we tend to hang out in small groups or tribes. That’s because we like to hang out with like-minded people. It’s the way we’re wired.
For example, 80% of my friends are successful entrepreneurs. We hang out at the same events. We do the same types of things. We have the same type of businesses. So when it comes to connecting with others, sit down and really think about WHO you want to connect with, and why you want to do so.
Here’s why that’s important – when you want to connect with somebody, you want to build a tribe. So you need to be specific about who you’re connecting with. When I wanted to work at the Chamber of Commerce, I knew exactly who I wanted to connect with and why.
So find the “tribe” you’re interested in, that could help you get ahead, and then figure out who in that “tribe” you need to connect with.
Go Where Your Tribe Hangs Out: Now that you know who you want to connect with and why, it’s time to figure out where that person’s tribe hangs out.
So in my case, it’s always been industry events, educational seminars, and stuff like that.
Maybe yours is athletic events like marathons or 5k runs. Maybe it’s at a local meetup. Or maybe it’s somewhere in nature, like at a hiking trail or whatever.
Doesn’t matter where it is, the point is to start showing up where this tribe hangs out. And do so often. Because familiarity breeds connection. When people are a part of a group and they go to an industry or social event, they’ll see you again and again. And there’s a kind of connection that happens naturally just because of the nature of familiarity.
Pro tip: I know that maybe early on in your career, you might not have the money to be going to tons of events, seminars or whatever. I feel you. Because when I started out I didn’t have much money either.
But I believe there is ALWAYS away. So what you do when you don’t have much money is you offer your time. You volunteer.
In my case, I would volunteer or ask to help out at events, because I wanted to get involved, get that face time, and built familiarity. For example, I recently went to a breathwork event and wanted to meet the couple that was hosting it.
So what did I do?
Before the event, I got in touch with the couple and asked if they needed any help setting up the venue (it was a small event for 30 people or so). They said “sure, can you be here at six?” And I said of course!
Then once I got there, they asked if I could help out by having people sign a waiver as they entered the room. Once again, boom! I was helping out and having conversations with all the attendees as I asked them to sign the waiver.
Then afterward, I helped them break everything down, and they were going to grab a bite to eat and asked if I wanted to come. I said, “of course!” So I got to meet them in a quiet, more intimate setting without everyone there and was able to really connect with them.
Make Friends With Connectors: No matter what tribe you want to be in, you’ll notice that there’s always one or two people who seem to know everyone. And they’re the ones typically making introductions and hooking people who don’t know each other up.
You want to do whatever you can to befriend connectors. It’s like super leverage for your networking. Because these connectors will connect you with other people of influence because it’s just what they enjoy doing. They may say, “Hey, you know, I was talking to XYZ the other day, I think you two should meet. I’ll email you guys and put you in touch.”
See how easy that is? This is why making friends with connectors is so important.
So how exactly do you connect with connectors and anyone else you want to meet?
So far, I’ve given you the high-level stuff.
Now let’s move on to specifics.
7 Tips For Making That Connection And Strengthening It
Here are a few of the actual “techniques” I’ve used that help you make the networking or connecting process a lot easier – especially if you’re an introvert like me! 😉
- Cultivate Genuine Interest. I can’t tell you how BIG this tip is. But the more genuine interest and curiosity you can have in people, the better. And, I’ll add to that, that you should also have a genuine interest in seeing others succeed and help them do it.
I know this may sound cliche or whatever, but it’s so true. The more you can put aside your needs (of getting ahead) and think about the other person and THEIR needs, the deeper the connection you’ll make and the more you’ll benefit in the long run.
A quick example … you’ve probably been to a networking event or business event where everyone’s handshaking and shoving business cards down your throat. The truth is, nobody likes that. Secretly, you think “Yea, I’m totally throwing this business card in the trash as soon as I leave this event.” So you don’t want to be Mr. or Mrs. “here, take my business card.”
Instead, do the opposite. When you meet somebody for the first time, focus all your attention on asking them probing questions to learn as much as you can from them. Questions like, “what brings you here today?” “Who are you trying to connect with?” “Who would your ideal prospect be?” Genuinely be interested in what they’re doing, because you might be able to connect THEM with someone you already know, and help them get ahead in their life or business.
One of my favorite quotes is by Emerson, “Every man is my superior, in that I may learn from him.” And this is the mindset I have whenever I’m in a situation like this. I can learn from something from everybody just like you can. And I’m literally kind of like a detective. What can I learn? What can I help them with? How can I help them get ahead?
That’s the mindset you want to have.
- Really LISTEN and Seek First To Understand. So when engaged in a conversation, before you respond to somebody, pause and briefly summarize what you just heard before you share what you’re going to say. Do that and you’ll see how “magical” it can be. So if you’re talking with somebody, you may pause and be like, “Hey, just to make sure I heard you correctly. You said, blank, blank, blank and blank. Did I get that right?” I find this helps me be present and listen and stay totally focused on the other person instead of what I want to say.
This is very, very powerful and it helps the other person feel understood. It demonstrates that you actually care about what they’re saying. Now obviously, this is harder than it sounds, and it does take a bit of practice because we all kind of have our own self-interest. So you have to build this as a muscle and train yourself over time to pause, restate what they said, and then go from there.
- The Three-Second Rule. If you’re an introvert, you’ll REALLY want to use this one. Here’s how it works … as soon as you enter a room full of people, start a conversation with the person you see within three seconds. This is the game you want to play. Because nothing will kill your confidence faster than going into a room and just waiting in the corner thinking “Oh my gosh, what do I do here?”
I know how intimidating that can be and it’s not a good way to start off. So that’s why I recommend the three-second rule. And as soon as you enter a room, boom, just start a conversation with the first person you see. You can just be like, “Hey, I’m James what’s your name?” Super simple. All you have to do is engage in some type of conversation. The key thing is to not hesitate and I recommend not looking for somebody you know, and don’t go to the bar.
And it doesn’t really matter who you approach, it just matters that you go and talk with somebody. The goal here is to build confidence. Get outside your head and build the habit of proactively meeting people.
- The Soft Touch. So here’s how this works … you may have noticed that when you go to networking or social events, that people naturally form small groups consisting of friends or colleagues. And they usually talk amongst themselves. It’s just sort of Sociology 101. People gravitate towards people like them and people they know.
Anyways, this can present a challenge for some of us. So here is what I found is a non- threatening way to approach one of these groups. If you know somebody in the group, even if you don’t know them very well, as you’re walking by, simply soft touch the person, which means you literally lightly touch them on the shoulder, elbow, or arm (make sure it’s somewhere appropriate and not … weird). They’ll look up to see who’s touching them, so be sure to have a smile on your face and say hi and then their name.
And I don’t recommend motioning to shake their hand. Just give a smile and wave as you keep walking. Doing this strengthens the relationship with that person. Remember, face time breeds familiarity and connection.
So if you’re in a networking, social setting, you might not be able to say and have conversations with every single person you meet there that night. But if you do a little soft touch and you see them and you acknowledge it, not only is it going to make you feel better, but it’s a way to continue on that relationship in a non-threatening way.
In some situations, the individual will actually stop you and want to shake hands or want to catch up or whatever, and you can see how you give somebody the opportunity to do that.
And what sometimes happens, depending on how well you know that person, is they might stop and say, “Hey, have you met so and so?” So that’s an opportunity as well to meet other influencers.
- SMILE. Yes, it’s seriously that simple. Smile the whole time. Smiling conveys happiness, fun, positivity, and so many other great emotions. This is something I’ve got to personally remember. I put this down here because I think we all need to remember this. But me personally, I have to remind myself to smile. After all, think about how it feels when you see someone smiling.
It’s usually contagious. Plus, you’ll stand out. Because at most networking events, people are really unnecessarily serious. As a result they don’t let their true personality shine through.
So smile. It’s such an easy thing to do, it makes YOU feel better, and it helps those around you feel better. Win-win-win!
- Introduce People To Each Other. Anytime you have a chance to introduce people who can benefit from knowing each other, do it. Send a quick email introduction. Or if you’re in person, walk one person to the other and make the introduction and let them know how they can help each other out. It’s a great habit to get into. And it’s one of the best ways to establish your own tribe and to connect with others. Zig Ziglar has a great quote “Help enough people get what they want and you’ll get what you want.” Perfect example right here, help enough people connect with the people they want, and you’ll get all the connections you want.
- Stay in touch. After you’ve established a relationship with someone, it’s important to stay in touch. So send things like a thank you card after an important phone call or interview or whatever. Or, send small gifts that the other person would find of value.
Keep your eyes open for events, articles, blog posts, or anything that might interest the contacts or the people you’re trying to get to know. Then send it to them with a quick note – “Thought you would find this interesting.”
You can also send tickets to events, books, clipped articles from a magazine or newspaper. Just get creative. The point is to show the other person, “Hey, was thinking about you. Here’s something you may find of value.” That’s the thing – ADD value as often as you can. Even a phone call to see how they’re doing can fulfill that. Be creative and have a little fun with it.
So there you go.
That’s how you network with people of influence that can help you get ahead in life.
Start practicing these tips TODAY.
I can’t overemphasize the importance of learning some of these things and applying them.
Take action. Don’t let today pass without taking action on at least ONE of these tips!
And then let me know in the comments how it works out!