So, please, tell me your story,” I assert while relaxing back into a metal chair outside Starbucks. My coffee companion, Jon, proceeds to share the journey of his relatively young life. At twenty-five he is already a licensed pilot, holds a couple of degrees, and is the director of business development for a small commercial contractor specializing in serving the aviation industry.
For the next fifteen minutes or so I quietly sip my mocha and take a few notes. It’s obvious why he was hired for his position. Jon clearly has a genuine passion for two things: people and flying.
“Where do you currently find most of your clients?” I ask.
“Mostly referrals, but I need to expand my network. The company doesn’t really need me to get referrals from existing clients.”
I make a note: Needs to expand his network.
“Were you in the military?”
“No,” he replies.
“So how does a guy your age earn a pilot’s license and a couple of degrees?” Never having had the financial resources (or the high school grades) to even attempt such goals, I’m both fascinated by (and a bit envious of) his accomplishments. I’m assuming he has wealthy parents as I await his answer.
“Debt. Lots of debt,” he answers. An expression of anguish comes over his face. “My student loans are almost two-hundred grand. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and those things can never be taken away from me. But I honestly wish I’d planned more carefully.”
Needs to pay off student loans I write.
I ask him to tell me who an ideal client for his company might be. He describes a small to mid-sized manufacturing company that serves the aviation industry. I don’t personally know of anyone even remotely associated with the industry, but I do know others who might.
“Who, by nature of their business, would have networks of such people or companies?” I ask.
He looks up in thought with a puzzled expression.
“Let’s brainstorm this,” I suggest. After a while we’ve identified airport facility managers, private jet brokers or leasing agents, and commercial lenders specializing in aviation construction. The name of a friend of mine who is a Phase I environmental site assessment specialist and identifies potential environmental hazards before a property is purchased or loaned against pops into my head.
“I just thought of a guy you need to meet,” I exclaim. “My friend Mike works with commercial lenders all the time.” Introduce to Mike O’Connor I scribble in my notes.
“These are all good ideas, but where do I find these people and how do I get them to send business my way?”
“You get introduced to them and you build a relationship,” I answer. “I’ll introduce you to Mike. As for the others, you could plug into the airports association or commercial lenders association,” I reply as I open my laptop. A quick Google search reveals an Association of Airport Executives, an Airport Operators Association, and the Commercial Lenders Association. I show him the results.
“Wow, this never would have occurred to me. My company would love to have me get involved with such organizations!”
“What networks do you belong to now?” I ask. He names a local pilot’s club.
“If you want, I’d be happy to have you join me at a couple of my networking events,” I add. I tell him about my downtown business alliance and the business-to-business referral group I belong to.
“Wow, I’d love to! Thanks!”
“So how else can I help you, Jon?” I ask.
“Are you kidding? You’ve already done more than I could hope for. How can I help you?” he asks.
“Can I show you something cool?”
“Of course,” he replies.
I proceed to walk him through a demo account and show him a couple of videos about the opportunity. I then tell him whom I’m looking to meet.
Jon signed up as customer and we have an appointment to answer his questions about the opportunity in a couple of weeks. Since then I’ve received an email from a flight instructor Jon referred to me who wants to know more about my business. He also offered to take me for a glider ride!
There’s an old saying that goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” My take on that is people don’t care how interesting you are until they know how interested you are. By understanding that and embracing a philosophy of service we attract even more than we could expect.
Today we’re in a sharing economy and no one gets that more clearly than Jon’s generation. They share their lives and their opinions on devices and social platforms, completely uninhibited, and they’re taking the rest of us with them. It’s really quite easy to build a business in this sharing economy, if you follow your heart and some simple rules.
Share what you want and it’ll come back to you in spades. Don’t take my word for it. Apply it and watch what happens.
MARK HERDERING started his network marketing career in 1996 and has been with his current company since 2005 where he is an Executive. Mark is the author of the business novel Hanging Out for a Living.