Hey Grand Nation! Chris Ake here and, yes, I'm still writing content from time to time on this blog. I wanted to share a little hidden gem with you and a more advanced networking strategy I've implemented since I've started out at Grand Apps.
"Meet as many people as you can and treat them all with respect."
When I was starting Grand Apps back in 2011, I would do the typical LinkedIn "spamming". Luckily for me, LinkedIn was newer and not as saturated so I got through to many people. However I would ask as many people as I could via email and LinkedIn to schedule meetings with me so I can share with them what we were doing at Grand Apps. Looking back on it, I'm super humbled by this experience because I now know some of those people just took the meeting knowing I would pitch them, but they were just good people.
As I grew the company and my personal brand as a leader in the entrepreneur community in Grand Rapids, Michigan, people would reach out to me all the time trying to set up meetings. I probably get on average around 2-3 request per day, and you know what? I take as MANY as I can.
Also I want to let you know that not many people do this. They feel they are wasting time and "if the meeting doesn't directly benefit them, they don't take it". Many people often questioned why I do what I do...
And here is why I take as many of those meetings as I can...
Reason #1: I wanted to give back.
Realizing that people took meetings with me back in 2011 & 2012 just to be nice, I figured I had to pay it forward. I know that people are meeting me to pitch me many times, but I use this time to test my skills and see if I can predict where they are going and sharpen my pitch skills. It's all practice and what else would you be doing with your time anyway? I also love giving back my time and meeting as many as I can. It's fun for me!
Reason #2: You Never Know.
This is really my MAIN reason, but I wanted to context reason number one above because that was how it started. This reason became number one after many occasions. I want to share 2 stories with you of why this is SO EFFECTIVE.
The Internship Story
My client sends me an email me asking me to meet this girl graduating from college who is seeking employment in marketing and advertising. I happily oblige and take the meeting (because of reason number one). We spoke for 60 minutes and chatted about her background, the industry and where she wanted to go. The meeting comes to an end and I tell her that at the time we're not hiring, however I'd be MORE than happy to help however I can.
She actually emailed me a few times but was sent to spam so I didn't hear from her for weeks. We finally reconnect and she tells me the good news! She got offered a full time position at her internship (she didn't think she would) and she talked to her boss about me and they said they wanted to get a quote for a mobile app development project.
The LinkedIn Message
A friend of mine sent an introduction to one of his acquaintances on LinkedIn, introducing me in regards to some needs that his acquaintance might have for video production. Turned out she didn't have any needs, but we chatted more and she wanted to link up. I wasn't exactly sure what might come from this meeting, however reason number one trumps all.
We meet at Lantern Coffee shop on Tuesday morning to chat about an app idea she had. Let me preference this, I get tons of ideas! When people find out "I'm the app guy" I get pitches on pitches, and majority are not serious. But I have learned to NEVER judge, because story number one above.
It turns out this amazing woman has won a contest from Start Garden and received $1,000 and got selected to pitch on Demo Day for a prize of $20,000. Her random idea turned into reality and she was on a fast pace and needed some help. She also is a cohost on a radio show and asked me to come speak. I happily joined her on the radio show 97.3 The Beat to talk about my story and also we hired her as a client. We're not helping her with Demo Day and getting her setup to WIN that $20,000 prize.
Reason #3: I Hacked Myself.
I love doing things. I love being busy. I'm way too ADHD to sit still and not be active. I love being out and busy. I found that I'm at my optimal peak state when I'm running around busy. I can think more clearly. I can focus better. I hacked myself and became aware of how I function. My most busiest days often have my biggest breakthroughs.
So...what are the final thoughts????
Well number one, just be a good human being. Don't ever get so egotistical that you "can't meet with someone" because of their title / role. I understand you don't want to waste time and I'm not saying go reach out to every single person, because you need to guard your time. However, I do fully believe that if someone has an ounce of ambition in their body and reaches out to you for a specific reason, you should take that meeting. You never know where that ambition will go.
Lastly you know never know where it will go. You never know who they know. This world is becoming smaller by every advancement in tech. Keep an open mind and go meet some people the old school "social" way.