Are you more quid pro quo than pro bono? More tit for tat than selfless? Does it matter which?
When I lived in the UK (more than 10 years ago now), I would often go to business networking events with organisations like chambers of commerce. I knew I was supposed to go to them for business but I absolutely hated them. I tried speed networking, lunch networking, and even breakfast networking and believe me when I say that I am not at my best at 6.30 in the morning.
I hated these meetings because everything always felt so transactional. If you weren’t a potential prospect for someone, they would often just stop talking to you and walk away. I can even remember one guy actually telling me that he was not going to waste his time talking to me. How to win friends and influence people eh? So, small wonder that I did not look forward to networking meetings, I endured them. I just accepted that was what networking was, icky and cold.
When I moved to the beautiful city of Valencia, I decided to give networking another go. It was decidedly better when I was meeting with other entrepreneurs and when I joined a network called GBO it even became a fun activity where I made friends around the world, at least until covid hit. Networking really doesn’t have to be business card bingo or prospect or die trying, it can be fun and it’s certainly beneficial when it is.
I started my podcast show in 2019, pre-pandemic. It was a project, a bit of fun and I’d had a try back in 2012 but didn’t stick with it. Those episodes are still around on some platforms but I’m inclined to leave them up for when I want to induce a massive cringe. The second time around and podcasting quickly become something I was enjoying doing. What was supposed to be once a month quickly became every 2 weeks and then weekly. I’ve even tried twice a week a few times but it’s not really possible for me right now.
Initially, I was bringing friends and people from my business network on as guests. Then, I was introduced to an email newsletter someone was sending out for podcast guests and hosts. In time I found platforms like PodMatch.com and similar sites that were springing up, PodMatch being one of my favourites. Not all these sites are equal.
Fairly quickly, I started finding myself getting connected with people who I’d never heard of before but they were a bit of a big deal in their area of business. They were connecting me with people I had heard of and often read books by. In turn, they were connecting me with even more great people. I started asking more too. I felt more confident approaching someone to be a guest on my show than just reaching out to them and saying “hello, can I be your friend please?”
No one told me about this when I started podcasting but I would have to say of all the things I have ever done in my life, nothing has been so beneficial in my professional networking as being a podcast host. I’ve chatted with people who were already my business heroes. I’ve connected with incredible people who I had never heard of before. I’ve made new friends and contacts around the world and for the most part, the podcasting community at large is full of generous and helpful people. Some of the people I have had on my show have become dear friends and most have become professional acquaintances.
I have sometimes encountered people who have asked me to pay to have them on my show or to pay them to be a guest on theirs but it has never been necessary for me to go down that route. More common is that we will guest swap if we are both suitable for each other’s shows. I would say that the vast majority of people in podcasting are relationship-focused rather than transactional and I love podcasting for that.
I can only speak from my own experience and that of the majority of podcasters I get to connect with when I say that the norm in the industry is helping each other out and being generous. A handful even goes the extra mile sometimes and that is really special when it happens. The community favours givers more than takers and I’ve tended to give the takers a wide berth but you can’t always avoid them. Not that they are bad or rotten but I just find that you tend to be left with the feeling that they are only interested in you for as long as you can be useful and the world is already full of that and perhaps even a bit sick of it?
In Adam Grant’s book Give and Take he talks at length about the power of being a giver and how essential this is as a personal quality if you want to get on and succeed in life and business. We are far more inclined to recommend and introduce the people who are kind and helpful to us to the people we think will be beneficial to them. We’re less inclined to make introductions to people who take more than they give. It goes beyond reciprocity, it’s relationship. Most of us tend to look out for our friends, the people we like, and the people who like us. The reality, Adam tells us, is that most of us think we are far more giving and generous than we really are. I do recommend the book if you haven’t read it.
As someone who has worked in customer service roles most of my life, helping people and being the cause of smiles is something I already liked but I realised I was not as much of a giver as I could have been. This is something I can be better at and want to stay committed to improving. The podcasting world is the perfect place for me to do that, surrounded by so many givers, giving becomes the norm.
I’m not always the best connector but I try to think now of specific people to connect with my guests. I’m also getting better at asking for introductions and sometimes, specific introductions, which can work well when done right. A strategy I heard Kevin Chemedlin of the Grow The Show podcast share recently was about being sure to see who your guests are connected to and asking them who from their network would be a great fit for your show. If they don’t say the name you want, you can try saying “Do you know _____? Do you think they might be a good fit?” or your own variation. I think this strategy could work just as well for guests wanting to get onto particular shows. Just remember to give as well as take but you might as well be intentional about it.
Networking and unashamedly asking is what helped me get speechwriter and author Simon Lancaster to agree to be a guest on my show. I’d read several of his books and seen his TEDx talks and I really enjoyed them but I didn’t really think for a minute that he would agree. Now, I will say it took a little persistence but he did agree. I figured he must have been on loads of podcasts already but it turned out not to be the case, although I’m sure he’s been on more now.
Simon and I regularly communicate on social media and when I saw he had a new book coming out, I let him know how excited I was and he asked to come back on my show. Of course, I said yes. Simon has an open invitation to my podcast whenever he wants it. I’ve been greedily devouring my advance copy of his new book Connect — How to inspire, influence and energise anyone, anywhere, anytime. Let’s just say it’s exactly the kind of content that made me first want to learn from Simon.
After discussing bringing Simon onto the show, we had the brainwave to make it a live show and invite an audience. If you want to be a part of that (June 9th 2022, 7.15 pm UK time) then connect with me on LinkedIn and you’ll see the event in my profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnaball/
You’ll be able to join us as audience members in the virtual Riverside studio and if there’s time, you may even get the chance to address your questions to Simon directly. We hope to see you there and Simon’s book is already available for pre-order on Amazon.co.uk and Audible.co.uk if you’re an audiobook fan like me.
This is also going to be my opportunity to pre-launch my new show Podfluence which will be much more focused on helping personal brand business owners like coaches and speakers to use the power of podcasts to grow their business and generate regular and evergreen lead flow whilst also developing an online audience and improving their own charisma, connection and confidence skills to benefit all areas of your life. So, if you think you’d like to become more known for what you do and you have a passion for helping others, you’ll love Podfluence.
On July 1st the Speaking Influence podcast will officially relaunch and rebrand as Podfluence and as you can already see, I’m bringing you some of the very best guests already, as well as new solo shows related to my own book and some book and even podcast review shows that I think you’ll enjoy. https://bit.ly/3se9PhG
If you’d like to listen to my previous podcast chat with Simon Lancaster, here it is just for you.
It’s June and that means it’s PRIDE month. Whether you’re LGBTQ+ or an ally, it’s time to remember that love is love and celebrate diversity. Usually, I would try and arrange a podcast episode, especially for Pride but with the relaunch and rebrand, it turned out to be a bit much for me. Instead, I leave you with this great track from Lizzo and hope that you are feeling good as hell.
Most personal brand business owners have three main problems when it comes to scaling their business income: poor lead flow, awkwardness around sales and low delivery confidence. Podcasting, either as a guest or host (or both) can solve all of these problems to get you a hot lead flow, effortless conversions and big delivery confidence. If you’d like to know more about how, book a FREE 15-minute, no-obligation strategy session with Johnny https://bit.ly/38y4Pxl