Today I’ll talk about choosing your people. The world’s most powerful currency is connections. It was one of the bullet points I left in the commencement speech that I did. This is something that has impacted me numerous times. You always hear, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” I honestly believe that. At all times in my life when I look at my success or failures, it’s always been the people around me that have impacted that positively or negatively. Great example of this, I learned this for the first time when I was back in High School and there was this program sponsored through delfi. Which was this giant manufacturing plant in my hometown. It accounted for a large number of jobs when I was growing up. They had what was basically a High School internship where you spend one day a week learning a real world example of a real life company. I applied and really wanted to get in. There was little to no reason that I shouldn’t have gotten in. There were a lot of candidates and they only chose 10 or 15 people and I didn’t make it in. I remember being really pissed because I put in a lot of time and effort and I didn’t understand why I hadn’t. Then I saw the kids who made it in and it just so happened that every kid who made it into that program had a parent who was an employee at the plant. That was my first lesson of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
Despite the fact that I am positive that I was much more qualified to join the program, they made it instead of me because they had someone that could put in a good word for them. That connection made the biggest difference for them. Ever since then, it’s been these little things that have gotten to different points in my life and if I look back it’s always the people that I knew.
If I look back to college, one of the things that I did was that I was on a program called the Management Information Systems team. It was student run team for our major that would bring in people and talk about various things that would be relevant to the major. This one lady came in and she shared what she did which was essentially legally hacking into different companies, mostly banks, and she would show them how she did it and how she broke through. She was showing us what she does for these different companies and I’m thinking, “this is so cool! This is what I want to do when I graduate school.” So I remember reaching out to her and I asked “how do I get to do what you’re doing?” She walked me through some things I needed to do, and the most amazing thing that happened was that I went to this interview because I applied to the company when they came to our job fair. I remember that she had said that she would put in a good word with the person in charge of recruiting and I was talking to that person and she was like, “oh yeah so you talked to this person, that’s so awesome.” Honestly, the interview process just became a breeze from that point on. It was like I had already gotten in. It was the only job that I applied to when I was graduating school. I applied to the one place and I got into that one place because it was the one place that I wanted to work. It was because of the connection I had. Someone there had talked me up and said, “you need to hire this person. He might not look the best on paper, but chose him.”
It’s like that every single time that I go some place. If you look into my ventures in Real Estate back in the Buffalo New York Market, the speaking I’ve done, anything I’ve done online at any point in time, the connections are always what makes the difference at the end of the day. So, again, I don’t want to share more stories, I think that you guys get the point. But the connections are powerful. So how do you start actually making connections? There’s lots of different ways but first and foremost you just have to actively want to do it. This is one of the biggest things that I see entrepreneurs not do when they get started and I’ve been guilty at times of not doing this myself, which is not networking enough, not getting out to enough meetings, going to places. Doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, get out there and go to meetings.
Just on Wednesday I went to a really awesome meeting called the Knowledge Party hosted by a place called Higher Connections which is a networking group. It’s been awesome to see the people that I saw there. At the end of the day, these people are hustling out there, going to meetings, making connections and that’s the big way. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a grind. If someone tells you otherwise, they’re lying to you. It’s not easy. It’s crazy and it’s a grind but it’s totally worth it if you want the end result. No matter what industry you’re in, I implore you to seek out connections, find people that you can do this stuff with, go to networking meetings and have your elevator pitch ready. One big thing that a lot of people don’t is that they don’t have an elevator pitch ready so that if someone comes up and meets them they say, “Oh hey, my name’s Bob, what do you do?” and they just say “uh…” or they give you some “oh I do Real Estate.” Ok, what do you do in Real Estate, how can you help this person, what opportunities are there for them to work with you? Can they help you connections? There’s so many ways for us to do this stuff, but we have to put it out there.
So, get to networking events, have an elevator pitch down, and last but not least is to use social media to your advantage. You don’t to be doing Facebook Lives every day, but just try to be out here and be consistent as you can and just get yourself out there. You’ll be surprised at what just being consistent and just being out there does. This is what it’s all about, it’s all about this little stuff, doing this stuff, and making it happen. That’s the best thing that I can share with you.
Last thing that I want to talk about is that, “you are the sum of the six people that you spend the most time with.” If you look around and see 6 broke people, you’re probably the 7th. If you see 6 millionaires, you’re probably the 7th. I highly suggest that you surround yourself with the right people. Find the folks who are where you want to be go there. Don’t go live them, but be with them, hang out with them. What are they doing? What events are they going to? Go to those events. Go meet people at these different places and you’ll be very surprised about what you find out there. It’s amazing to see what’s going to happen when you do the things the right way and put yourself out there.