Episode 174 | Posted on

Leveling Up Your Networking with John Corcoran

We live in a digital world, but real relationships are still the bedrock of any serious business. Meeting the right people involves more than just turning up to the usual networking events. It’s an art form. Forget elevator pitches and business cards. If you want to intentionally grow your network to open doors and get more clients and revenue, you need a strategy. My guest on this episode is John Corcoran. John understands the true power of relationship building and has guided many small business owners and entrepreneurs in leveraging their network to grow their businesses and achieve success. John began his career as a Writer in the Clinton White House. He’s the Founder of SmartBusinessRevolution.com, and the CoFounder of Rise25. He’ll be explaining how to level up your networking and connect with highly valuable people who can open the door to bigger profits, industry recognition and untold opportunity. As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”


John, it’s great to have you on the show.

It’s my pleasure to be here.

Let’s talk about networking because you’re good at that. We met at a networking event. What was the event called?

It was one of Larry Benet’s SANG events in Beverly Hills.

You do a lot of networking. You’re quite effective at it. How did you gain this expertise?

For some people in our audience, for starters, a lot of people hear that word networking and they immediately tune out. Hopefully, people haven’t stopped reading already. The thing is there’s a good way to do it and there’s a bad way to do it. A lot of people have a distaste in their mouth to that entire word networking. I talk to people about it all the time and people will say to me, “I hate networking but I like connecting with new people and I like meeting new people.” I’m like, “What do you think networking is?” The problem is that we’ve all had a bad experience with some sleazy guy coming up to us at a cocktail party where we’re already uncomfortable because we don’t know many people. They’re trying to sell us something immediately, a sales pitch and that doesn’t work well. I’m happy to talk about that. I’m happy to talk about a lot better strategies that can work now which are more human, more authentic, more sincere, and that’s what’s going to be successful for you. That’s what I’ve done throughout my career at every level from going back to being a teenager to my twenties, 30s, all the experiences that I had in a variety of different industries. It’s essentially what I do now, helping clients to get better, to leverage relationships, to lead to more clients, more revenue, more opportunities in the door.

I got the gravity of how important networking is to my business, which is an SEO consultancy. I always knew that speaking was a powerful way for me to get leads.

At that stage, you’re networking at scale with a lot of people because you’re building relationships with a lot of people.

I didn’t fully appreciate the value of networking until I went through this exercise of having my team run the numbers and find out all of the different events that I have been at. Not just speaking at but attending as well and associate the revenue for each one of those. I could not believe that one of the biggest conferences for me has been the Traffic & Conversion Summit and I’ve never spoken there.

If you didn’t have that knowledge, I’m interested to know have you skipped any years or had it crossed your mind at any point?

A lot of times, those more intimate gatherings in the context of a larger gathering are going to be super valuable.


It had crossed my mind, but I’d never skipped since 2014. I’ve been going every year. My wife normally comes with me and she’s been complaining about like, “There are many sharks in that conference. I don’t enjoy that conference as much as Social Media Marketing World.” She may not come next time, but then I showed her the numbers and she’s like, “Wow.” If I help stuff, it would be more effective and she does. She helps me be more effective and show up more powerfully at that particular conference. I don’t have a speaking slot so I’m not positioned there, but I don’t need to be. I still get value out of it.

I’ve never spoken there either. For the last couple of years, we’ve had a VIP reception where we had over 200 people come. It started with a little dinner and we combined forces with a couple of other people that were going to do dinners. A dozen people here, a dozen people there, and pretty soon we’re filling a hotel ballroom. You don’t have to speak at every conference you go to if you put a little effort in on the frontend. There are a lot of things you can do that can make it go even further, even something as simple as researching who’s going to be coming beforehand, researching who the speakers are.

For a long time, when I went to conferences before I did any large receptions or anything like that, I don’t always throw a large reception when I go to a conference. I would do dinner and invite a couple of people that I knew that were going and reach out to some of the speakers. Oftentimes, you know this because you speak a lot of conferences, sometimes speakers come to a conference and they don’t know anyone. They come the night before and they’re interested in meeting someone. You can reach out to them and invite them and maybe they’re interested in coming. Once you get one, you can get a couple of others too because they want to meet the other speakers. There’s a lot you can do with conferences without having to be on stage.

It all comes down to planning and intentionality. I interviewed Ephraim Olschewski on the show and on my other podcast as well on Get Yourself Optimized. One of the few people I’ve had on both shows and he goes amazing on both. One of the things I’ve learned from him is intentionality. If you show up more powerfully, the whole game changes. For example, you could go to a family reunion and show up and have a great time and go, “There are all these family members that I never see except for once a year. It’s nice to see them.” That’s not intentional. If instead, you have this powerful intention that you go to the reunion with like, “There’s this one person in my family. We have a strained relationship. I’m going to clear that or it’s awkward for me to tell them I love them because they never tell it to me. I want to make sure that they get it, that I do love them, that I’m not just saying that. I’m going to do that at this year’s family reunion.” What a powerful way to show up.

You don't have to be the world's foremost authority in anything. You just have to be the person who brings those people together, that will bestow authority on you. Click To Tweet

What if you do that with everything? You have no downtime. It’s not like you don’t have time to relax or something, but downtime means that you’re unintentional and you’re taking up space. You’re not there with value creation in mind. You show up at Traffic & Conversion Summit with a plan, a roadmap like, “These are the people that I’m going to connect with.” Even better, arrange something in advance like, “These are people I’m inviting. I already know that I am going to give and get value out of these relationships. I’m going to organize a dinner and have them show up.”

It’s a great way to take a larger conference that you’re going to and to distill it down to a smaller group of people. Having gone to a lot of these types of events, a lot of times those more intimate gatherings in the context of a larger gathering are going to be super valuable. The dozen people or so that you have at that dinner, however, many people are not often in the same room together. Not often in the same city together. They might live all over the globe and it’s a rare opportunity for you to bring that group of people together. You don’t have to be the world’s foremost authority in anything. You just have to be the person who brings those people together. That will bestow authority on you and the others who are there will appreciate you and will respect you for your contribution of bringing those people together. I’m a big fan of that strategy.

One secret to this is to land somebody big early on and then all of the other folks will fall in line like dominoes. I did this in a virtual environment. It was a virtual teleconference years ago. Seth Godin at the time didn’t know me from Adam. He didn’t have any clue who I was. I cold emailed him completely out of the blue. Before I did that, I did my homework. I was trying to get this teleconference off the ground. I started by having a brand name behind me. I was the moderator of this teleconference, but then MarketingProfs.com was the brand that I could associate this one. I’m doing my outreach. I got my friend, Toby Bloomberg, who is a marketing expert and consultant to recruit Robert Scoble, who at the time was the Chief Blogger at Microsoft. He was a big deal.

At the time, I had no connection with Robert. Toby and Robert were friends. He recruited him. It was Toby and Robert as my first two panelists on this 90-minute teleconference. I outreached to Seth and I said, “I have Robert Scoble as one of the confirmed panelists. I would love to have you on as well.” He said, “Yes. Anytime I have a chance to shoot the breeze with Robert, I’m in.” These were people I didn’t have to pay anything for their time. Once I had Seth Godin, everybody else fell in line. I reached out to Doc Searls, co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto. I reached out to Steve Rubel, the PR Guy and a whole bunch of big-name people. They all said yes because I had Seth Godin. If you could get a Seth Godin, you’re going to be golden.

The mistake some people make is they wouldn’t have done what you did, which was smart. They might go to Seth first, thinking that’s going to be their salvation, that’s going to be their solution. You’ve got Seth because you’ve got Robert, and you’ve got Robert because you’ve got MarketingProfs. You thought multiple steps ahead. You’re like a master chess player looking at multiple steps ahead, which is a smart way to do it. A similar type of strategy I’ve recommended some people do. I hesitate to recommend this sometimes because it sounds a little insidious, but let’s say on a local level you want to get together a group of impressive people and you want to attract some local person. You want to get their attention as a speaker to come to a group of people. You reach out to that person and you say, “I’m bringing together a group of people for a luncheon and we’d like you to be our featured guest to speak to this group.”

There’s a lot you can do with conferences without having to be on stage.


You get them to say yes, then you turn around and you go to the other people. You say, “Would you like to come to a luncheon where this person is going to be speaking there?” It’s a little insidious. I wouldn’t directly lie and say that you have this group of people, but it’s a little bit of a chicken or the egg problem that you have oftentimes. You want to attract an audience and in order to attract an audience, you need the big fish. In order to get the big fish, you need the audience. Oftentimes, people struggle with that. Giving people exposure can get you bigger and bigger fish as you work your way up the chain.

Another way that you can do it is you can offer something of such immense value for them in exchange for something that doesn’t take an immense amount of effort on your part. For example, I’ve got some huge guests on my show that I offered to give them some SEO advice. It took me an hour of my time. I did the call with their team first and I knocked their socks off and created all this value for them that they were able to receive by implementing my recommendations, and that was a no brainer. If I create six or seven figures of value in an hour for somebody and it literally only took me an hour to produce that. That’s a low effort on my part, but high return for them. Who’s going to say no to a podcast interview where they are essentially paid six or seven figures to do it?

That’s great because that is paying it forward first and that’s how you’re going to get people. People sometimes make the mistake of going and asking someone who’s achieved a level of stature and success in their profession, in their career and asking them essentially do a favor for them initially. What they don’t understand is that person oftentimes is getting hit up all the time. They’re getting hit up by different people who are asking for different levels of favors. If you haven’t built any currency with that person yet, you haven’t done anything and you haven’t offered anything, then it’s not likely to fly because they have many different other demands. If you’ve done something, if you contributed some value to them, then they’re much more likely to say yes.

The natural question people often think, “That’s great but I don’t have SEO experience. What could I possibly offer?” It’s amazing to me because I’ve had many conversations with people. Many people feel that they don’t have anything to offer even when they do. We naturally devalue or undervalue our own areas of expertise. You’ve got to look internally a little bit more. Another form of currency that I use a lot is introductions. There’s probably someone in your network that would benefit from knowing someone else in your network, but people don’t do introductions enough. When you introduce those people, they are going to be tremendously grateful for it. You want to be careful because sometimes introductions are not appropriate or the timing’s not right. You want to be careful sometimes before making an introduction. That’s another form of currency, other than money, that you can use in order to essentially get someone else of name and of stature to do you a favor, be a guest on your podcast or something like that.

Giving people exposure can get you bigger and bigger fish as you work your way up the chain. Click To Tweet

Another example is the Internet Marketing Party in Austin, Texas. It’s a monthly affair organized by my buddy, David Gonzalez. One thing he does is they don’t pay their speakers even though they have some impressive speakers who come through Austin and they’re the marquee speaker each month. What they do is they organize a roundtable the afternoon before the evening event where David leverages his networking connections. He brings together a group of smart people to get together and to meet that evening’s speaker. It works both ways because the other smart people are coming for that roundtable are excited to meet that evening’s speaker in an intimate environment and they’re also delivering value to that person too.

I’ve seen that. The IM Party comes before the Traffic & Conversion Summit in San Diego. Jay Abraham has been one of those featured speakers. He’s been on both of my shows. He’s been on multiple times. Once he was on this show, I was interviewing him. Another time, he was interviewing me. He interviewed me about SEO. Certainly, it was an honor. What a powerful strategy to get somebody who’s a recognized world-leading a guru to interview you on your subject matter expertise.

That is a testament to his character that he continues to yearn to learn and to connect and meet new people. Tony Robbins does that. He interviews other subject matter expertise, even though he’s got a level of stature that’s truly out of this world. Oprah Winfrey does this. She still to this day interviews other thought leaders, experts to take from a bit of their knowledge, to connect with new people and deliver content to her audience of people. We both are huge fans of doing this. Everyone ought to be doing it. It’s a great way to make connections, build bonds and build on the principles of reciprocity. When you do that when you profile someone and it doesn’t need to be Jay Abraham to start. They’re going to be appreciative and they’re going to want to repay the favor in some way.

If you are a great interviewer, amazing things can happen. The interview I did of Jay, I asked him questions that he had never gotten before. It was powerful, philosophical and some spiritual questions. He loved that interview so much. He used that as an episode of his Ultimate Entrepreneur Podcast. That episode aired in October 2018 on my podcast, Get Yourself Optimized. It also aired the same time on his show on The Ultimate Entrepreneur. Let’s say that you show up at an event like the IM Party and let’s say it’s the one in San Diego. The one that’s right before Traffic & Conversion Summit, that place is a zoo. It’s hard to hear yourself think, let alone to hear the other person talking. It’s frustrating. How do you show up in a way that gives you the most opportunity to get leverage from that event? Especially if you’ve got competing noise and you’re trying to rise above that sound level. Also, you don’t have a lot of friends in that room, you don’t know a lot of people. How do you get leverage out of the situation?

I’m going to give a counterintuitive answer and I’m going to answer it also in a general context for any type of event that you go to, whether it’s IM Party or something else. The first thing you have to ask yourself is why are you going and should you even be going? In other words, should you even be in the room to begin with? Frankly, if someone goes into something feeling like, “I don’t know if these are my people. It’s loud. I don’t know if I’m comfortable in this environment.” I’m a big believer in stretching yourself but on the other hand, we all have certain skills and abilities. A lot of people, for example, consider themselves introverted. Putting yourself into an environment where you’re going to feel completely like a fish out of water and uncomfortable. It’s not necessarily going to be the best opportunity for you. For example, what we’re talking about here like spending your time networking with people one-on-one by profiling people, interviewing them. That might be a better use of your time rather than putting yourself in a nightclub, dark, loud environment.

Some people who are more shy, quiet, or reserved tend to be a lot better at developing relationships than the most extroverted person.


Having said that, if you do go to an event like that or IM Party or another one where you’re wondering going into it, “Am I going to know anyone?” These days, there tend to be more online tools where you can find out in advance a little bit more about people that are going to something. Sometimes that means that they publish a guest list beforehand or you can ask the organizers if they publish a guest list beforehand so you can do a little research on who’s going. It might turn out you know someone or there’s at least someone that you can educate yourself on so that you can have an educated discussion or if you see them you can go up and introduce yourself. There’s nothing wrong with doing that. There are also often online tools. You can look on social media platforms like Facebook or sometimes there’s a hashtag associated with it. Traffic & Conversion is a great example and probably because it’s a digital marketing conference. Leading up to it, you go on Twitter and you see people sharing comments and talking about coming to the conference. You can connect with people over Twitter beforehand to see who’s going. That gives you a couple of people who you can go and connect with.

Another thing I’ve done at events that I like doing, it doesn’t work for everyone, but volunteering to staff the door or to play some role at the event itself. What I like about being at the door is you end up meeting a lot of people coming through. You shouldn’t have to be at the front desk the whole time. If you volunteer, you do a little bit of the time, then you go back into the party and you’ve met a bunch of the people there and you can have a longer discussion with them. It makes it much easier. If it’s an event in association with a larger event, like a party that’s happening in association with a larger conference. If at all possible, coming beforehand to the event and being able to meet some people beforehand so that when you get in the environment of a loud party where you’re not sure if you know anyone. Hopefully, you’ll know a couple of those people who are going to be there. That might help a little bit with easing the nerves as you go into that event.

If you can in some way deliver value to them, that will keep the relationship going further. Click To Tweet

Some of these events will also, in addition to having a hashtag, they’ll have an app. I’m going to the Genius Network Annual Event and they have an app. I could coordinate meeting new people and have conversations and so forth before I even land on the ground.

Make a list of the people that you want to connect with beforehand. A short list of fifteen people that, “These are the people that I want to connect with while I’m at the conference,” so you can go in with a game plan. These are the people and you’re looking around, looking for that opportunity to stick your hand out and introduce yourself to someone. If none of that works, alcohol definitely helps.

You’re setting yourself up for failure if you believe that you’re an introvert, even if you have all this evidence that it’s true. If you consider your identity as an introvert, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

I do get this question frequently due to the nature of my blog and my podcast is about relationship building. People constantly email me questions about this. A lot of people say, “I’m an introvert and I’m going to this event. I feel uncomfortable.” Some people who are by their nature are more shy, quiet, and reserved tend to be a lot better at developing relationships even than the most outgoing, extroverted person out there. Here’s why. A lot of times you’ll see someone who’s the life of the party, extroverted, loud and they’re intimidating to all the quiet people around there. At the party, they’re loud, they’re having a good time, they’re talking but they don’t do a great job of following up. I’ll take the people who do a great job of following up nine times out of ten because they’re going to do a better job.

We’ve all met people like that who are big, boisterous, loud and they might make a good impression. This day and age are about following up, deepening the relationship, taking it further. If you don’t do any of that, then you’re dooming yourself to failure. In fact, it’s even worse. You’re dooming yourself to be back on that hamster wheel again and again. Going out and meeting people one time and not following up with the relationship. You’re better off meeting people, connecting and then seeing which one of those relationships, not all, but some of those are going to have the potential for some collaboration or a client relationship or a vendor relationship or something like that. Seeing which one of those you can take further.

The follow-up is critical. When you get dozens of business cards or you get people’s contacts. A lot of people don’t even carry business cards, which is frustrating and you end up taking photos of their badges or whatever. It’s got to be on you to follow-up with them because if you give somebody a card and they don’t have a card and then you’re like, “Follow up with me.” You’ve lost control.

Nine times out of ten those people will not follow-up. You’ve got to get their contact info. Don’t depend on them doing it. You’ve got to be proactive about following up with that person. Figure out what way they prefer to communicate. Some people these days, their inbox is overflowing. They can’t possibly manage it. They’re going to say, “I’d prefer it if you send me a Facebook message on Facebook Messenger.” They might say, “I’d prefer if you send me a text.” I had someone who sent me a message. We were supposed to do a call and I didn’t see his message until hours later on Skype because he’d sent me a message on Skype. I don’t use Skype for messaging. It’s too many inboxes. Other people do, but I don’t. You’ve got to communicate with people the way that they like to communicate.

If you contribute some value to people, they’re much more likely to say yes.


In order to know what way is their preferred way, you’ve got to ask. One tool that you can use is Bonjoro to shoot a short video and then send that as a way to follow-up, especially if you’ve got a new client or a new customer and you want to congratulate them for signing up and becoming a customer. You could introduce your account manager to them like, “I’m Joe, your account manager. I’m excited to be working with you.”

One caveat on that is there’s a great article that opened my eyes. If you google Ryan Holiday Thought Catalog and the title of the post is, If You Do This, You’re A Monster. The article is all about how we used to have answering machines and they were the bane of everyone’s existence because you had to listen through these long messages. Sometimes they were super long and it was super time-consuming everyone hated them. We got away from that, which was great. Now, people started sending audio and video messages to people. Nowadays, sometimes you can speed them up, not always. You want to be careful about that because I get that a lot. People I don’t know or I don’t have a client relationship with, and someone’s sending me a two-minute, four-minute, ten-minute message that I can’t fast forward through. I would much rather have something in text.

I know I sound like Scrooge McDuck when I’m saying that, but you have to be careful sometimes because there are some people who don’t want that. Even though you think it’s the most personal touch ever. A new client situation or if you have a good relationship with someone, that’s totally cool. What I’m talking about more is if you’re trying to connect with some busy executive or busy entrepreneur or a business professional or something like that who is already strapped for time. Be cognizant that you might be putting more on their plate by giving them a five-minute message that they have to listen to and they might not be appreciative of it.

I met this guy at an internet marketer friend’s wedding and he sent me a video. I don’t know how long it was, but he sent it via text. I didn’t watch it. I didn’t reply to him. I blew him off.

I got one and I didn’t intentionally blow the person off. You get it and you’re like, “I’ll watch this later.”

In today's day and age, with the way that we can hyper-personalize so much of our life, we can tune out a lot of stuff. Click To Tweet

I don’t have time for that. I don’t want to disturb people by playing this audio.

You have to be careful with it because some people don’t think that through.

What do your emails or texts or Facebook messages look like when you do these follow-ups? A subject line like, “Following up from XYZ Conference,” and then, “It was great to meet you. I appreciate our connection. I wanted to see if there’s any way that I could help you.”

I try and take it even earlier than that. Before you get to the point of drafting the follow-up message, what I try and do is when you’re connecting with someone, you’re meeting someone new. In that conversation, you’re feeling out whether there’s potential here. Whether they’re a good client for you or is it a good strategic relationship or someone you want to go further with or whatever. You also should be looking for ways in which you can deliver value to that person, especially if it’s something that doesn’t require a huge input of your time. I’m not talking you’re going to go pro bono overhaul their entire website or anything like that. What can you do, especially if this is someone who is high value, who looks like they’d be a great strategic partner to you or look like they’d be a great potential client for you or something like that? How can you figure out ways in which you can deliver value to that person?

Here’s the key is it doesn’t have to be related to your vocation. Often those people are thinking, “I’m a consultant and I consult on financial strategy. I want to find a way to do that.” There might be something else. It might be that their son or daughter is applying to college sometime soon and you can give them some advice on colleges in your area. It might be that particular person you’re talking to have a crazy thing that they’re passionate about. It could be a type of food. Maybe they’re crazy about Thai food and you give them advice on a new Thai restaurant that’s in their city that they could go check out. Look for those other areas, particularly around personal interests and see if you can in some way deliver value to them that will keep the relationship going further.

This is not a high-level peer thing. There’s a friend here locally and it was an interesting story because he is interviewing for a position with a high-level entrepreneur who is in the news a lot lately. He’s interviewing for a job where he’s basically going to be working closely with this person. I was talking with this guy and the guy that I know about it. I’m thinking, “This would help me in the future to have proximity to this high-level entrepreneur. How can I deliver value to him?” I’m texting him some tips and advice and recommendations about something we were talking about. It had nothing to do with my vocation and nothing to do with what I do, but it shows that you’re thinking about that person and continues the conversation down the line a little bit further. It’s a great way of following up without hitting him over the head with trying to have some conversation around how you can work together.

If you have interests that are universal in terms of everybody wants to be healthier and live longer and one of my passions is biohacking. I’ve got an Oura Ring on. It’s that ring that tracks heart rate and sleep and HRV, heart rate variability, activity level, and temperature. It’s something that I have on 24/7. I meet somebody and I find out that they have an interest in biohacking or in longevity or quantified self or anything like that. I say, “Do you know about the Oura Ring?” I can take it off my finger and then show it to them and they’re like, “This is much more compact than a Fitbit or whatever and so much more capable.” If you have some shared experience too like, “You were at this particular event last time or you are into golf or something like that,” and then you can give them some value snack.

For any type of event that you go to, the first thing you have to ask yourself is why are you going and should you even be going?


That’s where you’re rewarded for having a more diverse interest base. If you can take some interest in other people’s passions, that’s a great way. Before I had kids, I figured out that if you ask parents about their kids, they’re going to open up to you in a way that they wouldn’t if you ask them about every other topic under the sun. If you can take an interest in other people’s passions and have some knowledge base. I’ve even gotten to the point where I know that I’m going to be seeing someone at some event, someone who I want to connect with on a deeper way. I think, “They’re a big fan of tennis. Let me see what’s happening in the tennis world. What’s going on with the US Open? What’s going on with Wimbledon?” Have a little bit more of a knowledge base in order to converse with them a little bit more. When you do that, especially if it’s at a networking event where a lot of times people are a little uncomfortable and not as comfortable as they would. You connect with someone over something they’re passionate about, they’re going to appreciate and they’re going to remember that conversation.

There’s this great little exercise I learned from this tiny little book called How To Be A People Magnet and the exercise is called scrambling. If you’re in the routine of doing the things that you like to do and you’re never stretching outside into something that doesn’t feel that comfortable. Let’s say you’re not into golf, so you never try it. You’re not into bowling or going to a shooting range or something like that. You should try it once. That’s scrambling. That’s doing something outside of your comfort zone, outside of the norm for you, but that is something that a lot of people are into. It doesn’t have to be something that’s against your values like I’m a vegetarian so I’m not going to go hunting. I’m going to maybe try going to a shooting range and shooting at a paper target or something like that.

In this day and age with the way that we can hyper-personalize much of our life, we can tune out a lot of that stuff. There’s a lot of media commentary and psychological commentary about the long-term effects of how that will impact our society. It’s a lot longer discussion but I do agree with you. Exposing yourself to new experiences is going to make you more diverse and well-rounded person. If nothing more gives you something interesting that you can talk about when you are put in a chitchat situation at a networking event or something. You’re talking to someone who you may feel that you don’t have a lot in common with.

I remember I was at another conference and we were talking about the topic of other conferences that these people also went to. They were saying, “Do you ever go to the Outdoor Gun Show? Do you ever go to the Gun Show? It’s great,” and the two of them started raving about why they love this gun show. I’m not a total pacifist but I never shot a gun in my life other than a BB rifle in my son’s Cub Scout overnight expedition. I’m not exactly a hunter or anything like that, but I can see the value of being able to have some conversation with someone like that through having that experience.

It could be that you try unusual experiences that nobody else has or few people have tried before. The topic itself is interesting. I went through a stem cell procedure, not because I was sick or had any aches or pains, but for preventative as having a time machine that I could tap into in the future. Someday we’ll be able to grow organs from ourselves. If we have stem cells from 40 years earlier, we have a time machine essentially. I have stem cells banked in Florida, so does my wife and two of my kids. That’s an incredible insurance policy and that’s something that you could easily strike up a conversation with somebody about like, “I had no idea what stem cells were about or why I’d want that. I’m not even sick or I don’t have any chronic pains or anything. I wasn’t even considering stem cell. That’s an interesting idea to store them away for a rainy day. I’m going to consider that.” That could be something that you don’t have a shared experience on yet, but you are delivering this insight and this value for them. That’s a topic that’s interesting to them once you explain it. They want to live longer, they want to be healthier and they want to be more vibrant. That was something that was an easy conversation piece to talk about stem cell therapy.

Exposing yourself to new experiences is going to make you a more diverse and well-rounded person. Click To Tweet

Another one I did was neurofeedback. I went to Dave Asprey’s 40 Years of Zen program for a week in Seattle and it was amazing. Dave Asprey is the Bulletproof Coffee guy. He has multiple companies and one of them is 40 Years of Zen. The premise of this is you can condense 40 years of Zen meditation on a mountain top into one week. This is a little bit of hyperbole, but you can achieve massive breakthroughs by doing a deep dive into neurofeedback for a week. That would normally take you years and years to get to that level of control over your mind and the brain wave states. If you want more alpha or you want to get into a flow state and you want that or you naturally get into that easily, wouldn’t that be amazing? You can train yourself to do that. It’s an expensive program. It’s $15,000 for the week, but it’s incredible. Most people will not have heard of this either. They’ll maybe have heard of Dave Asprey or of his Bulletproof Coffee or The Bulletproof Diet book. This will be a fascinating conversation for them. Have some fascinating conversations that you can pull from.

One thing we do, my business partner Jeremy and I, we do these smaller events around the country oftentimes at conferences. We try and do something a little bit different that will accelerate the process of people having something a little bit quirky that they can connect over, that they can have a conversation over. It can accelerate people getting to know one another and in a deeper way. They’re going to want to follow up further with one another. Oftentimes, what we’ll do is we’ll ask people a certain question on their way in the door that makes it easier, that accelerates that process. One of the questions we’ve asked them in the past is, “What’s one place on your bucket list that you’ve never been to that you’ve always wanted to go to?”

The cool thing is a couple of people will write the same thing, and then they immediately have something to talk about. All the people will write something that someone else has been to or maybe they’re from there and so they can talk about it. Another thing often we’ve asked, “Who’s a celebrity that you’ve met?” That gives people another opportunity. Maybe they met the same celebrity or they can tell the story about how they met that particular celebrity. It breaks down barriers. It allows everyone to be a little bit of a geeky fan and reveals who you’re a fan of or some crazy experience that you had running into some celebrity at a bar or running into them at a sporting event or something like that.

Early on in my networking career in my business, I went to this event put on by Personify, which no longer exists. It was one of those companies that got bought out by Microsoft in the early days of the internet. They did this cool thing because there was personalization software and they wanted to show how people can have interesting conversations by being grouped together with people who are like-minded. They had all these stickers and they had choices between the stickers and they’re different colors. It was one color. The choice was either surf or turf. You’d take the surf sticker or you take the turf sticker and you’d stick it on your shirt. Another different color was your place or mine. You put your place on your shirt. They had this little row of stickers and they go walking around looking for people who had the same configuration of sticker choices and it was fascinating. It’s a fun conversation and icebreaker. I hadn’t seen that ever done again other than that one networking party.

Another thing I saw that is quite innovative is networking Bingo. I saw this at Social Media Marketing World. You meet different people who speak three foreign languages or more whatever and you get them to sign their initials in that square on the bingo card. You have to meet all these different people who have interesting things like somebody who has a flown an airplane or whatever. You have to ask them, “I’m only looking for somebody who’s piloted an airplane before. Is there anybody in this group?” It’s a great ice breaker. I not only do consult, but I also do some coaching too.

Today’s day and age is about following up, deepening the relationship, and taking it further. If you don’t do any of that, you’re just dooming yourself to failure.


One of my coaching clients was going with their entire team to the BrightonSEO Conference, ten different staff. I’m like, “Why don’t you do this networking Bingo thing and you give your team a bingo card that they have to go out and meet people. You put your company branding on it and so forth. You’re the only ones that are going to have this Bingo card. There are only going to be ten Bingo cards out there at this huge conference. I bet it will be the talk of the conference, especially if you put some interesting squares on there like they have to meet a speaker, they have to meet the conference organizer or whatever.” Certainly, it worked. It showed up on a bunch of people’s Instagrams and Twitters and so forth. If you could think of things that are outside the box that make it easier, a no-brainer to go up and talk to people and you don’t have to apply yourself with alcohol and get the nerve to do it.

One of the types of events we do, which I’m a huge fan of. Everyone ought to be doing these is we do these food tours usually in association with the conference. We’ll be at a conference and oftentimes we’ll partner with the conference itself. We’ll gather a group of people together and rather than putting everyone in a hotel conference room or restaurant party room, which is fine under certain contexts. Instead, what we’ll do is a progressive dinner party meets a networking event. We’re going around to multiple different locations, a food tour where you’re on foot or on a bus or something like that. What’s cool about it is unlike a traditional networking event where you might get stuck talking to one or two people. This way you’re up, you’re down, you’re moving around, you’re sitting next to different people, or you’re meeting many more people. That gives you more opportunities for people to follow up with. We’d done that a couple of times. We did it in San Francisco. We did in Chicago with a pizza tour. We did in Austin with a barbecue tour. It’s always a lot of fun. More people ought to do them. Frankly, they’re a lot of fun.

This is the first time I’ve done this ever to do a food tour. I did it in 2018. I was in Tel Aviv for a few months, my wife and I. She did a surprise date where she signed us up for this food tour in an interesting neighborhood. It’s not known as the safest neighborhood, but it was fascinating because there are all these hidden gems that the locals in that neighborhood know about. Like the Eritrean cuisine, which is Ethiopian food if you ever had Ethiopian. Filipino cuisine, these are hidden gems that the locals know about and only those locals that are of that nationality or that ethnicity. All the Eritreans go to these three different places. We get to sample foods from all these interesting little holes in the wall and that was amazing. It gave me a new appreciation for going outside my comfort zone and not the places that are the five-star Yelp reviewed places. That scrambling concept, get outside your comfort zone. I did that. I love that concept though of food tours. There should be more of those. I don’t see a lot of that out there.

It requires more effort than doing your standard putting people together in a room or a dinner or something like that. It requires some coordination. Another thing we’ll do is oftentimes we’ll introduce a theme or have everyone dressed up as something or we’ll dress up ourselves. When we did the barbecue tour, I didn’t even tell my business partner about it. It’s become a tradition where I’ll spring a costume on him at the last minute so we both look foolish. There’s a reason for it is because when you telegraph that you don’t take yourself too seriously, then people lower their guard and they’re more comfortable. When we did the barbecue tour, we both dressed up like cowboys but we bought this cheesy cowboy costume on Amazon that made us look like Woody from Toy Story. People kept coming up to us and taking pictures with us.

In Chicago, because it was a pizza tour, we dressed up like Mike Ditka. In Las Vegas, four of us dressed up like Elvis impersonators and we were walking through the Venetian Hotel, people stopping to take pictures with us. You can’t help but lower your guard and then it gives everyone else something to talk about because they can all talk about what an idiot the hosts are, “Those guys look like fools.” It’s deliberate because it gets people talking, gets people engaging. That’s one of the struggles when it comes to going out and meeting people. If we can make it a little bit easier for people, then it’s worth looking a little foolish.

If you don't lead with a sales pitch and you reach out to people in a sincere way, you can really make some great connections. Click To Tweet

What that reminds me of is there’s this technique in pickup called peacocking. I learned some pickup from Neil Strauss’s The Game. I was socially awkward, my previous version of myself. I was going through a divorce and I went a couple of years without a date and it was terrible. I did not know how to show up powerfully or look attractive or speak attractively or anything like that. I learned from Neil and some other folks like Ross Jeffries. I had Ross Jeffries on my other podcast, Get Yourself Optimized.

Jordan Harbinger also, formerly of The Art Of Charm. He’s a good friend and I know he once years ago went to a bar every night dressed in a bear costume or something like that, every night for a week straight as a personal challenge. The goal is to strike up a conversation. In some ways, that’s easier. Once you get over the initial inhibition, it makes it easier because of people, at least the ones who are going to have a conversation with you and not be put off by it. They’re going to be amused by it.

You could show up at a bar or whatever with this funny hat on that has a huge feather, like a pimp hat or whatever it’s called. People will come up and talk to you because you give them an excuse to come up and talk to you. Otherwise, they have to feel awkward randomly walking up to you without any particular reason. You gave him a reason. It’s effective. That’s peacocking. You’re good at peacocking. You may not have thought of it like that. Jordan Harbinger is a cool guy. I had him on Get Yourself Optimized as well. Why don’t we talk a little bit in a lightning round fashion about how to do effective networking in an offline environment because we’ve been talking a lot about offline networking at events or networking functions? What about online where you haven’t decided whether you’re going to use Facebook or LinkedIn or email to a do a cold outreach? Maybe you have a podcast as well or you’re going to get on people’s podcasts. How do you best a break the ice in an online environment?

Depending on the industry, there are different platforms that are going to be best for you. Sometimes it’s surprising how you can use them. I view it as Facebook is a great tool for maintaining contact with people who you’ve known for a while from a variety of different sources. Previous to Facebook, the way of keeping touch with most people would be you send a holiday card once a year, and that’s not a great way of keeping touch with people. Now, you can collect these people who some you went to high school with, some of you went to college with, some they were a neighbor, some you worked with at an old job, someone you met at a conference. You can keep in touch with them in a scalable way that doesn’t require the serious effort and time of getting on the phone with people every once in a while, which is challenging in a nowadays busy day and age anyway.

When I was full-time as a lawyer, which is what I did before what I do now, I’ve got a lot of legal clients from Facebook. People will often say, “I don’t think Facebook’s for me or my clients aren’t on Facebook or something like that,” I say, “BS. You can get lots of great clients on Facebook if you use it the right way.” Every medium you have to use you have to study the culture of it and figure out what is the right way to use it. If you don’t, you could burn a lot of relationships. With Facebook, I post to it a couple times a week, sometimes more than that. I’m sharing glimpses into my life and I also try and make it share helpful tips and resources and things like that. If there’s a book that I like or that I read that I like. If I had an experience where I can reflect and share a thought on that with people, I’d be transparent. We’ve had a couple of health problems in the family and I’ve shared about that. You end up having people who connect over that and in a much deeper way and they get to know you in a much deeper way. I’ve shared a little bit of those things.

LinkedIn is a different platform and I didn’t use LinkedIn for a long time. Once I devoted myself to it, then I became a raving fan of it. A lot of you don’t realize, but there are 250 million active users on LinkedIn. Before there was only 100 million, we’re talking 250% increase. Even though LinkedIn is older than Facebook and Twitter, it’s hitting hockey stick growth for a number of reasons. I know someone who is high level up at LinkedIn and one of the reasons is because Microsoft purchased it a couple of years ago and have been hands off. They’ve given money and resources and freedom and LinkedIn’s been able to run with that and acquire a lot more active users. They’ve also opened up their platform for a lot more content sharing. It’s a great tool if you’re willing to put in the time or if you get someone, this is one of the things that we do with clients is managing their LinkedIn strategy.

Depending on the industry, there are different platforms that are going to be best for you. You have to use every medium you have to use.


If you use someone like that in order to manage your LinkedIn strategy, it’s got robust features. If you know exactly the person that you want to connect with, you can target them with real precision. If you don’t lead with a sales pitch and you reach out to people in a sincere way, you can make some great connections. I’ve had people who’ve gone from completely cold that I connect with on LinkedIn to a high-paying client within less than a week. People have a high level of trust on LinkedIn with other people or all the users are on LinkedIn, not always but a lot of the time like they do on Facebook as well.

You mentioned a podcast. I’m a huge fan of doing a podcast. Not everyone out there does them. Everyone should because it’s an amazing tool for being able to connect with particularly higher-level people that don’t have time for a twenty-minute get-to-know-you phone call with someone they’re not sure if they should be spending the time with. They don’t have time to go down to Starbucks and meet you for a cup of coffee. Those are the higher level, higher caliber, successful, thriving entrepreneurs and business owners and professionals who you want to connect with. As you get higher and higher in your career, it’s harder to connect with those people. Using a tool like a podcast or it doesn’t even need to be a podcast, it could be some interview series, is another way in order to make those types of connections.

It could even be you get a column somewhere. I landed a column with ReadWrite.com. That could be the way that you outreach and show that you’re going to create some value out of that twenty minutes of time they’re going to invest in you.

I was doing this for years with Forbes. I was writing for Huffington Post and Forbes and a couple of other places like Psychology Today and stuff like that. I would do individual profiles of people and I’d systematized it where I would send them a series of questions in writing and then I distill it down and make it into a profile and publishing on some of these platforms. They were super appreciative because it gave them exposure.

A profile is a much more powerful presentation of their thought leadership than an article that quotes them in passing. You wrote also for Business Insider. The Art Of Manliness you wrote for.

The Art Of Manliness is a really popular blog because it’s unlike anything out there. It’s about traditional manhood and it’s got a huge thriving base of people. I still get people contacting me all the time who read something I wrote a few years ago for them.

A question about LinkedIn, do you recommend that people go Premium with that? There are different ways of being premium. You could do the Sales Navigator approach or whatever.

We use Sales Navigator. You don’t have to, depending on how much you use it, but LinkedIn’s been lowering the threshold. Making it so that if you start to use it more, it gets to the point where they try and push you into using it, you get a lot more precision with being able to search for people and you can do a lot more searches for people. I’m a fan of it, but like anything you got to use it.

Do you advertise on LinkedIn as well?

Don’t do any advertising, just do direct outreach.

If folks wanted to work with your company to help them get more leads and also you’ve got your Rise25 events that you put on and so forth. How do people get in touch with you and work with you and your company?

They can go to Rise25.com and learn about us there and reach out. We work with B2B businesses that have got a high client lifetime value that know the types of people that they want to connect with. They don’t want to spend all their time going out, sending out manual messages and would rather have those high-level conversations with the qualified leads. That’s what we focus in on leveraging our experience and connecting with people. We’re happy to hear from people. My blog and podcast are Smart Business Revolution if you want to check that out as well and I look forward to hearing from people. It’s SmartBusinessRevolution.com.

Thank you, John. This was a lot of fun and inspirational for our audience. To our audience, it’s time to take some action from this.

Important Links:

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

☑ Plan well and do my research when going to a networking event. Know who’s coming and who the speakers are going to be. Make a list of the people I want to meet so I can create a road map.
☑ Reach out to speakers and other people who might be interested in connecting. Invite them to a little dinner and create an atmosphere where they’ll feel more comfortable.
☑ Have a strategy in place. If I don’t have a big name speaker yet, gather my audience first then invite influencers to speak. The more exposure I can offer, the bigger names I can attract.
☑ Always focus on the value that I can provide. In exchange for someone’s time being a speaker or a guest, offer to provide them tips and advice on my area of expertise.
☑ Do introductions but make sure it’s done in a proper manner and that the timing is right.
☑ Continuously desire to learn and connect with new people. They don’t necessarily need to be high profile people, but someone who has a level of expertise that I can leverage for my growth.
☑ Be very clear with my intention and expectation when going to an event. Ask myself, “Why am I going and should I even be going?”
☑ Keep the conversation going by doing a follow up. The goal is always to build that relationship and strengthen the bond.
☑ Identify the medium that works best for my strategy. Whether it be LinkedIn, Facebook, podcasts, or Sales Navigator.The bottom line is figuring out the right way to use it for its most favorable outcome.
☑ Take action now and connect with John. Make sure to visit Rise25.com and SmartBusinessRevolution.com.

About John Corcoran

John Corcoran started his career as a Writer in the Clinton White House, and today is an attorney and Chief Revolutionary behind SmartBusinessRevolution.com, where he shows entrepreneurs and small business owners how to turn relationships into more clients and increased revenues. He is the creator of Smart Business Revolution and the Smart Business Revolution podcast, where he shares strategies for using intentional relationship-building to grow your network and your income, and he interviews successful entrepreneurs about how they have used relationships to grow their businesses and their careers. He’s the cofounder with Dr. Jeremy Weisz, of Rise25, LLC, an education and training company which holds in-person and virtual trainings for ecommerce entrepreneurs and professional services business owners. His writing has appeared in Forbes, Huffington Post, Art of Manliness, Lifehacker, Business Insider, Get Rich Slowly, Dumb Little Man, and numerous other publications, blogs and websites.

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