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3 Steps to Growing Your Network by 50 Superstars Every Year

But I learned long ago that it’s far more important to have quality over quantity in your network...

“Craig, I love getting your print newsletter each month,” my friend Dustin said. “More businesses should be sending these out.”

My newsletter is known as a 4-page “self mailer.” It costs $1.40 to send it to each person, and I have 1,000 people on my mailing list, including my top clients, closest colleagues, and industry influencers I want to impress.

“Your content is better than most of the paid subscriptions I have!” added my friend Dave.

“And I love reading it in the bathroom,” Charlie said. (You knew that one was coming. But it’s true. One of the best things about a print newsletter is how convenient it is to read anywhere.)

The letter I send features my latest productivity secrets, motivational rants, and damaging admissions about where I need to make big changes in my life.

My top clients love it when the print newsletter arrives in their mailbox each month. They post pictures of it on social media. Some of them brag about how it’s more valuable than the other $50-per-month newsletters they receive. And for others, it’s often the ONLY good thing that shows up in the mail at all.

(Don’t worry… as an ETR reader you get digital access to this newsletter, too. Here’s a linkto the latest issue.)

Now you might be thinking, “1,000 people? Big deal.” That’s not much of a list in an age when some of my 18-year-old coaching clients (and yes, I have some teenage clients making 7-figures online) have 30,000 Instagram followers.

But I learned long ago that it’s far more important to have quality over quantity in your network.

Every single person on my newsletter list is an influencer in their industry—CEOs, million-dollar real estate brokers, high-profile coaches, trend-setting fitness gurus, and sought-after finance experts, among many others. There are even two billionaires who get my letter.

How did I build up a list of so many big names (averaging roughly 50 a year over the course of my 20-year career)?

It’s all thanks to the “superstar network formula” that I’m going to share with you right now. And if it allowed a formerly introverted, broke, and socially anxious farm boy like me to connect with some of the biggest minds in business, just imagine what it can do for you.

Here are my 3 “super connector” steps for adding 50 superstars to your network every year:

1. Go and give value

Too many entrepreneurs make the mistake of asking for help the moment they make a new contact. Big no-no.

Instead of starting a relationship with an ask, give value. Offer something that your new contact can use to grow their business or brand.

This requires research. Do not go to someone and ask, “How can I help?”

Influencers are busy. They don’t need another job of figuring out how you can help. That’s your responsibility.

Before I go to someone, I read their book, review their LinkedIn profile, watch their YouTube videos, listen to podcast interviews with them, or talk to our mutual friends. Eventually, I find a unique “in” to start the conversation.

Also consider attending events in your industry on a regular basis. For an introvert like me, this was a huge hurdle. But “face time” with the people you want to meet is the best way to spark a fruitful relationship. It’s much easier to connect in person, and frankly it’s also harder for most people to say no to a request made face-to-face, while it’s easy to ignore one sent via email.

I also recommend networking dinners. This is my new favorite connection method. Invite two colleagues you know to dinner. Ask them to bring an interesting guest you don’t know. (But keep the dinner to no more than six people; it loses intimacy in bigger numbers.) Be prepared with detailed introductions and conversation items to get the discussion going early in the evening to help people feel comfortable.

This is a game-changer and can help you build your network fast. You’ll leave with at least two new friends and they will want to introduce you to others. It’s a great way to get the connection snowball rolling.

2. Connect the dots

Long ago, I earned the nickname “Godfather.” No—it’s not for the reason you might think! It was for playing matchmaker in my industry.

When I first started networking, the more I connected other people to each other, the more trust and value I built within my network. That encouraged me to “connect the dots” as often as possible, and now not a day goes by where I don’t make at least two email introductions.

But I don’t force introductions on other people. Instead, I start with something called the “double opt-in” method. This is where I ask both parties separately if they would be comfortable with an introduction to another successful industry leader who could offer them value.

(One quick word of warning: Don’t send an email intro saying, “Tom, meet Joe. Joe, meet Tom. You should know one another. Bye!” That’s not the right way to do it. Here’s why…)

Once I have permission from each influencer, I compose a detailed email introduction connecting my two friends to one another. The email includes how I know them, why they should connect, the mutual value that they could offer one another, and I mention something they share in common so they have an easy “jumping off” point for conversation. Only then do I let them take it from there.

Again, this is all about creating value for others. There’s no direct business benefit to me, although I take great personal satisfaction in making these introductions. A big smile comes across my face when I can connect someone like my friend Sharran Srivatsaa (a leader in the real estate industry) with my business partner, Matt Smith. The conversation they’ll have could lead to 7-figure business deals or spawn connections to other people they need to know.

Making these high-value connections has given me The Godfather reputation and grows my network at the same time. Every person that receives an introduction always wants to pay back the favor. If you do this, it’s inevitable that your network and power will grow.

3. Sacrifice and pay the price

I want to be clear about something: This growth formula will take time and money. You’ll spend hours attending events, crafting detailed emails, and hosting get-togethers. You’ll also spend a fair amount of cash on referral gifts and networking meals (this year I’ve bought over 30 copies of Tim Grover’s book, “Relentless,” for people on my list, and last year I sent out 300 copies of Ben Hardy’s book, “Willpower Doesn’t Work.”)

But let me put that in perspective. The cost of this effort is worth every penny spent staying connected and constantly “front of mind” in your network’s eyes. The cost of growing your influence is not an expense. It’s an investment. For example, one friend, after receiving Ben Hardy’s book, emailed me to say thanks and then asked to sign for my workshop, turning my total investment in sending out Ben’s books into a positive ROI.

When you share value with others, your own value has nowhere to go but up.

Final example: I’m spending top dollar ($50k) to bring sought-after speakers to the Perfect Life Retreat this fall—sports icon Tim Grover, real estate guru Sharran Srivatsaa, and Fit Body Boot Camp founder Bedros Keuilian. A lot of event entrepreneurs would scoff at that price tag and go for cheaper, less influential speakers, but I know how much value they will bring to my friends and clients attending the Perfect Life Retreat. That alone is worth it, and the return-on-investment will be multiples of what I’ve paid.

It’s this approach of adding value that has made all the difference in my success. It has helped grow my network and flooded me with opportunities—neither of which i would have enjoyed had I taken the path of least resistance and remained the cheap, introverted, socially anxious young man I once was.

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That’s it—3 steps, practiced regularly, to a quality list of big names in your field.

Still daunted by the prospect of hooking 50 superstars for your business by next year? Don’t be. If you push yourself to follow the steps above consistently, I guarantee you’ll be boasting high-profile customers and advocates by the end of 2019—and your own value will skyrocket because of it. A great place to start is the Perfect Life Retreat. We even have a unique “done for you” networking component that you won’t find at any other event. Learn more about the event and our speakers here.

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