Don’t be afraid to fire clients — I can’t stress the importance of this alone. The Pareto principle is real; just how 80% of your business can come from 20% of your clients, so too can the setbacks. There’s only so many hours in a day and hoops you can go through, and you must correctly focus your efforts and time. If it’s just not working out with a client, you need to address the issue to improve the relationship, and sometimes make the decision to sever ties.
I had the pleasure to interview Adam Connors. Adam is a sought-after speaker, podcast host, social architect and super-connector who has transformed lives and accelerated careers of thousands of people. He’s the Founder & CEO of NetWorkWise, a business platform that expedites outcomes for individuals and businesses through training in the science and art of networking and building world-class relationships. Adam has held numerous roles in the Financial Services sector, as an executive search professional and business coach assisting countless management consultants, technology startup executives, and Fortune 500 company leaders in unlocking higher performance and building inspirational professions.
Thank you so much for joining us Adam! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
That’s a loaded question! What I’m doing today is the culmination of my accomplishments to date. I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart and have spent almost 20 years starting and building companies across various industries. I am what some call a “social architect” and recognized for having established deep connections with a great number of contacts through networking, as well as demonstrating the ability to open difficult doors to get to the right people. Developing proper relationship-building skills is something everyone can learn — and is the foundation for what we are educating others about through NetWorkWise.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
Pinpointing one would be difficult, but if you had me in a corner, I’d have to say identifying a niche and target market. Knowing how to build world-class relationships lends itself to all fields and facets of life, and it’s a double-edged sword that’s bittersweet. Sweet, because your potential market and impact is HUGE; bitter, because as any entrepreneur or really anyone in the world of business will tell you, you also have to be laser focused. Hence the challenge. I’ve learned that you have to crawl before you walk and before you can run. The ultimate goal is always possible, as long as you don’t bite off more than you can chew.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
To be clear we’re only in the first inning of a game that has the potential to go many extra innings. Ironically enough, I can attribute the success we’ve achieved so far to my own networks. (Technically, nobody has a network, but we are parts of many different networks). Had I not had the great fortune of being surrounded by top-shelf people, I wouldn’t have been able to hire the team I have, raise the money I needed to, ascertain some of my first clients, identify some of my marquee podcast guests on Conversations with Connors, or have the sounding board of some amazing people that have provided valuable business advice. Thanks to my networks I have avoided making many mistakes that, if I was on my own island, I would have surely made.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
- The significance of preparation — As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” This is so true. I have found that if you don’t accomplish items like developing a well-thought out marketing strategy for a product or creating a successful daily plan to achieve certain tasks, you waste many hours of your own time, not to mention the time of everyone else involved. Time is our most important commodity.
- Be slow to hire, quick to fire — This applies to both employees and service providers. When I initially launched NetWorkWise my first employee was a superstar (on paper) with their ivy league education, start-up experience, and more. Unfortunately, once they were in the role, I soon learned the hard way their skills and experience were much better on paper and they couldn’t accomplish what they were hired to do. I made the mistake of keeping them on board far too long, which not only cost me a lot of money, but many sleepless nights and probably a bit of lost credibility amongst potential investors.
- The past predicts the future — I had reconnected with a client I worked with at a previous company, who informed me they were highly interested in doing business together. After multiple phone calls, meetings and dinners, this business never came to fruition. I realized this client had acted in the same manner when we attempted to work together on a prior project, but I had not learned my lesson. I have now!
- Don’t be afraid to fire clients — I can’t stress the importance of this alone. The Pareto principle is real; just how 80% of your business can come from 20% of your clients, so too can the setbacks. There’s only so many hours in a day and hoops you can go through, and you must correctly focus your efforts and time. If it’s just not working out with a client, you need to address the issue to improve the relationship, and sometimes make the decision to sever ties.
- Be ready to pivot, cut losses, and don’t throw good money after bad — Coming out of the gate we targeted the consumer market. While I still believe they’re our ultimate customer, we realized most individuals aren’t very proactive in their careers and don’t necessarily seek out services like that of NetWorkWise or have the ability to afford it. When we first launched, we spent a lot of money, time, and resources going after this market, but soon realized we needed to switch gears. However, I was too stubborn to cut losses early.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Stay focused on the big picture goal. You must be ready for some setbacks along the way, but also know that it’s always darkest before the dawn. Being an entrepreneur can be extremely lonely, and most people don’t fully understand what it takes to make it happen and be successful. For instance, you need a great business plan, capital, grit, drive, a solid support system, and a bit of luck. Burning out is not really an option. If you do, then starting a business just may not be in your DNA. There’s nothing wrong about that, it’s simply just not for everyone.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
This question is the basis of my entire business. I have essentially accomplished NOTHING by myself. My successes are the work of the collective, and I am where I am today because of everyone and anyone who is part of my networks and spheres of influence.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
Society needs to reevaluate relationships, connections, and what it really means to “network”. My company was created with the goal to teach others how to “NetWorkWise” and take a proactive approach toward relationship development. When people create deep connections and strong social capital, they not only expand their networks, but their life opportunities. As Reid Hoffman said, “Networks enable communication, collaboration, and coordination that in turn enable innovation.” Those who have high social capital get things done faster, easier, and better. You get better jobs and get promoted faster. You have a more accurate view of the world and are generally happier and healthier. Ultimately, I hope to help create a better society for my daughters to live in which focuses on the importance and impact of nurturing world-class relationships.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
To make NetWorkWise a household name, and to have NetWorkWise come first to mind as soon as you hear the term “networking”.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
To have everyone’s first intention when they meet or interact with someone to be focused on how they can be beneficial to the relationship. Think about the impact this would have! We all have the potential to provide value to each other, but many of us don’t take the time to do so. If you can’t offer a direct benefit, you most likely know someone in your network (or know someone who knows someone) that can. That’s a scientific fact!
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