In business, we often get so focused on our own needs that we forget or possibly don’t care to learn about another person’s business and their potentials needs.
Even when you go to a networking or marketing event, you’re still focused mostly on you and your business – and so is everyone else. The end result is a bunch of conversations that aren’t very productive and, frankly, aren’t very interesting.
But today’s guest, John Newtson, has co-created a B2B business development ecosystem that takes a fundamentally different approach to event marketing. His conference, the Financial Marketing Summit, helps shake people out of their me-centered mindset and break through the business inertia by doing more together.
The Win-Win Mentality Guiding the Way to Conduct Business
John’s career journey has certainly had interesting twists and turns. From a being a high-school dropout working in office mailrooms to having other jobs like working in a funeral home, he ultimately found his way into direct response copywriting.
And his big break happened when decided to take a $5000 chance on attending a conference by a very well established direct response copywriter. The hook was that there was a writing competition whereby applicants had the opportunity to win the grand prize of $25,000 plus an apprenticeship with him. John didn’t have that kind of money so he made a gamble by opening up a credit card and maxing it out so he could attend.
This $5000 bet paid off. John won the competition, got mentored and gained valuable experience all of which helped his career flourish in the direct response publishing industry.
While he experienced much success, he didn’t completely resonate with his mentor’s adversarial approach to business, treating each customer like they had his money in their pocket. And his mentor wasn’t the only one to think that way. John didn’t like this win-lose mentality. But it was really in conflict with a lot of the people that he was dealing with and it soured him on the business side of things.
After undergoing a very volatile period before and after John left his mentor’s business, he then had to generate clients which meant he to do some marketing for himself. And for him, the best kind of marketing was to do something that was event based, essentially a conference. He saw an an opportunity to connect disparate groups together where they could see a benefit from cross-pollination.
While John didn’t have a clear idea of what it was going to be, he knew it was critical to ensure that whatever he and his partner did (or planned to do) delivered value to the people would be attending. Because he instinctively knew that winning wasn’t about “I,” but rather it was always about “we”. And that started by thinking about other people’s need first and foremost. This mindset was and still is the lynchpin of his events.
“...we didn't really put it together with the idea of making that much money from it...it's great make some money from it, but it's more about the opportunities that we can put together in a room, and you do that by helping everybody. “
And the conference business definitely grew to be more than a lead magnet for his copywriting business. In fact, he never took another copywriting client again after that!
The Challenge (and Expectations) with Events & Conferences - The Narrow View of Networking and Deal Making
John feels that at most events, people don’t really focus on relationships because they perceive networking to be transactional: they need this relationship, deal, or opportunity right now, so they’re going to start thinking about who can fill that need.
And there is pressure when you go to a networking event because 1) you’ve paid money, 2) you’ve traveled and have dedicated time out of your busy work schedule to come to do this, and 3) you have limited time to get as much value as you can.
So people who aren’t necessarily me-focused can succumb to this pressure to perform and become myopic, which causes them to miss out on the bigger picture opportunities that could exist by trying to understand the person on the other side and what they may need or want.
John feels this mindset is created because everyone is generally operating in silos; they are blind to the business ecosystem that they are in, which results in becoming too narrowly focused on what they already know, what they are doing, and their own competitive struggles.
And this often manifests itself in their networking behavior. They are staying in their box.
Further, John knows in most instances attendees are there to do deals at events. However, they’re not doing them in a creative way that actually helps them do business with others.
“We don't even think about being creative about doing business with somebody else. It's just like I have a shopping list, and that shopping list is either networking-based or it's customer-based.”
By anticipating what attendees are looking for while alsoencouraging everyone to take responsibility for each other’s ambitions and successes, John believes and has proven that you can create incredible business momentum that will pay dividends into the future.
Create an environment in which people can get out of their box and focus on addressing one another’s needs.
When you plan an event, address some of the expectations/tactical needs that you know all attendees want upfront (e.g. contact list of all event attendees). This way you are able to help them focus on building relationships at the event.
Good networking is really about that person who is focusing on helping others, and specifically helping others establish new relationships that lead to value. Not someone who is fun and social.
It doesn’t have to be complicated – Look at what others need and take some time out of your day to help them. It can be as simple as that one thing. “If you just think about it in terms of sending people business, you'll be a pretty well-respected networker.”
Don’t feel like you have to connect with everybody to be effective. Show up, be helpful, and fish for the people that you have genuine connections with and that you’ll enjoy doing business. Over time, that's really what matters.
The best connections you get are going to be people who see the world the way you see it; The people who want to actually be connected with you because of who you are and how you act.
People appreciate receiving help, and you don’t need any special training to provide that. “Everyone's got struggles, everyone's got difficulties. You don't have to be a particularly great speaker. You don't have to be witty. You just have to be helpful.”
Invest in your social capital – it’s real and it’s almost as important as regular capital. Because every person you meet is really a doorway to this whole sea of opportunities that you couldn't access otherwise.
Knowing how to do things is really important, but knowing people is just as important. So get out there and get involved. Show up at places, meet new people and build new relationships.
Learn more at financialmarketingsummit.com
Connect with John on LinkedIn