Thomas Leonard is a bit of a hero of mine. We spoke a number of times over the phone and shared a passion for the Dave Matthews Band. His book The 28 Laws of Attraction remains one of the best books I’ve ever read. Half of the people to whom I lend it have a significant life breakthrough. I was one of the first class leaders on teleseminar.com and Thomas listened to a few of my calls and offered for me to take over a tour he was doing – which floored me. In the end I couldn’t. He passed away a few years ago before we ever got a chance to meet in person but left behind him such an incredible wealth of practical wisdom and distinctions.
And this piece you’re about to read on hosting a network planted some of the earliest seeds in my mind around ‘becoming a hub’. This man was a genius.
In some of the classes I teach, I often refer to the practice-building strategy (and general success strategy) of becoming the host of your network, and I get lots of questions about what I mean by this and how one becomes the host of their network.
This Top 10 List explains the idea and how to put it into practice.
1. First, a little bit about networking in general. Traditional networking is when you meet people, get their business card or name/phone and put it in your Rolodex. People are viewed as contacts, as resources. The next level of networking is when you help out individuals as you meet them, or later, with referrals, information, support, connections, resources, etc. Sometimes they do the same for you; sometimes they do not. You network among your friends, at breakfast meetings, support groups, professional associations, etc. Lots of saying hi and shaking hands and getting to know people at some level.
Networking is positive in many ways, although it can take a lot of time and energy to keep “getting out there” and meeting and greeting. And for us shy ones, it’s difficult to do emotionally.
2. So, that’s networking, but being the host of a network is quite different. I don’t have much time or taste for networking. True, I should spend more time on it, but I don’t want to. I’d rather be providing a service or product to people. I’d rather be delivering than meeting and greeting someone I’m not going to be really close with. (Call me timid. Call me cold. Call me easily bored.) At the same time, I know it’s fun/nourishing to know a lot of people and from a business standpoint, it’s gold.
So, I said to myself, “Thomas, why don’t you just establish yourself as the host of a network and start serving the people who want to hang around you or buy what you’re offering?“
Well, I didn’t really ask myself that question, but if I was clear enough about this concept 2 years ago, I would have. But if you look at what I’ve done in the past 2 years, you’ll see that I have been extending my network. It started when I began broadcasting these Top 10 Lists (15,000+ people receive them every day now).
Many people who read them, write me.
They “joined” my network — without consciously knowing it, perhaps. Some of them hired me as their coach; some of them signed up for my TeleClasses, some of them entered Coach University. And some (most) of them did absolutely nothing, but that’s ok because it takes me ZERO extra time to “serve” them with my top tens. And I’ve developed quite a Capillary Marketing System (aka Attraction) in the process. So, then came the 2 books last year.
More people in my network — those who read the book, and those who responded to the offer of a free TeleClass on Attraction on the back cover. And did I tell you that at least a dozen of them entered Coach University as a result of the book (so far)?
3. Okay, is this making a little more sense now? What I am saying is that it is possible to attract and serve 1,000-10,000 or even more people with not that much effort on your part. Some of you will need to stick with the marketing approach that you’re using, because this “host of a network” thing takes a little while to get up and running. But those of you spending far too much time on marketing, or who don’t like to market, becoming the host of your network is the best investment you’ll ever make.
There is a bit of a learning curve, especially when it comes to finding out exactly how to serve the people in your network, but once you get good at listening, surveying and experimenting, you’ll find your sea legs. The mistake that most people make when they do this, is that they already have in mind what they want to sell or offer their network and try to push that on their “prospects.”
Bad form and it destroys trust.
The people in your network, even if you never meet them and if they never buy anything from you, are not prospects. They are human beings, just like you, who have wants and dreams and needs and problems. Better to overrespond (one of the Attraction Principles) to what your network wants, than try to foist your good ideas and products on them. (In my early years, I was a masterful failure at “foisting.” Not pretty.)
4. The first change to make is in your thinking. Get out of the marketing business and into the network-building and serving business. Get your arms around the notion of being the host of your network, instead of just being part of a network or networks. Make the decision to help the people in your network. Remember the line that goes something like “one of the best ways to become successful is to help enough people become successful.” What a perfect approach! You may be saying to yourself, “Well, that SOUNDS good, but how do I build a network and how do I make it worth my while financially?” That’s a good question, but first ask yourself, “Am I willing to help 10,000 people succeed in any way I can, assuming it would help me financially as well?” If the answer is yes, then you’re on your way to becoming a very successful host of a network. But you have to care about other people’s success, not just your own. You have to be willing to use technology (the Internet, email) in order to serve your network effectively. You have to be willing to share a lot of what you know in your areas of expertise and give much of it away for free, in virtual formats. You have to be willing to be a builder. You have to be efficient (or else, you’ll drown in serving the needs of 10,000 people). And you have to be willing to learn from your network, not just offer what you have been offering. Being the host of a network is a whole ‘nother ballgame. It’s an evolutionary step in both marketing and in living. And it takes a little getting used to.
5. Your first goal should be to build between 1,000 and 10,000 people in your network, many of whom you’ll never meet. You need a fairly large number of people to make this “host of a network” strategy work. In other words, if you want a full practice, enough people need to know about you and be in contact with you in some way on a regular basis so they “remember” you when it comes time for them to hire you or to make a referral.
What you want is 99% of your new clients to come from those “out of the blue” calls we love to get. Your network IS that “blue.” At this point, you may be wondering exactly how one attracts 1,000-10,000 people to “join” your network.
The simplest, best, easiest, least expensive, and fastest way to do this is to start a daily or weekly email newsletter or tip broadcast on the subject(s) of your choice. Most of the coaches who I’ve advised/helped to set this up will have between 500 and 2,000 subscribers within one year. One coach has 5,500 subscribers to his list in the first year, and expects to earn $75,000 in 1999 from coaching services and TeleClass revenue that come exclusively from this network of people HE NEVER KNEW BEFORE.
Such is the power of the Internet.
People on the Internet are eager to join something because they want to learn stuff for free and they want the chance to connect with others who share their interests and/or problems. It’s not uncommon for a person to be a part of 10 or 20 “networks.” Why not yours?
6. So, you’re saying that if I start an email newsletter or tip broadcast, I’ll make $75,000 a year? Some will, some won’t. Some will make less, some will make more. But what I am saying is that if you are looking for more clients and for a “system” that continually sends you clients and students, then the email newsletter/tip broadcast is one of the best ways to go. (Another great way is to write a book, but that takes time and connections and there’s less of a guarantee that it will sell.)
The idea is to start building toward 10,000 subscribers who like what you are writing about. That makes you attractive. That bonds them to you a bit and creates trust. All I can say is that if you have 10,000 subscribers you’ll have reached critical mass and you’ll have enough people in your network who will buy SOMETHING from you. (Well, on average 5% of them will buy something from you, but 5% of 10,000 is 500 people! That adds up.)
And the best thing about this approach is that your network will only grow over time. So, it’s like having an annuity that’s building. New folks will come in, some folks will drop off, but on balance, your network will grow. It’s just how it works.
7. The trick is to find out what the people in your network need and want and then provide that for them. One of the best lines I’ve ever heard related to the Internet and marketing is “It’s better to find out what 1,000,000 people want to buy and provide that to them, than to try to get 1,000,000 people to buy what you’re trying to sell them.” This holds true for your network of 10,000. You CAN bond with them enough to learn what types of classes, tips, information, support, coaching, discussions, etc., that they most want and need. They WILL tell you if you ask — and be impressed that you did ask. And you can create the stuff they want, they WILL buy something from you.
Think of your 10,000 people as your R&D team that helps you create products and services to attract even MORE people. I did this with the Attraction Course I led in the fall of 1997. I had a contract to write a book on that subject (called The Portable Coach) from Scribner, and I knew I needed “real people” to help me co-create and test out my theories so they’d be practical and attractive vs just a figment of my imagination. 400 people signed up for my class that fall and I taught them all about Attraction, and they taught me what I had to do to make the concepts stronger, more practical and more easily understood.
Since July 1998 when the book was released, over 20,000 copies of the books have been purchased, mostly by people I don’t know and will never know. But some of them have joined my network via subscribers and TeleClass participants. See how well the whole idea of being the host of your network builds on itself? The synergy is awesome.
8. People want to be part of a network where the host looks out for, and ahead for, them. People join networks because they want to learn something and have a connection with people with similar needs, interests or problems. But they also like having a “leader” or host — someone who is thinking ahead, and looking out for their well-being and success. As a coach or other professional, you are in a perfect position to do this.
You know cool stuff that others want to know.
You know how to communicate and touch people. You are already progressive and forward thinking so you’re probably ahead of the curve (which makes you very attractive to people who want to catch up or keep up). Part of what you get to do as host is to ask yourself, “What do the people in my network need to know in order to be more successful/happier over the next 3 years?” In other words, what information, support, tools, 1-1 help, questions, programs, assessments, etc., do they need to handle what’s coming down the pike or to resolve whatever’s blocking their progress?
As you get to know your network, you’ll start creating perfectly-fitting solutions for them. You just will. Some of these solutions will be free and some of them will carry a fee. If you focus on the 10,000 people and offer a mix of free and fee, you can earn between $25,000 and $100,000 a year (perhaps even $1,000,000) “from” your network, without abusing them.
9. Okay, let’s get practical. How can I “harvest” my network so that I can make a living at this? There’s a smart way to earn money via your network, and a dumb way. The dumb way is to be too generous and give everything you do away for free, in the “hope” that someone will hire you because you’ve been so nice and generous. Another dumb way is to hard-sell your products and services to your network. They’ll flee. But the smart way is to start offering creative, non-threatening, trust-creating ways for your “members” to connect with you.
Here are 11 examples of what I mean:
- Free single-session TeleClasses on any subject that your members will respond to.
- Fee-based 4-12 week TeleClasses or TelePrograms on subjects that your members are willing to pay for.
- Free “hotline hours” on Fridays from 12 to 3 p.m. where anyone can call you for help on a specific topic/problem.
- Fee-based Group Coaching (up to 10 people) on a very specific subject.
- Offers to provide free referrals of any kind to anyone in your network who needs an expert in something.
- Free showcasing of selected members of your network, so people get to know each other.
- Fee or free TeleSupport Groups for members sharing a similar problem.
- Additional tips/information/broadcasts/topten list on subjects of interest to your network.
- A free 1-1 coaching session, as a special offer.
- A free or special offer from one or more of your members available to other members.
- A content-rich website with stuff that your network really can use.
Most of these things don’t take a lot of time and they go a long way to engender trust which results in direct business and referrals. I’d much rather spend my time offering these types of goodies than to spend a single minute cold-calling or marketing for clients.
Again, I’d rather deliver services for free and benefit from the goodwill, flow, value-added, than to market myself directly. What you’ll find is that people take you up on the free stuff and then start buying the fee stuff once they realize that you know what you’re talking about. And, as your network grows and you offer more free and fee stuff to them, about 2-4% of your network will buy more than one product/service/class from you.
10. Whew. There’s a lot to this idea of becoming the host of your network! Yes, it’s both a new concept to grasp and there is some work needed to set it up. But I can say that it’s entirely worth it, and the emergence of the Internet really makes it possible to serve this many people, in relatively very little time. The trick is to get started and the best/easiest way to get started is to offer a free weekly tip or newsletter via email and start building your subscriber base. (I teach a TeleClass on exactly how to do this called Internet Marketing for Professionals — visit http://www.thomasleonard.com.) The key to becoming the host of a large network is to get started. Let me know how I can help YOU get started.
About the Submitter: Submitted by Thomas Leonard
If you’d like get cool posts like this in your inbox every few days CLICK HERE to subscribe to my blog and you’ll also get a free copy of my fancy new ebook “Marketing for Hippies” when it’s done.