Being a fan can pay off. Connecting with someone you admire is a great way to build a relationship, create value, and maybe eventually land a job.
On a recent episode of LMM, Thomas and Andrew discussed the concept of the Life Success Triangle, a general guide to life success that consists of three components: Learning, Value Creation, and Relationship Building.
The conversation and Thomas’s article on the subject, do a good job of explaining each of the components, but today I thought I would offer a concrete example of how one component of the triangle, Relationship Building, paid off for me, literally. I’ll also show you how you can apply the same techniques to your own financial life.
A lot of people will tell you that the key to getting ahead in life is to know the right people. And guess what? They’re absolutely right. Who you know definitely matters.
It’s easy when hearing stories of How Relationship Building Can Pay Off to think that this sort of stuff just happens over night. As such, a lot of people keep waiting for the right opportunity or connection to come to them instead of going out there and pursuing them.
Relationships can pay off in ways you can’t imagine now, so don’t only build relationships that you think might have a surefire, immediate payoff.
A Bit of Back Story
Let me give you an example from my life: Almost a year ago, I discovered a website that has changed my life. Through a guest post on Nerdfitness, I discovered LMM co-host Thomas Frank’s blog College Info Geek. I read a couple of Thomas’s articles, and from there I was hooked. I spent most of that night just reading through the archives, discovering massively valuable and interesting content.
I also discovered the CIG podcast, which back in those days came out twice a month (how things have changed since then!). Over the next few days, I listened to all the back episodes and got even more hooked. I’ve been a regular listener ever since.
From there, I began leaving a few comments on the blog, engaging with Thomas’s content and asking him questions. I also signed up for his email list and responded by telling him what I was struggling with (at the time it was paying off student debt). I also downloaded and read his book, The Personal Branding Checklist. I emailed him my thoughts and even suggested a few edits.
Great, you may say, but why do I care? How is this going to make me more money and get me paid? I’m getting to that, don’t worry. I tell you this back story to set up what happens next.
The Relationship Grows
After a few months of engaging with the blog and sending in questions, as well as writing about what I’d learned from College Info Geek on my personal blog, Thomas asked me if I would be interested in doing a guest post. I agreed and wrote 6 Writing Tips To Make Your Papers 300% Better.
When Thomas announced that he was hiring a podcast editor (hi Meg!), I applied. I knew I wasn’t qualified, but I did it just for the experience. As Adrian Larssen pointed out in the Taking Control of the Job Hunt episode, it’s important to apply for jobs just for the practice. I didn’t get the job, but applying I showed that I was interested in helping Thomas and improving College Info Geek.
Over the next few months, I wrote more guest posts. When Thomas released his epic book Ten Steps to Earning Awesome Grades, I read it and sent him a list of typos and suggested edits.
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A little over a month ago, Thomas hired me as a regular writer for College Info Geek. This was the payoff for months of relationship building, the result of adding value without expectation. Let’s analyze this story a little bit and extrapolate principles you can apply to your own life.
I didn’t just email Thomas out of the blue and say, “Here I am! Look at me! Please hire me!” When I started building this relationship, I had no intention of even writing a guest post for CIG, let alone becoming a regular contributor. I was just interested in what Thomas had to say and impressed by his commitment to his readers and listeners.
This should drive the way you build connections as well. Don’t reach out to someone just because they’re powerful or popular. Connect with people you would actually want to know. Those are the relationships that are not only more fruitful, but also more fun!
Easy Ways To Be A Super Fan
Sharing an article,podcast, or video on social media (bonus points if you include a thoughtful, kind comment about it). I also promoted the guide on Facebook, telling my friends how helpful it was. Showing a person that their work was not just interesting but also useful is a great way to genuinely connect with them.
Leave a thoughtful, engaging comment on a something the person has created. Go beyond just, “This was awesome!” While praise is great, engagement and honest feedback are even better.
If you need a formula, try something like “That was amazing because [WHY IT WAS AMAZING]. It really helped me do [BLANK]. One question I had, though, was [YOUR INTELLIGENT QUESTION]?”
Engage via email. When you subscribe to pretty much any email list nowadays, you’ll get an auto-response asking you something like “What are you struggling with?” or “How can I help you?” Respond to these emails!
Most people who ask these questions really do want your answers. Then again, don’t take it personally if they don’t respond right away or even at all. Entrepreneurs are busy! If Andrew or Thomas haven’t gotten back to you, don’t worry, they’re working on it.
Add Value Without Expectation
The specific way you add value will depend on what sort of outcome you’re looking for. What matters most is that you do it without expectation. Basically, just be a nice, helpful person. One of the best ways to add value without expectations is to offer free work.
Here are a few ideas:
Looking to get into web design? Email a site you like with some suggestions on how to improve their design and offer to implement those suggestions. Just make sure it doesn’t look like the kind of spam solicitations blogs are always receiving.
Looking to write for a particular website? Offer a guest post. Make sure to read the site’s specific guidelines, as some don’t accept unsolicited guest posts. Check out this episode of the Smart Passive Income podcast for more info on how to get guest posts. This guy used to drive a bread truck for a living and now he’s a contributing writer for the Huffington Post.
Looking to paint houses? It can be quite profitable since no one wants to do it. Offer to do it for friends or family for free or in exchange for beer. Just don’t combine the two activities…tall ladders and tallboys don’t mix well. You now have several satisfied customers to recommend your services, plus a bit of experience.
When Opportunities Present Themselves, Pursue Them
You’ll notice a couple key moments in my story when Thomas presented me with opportunities to further our professional relationship. The first was when he asked me to write a guest post, and the second was when he announced that he was hiring.
I took both opportunities head-on. I made damn sure that the first and all subsequent guest posts were the best I could write and I continue this mentality now that I’ve been hired.
When the job announcement came out, I went for it. My application wasn’t as awesome as Meg’s, but taking the time to create the best application I could showed that I was interested in working for Thomas and helping him however possible, even if it was in an area that would require me to learn new skills.
And you better believe I applied the job application tips I learned from CIG when I created my application. Again, it didn’t pay off immediately, but in the long run I know that this expression of interest helped me get my current position.
Embrace Relationship Building For Its Own Sake
Even though this is Listen Money Matters, it’s not all about the money. Money is just a tool, and understanding money is just a path toward living a better life.
One of the best steps you can take toward living a better life is to build quality relationships, both online and off. For all the “professional” advantages of relationship building, genuine connection with like-minded people is something that will help you no matter the money (see what I did there?).
Genuine relationships pay off in more than just financial ways. If you want more advice on building and maintaining relationships, I included links to some helpful articles.
CIG: How To Become an Expert Networker.
Fizzle: Build a Better Network.