Welcome to episode 25 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week, Bjork talks with John Corcoran from Smart Business Revolution about connecting with influencers.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork interviewed Ali Ebright from Gimme Some Oven. They talked about a lot of things, but they really hit home with Ali’s advice for finding balance in blogging. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
How to Connect with Influencers
Growing your blog can be tough – aside from all the cooking, photographing, and writing, you also have to figure out how to get your name out there. John Corcoran argues that connecting with influencers and growing your relationships with them can be one of the best ways to get your name out there.
So how do you do it? Listen in as John shares his personal experiences with networking, his best tips to meet influencers, and why you should rank peoples’ importance from a business standpoint.
In this awesome interview, John shares:
- What an influencer is and why they are important to your business
- How providing content for others helped him grow his business
- Why you should give more than you get to grow relationships
- How to identify the people you should be getting in contact with
- Why you should be using lists in Twitter to keep track of your
- How you can use interviews to get to know people
- How to connect with people at conferences
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Bjork Ostrom: Welcome to episode number twenty-five of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. (Music playing). Hey there everybody. This is Bjork Ostrom and you are listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Excited to have you here and excited today to talk to John Corcoran. John is actually a friend of mine. We meet just about once a week with some other people that do online business stuff in what we call a mastermind. Basically it’s like a Google Hangout. We talk about stuff that we’re up to, things that are working, things that aren’t working and things that we can improve. It’s a really awesome group and one of the huge things that’s come from that is I’ve gotten to know a lot of other people. One of the main reasons is because of how intentional John has been in introducing us to other people. He does a really good job of practicing what he preaches. The tagline of today’s show is connecting with influencers. When you’re first getting started with your blog, how do you connect with other people that are in the industry? John’s going to talk about that. He’s going to share some helpful tools as well as some helpful strategies. Without further ado let’s move on with the interview. John Corcoran, welcome to the podcast.
John Corcoran: Bjork, I’m honored. Thank you. It’s such a pleasure to be here.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s going to be really exciting to talk about this because we hear a lot from people. Whether in the Food Blogger Pro community or people that email us, just all different areas. We’re connecting with people that want to learn how to connect with people better. It’s a consistent through line that we have in conversations with other bloggers. How do I connect with people that maybe have been in the industry for a long time or would be high influence people? That’s what you teach. You teach about connecting with influencers and people that you call VIPs. Before we get into it can you define what is an influencer and who’s a VIP?
John Corcoran: Yeah. Let’s talk a little bit about why it even matters too because there might be some people … I made this mistake when I was starting out thinking like, “Oh blogging. It’s an online industry. Why do I need to connect with people? What’s the importance of meeting people face to face? I can just go do this in my closet all day long.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Exactly.
John Corcoran: That’s all I need to do. Excuse me. It wasn’t until I really appreciated the importance of connecting with other bloggers, other online entrepreneurs, other podcasters’. Until I started doing that, that it really made a big difference. In terms of defining a VIP or influencer, it’s someone who you could see value in having a closer relationship with. There’s a lot of different ways we could do to define value. It could be some kind of business strategic partnership type thing. It could be just something simple like someone who you see around from time to time, or you can send an email to and they’ll answer a quick question or something like that. Or maybe someone who you have some kind of collaboration with. Maybe they promote your blog posts on Twitter. Maybe you have a webinar. They promote your webinar to their audience. Maybe they share your podcast. You come out with a new podcast and they share a new podcast. There’s a variety of different ways in the online world that you can provide value to each other.
An influencer or a VIP is someone who is not just a beginner, but someone who’s more successful than you are at this point in time. They could be an author. They could have a really big following in one of those mediums. They could have a lot of blog followers. They could have a lot of readers. They could have a lot of email subscribers. They could have a lot of followers on Instagram, on Pinterest. They can be influencers or VIPs in different industries. Sometimes they’re a big influencer and VIP on one social media network and they’re not on any other social media network. Increasingly people are appreciating the importance of building out a following across multiple networks. Chances are you probably know who a lot of them are because you’re reading their blogs. You’re reading their articles. You’re listening to their podcast. The question is really how do you go from that point observing them from afar to getting to know people like that?
Bjork Ostrom: Right. Yeah. Which is what we’re going to talk about today which I think is great. It’s interesting for you to break that down a little bit because I think it’s so true about different areas. You said, “People are diversifying.” A lot of times you see that people will have a really strong influence in a certain area. Maybe it’s Pinterest, YouTube, things like that. As you grow your business online it’s valuable to have those relationships. I think you’ll probably get to this. Maybe this is a little bit of a lead into conversation down the lines … Is a lot of times it doesn’t start with you taking advantage of the person’s influence. Eventually that might happen, but it’s maybe a common mistake that people make as they get into it. Before we get into that I want to take a step back and acknowledge that it doesn’t have to be an influencer or a VIP. It doesn’t have to be somebody like Bill Clinton or Barack Obama or Elon Musk, who when I go to your about page I see you standing next to these people. You’ve literally had a picture taken with Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Elon Musk. What was that like? What is that like when you meet somebody like that? Do you have something prepared to say to them?
John Corcoran: I was just talking to someone about this. The funny thing is you can’t really have anything prepared to talk to someone like that.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I was thinking a knock, knock joke or something like that.
John Corcoran: Well if you do have something prepared to say then it’ll probably come out weird. What’s more important is being ready to go with the flow of the conversation. Let’s say you’re going to meet someone like that as a big influencer in your space or whatever … Is knowing enough about them that you can find what you have in common and then maybe stirring the conversation in that direction. I’ll give an example. When I worked in the White House … I worked for President Clinton and I was really young. I was twenty-three when I first got that job. I was twenty-four when I left. I was going back to California and my family came out because at the time they did these radio addresses. Now it’s a YouTube address, but it was a radio address at the time. They would invite down VIP’s, members of congress and employees who were departing to watch and record it. Clinton would take pictures with you in front of the Oval Office’s desk and that’s the picture you’re referring to there. We knew that they went by really, really quickly. We knew that he was collecting old western movies on DVD at the time. We went out. We bought a couple. We put a bow on it and we brought it with us. When we went down and it was time to do the pictures they went through really quickly.
When he got to us he took the DVDs. We ended up having a five or ten minute conversation about old western movies with the President of the United States. Standing right there in the Oval Office with this line of a hundred VIPs behind us all looking up and saying, “Why the heck is he giving them the time of day? Who the heck are those people?” The reason that I tell that story is because one, you never know what you might be able to talk about with some particular VIP. Two, it is helpful to try and prepare in the right way. Not to be like, “I want to ask you about your policy in China.” Which I’m sure a lot of people do and they get a lot of, but to find some way to make that kind of connection. Because of that we got a lot longer conversation and if I were trying to you could try and leverage that further. We can talk about parallels to the online world. There are ways that you can do that and then take the relationship a little bit further.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great.
John Corcoran: The other point I want to make though just because you mentioned that is just because someone’s famous in another industry doesn’t mean it’s going to help you in the industry you’re in now. If you’re trying to build a food blog a picture with President Obama is not going to do you a lot of good right now. It might a little bit, marginal amount of good. Someone who’s got three hundred thousand followers on Instagram … For a food blog that’s a bigger and more important influencer for you for your business purposes.
Bjork Ostrom: Makes sense. The context of the relationship is important.
John Corcoran: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. For sure. You are doing a duo role right now. Is that right? Before we get into a ton so people can understand your background. You were a speech writer for a while. You were connected in law. You still have a law practice, but you’re also building your blog. I’m going to ask you a follow up question about that. Can you define that a little bit further what you’re doing right now?
John Corcoran: I have a really weird circuitous career. It’s bizarre. At 20 years old I was working for Steven Spielberg as an early employee of DreamWorks. 23 years old, writer in the Clinton White House. 25 years old, speech writer to a governor of California. I’ve also worked in the heart of Silicon Valley advising startup CEO’s. As you’ve mentioned for the last four or plus years I’ve been an attorney with my own private practice. In order to diversify my income I started this other business on the side called Smart Business Revolution, where I give people advice on how to build better relationships in business and turn those relationships into revenue, clients and customers for their business. That’s been growing very fast. It’s a more scalable type of business than practicing law, which you always have a ceiling on how much you can charge per hour and how many hours you can work in a week. As a result I’ve been devoting more and more of my attention to the online business.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting. You referenced this earlier where you said that when you first got started in blogging you didn’t really think that you needed to have relationships, or connect with influencers and things like that. I’m going to quote a article on Forbes.com where you were reflecting on some mistakes that you made early with blogging. You said, “Another mistake was that I didn’t focus on building relationships with other bloggers.” You said, “You’d built networks previously in the political world” which you talked about like in the White House, DreamWorks, Silicon Valley. When you started blogging you didn’t spend a lot of time building relationships with other bloggers. You said, “Once I realized that mistake, started connecting and building relationships with bloggers, I started to see much faster growth.” What was it about connecting with people in the blogging world or online that allowed you to experience faster growth? How did that happen?
John Corcoran: Well the two biggest/highest leverage growth levers for me had been guest posting and doing webinars for other people’s audiences.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you break each one of those down and talk about how that’s happened?
John Corcoran: Sure. Yeah. Let’s talk about guest posting first. Guest posting. During 2014 I went from under a thousand subscribers to about fifty-eight hundred email subscribers, which is my main metric for growth because that’s been the highest priority for me. I did that primarily by guest posting for a variety of different sites. When it comes to guest posting you really need to build a relationship with the person who’s running the particular site. What people struggle with sometimes is how do I get a guest post on a big blog that has a big following? It really boils down to all of the different principles which I’m sure we’re going to be talking about here. It was the same things that I did in the offline world. I went to a party school. I went to UCSB. I didn’t go to Harvard or Yale to get a job at the White House. I had this weird background. I had to use the skills that I had which was relationship building in order to get that job at the White House. It’s the same types of skills that you would use in order to get a guest post on a high traffic blog.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay. Great. We’re going to talk about those in a little bit. Do you want to talk about webinars in a little bit? What’s your strategy with those?
John Corcoran: Webinars are the same thing. It’s asking. It’s trying to find a way where you can be shared with someone else’s audience. Whether it’s shared in the form of a guest post or shared in the form of doing a webinar to someone else’s audience, they are trusting you to treat their audience well. Oftentimes big bloggers and people that have big followings online have got a lot of people asking them to do things. They’ve got a lot of people who want a piece of that audience. Bjork, you know this. There are more and more people who want a piece of your audience. When you’re receiving those kinds of incoming inquiries you’re naturally going to go to the people that you know and trust the most. It is critical that you build up those relationships first if you ever want to be shared with that audience. I never ask for it first. I always give a lot first, oftentimes for years and years. I was just talking to Jeff Goins, the writer at Goinswriter.com the other day. He was saying a lot of people ask him how he became friends with Michael Hyatt at Michaelhyatt.com whose got an enormous following. He said he did a presentation once where he went through his email and showed about seventy five different emails that he had with Michael Hyatt over a couple of years, which were all Jeff doing something to help Michael.
It’s counter intuitive because we think, “We’ll shoot. If this person’s so much more successful than me what do they possibly need from me?” The truth is it’s your responsibility to find what that thing is and it could be a lot of different things. It could be you make an introduction. It could be you write a resource of recommendation. It could be you tweet out something that they did. It could be you comment on their posts. It could be you attend their webinar, just doing things that are supportive of them and then finding ways in which you can provide unique value.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Out of all of the people that I’m connected with online John you’re one of the … I would say very top, top three. Maybe number one. I don’t know what metrics we’d be using. The relationships that I have where I feel like you’re always trying to find ways to help connect me with other people or introduce me. It’s kind of part of who you are and I’m sure that’s developed over time. It’s a great example of the way that you serve other people in order to develop that trust and connection. It makes since when we think about it and it’s like being a friend. If you want lots of friends the best way is to be a really good friend, but I think there’s also some strategy behind it. I know that you have-
John Corcoran: Yeah. It’s all duplicitous with you Bjork.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Right. Exactly.
John Corcoran: It’s all part of the master plan basically. Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Right. I’ve seen it before where you’ve done guest posts and things like that where you talk about these steps that you go through in framing the … Well how would you describe it? Maybe I’ll pass it off to you instead of trying to describe what it would be.
John Corcoran: Yeah. Well there’s a couple of things. First I think we should start with the most important issue that stops people from even getting started. That’s our mindset and it’s what’s in our brains because this is what happens. People will say, “Hey John. I totally get it. I know it’s all about who you know, but what do I possibly have to offer Bjork and Lindsey? What do I possibly have to offer them? I mean they got everything. They’re totally successful. They have dogs that are named after spices. What else do they need? They’re extremely successful.” We stop ourselves right there. It’s really a mindset issue because there are probably many other ways in which we could help them. Maybe Bjork and Lindsey are going on vacation next week or a month from now to Cabo and they’ve never been there before. You see they tweeted something about it, they’ve never been there before and you’ve got a sister in law who just went there. You email your sister and you say, “Hey. What did you like? What didn’t you like? Got any recommendations?” Your sister in law sends you an email back. You send an email to Bjork and Lindsey saying, “Hey, just want to let you know X,Y and Z.”
Something really small, didn’t take a lot of time out of your day. There are a lot of things that you can do to provide value even to the most successful, most thriving people. You just need to find out what it is. That’s the first thing you need to do. We can talk about the other stuff, but the first thing you need to do is have the right mindset. Be confident that you can go out there and you can have something of value to offer someone else. It doesn’t necessarily have to be related to your vocation. It could be just something small. It could be also an introduction. There are other ways you can do it.
Bjork Ostrom: In the past we’ve had to email some people that hear maybe we’re going to Charleston to use that as an example. They say, “Hey, I’ve been there before or I live there. Here’s some awesome restaurants you can check out.” For us it’s such a fun email to get because it’s not somebody asking for help. It’s not somebody that’s asking can I post on your blog or something like that. It’s just saying, “Hey, I follow along, love what you guys do and here’s this.” Or sometimes we’ll get emails from people and it will be pictures of their dog to go back to what you were saying before. We have a dog that we love named Sage and it’s a connection point. I think when you lead with that it’s really a positive thing. This idea of developing a mindset to help people first instead of asking which I think is great. Let’s say that people understand that. What’s the next step that they can take in moving forward with this idea of connecting with people?
John Corcoran: The next strategy I highly recommend people do and a lot of people don’t do this … You can really differentiate yourself and just take quantum leaps above your competition if you do this … Is create what I call your conversations list. Your conversations list is a list of the fifty plus people who you’d like to connect with or deepen a relationship with over the course of the next twelve months. There’s no big rush. You don’t need to get all these relationships accomplished in the next thirty days. You can take some time with it. What it does is it gives you a roadmap. It creates a road mac, rap … Sorry. Road map of the-
Bjork Ostrom: You could rap it if you wanted to.
John Corcoran: Yeah. It creates a roadmap of the relationships that are most important for your career or business goals. Okay. That’s the key point. A lot of times people will be like, “Oh … Maybe you go to a conference. Let’s say you go to one of these industry conferences like New Media Expo, World Domination Summit or something like that. You’re like, ”Oh man I just met … Say like Steve Kamb. He’s easy to pick on. Steve Kamb from nerdfitness.com.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay.
John Corcoran: He’s a great guy right? If I’m a food blogger, I go and I maybe followed him for a while … I’m like, “Oh I just met Steve Kamb. He was so cool.” That’s great, but he’s not a food blogger. The question is you met him. He’s famous. He’s successful. You’d like to be successful like him, but is that really someone who’s high priority for your goals? Being in the same overall industry as a blogger yeah, there’s somethings that we could have in common like Bjork and I. We don’t really cover the same industry, food blogging and relationship building. Those are slightly different, but we are in a mastermind group together because we share ideas. That’s fine. I think it’s important to be clear about who are really the types of people who are most important for your goals. What I find so often is that people end up spending a lot of their time, a lot of their energy and a lot of their effort on people who are not aligned to their business goals. It might be someone that you used to work with. It might be someone who works down the hall from you.
If you’re working in a job you’re spending time with a bunch of colleagues instead of putting a little effort in to go out and meet some new people, who might help you with new career or other opportunities. Or maybe you’re running a food blog on the side and you’re working a day job. The people in your day job might not be helpful to the goals with the food blog.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s interesting. One of the things that I feel like could potentially be a hurdle that you have to overcome is this idea of prioritizing relationships. At least for me when I think of that I’m like, “Well I want to be friends with everybody.” Right?
John Corcoran: Right.
Bjork Ostrom: You don’t want to say I want to be intentional about this or not intentional about connecting with this person. I think what helps is to frame it in the context of … Let’s say you’re at a conference. You know that you have a limited amount of time to connect with people and maybe introduce yourself to someone or something like that. I think what’s so powerful about this idea of a … Did you say it was a conversations list or a contact list?
John Corcoran: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bjork Ostrom: Okay.
John Corcoran: Conversations list.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Is just being intentional. In 2016 one of the things that I’m really trying to focus on is this idea of marketing. We’ve never been super intentional about marketing. As I’m researching it I’m learning how intentional marketers are. I think if your goal for 2016 or you really want to focus in on relationships then you need to be intentional about it. Part of that is really putting in the time and effort to think about who are the people that would be good for me to connect with? Number one that I could help and then number two that could potentially help me move forward on the things that I want to do. Do you recommend doing that in an Excel spreadsheet or just writing it down, or what would that look like?
John Corcoran: Yeah. Whatever works for you. It could be a piece of paper. I prefer a Google Drive document. You write it down. You can access it anywhere on an excel spreadsheet or something like that. Every once in a while I receive an email from someone. An angry email that’s like, “What are you saying that I can’t pick who I’m friends with?” I’m like, “No. This has nothing to do with friends. Go ahead and choose whoever you want to be your friends. That’s completely fine. This is about business.” If we’re talking about what your career goals are, what your business goals are, then you have to acknowledge that not everyone is created equal. If you don’t even acknowledge that one fundamental point then you’re just going to be completely lost right?
Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
John Corcoran: Because there are certain people who are going to be more helpful to your business than others. It’s okay to prioritize them. I’m not saying that, that means that you Ping that person on a weekly basis saying, “Hey, you got any clients for me?” It’s quite the opposite.
You say, “These are the people that are a high priority to me. They are the people who I want to provide a lot of value to.” The other thing is that these should be people on your conversations list who engage and inspire you. People whose work lift you up. People who you read their website or you listen to their podcast and you’re like, “Man I love what they’re doing. Man I want to support that person.” That’s what you do is you go about doing it. If you do that with the right people then your career or your business will just continue to rise.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. Okay. First you had talked about developing a mindset like, “Hey, I can be helpful to other people.” In a way it’s saying, “Who are the people that I want to try and be helpful with?” To connect with in developing that list of people that you’d love to start conversations with, engage with and what you said. I think it’s valuable for people to hear this is within the context of your industry. Obviously people in general are all as valuable. When you put it in the context of a business if you are looking to grow a food blog, then it might not make sense to connect with somebody who’s an industry expert in shipping physical products because that’s not what you’re looking to do. To be intentional about who those people are that you want to connect with. After you have that list of those people that you want to have a conversation with what does that look like next? What’s the next step?
John Corcoran: I call it greasing the wheels. It’s before you ever have a formal reach out to them. Formally reaching out to them, but ways in which you can lay the foundation using social media. We have all these social media tools available to us which we didn’t have ten or fifteen years ago which are just tremendous. There are ways that you can create awareness of you and also be active and present in that person’s community if they have a community. Start to build up awareness of you. You need to be around. You need to show your face. If you wanted to get to know a business owner who owns a bakery what would you do? You’d show up each day and buy a bagel, or you’d buy a muffin or something like that.
Bjork Ostrom: Right. Do you have examples of ways that you’ve done this or maybe that you’ve seen other people do this?
John Corcoran: Yeah. Sure. It’s really about just creating some kind of means of tracking them through social media. We’re not stalking here. Some people will think that, that’s stalking. Maybe if you’re-
Bjork Ostrom: That’s the next step.
John Corcoran: Yeah. Stalking is step number four and oftentimes people struggle with that. That gets back to issue number one which is mindset. It’s so funny. People will ask me this question. They’ll say, “I was at this conference. There was this person who spoke and I loved their speech. I’m a big fan of the work that they do. I was going to go up and I was going to go talk to them.” That’s how they talk by the way. “I was going to go up and I was going to go talk to them. I was going to introduce myself and then I thought, ”Nah, that’d be stalking.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
John Corcoran: How is that stalking?
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
John Corcoran: How is going up to someone that you admire, someone whose work fulfills you … How is going up to that person, introducing yourself and saying, “I like the work that you do.” How is that stalking? It’s quite the opposite. I love when someone does that to me. When I’ve done it for other people it’s led to great relationships. If anything I want to inspire more people to do that. You mentioned how can you do it tactically? Well one thing that I really like doing is creating a private Twitter list. It could be public also, but I just do private Twitter lists. It’s basically a list of the people who are on my conversations list. It’s a list of the people who I want to build or deepen or establish a relationship with. I talk about being engaging on social media. You can go on the Twitter and rather than just going through your mainstream you go through that private Twitter list. You’re like, “These are the most high priority people.” You look through and you see what’s going on in this person’s life. Are they going to South Carolina? Can I give them a recommendation of something to do in South Carolina? You can be responsive to that.
Bjork Ostrom: Just real quickly. This is extremely detail oriented, but how would you do that within Twitter? Create that list?
John Corcoran: Let’s see. Well how would you physically do it? Let’s see. You go to Twitter. I’m just going to look at it right now. You go to list. Yeah, that’s it. Go to list and then at the top … Or is it at the bottom? Somewhere on there it’ll say create a new list.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay. You can pick whether it’s a private list or a public list?
John Corcoran: Exactly. Right.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay. Sure. The idea is then you don’t have to search those people out within your feed or go to their individual Twitter profile. You have this list of people. Let’s say if I wanted to start connecting with email marketing professionals. I’d maybe create a list of five or six people that are industry experts and then start interacting with them. Is that the idea of this step is that you start to connect with the people and have those conversations?
John Corcoran: Yeah. Except I wouldn’t do it by industry because then you’re just creating multiple different types of lists.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay.
John Corcoran: I would just literally create a list of your highest priority people. Mines titled faves for whatever reason, f-a-v-e, s. You go to your Twitter page. Mine’s twitter.com/JohnCorcoran. You click on lists at the top and then on the right side it says create new list. It’ll ask for you to name it, description if you want to and then it can be public or private. You can just create it private and then you start adding people to it.
Bjork Ostrom: Great. Is Twitter the primary place that you’re having these conversations?
John Corcoran: It really depends. It depends for everyone else. Twitter, I found has been really good for me. Maybe for you Pinterest would be the place.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
John Corcoran: Or maybe for you Instagram would be the place which I don’t know exactly how they work as far as lists.
Bjork Ostrom: Right. I was just going to say that. One thing that’s interesting about the culture of Twitter is it’s very conversational. Now obviously it depends on the individual account, but versus a Pinterest or a YouTube or an Instagram may be less conversational. I think there’s an element of that, but with Twitter at its core it’s a conversation tool. I think it makes a lot of sense to have those conversations there.
John Corcoran: Yeah. The other point I’ll make is go where the person you’re trying to connect with is most present.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
John Corcoran: This is what I find a lot of times, people try and communicate with me on the platform that they’re communicating on. I don’t really like receiving Facebook messages.
Bjork Ostrom: Or MySpace messages.
John Corcoran: We’re on Skype right now. Myspace messages. Yeah. Friendster messages. On Skype I wrote, “FYI I don’t check Skype messages or Skype chat,” because literally there were people who sent me messages that they didn’t email to me. I’d check my email, but they didn’t send me an email. They were kind of important messages as if I was going to see it on Skype. They just left it there like that was it.
Bjork Ostrom: We talked about this earlier. People have different areas where they are strong influencers. Maybe finding where that is and reaching out to that person in the community or in the social media platform where they are.
John Corcoran: Yeah. I thought it was funny. Amy Porterfield is a big Facebook marketing expert. The funny thing is if you want to connect with her … At least this is the way it was a few months ago. I’m not sure now. She was much more active and conversational on Instagram than she was on Facebook.
Bjork Ostrom: Oh interesting. Yeah.
John Corcoran: I think it was because Facebook was business to her so she could go play on another social media channel, play around with it. It felt like it wasn’t as much pressure to her. You might see that.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. You’ve laid the foundation here with social media, have a little bit of a strategy, starting to have conversations. How do you get a response from people right? These are obviously very busy people with a lot of stuff going on. I’ve emailed people before and a lot of times what happens is it just falls off or maybe I don’t get a response, or if I do it’s three months later. Do you have any strategies for having people follow up or getting a response?
John Corcoran: Sure. Yeah. I think the most important point is you can’t be immediately reaching out and asking for something, some kind of favor. You’d be surprised. In fact I just received an email a couple of days ago that the subject line was this, “Because you are the networking guru I have a favor to ask.” That was the subject line. He proceeded to explain to me why he was a big fan of the work that I do and then asked me for a favor.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. You’re like you obviously haven’t followed along any of my material.
John Corcoran: Right. What I care about is not that he did it to me, but that he’s doing it to others. Because if he’s doing it to me you know he’s doing it to others and that he’s wasting his time. You might as well just completely not do it whatsoever. If you want to be really effective then go out there and provide value to other people first way before you ask for some kind of favor. That’s really the most important point that we’re talking about here is if you want to be able to reach out and move it from social media … Hopefully you’ve established a firm base. You’ve been present. They’ve seen your name around so they start to recognize your name. When you reach out to them then they’re going to recognize your name from some of their social media platform and then you want to offer them something. What I’m a huge fan of is interviews. What we’re doing right here is an interview and I’ve had you on my podcast because it is a tremendous way to spend some time together with someone and to get to know them.
You don’t have to have a podcast in order to employ this strategy. You can use an interview in many, many different ways. It could be on a blog. It could be recorded and you put it on YouTube. It could be audio. A lot of different ways you can use it, but an interview which is … This is nothing new. A lot of people us this strategy. An interview gives you an opportunity for the two of you to sit, talk and chat. It’s the opposite of an informational interview. You know how people used to always recommend, “Oh, go do an informational interview.” I want to abolish the informational interview because it’s a horrible idea. You’re asking someone to inconvenience themselves for your own convenience. The traditional one is meet me at a coffee shop for forty five minutes so I can pick your brain versus an interview. You’re kind of doing the same thing. You’re asking questions which are of a self serving nature, but you’re actually going to be helping them because you’re providing some kind of publicity, some kind of promotion. Now what everyone is probably thinking is, “Well I don’t have a hugely successful podcast like the Food Blogger Pro podcast.” That’s what we’re all thinking, but you don’t need to do this.
In fact a couple of months ago … There’s this kid. His name’s Liam, out of Canada, 19, 20 years old, still in college. He reached out to Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. He’s on Shark Tank.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. For sure.
John Corcoran: Billionaire. Reached out to him. Not only did he receive a response, but he also did an interview with him. He published it on his free WordPress blog.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s so awesome.
John Corcoran: Isn’t that incredible?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. One of the things I think that’s interesting about an interview is it’s much different than asking somebody to write content. It’s a way that you can contribute without the burden of a lot of ways of contributing, which would be maybe more time intensive. Hopefully it’s a little bit more enjoyable to have that conversation. One of the things I think is so interesting about all of these different things … The mindset of helping others, being intentional about who you want to connect with. Interacting via social media now with this idea of serving other people through interviews and things like that where they can get publicity. When it comes back to it, it’s things that you would do to be a good friend. You know?
John Corcoran: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s caring about other people first before seeking out self serving things like, “Can you do a favor for me?” or things like that. It’s interesting because it takes a lot of time, energy and work. I think so often in life in general, but also with things online people look for a shortcut. Whether it’s relationships or building a business or building a blog. There just aren’t any. If you want to have really strong relationships and really strong connections with people, it’s going to take time to foster those until people get to a point where they really trust you and feel connected. I feel like all of these are such great examples of that.
John Corcoran: Yeah. In the short run, yes. It can take more time. In the long run which would you rather do? Do this in over a two to three year period of building relationships? Or do it over a thirty year period the old way you were doing that wasn’t effective and just continue doing it over thirty years? What kind of results do you think you’ll get?
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
John Corcoran: You’re going to get much better results by building those relationships upfront. The other thing I’ll say is by employing the conversation list strategy you will get laser focus on the most important people who you should be building relationships with. You’ll eliminate by definition the other types of people who we are building relationships with for quote, unquote, “Business purposes,” and not waste that time. Again if it’s a friend purposes that’s totally fine. Sometimes I talk to people and I’ll say, “What are you doing for marketing or business or something?” They’ll say, “Oh, well I belong to this organization. I’m on the board.” I’m like, “Have you gotten clients from that particular organization. They’re like, ”Oh, I guess not.” Well then it’s not for a business purpose. It’s fine if you do it for fulfilling purposes because you like personally to do it. Don’t go out and tell yourself that you’re doing it for business purposes. The same way with relationships. You need to get really laser clear and focus. If you do that it doesn’t mean to be as time-consuming as people think. The other thing is you can use different software tools in order to make it a lot more efficient, a lot more effective for you.
I use Contactually. It’s a CRM program. I’m a big fan of the work that they do and that allows me … For example, to make introductions in under seven seconds. They have a tool on there where you can make an introduction, introduce two people. It literally just takes me seconds. A couple of clicks in order to get an introduction out the door.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s so interesting because … I’m going to jump in here. You’ve done introductions for me and I think, “I can’t imagine typing this out.” I envisioned you typing this introduction, it’s so thorough and well done.
John Corcoran: Heck no.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you tell me a little bit about that? Are there other software or services? You mentioned Contactually. What are some other ways that people could implement that? Or maybe talk about Contactually a little bit and then talk about some potential other ways that people could do it.
John Corcoran: Sure. Yeah. Well first of all you can see a video where I show you how to do those seven-second introductions at smartbusinessrevolution.com/quick/introductions. If you go there you can check that out. Basically, the way it works is you have people that are drawn into your database through your email account. You tie your email account and it pulls in people. Okay. Right now I’m on my friend Grant Baldwin’s page because I just introduced him actually to one of the co-founders of Contactually earlier. I’ll go to his page and then I just click on introduce. It pops up another little window where it asks me who the other person is that I want to introduce them to. I start to type in their name and then it fills it out. It guesses who I’m typing, I hit return and then it gives me another page which has prewritten bios. Now I’ve introduced both of these people before. After you’ve introduced people it remembers what you used to describe them. It just populates that back in so I just write up one time a short bio about that person. I say maybe where they’re located in the world and I give the URL for their website. Once I’ve done that then it populates it again. Subsequent introductions are a lot easier like you for example.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep. Interesting.
John Corcoran: I click on preview. It gives me a preformatted email. Everything is populated in completely. I just make any modifications I want to make and then I hit send. I can also delay it and send it another time if I want to do that. All that honestly seven to ten seconds. It doesn’t take me very long.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s a third party. Does it hook into Gmail or something like that or do you log into Contactually and then it sends the email for you?
John Corcoran: Yes. You log into Contactually, do it directly through there and it sends the email. When you get sent the email through Contactually it doesn’t look like an email that you got from Infusionsoft or AWeber or MailChimp. It looks like an email that came from your inbox.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay. Great. It’s interesting to hear that because one of the things I’ve thought about with all of the people that you’re connected with is how do you have a system to maintain all of that? Is that Contactually for you?
John Corcoran: That’s the system that I use. Yeah. There are other ones out there. I’m a big affiliate for Contactually although I don’t make much money off of it. I don’t do it for money because they have a very small commission program. I do it for love because it has saved me a tremendous amount of time. Here’s the thing, if you want to broaden your network then that means you need other people of influence to introduce you to people in their network right?
Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
John Corcoran: We all want that. We all want new clients or customers or other bloggers, big name bloggers. We want to be introduced to those types of people. Some of the biggest opportunities in our career or in our business have come from someone else who introduced us, like almost all of them from that. That’s just some SEO ninja which I’m not. Most relationships come from another relationship. If you want to start getting those types of incoming introductions what do you need to do? You need to start introducing them. You need to start to doing it, but everyone says that’s time-consuming. If you can use a software tool like that which is like … It’s like thirty bucks a month or something like that. It’s just like three hundred, four hundred bucks a year. I guarantee you that you’ll make that up in terms of opportunities to your business. I’m a big fan of doing that. The primary way that I use the system is through introductions.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s great. As I’ve reflected about as we’ve grown both Pinch of Yum and Food Blogger Pro, the two businesses we have right now through the years. It’s so obvious and you hear it all the time, but one of the most significant things in our growth have been the people that we’ve connected with. I’ve said this before conferences when we speak. The greatest success that we’ve had is because of the people that we’ve worked with in order to make something happen, as opposed to me doing a bunch of work or figuring something out. It usually has to do with somebody that we know that’s helping us along the way. This idea of connecting is so important.
John Corcoran: Yeah. I just got back from Atlanta and I’ve got two young kids. I’m very selective about when I leave my family on a weekend. I did it because of the people that I was connecting with there and how I know that because I hung out for a weekend in person with these people. There were people that I’d known for years, but had never met face to face. I know the relationships are really going to be that much more important. I missed a bunch of things this weekend. They had a little holiday party in my small town that I live in. They had these Clydesdales that pulled a horse drawn wagon down the main street in town which we did last year. I remember doing it with my kids last year and how loved it. It happened this weekend and I missed that. You could never get that back so you have to be really, really selective about what time, what energy, what effort … Where are you focusing your efforts when it comes to building relationships? I’m very selective about that. In spite of that I really, really do understand the importance of going out to those physical events and building relationships with people face to face.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It comes back to that conversation list about who are the people that you want to be intentional about connecting with? Which I think is great. Follow up to that last piece that I’m interested in. What would your recommendation be to people that are thinking about conferences or event? Would that be something that would be worth while? If people are doing those how should they handle the connecting piece? Because so often you hear people talk about, “Yeah. I went to a conference. It wasn’t really for me about the workshops. It was more about meeting people.” It’s like what does that look like to meet people? It’s so intimidating.
John Corcoran: Yeah. Well there’s a couple of things you can do. I view it as there’s two different kinds of events. There’s the larger, big conferences where you’re probably going to see some bigger speakers that don’t show up to smaller events. People are drawn for that and it could be a real mix depending on how much you spend. You go to an event that cost ninety-seven dollars, you’re going to get people who can afford to go to a ninety-seven dollar event. If you go to something that costs a thousand or two thousand dollars, you start getting people who are higher on that influence chain because they can afford to go to it. The first time I went to New Media Expo I finagled my way in as a speaker leading a panel on legal issues. That’s the only way I got in there because my wife would have thought I was crazy if I spent hundred of dollars to go to a New Media Expo conference. You know?
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
John Corcoran: You got to do what you got to do, but then eventually you work your way up. You can go to those larger events or you can go to smaller events that are maybe a little bit more expensive, but allow you to connect with people whose relationships might be worth ten times the value. Knowing one person with a huge amount of connections might be ten times as valuable for you as those larger events. You also asked how can you deepen those connections? How can you follow up? The best thing you can do when you connect with people at those things is then follow up afterwards, having a system in place for following up. Contactually can be really helpful with that as well because it allows you to bucket your contacts by priority. Let’s say you meet someone who is just tremendously successful like Bjork and Lindsey in your industry. You’re like, “Awe man I really need to deepen this relationship.” Don’t let nine months go by without you contacting them at all. Put them maybe in a bucket that’s a higher priority and then it prompts you with reminders. Continue to deepen that relationship by providing value.
Maybe you email and say, “Hey, here’s a good possible guest for your podcast. Let me know if you’d like an introduction.” Or “I heard you mentioned that you’re going to South Carolina. Here’s this great restaurant that I heard about you might want to check out. Here’s the Yelp link. Here’s the link to their website. You start doing those things on a regular, consistent basis overtime and that is how you deepen a relationship.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s great. There’s this Dale Carnegie quote from How to Win Friends and Influence People that I think … It applies so closely to what we’re talking about where he says, “Of course you are interested in what you want.” Right?
John Corcoran: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: “You are internally interested in it” and then he says, “But no one else is. The rest of us are just like you. We are interested in what we want.” I think that, that’s an example of that where you’re reaching out to these people and you’re saying, “Here’s something that … You talk about winning plans or influencing people. It always comes back to that initial touch point where you’re looking to serve other people to gain trust, to gain that relationship. One of the things that I would be interested to hear you talk a little bit more about that I’m trying to sort through with this is this idea of the value of a relationship. The tension for me comes in the value of people. I have this universal belief obviously that all people are equally valuable. How do you approach that psychologically as you are intentional about building your business and intentional about pursuing certain relationships? We talked about it a little bit, but it’s something that I’m thinking through as we’re talking about it.
John Corcoran: Right. It can be difficult on the front end to know exactly what their long term value’s going to be. What you can know is are they in a similar industry to me? Are they in a similar niche? Let’s talk specifically about food blogging because that’s most relevant here. Are they running a blog that is in the food blog niche? That would be as closely related. On the other hand there could be other ways in which it could be helpful. If you got into doing webinars for example, there might be software programs out there that help … I don’t know. That help food bloggers and you can do a webinar for their audience. It’s kind of tanglingly related. You might just think, “Okay. I only need to connect with other food bloggers and particularly really successful food bloggers.” Maybe there’s a software company that you could connect with as well. That could be as fruitful to your business as connecting with other food bloggers. It really depends on what you’re trying to get out of your business. Do you have a client based business? Do you have a coaching business? Are you trying to get other clients or are you trying to sale products online? Are you doing live events? Are you trying to just get clicks to your website?
All these things are related in a way. If you find people who are successful in your niche or other successful food bloggers … If you build and nurture a relationship with them, there will be ways in which that relationship will be useful to you in the future. It might be you write a guest post for them. It might be you do a webinar for them. It might be they tweet out a post that you just published and it gets a bunch of traffic to come back to your particular post. Or it might even just be you’re trying to decide on what email provider to use. You can ask them a quick question because you’ve built up that relationship. You don’t necessarily know what way it will show up. By surrounding yourself with those people who you know are in your industry or in your niche, you know that there will be some value that comes out of it.
Bjork Ostrom: Right. Yeah. Maybe this is getting into more saddy stuff. I don’t know. Part of it for me is not drawing a line, but defining the value within the context of relationships. When I say this person is valuable it means valuable for a certain type of goal that I’m trying to reach. There’s a piece of me that kind of wrestles with this idea of a scale of value to people. I think it’s not necessarily that somebody’s valuable and somebody else isn’t valuable. Maybe this is a better way of saying it. Maybe it’s just the nuance of the language, but how closely does this person align with the things that I’m working on? As those things align more and more than it makes more sense for us to work together in a business relationship because there’s that synergy.
John Corcoran: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Does that make sense?
John Corcoran: Yeah. Let me put it this way. Let’s say you’re going out to a conference. You go into a food blogging conference and you know that a lot of people that you know are going to be there. Your blog depends on advertising for its revenue. You see a bunch of people that you know at this cocktail party and one of them has referred four advertisers that you’ve struck deals with over the last six months. Another one is a colleague, but hasn’t referred that kind of business. Which one is more important to your business? Not friend wise. Not in terms of the friend scale, but to your business. The one who’s already referred all that business to you. Should you draw a line between them in terms of priority? Absolutely you should. Not in terms of friends, but in terms of priority for your business. There’s one that’s more important than the other. If you deepen the relationship with the one who’s already provided a tremendous amount of value to your business that is the best chance of your business increasing. Okay. Yeah. You might get some referrals to advertisers from other people. The best thing that you can do is rinse and repeating, continuing to do what has worked. Continue to deepen the relationship with the people who are already referring business to you.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. No. That’s great.
John Corcoran: That’s standard referral marketing one on one stuff.
Bjork Ostrom: Right. Yeah. Maybe it’s just my Midwest Minnesota roots, but I’m like, “Awe man. I just want to be friends with everybody.” It’s hard because you only have so much time in a day like you said. If you have two kids at home you have to be really intentional if you’re going to take a weekend trip away from your family, that it’s worth while the connections that you’re making in order to develop your business. Which I think is an important and maybe potentially hard conversation to have. I want to do this. We’re coming to the end here. Is there anything else John that you feel like you’d want to leave people with before we get a chance for you to talk about where you are and where we can find you?
John Corcoran: Yeah. I would say don’t get paralyzed by any of the discussion that we had here and feel like it’s too much to do. There are some simple things that you can do. For example, right now I guarantee you there are two people within your network who’d benefit from knowing one another. They don’t know each other, but you’re the bridge. Don’t worry too much about whether they should both be on your conversation list or one of them or neither. Just go out there and introduce them to one another. We could talk about this, but better yet reach out and ask them if you think it would be a good fit if you’re not sure. Ask them if you think it would be a good fit and if they both say yes then go ahead and introduce them to one another. Make that start to be a practice for yourself. I’ve had people who’ve started businesses together. No marriages yet unfortunately.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Maybe someday.
John Corcoran: Yeah. Literally people sent me emails and be like, “Hey John, you know that person you introduced me to two months ago? I just made ten thousand dollars off of that.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s cool.
John Corcoran: I’m like, “Sweet. Beers are on you next time we meet up.” You start doing that, you start doing it consistently and it will really add up. You can do one per week. You’ve got fifty-two introductions by the end of the week. You’ve got over a hundred people who are grateful to you for an introduction that you made. You do two weeks, three weeks, you could see the numbers. The numbers just keep increasing. Just start with something small like that. Also when you meet people and when you associate with people try and be thinking in the back of your head what way could I provide value to this person? I’m not talking just to send an email to someone and be like, “Let me know how I can help you.” That’s putting it in their court. Be specific and say, “Can I help you with this?”
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great and I feel like that’s a really good note to end on. John, where can people find you online? We’ve mentioned a few kind of in passing, but I want to wrap up and make sure that people know where they can follow along with you.
John Corcoran: Yeah. Thank you. Smartbusinessrevolution.com. If you go there I’ve got five free email templates that I use for reaching out an connecting with influencers and VIP’s. You can use those downloads, customize them however you’d like. You can use them for reaching out and starting to establish some relationships. Go out there and do it.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. John, hey really appreciate it. Thanks so much for your time today. I know people will get a lot out of it. I know that I did. I really appreciate you coming on the podcast today.
John Corcoran: Cool. Thanks Bjork.
Bjork Ostrom: Thanks John.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s a wrap for episode number twenty-five. Thanks so much for checking it out. Really appreciate you wherever you are. Whether you’re at the gym or in the car or at home, it means a lot that you tuned in to this podcast. If you haven’t yet we have an E-book that we’re offering for free. It’s called the Number One Thing. We’ve actually asked only thirty food bloggers what they’re going to be focusing on in the year 2016 which is right around the corner. If you want to check that out you can go to foodbloggerpro.com/number-one-thing. I think you might actually also be able to go to foodbloggerpro.com/one and that’ll redirect you there as well. A little bit easier. Thanks so much for checking out that podcast. We’ll see you next week. Same time, same place.