Build Community for Your Funeral, Not Your Financials

“My first business was wildly successful except for never making any money,” is something that you’ll often hear me say.

That first business was Phoenix Games, and it created a robust and valuable community that was a great value for many of the people who were part of it.

Ultimately that community was done in by the scarcity created by the lack of money and by my own youthful arrogance.

I’ve always been a community builder. I personally crave connection, and I have never been terribly good at keeping track of individual friends. When I build a community, a space, whether physical or virtual, where the kind of wonderful people I like to associate with can come together, I can find the connection that I seek.

I hope that this also helps the other people in the community to find the connection, support, and love that they seek as well.

As I have been building the Entrepreneur Mentor Community, I have been giving a lot of thought to what would make it successful. Yes, I would like it to be profitable. It’s not a charity. It is a business. But money is a side effect of doing it right.

Too many people try to build “communities” that are nothing more than sales funnels. They are icky and gross. They are a pale simulation of community. Worst, they feed on our deepest desires as humans and feed us fake connection with the intention of manipulating us out of our money.

Then there are some who do an amazing job at building a loving and supportive business community. Joint Venture Insider Circle does an incredible job of this. When I attended their live event in October, it was like a family reunion. Hugs and smiles all around. Sure the event had good content, but what made it worth the trip was the feeling of connection.

So, what is my KPI on the Entrepreneur Mentor Community and other communities I might build? It’s my funeral. And my anniversary. And my birthday party.

I have come to realize that the ultimate measure of success for me is not how much money I can get in my bank account. It’s how many people will show up to my funeral. You show up to the funeral of someone who has touched your life, someone who has made a difference for you.

I want a community where there is true connection. I want the kind of place where if someone in the group hears that you’re coming to town, they’ll say “The door’s unlocked. Come on by.” I want a community of people that I’d trust to teach my daughter.

It’s not that money’s not important. My first community failed because money is the lifeblood of any enterprise. Without it, you can’t keep the lights on.

Money is so important that it must be made the right way.

And the right way is to build that community of trust, support, and love. People want to do business with people that they can trust. Not some artificial “know, like, and trust” but honestly and authentically knowing, liking, and trusting them.

That cannot be achieved through any funnel or any marketing strategy. It can only be achieved by putting good people in proximity (physical or virtual) over time to develop relationships.

As I look at the list of people I have invited as Mentors, and those I am continuing to invite. I give no thought to how much revenue they can bring to the project. I invite people who have the right spirit, the right energy, and the right character. I invite people who can help build this kind of space, and who, hopefully, are as excited as I am to be part of it.

Sure, we’ll make money, but my mission is to create something so much more valuable than that: a community.

Back From California With A Powerful New Community for Entrepreneurs

I am back from California, and this trip will go down as one of those that deliniates a moment of before and after.

What’s that? It’s one of those events where it was sufficiently transformative that there is a distinct difference between the time before and the time after.

Didn’t you come back like two weeks ago?

Yeah. I did, and there has been a lot of catching up to do.

I was out there for JVX, which is the live event that JVIC runs. JVX is three days, but there was a second event run by Michael Neeley and Jay Fiset called Reach that ran immediately after.

It was an amazing experience to get to see so many people whom I’ve known online for so long.

Continue reading “Back From California With A Powerful New Community for Entrepreneurs”

Business Advice From the Pulpit

Most days I send out a letter by email with some tips and resources. This is the one from July 19th, 2022.

This past Sunday, I went to church as I often do on Sundays, and I was surprised to find that the lectionary reading echoed something that I’ve been saying on my Morning Motivation podcast for a while now.

I talk a lot about how everyone has been given particular talents and passions. By pursuing those gifts, one will find purpose, joy, meaning, and, quite likely, financial success.

Check this out:

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11

In terms of Godly gifts and service to a congregation, it says basically the same thing. Everyone has been given unique gifts.

It goes on to explain that all those gifts are important and need to be appreciated because, like body parts, each member of the church brings something different.

This isn’t about religion or believing in God. It’s about the fact that this idea that everyone has their own unique gifts goes back thousands of years.
(But if you do believe in the Bible, that gives it a bit more weight.)

It’s the same for a company, a community, a family, or an entire economy.

Everyone is given particular gifts, and if one does not share those gifts, then everyone suffers.

If someone is meant to be a tramua coach but languishes in minimum wage fast food work, then there are people who need their help who don’t get it.
If someone is meant to be an artist but works a deadend office job, then the world is poorer.
If someone is meant to be a one-on-one coach but spends all their energy building courses because that’s how they’re told to make money, the people who need them miss them.

What is your gift?
Are you embracing it?
Are you sharing it with the world?
Or are you making excuses for why it can’t be shared?

If you’re still trying to figure it out, or you know someone who is, I encourage you to invite them to my “How the heck does anyone make a living in 2022?” workshop on August 3rd at 6 PM Eastern.

-Michael Whitehouse
​​​​​​​The Guy Who Knows a Guy

Don’t Talk Past the Close

Most days I send out a letter by email with some tips and resources. This is the one from July 18th, 2022.

Don’t talk past the close.

I learned it when I did sales, and I saw the other side of it the other day as a networker.

I was at a networking event, and there was a woman there who was a graphic designer. She collaborates with various people around the marketing space. How many people do you think I know in the marketing space? A lot. The answer is a lot.

So, I’m thinking that I can make a lot of connections for her, but she only has her first name on the Zoom screen and hasn’t given me her contact info.

I mention that I know quite a few people I can connect her to. I just need her last name and email.

What would you do at this moment? A professional connector who people pay to make introductions just said, “I have connections for you. What’s your last name and email?”

Would you…
A) Stop talking and put your full name and email in the chat
B) Keep talking
C) Keep talking, emphasize that you mostly want people who will refer to you because you have plenty of people to refer to already

If you wanted more introductions, the right answer is A.
If you wanted less, go for B or C.

Whether it’s sales or networking or anything else, when you are offered the thing you are looking for, stop talking and say yes.

Don’t talk yourself out of introductions.

Want more business tips? I talk about this kind of stuff many times a week on the Power5 Podcast.

-Michael Whitehouse
The Guy Who Knows a Guy

Networking Asks like a NINJA

Networking is about giving, but part of that is help others to give to you. That is what the networking ask is all about.

In this article, I discussed the 5 levels of NINJA Networking. Now, let’s look at how these five levels respond to the question “Whom can I introduce you to?”

“Give without expectation. Receive without resistance.” This is one of the axioms I follow in life and business. A good networker wants to help those that they meet, so they will ask how they can help. Your answer is crucial to allowing them to give to you.

All five of these levels may apply to any networker. Even the karate master may still employ the simple straight punch he learned in his first day of training. The point is to expand your mindset and range of thinking as you move to higher levels of NINJA Networking.

To get some example responses, I’m going to share how a lead generation guy might answer the question at the five different levels.

Summary of Five Levels of Networking Asks

Level 1: Networking – Prospecting in the Room
“I’m just looking to get out and meet anyone I can. How are you generating leads for your business?”

Level 2: Introduction – Prospecting through the Room
I’m looking to meet entrepreneurs who need more leads for their business.”

Level 3: Non-Competitive Partners – Growing Your Network
“I’m looking to meet people who have audiences of entrepreneurs who need more leads.”

Level 4: Joint Ventures – Collaboration
“I’m looking for opportunities to partner such as summit stages, podcasts, and other lead gen folks I can do a joint webinar with.”

Level 5: Affiliates – Systematized Partnership
“I’m looking for people with an audience of entrepreneurs for webinar swaps, to promote my launch, and whose launch I can promote.”

Level 1: Networking – Prospecting in the Room

“I’m just looking to get out and meet anyone I can. How are you generating leads for your business?”

At Level 1, a networker is looking for prospects among the people they are speaking to directly. They may not actually have a clear idea of who their avatar is, or they don’t know how to ask for it.

There is nothing wrong with doing this as long as it does not come across as pushy or salesy.

I call this network prospecting, and I made great use of it back when I published local magazines. 75% of my business came from this kind of prospecting.

This can be very effective for networkers who do not know how to ask for introductions, and it is also an excellent strategy for someone who finds themselves in a room with inexperienced networkers who do not know how to give introductions.

It is very difficult to reciprocate at this level. They may ask you what you do, but they are simply comparing it to their own needs. It is unlikely they need to buy what you are selling, and that would be the end of it at this level.

The limitation of this strategy is that if you are focused on the immediate sale, then you will not get invited to the higher impact networking communities. This kind of thing is not done in my exclusive TEN Group that I run for elite networkers, and I would not invite someone who approached me this way to that group.

The danger is that you don’t know what you don’t know. If you approached me at level 1, we’d have a pleasant conversation. I might even become a client, but I wouldn’t event mention the TEN Group. You might think it was a highly successful encounter because you didn’t realize the opportunity you missed.

The great thing about this level is that it’s really easy to measure quantitatively. You can track what leads came from what events, and double down in those communities. The tradeoff is that you don’t know what you are missing out on in terms of building your network through the people you are meeting.

Level 2: Introduction – Prospecting through the Room

“I’m looking to meet entrepreneurs who need more leads for their business.”

At this level, we’re not trying to sell the person in front of us. We are seeking to connect with their network.

This is the level that most groups like BNI, AmSpirit, and Success Champions Network operate at. You are aiming to sell through the room rather than to the room. This works because the people in the room are non-competitive partners with whom you are building a relationship.

BNI has a concept of The Referral Confidence Curve. It describes the way that you grow in trust and credibility with your networking partners as you build your relationship.

At this level, it is important to understand who your ideal customer is so that you can educate your networking partners on how they can help you.

This tends to work better in structured networking groups than open networking groups. If I meet you for the first time at a networking event, and you’re asking me to refer clients to you, it is unlikely I’ll do so. I don’t know you. I don’t trust you. And as a super connector, I know a dozen other people who do what you do whom I know better.

This works fantastically well in those structured groups because you do get to know people over time.

This level of networking is also quite quantitatively trackable. The introductions go directly to prospects. You can track how many introductions you get to good prospects and which of those become sales. BNI has a very robust tracking system to determine the value of membership.

Like Level 1, however, you are still not gaining access to the real font of value that is your network’s network.

Level 3: Non-Competitive Partners – Growing Your Network

“I’m looking to meet people who have audiences of entrepreneurs who need more leads.”

This is a most powerful form of networking ask you can make without needing additional infrastructure and capability in your business.

You are no longer asking to meet customers. You are asking for introductions you can build mutually beneficial relationships with.

While it is very difficult to introduce someone I just met to a prospect, I’ll make introductions to non-competitive partners all day long. People aren’t so keen to get an introduction to someone who’s going to sell them, so I’m very cautious about that. People love to meet potential partners, so I can do this much more freely.

This is the level where you can shift from arithmetic growth to geometric growth. At Level 1, each contact is worth less than one. At level 2, each contact may be worth one to two. At this level, one contact can lead to an infinite series of connections as one introductions leads to another ad infinitem.

A Level 3 NINJA Networker can no longer quantitively measure our networking effectiveness. Measurements must now be qualitative.

When I operated at Level 1, I determined that one local Chamber of Commerce generated more sales for me than the others, so I made sure go to their events.

I was operating at Level 3 when I attended a high impact virtual networking event in April of 2021. While I came out of the event with 45 meetings on my calendar, they were not sales calls. They were connections to a higher level of entrepreneur who have given me incredible knowledge, access, and resources. By October, I could still not trace a single dollar of revenue to this event, but as I write this today, a year later, I can credit 80% of my current revenues to connections and concepts that came from that event.

Had I measured it quantitatively, I would have called it a failure, and that would be incorrect.

At Level 3, the value of an event or a connection may come weeks or months later. It may come from an introduction to an introduction to an introduction.

Moving from Level 2 to Level 3 is a mindset shift, and doing so will shift your business and your networking.

Level 4: Joint Ventures – Collaboration

“I’m looking for opportunities to partner such as summit stages, podcasts, and other lead gen folks I can do a joint webinar with.”

Referral partners are good. Joint venture partners are better.

At Level 4, you are shifting your thinking from individual referrals to audiences.

A referral partner is someone who keeps you in mind and refers people to you as the opportunity presents itself. In some cases, such as a Realtor referring clients to a mortgage originator, there is a natural flow of clients. The source of clients is the existing flow of connections that the referring partner has.

A joint venture is about creating a new stream of connections.

There are dozens of ways a joint venture can be created, and you may be participating in joint ventures without realizing it. An interview podcast is a joint venture. Guest provides content. Host provides audience. Guest promotes to their community to grow host’s audience.

Joint webinars, summits, collaborative books, social media joint live broadcasts, guest appearances in a program. These are just a few ways you might joint venture with someone.

Rather than a referral partner introducing you to individual people, you are seeking to connect with audiences. At this level, the introductions you want are not to people you could sell to, or even to people who can refer you people to sell to. You want contacts who can introduce you to entire audiences of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people.

Level 5: Affiliates – Systematized Partnership

“I’m looking for people with an audience of entrepreneurs for webinar swaps, to promote my launch, and whose launch I can promote.”

Most joint ventures you encounter are one offs, and each partnership is separately negotiated.

At Level 5, a NINJA Networker has turnkey joint ventures. There’s no negotiated needed because it’s off the shelf.

Some simple examples of this are speaker summits and podcasts. In these, you don’t normally negotiate details. There is some process to get on the summit or podcast. The speaker is told what is expected, and they will either find it acceptable or not participate.

More complex examples of this are launches, workshops, and webinar swaps. These tend to require more infrastructure on the part of the one being promoted, but because of this infrastructure, a promoter can sign up and participate.

For example, if you would like to promote a launch, you sign up. They send you swipe copy, instructions on what to do when, and you do it. Then you get paid for sales you create through your list.

When two Level 5 NINJA Networkers meet, the only complexity is figuring out how to match up marketing calendars. Beyond that, it’s just a matter of “my people will send the materials to your people,” and they’re off to the races.

Five Levels of Networking Asks

Just like the black belt martial artist doesn’t forget the basic strikes and blocks when they achieve the highest level, a NINJA networker will always employ tactics from all levels. Even an entrepreneur with a robust launch process and high converting webinar will still happily someone up if the need shows up in conversation.

The key difference is how you approach people you meet. Are you sizing them up to be a client? Are you seeking a referral partner? Do you want a promotional partner?

How you engage in the conversation will lead to different results and will make different impressions.


Michael Whitehouse is The Guy Who Knows a Guy. He has developed the NINJA Networking framework over more than a decade of networking from the lowest levels to the highest.

Do the five levels of NINJA Networking intrigue you? Get on a call with Michael. Click here to schedule a call.

Five Steps to Learn the Secrets of NINJA Networking

Networking, Introductions, Non-Competitive Partners, Joint Ventures, Affiliates.

Those are the five stages of Ninja Networking mastery, and they just so happen to spell NINJA.

Actually, it’s not a coincidence. Realizing that “networking” and “ninja” started with the same letter, I decided to see if I could make a cool ninja networking acronym. And I did.

Then, I realized that it not only spelled a super cool word, but that it did it in the order that most people follow on this journey.

It was meant to be!

In this article, I’m going to do a quick overview of the five stages, and in future articles I’ll dive deeper into each area. If you find this interesting, and would like to come on a journey with me to learn the secrets of the Ninja Networker, I encourage you to join my Ninja Networking program.

Continue reading “Five Steps to Learn the Secrets of NINJA Networking”

Katrina Sawa, Jumpstart Your Business – Interview #108

Katrina Sawa is the CEO and Founder of JumpstartYourBizNow.com. She is lovingly known as The JumpStart Your Biz Coach because she kicks her clients into high gear making more money doing what they love and fast. She is the creator of the JumpStart Your Marketing & Sales System, 10x International Best-Selling author with 16 books including, Love Yourself Successful, Jumpstart Your New Business Now and the Jumpstart Your _____(blank) Series.

Continue reading “Katrina Sawa, Jumpstart Your Business – Interview #108”

Phil Gerbyshak, Speaker, Podcaster, Pinball Wizard – Interview #106

Phil Gerbyshak works with small businesses to use social and virtual selling to increase their profitability, productivity and performance, with speaking, training and coaching programs delivered virtually, in-person and hybrid. He’s written 5 books, and his 6th book, Virtual Selling Essentials, will be available in the first quarter of 2022. When he’s not doing all things sales, he’s a husband, and a bonus dad to two kiddos and two dogs. Please welcome sales speaker, sales podcaster and pinball wizard Phil Gerbyshak to the show.

414-640-7445
LinkedIn: Phil Gerbyshak
phil@philgerbyshak.com

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Michael Buzinski, Buzzworthy Website Marketing – Interview #104

Michael Buzinski, President & CMO of Buzzworthy Website Marketing, is a lifelong entrepreneur, digital marketing thought leader, and best-selling author. Dubbed a “visionary marketer” by the American Marketing Association, Michael’s sole mission is to help entrepreneurs avoid the time drain and frustration of managing profitable digital marketing campaigns. Buzz, as most call him, has simplified digital marketing success with The Rule of 26 and is on a mission to double the website revenue of service-centric businesses across America.

linkedin.com/in/michaelbuzinksi

IG @michael.buzinski

website: buzzworthy.biz

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Lisa Santiago McNeill – Interview #102

Lisa Santiago McNeill is the coaches coach: coach and publisher.
Born in NYC, raised in the Bronx, Lisa lives in Charlotte, NC with her amazing purpose partner and husband, Brian K. McNeill. From beginning to end her story is about PURPOSE. Yours, hers and ours. There is a time and a purpose and a season for everything under the sun. She has experienced life from so many different vantage points and in each age and stage of her life she has decided to move forward and make the BEST out of every situation.

Lisa Santiago McNeill overcome childhood abuse and molestation, being a runaway at 13, dropping out of school at 16, using drugs and being used for her body to go on to a 20 year career at IBM, starting after-school program for children, to finally leave it all, write her book, Discovering Your Why: A Journey to Wholeness and help other women to find their inner strength and power.

She is now a successful 6 figure coach and publisher, having helped over 90 authors tell their stories of overcoming and stand in the power of their truth.

We are not WHAT we are because of our past. We are WHO we are because of it.


FB, IG, LI, YT Lisa Santiago McNeill
iamlisasantiago.com
The Empowerment Duo – M-F 9 AM – live on FB and LI
@theempowermentduo

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