What Makes You Different From Everybody Else?
The following is an exclusive excerpt from my new book: How To Build A World-Class Network In Record Time (pre-order now at motm.co/books)
The following is an exclusive excerpt from my new book How To Build A World-Class Network In Record Time, which is FINALLY coming out in October (I promise!).
For those who haven’t pre-ordered, you can do so at www.motm.co/books.
This is Chapter 3, titled “What Makes You Different From Everybody Else?”
Below, you’ll learn:
How to ask questions that will quickly create deep and meaningful relationships,
How to provide value to others in actionable ways you can implement today,
Why you should A/B test your “elevator pitch”,
Why you should consider “donning a costume” at events,
Why you need to develop your unique authentic voice (and more!).
The excerpt ends abruptly because, at the end, it transitions to Chapter 4 (which also starts Part II of the book), and so other than that…
I hope you enjoy the following :).
CHAPTER 3: WHAT MAKES YOU DIFFERENT FROM EVERYBODY ELSE?
“Basically, what it comes down to is I love what I do. I don't do it for fame. I don't do it for money. I just love it.” - Larry King
I’m running about thirty minutes late when Uber drops me off at The Nosh in Beverly Hills.
Inside, I quickly find my party. Holding court is iconic TV and radio host Larry King.
Across from him is Cal Fussman, a prolific interviewer in his own right, known for authoring Esquire’s What I’ve Learned column featuring the world’s top business titans, politicians, athletes, and actors.
Today, they will be interviewing ME for their web show Breakfast With Larry, and so I’ve been told to rendezvous for coffee before we head to King’s studio in Glendale.
After a few minutes, it’s time to leave and we hop into black Cadillac Escalade with King’s long-time driver. The car is quiet as we tune into one of today’s most popular sports voices, Colin Cowherd.
Soon enough, we pull into the studio, get ready for camera, and start the interview.
Before his passing in January 2021, King interviewed over fifty thousand people during his career (according to CNN, the network which hosted twenty seasons of Larry King Live from 1985 to 2010).
King interviewed every U.S. President since Gerald Ford, as well as cultural leaders like the Dalai Lama, business titans including Bill Gates, celebrities ranging from Lady Gaga and Jerry Seinfeld to Frank Sinatra, among countless others.
It wasn’t King’s personality that separated him from other talk show hosts.
Rather, it was his genuine interest in his guests. King was known for his easy-going style of questioning and desire to interview all types of guests, including infamous ones like UFO conspiracy theorists and alleged psychics.
While King is no longer with us, we can learn from one of his best friends, the aforementioned Fussman, about the art of conversation.
WII-FM: America’s #1 Radio Station
“Change your questions. Change your life.” - Cal Fussman
WII-FM stands for “What’s In It For Me?”
It’s the most popular “radio station” people tune into when it comes to the world of networking.
That’s why Fussman’s approach to meeting people is so effective.
I first met Fussman at a mutual friend’s home in 2017. Since then, we’ve grabbed meals together in Los Angeles, and I’ve even hosted him as a guest speaker for one of our quarterly Meeting of the Minds experiences in Napa Valley.
According to Tim Ferriss, Fussman is known as a “peerless” interviewer, and much of what Fussman speaks about to corporations, entrepreneurial mastermind groups, and in podcast interviews is about improving the questions that you ask.
If you change your questions, in different interactions with people in your network or people that you're looking to meet, you can establish deeper, more meaningful relationships (and do so expediently).
If you’re at a conference or connecting with someone via Zoom, ask questions that will help you learn about ways to offer value instead of talking about the weather, or sports, or even politics.
Learn about people’s current passions, challenges, and priorities while asking about their families, friends, hobbies, convictions, or skepticisms.
If you host a podcast, write a blog or email newsletter featuring subject matter experts in your field (see Chapter 8), or want to more effectively screen candidates for a job position you’re hiring for, I’ve learned from Fussman to do the following:
Do the work ahead of time. Before interviews, Fussman brainstorms all the questions he has for an interviewee, researches his subjects online, reads their books, and dreams of all the fascinating perspectives they might have to share given their life experiences.
Aim for the heart first, then the head. Your first question should elicit positive emotional responses. Meeting of the Minds alumni and attention artist Luke Brady calls this conversational jiu-jitsu. Basically, you want to lead someone to think about something happy, warm, and fuzzy. Fussman likes to ask interviewees something along the lines of, “What’s the greatest lesson your parents taught you growing up?” Immediately, the interview becomes a conversation (instead of an interrogation) and it becomes easier to dive into more logical questions about strategy, tactics, and “lessons learned” in the moments to follow.
Save your hardest-hitting questions for the end. Fussman builds rapport with an interviewee and even shares some of his personal experiences to further connect with someone before closing an interview with the difficult stuff like the “I’ve gotta ask…” inserts related to scandals, regrets, or even exciting prompts on upcoming announcements (like a product launch) that might not be public knowledge yet.
Open-ended questions can help you build deep, meaningful connections with friends new and old.
When facilitating conversations, such as our Meeting of the Minds experiences, we almost always start each summit with a series of icebreakers designed to help attendees reveal something exciting and intimate about their lives to one another.
In sales, depending on how expensive your products or services are and how much you need to qualify clients in advance of working with them, you may ask a series of questions to assess the budget, needs, and urgency of an interested lead.
We ask our clients questions like:
Why do you do what you do?
What are your top business and personal goals over the next 12 months?
How would you describe an Ideal Client for you?
What decisions, projects, or upcoming meetings are keeping you up at night?
How are you hoping we can help you?
To be interesting, you must first be interested.
Regardless of whether you’re networking to generate new revenue for your business, make new friends at an event, or feature someone on your podcast, asking better questions will lead to richer, more fulfilling connections.
HOW CAN YOU PROVIDE VALUE TO OTHER PEOPLE?
Most of this book comes down to the following principles:
Be a good person.
Provide value upfront.
Connect with super-connectors.
Before providing value to others, we must first understand how we can uniquely support other people’s goals, desires, and relationship-building efforts.
In the Relationship Action Plan template, there’s an entire section dedicated to brainstorming ways to provide value to your target relationships.
What resources do you have that could be helpful to others? What knowledge do you possess that could save someone else time, money, or struggle? What specific actions can you take to provide someone value and therefore invest in that relationship?
As you build your network, fifteen seconds is all it takes to connect like minded individuals who can leverage their collective trust in you to develop meaningful relationships of their own.
The following are all different ways to provide value to others in your network.
Being A Connector
Introduce someone to a new client or valuable prospect for their business.
Set up one of your press contacts with a super-connector in your network.
Host an event or dinner party to bring individuals in your network together and curate the environment for them to meet (a great resource on this is Mastermind Dinners by Jayson Gaignard, contributor to 3 Billion Under 30).
Staying In Touch
CALL (don’t text) someone on their birthday.
Send meaningful gifts, from handwritten notes to tchotchkes from Amazon, as well as thank-you gifts when invited to important events or celebrating certain milestones.
Go on a vacation with important peers or find ways to do retreats with them in-line with upcoming conferences.
Invite conversations with your connection about anything other than work (talk about their love life, regrets, successes, goals, and motivations instead).
Sharing Their Work
Interview someone in your network for your upcoming book or article and actively promote their inclusion.
Interview someone on a podcast, or in a vlog, and drive traffic to their website, social media accounts, etc.
Provide them the ability to pitch their products/services at a dinner or event with high-caliber “super-connectors”, perhaps one that you’ve crafted for them.
Promote and thank peers on your social channels, showing your appreciation for their work and inviting your network to reach out and connect with them.
Offer to do free work for a “super-connector” in order to provide them massive value while “learning the ropes” for yourself.
Contribute as a donor or volunteer to your contact’s charity of choice, possibly in partnership or in-person with them.
Help their child, spouse/partner, or other family member with a favor.
Double Opt-In Intros
One of the most valuable things you can offer someone in your network is an intentional, well-timed, and brief-yet-descriptive introduction.
However, most people fall short of making considerable and successful introductions because they fail to get “double opt-in”, where both parties agree to speak with one another before a formal introduction is made.
If you don’t do this, one of your friends may be annoyed that you didn’t ask them if it was OK before revealing their contact information (if they are a super-connector) or adding another email to their overly-subscribed inbox.
Additionally, poorly-executed introductions can lead to mediocre conversations, or worse, no reply at all from the other person being introduced (even after multiple follow-ups!).
In Chapter 10, we break down step-by-step how to make the perfect double opt-in intro, including how to write your introduction emails between friends and how to follow-up with both parties.
Telling The Best Version of Your Story
As a college freshman, Alex Banayan sought the likes of Lady Gaga, Bill Gates, Tim Ferriss, Pitbull, and Steven Spielberg for advice on how to become successful.
From this research, Banayan wrote The Third Door, a national bestselling book translated to dozens of international languages, sharing what he learned from his interviews with some of the world’s most reputable leaders in business, science, and technology.
In order to finance his research, he competed on The Price is Right and won a sailboat.
Before writing The Third Door, Banayan was already the youngest venture capitalist in the United States.
How did he achieve that designation and capture the ability to invest in high-growth tech companies while still in college?
Imagine if you found your own unique way to stand out from the crowd and separate yourself from the competition.
If you’re learning about Banayan for the first time through this book, then you’re probably intrigued by his story and wish to learn more.
Among the many “super-connector” secrets he deployed in his efforts to book meetings and quickly build rapport with seemingly inaccessible titans of industry, Alex learned to share the most tantalizing parts of his story in order to capture other people’s attention.
Below, you’ll learn a few simple ways to humble-brag about yourself and otherwise stand out from the crowd as you’re networking.
Ditch Self-Deprecating Humor
If you’re looking to tell the best version of your story, then you should avoid leading with insecurities, disappointments, and lack of experience.
While self-deprecating humor might work for Pete Davidson, “de-platforming” does little to instill confidence in the minds of potential clients, business partners, employers, investors, or whomever you’re looking to connect with in the early days of your relationship.
Being forthcoming about your fears, challenges, and sensitivities can lead to deeper, more meaningful relationships long-term (see Chapter 7), but your first impressions should be positive if you’re looking to stand out from the crowd.
A/B Test Your Elevator Pitch
Inevitably, people are going to ask you questions like “What do you do?”
If Banayan is looking to quickly build influence, he might say something like, “After winning a sailboat on The Price Is Right, I sold it for cash and used those funds to travel the world interviewing industry titans like Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, and Steven Spielberg on how to become successful. With their help, I wrote a New York TImes bestselling book called The Third Door to help others discover what I learned.”
Try sharing different formats of your introduction when you meet people at events or speak with new contacts on the phone and gauge their response.
For example, I’ve used the following line thousands of times now and almost always get a laugh when I say, “Hi, my name is Jared, like the galleria of jewelry but NOT like the Subway guy.”
Consider Donning a Costume
Celebrity photographer Nick Onken is one of the most creative people I know, and he is unmistakable in a crowd because of his custom hats, designer eyewear, colorful outfits, rings, and (oftentimes) a massive camera dangling from his neck.
Popular EDM artist Marshmello is known for wearing a giant white helmet resembling a marshmallow for public appearances and music videos, which instantly separated him from a sea of artists making similar music.
For me, I always wear fun dress socks, one of a few watches I’ve purchased after major milestones like acquiring a business, and occasionally wear eclectic button-down dress shirts from brands like Robert Graham known for their outlandish prints. Being a 6’2 redhead also helps me stand out from the crowd both literally and metaphorically.
You don’t have to “dress for success” to build a world-class network in record time, but I would recommend dressing “as you’d like to be known.”
Become A More Interesting Person
Jesse Itzler is a successful entrepreneur who co-founded multi-billion dollar companies like Zico Coconut Water and Marquis Jets.
He’s also lived with a Navy SEAL and Buddhist monks, owns part of a sports team (the Atlanta Hawks), and recorded rap albums with songs that have been heard millions of times.
Itzler runs ultramarathons for fun, participates in an annual fantasy football league with the likes of Jay Z and NBA superstar Chris Paul, and is an active dad raising four rambunctious children with his billionaire wife Sara Blakely (founder of Spanx).
Itzler describes his efforts as “building your life resume” and believes we should all seek to become more interesting, fulfilled people through challenging, out-of-the-box experiences.
Compared to other successful entrepreneurs in their early fifties, Jesse is objectively far more interesting, and therefore has an easier time meeting new people and sparking intrigue in personal and professional settings.
Develop Your Authentic Voice
Being able to confidently express who you are, what you stand for, and what you want in life is the best way to share your story in order to attract others who will value your unique contributions to society.
This is why we stress “connecting with yourself” as the first step in building a world-class network in record time.
Developing your authentic voice means understanding which settings you will be most comfortable in, and optimizing your networking around those environments.
For example, I prefer meeting people over Zoom or in-person whenever possible, but hate posting on Instagram and Twitter.
At networking events, I focus on meeting a small handful of individuals and having deep, meaningful conversations instead of “working the room” and passing out dozens of business cards. Better yet, I only attend certain events where I trust whoever is curating the attendees to find high-integrity, kind-hearted people and avoid overly formal environments where the atmosphere might be more pretentious.
It’s time to get creative and find ways to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
How you communicate with others makes a world of difference in taking your network to the next level.
For those who pre-ordered the book already, thank you for your patience!
It is now 100% done, pending one final copyedit this weekend from our editors before being handed off to the company that will “typeset” the book and get things ready for Kindle and other eBook providers.
If you have not pre-ordered the book, you can again do so at motm.co/books.
Premium newsletter subscribers will also get a free copy of the book, so that’s another way to get your hands on How To Build A World-Class Network In Record Time.
I can’t wait to share this with ya.
Thanks for reading…
Jared Kleinert is the founder of Meeting of the Minds (motm.co), as well as a TED speaker, 2x award-winning author, and USA Today's "Most Connected Millennial".
Meeting of the Minds curates "super-connectors" and subject matter experts as invite-only attendees to 3 day summits in places like Napa Valley, Bermuda, and elsewhere, as well as “deep dives” such as this Marketing and Biz Dev strategy & implementation workshop. Members of the MOTM network include CEOs of 7, 8, and 9-figure businesses, creators of globally-recognized brands and social movements, New York Times bestselling authors, founders of pre-IPO tech unicorns, c-suite execs from Fortune 500 companies, and others.
Jared's career began at 15 years old when he started his first company, and took off at 16 while working as the first intern, and then one of the first 10 employees, for an enterprise SaaS company called 15Five, which today has raised over $40M and has almost 2000 forward-thinking companies as monthly recurring clients.
Later, Jared would become a delegate to President Obama's 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Malaysia, write multiple books including the "#1 Entrepreneurship Book of 2015", and speak at TED@IBM the day before he turned 20.
As a highly-sought after keynote speaker and consultant, Jared’s clients range from organizations like Facebook, Samsung, Bacardi, Estee Lauder, IBM, Cornell, Berkeley, AdAge, and the National Speakers Association. His insights on entrepreneurship, networking, marketing, and business development have been featured in Forbes, TIME, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, NPR, Entrepreneur, Mashable, Fox Business and more.
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