Stay Top of Mind and Get More Referrals with Silicon Valley Executive Coach Patrick Ewers

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In partnership to build better relationships, Patrick joined Tony Cappaert, the host of Follow Up and cofounder at Contactually, for a live podcast on how to engage clients and generate more referrals. Patrick and Tony have been friends in this space for quite awhile, and while Patrick resides in the Bay area and Tony in our nation’s capital, this didn’t stop them from getting together and having a really great time.

If you’re like Patrick and Tony and you have a referral-based business, you might be wondering, “How do I reach that next level and generate new opportunities?” Keep reading this podcast summary, and you’ll learn about Mindmaven and hopefully take away some actionable steps that will help you stay top of mind and increase your bottom line.

The Beginning of Mindmaven

Many folks in the Valley know Patrick Ewers as an executive coach, but not everybody is familiar with how Mindmaven got its start. In this podcast, Patrick shared his story with us.

Patricks buddhaIt all started, Patrick says, in 2008 when he was traveling with his wife, and they stayed at a Buddhist monastery in a 10-day silent meditation retreat. If you know Patrick at all, you’ll agree it’s hard to imagine him being silent for more than a few minutes, yet he says it was an amazing and life-changing experience. During this time when he was training himself to focus, he reached a consistent state of flow, and that’s when he had what he calls his “Yoda moment.” He reflects, “It was a realization of ‘This is who I am, and this is what I should do.’” He learned a lot about himself during that time, and from then on, he knew that helping people realize their own opportunities would be a big part of his future. Fast forward to today, and Patrick is an expert at managing relationships, and he’s coaching some of the most successful people he knows. “I put in my proverbial 10,000 hours, and people tell me I’m good at what I do.”

Generating Great Opportunities With NRM

Of course, what Patrick means by “opportunities” to this day is the generating of referrals through NRM, known in his circles as Network Relationship Management. Working primarily with people in referral-based businesses, Patrick helps his clients get more business from the people they already know. He says the kinds of opportunities his clients need can vary. For example, some people need to find talent so they can scale their business. Others are trying to get exposure or gain access to people in some way or another. At Mindmaven, he teaches people how to look at their network and make it more productive so more opportunities come their way in the form of referrals.

NRM can help you generate more business from the people you already know! Tweet this

Patrick believes there are two things that help people get more opportunities:

  1. Practicing the art of staying top of mind with people.
  2. Delivering experiences that they perceive as highly valuable.

Tony observes these seem like fairly intuitive things that we should just be able to act on, but in reality, people don’t do that. They often let relationships deteriorate, when instead they could be nurtured and a lot more valuable. So the question becomes: Why do people need to hire someone like Patrick, a coach, to make that happen?

Patrick admits when he first started Mindmaven he thought it was so based in common sense that he couldn’t possibly make a business out of it. In the end this proved to be untrue, as he emerged over the last few years as a very sought after coach to VCs and entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley. Patrick has a couple theories as to why taking care of relationships is so difficult for many people.

  1. One is that a lot of people in referral-based businesses perceive that their technical trade is their only core competency. For example, a transactional lawyer believes he must write exceptionally good contracts, and a real estate agent has to master the art of a walk-through so that potential buyers can’t help but make an offer. Patrick believes that while all this is true, it’s only one side of the coin.
  1. He argues people also need to view managing relationships as a core competency, no matter what their profession is. A lot of people believe that relationship management is something you do on the side, or it just happens somehow, but if you change that attitude and really focus on managing your network, dramatically different things can happen to you.

Tony agrees that a person’s technical expertise is very important, but just as important is how people are developing skill around building relationships with potential clients and referral partners. It’s something that needs to be equally practiced and developed.

Expertise is valuable, but building relationships with potential clients is just as important. Tweet this

Relationship management is what Patrick calls one of the “granted skills.” They’re the skills people take for granted or accept as a given. The classic example Patrick gives is learning in schools: the subject matter is delivered to the students, but the students aren’t taught how to utilize their brains in the most effective way to master this information. He says when you pay greater attention to how you’re learning, you have an efficiency gain of over 50%, and relationship management is the same way. “People take it for granted, but if they were to spend some time on it, they would experience improvement beyond 50% in terms of business growth.”

The picture Tony sees is a little Mario character eating the mushroom that’s coming around. He’s gaining super power by developing this additional NRM skill set that allows him to be much more effective as a consultant, a VC, or a lawyer.

Patrick loves this analogy.

How You Can Stay Top of Mind by Practicing 3 Habits

Staying top of mind depends on a lot of factors, such as what the client wants and also their situation. “What we’re doing is not rocket science,” Patrick says. “It’s all based on common sense, and this is why I believe my work resonates with so many people. What I offer as advice is something people have experienced in one way or another in their lives.” Pragmatically speaking, if you want to stay top of mind with your clients, Patrick suggests starting with 3 simple habits that are easy to do.

Habit #1: Send one email a day to somebody who wouldn’t have gotten one.

stockphotosforfree.com2rContactually is a fantastic tool for this. If you have 30 people in your network who are Legends (people who have proven they have the willingness and ability to send you referrals), Contactually reminds you to reach out to them roughly every 45 days. This results in 260 emails a year. If you find that you’ve sent 260 more value-based emails this year than you did last year, imagine the kind of impact this will have on your business. It should simply convince you to do it.

The notion of delivering great experiences has a lot to do with mindshare. Patrick feels one of the biggest misconceptions people have is that others need to like you. While this is relatively important, it’s more important that folks simply know who you are. The best example he can give to people is the situation when they’ve met someone for the first time over lunch or coffee, and sure enough, a day or two later they get a referral from that person, even though the person barely knows them. The reason they got the referral is because they just had a positive experience together, and they were top of mind with that person.

Habit #2: Whenever you think something positive about somebody, and you genuinely believe it, say it.

Patrick sees it like this: “Imagine you’re sitting in a room with a partner, and there is someone more junior in the room. He has one specific idea that you really liked. Maybe it was creative, new thinking, outside of the box, and it strikes you in a very positive way. Say it. You’re going to make that person feel good. You’re going to make the boss feel good. It’s a win-win all around.”

“The other benefit,” Patrick says, “is that it feels really good to say it. It’s completely free. It doesn’t cost anything, and you can say it wherever you are, as long as you genuinely feel it.” When you practice this, it makes you more aware of positive thinking and the power that it has.

A fan of positive psychology, Tony totally agrees. He says it’s as simple as saying, “Hey, I was thinking about you,” or “I really enjoyed this experience.” Unfortunately, something holds people back. They sometimes think it’s not professional to voice how they feel. So what are the ways that people can overcome this?

Patrick’s advice for people who feel this way is to take a softer approach in the beginning. For example, at the end of a meeting you can take one thing you learned about the person that you appreciated and say, “Hey, I really learned something interesting today. That was highly valuable to me. Thank you.” This is a form of common courtesy which most people should be familiar with, and it comes across as more genuine. Patrick states this is so easy, anyone can do it. He reflects, “Saying thank you is something that’s built into our society. It doesn’t matter if you’re East Coast, West Coast, or the middle of the Bible Belt. It still brings across a beautiful vibe of positivity that sinks into people. It’s where I believe the law of attraction actually comes from.”

Habit #3: Whenever you think, “This is really valuable!” come up with 5 people who would also find it valuable and send it to them.

The Inbox is a treasure trove of value. What does this mean exactly? Patrick relates that people send us intriguing articles all the time via email. It’s an acceptable form of sharing useful information. So the third habit is whenever your brain fires this notion of “Wow, this is really valuable,” or “Hmm, this is interesting!” you should ask yourself who else in your network would appreciate this just as much or more. Then come up with a list of 5 people and forward that information to them with a short comment: “Hey, I just read this. I thought this was really valuable information, and I thought you might find this intriguing as well.” This is a great way to stay top of mind with people because it doesn’t need a reason to reach out. It’s just sharing valuable information, and you can touch people this way in the times between your meetings.

If you think “This is valuable!” send it to 5 people you know. Tweet this

Patrick says you can get started very easily by using Contactually and its bucketing system to help you come up with a list of 5 people. For instance, if the article you read is about how the recruiting industry is changing, you could look at all the recruiters you have. Then when you’re sending an item of value, ask yourself what the longevity of the information is. Is it something current that will expire after a certain time, or is it a great piece of writing that will be relevant for a long time? If you want to take it further, you can create a “value payload repository,” which is a database of all your items of value. You can create this in a place like Evernote, so all you have to do is simply ask your assistant to copy and paste the information to an email.

Focusing on the People in Your Network Who Matter Most

Another common perception is that people think network management is a pain in the butt or is hard to do. At Mindmaven, Patrick works hard to debunk this. “Being valuable is easy. You can scale it. You need to keep it simple and give yourself permission to focus on the people in your network that are the most relevant to your business and the opportunities you’re trying to get.” When it comes to people who have been in business for some time, it basically boils down to 3 types of buckets: Former Clients, Futures, and Legends. You can create these buckets in Contactually and let Contactually remind you when to reach out to them.

Former Clients

These are the people who have seen you in action and know the quality of your work. Former clients are exceptionally good at recommending you because they’ve gone through your service, and if you don’t stay top of mind with these people, it’s likely you’re leaving money on the table.

Futures

Futures are people that aren’t ready to buy your service yet, but you know they’ll have a need for your service sometime in the future. The interesting question is: Will they buy it from you or from one of your competitors? Patrick suggests that if you think they’ll be ready to purchase your service within the next 12-18 months, you should put them in a bucket called ‘Futures’ and stay in touch with them. He says if you think about it, much of the business we encounter is not ready yet. If we don’t give them enough attention, they will fall through the cracks.

Legends

The third bucket is Legends. Legends have the willingness and ability to send you referrals. A senior person in the industry will often have 20-30 Legends in their network, and it’s very important to stay in touch with them. A simple exercise that Patrick has his clients do is to put their Legends in a bucket and let Contactually tell them how many of these people they haven’t reached out to in over 30 days. Sometimes the ratio they see can be a real wakeup call. If you do this exercise and 70% of your Legends haven’t heard from you in 30 days, you’re leaving money on the table. Patrick suggests that if you use these concepts in combination with Contactually, they can actually help you make money.

One last piece of advice Patrick offers is to view your own business as another client. The best way to work hard for your business is to stay top of mind with the right people in your network. He says if you do this in a disciplined way, he’s certain that in 3-6 months you’ll come back and say, “Patrick, I’ve got this amount of business from actions I’ve taken that I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten if I hadn’t stayed top of mind.”

Tony thought this was a great way to wrap things up. He put the challenge out there for anybody who is following this to take 5 minutes literally right now and think of 5 people you haven’t talked to in awhile and just send those emails. Another great tip from Tony is to block off time in your calendar that you dedicate solely to working on your network. He says it’s a very effective use of your time and one of the best things you can do for your business.

The best way to make your business successful is to treat it like one of your clients! Tweet this

If you found these topics unique and valuable, why not take some time to explore Mindmaven’s website. You can download an awesome ebook called “The Five Freebies.” This ebook helps solve the problem of “What do I send people?” and will help you to generate referrals. You can also check out the weekly blog which covers many of Mindmaven’s best practices.

To check out Contactually and turn relationships into results, visit www.contactually.com.

Patrick and Tony would love to keep this conversation going. If you’re interested in putting these concepts into action at scale and with more leverage, send them your comments. You can also chat with them on Twitter @PatrickEwers and @Contactually.

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