324: Effective Communication: The Key To Growing Your Network and Business – with Paul Edwards

324: Effective Communication: The Key To Growing Your Network and Business - with Paul Edwards

Meet Paul

Paul wears many hats, ghostwriting, agency founder, bestselling author, podcast host master networker, husband, father, older brother to younger men, amateur theologian,  voice mimic, and recovering insurance salesman. As a first-generation Spanish-speaking immigrant to the US with African heritage and the Middle East come back experience, Pual’s lived in five different countries, speaks two languages, and holds three passports. Paul does two things well, words and people. When he isn’t writing content for clients, you’re most likely to find him building relationships and creating opportunities for his network. 

Effective communication is something that you preach quite a bit. What role does effective communication play when it comes to growing your business?

I’ve said for quite a while now, but one of the things that came to the forefront with me was that I make way more money with my ears than I do with my mouth. What I mean by that is that there’s a tendency in everyday conversations when you’re building relationships with people. To stay on the surface of things, to sort of being polite and chitchat and as I was learning the ropes of networking, it was fine. But eventually, I got to a point where it became very repetitive, and especially if you’re in a medium to small size town where you know a lot of the people in any sort of business networking event, that’s going to start to get stale. It did for me because I was passionate about it. I loved connecting with people, and I loved going to events and functions, and it was my primary method of generating business. But I couldn’t keep talking like that and so I said, I’ve really got to get a lot more curious about people. For a long time, I couldn’t think of what to say, and when somebody finally pointed it out to me, I suddenly realized, Oh, I’m being reminded of something I should already know, having studied communication in university, and having been exposed to newsrooms, and working in radio stations in Seattle. I should have known that the approach of the journalist or the curious TV interviewer, someone like Oprah Winfrey, for example. You just need to distill that down to an everyday conversational level, where you’re asking people questions that quickly get beneath the surface, not in an inappropriate way, but in a way that sort of pulls out of them what they wouldn’t regularly reveal. Not because they’re ashamed, or extremely private, but simply because nobody thinks to ask them. I found that as soon as I started asking these kinds of questions that got below the surface, and then I started being a curious journalist and saying, “Well, tell me who, tell me what, where, when, why, how,” all these open-ended sorts of things, people just will tell you all kinds of weird and wonderful things about themselves. Over time, as I built up this huge, giant mental Rolodex in the back of my head, I quickly discovered that whenever people told me what their problems were, or what their pain points were, I had right in the back of my head an instant list of people that I could connect them to who could help them. So I just became this hub, this sort of go-between, this broker almost, if you will, of one person to the next, solving problems and making myself valuable.

What are the five tips for networking with your dream connections?

This is one of my favorites. In my book, which by the way is going to be available to your audience for a free digital copy. I’ve realized after publishing that I have had these ordered incorrectly but they’re all still the same. The first thing I tell people is you got to be an angler. So when a fly fisherman is trying to get a trout or a salmon to jump out of the water, he’s going to cast that rod at an angle that mimics the flight patterns of a fly above the surface of the water. So the analogy that I take from that is that when you’re in a networking function, you’re gonna show up physically sort of the way everyone else does. You show up, you’re going to smile, a handshake, whatever criteria you need to. But then, when you open your mouth, you hook people. When you begin to communicate, you hook them one way, shape, or another. The bio that you were referencing earlier on, that’s a hook. Being a very attentive listener, that’s a hook and it’s a hook because so few people do it. So I tell people when I go out to a function, or an event or something like that, I never go to transact business, but I do go for business reasons. The business reasons are always to meet people and ideally, to hook the right people, not into signing a contract on the spot, but into developing a further relationship with me. Number two, I call it to be a scout, be a therapist and be a publicist. So scouts, as you may have heard in sports, are always out there looking for the right people to have in their circle. So you’re always paying more attention to people than the average person does. You’re always more curious about them, you’re always trying to find out what you can about them. Not for the purpose of keeping tabs on people or, but it is like, if you have this problem, then I know someone who can help you with it. So you’re scouting out, who’s the right people to have in your circle. Going the other direction, as a publicist, sort of like what you’re doing now, as a podcast host, you’re helping me make contact with however many listeners download this episode, you’re helping introduce me to your audience and so you’re identifying me as somebody that you think it would be good for them to know of, or know about, or potentially even get acquainted with. A podcast is one way to do that, you can do it on your personal Facebook page! For what it’s worth, I used to go to real estate open houses and I would ask the realtor there, would you mind if I did a video tour, and posted this house on Facebook, so more people know about it. What real estate agent was gonna say no to that? So that’s another way you can do it and then the other thing, of course, is to be a therapist. By this, I don’t mean you literally have somebody lie down on a couch and try to console them through their problems. But what I do mean is you have to go back and find out what is causing people to struggle because that’s where you make your money. Entrepreneurs get paid first and foremost, to solve problems so if we’re out there offering solutions that don’t solve the problems people are actually having, then we’re not being entrepreneurs. The mistake we make is we think the only solution that’s worth offering is the one I get paid for, when in fact, the solution that’s worth offering is the one that solves the person’s problem, whether you get paid or not. Then the other thing is focused on the farm team. Lori, you’re a hockey player. So you know what a farm team is and that’s the whole thing is when I talk about networking with dream connections, if you learn to treat everyone around you as a potential dream connection, whether they actually are one or not, sooner or later, you’re going to be in front of that dream connection. I use the examples of socially prominent people like politicians or celebrities or actors or athletes, but it does don’t necessarily have to be that. It could just be your absolute dream client, that one magic client that goes 1000 miles deep and keeps you busy and you know floods your business with new revenue. But if you know what to say to them when you get in front of them because you’ve been practicing it on hundreds of other people who didn’t fit that profile, you’re not going to stumble through your words, you’re not going to be at a loss for what to say or how to say it, you’re going to launch into it the same way you would with everybody else you’ve ever done it with. So while you’re working your way up towards being in front of that dream connection, focus on the farm team and practice on the everyday people that you run into all the time.

All businesses want influence in the marketplace, how do you suggest that they achieve that?

The phrase that I’ve coined for this is what I call, you need to set about building your own unpaid sales force. Funnily enough, I didn’t think about this until recently, the occupation of ghostwriting actually has a parallel to this, but which is what my agency does. If you think about it, we are always either taking information in via our ears and eyes or were spreading it out via our fingertips on the keyboard. So when you’re trying to build influence in the marketplace, what you’re really trying to do is reproduce a message that resonates with people. The way that I found to do this is that as I kept networking and as I kept showing up, and as I kept adding value in the groups that I was a part of, pretty soon, some people began to become like walking, talking billboards for me. Also, it was totally voluntary, it wasn’t like I had some master switch or something like that and people talked about me. But these people also had friends and neighbors and co-workers and associates that they spent time with, who would say, “I need to find a new insurance agent, who do you recommend?” I had become so adept at showing up consistently both digitally and in-person with a giving hand that I was constantly getting recommendations. My phone was constantly ringing in my office with somebody saying I was referred to you by so and so. When I got into ghostwriting, I suddenly realized, in this case, I was the author and all of these people who were recommending me were my ghostwriters. They were carrying my message, they were just doing it verbally instead of in print. They were carrying my message one way or the other. What they liked about me really resonated and struck a chord with them and they would go and tell other people, “Hey, this guy, you can trust him. He’s responsible, he’s reliable, he’s prompt, he does that he gets the job done,” whatever qualities they admired about me. I had my own series of marketing ghostwriters who basically carried my message to the marketplace and spread the word and so I became very well known in the community and a similar sort of thing is happening now in the servant leader influencer, coach, consultant space, a lot of My name is starting to travel around before I get there. So yeah, what role does effective communication play? Well, I can’t build a business without it and I don’t know of anyone who can.

Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you’ve had?

In the last three or four years, mastermind leaders and people who participate in masterminds who have that culture of collaboration and everybody growing together comprise at least 50% of my clientele because it’s not just networking, there’s a purpose attached to it that goes beyond your obvious commercial self-interest. From these groups, I’ve built several relationships that are basically the springboard to capture nearly every client I’ve had. Most, especially among them is Aaron Walker. Now, his mastermind is called Iron Sharpens Iron, I’m a member of it. The way that I got into that was Aaron got introduced to me by a friend. It went back to my cornerstone principles, the pro bono publicity is what I call it for podcasting or that kind of thing, and be a publicist. So Aaron’s a serial podcast guest, so I invited him on my show when he came on and I could immediately tell, I like this guy, and would love to spend more time learning from him. He happened to mention that he was going to launch a new product and he was looking to promote it then. I said, “Well, you’re already invited back if you’d like to come on the show again, at that time, and it would help you,” and he said, “Absolutely.” We got done with the interview and from then on, I did what I’ve always known how to do, even if you’re broke. Even if you’re broke, you can still introduce people who should know each other. That’s what I tell people, even if you don’t have a penny to spend on marketing, it doesn’t matter because of who you know. So I knew a lot of people, some of them socially prominent, and some of them who fly below the radar, but still people that Aaron would want to know. I started introducing him to everyone and the difference when I started doing this is that Aaron thrives on that kind of stuff. Most people appreciate it, but for Aaron, it’s like the lifeblood of his business too. All of a sudden, he was meeting all these people, some of them in his own hometown that he didn’t know, and getting connected. So when he came back in October of 2019, I was still struggling. I was about 15 months into being broke with no income and he came back and we did the interview and when we were on the post-interview chat, he said, “Look, you’ve introduced me to all these incredible people, you don’t know how much I value that and you need to let me do something for you.” Well, I had been waiting for somebody to say that for I don’t know how long, but of course I’d been broke for 15 months and I was like, “Aaron, I don’t even know what to ask for.” He said, “Well, what’s something that you could do? Your current business attempts are not working out so what’s something you could do that is valuable and that people are currently paying for?” He helped me cut right to it and I said, “Well, I’m a talented writer, I’ve been writing all my life, I’ve never been able to put it down,” and he said, “Well yeah, people need that, why don’t we give it a try, you can come and write for me. I need to hire a writer, I’ve got blogs and content that I physically can’t get to, because I’m too busy, why don’t you come and write content for my team? If I like it and you like it, we’ll keep doing it, and then we’ll see what comes of it.” So I started doing that, join the mastermind, and about two months after that, hands started to go up in and said, “I need help, too, can you come and write for me, I’ll pay for it.” Six months later, I had a business. It just goes to show you sometimes you’ve got to do this. If you don’t know who you’re looking for, and I didn’t for many years, sometimes you got to do this for a long time. But eventually, you’re gonna do it for the right person if you don’t give up and you keep doing it, eventually, you’re gonna do it for the right person who has the ability to elevate your business to the next level and that’s what happened to me. I just kept doing it until the right person came along and then all of a sudden, I was a legit entrepreneur, just like I always wanted to be.

How do you stay in front of and best nurture your network in your community?

There are a couple of different ways I do it. What I found is that the most meaningful and impactful ways are video messages and handwritten notes. Now, you might think, Well, I know hundreds of people that’s an awful lot of time. I don’t do hundreds of people, any more than you would, but you can do one a day. You could batch record 20 videos one day out of a month, and send them right. What that does is it communicates something besides whatever message you send, it also communicates that this person could have busied themselves with any number of things in their business, instead, they chose to spend 60 to 90 seconds, greeting me personally or two minutes writing to say they care with their hand instead of with their keyboard. It just works. I get handwritten stuff from people and maybe it doesn’t impact me the way it impacts other people. I think it’s nice, but I’m so used to it that I guess I don’t notice it the way other people do, but that’s the most important way. The second thing is just continuing to show up for one reason or another besides your own self-interest. People will tell you all sorts of things about themselves, it’s not a mystery, right? They advertise half of it on social media, the other half you can pick up by having conversations with them. But they’ll tell you all sorts of things, right. How did I know that you were a hockey player? Well, because I asked you about it because I saw it on your profile. So I could talk hockey with you all day long. I can tell you how incredibly disappointed I am that once again that the Edmonton Oilers were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs. I’m so tired of my hometown team being a bunch of losers, but anyway, I won’t get into that. That’s the thing, is like people tell you all sorts of useful information about themselves, you’ve just got to write it down when they tell you and then you have excuses to talk to them again. 

If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?

I have to think of how my 20-year-old self was. But I would say get a lot more curious and a lot less rushed to get to the quick answer of why things are the way they are. It’s a funny thing, Lori, I’m 41 and I feel like I have more time left on the clock. Even though chronologically I’m 20 or 21 years removed from that experience, I felt like I had less time left on the clock back then. Part of the reason is how enriched my life is by the personal relationships that I have. If you want anything that’s an indicator of the likelihood that you will live to a ripe old age, in great health, and depart this planet surrounded by people who care about you and have nothing but nice things to say about you, it’s the quality of the relationships that you’re building today. People are not organisms to be analyzed in a lab, they’re living breathing stories and the person who cares enough to learn about those stories. Now, we don’t have time to learn each other’s entire biography from cradle to grave, but I could give you enough time to learn what’s been going well for you in the last few weeks, what’s your current struggle and what are you looking forward to in the future? Those are questions I could ask so the person who has the ability to treat people that way, consistently everywhere they go will never lack for friends. I was so the opposite of that when I was 20 because I was just so self-absorbed and self-involved and so conditioned to think of myself and others the opposite way that life was meaningless and there wasn’t anything to it. The reality we all have these stories, we have these unique things that no one else has lived or experienced quite the same way we have. If you can hold on to that, and never lose your curiosity about it, I think it’s probably one of the most potent ingredients of a long life well lived and I wish I could go back until my 20-year-old self that and have him understand it.

You said that you’ve got an offer for our listeners. Can you talk a little bit about that real quick and how our listeners can access that?

Yes, the book is called Influencer Networking Secrets, published by my good friends at Morgan James publishing. I can feel over time that I’m going to need to issue probably a second or third edition of this because networking just keeps getting more and more interesting. It basically lays out a very simple blueprint, both of how to be, as well as how to do. So there are practical tips in there that you may need to take and tailor to your unique experience. But they flow from overarching, unchanging principles that are built into the planet we live on in the universe we live in, that have not changed for 1000s of years and they form the cornerstone of all success, I think that you see going on in the world is all takes place because at least two or more people are involved cooperating with each other. I found that to be a tremendously useful way of building my business. The digital copy will be available to any listener who wants it. If you’d like a physical copy, feel free to reach out to me via social media and I can run that way as well. Or if you want to go the old-fashioned route, you can buy it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. 


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