Patrick Allmond – Consultant and Speaker
Patrick Allmond, owner of Focus Consulting. Recently he launched a technology talk show called the “Wild West Online Marketing Show” at an AM+FM+Web radio station in Oklahoma City. When he is not speaking or consulting he loves to spend time with his wife and daughter. You might also look up sometime and see him flying over your head as he is also a pilot and a huge aviation enthusiast. Get ready to gain some excellent advice on the topic of networking and building stronger professional connections.
Josh Hinds: Patrick, how do you define Business Networking and why do you feel it’s important?
Patrick Allmond: I have a little bit of different take than most people when it comes to business networking. I rarely go out of my way in person looking for business or look for a sale. My first priority is to understand the person and the business they run, why they run it, what do they like about it, and what can I do to help them in their business. They may already have somebody on staff that does what I do. If so – that is fine by me. What other value or benefit can I bring to the table for them? I consider myself pretty well connected and I may know someone who can help them get where they are going. If I can do that I consider the relationship one founded in trust which is where you should begin. If there is trust and the business opportunity presents itself later, closing the deal with be alot easier.
Josh Hinds: Can you share a couple of ideas that someone could put into practice that would help them to improve their business networking skills?
Patrick Allmond: You were given two eyes, two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion. Always be watching for ways you can help somebody. Also listen for the subtle things people mention about their life.
Great tip: If you meet somebody and they mention any interests or recent anniversaries (birthdays, etc) write that stuff down. Get that on your calendar. When you follow up with them later on that information they will be amazed you took the time to care about their life.
Last tip – talk to strangers more. I’ve made some amazing connections by just striking random conversations at social gatherings, food buffets, etc. It embarrasses my wife sometimes, but it is not uncommon for me to walk away with a business card.
Josh Hinds: We hear a lot about the importance of creating value for the people who we want to develop strong networking connections with. Can you share some ways people can go about creating value in the eyes of those they want to cultivate stronger working relationships with?
Patrick Allmond: If you maintain a good list of people’s interests you can always be on the lookout for what people are wanting and needing for their business and their personal life. When you find information that your connections need get it to them ASAP. This will turn your new cold connections into warm ones. Your warm connections into hot ones. Also – look out for peoples personal interests as well as their business interests. You may want a sale from a person, but they may want to leave the job they have. If you know of an opening someplace and you help them land their dream job they will be indebted to you for a long time.
Josh Hinds: How do you follow up with the people you meet? Do you have any particular system in place for keeping up with and managing the relationships in your business network?
Patrick Allmond: As soon as I sit down at my home office I send them a thank you email (via Google Apps) and bcc my BatchBlue contact manager. Since my Google Apps contact list is connected to my phone I instantly have their name & email address in my phone within minutes. I then hop over into Batchblue, enter all of their company details, and I also connect them to the person that introduced the two of us. Batch Blue allows you to associate contacts in your address book, and specify the type of association.
If it was a mass social situation I get them out for lunch ASAP – my treat (I had a situation recently where a person made me pay for a lunch they invited me to to pick my brain. Bad form). At lunch I specifically ask the Godfather question – “What can I do for you?” – and I take notes. I might mention a little of what I do, but unless they have mentioned directly/indirectly that they need what I sell I don’t jump into my pitch. They are expecting it and will be on the defense.
Josh Hinds: Can you share a personal “networking” success story with us?
Patrick Allmond: Several years ago (but post 9/11) I was in a long airport security line at the OKC Will Rogers Airport. Since I always talk to strangers (see above) I struck up a conversation with the nice lady in front of me about the length of the line. We exchanged some good laughs and then the conversation turned towards our respective businesses and our roles. It turns out she was the director of a local IT office. She wasn’t shopping for my services but I did make sure to leave her with a card or two in case I could help her later.
A month later she called me in for a meeting and told me there was some work she wanted me to do. There was no selling involved ; the trust was already there. All she wanted to know was what my rate was and when I could start. She took my rate without question (again – the trust of me and my services from the non-business networking we had done a month ago). I just ran a report (while typing this answer) in Quickbooks about that client. That turned into a $2M relationship that lasted 5 years. You never know where business is going to come from. Always be looking. Always be ready. The right time + you being prepared = networking success.
-what were some of the key lessons you learned from the interview above? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.