Welcome to episode #176 of Explode Your Expert Biz Show, brought to you by https://gtex.org.uk/,
I am your host, Simone Vincenzi, The Experts Strategist, and this is the podcast for experts who want to become the ultimate authority in their niche while making an impact in the world.
Today I have the pleasure to Interview Kristen O’Connell
Kristen has been self-employed for the past 15 years. she worked in sales before starting her own recruitment advertising company from scratch. In the past year, she increased sales by 60%, to achieve the million dollar mark in revenue! And she did it in the smartest way possible, allowing for maximum profits.
Awards and Accolades
Her company, Superlative Recruitment Ltd, was recently awarded the London regional AND the UK National Federation of Small Business – ‘Micro Business of the Year’ Award and nominated for the Southwark Business Awards for ‘Best Customer Service’!
In this episode, we talk about
- How to grow your business without spending any money on ads.
- How to build solid business relationships.
- How to maintain and nurture those relationships for maximum profits
Connect with Kristen O’Connell
Free Event: https://www.meetkristenoconnell.co.uk/sos/
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– Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another incredible episode of Explode Your Expert Business Show. Today I’m here with the one and only Kristen O’Connell. How are you doing, Kristen?
– Hi, Simone, I’m doing great, thank you.
– Oh, fantastic. We have a lot to talk about today because you are, in my opinion, a very, very fascinating entrepreneur, in particular because the first time we met through our mutual friend in HI, which we actually did an episode on our show, so check the episode on HI guys, and he mentioned, oh, I got this client called Kristen and she is able to build a million dollar business without paid advertisement and do it without paying any salary. And I was like, what? And I know you’ve done it by building the right relationship and that’s what we are talking about, how to capitalise on relationship and that’s gonna be the focus of the interview, but for people that don’t know you, can you share a bit about where you started, what made you go into business in particular.
– Sure, yeah. I grew up in a small town, but I think I always had a burning desire to do my own thing. I never minded being unique and being an individual. I never really followed the crowd. So I think entrepreneurialism was an obviously path for me. Although if you ask my mom, she will tell you I was a very difficult child to fight with, I always wanted my independence, I definitely didn’t like being told what to do. And so–
– It reminds of someone.
– It reminds me of someone I know very well.
– So, after I graduated from university, I studied marketing in university because for me it was an ever-changing field and there wasn’t just one right or wrong way to market to an audience. I loved the creativity and the fact that you could be innovative and different and that was actually appreciated, so once I had my degree, I think I was in the situation that a lot of people were in, just sort of thinking, okay, wait, my life’s been pretty much mapped out until this point. I always knew I was gonna go on for education, now I’ve done that, so I just sort of thought I’d shout out my resume and start applying for jobs and all these different offers would role in. And it wasn’t that easy, as most people listening probably also come to realise. And I found myself working in a bank, which I didn’t enjoy at all.
– What role were you doing there?
– I was a bank teller, so just the face that you come in and you cash your checks. What I hated about it was that there was only one right way to cash a check and one wrong way to cash a check. There was no freedom, no flexibility.
– It was very mechanical.
– Yes, exactly, and I kept thinking a robot could be doing my job because literally there’s an ATM outside that you could walk up to and deposit your check. But I have to say, the tipping point for me, and when I gave my notice was when one of the other tellers that had been there for two years got super excited about a list that came round to the branch and it was all the available positions within the entire state of New Hampshire for her to advance to a senior teller position.
– Which meant she’s still doing the same job, but she would now be allowed to open and close the bank, so she would be allowed to come in earlier and stay later and get half the combination to this safe and this girl, bless her, was looking, was willing to drive two to three hours just for that small amount of progression after having worked there for two years. So I said, this is not the path for me. I worked in retail for a bit, which was cool because we set up a brand new store and it was fun and exciting and at least the customers were looking for different things so there was some variety, but again, I knew the progression wouldn’t be there. So, about a year after I graduated from UNY, I went on an interview for a direct sales company and I wasn’t necessarily extremely keen on the work itself because it involved door-to-door sales to promote restaurants or spas or really small local businesses trying to get their name out to the region, sort of like a physical Groupon where you pay a small amount, but you get this big value.
– And the goal is to just increase their foot traffic and get new customers coming in, so there were things I liked about it, things I didn’t like about it, but what I loved was this is the first time in my life that I was surrounded by like-minded, entrepreneurial people that had a vision, they had a drive. We were all paid commission only, so we all had the graph and the work ethic. It’s harsh for some people and definitely there were days where I didn’t earn what I felt I was worth, but in retrospect, that was probably my attitude and my work ethic that reflected that.
– But again, I was around people that had a vision and people who seemed to have their life a little bit more together than mine in terms of their plans, so I was really locked into a lot of these people and I ended up completing a management training programme and then a few years later, this company expanded internationally from the U.S. over to the UK and I was one of eight people selected to come over and be part of that expansion. Part of why I chose to do that was, again, there’s just something in my nature where I didn’t wanna be ordinary, I didn’t wanna do what everybody was doing. I felt that one way or another, we’re gonna hear about the success that’s happening over in London. And I thought, I’d rather be part of that story than hearing about the story.
– Nice, nice.
– But I was also realistic. I didn’t wanna go and just think that this is the fantasy where I’ll move to London and all my dreams will come true, so I also gave myself a year. I said I won’t quit, I won’t go back in less than a year, I’ll give it a full year of 100% commitment, but if after that year I can look myself in the mirror and say, I’ve given a full commitment, I’ve done everything I could to make this succeed, and didn’t achieve the success that I wanted, there was nothing in New Hampshire or in the States that I couldn’t return to. I wasn’t burning any bridges, I wasn’t moving to another planet and never being able to return. And one year turned into three years, turned into five years, turned into–
– It looks like you didn’t have a, you really protected your downside. If you’re looking at entrepreneurial lesson is I’ve got this great opportunity, but at same time, I’m protecting a downside to make sure that if things don’t work out, then I’m fine. I’m gonna be all right.
– Yeah and 100%. And I had to commit 100% to that year, because if I had just left that back door open of, well, if this doesn’t work out, I can move back at any time, then when times got tough and we weren’t making as much money as we hoped, or we weren’t progressing as quickly as we hoped, it would have been too easy to run home. The first year was probably the most difficult when moving countries, when starting a new business, when starting a new relationship, all of those things.
– How did you find moving to the UK? Because from U.S. to the UK, there’s a lot of different in culture, in expression, finding for me to leave from the U.S. even more. How did you adjust?
– Well, one of my favourite stories to tell is just the subtle differences in the language and it’s very common for people here in London to say, hi ah, you all right, like, as a greeting. Which the American equivalent would be, what’s up. We’re saying it, but we don’t actually expect you to answer the question.
– And also, people would say, hi ah, you all right, and I would immediately not only go into an explanation, but you have to keep in mind that in America, you would only ask people are you all right if you felt they weren’t all right.
– You would only ever say it in America like out of concern, Simone, you all right, means something’s wrong.
– Yeah, something’s wrong, something’s wrong, you okay?
– So, for probably a week straight, a recruiter and receptionist would be asking me, you all right? And every day I’m coming in, don’t you worry about me, I am perfectly okay, over justifying the fact that I’m all right. And I think she finally said to me, look, it’s just a way of saying like, hey, you cool?
– Just say yeah, I’m all right. And that’s fine and move on.
– Yeah, I wouldn’t say it was any big dramatic differences, it was just a lot of those small little somewhat embarrassing situations, but–
– From there, then you started also your recruitment business and your marketing for recruitment businesses. So, how did you then got the idea to then start that business?
– Yeah, so life sometimes has a different plan than what we expected, so I was a sales manager for a while in London and then relocated to Cardiff. And unfortunately that first business failed. I wasn’t putting in the right work ethic. I didn’t have the right attitude towards my situation. I was trying to rely too heavily on other people, making excuses. All of this in hindsight I can admit. At the time, I felt like the world was against me and things are unfair.
– What’s wrong with you all?
– Yeah, exactly. So, I had to make a really difficult decision and, now this was less than the one year mark I had given myself. So I knew it wasn’t an option to throw in the towel and move back to the U.S., I wasn’t prepared to do that, but I did say maybe this is a sign that my career needs to take a different course. Now, remember, one of the big things that attracted me to this role in this organisation in the first place was the people, like-minded, ambitious, driven people with a positive attitude. I also wasn’t ready to walk away from that, so I had a heart-to-heart with one of the regional directors for the sales organisation. And he offered me a temporary role as his in-house recruiter because the sales offices are constantly recruiting new people because either sales isn’t for them and they move onto something else, or sales is for them and they can progress and build a team and reap the rewards and manage the team.
– Massive turn over in this kind of roles, in particular sales roles.
– Yeah, yeah, exactly, so people are either moving on to something else, or they’re moving up and progress into that management role. So, he needed an in-house recruiter and we both looked at it like it was a temporary situation. It would keep me in the country, it would put the money in my pocket that I needed to live, but also, he felt that having a recruiter like me, who had actually gone through the training programme, had been in the field, and somebody that he trusted, would be better than hiring somebody from scratch.
– Yes, absolutely.
– So, having that partnership and that commitment to each other, we, within six month’s time, he recruited, trained and promoted out 10 other people into that management position, which means he progressed from regional director to vice-president in a very short condensed amount of time.
– So, that earned me a reputation within the industry as, instead of being a failed sales manager, I was actually a rock star recruiter, which felt much better at the end of the day. But, the reality is, it was all those skills that I had learned going through the sales process and going through the management process that made me such a strong recruiter, so I wouldn’t change any of that. It’s those things that sometimes feel really difficult at the time that shape us into who we are at the end of the day. So, as I started to earn this reputation, one of the sales managers who was based in Manchester at the time, he had actually moved over with us from the U.S. as well, and his team was doing great at the sales, but his online adverts weren’t attracting the right people. So in some cases he wasn’t getting enough volume, in other cases he was getting good volume, but it just wasn’t the right quality of candidate, and almost every day for a week, he was phoning me, asking me for my advice, asking what type of ad copy we were using in London. And one day, I think more out of frustration than anything else, he said, look, if I just pay you every week, will you write and place all my ads for me? And I jumped at the opportunity. I said yes because, number one, I wanted to earn extra money and saw this as something that I could easily do outside of my working hours with Justin. Also, I went from being a sales manager working 12 to 14 hour days, to then working as more of an in-house recruiter, working eight to 10 hours a day, but still going home to a house that I shared with other sales managers, so I had this free time anyways and I was bored, we couldn’t afford a TV or really anything at that point, so I wanted to do something with my time, so it seemed like a win-win. And then one of the big things that I think separates me from a lot of other people in that situation, or that separates the path that I launched versus a lot of freelancers is I didn’t go home that night and say to myself, wow, let me do an amazing job for Jake and once I’ve proven that, then I’ll see if I can replicate it with other people. I went home and said, I’m gonna do an amazing job for Jake, but if he’s willing to pay for this service, I bet other sales managers, especially the ones that are less experienced than Jake, would also be willing to pay for this service. The very next day I walked into the office and I spoke to the regional sale director and well, now vice-president, and said to him, hey, I have this idea. He already knew that Jake was interested and I said I have this idea, I’d like to see if other people are interested, what do you think? And he said, yeah, let’s see what happens. And so we got all of them on a call and, actually I was kind of disappointed with the call because I expected that Justin was gonna kind of really big up the idea and talk about how amazing he thought it was because I thought it was really amazing. I assumed that automatically that he thought the same way. And we got on the call and it lasted about 30 to 60 seconds. And, basically, he said, Kristen’s got this idea, here’s how it’s gonna work, I don’t know if it’s gonna work or not, but–
– Thank you, thank you. Thank you for your support, I appreciate it.
– But if any of you guys are interested, give me a call before the end of the day today and we’ll see where we go from there.
– You didn’t have a chance to say anything during that call, or it was like, ah.
– Well, this was the thing, I kind of felt like, wait, if I knew that’s that all you were gonna say, I would have stepped in and said something, but that’s not his operating style. And you know what, we didn’t even need that because he said, call me by the end of the day, and I sat next to him after the call finished and I watched his phone just get message after message, call after call, all 10 people responded within an hour.
– That’s so cool.
– So I knew I was onto something big. And in retrospect, when I look back at it, it wasn’t that my idea was the most brilliant idea ever, that’s not the case. It wasn’t actually even my idea, if you remember from the story, it was someone else’s idea out of complete frustration, but I recognised the scale of it, and more importantly, the reason every single one of those people said yes straight away is because I already had relationships with them and I already had a solid reputation for getting results that was backing me.
– Yeah. So this says a lot about importance of reputation in any industry and everyone is listening here right now is thinking about well, I want to become an authority in my field, the most important thing that you can, that you need to have is become an authority is your reputation. Because it doesn’t matter how great you are and how great you are, if other people don’t see that value and don’t recognise your work ethic, and you don’t have other people that are backing you up, it’s going to be always kind of a struggle and a fight. While, if you are able to build this network, if you’re able to build this connection and you are great at what you do and you build your reputation, going from strength to strength, then there are no limits. There are virtually no limits. So, from there you ended up, and I want to start talking about the building the relationship and leveraging relationship now. So from there you started creating your own company, which then you turned into a million dollar company–
– Where you were approaching other recruitment agencies and say, hey, your ad sucks, let me come in and write it better for you. Is that what happened?
– It wasn’t other agencies that we were approaching, it was actually partnering with that global sales organisation, so originally I didn’t go from 10 to 20 overnight and then 30 and then 50 because the quality really was important to me. So, I stuck with the original 10 clients for the first six months, but then as they started expanding and growing within themselves, the organisation started multiplying, the sales offices were opening up across the country, they naturally wanted to use our service. So, when we went from 10 offices to 18 offices, I needed to bring in another team member and then those 18 multiplied, and then we did start going after other organisations as well, still within the same field and the same industry, but maybe that weren’t necessarily connected to the original vice-president or his network. So …
– So, it’s almost like do the unscalable to then do the scalable.
– I think this is what I feel about your part because you’ve been really focusing on the quality, serving these clients really well and then said, okay, now things are expanding organically and reputation is preceding me, sort of kind of sense, and so people will naturally open doors for you.
– Definitely. And I think you said it best a few minutes ago when you said it’s the relationships and the reputation and I’d like to add a third R to that, which is results. So, in order to leverage your existing connections and your existing contacts, you need to have the right relationships, you need to have the right reputation, and you need to have some sort of tangible results.
– And it’s not enough to just do these as a one-off. When we founded and we started this business, this was in 2008. I couldn’t have grown and built the business and maintained the business if I was still relying on what I did back in 2008, the results I had in 2008, or the relationships I had in 2008, or the reputation I had in 2008. It’s something that I think about every day. It’s something that I prioritise every day. And it’s something that I’m continuously monitoring and making sure that I’m reaching out to people to maintain that relationship, not only when a challenge pops up and something’s wrong. I’m not just reacting to those situations, I’m proactively reaching out and nurturing these relationships. I take my reputation ridiculously seriously, so it’s not just a matter of there’s work Kristen and there’s outside-of-work Kristen. There’s a certain level of–
– There is Kristen, there is Kristen.
– There’s Kristen, yes, exactly.
– And that’s it.
– I’m not necessarily the best behaved person in all the client meetings, but I’m real. I make people laugh, we joke around, we have fun. I don’t have this professional hat that I wear during business meetings and then I take it off and completely cut loose in social situations. I am who I am regardless of where and when you meet me because I don’t want something that I do in my private life to then become public and affect my professional life. But at the same time, I don’t wanna put on this facade of who I think I should be in a business situation and then have somebody meet me in a social situation–
– It’s like, who is this person? Kristen, Kristen, like what?
– Exactly, so there’s a lot of overlap, especially in the recruitment industry and with the sales organisation. We all believe in the motto of work hard, play hard. So, there’s a lot of black tie events and social events that we go to where it is about kind of relaxing and not talking business and not trying to close sales. So the audience is blended and I need to be that same person that my reputation falls into that.
– It makes perfect sense. So now, let’s talk about how do we, we already started talking about it, so it’s a nice transition. How do we maximise this relationship? Is that what you said, relationship capital?
– Yeah, monetizing and maximising your relationship capital 100%.
– Okay, perfect. So, we already mentioned reputation, we already mentioned relationship, we already mentioned results. So, how do you go about, if you have to give a piece of advice to someone starting out, because I want to explore two differences, first someone who is starting out and then someone that is in business for a while. So we can tap into how to build the relationship and how to maintain relationship because they are two very different things that we need to do in this scenario. So, if someone is starting out or they need to reach out to new contacts, how do you build those relationships first and how do you maximise those relationships?
– Well, the cool thing is, every one of us already has existing relationships. Nobody goes through life with no friends, no family, no work colleagues, except you know who, Miliano, no contact whatsoever. But, 99.99% of the population has somebody that they know that’s somewhat involved in business or marketing and so the first thing I would advise people to do is make a list of people you know, not even that are necessarily in your field or necessarily related to what you do, you can start with those people, but then also start listing family and friends, just as many people as you can think of. I was challenged to do this at a business event last year. They said write down 50 people. And I thought oh, good god, I don’t know 50 people that could potentially help me, but what happens is, as you start writing one name, you then think, oh, and they know this person and this and this and this and this and so I think starting with a list is important. And I’m a little bit old-fashioned, so I always think of pen and paper, but really we all have digital networks these days, we’ve got Facebook, we’ve got Instagram, we’ve got Snapchat, we’ve got LinkedIn, all these different social medias or networking platforms. And LinkedIn makes it really, really, really easy to grow your network. I actually, in the last day, so I set myself a check challenge at the start of the week to grow to 2,500 connections.
– And I was at 2,277 when I started this project yesterday and I just started going through and I was connecting with the ones that LinkedIn recommended. In some cases, we have 300 plus mutual connections. So I was connecting with them. In some cases I sent a personalised message as to why I was connecting with them. Now, my goal for this week was to go from 2,277 to 2,500 and I actually achieved that in just over 24 hours.
– That’s so cool.
– So I gained 200 LinkedIn connections. And then what I did today was I asked my PA to start going through and looking at industry related people that we could connect with, so doing searches for people that work for the job boards or that work in HR in recruitment, and just connecting with like-minded people through that field. And then we’re gonna go into more of the coaching and and developing and the public speaking aspect, but I think a good way to increase your network is to reach out to people for a purpose because you have something in common. Don’t be afraid to send the connection request and think what will they think, what will they think. Most people are happy to also build their network, so they think oh, great, someone sent me a connection request instead of me having to send it to them. And it’s a numbers thing, so I don’t expect everybody that I reach out to to connect back, but I also don’t expect connections from every single person that reaches out to me, so there should be a little bit of screening on both ends, but it’s easier than ever to build this type of a network. Back in 2008 when I launched my business, we didn’t have these platforms. I mean, I know we did, but Facebook wasn’t considered anything to do with business at the time. If LinkedIn existed, I certainly wasn’t on it, and most people I know weren’t on it. If they were, they weren’t actively posting things and engaging with people, so I think it’s hugely important to just start with a list of people you know that you could reach out to and–
– I have a question. In terms of the difference that you found in building in-person relationship versus building social media relationship with people that don’t know, is there a different dynamic that you have found? Does it work in the same way to build the relationship process or is it different? What has been your experience?
– Yeah, it’s definitely different because what happens in the social media world is I look at my Facebook page and my LinkedIn profile and even the posts I do with LinkedIn, I look at that like my digital business card. So when I post something, I’m not always concerned that how many likes did I get, how many comments did I get, how many this, how many that. I’m looking at it as a timeline because when I connect with new people, I tend to have a quick scroll through their timeline, even sometimes before I accept their request to see what they’re all about. Is this somebody that I want as part of my network? And I look at my timeline the same way. But that’s very different than connecting with someone in person, because–
– You don’t scroll their timelines. Excuse me, can I scroll your timeline?
– And it’d be like, hey, check out my articles and have like a bunch of articles that I’ve written printed out and like throw them in their face, like sit there and watch them read the articles. What did you think? What did you think? Yeah. So it’s different, in person, I think the best thing you can do is just start the conversation with a smile, try to find some common ground. I used to hate networking. I found it cringe worthy, I would stand at the back of the room and just sort of look around and justify it like, oh, I’m an extroverted introvert and once I know my audience, then I’ll come alive and stuff. But, I missed out on connecting with so many great people because no one wants to talk to that person that’s just standing with their phone, not looking at anybody, right. I don’t look very exciting to talk to. So, what I had to do was realise, you know what, there’s probably a lot of other people in the room that feel the same way, and maybe that’s a great ice breaker. So maybe instead of standing and thinking, oh, I bet there’s other people that think the same thing, I wish we had some common ground to connect on, maybe that is the common ground that we connect on. So you just walk up to somebody who is also alone or–
– The awkward person there with their phone.
– So, how are you finding the event or, what are your thoughts on networking.
– I hate it. Well, I hate it too, but I’m here for business.
– It’s brilliant.
– I hate that, and then, exactly, and then we can establish some common ground and then it takes off from there. Or, it’s also great to get to know people through other people. So, like you said at the beginning of this show, we met through a mutual connection, Nate, and I already knew a little bit about you, you already knew a little bit about me, so when we met and we had our first conversations, we had just a couple of little pointers about each other that we knew we could reference.
– So that’s another great way. When you go to a networking event, if there’s any way to research the people that’ll be there, the topics, that kind of stuff. If you’re going to a networking event and there’s gonna be speakers there, there’s usually like a networking bit at the beginning when you first arrive. Well a great conversation starter could be, oh, which speaker are you most interested in hearing, or what brought you to this event, what topic are you most interested in? Just finding some kind of common ground to relate to them–
– So, what you’re not suggesting is as soon as meet someone, saying, what do you do?
– Yeah, I mean, exactly, it’s like there’s the cheesy pickup lines that people use in a bar like what’s your sign and do you come here often? Networking can be the same way. Hi, my name’s Kristen, so–
– What’s your sign?
– I would ask what their sign is because I’m really into astrology, but…
-The reason it’s really interesting because at what point then will you ask for the referral or you understand if there is potential to do business with this person, or it’s just a waste of time engaging with that particular individual? Are you looking for some particular clues that makes you say, I want to keep engaging with this person? The reason why I’m asking this question is because I’m speaking a lot, like I do, or attending ultimate networking events. There’s always some people, sometimes that relationship works, they open networks, they open connections. But I’m thinking as well about how I’m opening networks to people, I worked really hard to build this network, so I’m not going to open my network to the first person I meet at the networking event. So, how are the dynamics at that point? How do you find the best solution to work at that point?
– Yeah, I wouldn’t necessarily say that there’s a time line that I work with because I’m not dead yet, so there is potential for people that I’ve met 10, 15, 20, 38 years ago to still add value to my life. I believe in that. Sometimes it’s just not the right timing for somebody. But I do try to avoid, well, instead of talking about what I try to avoid, what I always look for is somebody that I would introduce to my mother, somebody that I would introduce to my best friends, somebody that I would let pet my dog, which I don’t have right now, but when I get a dog, somebody that I would let pet my dog. So, I avoid people that are overly negative. I avoid people that are just constantly questioning and challenging everything. It’s okay to have questions, it’s totally okay to not agree with me, perfectly fine. I definitely don’t agree with everything that I see or hear, but there’s a way to go about conducting yourself in a debatable fashion, rather than an argument. So people that are just particularly negative, particularly aggressive, particularly know-it-all type people, I don’t wanna introduce them to my network because, again, it’s my reputation that I’m also maintaining, not only the relationships, but my reputation. So, if I introduce that person to somebody and they get into a heated argument with somebody that I hold in a really high regard, there’s a potential that that’s gonna ruin our relationship or cause a riff in our relationship. I wouldn’t say ruin, but could cause a wave in our relationship, but could also affect my reputation as the one that introduced this person.
– So I will definitely do my fair share of vetting before I just introduce that person to my network and open up these connections because I wanna make sure that they’re somebody that, if I’m not around, I’m confident that they would behave in a similar fashion or that they respect me enough to know what to say and what not to say when I’m not around.
– So, what I’m hearing you saying is that this is not something that happens overnight, it’s not like a short-term strategy. It looks like more a, there are going to be some short-term gains, but it looks like there’s more of a long-term strategy when you build that relationship and that relationship’s solid. You build a mutual trust and that that mutual trust then creates new opportunities.
– Exactly. And I will often suggest after that first, say we meet face-to-face, I will often suggest that we then connect on social media, because then they can get to know more about me in their own time, at their leisure, but I can also get to know more about them. Sometimes people put on a certain front when they’re in a suit at a networking event, but then I stalk them on social media and I realise, oh, wow, this is what you do when you’re not in a suit and that’s not not somebody that I want commenting on my post.
– That type of stuff, so.
– So this is the fist part, this how we build the relationship. I think it’s very, very valuable, so we are looking at getting to know them personally. And we can understand their reputation, we can understand their results.
– Exactly, yeah.
– So then this way we can see are they the right fit for our network and also can I be a good fit for their network as well.
– So now, let’s fast forward a few years down the line, which means now we have this great relationship, we are generating some business from that relationship, they are opening doors for you. What do you do? Do you have like kind of a checklist or a few things that you do to keep that relationship alive or a few suggestions that you can make to our listeners.
– Yeah, to me, every relationship is different and unique, so I don’t have a specific checklist of what I always do for every single client or every single supplier, but I do make a very, very, very conscious effort to pay attention to what’s important to them. So, for some people, their birthday is really important to them. To other people, they’re not bothered, it’s just another day that I get older. But if I know their birthday is important, then I’m gonna make a big deal and maybe do a social media post about their birthday or treat them to a gift or make some kind of a fuss that it’s their birthday, send them something in the post. The people that aren’t bothered that it’s their birthday, maybe their pets are really important to them. So, when Nate and I first started working together, we were putting out a monthly newsletter for our clients and we had a pet-of-the-month feature. Give our pets some recognition. So, it’s not necessarily about okay, do A, B, C, D, but it’s just be genuinely interested in what’s important to the other people, think about them. I do take time every day to think about my connections, the people in my life. A really good habit that I learned a few years ago from Franklin Covey is to identify the different roles that you play in your life. For example, I’m a mother, I’m a business owner, I’m a daughter, I’m a friend, I’m a leader, I’m a speaker, I’m a coach, these are all different roles. And even though I’m Kristen and I’m all those in one, there are some times where I need to focus on Kristen the business owner, what does Kristen the business owner need to do to move the business forward. But then there are other times when I need the focus on Kristen as a mom and my kids deserve my undivided attention. So I think in relationships, it’s important that you’re maintaining them in a way that’s true to you, but in a way that identifies the role that you play in that relationship and how that affects the other person.
– That’s such a great piece of advice. And would you recommend people to actually ever document it, or like a piece of paper to write a different role and to brainstorm it? Is that what you did to define your roles or it was just all mental work?
– No, I’m just on a pen and paper person through and through. So I wrote down, okay, what are the different roles. I thought about kind of going back to my people that I know helped me identify some of my roles. I forgot that I was a daughter. I put down easily that I was a mother, but I forgot the other side of that is I’m a daughter. And then realised I’m a daughter made me realise I’m also a niece. And so it just helped me trickle into those different roles. Now I’m not saying every role that we play needs to be, you know, we don’t have to divide our time equally amongst all of those roles, so this is again why writing it down on paper can be important. My role as a mother is gonna take up more time and right now in my life is a lot more important than my role as a niece.
– My aunt, if she only hears from me once every six months, then she’s perfectly happy with that. I saw my aunts over the summer, we spent an afternoon together, that kind of ticks my niece box for, till I see her again at Christmas. Maybe I’ll send and email or two in the meantime. But my kids require constant attention from me and I have to, a big, big shift I made in my life was not trying to play two roles at the same time. When I was growing my business, I was very much the mom that distracted her son, you play with your cars and trucks while I’m over here on my laptop. And that’s not fair to him or to me. He deserves my undivided attention and so does my work. It should be, there’s a time and place for everything.
– Yeah, such a great piece of advice. One more question before we go into the lifting the veil part. Is about, we had recently a conversation which was during a panel that, we did an event with Coach Nikki. And you mentioned there is this element where you’re looking at the social side, the relationship side, but also there is a moment when you sit down and talk business.
– And when you talk business, you talk business.
– So, how then do you talk business in terms of leveraging those relationships that you have? What kind of conversation do you have with them, with your network, to make sure that actually right now, okay, I’m gonna chitchat, we’re friends, we trust each other, we respect each other, great, now let’s make some money. What do you do there?
– A huge part of that is managing the other person’s expectations. So, my role in the recruitment company involves a lot of meetings with the job boards, like Reed and Totaljobs, Jobsite, Monster, et cetera. And in the beginning, my team and I would sort of go into these meetings blind and just let the job board take control, whatever they thought we should be meeting about. And then I realised, well, they’re gaining from this, but we’re not. And there were a lot of times where we then wanted to bring something up and it caught them off guard. They had no idea that we were feeling a certain way. So I realised very early on that I felt disappointed when my expectations weren’t managed and weren’t matched. I owe it to the other person to manage their expectations. So if I’m meeting with a potential new client, and my goal is to get a sale out of them, I will tell them that we’re meeting to talk about how we can work together. I will tell them that the goal of the meeting is to see whether or not we can do business together. I won’t say, Hey, Simone, you wanna go grab lunch on Tuesday and have you think that we’re having a social catch up and we’re getting lunch, and then all of a sudden spin the conversation into, so, by the way.
– Here’s my terms and conditions.
– Yeah, exactly, you should pay me for working with you. So, managing the other person’s expectations is gonna make them come to the meeting or the phone call or whatever prepared and if they have objections or they have concerns, at least they’ll be thought-out ones, not ones that just come up because they’re caught off guard. And even if you do close a sale, but you caught the person off guard, they’re way more likely to have buyers remorse where they walk away and cancel or they walk away and say, oh, geez, I committed to that, but I probably shouldn’t have. And then it makes working with them difficult and a chore and then they’re kind of wondering every time we meet up, they’re wondering oh, is this gonna be a social thing or is Kristen gonna try to sell me. A lot of times they’ll probably start declining my invitations to meet up because they assume no matter what I said, that I’m gonna spin it into a sale, so we’re now very clear, the team and I, whenever we meet with perspective clients, existing clients, our suppliers. It’s always clear what the purpose is of the meeting. And, yes, other things will come and go throughout the meeting, but we understand the underlying purpose is either relationships, or lets talk about the complaints and concerns, or lets talk about renewing this contract and how we continue to do business forward. The premise is always there for both parties to understand.
– So, advice is be clear, set the expectations, so then when you have that meeting, people know what kind of hat they’re wearing, in terms of their role, talking about roles, the role that they are playing in that moment. Is the role of their friend, is the role of the potential client, is the role of the potential partner. So then they can understand what’s going to happen and there is no surprises, which can affect the personal relationship at that point.
– Yeah, and it’s just a matter of put yourself in their shoes for a minute. If you were the other person–
– I hate hate.
– What would you want to know?
– I hate that.
– You hate putting yourself in other people’s shoes?
– No, no, no, I put myself in other people’s shoes. I hate when someone has a second agenda that is normally expressed.
– I’m like, wait a minute, what?
– No, no, no, is important putting in other people’s shoes. What I was saying is I hate when someone comes to me and their agenda, they use their agenda to use another agenda. And for most of the time I’m like, okay, can you get to the point because I don’t get why we’re here right now. So, cutting all the fluff, tell me the point why we’re here because you told me we were here for this reason.
– Yeah, exactly.
– I gave my time for this reason, and now. So, yeah, I hate that, I start hating that person. No, not hate. No, I’m joking, I’m not that bad. But, it will annoy me. It will really annoy me.
– Yeah, for sure.
– Okay, so now we understood on how to build a relationship, how to maintain and keep those relationship, how to make the most of the meetings that we have with the relationship that we’ve built. And let’s transition to the part of the interview where we are talking about lifting the veil, where we are lifting the veil and something that you’re doing or something that you’re using or a book or resource or a piece of software, technology, whatever it is that is, you used it recently and you recommend other people to know about it or to use it or to read it. So, what is that for you, Kristen?
– Fantastic. Well, it’s definitely not technology and software because I am not the best with that. But, I would have to say it’s sort of a book, well, it’s definitely a book, but it’s also a technique that I learned about before the book, so last summer I had the opportunity to meet Randi Zuckerberg at a business retreat. Most listeners probably recognise the surname Zuckerberg, so Randi is Mark Zuckerberg’s older sister. But she’s so much more than that. She is a momtrepreneur, she’s the person behind the marketing of Facebook when little brother couldn’t get the concept off the ground and to grow quick enough, he called her in and she leveraged her experience in working in New York to really grow Facebook. She’s actually the person that invented Facebook Live. And she’s now gone on to launch her own media company and she’s also opening up restaurants to help young children, specifically young girls, get into STEM careers, so the science, mathematics, technology and engineering, or engineering, mathematics, STEM, you know. So not only is she a phenomenal person, but she taught us about this concept last year in August and then released a book in March or April of this year and the concept is called Pick Three. So, her concept is not that we should be striving for work-life balance. As everybody says, I need better work-life balance, I need work-life balance, as if one day everything’s just gonna be perfectly balanced and life is grand from that point on. Yeah, her concept is that there’s no such thing as work-life balance and we all need to accept work-life imbalance. And her theory behind this is we can have it all, just not every day. So she lists five things that most people want or try to do throughout the day, throughout the week. And you can vary and alter your own five, but her five are sleep, work, friends, family, and, wait, work, sleep, friends, family, and finance. And so, she puts her focus on three out of those five things each day, so each day when she wakes up, she decides which three she’s gonna focus on, and the other two are just gonna have to wait. Sorry, it’s not finance, it’s fitness. I knew something wasn’t right about that. Work would include the financial.
– Finance, fitness.
– Yeah, work, sleep, friends, family, fitness. So some days, she’s gonna work out and then she’s gonna spend time with her friends and she’s gonna spend time during the day with her family and then go out with her friends, so that means work and sleep are gonna have to wait till another day.
– Other times maybe she’s been running and travelling and doing all these things and sleep is a priority, but then she also needs to make sure that she gets some work done and then in the evening she’s gonna be with her family, so that means the other two have to wait until next. So this concept has changed my life in the year or so that I’ve been applying it because I’m definitely someone that wants it all, I’m somebody that believes we can have it all if you put in the effort, but there have also been times in my life where I’ve just run myself ragged, I’ve been burnt out. You know, I was telling you yesterday that this weekend was one of those for me where I just had to shut my doors and do nothing to recover physically and mentally from all the work that I’ve been doing in the last couple of months. So I love Randi’s concept because we can have it all, but we can’t try to always cram everything into every day and get the amazing results.
– I’m a big believer of that too. I never read that book, I’m gonna read it because it sounds fascinating. So what’s the name of the book again?
– Pick Three.
– Pick Three, Pick Three, make sure you get it, Randi Zuckerberg. There’s going to be a link in the show notes of Pick Three as well. And that’s what happened, we did our three day seminar on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and I had other two events, or three events during the week, I don’t even remember, so for as being the last week, very intense for me too, where the chat, but I put image in Facebook. This is my day today, cup of coffee in my pyjama and I think I watched about like six movies during the day and then playing basketball in the evening and I process two payments. It’s like, no, I need to process theses two payments because I wanna get money into the account, so let me process these two payments. But then all while I was watching, I think it was Point Break, really great movie if you like multicross and like heist kind of movie. Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked right now, so, Kristen, it’s been an incredible interview, absolutely love it.
– Great, thank you for having me.
– I know that right now you’re doing your business is Superlative Recruitment, it’s going really well. It’s growing, you got a lot of staff members that are helping you out, growing the business. And you started as well now doing coaching and mentoring for people that want to grow their businesses as well and in particular with no overhead and not spending a lot of money to marketing, not spending a lot of money to personnel or office buildings because that’s what you’ve done. So, if for someone who wants to know more about how they can work with you and have this kind of business, create this kind of model, where can they connect with you, what do you have coming up?
– Well, they can check out my digital business cards on Facebook or on LinkedIn. I’m occasionally on Instagram and I’m not much of a Snapchatter, so don’t look for me there, but we can put the links to LinkedIn and Facebook in the comments as well. And then also in just a couple weeks time on October 18th, I’m hosting an evening seminar, it’s a free workshop and it’s just gonna be for people that are looking to start or scale a business and are looking for a way to do it like you said, with low to no overhead, without paying any salaries, and without paying for marketing and advertising. I’ve been able to grow from the 50 pound a week that I was getting for my first job, to over a million dollars in sales revenue last year, without paying for fancy office space, without paying a single salary, and without spending money on marketing and advertising through the traditional channels. We’re gonna run this workshop on the 18th of October. We can probably put the link in–
– Yeah, the link is going to be in the show notes as well and also for those of you that might not may be able to make the 18th of October, the link is going to be the same because you’re going to run also other events in the future.
– Exactly, yeah. So we’ll probably do one in November, I don’t know that we’ll do one in December with Christmas, but yeah, back at it in January as well.
– Exactly, so I’ll be there as well, hosting the event. Make sure so we can a lot of fun together. Make sure that you click on the link and register because I’ve seen part of the content that Kristen is going to deliver at that training and it is mind blowing. You already had a tester today, so I’m really excited, I’m really excited about this event. So make sure you register so I can see you there on the 18th of October because that’s a great way, it’s a very smart way to run a business, very, very, very smart way to run a business and you must know about it because it might be that you’re starting, you’re starting in the right way and if you are growing, then you can actually save a lot of money that you might already be wasting in things that you just, because you maybe didn’t know another possibility, so get your ass to the workshop. Kristen and I, we’re looking forward to seeing you there on the 18th of October. Kristen, thank you very much. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you as a guest.
– It’s been a lot of fun, yeah.
– Yeah, it was indeed a lot of fun. Generally our interviews are about 30 minutes and we’ve been going for about an hour.
– Oh, my, I didn’t even notice that.
– Yeah, me either that’s why when I have a really, really extra special interview, I’m like yeah, keep talking, I like it, so it was fantastic. Thank you very much, thank you, thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for listening to another episode of Explode Your Expert Business Show. We are live on your favourite broadcasting platform three times a week. Oh, my god, yes, yes. So for those of you that cannot get enough of my voice and these amazing guests like Kristen that we have on the show, make sure you tune in for the next one, register for the workshop that we are going to have on the 18th of October, and if you haven’t subscribed yet, subscribe, what are you waiting for. It’s an absolutely amazing podcast, subscribe right now, and remember that together we grow exponentially. I’ll see you next time, Ciao!