Victor Ahipene: Speaker nation, what’s happening? Welcome to another episode of Public Speaking Secrets. I’m your host, Victor Ahipene. Super excited to have you here and today I’ve got Ginger Johnson who is, I’d say the queen of connecting, if you’re looking to improve how you can connect with customers, how you connect with potential clients, and reach out. She’s also a speaker, a trainer, a coach, and an author. She’s done a lot of things, which I think you’re going to benefit you on your speaking journey. With all that being said, welcome to the show, Ginger.
Ginger Johnson: Thanks, Victor. It’s great to be here. Thanks everybody for tuning in. Clearly, you’ve got a lot that you share so it’s a pleasure to be a guest.
Victor Ahipene: With connecting, let’s dive in pretty quick into the connecting side of things. What does that kind of mean from the way that you teach it to clients and things like that? What does that type of connecting?
Ginger Johnson: Sure. Great question. Let’s get that clear right up front. Connectivity is my jam. It’s my expertise. Connectivity is creating a culture of people who are connected with each other. What does that mean? That means that when we can learn how to create and develop relationships, really fundamental as you know, Victor or everything.
We need to know how to get to know each other. I’m not counselor or a relationship coach. What I am is I look at, what does it mean to connect with people where they’re at, what are they looking for? How can you help them? So that connectivity is connecting with people on purpose with the idea and the intent to serve them in the end. I love it because it’s every single relationship we have and it’s really useful.
Nobody needs it more damn theory. If you know your why and your theory, that’s great, but then what do I do with that? That’s also a huge part of connectivity and what I share and teach and speak about because I want people to walk out of the room or leave the podcast think, “Oh, I can use that one thing and that’s going to change things for the better.”
Victor Ahipene: I’ve had a look around your website, looks at some of the stuff that you do. Let’s say for the small business owner or the Solo Entrepreneur, they’re looking to boost their exposure, connect with ideal clients or beneficial businesses that they can create mutual benefit from.
I guess the first steps, I mean this is people who have, a lot of us aren’t necessarily even shy when it comes to conversing with different people. We have a lot of barriers that come up when it comes to reaching out with this fear of rejection, when it comes to their businesses because they’re our babies. What are the steps that people can kick off in that aspect?
Ginger Johnson: Sure. Great question. Interestingly enough, when I wrote one of my books, the Connectivity Canon, I knew I wanted to give people steps exactly like, how do I do this thing? How do I connect with somebody else? A framework and made itself known as I was writing, which was super helpful.
They’re actually seven elements of connectivity. I’m happy to send it to any listener. They’re welcome to reach out to me as well. It’s in the book, but I’m happy to share it freely as well. I think it’s on my website, but some of the things they can do, the actual steps. The very first thing is that you’ve got to have the right mindset. You’ve really got to know your why and your mindset. You got to know why you think you want to connect with people to begin with. For the record, connectivity, Victor is not networking. That is different. I liken it to waves on an ocean.
The tips of the waves are networking and a network is a thing. Connectivity is way deeper. It’s what’s underneath the surface. It’s where the real relationships and the real traction of life happens. Once you know why you want to connect with somebody and your mind is in the right place, your attitude, your mindset, then you knew anything. Then how do you do that thing? The first one is the first move. You start a conversation. One of the best tactics I share is think of premeditate a few open ended safe questions or compliments.
Compliment is great. It’s got to be authentic and genuine. You can’t just say, “Hey, great long hair.” When people like you are not long hair. Making a genuine compliment to somebody, helps them feel noticed. That’s something that’s powerful for all of us. It’s useful for any relationship generation.
Also, those safe open ended questions like, what did you enjoy about the weekend? What’s been a great thing about your week so far? Everybody can fill in those blanks, how it’s comfortable for them. What’s the music you’re listening to that you enjoy? Some universal topics that aren’t [inaudible 00:05:43] like sometimes forts the weather can be. They don’t feel like you’re trying too hard, but they feel genuine. Open ended questions and compliments to the best ways to start a conversation.
Once you made that first move, that first point of contact, then there’s the y in the road, I’d say I call it. You and I are standing in the post office together and I make a comment on a package or holding or something and its holidays or who knows what. I can tell you either are willing to engage in further conversation or you’d rather not. That’s a skill we kind of learn, but we don’t learn it unless we try it so we try it.
If I can tell you’re willing to engage in a further, a few sentences conversation, I might keep that going. Asking questions is a great mechanism and a great tool for connecting with somebody because it’s not all about you. It’s never all about you. It’s about the other person. You want to be curious.
You want to be interested. That’s what gets people interested in connecting with you. If you figure out, I don’t really, I’m not really getting the vibe. They don’t feel like they want to talk to me. That’s great. Respect that. Don’t be a creep and just keep going, “Okay, thanks. Have a good day.” Whatever and keep moving along.
After that, you decide where you want that relationship to go. I called the “pursue your path.” If it’s something that we decide we want to go for coffee later or walk or we both have something in common and we share that, great. If we decide that we’ll just see around town. That’s cool, too.
The last two elements of connectivity, Victor, I find are the most fundamentally important for developing relationships that last and matter. Whatever their frequency of contact is and those are follow up and follow through. I shortened them into fluffed and follow up is the immediate subsequent action after you and I have made a contact, after you’ve done that first move, you decide what’s next? “Oh yeah, let’s get together again or we both play Frisbee. Let’s meet in a park.” Something like that.
You have to get over the feeling that it might seem weird because really most people want to connect with other people and if you do it just casually relaxed, not overly aggressive. Most people are going to respond positively at a minimum they’ll say, “I’m really not into that. I’m going to keep it.” “Okay, cool. That’s great.” Then follow through after that follow up, follow through is the care and feeding, as I call it. It’s the long-term trajectory. Do you see this person once a year? Do you run into them every week? Do you see them in the office? Do you interact with them on LinkedIn? What might that be? You get to decide what that is and then you need to care and maintain it.
Relationships don’t just happen and if you’ve ever gotten a call, Victor, which I’m going to guess you have, somebody calls you and the only time they call you is when they want something. That’s not connectivity. That’s somebody who hasn’t figured out that in order to get, you need to give. Connectors give first. Those steps are what I have found have been a really useful framework for people to plug it in as it works for them, but you still have to have a framework to figure out what are the steps. “Okay, here I am now what, Oh, this now what?” And so forth.
Victor Ahipene: I think a lot of us can relate. I know you said it wasn’t necessarily networking, but you go to say something for your business or something for your work or whatever it may be and you end up with the draw full of business cards. So many people think, they don’t necessarily think, I think is the main thing. They hand out their business card. They’ve had a chat with you and they think, cool, there’s only 48 barriers of things to the next step of like, I get your business card.
They expect you to take it home. You’re so excited that in three days’ time after they’ve been at some conference when they’ve got a backlog of work to they’re going to go, “Hey, I’m going to pull out that plus the other 20 business cards that I’ve got. I’m going to reach out back to this person.”
Which I mean is what I think separates a lot of people, but the majority of us is what happens. You made a ton of new people or you meet a few new people and you might reach out to one or two of them. Then you forget to kind of nurture that relationship when you’ve got it, which is horrible because I tend to find if I do go to an event like that or something.
I won’t message them on the Monday after the event or the Tuesday after the event because I know they’re probably going back to work or their business and they’ve got 58 emails waiting for them. They’ve got meetings and they’ve got all these different things that it’s going to potentially get lost.
So if you wait till those maybe caught up on Thursday or Friday and say, “Hey, how’s the week been?” That open ended question. How has it been since you’ve got back into it? I’ve just kind of caught up. It’s been great catching up with you on that weekend. Then figure out how you can kind of, like you said you can nurture that down the track and not forget about them not forget about you.
Because I’d much rather connect with someone on some sort of social platform than email and have the business card. “Oh, if you got a business card, nah, I’ll add you. What’s your LinkedIn? I’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn?” What social media do you use the most? I’d love to check with you on there if you have got a decent connection. If you met them for five minutes and they have to run off then different story.
I mean I think there’s a lot of, it’s courtship. It’s courtship the whole developing friendship and things like that. You can’t propose on the first date and you can’t also leave them high so they’ll go looking for a new partner in crime.
Ginger Johnson: Sure. You hit a lot of really relevant points, Victor. Let’s use conference as an example or some sort of work event. You go, you do the collection. First of all, you don’t have to give out your business card to everybody. You don’t have to accept one from everybody. It’s not about the quantity, it’s about the connection. One tactic I encourage people to think about is wherever you choose to go, set a number for yourself. Last year, I set a goal for myself that I was going to connect or reconnect with two to five people a week. For some people that would horrify them, for other people is incredibly doable. I loved it and I recorded it so I could see what was going on.
One thing about that exercise, Victor, was it really helped me think about whose important. Meaning, who do I really want to serve? Who do I want to keep a top of mind? Who do I want to generate and keep this relationship going? Chapter nine in my book, I even talk about permission slips. If there’s relationships that you’re not interested in pursuing, let them go be civil about it.
If there’s some sort of like disconnect you’re unconnected to do and you can do that in all kinds of ways, but don’t kid yourself. If you got that drawer full of business cards to think, “Oh, I’m going to do something with them.” Give yourself that permission to say, “It was great to meet that person. I’m just going to keep moving. If you haven’t promised anything, you don’t owe them anything.
The connecting attitude in my mind is that so you have that drawer for business cards, set a timer for 45 minutes, shoot off some quick emails or texts or whatever your preferred method of communication is. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you close the loop. Say, “Hey Victor, it was great to meet you in Melbourne last week. Don’t know when we’re going to cross paths again, but I just want to let you know I appreciate our conversation.”
Something that simple and short makes a huge impact because most people do have that drawer full of business cards and you kind of feel empty or it didn’t matter. Now, I have to reorder business cards. Don’t waste your time. Give yourself some permission to figure it out or find somebody who can help you figure it out. Because when you do have the intention of following up with people, that’s something that I personally— it’s something that is a cornerstone of who I am.
I grew up writing thank you notes and so forth. It’s something that’s really important to me. I don’t expect a lot in return necessarily, but I don’t do it to get the return. I do it because I want people to know that I appreciated standing there for 20 minutes before the doors open and learning something about you.
It’s a signature of my person as well as my brand that people get postcards. They get written notes. They get emails. They get surprised packages. So just decide what that is for you and then go ahead and do that consistently because that will be memorable. When I’m on LinkedIn for example, of course, as you know, it’s a really robust, terrific community and I’ve taught classes on it.
I encourage my clients and groups of people to consider it because it’s going through this huge renaissance and it’s way more, way more active and diverse and so forth. Well, I have a template. I have a response letter printed in a document that I go through about once a week. I go through my invites on LinkedIn and I look at the person, I checked the profile briefly.
There’s a couple of benchmarks I have that I’m willing. I’m pretty wide open, but there’s a few things that, if you don’t have this or this, then I don’t know why you’re here because you’re not telling me anything about yourself. I can’t help you or I can’t, like, why?
Then I plugged that in, I personalize it with a sentence or two and I sent it off. I’m telling you, Victor, the number of responses I’ve gotten, I was like, “Wow, that was a really cool response.” It’s still pretty low. At the same time, the people who want it, they get it. That to me is part of being a connector. I want to make it meaningful. If I’m going to invest my time, if I expect them to invest their time, I want the connection to mean something. Now, how many of those people do I know in real life? Not a lot, but I’m certainly wide open and I want to leave a good impression.
Victor Ahipene: Yeah. I think that’s the big thing with LinkedIn is you’ve got to, I guess it’s like I haven’t done it, but online dating is you’ve got to separate yourself from the masses that
Ginger Johnson: That’s a good corollary. Yeah.
Victor Ahipene: You’ve got to sit there and go, okay, well if our analysis are getting the generic, “Hey, I’d like to connect with you. Please add me to your network. Regards.” It’s like the straight out of the box template. You’re like, “Okay, this person is just there to me for no particular reason. Maybe I’ll accept. Maybe I won’t, even if I do, I’m probably not enough stimulus for me to take action.”
Ginger Johnson: [Laughs] it’s inspiring sometimes, is it?
Victor Ahipene: You’re like, “Okay, well I’ve got a thing against notifications so I better accept it or decline it and whatever.” Whereas if somebody leads with, I don’t care if it’s a template and it’s just the template with a little bit about them. It pre qualifies them to me. Do I want to go on a business date? Do I want to take this to another level or if it’s something even slightly personalized then cool.
If you can tell it’s tried to be, I think personally if you can think it’s a generic one that pretends to be personalized then I think that’s where you often burn bridges as well. It’s like, “Hey, I had a look at your profile, didn’t give any background information and I think we’d be great to connect with—” You’re like, “Yeah, you’ve pretty much just giving me something very, very generic.” I think that’s the whole thing. You tend to get her response when you’ve put a slight amount of your foot, a slight amount of your foot is more than what 90% of people are doing. You’re going to stand out. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, which I think has—
Ginger Johnson: That’s a template to make something three or four or five sentences long, you’re going to spend more time writing that every single time than you are to make a template. Face it, a lot of our conversations start the same way anyway. Tell me something about yourself or whatever your open ended questions are, a lot of them the same. So it takes so much less time if you’re looking at the time efficiency of it. It’s easy peasy and why not open it up.
Victor Ahipene: Yeah. I think that’s the important thing that regardless of who you are in your business or your life or you’re speaking and you’re listening to this at the moment, we’re looking at, if you’re looking to get more speaking opportunities and find a place that’s got people who are event organizers or key decision makers within businesses and figure out where do they hang out, can you meet them? Can you go to an event? Can you make a connection? Again, like you say, it doesn’t have to be landing speaking gigs the first time that you talked to them.
Ginger Johnson: That’s rare.
Victor Ahipene: Yeah. It’s the opposite. It’s get yourself, no one to them for starters. Then say you can add value or I’ve heard things like people who haven’t got accepted to a particular conference. They’ve sent some cookies or whatever to the event organizer a couple of days after the event and said, “Hey, I’m sure you put on a great event and congrats and kick back and enjoy these.” The person will remember them. They haven’t come into the hard sell off, “Hey, hopefully I can speak next year or whatever.” It’s just like, “Hey, [inaudible 00:19:57] the nothing.”
The person that I heard that they’re like a five to six feet keynote speakers, they’re sending out $5,000 worth of cookies every year to event organizers. Then you need one person to remember them and it’s paid for itself. I can guarantee that they get a lot more of the following year when they’re following up and nurturing these relationships. This works, what you’re talking about. I know firsthand it works from meeting a person for the first time to meeting people at networking and conferences and all the way up to reaching out to people within organizations and conferences.
Then the same thing if you are the speaker at an event, then you’re going to get barraged because you are now the authority at the event. Everyone wants to connect with you. I mean you want to obviously connect with as many people as possible within so you want to find out a way that you can leverage it, whether it be templates and things that you can follow up just so you can make your time more valuable and still make those connections.
Appreciate that what you’ve shared it. It’s definitely eye opening and some tips that I’ll take away. Then I think some ones that having been on the bad side of people connecting with you. I think a lot of people out there will hopefully and listening will change the way that they’re approaching it all. It’s definitely a lot of food for thought. I guess something that we’re always working on improving.
Ginger Johnson: Yeah, for sure. For those people who want to speak professionally—public speaking is great. Public speaking is the big umbrella. Professionally speaking is being paid to do it so that National Speakers Association here in the states, for example was a great lesson for me to learn.
If you want to be a connector to build your speaking business proper, if we want to get really specific about this, Victor, that makes a difference. Being able to reach out, ask them what do they need? How was your conference? What were some of the top comments that you got on it? Where would you like to improve? Have it be nothing about you? Make those conversations as you start the relationship to be completely about them. Because frankly, if it’s a wrong conference, you’re wasting your time, you’re wasting their time.
That has a lot of residual effect too. Get with the planners, the meeting planners, not just the events planners, but the meeting planners. There’s an inside, some of you probably know, but do you may know this well too. The meeting planners are expressly looking for speakers who teach. So in my mind, most speakers should be teaching something a lesson or whatever it is, programs. That is a delineation.
You’ll stand out more as a speaker. If you take good care of them first and you’re not trying to force feed them your agenda, you’re asking them what they’re about. You’re getting smart about your own industry, how they work and so forth. Sending cookies is great.
Sending books has a mixed message. It’s just depends on the crowd. I send my books because I love sharing. I’m really proud of it, but I’m not sending it so like, “Here, here’s my book. Now don’t you want to hire me?” It’s a, I’m so glad we connected the books about activity. So I want to give it, I wrote it partially as a gift piece of leverage so they would remember me.
If you’re going to speak and write a book, make sure your book is a really well done book. Hire an editor, get people to help you make that because there’s a lot of crap in the market and that doesn’t help any of us as speakers especially and especially aspiring speakers. There’s so much more we could talk about. But I’ll turn the faucet off right now.
Victor Ahipene: I think that the starting point, like you say, it’s the right people to look for and there’s the making the connections. If you follow those seven steps that you’ve given, it’s going to move the needle towards where you want to be in your speaking and your business in your life regardless. Finally, I want to just thank you and welcome you to our speaker nation family. If people want to find out more about you, where can they go and what can they do?
Ginger Johnson: Well, it’s pleasure to be in the family. Thanks. Anytime. They can find more of me at gingerjohnson.com. I’m very active on LinkedIn as well. It’s when my primary platforms, I do have a newsletter and so forth. That’s all through my own website. I’m a little bit of twittering here and there. I’m still learning Instagram. I’m sure that they can go to you and say, “Who is that crazy ginger woman?” We can hook them up from there. I think that covers most of the basis.
Victor Ahipene: Awesome. Well, as always, we’ll link that at publicspeakingblueprint.com where you can get in touch with Ginger. Grab all the links from what we spoke about today and find all our past episodes. Again, appreciate your time. It’s been an absolute ball. I look forward to hopefully connecting without connectivity somewhere in person in the near future.
Ginger Johnson: I’m sure we will, Victor. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks everybody.