Building Your Business with Networking
Building Your Business with Networking
In this episode of The Faces of Business, our guest speaker was Ira Bowman. He founded Bowman Digital Media to assist SMBs (Small and Medium-Sized Businesses) in building and engaging their digital audience. They provide graphic design, photography, video, press release, and blog writing services besides social media management. When necessary, they even design websites for new business owners. The episode was Building Your Business Through Networking.
Ira Bowman and Damon Pistulka are discussing how to build your business while networking, and they have some great experiences.
Damon begins their conversation by inquiring about Ira’s background, specifically how he has been using his network for a long time, what he is building, and how it has changed.
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He did not know how LinkedIn worked when he first joined. He believed that if you didn’t know someone, you couldn’t connect with them. Mike O’Connor explained the concept of first, second, and third-level connections to Ira. It is critical to understand how LinkedIn works. He joined LinkedIn in 2009 and had 15.7 million LinkedIn connections in 2018. He was making videos and doing video demonstrations of products that were available online. He believes that understanding how LinkedIn works is one of the two things that people need to understand in order to truly benefit from social media.
Damon continues their conversation by asking how he sees networking changing. How you can effectively use networking to grow your business.
Ira discusses his journey during the pandemic he has brought on to Bowman digital media, which is his passion for photography. He has two accounts, LinkedIn and Instagram, both of which have six-figure followings. He not only got business from them to redo their organization’s website, which members of all by themselves, but many of my clients have come from me.
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And there are options for how you do it: find a group that you know, that fits your personality, whether you’re trying to do everything over the video, which is what we’re doing in both networking groups I’ve joined. Building an affiliate army, or referral army is preferable to building a sales team. You will not be required to pay for ineffective PPC ads. People want to do business with you because they already know, like, and trust you. And I believe I am very good at what I do; I just do it differently.
The discussion ends with a thank you to our guest, Ira Bowman.
Get the most value for your business by understanding the process and preparing for the sale with information here on our Selling a Business page.
people, linkedin, business, selling, building, connect, ira, person, networking, call, bowman, talk, relationships, joined, post, sales, buy, referral, social media, digital media
Damon Pistulka, Ira Bowman
Damon Pistulka 00:05
All right, everyone, welcome once again to the faces of business. I am your host, Damon Pistulka. And I am so glad, so excited. honored to have Ira Bowman here today. And we’re going to be talking about building your business with Neckar networking. Ira. Thanks for being here today, my friend.
Ira Bowman 00:26
And it’s my pleasure is always good to see you, Damon.
Damon Pistulka 00:29
Yes, yes, man. Well, I’m excited today because we’re going to talk about a couple things. I’ve got a couple. And I think we’re gonna be talking about building your business when networking, you got some great experience in this talk about your history gonna talk about how you’ve been using your network for a long time how you’re building and how it’s changed. And I got some got some other not so common questions. Little bit little, my little bit me a little bit touchy here,
Ira Bowman 00:53
we’re gonna throw me out, you’re gonna throw me out there? Well, and we
Damon Pistulka 00:56
might, we might upset a few both folks here when we’re talking about this. But I but I want to get a few things out there. So hey, tell us a little bit about your history. i You started off in the print industry, you were in that print industry for a long time. And let’s talk about that a little bit.
Ira Bowman 01:13
Okay, so yeah, I started back at 23 years old. Imagine, but it’s true. In the print business, and when I joined, I was really to selling hardware. So as a hardware sales rep in the Bay area of California, and I was selling large format equipment. plotters is what we call them, but we were printers, to architects, engineer H back companies, some government, you know, colleges and universities and stuff like that, but basically was in the design space.
So if you’re a construction design build anywhere in there, or you’re in aviation, so like NASA aerospace type stuff, or defense missile contracts, and you know that stuff. That’s what that’s where that was my whole world. And from there, as my family grew, I have eight kids. I know for those of you don’t know me, I did say eight. Yeah, I know how that happens. I don’t watch enough TV, but I have a kid. So as the family was growing, I actually didn’t finish my degree, because at 23 years old, I was still a senior at San Jose State. We started having kids.
And my wife and I wanted to buy a house, I couldn’t afford a house with what I was making at the time, in California, so we ended up moving to Ohio. And I was doing the same work just out in Ohio. But anyways, we kind of developed this pattern of as our family grew, we needed more money. Let’s see what our options are. And I just followed the job. So until 2013, when online schools really became a good option for me, that’s when I finally graduated, and got my bachelor’s degree was in 2013. But yeah, it took me 19 years to graduate college, which is awesome.
But it wasn’t because I’m totally stupid. It was just because life got in the way, interrupt. Yeah. But anyways, through that process of working in the print business, I started working for some of these companies that did more than just sell the equipment. They also had print shops. And so that’s where I got into the graphic design. And then I got into social media really heavy in 2018. I joined LinkedIn in 2009. That’s where it started. But in 2018, in May of 2018, in fact, I had 15 120 connections.
And if you looked around LinkedIn at that time, a lot of people had 500 or so 20 I felt like Man, I’ve got this LinkedIn thing, like licked, you know what I mean? I’m doing good. But I actually ended up talking to Mike O’Connor, who’s my friend, and we had connected a few years prior record. 2016 is when we originally connected. And so he had made a post on LinkedIn. It was a video post. And at the end of it, he said, Hey, if you’re smart, call me. And I had a two and a half hour commute. At that time, I was living in a town called Mantega. And I was working in San Francisco. So I had a two and a half hour commute. I said, Hey, I got time.
So I called I called him and we talked the whole way from San Francisco back to man ticket that day until I got to my driveway. And then I remember saying, Hey, I gotta go, I gotta eat dinner. But in that call what he explained to me, which I had no concept of, and I really think this is one of two things that people need to grasp, to really take advantage of social media to understand how LinkedIn specifically works.
And it’s different than every other platform is this concept of first, second and third level connections. I had no idea how that worked. Basically, my mentality on LinkedIn, which was encouraged by the platform, if you remember back then because if you didn’t know somebody, you didn’t connect with them. Right? You had to know. Yep. Also, because I was selling at that time again in the Bay Area. I was bad. I’ve made this big circle and made it back to the Bay Area.
So if you are not an architect engineer construction or something along those lines in the San Francisco Bay Area, my thought was why the hell would I want to connect with you can’t buy anything from me? I don’t know you. Why would you want to see my posts, and frankly, I wasn’t posting them much anyways, I was mostly a research tool. But in 2018, I did start to figure out that as the economy had changed, and people were, as they were retiring, or moving on and leaving a company, they weren’t being replaced as much, what was happening is people that were already there, were basically being given more to do.
So more hats per person, that kind of happened. I think everybody’s used to that now. And it was kind of a new phenomenon. So it’s like, okay, the people that you used to be able to get to go to lunch or dinner, or go play golf and those types of things as a sales rep, you would basically be giving them perks, and they would give you their time, it was a trade, right? Like, yeah, I was as the sales guy, I was expected to comp, or pay for, you know, whatever we were going to do, whether that be you know, a golf outing, or again, whatever.
But I was finding that that was less and less successful as a sales strategy to meet people cold call people, because they were busy, they just didn’t have the time. And in San Francisco, specifically, but any major metropolitan area, I think, now, when you go to try to cold call, and this was all pre pandemic, of course, but yeah, everything was locked down. Forget gatekeepers, think of you know, the, the actual door to the building is locked, and you gotta be there.
And or, you’ve got these elevators that you can’t get up, because you don’t have an ID card, somebody’s gonna like you up well, they’re not just going to let you up, you have to tell them who you’re there to see. And, you know, allow them ask if you have an appointment was just becoming a waste of time. It was not a it was not a good strategy, as it had been for my whole career. to cold call, there was a point in my career Damon, where I was making 30 to 50 cold calls every single day in person. Yeah, and I was pretty good at it. And I made I fed my family that way, I live that way.
But in 2018, it kind of came to a head to me that conversation with Mike helped. Because it was at the right time, I was open to it, because I knew that I needed social media to help me reach my audience. So at that time, I was already making videos, I was doing video demonstrations of products I was showing online. And so I had done that. But 1500 20 connections is not a lot. As it turns out. So when I learned this, and this is the thing I learned, I can be connected to you whether you’re in Seattle, or I can be connected to somebody who’s in India, or think of the scariest in your mind, wherever you’re most scared to connect with people because Right?
They’re gonna steal my data, they’re gonna try to rip me off, you’re just like, yeah, oh, totally scared of them in your mind. And that’s where I think a lot of us were back then I was I was like, Hey, I don’t want to connect with people in Pakistan, or people in India, people in Nigeria, or wherever. Because, you know, the only thing I knew about those places was there’s hackers there, and they’re gonna try and steal my stuff. That’s what I was.
But what I learned is this, you can connect with people anywhere, they are a conduit, even if you never talked to them, even if they could never buy from you, which most people will not ever be able to buy from you. But being connected to them opens up the board, I have an analogy, you guys will bear with me for one minute. Remember video games back in the 80s and 90s, the eight bit graphics super old, like the original Zelda games like that, where it was squares and inside the square, sometimes you would play these games where you had like a lantern, or a flashlight or something and you could only see a little bit of the board, you would turn in you could see more of it.
Now sometimes in the game as it will progress, you could get a stronger lantern or light source. And now you can see more of the board. And that’s exactly how LinkedIn works. And a lot of people don’t know this. So this is what I mean by learn. First, second, and third. And what it actually means when you connect to somebody like me or you who have a large network, what you’re doing is you’re connecting to not only our first level connections, but you’re also connecting to our second level connections, those become your seconds and your thirds.
So now you can see more of the board. But not only can you see more of the board, now they all of a sudden can see you. So here’s that here’s a challenge for people type in hashtag innovation on LinkedIn, and look at the results that you get. Now just so you know, hashtag innovation is the second largest hashtag on all of LinkedIn. It’s only surpassed by hashtag India, but I want to prove something to you. I guarantee you that the results that you see are going to be first second and third level connections.
You’re not going to see anything past the third. But there’s 38 million people or so using the hashtag innovation. I promise you. There’s a lot of content out there. that you’re not seeing because you’re not connected for a second or third level connection to these folks, the content is there, you just can’t see it because your flashlight or your lantern is not bringing up. So what Mike shared with me that was a paradigm shift or for me, it changed my whole perspective. And it changed. Honestly, the future of me and everybody I’ve helped since with Project LP girl from digital media, which we’ll get into in a minute, I’m sure.
But what that has done is that has changed my mindset. So I went from 1500 15 120 connections to now I have 30,000, which is the maximum. Actually, technically right now I’ve 29,999. I do have one open slot. But anyways, you have 30,000, open slots, and you want to fill them, because if you don’t fill them, you’re wasting the space. Here’s why. That’s however many you take however many you have. So let’s say in my case, I had 15 or 20, or 30,000 slots. So that means I’m wasting 28,480 slots. They’re, they’re available to me if I just connect them. And you can disconnect anybody.
So I get some of this, like, hey, well, what if they spammy or whatever? What did they do and just this connect with them? No problem. But connect with as many as you can, and connect with people from all over different industries, different regions, because the more you connect and interconnect, it’s like the web, then you’re going to see more of LinkedIn. And that’s going to help you not only to be seen when you make posts, but also when you’re doing your research. So what here’s what happened in May of 2018, I had 20, I had 1500 20 connections by the end of 2018. I had 25,000. By February of 2019, I maxed out at the 30,000.
And that year 2018, I got to 100,000 followers, when May of 2020, I got furloughed at work. That’s I had 150,000 followers, that didn’t suck. So June in June of 2020. When I got laid off, my job is gone. It gave me something that I never needed before. But now it was like an insurance policy that I cashed in. Because I had this apparatus built, a lot of people could see me I could see them, I was able to open Bowman digital media, instead of trying to open a print shop, which would have cost me hundreds of 1000s of dollars, if not over a million dollars, which I would have had to put my house up, I didn’t have a million dollars in the bank. Yeah, just hanging around. Right.
So because of the overhead cost to open, a truly successful print shop, you have to have the right equipment, and then you have to have staff does cost money. And I didn’t have that. But my digital media space, the business that I created, I basically was able to start on a shoestring budget of just three grand to get Bowman digital media off the ground from zero to making money. It just cost me three, three grand. But the thing that people bought, and that they continue to buy from me, this is organic reach. We’re not talking about PPC stuff here, we’re talking about organic.
When I make posts on behalf of my clients, it’s seen by hundreds of 1000s of people. And that’s what I would have never had if I would have continued to be of the mindset that I had back in 2018. Before I’ve talked to Mike. Now I’ve learned a lot since then. But that that was the precipice that was the that was the paradigm changer. And that’s the thing that I’m about to give a TED talk at the end of the month. And that’s the thing that I want people to understand is that you can get that first, second and third level, understanding how it actually works.
And think of the 30,000 open slots as a resource that you’re not utilizing, so that you have anxiety or some type of pressure, like hey, why am I wasting his resources given to me? You know, 30,000 is a lot. But the opportunity cost of not filling in those slots, I think far exceeds the value of what people have. They’ve either never thought about it, or they’ve never understood the opportunity cost of not playing those seats. I think people think of Well, I don’t need to be a superstar celebrity. It’s like, it’s not about that. This is just about getting your message. Why are you on LinkedIn?
When you make a post, you want people to see it, you want people to engage with it? Well, they have to, they have to, they have to have access to you. And the way this works, you know with Kevin Bacon, six degrees of separation never ends it right. But on LinkedIn, it’s three you only get if you’re not within three levels of a person, they’re not going to see it. And here’s another thing as a sales rep. I ran into this all the time. Let’s say you’re the owner of exit your way, right? And I want to sell to you. But you’re like, I’m not going to connect with that guy, right? Because he’s a sales guy. He’s just going to try and sell me something. So I send you an extra request and you reject it.
So you never see my stuff because we’re not connected. But I connect to Mike O’Connor anybody else that you’re connected to now we’re second level connections because you’re Connect him. And I’m connected to him. So we’re second level. At second level, my stuff is going to show up in your feed, you can tell people you see my stuff all the time, right? But we’re directly connected. But anyways, even if we’re not first level, second level third level algorithm will use my content as part of what it shows you because my content is getting a lot of engagement. Right?
Yeah, that’s the thing about the 30,000 that people don’t think about the opportunity cost, it’s not just directly your post in who’s commenting on it and seeing it in your feet, but to seeing it in their feet. As a sales rep. In 2019. When I went from 15 120 to 30,000, and got to 100,000 followers in that year, I made more money from appointments that I solely generated from LinkedIn than that I had made by doing in person cold calls, it was the first year where that became true. In 2019, I exceeded my sales revenue from LinkedIn generated leads or prospects that converted over
Damon Pistulka 16:05
to when you’re when you’re selling for the print business rent.
Ira Bowman 16:07
Yeah, France 2018. Most of my growth for 2018 came from LinkedIn. But my overall sales still was from traditional methods. But 2018 is where for me it became the opposite. Now 2020 was interesting, because 20 20x switch jobs. So it’s down here in LA from the Bay Area, I came to work for a company called aarC, or arc, you guys are familiar with that. It’s the largest Ripa graphics company in United States, it was actually the second time I’ve worked for them. But when I came down here, you know, all of my business came from LinkedIn, every single new client that I got came from people who knew me on LinkedIn, I was getting tons of referrals.
And then obviously, when I got furloughed, and then laid off and I opened on digital media, I don’t have to spend and I still have not spent a single penny in marketing dollars. Because I don’t need to I get enough organic reach when I make posts. And I do what’s called social selling, which is something that we could talk about too, because it’s the other part of my strategy that really helps with the with the networking is it’s not just pitch, pitch, pitch, pitch, pitch, sending out direct mail.
So a lot of you guys are buying these lead lists, or, you know, they call them lead gen and you’re buying these lists, and you’re emailing and SMS thing and all this stuff. And some people are open to that. But a lot of those people you irritate what I’m getting with my posts, is I’m getting I’m building basically a referral army. What happens is, I educate people on what I do. And I’ll say something like about SEO or blog writing, or photography, or graphic design or website building.
You know, we have six different services that film and digital media. So I’ll talk about one of the services. And sometimes I’ll show examples of our work. But then what happens is, the people who read my content, they’ll go, oh, okay, this is what he does, and they start to understand it. Because usually, when you tell people SEO, they look at you with a blank stare in their face. They’re like, Yeah, well, yeah. But they don’t know what the heck that really means. So we educate them on what it means in post, then what happens is I’ll get direct mail, from people saying, hey, you know, and so and so is looking for somebody to help them with SEO, or so and so needs a website.
And sometimes it’ll just be they’ll tag somebody in the comment section on one of my posts, like, hey, so and so did you see this IRA is somebody I would recommend that you talk to, anyway, a lot of my business that way. Now, in 2020. That was the number one way I got my business. But I wanted to talk to you today too, because traditional networking is coming back. Yes, face to face, and virtual networking has gotten off LinkedIn. And so in 2022, so far, I’ve actually made more money from clients generated off of LinkedIn and on LinkedIn. Yeah. Interesting trends. So I do want to talk about today if we if we can, yeah,
Damon Pistulka 18:53
that’s because that’s one of the things that I did want to talk about because and I think it’s interesting when you talk about your background, I mean, you didn’t grow up a digital guy. I mean, you were you were face to face pounding streets, cold calls, right? And this leather, man, yeah, we’re not the leather. Exactly. And when people think of you today, they think IRA, LinkedIn, Instagram, whatever is going on, but what they don’t see and what I’d like to talk to them about today is use a combination. I mean, you’re not just you’re not just digital, you’re meeting people in person. You’re doing networking in person traveling,
Ira Bowman 19:28
I’m traveling every month, I’m going somewhere and doing some traveling. Yep. Yep.
Damon Pistulka 19:34
So how do you think and this is great this lead into this so you know, we were kind of shut down the last couple of years, on and off whatever. And, and now things are kind of getting to where you can travel again, you can do this network in person networking. How are you seeing the networking change? Because I know we went you know, hard digital, and now we’re I personally don’t think we’re going back completely like we were before but Yeah, middle ground, there’s some middle ground here that we’re gonna see. Well, here’s
Ira Bowman 20:04
what I did. So back in 2021, I was really not looking to replace LinkedIn, I was trying to insulate myself in case there was LinkedIn hiccups, you know, you see get put in jail or whatever, you know, where they’re not allowed to have access to their account and post and, frankly, in 2021, if I didn’t have LinkedIn, I would have starved to death. Yeah. But I knew that it’s smart to diversify and not have all your eggs in one basket. So I said, Okay, what can I do to help my business grow, that will augment or complement my social media efforts. So the first thing that I did was actually start focusing on other platforms. Instagram, you mentioned that earlier.
And I’m so proud, I got 101,000 followers right now on Instagram, it’s growing. But now I’ve got two accounts, with my LinkedIn and my Instagram that are over six figure followings. And that is huge. But I had a bigger vision than just that. I was like, Okay, so in person stuff, understanding my history for 20 years of selling, I did everything face to face, I’m like, What can I do to kind of get back some of that, because I’m good at it. I like it. I’m a relationship builder. So when I’m on social media, and you’ve seen it, we’ve known each other forever.
You know, I’m not just the surface guy who’s going to say the platitude and agree, you know, I don’t take the cheesy ways out, I’m really I want to get to know people, and I want them to know me. I’ve been sharing about my daughter, which, you know, some people don’t like, but a lot of people love it. I’m a real person, for better for worse, right? That about the in person. So how can I get some of that with the pandemic, of course, but one of the things that I have brought on to Bowman digital media, is my love of photography. So I do professional photography and video services as part of it, and why because you have to be there.
So the travel in the beginning of 2021, for me was going to clients and doing photography and video shoots for their websites for their social media and things like that. But since January of this year, I’ve been going at least once a month, to networking in person networking events. So I went to Florida, in January, I’ve been to Utah, I’ve been to Vegas, I’m getting ready this month at the end of the month to go to Philadelphia, and then I’m going to Dallas, right after that in May. And then in the middle of May, I’m going to Hawaii. And so some of those are commercial shoots. One of those is a one of those is a networking event. And one of them is my TED Talk. Right?
So I’ve got different travels. But in 2021 to go along with the travel to go along with the Instagram focusing on the Instagram growth. The other thing I did is I actually sought out networking, traditional networking opportunities are groups, if you will, and network. And so one of them I joined is called high rise network. In high rise when I was doing my research, high rise was billed as a local group of like 20 or so business owners per region. So and what I liked about it, they, they had this thing where I’m marketing, okay, so no other marketing people would be in my 20 circle, right, it would be me and a bunch of other people who do a bunch of other things.
But I wouldn’t have any direct competition in my group. The idea is you form relationships. And you guys can help each other symbiotic passing of referrals and work with each other and all that stuff. And that has been great. But highrise also has a national component, which has been amazing. And so we get together virtually every Friday. And we have an hour long thing where they have breakout sessions. It’s a lot of fun, you get to meet people anyways, it’s just relationship building.
So that was I rise. And then I joined another one, which is a private organization. But the private organization that I joined, has about 1400 members. And this is actually something I’m wanting to talk to you about, because I think that you would like joining this too. But that one, like Joe step, he just joined it. Right. He’s been in it for a couple months, and I just invited Virginia Tarnowski to join to. Again, these are people that I admire and respect and I think that it would having them in the group would help the group but also having them in the group will help them and so anyways, that one when I joined, it was more of a international national type level.
But I’ve also found there’s a there’s a local component here in Southern California have about 30 members. 30 of those 1314 members actually live here in in Southern California. So we’re doing stuff more locally than I thought we were going to but that’s giving me like y’all opportunity where I’m going to Dallas, you’re in the beginning. I’m going to be staying at a professional football players house. Let’s go. We’re meeting with 12 other people, we’re doing some financial training. So Mike, CFO level financial training. So it’ll help me as I try to build my knowledge base, so I can run my business better.
And so the whole point of it was to have opportunities to get together in person with other high performing professionals, who are, you know, entrepreneur minded, and, you know, trying to accomplish some of the same things I am even during different industries. And so, when I originally started in 21, I thought, well, I’m probably just going to stick with one or the other. But honestly, both had been so darn amazing. And I have decided, You know what, I’m just gonna stick with both of them forever. Yeah, they both paid for themselves many, many times over the membership fee to join both was under two grand for both, you know, it wasn’t a huge investment.
But I got business, the high rise network, one, I think my membership fee on that one was $1,500. In three days, after joining, I had a client sign up for $2,500 a month, that first membership, that first monthly membership that he paid, paid for the whole year, and then an extra grand, yeah, he was, he was with me, I think, for eight months at $2,500 a month. So I can say that I made so much money. And then now this other one, this this one that’s private. I’ve got business, not only I actually got business from them to redo their organization’s website, that members of all by itself, but many of my clients have come from me.
So you know, I think if people are looking for ways to, to capture new business, to meet new people to make new professional friendships, you know, obviously networking works. But it can be done online, and it can be done in person. And there’s, there’s options on how you do it, find a group that you know, fits your personality, whether you’re trying to do everything over video, most of these meetings that we’re doing in both of these networking groups that I’ve joined are a lot over video, right?
So you have to get together in person, if you’re still worried about COVID. And you know, any of that stuff, you can do a lot of this, you know, virtually, but I personally because I’ve been vaccinated and I know how to wash my hands and wear a mask I’m not. I’m not bashful about going in people in person. And that’s what it takes. It takes relationships you gotta get past the once you know somebody on it, let’s I’m gonna say have a beer with them, or, you know, break bread, you know, you once you’re comfortable that they’re a real person, you will find it’s much easier to do business with them. Right?
Yeah, so I use this phrase all the time, they got to know like, and trust you. You know, a lot of it comes down to and this is true on LinkedIn. And these groups, like Joe step, he when he joined the private group that I’m in, okay, I introduced him to a bunch of people. And I said, you guys can trust Joe. And I said the same thing to Joe, like, Joe, you can trust these guys, I vetted them, they’re borrowing the credibility of the person making the referral. So you don’t necessarily have to have a mile long track record to do business with somebody as long as somebody that you trust or they trust has given you. You know, that, that license to trust.
Damon Pistulka 28:41
Yeah. And when you look at it, I think talking about you know, how have you built your business with networking, how you’re doing it, it is it is really using the techniques that you learned many years ago, not to make it sound like it’s that long, but as you as you were, you are cold calling you were building relationships here and doing and meshing that with the way that you can build relationships digitally now.
And then even further, making that work differently with the hybrid kind of stuff you’re doing now where you’re seeing people in person when you can you’re seeing them online when you can’t or when it when it makes sense. Because I think as I look at networking, that’s really what we’ve we’re morphing into now is it’s not just happening online, it’s happening in person, but we’re getting the flexibility. That didn’t allow because five years ago, you either went to a networking event, or you didn’t.
Ira Bowman 29:39
Yeah, you missed it. Yeah, yeah. And I don’t know if you’re, I know you and I’ve talked about this because you like I said, you and I are friends. We weren’t Yeah. You know, way more about me then than most people. Remember this when I started networking at networking events when I was 23 years old, right. I thought the goal was to take yours Back in Business, it’d be kind of funny.
So I would go into a networking event with like a stack of cards, right? My goal was to get one of these suckers in everybody’s hand. And I thought if, if I can just do that, it’s a success, right? So what I learned over quickly, that doesn’t actually produce sales, that makes you feel good. It’s like the job seeker who applies for 500 jobs a day. And they feel wow, I’ve got this great shot of earning a job because I made 500 applications. Really, what they’ve done is flame out 500 times they just don’t realize it because you couldn’t make a good impression you didn’t. Relationships, there’s no rapport building, right.
So what I learned along the way, in the, in the face to face networking Long, long ago, was that it wasn’t a race to get my card in everybody’s hand, it was a race to get to know, five or six people. And so actually, I’ll tell you quickly about a strategy that I used to use, if I could get the attendee list who was coming to a networking event who signed up to RSVP, then what I would do is I would go on LinkedIn, you know, try to find five or six, good, what I thought were prospects, memorize what their face looks like, so that I could see him in the crowd and pick them out.
And then I would go, and I would start a casual conversation with them, they would think that I was more interesting, because I knew a little bit about what they were interested, and I was talking about that. But it was really because I was good at doing my homework. But that’s how that’s how I would start to do it. So now on these networking groups, whether you’re, you’re online or you’re in person, well I try to do is have a real conversation? And the answer to the question is not how many names that you can get. It’s how many people will remember your name when it’s over. And what we both know, because we’ve talked about this is you have two ears and one mouth.
So when you’re in those networking situations, what you really want to do is ask questions and get them talking because they won’t remember what you said, as much as they’re gonna remember how you made them feel. So if you can make them feel like, Hey, that guy was fun to talk to. Now, when you go to call and ask for that appointment, or you send that email for that appointment, they’ll be like, Yeah, that guy was fun. Yeah, or that guy was just trying to sell me something, and I don’t ever want to talk to him again. And that’s where people are making their mistake, whether it be online or in person, you see it all the time, people are shooting their shot, way too early.
There leading people send me connection requests with their pitch in the in the request to connect them. Like, if you’re going to pitch me and spam me before we’re even connected. Why the heck on God’s green earth would I ever want to connect with you, so you could spam me even more? Like that’s my, I say thank you for doing that. Because that lets me know that you’re not the kind of person I want to connect with. I want to connect with people like you, Damon, they will ask me how I’m doing, that’ll send me leads that will give me advice.
And that will participate and engage with me, as we travel life together. And we do that. I mean, if people are paying attention, you’re in my comments all the time. I’m in your comments all the time, is you’re not selfish at all. And that’s the kind of relationships that people really need to look at and try to model to be successful. And again, I don’t care if that’s online or in person. Yeah. You know, that’s, that’s the thing. The psychology is the same. I think that’s where people are making the mistake in marketing, especially on social media is, well, they’re gonna kill.
Damon Pistulka 33:28
I’ve been giggling here because I recently I’ve been sending messages to people because I want to talk to people. There’s a lot of interesting people. And I talk to people just because they’re interesting. I like to get people interesting guests on the show here.
Ira Bowman 33:41
I like to talk it shows are amazing. Yeah, a Friday.
Damon Pistulka 33:44
I mean, I just like to talk to people, you would not believe how many people are assuming I’m going to sell them something right off the bat, even though I’m saying hey, things are going good here. I just wondered what’s happening with you know, I don’t need any I’m like, need any what? Right? There was nothing for sale.
Ira Bowman 34:05
I’ve had you on some of my shows, and like speed networking with Mike and Ira. You know, and we’re like, Damon, tell everybody what you do when you’re like so nonchalant. You know what I mean? Like, you’re the opposite of this. But yeah, but so many people come on and just go for the pill. Yeah, every post is like a sales pitch. And it’s like, bro, just relax. You know, if they think about social media and networking in general, as a marathon and not a sprint, I think that right I totally understand the quota.
The pressure of you know, every month the number starts over I get it look, I mean, I did it for decades. Yeah. Well, professionally, business to business sales for over two decades, but I’ve been selling since I was five years old. I was just at that I was that guy natural salesman.
But the thing that I under Do it. And you know, I’ve talked about this before, too. I learned how to sell the best from my stepdad. Now what’s funny is my mom is actually out the door and I don’t think she’s ever heard me say this. She can hear I think she can hear this. But her husband at the time, his name was Bill Taylor. Bill Taylor was born and raised in Arkansas. Okay. Yeah, no speech impediment, but he was a good old boy. And what I learned from him was to chew the fat off Shaq Oh, Aw, shucks sales approach. I’ll be in your office for 30 minutes chewing the fat talking about anything but printing or graphics or marketing or whatever I’m selling at the time. Right?
As long as you’re willing to sit there and talk with me. Why? Because I know for every minute that I stand there, and we communicate about anything other than business, I’m endearing myself to you. Hopefully, that’s the goal. Right? So if we’re talking about the weather or sports teams, or what I used to do a trick that I used to do cold called person in person is I look for visual things that I could see like they’re rootin for sports, or they’ve got a grandchild or a picture of a fish or a dog or whatever. And see clues is what people are interested in and I will try to talk about that.
Damon Pistulka 36:10
Yeah, picture a car something Yeah, I
Ira Bowman 36:13
would never tell him what I was there for until they almost always it would it would be so similar. Somewhere in the conversation you would see a light switch gone and they would realize like oh, I don’t even know you. What are you here for? Yeah, like I would see that in people’s faces. Beef be Willard that how did this guy get all this out of you? I don’t even know if but, you know, that was that was the goal.
Damon Pistulka 36:35
Yeah, it is. And that’s where I think that a lot of people as you said, make the make the mistakes and network and how you can really use networking to build your business. And when we talk about networking, Jamba, Galindo says he hunts the relationships. And I, I like that because it’s like, so like, hell, I like you. You like me, let’s talk about some interesting stuff. And it happens, it happens.
Ira Bowman 37:00
Also this Damon think about this way. If you know that I’m gonna shoot to kill guy, meaning that I’m a high pressure sales rep. Yeah, I’m gonna go straight for the throat. How likely is it for you to want to refer me to somebody? Because you’re like, oh, man, I’m going to sic Ira on that guy. Yeah, that’s true, you’re probably not gonna do that. But if you know that I’m Aw, shucks, gentle approach. I’m not going to I’m not going to browbeat anybody. In fact, if anything, if I’m being completely transparent with people, I’m probably not as good at follow up as I should be.
Because, you know, if they’re not naturally interested in working with me, I don’t want to pursue it. Because, you know, that’s, that’s my mentality. And I probably left some food on the table or door deals on the table, because I haven’t followed up as much. But I’m, I am the opposite of a high pressure sales men that don’t get it twisted, I didn’t say I’m not good at what they do. I think I’m very good at what I do, I just do it a completely different way. But because I’m soft serve, I know that people are more inclined to give me that referral.
And ultimately, that’s what I really want. I think the mistake people make on social media is they’re trying to communicate directly to the audience that they think is trying to buy. And I say you’re better off building an affiliate army, or referral army, because there’s far more people who are not interested in what you do on social media than that are a potential prospect. So if you can get the people who are not going to ever be able to buy from you to care about you enough to learn what you do, and find you leads, you will get far more leads than any inside sales team can ever produce. You won’t have to pay for PPC ads, which are highly ineffective.
I don’t know if people are paying attention. But those PPC campaigns, even the good ones, you’re talking about an 80% bounce rate. And for eight out of 10 clicks that that are you’re wasting your money, especially if they’re seven or $8. A click like, wow, that’s a lot of wasted money. This is the opposite. This is where people want to do business with you because they already know like and trust you their tolerance for slow site speed, or maybe you know, the call to action isn’t as clear. All those things.
It’s so much there, you get so much more grace. Yes. Like you already before they ever visit your website. And so that’s what I’m building. It’s very successful. It isn’t for everybody. No, it’s not really for commodity type stuff. The stuff that I’m talking about is more specialty services and things that’s custom. If you’re talking about toothpaste or coffee, there’s better ways to sell it. If you’re selling any type of service or anything where you’ve got to make a custom quote, I promise you this way it will be highly effective.
Damon Pistulka 39:43
Yeah, yeah, it is. It is. And it’s like you said you build that affiliate army, you build those relationships around the people that that you know, could potentially buy there may be some buyers and there may not but you’re really building the relationships universally. So that If someone runs upon someone that needs digital media work like you produce they’ll remember I wrote Bolin Bowman digital media and, and reply to you and
Ira Bowman 40:11
a lady signed up today $1,000 A month client sign up out of the blue, sent me a message this morning at 9am. By 1pm. She had signed up for $1,000 a month service. We had never talked before about what I do. Never thought she knew enough about what I do for my posts. She reached out and said, hey, you know, I need website traffic, I need leads. And I’m I sent her a message back and said, Well, I do organic.
So if you’re looking for paid search, that’s not really my specialty. And but if you want organic, and then so we jumped on a phone call anyway, she signed up. She already knew me liked me and trust me. Yeah. So there was no vetting process she had to go through it was just like, Yeah, let’s do it. That’s the kind of conversation that I’m having. Now you could look at and I sold expensive equipment.
For a long time, the plotters that I sold, some of them were of over $100,000 machines, and you’d have a you’d have a BioCycle of 12 months. Yeah, I remember back in in 2019. I told you I had more business from the from the LinkedIn. While I was still selling the potter’s back then now that price on a lot of those that come down, you know, you were talking like 10 grand 25 grand for a lot of them. But because the vetting process was already pre done in the social selling component. Now, it’s just a matter of making sure that the machine fits the specs that you need.
And then whatever the time it takes for their company or their organization to cut the PIO. It significantly reduced the buy cycle, which is something I’ve never talked about you and I don’t think they’ve ever talked about. Yeah, that’s the other component of this. Because trust is part usually they’re going to want to talk to referrals, that you know what I mean, you wanted some case studies or something like that, they’re going to want to do some market research to you know, maybe they need three quotes or four quotes were processes, but a lot of that gets eliminated when they know they trust you.
In fact, what happens if you’re familiar with this phenomenon, is you kind of get treated like an existing vendor. Yeah. So a lot of times the existing vendor, even when they do multiple bids, they’ll come back and say, Hey, we really want to do business with you. But we got this other quote, can you match it or honor, get close so that we can justify it because they will spend more with an existing vendor you find than a known commodity, and it comes down to trust.
That’s what it comes down to. So whether you’re meeting with people in person or meeting them online, or you’re doing some type of hybrid, which I think like you said, that’s going to be around forever, a hybrid component, that the main, the main objective for people should be meet more people and build trust relationship, build trust into your new relationship. It doesn’t have to be like, you don’t have to marry somebody overnight.
You know, you don’t have to rush it. I think you’ve got to be able to take a breath on this relationship building and let it happen naturally, let it you know, you got to be president, you got to participate. But you know, let it let it come as it comes. And then when it comes, it’ll be so much better. Because it won’t, it won’t come across as you’re just a slimy snake oil salesman trying to sell them something like the person that you referenced earlier who said I don’t need any. Well, you didn’t even offer many. Yeah, yeah. You don’t You’re there to sell him something. You don’t want to come off that way.
Damon Pistulka 43:30
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So well, I raced when great. So you’re gonna be talking, talking to you today, you’re going to be doing a TEDx talk on April 30. in Wilmington, right.
Ira Bowman 43:42
Yeah. So that’s right outside of Philadelphia. It’s like, just out Philadelphia by about 30 minutes, but I’ll be out there on April 30. I think my talk is scheduled to go at 945 in the morning. So a little early, but I’m looking forward to it. I know that Dan young Dr. Dan Young is still the neighbors put together you send the video probably be available for people who can’t come like a couple of weeks after okay. But what I’m doing with that one is I’m talking about how I went from laid off to six figure business owner in under 12 months.
And the title of the talk is is a LinkedIn strategy that works. We’re going to be talking about some of the same stuff. I’m going to be giving tips in that talk things that are actionable tips that people can follow. And obviously if you watch the talk and get that information for free, that is usually something I charge for. So you know people will people will I think really liked that talk if they’ve been interested in this conversation and we’ll take it another step with the actionable tip
Damon Pistulka 44:42
Yeah, awesome. Awesome. Well, that’s great. Well, Ira, always awesome That is incredible to be able to talk to you to be able to just catch up to because we’ve been both been busy running in different directions and you know prayers, prayers for Lizzie parish for you and Alicia Just because you get to you get to coordinate the work and what’s the kids and taking care of her and life and your business. And it’s great to get you on. If people can’t catch the April 30 TEDx talk and Wilmington Have you they should look for the replay of that. I’m sure you’re going to be sharing that online too as after that shot in public.
Ira Bowman 45:25
Oh, yeah. On Tik Tok, I have tic TOCs not really my scene. I’m a little old for tick tock on asleep but I do have if you find me Ira M Bowman on tick tock, I have 13 or 14 videos on there. They’re three minutes each. And those are free. Those are those are LinkedIn tips people can watch and get some free advice on how to how to get some more out of their LinkedIn activity for free. You know, that was great. I was trading followers. Hopefully, I was given away good information hoping that people will follow me that was the idea. There you
Damon Pistulka 45:55
There you go. So get get Ira M Bowman, on on. Tick tock, tick tock. your IRA M. Bowman on Twitter. Yeah, and Instagram and Instagram. Yep. And that’s got it’s got the M in it. That’s
Ira Bowman 46:11
Ira bowlmenu played basketball for the 76 years and now he’s the Auburn Tigers basketball coach. So okay, he’s Ira Bowman on a lot of the social media because they got there first. So yeah. Am I rambling?
Damon Pistulka 46:25
All right. All right. Well, thanks for being here today. Ira. Thanks, everyone for listening. If you haven’t seen or talked enough to Ira Bowman digital media, Ira Bowman, check him out on LinkedIn. Check out his website Bowman digital media. And we will be back again. Today’s Thursday next week. More people on the faces of business. Thanks so much everyone for being here today.
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