Kevin Thompson is an architect of success. He has made a career out of establishing connections and helping entrepreneurs. In many ways, he is the embodiment of, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, only the connections he makes are for the benefit of his clients and not himself.
Kevin has been in business for many years and has made countless connections in that time. Here are his most helpful tips on how to make valuable and career-defining connections:
- Listen and Understand: Spend less time talking and more time listening. Entrepreneurs appreciate people who actually listen to what they have to say and express an interest in their ideas. If you can do this, you’ll make a fantastic impression on that person and they will remember you.
- Contribute First; Receive Later: As entrepreneurs, we spend a lot of time thinking about what a certain relationship can give us. We think about the transaction more than the experience and focus on the short-term more than the long-term. Instead, try offering your knowledge and experience first and let the relationship develop from there. You’re dealing with people who get offers and requests all the time, so if you’re the person offering something you will stand out.
- Create Trusted Connections: Creating valuable connections is not just about racking up those LinkedIn connections. You need people you know and trust, not just names and numbers in your contacts list. A trusted connection is worth more than 1,000 faceless profiles on Facebook or LinkedIn.
- Keep Learning: It doesn’t matter how smart you are, you don’t know everything and you are never too old to stop learning. It’s no coincidence that the most talented and successful people are also the ones who never stop reading books, studying strategies, asking questions, and learning from people with unique experiences. Don’t assume that you’re always the smartest person in the room and try to learn from other people.
All of these tips and more were provided by Kevin Thompson during his time on This Week With Sabir. And that’s not all, as he ended this insightful interview with his biggest tip of all, a snippet of advice that you won’t want to miss!
Watch the full video to learn more.
How To Build Strategic Partnerships
Kevin is the owner of Tribe of Leaders, a business that serves as a bridge between eager and ambitious entrepreneurs seeking new opportunities.
He connects people who want to be connected and can facilitate each other’s growth.
I’m a big believer that if you want to go far in this world, you have to know the right people. So, I was delighted when Kevin agreed to come on This Week With Sabir and chat about his career.
You can watch the full 60-minute episode on YouTube, but I also want to go over some of Kevin’s insights in this guide, providing highlights of the conversation and expanding on the elements discussed.
Keep reading to learn how you can make life-changing and career-defining connections.
It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know
Before I delve further into the subjects I discussed with Kevin, I want to highlight just why connections are so important, even more so than hard work and talent.
It’s something we all know deep down, and yet it’s something we often ignore.
The reason that most business owners, entrepreneurs, models, actors, and authors come from more affluent backgrounds is not that they are better looking and more talented. It’s not even because they have access to better education. It’s because when they say, “I want to become an author”, there’s always a friend, family member, or neighbor who’s a publisher, editor, or author.
When they say, “I want to start a business”, there’s always someone there to help them take the first step, whether through financial investment or opportunity.
But these disparities are not just limited to upbringings.
As an adult, the onus is on you to make the connections that give you opportunities. Sure, you might be starting from zero and it might be harder to take those first steps, but if you have the passion, motivation, and ideas, there’s always someone who can help you realize your dreams.
And once you make a valuable connection, others will follow.
The following tips will help you to make those connections.
Listen, Show Interest, Ask For Clarity
Entrepreneurs want to be seen, heard, and understood. That knowledge helped Kevin Thompson to build his network, connect with entrepreneurs, and grow his business. But it doesn’t just apply to entrepreneurs.
Whether you’re a consultant working with entrepreneurs and business owners or a B2B business owner looking for new clients, if you can listen, connect, and show that you care, you’ll make more of an impact than you could with a glossy presentation or a catchy sales pitch.
People like to feel valued, and that applies to all walks of life. They want to know that their words are not just being heard, but are also being understood.
Listen, express an interest, ask for clarity, and you will make a connection that stays with that person for years.
In my own career, I have worked with and helped countless people. I’ve always tried to be helpful and understanding, as I’ve always had a genuine interest in people. I’m often told that I helped people in their careers and gave them the knowledge or motivation they needed to push forward.
If I ask them exactly what I did for them and how I helped them, they don’t remember. But they remember how I made them feel.
They might not remember the time I did some work for them to help them out. They won’t remember the connections I helped them to make, the things I introduced them to, or even the advice I have them, but they will remember that I made them feel understood and valued.
Many years ago, two brothers I know were visited out of the blue by a distant cousin. The unexpected guest was in the area and even though he hadn’t seen them in years, he decided to pay a visit.
He told them that he was starting a new business and was really excited about it. One of my friends expressed an interest and seemed to care. They spent all night talking about it, and even though my friend was just being polite, his cousin was enthusiastic.
The other brother wasn’t as patient, but he didn’t want to seem rude, so before he left, he offered some advice and handed over the contact details of a friend in the industry.
A few months ago, they all met again at a family gathering. The cousin had started the business and it was fairly successful. He was full of praise and gratitude, but it was all directed at the brother who had listened, as opposed to the one who had helped.
That connection had been vital, but he’d forgotten that detail and focused instead on the person who had listened to him.
He wasn’t ignorant. He wasn’t rude. It’s just how our minds work—the people we remember the most are the ones who make us feel valued.
If you want to make an impression on a potential investor, business partner, or even a client, it’s important to talk to them, listen to them, and show that you care. Only then should you think about your sales pitch.
If I Can Help Your Revenue To Grow, Will You Share A Little With Me?
If you have a unique proposition and believe it can help another business or entrepreneur, let them know what you can do and make a promise.
You’re not just making baseless claims about improving their income and then asking for a sizeable fee. You’re saying, “I will do this, and I will charge you when I do. If not, you don’t owe me anything.”
There are promises like this made all of the time in business, but many of them are insincere.
It’s like the SEO companies that promise to only charge when they take you to the top of Google’s rankings. It sounds too good to be true, and so you sign up, only to realize it is too good to be true when they take you to the top for an obscure keyword and then send the invoice.
You’re not making one of those empty promises. You’re not trying to trick anyone. You’re just asking for their trust and showing them just how confident you are that it will work.
In 2021, I spoke with Stu Heinecke, who offered insights on how to get a meeting with anyone.
Stu is a fantastic comic book artist and marketer, and his approach is to find someone’s contact details, see what their hobbies are, and then draw them a comic based on their hobbies. The comic is then printed and boxed, before being sent away.
It sounds like an expensive way to get someone’s attention, especially when there is no guarantee anything will come of it, but that’s the attitude you need in this business.
You need to start thinking more about what you can offer and how you can get someone’s attention, and less about what they can give you. If you contribute first, then they will feel inclined to return the favor later on.
On the flip side, if you simply approach them with a request, you’ll be no different from the dozens and even hundreds of spammers that contact them every day.
Successful business owners and entrepreneurs are always in high demand. There’s always someone that wants something, and if you’re making similar requests, you’re just another name in their junk folder.
But if you’re actually offering something, you’ll stand out. You’ll rise head and shoulders above everyone else, grab their attention, and make them feel indebted to you.
Whether you’re marketing to potential B2B clients, looking for a co-owner, trying to find investors, or just making connections, ask yourself what you can offer them before you think about what they can offer you.
Never Stop Learning
There’s always something new to learn and someone to learn from.
Don’t try to be the smartest person in the room; don’t look down on others. You can’t possibly know everything, and we all have our own unique experiences that lead us to equally unique conclusions.
The most successful people I know are the ones who always strive to learn something new. They dedicate their free time to reading and watching documentaries. They talk to experienced and knowledgeable people. They are curious, inquisitive, and eager.
On the flip side, I know several people who think they know everything and will dismiss anything that someone says if they deem that person to be less knowledgeable than they are.
They are the ones who would rather steadfastly deny the truth than admit they were wrong, the ones who will insist they know everything, even about things that are new to them.
Don’t be that person. Not only will it limit your growth and prevent you from reaching your goals, but it’ll stop people from trusting you, approaching you, and doing business with you.
Everyone appreciates confidence but no one likes arrogance.
Make Sure You Are Aligned
You need your business to be aligned with your culture, life, and goals. You need co-owners, co-workers, and investors to be aligned with your principles.
This is something I have discussed in the past, and it’s something that’s often overlooked.
I used the example of a vegan butcher being forced to cut, prepare, and sell meat just because it pays well. That person might make a little money to begin with, but at what cost?
If your job/business is the complete antithesis of your personal beliefs and goes against everything you believe in, how long do you expect it to last? If you don’t believe in something, you won’t have a passion for it, and you need that passion to drive you forward.
How To Gain Trust When Making Connections
Networking isn’t just about adding more contacts to your phonebook. It’s not about stacking up those Facebook friends or being on a first-name basis with hundreds of people.
For those contacts to help you and benefit you, they need to trust you.
It’s also important for you to trust them, as you might be giving them money and opportunities or recommending them to other people in your network.
Nothing destroys a professional relationship faster than a recommendation that turns sour.
Part of creating strong connections is to follow the tips outlined above, such as contributing where you can and listening to what people have to say. Once you have made connections, you must avoid placing people you don’t trust 100% in roles of responsibility.
Don’t recommend someone to another contact unless you can vouch for them completely. When you give your word that someone can do a certain job, it’s no different than doing the job yourself. You potentially have just as much to lose, and so you shouldn’t make that commitment unless you know they will follow through.
It’s also very important to rely on your network. If you know and trust someone wholeheartedly, ask for their recommendations. Not only can they help you out, but they could help you to establish further connections and open even more doors for you.
The $100,000 Question
As always, I ended my conversation with Kevin Thompson by asking him for his most valuable piece of advice, an insight that can help entrepreneurs to earn over $100,000.
He reiterated something that he had said earlier in the interview:
Active and genuine appreciation.
For Kevin, the key to creating valuable a meaningful connections is to show people you are appreciative and to let them know what you like about them.
As entrepreneurs, we’re constantly in the receiving mindset. We’re always trying to get something out of a meeting or a transaction. It’s hard, therefore, for us to adopt a selfless approach, but Kevin believes that such an approach is essential for growth.
To change your mindset, he recommends performing an appreciation exercise.
Go through your contacts and send a message to 10 people telling them what you appreciate about them. It can be on your phone or on social media and you can send these messages to friends, family members, or colleagues.
A few short lines are all that it takes, but if you can, consider recording a voice message instead. It’s much easier to get your tone across in a voice message, and if this is a little out of character for you, it’ll let your friends know that you’re not being sarcastic and you’re not drunk.
Don’t ask for anything in return. Don’t even ask for a response. You’re just making a statement that tells those individuals what you like about them.
After doing this once, you’ll understand how powerful it can be, after which you can try it again and even make it a regular thing. It will change your mindset, and once that happens, you’ll see more doors open for you and will be exposed to many more opportunities.
About Kevin Thompson
Kevin Thompson is the co-founder of Tribe For Leaders and creates positive change on a global scale by facilitating valuable connections between influential entrepreneurs, founders, and CEOs who are making a major impact in our world. He’s been their conduit of trust for almost two decades and the introductions he’s made have been worth millions. Because he’s such a steward of relationships, he’s able to cut through all the red tape, eliminate rejection and guarantee a red-carpet reception for you.
Whether you’re looking for trusted connections that allow you to take advantage of your biggest opportunities or solve your most pressing problems, Kevin’s your “go-to” guy. When you have him in your corner, you’re only 1-2 degrees away from anyone you’d possibly want to meet or do business with.
“Whether you’re looking for trusted connections that will allow you to take advantage of your biggest opportunities or solve your biggest business challenges, you need to have a guy like Kevin in your corner.” – Jesse Elder
“Kevin is the conduit of trust.” – Troy Fullwood
“Kevin Thompson is hands down, the best connector I know!” – Joe Polish