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About This Episode
Kevin Ramani has worked for NASA. He’s built things with his hands that are currently on Mars.
But years ago he made a switch to something he says is way harder: starting companies.
Kevin is the Founder and Sales Coach at Ramani Ventures, a coaching service to help founders and CEOs accelerate success by reaching go-to-market fit and scaling a high performing sales organization. Previously, he was the Head of Sales at Close, a sales workflow optimization tool to help organizations close more deals.
Before finding incredible success with Close.io and his current company, he’s been through the rollercoaster of founding companies that have failed miserably. Now he works with early-stage startup founders to help coach them and build a repeatable sales process.
Kevin has mastered networking with a unique skill that not many put into practice well. In this episode, we talk about the one question Kevin asks to build a robust network, something that listeners can apply to their sales process to achieve much greater success.
What is Being a Master Networker?
This is something that Kevin started figuring out after his transition out of NASA when he was exploring what he wanted to do with his life. He started reaching out to people he’d connected with over the years.
Kevin had always believed in paying it forward, so throughout his life, he’d always tried to help people. But when he started to reach out, it felt awkward.
The idea of reaching out cold for help felt selfish.
So Kevin had an idea, one that he admits is not original, however it’s surprisingly under-utilized.
And everything he has today, everything he’s built, all the founders he’s helped develop, and the success of his whole coaching business is attributed to this one thing.
The One Question That Turned Him into a Networking Master
Many people are where Kevin was when he started. They don’t have a robust network; however, everybody knows somebody.
- Start with the people you’ve connected with over the years. Go through your LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
- Make a list of who they are and what they do.
- Reach out to everyone and ask to catch up.
Kevin would send them something like:
I would love to catch up with you. I’m in town. I’d love to buy you a coffee.
I’ve had a few changes in my life recently, and I’d love to tell you about it and get your feedback, your advice on how to move forward.
That’s how Kevin would start each conversation, but the one thing he’d do differently is that once he had met and told his story, instead of asking for what he needed, he asked what they needed.
This might sound like a sales conversation, but that wasn’t his motive. It’s about trying to understand what they are struggling with, what they need help with.
It’s often things like:
- “We’re looking to hire people right now.”
- “I’m looking to find people to interview for my podcast.”
- “We’re trying to figure out our new marketing process.”
- “We’re fundraising right now.”
- “Do you know any VCs?”
They need help with something, and if you’ve made a list of everybody you know, there’s a good chance you know someone who is exactly the type of person they’re looking for.
How to Organize and Execute the List
Keep a diligent list of everybody you connect with and make notes on every conversation that you have.
This way, you know what you’ve talked about and what the next steps are.
A common example for Kevin is:
- You take the time to brainstorm and offer to make intros. You don’t say “I’ll make a list and get back to you?” Take the time right there in the meeting
- Write down each contact down as a task, and immediately after the call, make the introductions that you promised
- Then schedule another call to help with the conversation
Following through is the key component to all of this. How many times have you asked something from someone and they told you they would do it, but didn’t follow through?
When you establish yourself as someone who always follows through with what you say, people will respect you for it and at that point, you can ask for help.
Hey, What’s Your Angle? Are You Trying to Mind-Hack People?
There is always a cynical way to look at everything.
When Kevin is asked whether he has a negative angle, the honest answer is, he would love help, but he doesn’t expect it.
The reality is, he’s had incredible success since making this change. In the past, 1 in 5 people might follow through with connecting him with someone he’s trying to meet.
Now, every other person that Kevin talks to connects him with somebody; and not just once, over and over.
This works in a cyclical way when you want to nourish and stay in touch with your existing network because every time you reconnect you have a larger contact list to offer.
Since doing this, Kevin’s personal network has exploded. It started with startup founders who connected him with VC’s and other executives, and then it branched to advisors, mentors, salespeople, and many different types of professionals.
People are often taken aback when you offer to help them instead of yourself, especially when you never expect anything in return.
Kevin believes karma manifests itself through reputation. If you have a reputation of being somebody who’s deeply helpful, many people will want to help you. And when someone doesn’t, it doesn’t matter.
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