What is Reverse Networking?
My homie Preston, from the PGA Tour, coined this termed recently. Here’s what it means…. It’s the concept of no matter what, you probably know someone or know someone who knows something to do the thing that you want to do and that you should never be afraid to try to leverage those connections.
It's not necessarily calling people out of the blue for a favor, but it’s always wise to build up your bank of favors. If someone asked me to do something for them, and it's not an absurd request, I'm going to try to do that. It’s about building value for the ask.
The majority of people go straight for the ask, with nothing behind it. Then, they expect someone to go out of their way to make their dream come true. The only exception is if there’s a common bond.
Ohio Bobcat Network
Preston went to Ohio University in Athens, OH. When he was applying for a job at the tour, he applied through a job board, cold. As soon as he did, he looked to see if there was anyone in the Ohio network that works there or knew somebody that worked there. Sure enough, there was someone.
He called him out of the blue and said, "Hey man, I should have called you a year ago, but I'm a Bobcat, I applied for this job. Can you help? What would you recommend I do?” He's like, "Well, here's what I can do for you. I can make sure you get an interview." That’s all he needed.
It was an ask, but not a big ask. He wasn’t asking him to hire or vouch for him. What’s even more cool is that Preston has had the opportunity to pay it forward. Two Ohio University sports ad graduates have both gotten jobs at the Tour from a similar situation. Preston never had met them before, but they reached out saying, "Hey, I'm a student," and he did the same thing. He called a hiring manager and said, "Hey, I've never met this person, however, they went to the same program as me. You know me and I'm willing to vouch for them."
The Network of College
The network of college can pay big dividends. On flip side, it can smack you with a mountain of debt upon graduation. I believe it’s important to evaluate the question of whether or not to go to college like a business decision. What’s the ROI on going to college?
If you make the decision to go to college, it’s important that you capitalize. Learn how to work with different types of people from different backgrounds, then how to accomplish things together with them. What’s cool about this is that it’s very similar to the real world.
Adding Value Before the Ask
One thing that Preston utilizes at a high level is professional favors. Who knows how it will pay off later down the road? About three years ago the International Association of Golf Associations reached out to him. They manage all the state amateur networks, such as the Ohio Golf Association.
They reached out with a cold ask, asking him to do a virtual presentation about social media. He did it without having any idea who they really were, but then he dove into some research. It turned out that the guy that asked is one of the most connected guys for golf in America. Yeah, that’s right. To the point where you could literally be like, "Hey, I have a friend that's in Philadelphia. Can you get him a tee time?" He's like, "Yeah, no problem." Preston’s now added a valuable contact to his network that he talks to regularly.
You Just Never Know
You never know how it’s going to shake out. You don’t know who may be listening or watching, or who you’re doing the favor for. Remind yourself of this fact regularly to increase your awareness. If it’s not an outrageous ask and you can add value to a situation, then you should be all over it. It’s like putting that favor in the piggy bank for another day.
Building Up the Asks
If you want to get into these unique spots, then you must be constantly thinking this way. It’s a question I get frequently. How did you get in the room? How did you do that? It’s the same exact thing. It’s about building up the asks, making sure that I can deliver, and making the person you’re asking look like an absolute boss.
When Preston hooked me up to get me in the room with the PGA Tour, I wanted to showcase the highest level of confidence. I wanted to force the point for them to know and understand that they wouldn’t have to babysit me. I wanted them to be so confident in me that they’re saying, “This is our guy.”
What Are Your Real Goals?
How deep do your goals run? Do you even have goals written down? I encourage you to go deeper on this. Go deeper than, “I want to be this level of this position at this company.” People sometimes fixate too much on the title or position. The blinders go up and they miss out on potential opportunities.
This is all too common in the corporate world. You get to your department, you blink, and then suddenly you realize that four years went by. In those four years you’ve met no new people and you haven’t developed any new skills. Sound boring? If it does, go on the offensive. If there’s a new department where you can meet other people, take advantage. Establish new relationships, see what they do, and see what you can do to help. Who knows if you’ll need help from them down the road?
What Do You Want?
If you’re fine with this career path, that’s completely fine. It’s great if you know that’s what you want. However, if you’re complaining about being stuck in middle management in corporate America, that’s on you. It’s not your boss’s fault.
You can always leave the company and go somewhere else. You can start your own business. It all comes down to figuring it out. It all comes down to being solution-based.
For me, I knew I wanted to have my own gym. That was my entry point. Did I know that I was going to start my own supplement company or do business with Arnold Schwarzenegger? No. You don’t need to have all the details figured out; you just need the entry point.
Do What You Love
Work on something you like. For Preston, he quickly realized that it was going to be in the world of sports. It was always a part of his goals. Initially, he thought he was going to be a sportswriter, but it morphed into working for the PGA Tour.
Preston’s attention to detail is unparalleled. It’s something that is completely unnatural to me. I thrive in my creative brain. I’m great at bringing out the emotion. Even the way Preston crafts an email is next level. His level of overcommunication and articulation reduces errors. It allows you to work less, not more.
The Value of Great Communication
Not knowing how to write may be the biggest missing skill in the business world. It’s why Danny has made a huge difference in my writing. I can talk through my thoughts, but I can’t actually write it. Sometimes I’ll record three articles in a voice memo on the way home from the gym and shoot them over to Danny. He uploads them to transcription service to get the word-for-word transcription, then he makes the final edits. Then boom, we have three articles.
Preston and Kiki do something similar on her website. They utilize a shared Google Document where she’ll put her thoughts down, then Preston turns it into a story.
Being Able to Read People
Being able to read someone is very difficult to do well. To pick up on their vibe, and then respond in the appropriate manner is a major key to success. Both in business and in life. The same approach isn’t going to work for all types of people either, therefore, you must have the ability to adapt.
This is something I heavily rely on when it comes to podcasting with different people. I make a point to not over prepare. That being said, there must be a baseline of preparation in order to feel confident. It helps me drive the ship.