How to Connect with People and Succeed in Business and Life
by David Bradford
David Bradford shares with us his unique perspective on social selling and focuses on relationships. He calls them his six "Up" principles - that is, business networking using social media.
David is Executive Chairman of HireVue, the leader in providing on-demand digital interviewing. In his role, Bradford leads the board and guides the future of HireVue, as the company pioneers the digital interviewing market to bring faster, convenient, standardized interviews to businesses around the world.
2009 and 2010 saw Mr. Bradford serving as chief executive officer and chairman of Fusion-io (NYSE: FIO), the leader in data storage memory platforms. Under his giuidance, the Company was prepared to go public which it did to large acclaim in June of 2011.
Watch this exclusive 29 minute video by David Bradford.
Chris: Hello everyone. My name is Chris Cannon, Business Development Director at HireVue. It's an honor to introduce you to our next speaker, my good friend, David Bradford of HireVue. David is the Tech CEO and chairman of HireVue, noted speaker, author of the book, Up Your Game, a Hall of Fame inductee, University Professor and a father. One of the things I love about David is he really teaches people how to network. And with that being said, take it away, David.
David: Well I'm thrilled to be here and anytime we talk about social selling I'm all over it. It is terrific to be part of this amazing online event, maybe a first of it's kind and the largest of it's kind in the world. So I'm thrilled. Looking back on my career, I've hired people off of Facebook posts, LinkedIn messages, Twitter, Notes, et cetera. So I'm a big believer in attracting talent and driving sales through social media.
Today I want to share with you some of the key points and thoughts that I have developed over the years in terms of social selling. Today we're going to talk about how to connect with people and succeed in business and life. I can remember going back, gosh, in 1976 and I was just graduating from law school and I was so frustrated that I didn't have a job. I had done extremely well in law school. I was in the top 20 percent of my law school graduating class, and I went home and I was visiting with my mom and commiserating with her. I had three children at the time and a wife that was anxious for me to get a job, and I said, "Gosh, Mom, I just can't get a job," and she said, "David, don't you know it's not what you know but who you know?" And that kind of tried expression has stuck with me over these last almost 40 years.
So I just am a big believer in connecting with people. I had noticed that upon graduation, most of the people that were getting the jobs weren't necessarily people that had succeeded like I had in the law school, but rather they were people that had connections in the marketplace. Of course, back then we didn't have social media but it was an uncle, a brother-in-law, a cousin, a good friend who was a lawyer, and it paved the way for that individual to connect and get a job in the industry.
So over time I developed something I've called my Six UP Principle. They are Start Up, Show Up, Follow Up, Link up, Scale Up and these sorts of things. So I'm going to walk you through my concepts today about how you build, create and nurture a great network online.
The first principle I talk about is to start up. Now what surprises most people when I talk about networking is I kind of flip it on its ear. The next time you go to a conference, I want you to first think about what the needs of the other people are at the conference. What is it that they're looking for? How can you help them succeed? And as you think first of others and you give first with no thought of gettng, the law of reciprocity of the universe comes into play where you start to understand that as you help another person, they have an intuitive desire to give back to you and bless your life and hock you up.
I can remember when we were raising money some years ago for HireVue, I had connected some years earlier with a gentleman in New York City. His name is Hylton VanZyl, a South African fellow and he was a leading chief technology officer at Credit Suisse, a famous investment bank. I connected with Hylton many years earlier, kept his business card, put him in my LinkedIn database. So when I went out to raise money for HireVue, I sent an email blast out via LinkedIn to all my New York City friends and it said something like, "Hey, I'm going to be in the area. How can I help you? Love to drop by." And it was a blast email. And I got an email back from Hylton which was very nice, "Hey, David. What are you out here for? How can I help?" I wrote him back, via LinkedIn and I said, "Hylton, we're raising substantial sums of money for a company, HireVue." I, at the time, was CEO of the company. And he emailed me back and he says, "Well, have you ever heard of Investor Growth Capital? They have offices here in New York City and I would love to hook you up."
So I went to New York City, met with Investor Growth Capital, had a wonderful meeting and at the end of the meeting we shook hands, and the gentleman who was the lead investor at Investor Growth Capital said, "This is just what we're looking for," and a couple of months later we had $15 million in the bank. All as a result of a connection that I'd made with Hylton and kept that in my LinkedIn database, sent out a LinkedIn blast, got an email back, and as a direct result we were able to raise substantial dollars for HireVue.
So as you network, think about networking as a long-term proposition. Don't wait to hook up people online when you need them. Most people that I know go, "Yeah, I used LinkedIn to find a job," or whatever, whatever. Well don't just go to LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter and connect there when you need something. The time to connect in the social media is today, not when you need it and you're desperate. So you start up your network by thinking first of others, what you can do to help and bless their lives.
The second principle that I like to talk about is to show up. Ninety percent of success in life is simply showing up. I'll demonstrate this with a quick story. In July of 2008, I was chairman of the advisory board of a company called Fusin-io. Fision-io made a solid state memory device for corporate data centers. This story, the show up story, starts with my showing up at the birth of one my grandchildren, William [inaudible 00:07:02]. We went to his birth, my daughter had him in the Orem Community Hospital, and afterwards the doctor said to me, "Hey, David. I'd like to take you to breakfast." And we went out, we had some ham and eggs, and had a nice conversation and he said, "David, could I introduce you to my son-in-law. My son-in-law is looking for a job in Utah and I know you're very connected and maybe you can help him out." I said, "Well, sure. Set it up, provide an email introduction."
So I showed up and I met with his son-in-law. We had a nice conversation. A couple of months later, the son-in-law emails me back and he says, "Dave, I'm organizing the annual meeting of the Utah Bar Association. We're going to meet in Sun Valley, Idaho. Is there any way you could come up and key note a session in Sun Valley, Idaho?" I quickly did a Google Maps on it and I found out that Sun Valley, Idaho, was a good six-hour drive one way from Provo, Utah. But nevertheless, I'd received a request, I wanted to fulfill this guy's desires and so I found myself driving to Sun Valley, Idaho. I showed up, I delivered my speech.
After I delivered my speech, I'm now walking out of the auditorium and I'm thinking to myself, "I'm going to go play some golf," because it was summertime, it was July 2008. The weather was beautiful and Sun Valley has a couple world class golf courses. I'd actually made a tee time earlier in that day. And as I'm walking out of the building, I saw a little white piece of paper and I reach down and it said, "Key note speaker, noon, lunch, Utah Bar Association annual meeting, Steve Wozniak, Inventor of the Apple computer." Well, now I had a real tough decision to make, right? I could either go play golf or I could show up to the speech by Steve. Well, people that know me well know how much I love to play golf, and so that was a tough decision for me, but nevertheless, I decided I would forgo my golf that day.
I went into the auditorium where Steve was to speak and I sat in the front row. That's another lesson for everybody that's listening, when you show up, get engaged, be immersed, sit in the front row. There were probably 500 people in the audience and lo and behold, I introduced myself to the person sitting next to me and she says, "My name's Julie," and I said, "My name's David," and I say, "Well, what do you do, Julie?" And believe it or not, she said, "I'm Steve Wozniak's executive assistant." She says, "What do you do?" And I told her about my work in the world of information technology and she said, "You know, it would be great if you could hang around after the speech. I'd love to introduce you to Mr. Wozniak." Of course I was very flattered and very excited. So she introduced me to Steve, we had a nice conversation. Long story short, Steve was kind enough to join our advisory board at Fusion-io. I later became CEO of the company and he became my chief scientist at Fusion-io. All from simply showing up. You folks listening to this, you just never know how fortuitous or serendipitous things might occur in your life as a direct result of simply showing up.
The next point I talk about is to follow up. Follow up in your life. In many ways I think follow up honestly is a lost art. Think about social selling, my gosh. The ability to connect with someone on Twitter and then see their name and then track them down on LinkedIn, and then say something like, "Oh, thanks for the follow on Twitter, let's now connect on LinkedIn." And then you connect on that great professional network, LinkedIn. But you've followed up. You saw Twitter connection and then you followed up. Then you connect on LinkedIn and then follow up even further. And when you follow up, always follow up in a personal way and follow up within 24 or 48 hours of an initial meet.
For example, I went to a conference some years ago at Sundance here in Utah. I was fortunate to hear the great Malcolm Gladwell speak. After his speech I walked up, introduced myself, and we exchanged business cards and what not. But then I followed up with Malcolm within 24 hours. I went home that night and did a whole bunch of research into Malcolm Gladwell's background. And I learned that, believe it or not, he'd grown up in a small town in Canada, just like I'd grown up in a small town in Montana, in a little place called Red Lodge. So we had a lot in common growing up in very cold surroundings, very small towns. My graduating class had 42 kids in total. My high school was less than 200 kids.
But nevertheless, I learned a lot about Malcolm Gladwell's background. And when I followed up with him, I didn't just send him a blank LinkedIn request, or just a blank note saying, "Hey, it was nice meeting you. Let's stay in touch." Instead I went back and I studied Malcolm's background and I learned that Malcolm, while in high school, had actually run the mile run in 4 minutes and 16 seconds, something like that. It was in the low four minutes. That is an incredible time for any high school kid. So I emailed Malcolm and I said something to the fact that hey, it was such an honor to meet him, congratulations on all of his books, love reading them. I'd made a reference to Outliers and then I said something to the following effect in the email, "Malcolm, I know now why you're so successful with your writing because anyone that can run a mile in 4 minutes and 16 seconds has shown great persistence, great determination and great commitment in their life."
So by reaching out and following up with Malcolm within 24 hours and doing it in a personalized way, Malcolm responded enthusiastically to my email, "Dave, thank you so much. It was great meeting you. I'm not running these days because my knee is bad. I've got a torn meniscus et cetera, et cetera, and he went into great detail about his running and he so appreciated just the fact that I would learn about his running power and comment on it in a personalized way in an email.
That's the way you follow up with people. When you meet them at a conference, get to know them. Go out online, understand what makes them tick, understand their great successes and then comment to them as you follow up with them. It was great meeting you and then explain a little bit about your background et cetera. Then kind of end it by saying, "It was so great meeting you. Is there something I can do to help you succeed in your business career?" So that's the principle of follow up.
The next principle that I'm fond of talking about is the linking up. So the link up principle is all about creating categories of connections. Believe it or not, I have 5000 Facebook friends. That's the maximum that you can have on Facebook in terms of friends. Of course, you can have a friend's page and people can follow you on Facebook, but just purely having Facebook friends, I have the max of 5000. I have gone back and one by one as I've connected with them over the last seven, eight, nine years since I've been on Facebook. I've categorized each one of those connections. So for example, Chris Cannon, the gentleman that introduced me at the beginning of this, Chris is a Facebook friend of mine, and I would categorize him under business development. That's the category that I have. I would also categorize Chris under HireVue.
So I've created probably 50 categories on Facebook. I've also done it in each of my email databases, Gmail and Yahoo. So if you look at my Gmail database you'll discover that I have probably 80 or 90 different categories of people and they're accountants, they're venture capitalists, they're sales people, they're marketing people. And, of course, many people are in more than one category. The blessing of that is that when you need to reach out, and I've had this occurance a number of times over the years, I need to hire somebody. So let's say it's a person in marketing. Well, I've got an email database that has about 200 marketing people in that email database.
I'm able to quickly and efficiently send an email blast out to that targeted audience, marketing, and say, "Hey, I'm looking for a PR person to join our firm. Here's what I'm looking for. They need three years of experience," whatever it might be, the description. And then I'll blast that off to my marketing category. So creating groups online is an effective and efficient way to link up with people and to stay in touch with those people. I might come across an article that might be about social selling, or in this instance, I'll certainly send an email blast to everybody in my email database who is categorized under sale, so that they would be aware of this social selling event and that might be useful for them.
The next UP principle is to stand up. I love this principle. What it is, is that you can observe every other thing that I have talked about today about showing up and sharing, and following up and scaling up, and linking up. You can observe everyone of those things but if you are not a stand up person in your life, no matter how connected you are theoretically, people simply are not going to want to do business with you. People want to do with business that they know have integrity and character, and honesty.
I'm fond of a story some years ago, there was a gentleman named Jon Huntsman, Sr. He was the father of the U.S ambassador to India and the former Utah Governor, Jon Huntsman, Jr. Well, Jon Huntsman, Sr. had created one of the world's largest chemical corporations. In the process of growing this company, they would do a merger, they would acquire companies, they would spin off entities. And at one point, as the story goes, Jon was spinning off one of his enterprises, and as he was spinning that off they signed a contract saying, "Hey, we will sell you our division for $50 million." I think the number was roughly $50 million and a contract was signed.
But of course, before any deal would close, the parties have to go into due diligence. They have to study the intellectual property, the contract, the personnel of the company that's being acquired to satisfy themselves that the $50 million is really worthwhile. So due diligence commenced and went on, and actually went on for close to six months. An interesting thing happened between those six months. That particular Huntsman division started to take off like gangbusters while it was still part of Huntsman Chemical Corporation. As sales grew rapidly, et cetera, technically the value of the company increased well above $50 million. So as they went to close the transaction after due diligence had been closed, of course, the smart Huntsman lawyers had put in a provision that allowed John, Sr., to be able to get out of that contract if material circumstances had changed over time, and certainly in this case, with the increased sale of this division, things had changed materially. They went to close, and of course, the other party that was buying this division was ecstatic about the performance, but they also knew that in all probability they would have to renegotiate the price that they were paying, probably closer to $200 million.
Well, much to their surprise as they went in to close that transaction, Jon shook their hands, looked them in their eye and said, "You know what? Yeah, I might have a technical right to get out of this deal but I signed a contract, we shook hands six months ago for that purchase price at $50 million. It's a done deal. Proceed and close the transaction."
Now that is a man that has real character and integrity. He's a stand up person. He's a person that anybody is going to want to do business with. So in every aspect of your life, especially in social media, make sure that your resume, your online persona, reflects your desire for integrity and character. In this day of bad Twitter statement sort of things, people can lose their credibility in a nano second. It takes a lifetime to build up character and a reputation but only seconds to lose it. So be careful what you post online and make sure that in every aspect of your life you're truly a stand up person.
Finally, scale up is the last principle that I'll talk about today. In scaling up your network it boils down to this. Simply and importantly work. When we talk about the word network, it's not net eat, it's not net goof off. The word work is contained right in the word network. In other words, it takes time, commitment, desire, organization to build up that network.
I spend probably an hour every day on LinkedIn or Facebook ,or Twitter doing something, making a positive post, et cetera, et cetera, in order to scale up that network. But it does take time. Make no mistake about it. If you want to be world class at anything. Malcolm Gladwell, in one of his books, Outliers, talks a lot about the 10,000-hour rule. To become world class at any endeavor you want to make sure that you've got to spend 10,000 hours at that endeavor. And so networking is just like any other skill set. To be truly good at online networking, at connecting with people and building relationships, you've got to spend time at it. If you spend a lot of time at it and you're effective in what you do, you will succeed. If you don't spend the time at it, you won't.
So I talk about those six UP principles in my book. I hope you'll enjoy that, go out to davidbradford.com, you can find a place there to get it or Amazon.com to buy the book. But I've shared with you just a few stories and illustration of the power of social networking. Also at davidbradford.com, you can get a free copy of David Bradford's Top 101 Tips For Shockingly Personal, Powerful and Permanent Business Connections. I think you'll enjoy that and it goes through tip by tip, by tip. So let's take a look at some of those 101 tips.
Tip number one, networking should start well before you need it. Indeed, it should be a lifestyle. Remember I said earlier in the conversation that you want to go out and connect with people and build those relationships before you ever need them. Then several years later, and it can be 20 years later, great things will happen if you network with people. I can remember when I went out to hire a senior vice president of sales at Fusion-io some years ago. I sent a LinkedIn a blast and it said something to the following effect, "I am looking for the number one IT sales vice president in the world. Do you know one?" And I got back an the email from a fellow by the name Scott McKinley, who worked in the Pacific Rim. And I had met Scott in the late 90s in Utah, but now it was, gosh, 12, 15 years later, but Scott got that email blast, came back and introduced me to a fellow by the name Jim Doshen [SP]. So you never know when you connect today, it could be 10 or 15 years before you actually need that connection, can be meaningful in your life. So get started today.
I mentioned earlier 90 percent of success in life comes from just showing up. ABC, always be curious. People like to tell their story. When you interact with people ask them about their information. What is it in their business that is holding them back et cetera. Get to know them and they will tell you their story, As they do the law of reciprocity will again come into being and they will begin asking you about what you and how they can help you. So simply ask questions.
Tip four, when using social media don't tell people what you're eating for dinner, tell them something that might change their life. I'm fond of posting wonderful quotes everyday. I posted one to Twitter this morning that said something to the following effect, "The world needs dreamers. The world needs doers. But most of all, the world needs dreamers that do." When you combine those two you've got real power. So that's a quote and I love sharing quotes on social media.
Take yourself out of your comfort zone. Tip number five, when you're given a chance to get involved in a new group, do it. Don't be afraid. Tip six, events can turn into blurs. Make specific notes about people that you meet so that when you follow up, you can follow up in a convincing and powerful way.
Remember that building a world class network also takes time. One contact here another there. Stay in touch and follow up. People will look at me and they'll go, "Gosh, you've got 13,000 LinkedIn connections, 5000 Facebook friends, 20,000 email contacts, et cetera, et cetera. But you know what? I did it all by myself and I did it one contact at a time.
I'm reminded of the story some years ago and maybe I'll wrap up with this. The story is told of a female bush pilot who was flying over the Arctic Circle, and she dropped off her people and as she was flying out of the Arctic, the plane experienced some trouble and she had to crash land in the Arctic. She wasn't hurt in the crash, and she did have supplies and she did have a map, but her communication tools were wiped out. The only way that she was going to save her life was to walk out of the Arctic. She looked at her map and studied it and discovered that the closest place for her to reach out to was 600 miles away. So despite all odds and horrible weather, et cetera, she did have a backpack, she did have food and she started to trudge those 600 miles.
She finally arrived at the outpost emaciated, tired, hungry and was immediately hospitalized. And people came around from around the world to find out and learn more about her story. And one of the reporters asked her, "How did you walk 600 miles across the frozen tundra to save your life?" She looked at him and paused, and then said something really profound. She said, "I didn't walk 600 miles. I walked one mile 600 times."
And that's the way it is with building a world class network. It's one contact at a time. One day at a time. And if you do that and you are committed to the process, great networking can change your life, and it will be a powerful tool as you go out to sell in the world of social media.
Thanks for listening and I wish you all the best.