THE BLOG
11/25/2014 05:06 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Network Like a Genius: Insights From a World-Class Marketing Guru

Marketing guru Joe Polish has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs reach enormous levels of success. I know -- I'm one of them. Joe's wisdom has been instrumental in helping me elevate my results in each of my companies.

Joe recently shared his best networking advice for achievement-minded entrepreneurs with AES Nation. He emphasized that many entrepreneurs mistakenly view marketing as a method of tricking people into buying. Not so, says Joe. Instead, it's about forging meaningful connections, sharing your story and the passion that drives you, and collaborating with top people to enhance each other's success.

With that in mind, here are three insights from one of the world's most sought-after marketing experts.

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1. Don't confuse interacting with networking. Technology makes it easier than ever to interact with people, but just having interactions isn't the same thing as doing effective networking. Think about Facebook. Probably 50 percent of the activity on it is about building status, and 49 percent is gossip. At the end of the day, probably just 1 percent is about creating the significant personal relationships that are the basis for effective marketing and networking.

The key, says Joe, is interacting with others in significant ways that create a win-win result for everyone involved. If you cannot expand someone and they cannot expand you, your business or your cause, you're not truly networking -- you're just spinning your wheels. You need to develop and grow relationships with people, and that requires face time (either in person or via online conferencing technology), phone calls and other ways to interact with people on a deep level toward a shared purpose.

To create the win-win results that are essential to effective marketing, there needs to be reciprocity. In Joe's case, he has long subscribed to the belief that "if you want heat, you've got to put your logs in the fire." That means interacting with people only if you can add some sort of value to their lives. Lose the sense of entitlement and start recognizing that you've got to bring something to the other person in order to get something good for yourself. The great thing about reciprocity is that it's a natural human instinct. Do something nice for someone, and they are naturally inclined to want to do something nice for you. Even if you think of yourself as somewhat selfish, it would be foolish to not give yourself the unfair advantage of having reciprocity in your favor.

2. Swim with the geniuses. Too often entrepreneurs take a shotgun approach to marketing by trying to build relationships with anyone and everyone who crosses their path. This leads to a lot of wasted time and a huge effort that yields less than stellar results.

Instead, says Polish, hone your efforts by building connections with those people who possess the wisdom, knowledge and skills that are most important to your goals. Ask yourself: How can I interact with them? How can I do business with them? How can I combine our respective capabilities and skills to produce useful results?

Polish calls this genius networking -- in fact, he's created an entire program called the Genius Network that helps entrepreneurs build such connections. The idea is that connecting with a few truly exceptional people is worth more to you -- in time saved, in energy saved and in dollars earned -- than having a thousand conversations with people with only a mediocre understanding of what you are trying to achieve.

The upshot, says Joe: If you're going to fish, fish for the most talented, valuable and capable fish that you can catch.

3. Tell your story, tell it well and tell it a lot. That said, you better be well prepared to bait the hook with something that the fish really want. Your ability to tell a great story is the secret sauce to marketing, says Joe. Everything else -- advertising, having a social media presence, building a robust website -- is secondary. Those specific efforts must be informed by a great story that you develop and package so you can tell it over and over again.

A great story is how you will be able to interact meaningfully with those select few geniuses who can really help you accelerate your success. Think of it this way: Selling is influence. Improve your ability to influence, and you'll get much better results. Package your story up in replicatable ways and share it with lots people to create more awareness, understanding and influence. For example, Joe helped Sir Richard Branson create and share a focused storyline about the efforts of Virgin Unite, The Virgin Group's charitable arm, which helped generate huge donations.

A great story will compel people to buy your product, service or idea. But to get there, you've got to figure out what story you want to tell so you can attract people to you and enroll them into your worldview. Joe recommends that entrepreneurs develop a 10-minute talk where they share one strategy they've implemented that has been worth at least $250,000 to their businesses. The process of thinking through these ideas and brainstorming about one big driver of success serves as the foundation for entrepreneurs to build and grow their larger stories. It provides clarity about how to present yourself so that you can communicate your story in a compelling manner.

As the late direct response marketer Gary Halbert once said, the difference between being rich being broke could be one great sales letter. In marketing today, that sales letter is your story -- so make it great.

For more marketing insights and advice from Joe Polish as well as actionable strategies from other world-class entrepreneurs, go to AES Nation.