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Bootstrapped Giants

Found a networking goldmine—had to share

Published about 1 month ago • 5 min read

A few days ago, I took a day trip to Charlotte. I spent 25+ hours prepping for my time there. On the day of the trip, I woke up at 5 am, flew at 7 am, and was home by 11 pm.

It was a long day. I made it longer when I unintentionally woke my 4-month-old when I got home. I had a long, tiring day. Why did I do it?

Feeling guilty about not responding to emails faster?

I got you.

Superhuman is how my team flies through email.

Readers of my newsletter try it free, here.

Simple: Friendship.

Ric Elias asked me to fly up and teach his team about what's working vs not in social right now. And I said yes without skipping a beat.

In today's email, I'm going to school everyone on something that isn't talked about nearly enough in business: Friendship. Or what some like to call: "being likable."

Most biz people would have you believe that "your results are the only thing that matters" or "make something amazing and that's all you need."

I think that's BS. And also, it’s not a very fun way to live.

A lot of readers who hit reply on my past newsletters asked me to talk more about "networking." I’ll write more about that in future newsletters, but it all starts with friendships and being likable.

Being likable has gotten me deals I didn't deserve, had amazing people work for me, and gotten me out of jams.

Like the time I kept teaching an investor about Facebook, since my previous company, Ampush, was buying so many ads on their platform.

I spent hours on the phone with him, sent him helpful documents, and built a friendship. One day, he said, “Jesse you’ve been so helpful. Is there anything I could do for you?”

I said, “Well, actually, yes. My company could use a $5 million loan. I’ll pay interest and I’ll give you aggregate Facebook data to help with your investment decisions.” I got the loan.

“So,” I imagine you wondering, “what exactly does this mean, Jesse?”

When I meet people, I am not simply looking to "do business" with them.

I'm actually looking at a full human being as someone who I can connect with and build a friendship with.

It doesn't mean I build a relationship with every person I meet, but being likable is how I show up to every conversation.

Even when I DON’T build friendships, I AM likable. And that makes a big difference. So what are my tips for being Likable? They are much the same as anything you'd do to make friends! Here are my big ones:

This is important in a few ways.

A) Who you befriend

I do NOT befriend people who are not my cup of tea. Said differently: I have trouble being fake.

If I find someone off-putting or not my jam, I don't FORCE myself to befriend them. But when I do find someone I like, admire, learn from, etc… I approach them like I would a friend, not a business counterparty/client.

I find this energizing and exciting. I had a friend in sales once complain about how drained they felt.

When I asked why, they said: Because I have to pretend everyone is my friend.

What I'm suggesting is the opposite of this… only befriend people authentically, but when you do… go DEEP.

B) Your authenticity

The other word I almost wrote here was… Vulnerable. The business world is so filled with people who are virtue signaling or "crushing it" or who don't talk about the struggles at home.

Once I find someone I like, I open up ALMOST immediately. I talk about the challenges I had scaling Ampush.

The business failure of Kahani. Or how my EQ was like zero until I met my coach.

I ALWAYS get vulnerable in my "intro speech" and it’s an invitation for the other person to do the same.

C) How you show up

The precursor to the above is… how you actually show up. Are you all business? Are you typing while on a call? Or are you smiling? Are you present?

Most importantly: Are you OPEN?

The more "open" you are to friendships, the more of it you will get. We often put up our defenses BEFORE we even start a call or take a meeting.

Try this trick my coach taught me:

Write down "BE OPEN" on an index card. Put it in your back pocket. Before every meeting, just pull it out and look at it for a few seconds.

You've probably heard the quote "Interested people are interesting." If you walk into a conversation OPEN, the next phase is to be curious.

If you are all business or think "What can this person do for me?"

You will likely NOT be curious. You will be "agenda-driven" – worse still (and I've done this), you may "dismiss" someone for not being valuable.

When instead, if you had just asked questions and learned, that person could have really helped you.

A pro tip for curiosity? Ask OPEN ended questions:

  • What was that like?
  • What was the best part of doing X?
  • What did you learn from that?
  • How do you spend your time?
  • Why did you think that?

You'd be amazed at where those questions take you.

I hinted at this with my story about Ric. It's sort of obvious.

Be helpful! Make an introduction. Take some time to send over thoughts or a file that could really help someone. Point someone in the right direction.

Depending on the relationship you develop with someone, take a day trip to their company! But seriously, be helpful.

Not creepy, over-the-top helpful, but subtly ask and/or do things that will be helpful.

Introductions and job candidates are my two favorite ways to help. I'll forward an email to almost anyone in my network.

It has such an asymmetrically small downside for a huge upside. If the person says no, it's not a big deal.

If they say yes, it really helps the person who requested the intro. If they meet and end up working together, BOTH people get helped. And they credit me!

There's a concept in Conscious Leadership called "integrity" which effectively means: Do WHAT you SAY you WILL DO by WHEN you say YOU WILL DO IT.

An obvious concept, but often forgotten. There are a few pieces of it that are important.

First, you don't have to do anything. So be careful about what you say you will do.

More entrepreneurs or young people hurt themselves by this practice - saying yes to anything/everything and then just disappearing. I'm cautious about making offers. But if I offer, I do.

A few newsletters ago, I promised to respond to every reader who hit reply and emailed me.

It was dumb, I got hundreds of emails. But I did respond :)

The second part is doing what you said you'd do. Send the follow-up email. Build a system for staying organized. (I like my inbox zero/deferral system.)

Nothing builds trust and friendship like this.

This one is dead dumb simple. Send people a text, an email, or a LinkedIn just for the hell of it. Because that's what friends do.

People in my orbit know this. They will get a 5-10 word text/email from me every now and again.

Nothing fancy, nothing formal. A simple "yo man, how goes it?" or "Saw this and thought of you” is enough.

Another experience I have: I get excited about random shit and I share it with tons of people, usually via a quick text. “Check this out - so crazy!”

Well, there you have it! Jesse's secret business weapon: Friendship.

Have a great week

-jesse

Bootstrapped Giants

Jesse Pujji

Bootstrapped to an 8 figure exit @ampush. Now building a $1B+ bootstrapped venture studio @GatewayX and sharing everything I learn along the way.

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