Last week Arsen Marsoobian made his platform speaking debut at an event called "The Time of Your Life is Now." There was incredible array of speakers including Les Brown, Lynn Rose and Jeff Eben. It was a great time and I had two "slap-yourself-in-the-forehead-networking-moments"... and of course I'll share them with you.
Les Brown has been named one of the top 5 speakers in the world by Toastmasters International. He has received the National Speakers Association rare and prestigious "Golden Gavel" award and he is a best-selling author. Les' rate is $30,000 for a keynote speech. Not the slightest bit of offense to Arsen, but I couldn't figure out how in the world he was going to be able to make enough on the event to cover Les' fee, much less all the other amazing speakers who were on the stage, plus the cost of renting the Saroyan Theater for a full day.
Maybe Arsen already had a thousand tickets sold. Maybe he was independently wealthy. Maybe he had massive sponsorship. I didn't know, but I wasn't going to question the chance to see Les Brown and all the other speakers up close and in person.
So how did he do it? How did Arsen afford the 30k to bring Les Brown to Fresno?
He didn't. Mamie Brown's baby boy did it for free. Zero. Nothing. You know why?
Networking. Les likes Arsen. That's all. They met at a speaker training event where Arsen was the learner and Les one of the presenters. Arsen had a huge dream to bring an event to Fresno full of amazing speakers (including himself). Les, Lynn Rose and the other speakers were so charmed by Arsen that they agreed to do it.
Never, ever doubt the power of networking. In this case, one relationship was worth $30,000, the launch of a speaking career and an opportunity for the people in Fresno to see presentations they never otherwise would have.
Next time you think you've got to meet 50 people to make your networking event worthwhile, remember Arsen. It took just one new friend to make it all worthwhile.
The other take-away for me was also networking related (surprise!). Speaker after speaker talked about the value of relationships. They quoted a study that said your income is within 10% of the income of the five people you spend the most time with. Other studies have suggested that obesity is contagious; if your friends are overweight, it's likely you will be too. You are defined by the company you keep.
If your friends are fat and poor, it's still okay to love them. But maybe it's time to add some new friends to the mix. Don't feel bad; if you get richer and thinner, you'll increase the average for everyone and help pull your friends up too.
But how do you find the kind of people who are going to encourage and push you to greater accomplishments?
Networking! Of course. You can tailor your efforts to find people you're interested in spending time with. You might even find that some of them want to spend time with you ;-)
Photos (top to bottom): Beth and Les Brown, Beth and Jeff Eben, Beth and Michelle Prince.