How building and maintaining larger personal networks can create $MILLION dollar businesses

Mike Brcic (74%), Dave Erickson (20%), Botond Seres (7%)

Dave Erickson 0:03
lasting and deep personal relationship networks can be worth millions. And it is through personal networks that businesses usually are started. Growing your personal network is one of the best and most cost effective ways to grow a business. We're going to talk about how to build a valuable personal network on this ScreamingBox Podcast. Please like our podcast and subscribe to our channel to get notified when the next podcast is released.

What is the key to building a million dollar business? Building and maintaining larger personal networks? But how do you do that in today's busy world? Welcome to the ScreamingBox technology and business rundown podcast. In this podcast I Dave Erickson and my co-host Botond Seres are going on an adventure with Mike Brcic,CEO Wayfinders. Mike founded and built Sacred Rides, the world's number one mountain bike adventure company and in 2019, he sold it. Since then he started Wayfinders, and has spent most of his time developing incredible and impactful events, writing articles for his new blog series for entrepreneurs, and working on a new talk about the science of connection and belonging. Today, we are going on an adventure with him to discover how to build and grow a personal business network that is beneficial to everyone. How to use technology to schedule and maintain connections, and how can connections with people really strengthen a business? So Mike, let's start with mountain biking. Tell us about that business.

Mike Brcic 2:02
Yeah, so I guess I can go back to the beginning and tell you that when it started, I had just graduated university and moved to a little ski town in the Canadian Rockies probably got fired from my first three jobs and realized that I both didn't like and was not very good at working, working for others, and decided I needed to start up on my own. And it's funny, I've heard a lot, I know a lot of entrepreneurs and I've heard a lot of similar origin stories where they just, either they realize that they really don't like working for others, or they're just bad at it or something like that. And so I think some of us get into this world just by, by default, because we've run out of options. And so, I was, I was walking along this little trail in the, in the ski town after having been fired from my third job, wondering what the hell I was going to do and my friend said, well, you love mountain biking, why don't you, why don't you just see if you can take some people out on the local trails and see if they'll pay you to guide them around. And I said, hey, that's interesting. And I managed to secure a $10,000 startup loan from this local organization, bought a little fleet of mountain bikes, and hung up a sign on the highway. And I won't bore you with the details, but it was a slow first few years, but then it really took off in year four. And, and it eventually became a company that I expanded all over the world, 45 Different countries by the time I, I sold it and a staff of 50 plus people around the world. And you know, it was a, it was a real labor of love, I probably could have made a lot more money doing other things. But he was a wonderful lifestyle business and got me traveling all over the world and riding my bike. And there were many, many days where I just couldn't believe that I was getting paid to do this and, and getting to travel the world with my bike. So I'm really grateful for that, that business and that time.

Dave Erickson 3:54
Yeah, as a mountain biker over the last 35 plus years, I definitely love the sport. And I even at one point was in the industry for 10 years. But that also, I found I turned my sport into a job. And so after 10 years, it was like okay, I need to go back to just enjoying it versus working it. But you know, the love of mountain biking is a great thing. And to start a business doing it. I think we both had that experience. So that is always a positive experience when you can take something that you really are enthusiastic about and turned into a business. But as you know, you learned it turns it into work instead of just play

Mike Brcic 4:37
It is definitely, get back to it. Yeah, it is definitely a double edged sword. And I think you know, my mistake with that business I think was getting
I don't know if it was a mistake, but I really had these ambitions to grow it all over the world. And I went from a beautiful lifestyle business, to bringing on investors massively expanding the team and going from, I'm spending my days on a mountain bike to spending my days in spreadsheets and writing shareholder reports and all that. And one day I just woke up and it's like, what am I doing? Like, this is not what I set out to create, this is not the business I want to run. And that was sort of the beginning of, you know, the decision to sell the company.

Dave Erickson 5:17
And with Wayfinders, how did that start?

Mike Brcic 5:20
So if I go back to 2016, that was when I did my final money race. And that was the beginning of a really big expansion of the company. And as the company was expanding, and as I was bringing on all the staff, and I was trying to, I was trying to figure out how to, how to run a global company with, you know, this big hierarchy and everything. I was really finding myself in over my head a lot of the time. And so I started joining these different entrepreneur groups and going to different entrepreneur events. And the events I went to, I learned a ton, but the real value I got was in the connections that I made with other entrepreneurs. And most of these events were not really set up to not really set up for that, because there was, you know, lots of speakers on stage, lots of workshops, and you're kind of running back and forth between some keynote speaker and then a workshop and then maybe there's a 15 minute networking break in the hallway. And, and so I wanted, I realized I wanted to create something that I felt was missing, where the focus was on connection, not on information. And I knew from mountain, from my mountain biking company, that when you take people outside, and you're doing fun, challenging things together, that people tend to connect, you know, really deeply. And so I wanted to create an event that had some of that, you know, some speakers and some workshops and information, but mostly, it was just about people having fun and connecting and pushing themselves. So my first event was in the Canadian Rockies. It was five days, and we were mountain biking, we were hiking, we're doing some rafting, you know, we even did some heli-biking on that trip. But then we also had some workshops, you know, before dinner after dinner, stuff like that, a lot of peer sharing, and people just loved it. And they asked me to do more of them. And I didn't really start it, you know, as a company, it was just, you know, let's do it, let's do an event and see what happens. And people just asked me to do more, more of them. And so I decided then that I would, I would really, you know, get completely out of the mountain biking company, and that I wanted to focus on this. And so there was a period there about a year and a half where I was running both companies, but at the same time trying to sell sacred rides, which, you know, that's kind of almost like another company in itself, it's almost a full time job trying to sell a company. So it was a, it was a very busy time. But, you know, I'm really grateful that I was able to manage that and be able to sell my company and, and focus on what I'm doing right now, which, which brings a lot of joy into my life.

Botond Seres 7:54
Well, that sounds absolutely amazing. So I think you, you brought up a really important point there, Mike is a lot of these events are just about information and that's probably the primary reason why I, I tend to not like them very much. So it's always just

go to this keynote, listen to this person, and then everyone is just gone pretty much. But the personal connections are very important. So I, I would very much just trade such an event for pretty much anything else. So I was wondering, like, how does this thing work? Is it, I assume it has to be smaller groups, like probably, you can't really build personal connections with 1000 people at a time. So what the, what does an event of yours look like? Is it like dozens of people, maybe hundreds, tops I would guest.

Mike Brcic 8:59
Typically around 25 to 30 people, which I've kind of experimented with different group sizes. And, you know, my goal is for people to forge some really deep connections. And if you go,go beyond that it can, it can still be done. But, it requires, it requires a lot more work. And I find with 25 to 30 people, you have a lot of diversity in the room, but you can still have that intimacy of you know, if we're spending eight or nine days together some place halfway around the world, you're going to have a meaningful conversation with pretty much every single person on that trip at some point I'm going to see to it that you do as well so I can I can I can walk you through a typical day. And then but maybe I'll preface that with saying you know where I host my events is a big part, a big part of what I do. And so I don't, you know I don't host them at a you know, conference center in, in Florida or in Texas or something like that. I host them in remote remote parts of the world. So I just got back a few weeks ago from the jungles of Uganda, where we stayed at this beautiful lodge on the edge of a mountain rainforest. And we were, you know, hanging out with mountain gorillas and stuff like that. In October, I'm going to far western Mongolia, one of the most remote parts of the world there. And the cultures of the places that we visited are a big part of the sort of ingredient recipe, a big part of it is, is taking people out of their day to day, and putting them in an environment that's so radically different from their own. Because I find that, that gets them in a mindset of like, really questioning, you know, the path that they're on the life that they're on. Not necessarily that those are, you know, that they're bad, but it gives them other perspectives to view it from. And so to give you an example, like in Uganda, you know, we might have, we might have like a morning meditation, and then we'll have breakfast together, and then we'll, we'll head out the door and you know, one of the days that we were there, we did like an eight hour hike into the jungle and ended up with this beautiful waterfall. And, and then we got back and we did a two or three hour facilitated group exercise, in one of the meeting rooms there. And a lot of those exercises that I do, they're there to facilitate either connection, or intra introspection and self inquiry, and help people go a little bit deeper. And then we might have dinner. And then after dinner, maybe there's an after dinner talk by one of the, one of the guests. And so it's kind of a mix of different things. That there's, the two main things that I'm looking for people to get out of it is new perspectives, and new connections and, and deep connections. And I hear all the time, you know, people say, these are some of the closest connections that I've that I've ever made in my life. Because I create an environment for people to just be real and be vulnerable and be authentic. And when you give them that invitation, then they tend to connect a lot deeper than just, you know, talking about the weather or talking about work.

Botond Seres 12:03
That sounds amazing, honestly. That’s the first time I hear of such an event like, in my life, where do they sign up?

Mike Brcic 12:14
It is pretty unique and people tell me that all the time, but, like, I've never encountered anything like this in my life. And so I'm always trying to push, push the boundaries and on what I'm doing. And you know, like when we go to Mongolia, we're actually going to be, we're going to be living with a nomad, a nomad Catholic family. And we're going to be accompanying them on their fall migration from their summer grounds to their winter grounds. And we're going to be building our camps along the way. And, and learning about nomadic life and riding horses and hanging out with the eagle hunters and stuff like that. So it's, it's very unique. And if you want to sign up, it's at

Botond Seres 12:57
Alright, so how does this work? So do you typically get requests from like, 25-30 people at a time? Or is it individual sign ups just looking for adventure, and connection?

Mike Brcic 13:10
Yeah, it's individual signups. They're all entrepreneurs, they're people who own their own companies. I mean, these days, on a typical event, it's about probably three quarters, returning people. And then the rest are typically referrals. I don't, I don't tend to get a lot of, you know, random, there is an application form on my website, for sure. But most of the people who come are either I know them, I've invited them, or they're coming back for another event where they've been referred by someone. So it seems to be, you know, I look at marketing as the best marketing I can do is to really heavily invest in an amazing product or service. And I've really gone deep on that on creating just amazing events that deliver a lot of value to people. And so I really don't do any traditional marketing, and my events are right now sold out all the way to the end of 2024. And so, yeah, and, you know, that's, that's kind of been the process I've followed with all of my businesses is, do your marketing through your product, just create such an amazing product that other people are going to do the marketing for you. And I think people underestimate what's required of that, to get that, to get to that level where people are just going to like, rave about you and talk to you about the friend. It's a pretty high bar. And you need to really invest in such a killer product that people are going to do that for you. And that's, that has served me well.

Dave Erickson 14:40
Obviously, quality product is some of the best marketing and I agree with you on that. And it does take a tremendous focus. But even then, there still needs to be kind of, how do business relationships happen. And, you know, some companies can, can do this where they put together a small event for their executives or for potential clients. But building a professional network is something that even the small guys who are just starting a business need to focus on and do. So maybe we can talk a little bit about, what do you think? What have you learned in building all these deep relationships? How can entrepreneurs start growing their personal network? What are things that they can start doing from the beginning? Even if they don't have big budgets or anything like that?

Mike Brcic 15:32
Yeah, great question. I would say first off, is making it a priority, recognizing that it has value. And it's not just like a little side project that this is, this is a very, it's not only a very valuable thing to do professionally, for yourself for your business, but it's also, it's also a valuable thing to do personally. Right. And so, you know, some of the relationships I have with my customers are some of my, my strongest and best connections I have with, with anyone. And that is, to me, very deeply fulfilling and all the, you know, all the research points to relationships being one of the key contributors to a fulfilling and a healthy life, right? There are studies that show that chronic loneliness can be, have the same health effect as smoking two packs a day, right. And so if we want to have a rewarding relationship life, we need to invest in it, we can't just let it happen accidentally. So you need to make it a priority. For you know, and I'm a big fan of the saying that your calendar reflects your priorities. And so if you were to look at my calendar, I have time blocked off every week for connecting with other people. And that's time for calls with people who aren't near me, it's time for coffee, and it's time for lunches with the people who are near me, and that time is blocked off. And that is rewarding to me personally, but it's also a business investment. I know, when I invest in those relationships, that it comes back to me, you know, many fold. And but I think, you know, from my perspective, I look at those relationships as How can I, how can I create value for others? And how can I invest in those relationships from a perspective of creating value from them not not, it's very easy to get into that mindset of like, investing your relationship, so you can take, but I find that if I, if I come at it from the perspective of giving first, that tends to be richer and more rewarding, and I ended up interestingly enough, getting more in the end, because because people can sense that I'm coming at it from from that approach. So you know, just to sum that part up, it's making sure your calendar reflects that. And it's just like, you know, my assistant handles a lot of that now, but before that, I would have time, you know, on Mondays, I would have a couple hours blocked off, for I'm going to set up, you know, I'm going to set up all my meetings with others, whether it's zoom meetings, or lunches or coffees or whatever, that's the time where I'm, you know, creating the opportunities, and then I have time blocked off in my calendar for the actual connections with other people. So that's, that's the first step, it's just recognizing it's a priority and making it a priority. The second, identify, you know, who are the people that you want to invest your time with. And it's, it's very easy to be reactive about this thing, and just kind of sort of reacting to opportunities that come your way, instead of being intentional, like, who are the who are the people that I want to spend time with, or who are the types of people that I'm not yet connected to, but I want to connect with, right? And so I, you know, I and we can get into the technology of how I manage it, but you know, I have a database of all the people in my life that I want to stay connected to both, both just personal friends and also business contacts. And, and then, I make sure that I'm staying in touch with those people. And then also, you know, in addition to these events that I do around the world, I also host local events for entrepreneurs, have dinners, meetups, all sorts of stuff. And that's just a way of, you know, getting to meet more people, getting to invest in the relationships that do have, and continue to nurture them. So I look at it kind of my my focus is 80 to 90% nurturing the relationships I already have, and maybe 10 to 20% creating new relationships because I already have a lot of contacts and in relationships, but for another people, other people who maybe are a little you know, a little more isolated, maybe it's more like 80 90% creating new relationships and we can get into you know, the meat of that if you like but you know, the starting point is just recognizing that this is somewhere to invest your time. It's going to, it's going to pay dividends personally and professionally. And don't look at it as a you know, a side project or a waste of time or something like that.

Dave Erickson 19:47
Yeah, I can, I can truly understand that. For us. We're kind of in a similar situation,we don't do a lot of marketing. Our business comes is personal relationships, referrals, past customers. have gone to different companies and come back to us. And, you know, but building that network, you know, for me, I schedule every week, meeting new people, it's really important that I do that. And it's really the follow up and the maintaining of those relationships. So as an entrepreneur, I started reaching out and building more relationships, yeah, maybe you can go into a little bit about what is that process or what are the technologies that you would use to help manage a growing that business. So not so much the outreach? But once you've talked to somebody? How do you grow the, your database? And then how do you maintain that so that you make sure you're having regular conversations? And what kind of conversations would you want to have anyways?

Mike Brcic 20:51
Yeah, yeah. Well, I guess, you know, if you're just starting out totally brand new in this, and you know, let's say you've moved to a new town, and you don't know a lot of people and you're just starting out. And you want to build out your network. An obvious starting point is just, find out what are they? What are the events already happening, that are bringing together the types of people you want to connect with, right, and so if you're, if you're a programmer, you go to, you know, you go to pretty much any big city, and there's gonna be meetups of programmers and developers and stuff like that. And so you can go there. I always, you know, with, with going to events, it's very easy to kind of get caught up in a transactional kind of thing. And I've been to lots of events where it kind of feels like everybody I'm talking to, is sort of scanning the room to see, like, who they can mine for value type of thing. And that can be kind of off putting. And so when I'm going to an event, I try to really approach it from a perspective of curiosity, like I want to get to know the people in the room. And I want to be fully present to the people that I'm talking to. So I'm not looking over my shoulder to see who else can I talk to. So focus just on being really present with the people you're talking to, be curious, ask, you know, ask questions. I like to, you know, I like to ask interesting questions, rather than, like, what do you do or stuff that doesn't really, really lead to interesting, interesting conversations. So I might ask, if I meet somebody, you know, I might ask them what's exciting for you these days? Tell me, tell me what's got you excited? Or I might ask them, what's a, what's a challenge that you're stuck on these days? I really like, I find both of my, you know, the events that I host. And when I go to other events, storytelling is an amazing, his amazing point of connection between people, you know, we humans, we've been telling stories, you know, around fires for hundreds of 1000s of years. And so if I invite, you know, if I give somebody an invitation to tell a story, generally, they're going to take it. And if I show genuine curiosity, in them, they're going to, they're going to want to go a little bit deeper. And so I like, you know, I like inviting people to tell a story about childhood or tell an origin story. So if I'm at an entrepreneur event, I might ask somebody, you know, tell me how you got your start, as an entrepreneur, tell me how you started your company, right. And that's you sort of led, led off with that asking me about my first company, and that tends to open people up. And the other, the other thing, once you start meeting people, is you can host your own events, right. And that can be as simple as, like, having some people over for a barbecue. So, you know, if you go, if you go to, you know, a developer conference, and you meet 10 people, and get their email addresses or contact information, you could send an invite, hey, I'd say I'm having a barbecue. And, you know, we're, I'm inviting a bunch of developers over, and we'll just have some burgers, and maybe we'll talk shop or something like that. If you're a developer, that's a pretty appealing invitation, right? Like, have a few burgers and meet some of my peers. And it doesn't have to be, it doesn't have to be super costly. You could just tell people, you know, bring your own burger or whatever. But I've found tremendous value in just creating opportunities for people to connect if and just sort of scratching my own itch. Right and and that can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.

Botond Seres 24:10
I believe in the burger part. That's what I do for pretty much all my social events. I do find however that the bring your own burger strategy, rarely if ever works. But

Mike Brcic 24:23
I wouldn't recommend that unless you're like, really strapped for cash and, and you can't afford a box of burgers.

Botond Seres 24:29
But in general, it's great. More like, bring your own bottles. That's, that's usually with that. What about starting, starting up new connections and finding new people to connect with? You already mentioned like, if I'm a programmer, I can help with all these events. But as I said earlier, I do find that in my crowds, so what's left? What alternatives are there?

Mike Brcic 24:55
Well, I guess I guess it depends. I guess it depends on your intention for the connections you want, right? Are you looking to connect with your peers, because you want to learn from them? Are you looking to connect with people who might become customers, or you're looking to meet up with some potential friends, they all kind of lead to different strategies, right. And so if I'm, if I've, for instance, you know, if I'm, I've moved to a new city, and I don't know very many people, and I want, you know, I need I need some social connections. Or if I'm, you know, if I'm an introvert, and I'm, and I'm starting to realize, Hey, maybe I need to, like, get out a little bit more. You know, obviously, like starting with the things that you love your hobbies, if you love, wake surfing, you know, find fun, find out where wake surfers are hanging out. And there's undoubtedly events, you know, whether it's Facebook groups, or, or, you know, whatever. You it's harder if you're in a smaller town, of course, but if you're in a big enough city, there's going to be groups of just about anything, you know, like, you know, a bullfighters Association, in your, in your, in your city or something like that, like, there's just so many, so many groups and so many points of connection for people these days, you can, you can pick the most esoteric interest and thing and connect with people there. And just, you know, find your tribe. But again, like bringing it back to try not to look at it as it's as a relationship where you're taking, but rather, you're looking for relationships where you can give where you can create value for other people. And if you're approach, your relationship from that perspective, you will have more rewarding and richer relationships. And be you will probably get get more in the long run. And, you know, I love the I, I have this mentor Charles Eisenstein, he's a writer and philosopher, and I really loved his way of thinking about things. And he talks a lot about bringing the world back into the web of relationships. Because as we become more affluent, it's become easier and easier for us to just not rely on other people, and just buy everything we need, you know, we can just order order all of our food and all of our needs, right to our front door, we never have to, you know, even see another person. So we don't really rely on people except for this invisible web of things. And he talks about bringing, you know, bringing ourselves back into the web of relationships that we used to live in for 99.8% of our, our life. And one of the examples he gives that I love, he talks about his Amish friend. And in the typical Amish community, there's no such thing as home insurance, if your house burns down, you don't get a check from the insurance company, that community builds your house, in the premium payments you make on that insurance are all the times that you, you know, build houses for other people or fix somebody's deck or, you know, bake them a cake or whatever. And, and in a community like that, it's based on this web of relationships where people are all giving to each other. And, you know, not necessarily with an expectation of reward, or return. But that's how it just works. And, and so I think when you're starting, I think that's a good principle to keep in mind is looking for opportunities to give and create value and be of service to other people. And I'll just tell you one, one final story. When I, when I moved back to Toronto, from the Canadian Rockies, I'd moved from this beautiful picturesque mountain town, where I was mountain biking and skiing all the time, to back to the big city. And it's kind of a little bit scary. And a lot of the people that I knew here, when I left were now older and they had kids and they didn't have time for me. And it was, it was quite a lonely time that first year to one of the one of the and I became quite depressed. And one of the most powerful things I did was I started volunteering, and I started volunteering for an organization that did support for people with cancer and their caregivers. My father died of cancer when I was 16. So that was a really, really rewarding experience for me not only because the opportunity to give back, but also just the connections that I made. There, were like, really real and wonderful and raw. And, and I didn't approach that from any perspective other than I went, I have some time I want to give back. And it ended up being you know, for me, probably more rewarding than the other people. So

Dave Erickson 29:23
yeah, I find in business, it's very similar in working with people. I always try to find a way to help somebody, sometimes you can help in little ways. If you don't have a lot of resources, your time and your advice can help people. And I've just found that if I can help people either by connecting them to the right people, or helping them to figure out a solution to a problem, it always comes back someday later. And even if it doesn't, you at least feel good about yourself and the contribution that you have made, right?

Mike Brcic 29:56
It's a it's a, it's the ultimate happiness hack. And yeah, being of service and giving to others, it's just an amazing way to feel good about yourself and feel happier.

Botond Seres 30:07
Mike, I absolutely agree with you, like, one of the most important things in life is to, well, to give, not necessarily more than we take, but there's a good thing to aim for me, I believe so. What I do find difficult is actually taking from people or accepting their giving. I'm sure you've met many people with, with this issue. I mean, the thing is, whenever I give, I'm like, oh, yeah, this feels great. This is awesome, But whenever I'm offered some help, even emotional or financial, I just feel absolutely terrible. totally recommend to people like me, to, to work on this a bit?

Mike Brcic 30:56
Well, it's interesting, like, I've heard that, you know, I hear that all the time. I think part of it, it stems from this cult of individuality that we've that we've been forced fed in and brought into this idea of, you know, going it alone, the heroic individual battling, you know, battling the elements and battling the world alone, And yeah, and that's, that's unfortunate, because that is not how, you know, that is not how humans have lived. Up until very recently, if you tried to go along your diet, you know, you relied, you relied on your tribe of people around you to survive the elements to survive predators, whatever. And so for most of our history, we've relied on each other people. And it's only in the last few centuries, especially where we've kind of gotten into this idea of like, I have to go it alone. And, you know, one of my one of my missions is to, is to remove the notion that help is a four letter word. It is, of course, a four letter word, but not a pejorative one. And asking for help is how we humans have gotten by for, you know, hundreds of 1000s of years. And I guess what I would say to that, I can tell you a story that might illustrate my purpose. And what I would say to that is that asking for and receiving help, is actually a gift to the other person. And we just talked about, you know, how good it feels to be able to give and be of service. And so when we sort of deny that, or we energetically deny that, and we're not appreciative because of whatever psychological hammer hangups we have, we're denying the other person a gift. And so I'll tell you the story. About a month ago, a friend of mine reached out to me and just sent me a text message and said, hey, you know, I'm kind of wrestling with something, and, and not really sure what to do about it, do you have any time to get together and I'd text him back to the yeah, let's get together this afternoon, I have some free time. And we got together for a coffee. And it was, it was his professional challenge that he was kind of stuck on. And so and this is also maybe a little side note, I focus really just on listening to him and asking some questions rather than giving him outright advice. Because I tend to take the perspective that we already have our own sources of wisdom, we don't need other people to give us advice, because they don't, they don't necessarily know the full context. So my focus was just being there with him, listening intently, asking him some questions. And then afterwards, he felt like, he felt like he'd been able to kind of energetically move through a lot of the stuff and maybe have some clarity. And afterwards, I felt, I felt really great that he that he honored our friendship by reaching out to me in his time of need, and be that I was able to, you know, provide him with my presence, and maybe a few good questions, stuff like that. And so it was actually a really good gift to me. And, and, and I tried to, because I could tell that he was a little bit uneasy about asking for help as well. And so I told him afterwards, I said, Hey, listen, I really value that you reached out to me and I, that you value our friendship. And be I'm super grateful that I was able to, you know, give you some of my time. And so I just don't want you to feel like you're taking something from me, you're actually giving me something. And so I think that's a useful reframe, is that when we're asking for help, we are actually giving another person the opportunity to be of service. And that's, that generally feels good for most people. And you can of course, take that too far, where you're just like, being a burden on somebody and constantly, constantly dipping into the well and and taking, taking but in in just, you know, in the odd the odd opportunity, when we're asking, we're potentially creating a gift for the other person. That, That makes sense.

Botond Seres 34:44
That's, that's really a great perspective. Oh, absolutely. I mean, I got pretty emotional just, listening to your explanation, never, never even considered thinking about it this way. But yeah, I try to internalize that. That's, that's just such a unique way of looking at things. Like, just basically asking for help is, as you and I said, is typically considered a burden on the other person. And, truly, I never even considered that.

Dave Erickson 35:22
But there are many people. I mean, I love helping people I think is great. If I, hey, if I'm more useful than holding open the door for my daughter to walk through, then great, you know, so if I can help somebody, it feels good. And if I offer to give something or to help someone, and, you know, I, my wife is of a different culture. And they're, you know, part of their culture, as well as you're giving a gift to make a show of no oh, please don't, you know, and that gets a little awkward and hard, right. And there, but there, you just have to assume that the people that are offering you help are actively trying to to assist you or provide help, they enjoy it, they get, a they realize the benefit they get from helping, and they enjoy doing it. So why not let them write it, they wouldn't offer it unless they truly wanted to.

Mike Brcic 36:20
And then and then when they do offer theirs it's just being gracious and accepting that and being appreciative and thanking them for it. You know, that kind of thing of like, oh, no, no, you shouldn't have and, and no, I can't accept it. I mean, it's, you know, somebody is giving to you from their heart. And then when you're sort of saying, no, no, no, no, it's, it's, it's, it's kind of a bit of an insult, right. And, you know, I get that certain cultures develop that way. But I think it's important to accept gifts and with grace.

Dave Erickson 36:51
you know, we've kind of talked about how do you kind of start building a network? How do you make connections? What are the things that are important in building relationships? Maybe we can get in a little bit, you know, about the technical side, you know, I build a lot of relationships each week. If I have an issue, it's that I don't have enough time or enough bandwidth to just keep maintaining those relationships. It's an ever expanding kind of network. Right? So part of that is, what are some of the hacks and tips and tricks to kind of making sure you stay in contact with everybody? What are, what are some of the tools you use? You must have a fairly large network, how do you make sure you're staying in contact and, you know, being available to people and helping people and that type of thing?

Mike Brcic 37:44
Well, I guess there's two things. One is strategies and the other, the other is its tools and technology and stuff like that. And so maybe I'll come at the strategy, part of it first, I already sort of touched on that is like actually blocking off time in your calendar, right. And I find, I find it's best to try and batch this type of stuff. And so that, you know, if I'm, I have time blocked off two days a week for calls, Zoom calls with people because they're not in my town, and I can't meet up with them, personally. And so you know, on Tuesdays, I'll have four or five back to back calls with people, it's kind of hard to go back and forth between having a call, and then doing some other work, and then back to a call. And so batching, that stuff is important. The, the other, the other part of it is the technology. So I use, I use Air Table. It's, it does function as a CRM tool. It's not the greatest CRM tool, but I use it because I use it for a whole bunch of other stuff for which it's amazing. And so rather than using Air Table plus a separate CRM, I just use air table as my CRM. So CRM stands for customer relationship management, or you could say connection, relationship management. And so there, you know, there are better CRM tools for just maintaining connections. But basically, I have a database, Air Table, all the people that I want to stay connected with. And then sometimes I'll, you know, I will rate the strength of the relationship, and which also informs how much do I want to invest in that relationship, I'm not going to invest the same into every relationship, right? And so my closest friends or my best customers, I'm going to invest more time into them than some, you know, somebody else who I don't have the same level of relationship with. I will also track, when is the last time that we connected so I have a field for that. I also will track there's another field for what was our last connection. Was it a phone call? Was it a zoom call? Was it a coffee? Was it a lunch, was it a dinner, that kind of stuff. And, and then that informs you know, when am I going to reach out to them again, and And so this is all, this is all now managed by my assistant and she, she reaches out to you know, when enough time has elapsed since I've seen somebody, she'll reach out to them and say, Hey, Mike would love to connect with you. And, you know, and the follow up to that as that can, that can seem a little bit like, oh look as big for they're so big for their britches, they don't have time to, you know, email me to forget together, they're pinning it up to their assistant. But I make it very clear to those people that I want to invest my time in the connection, not the administration of the connection, right. And it just gives me more time to be fully present with them. And so that's kind of the technology. And obviously, you know, I think a tool like a calendar scheduling tool like Calendly, I use Mix Max, because it combines email and calendar functionality. But a tool like that is kind of a given, right, you don't want to be emailing back and forth to find the time and and a date, just like here's a link to my calendar, book a time. So for me, I have time and my calendar set up for calls. Tuesday, Thursday mornings are my coffee time, so people can book a slot on Tuesday or Thursday morning to have a coffee with me. And then Tuesday and Thursday, Thursday are also my lunch, my lunch meeting, so if somebody wants to book a lunch with me, and, and so that, you know that that pretty much manages most of it. The other I guess, piece of technology is, is just plain old phone and text messaging. So I will often, you know, when I have a bit of time, like this morning, I was in, walking the dog in the park, and a couple, of couple of my friends came to mind and I just sent them a quick little voice message and say, Hey, I'm thinking of you. I appreciate you, appreciate our friendship. And you know, the important thing is to be genuine about this, you don't want to just be doing this as an exercise. I genuinely appreciate that, you know, the people that I reached out to this morning, and I was also very specific about the things that I do appreciate them and about our friendship. And so that's a pretty, you know, these days are pretty common and low tech technology, it's just sending people text messages and voice messages to tell them you appreciate them, which, A feels really good on the receiving end, but also feels really good on the sender end. Because, you know, it's, it's, it's sort of creating a culture of gratitude in your life and reminding yourself, you know, why you're grateful for these things. And then the final thing I would say about that is like, don't get too over reliant on technology. You know, one of the one of my favorite things to do is just to do walking phone calls with people, or just put on my headphones, I'll go for a walk, and I'll invite them to do the same. And, you know, we don't have zoom or any other complicated software, it's just a phone call. And, you know, and meeting over coffee is not a technology, it's just two people talking as well. So those are a few things I would say. And it's, you know, for, for me, it's not, it's not a huge amount, it's probably between the lunches and the coffees and the calls, it's probably about seven hours of my week, which I guess is a fair bit. But it is probably the most valuable thing I do as a, as a business owner is maintaining and nurturing those connections. And the other thing too, is if you're, you know, if you're relying on referrals, when you're constantly meeting with people and staying top of mind, then they are probably on the look, you know, when they see somebody that might make a good referral and you just had coffee with them the day before, you're top of mind. And they're like, oh, you should talk to Mike, you know. So it's a valuable business strategy, as well as just personally fulfilling?

Dave Erickson 43:31
Do you have any tips? Like, if you're, you know, you haven't talked to somebody in six months or a year and you're just reaching out to them to say, Hi, what are some of the topics or the things that you look to try to discuss with them to keep that relationship strong, or to build it even stronger?

Mike Brcic 43:53
Well, I touched on this earlier, I was talking about like, interesting conversation starters, like at an event, but that can also go like if you're reaching out to somebody that you haven't connected with in a while, you know, the two questions I should touch on, like, what's exciting for you these days. And people generally have, you know, even if their life is really challenging, or whatever, they probably have something that they're excited about or something that they're working on, or are striving towards, or you get asked like, you know, what's up with a big dream you're working towards or something like that, that tends to open up some pretty good responses, and it's a good starting point. And then the other one is, you know, what's the challenge that you're, you're dealing with or something you're stuck on? And people can, people can kind of take that, you know, at whatever depth they feel comfortable. Because most people I find, at least through my events, most people are dealing with, you know, at least one pretty significant challenge in their life. And sometimes that, a question like that can open up a really heartfelt deep response, which then invites a really potentially deep conversation and a very connected conversation or maybe they're not comfortable going there, and they'll talk about something else. But it's usually a pretty good starting point for a connection. And so, you know, if you wanted to kind of reopen, reopen a communication with somebody you haven't connected with in a while, you could ask, just send them an email and ask them, Hey, you can just say, Hey, I was thinking about you. Just wondering how you're doing, wondering what's exciting for you these days. And that might be a great starting point. And you can take it wherever you want from there. And if they respond and take your invitation, you could say, hey, this sounds really cool. I'd love it. Let's hop on a call and discuss this further, you know, whatever you want with that.

Botond Seres 45:39
I think if you're Alright, with that, we could move on to strengthening those connections or how we can strengthen those connections. Because we have discussed that building network, as requires both giving and receiving support? And how should we find the balance between giving and seeking help?

Mike Brcic 46:03
Yeah, great question. I guess one thing I would, I would say, prior to that is, I would encourage people to go deep before they go wide. So rather than trying to, you know, manage 200 different connections, and you're not really doing a very good job of any of them, and you're not responding to emails for a couple of days, or somebody sends you a voice message, and you don't get back to it for three days, because you're overwhelmed. Just focus on you know, a handful of people and like really nurturing those connections before you start going wide. And, you know, I, like I said, there are a few connections in my life that I try to go very deep, and try to continually nurture those, and then others that I won't invest as much time in. But you know, that, that balance of giving, and taking my personal perspective on that is just, I focus on the giving part, and trying to identify opportunities for me to create value in other people's lives and then I know that, just by the way, that humans work that they're going to, if they receive value from what I've given them, they're going to want to, you know, identify opportunities to give value in return to me whether asked for it or not. And that's not, you know, it's not a hard and fast rule for every single person, but I found it to be pretty widely, you know, widely repeated. It's an experiment that's been repeated many times, let's, let's say, so I tend to focus on giving first, and, you know, and for me, I find, because I've now got a pretty extensive network, one of the easiest ways for me to give is to connect people. And so sometimes I will ask people, you know, for dealing with a particular challenge, or whatever, I will ask them, hey, what's, you know, there any type of person, or connection that you think would be valuable in helping you solve this problem. And that's very easy. It's, you know, if, if I know the right person to connect them with, that's a few minutes of my time, but that could like, unlock a whole world of possibility for that person. And, and, I'll just do a little side note on that. Just in terms of introductions. I'm a big fan of the so-called double opt in introduction. And so, you know, Botond if I, what if you didn't know Dave, and I thought you should meet Dave, rather than sending you an email saying, hey, Botond, and Dave, you guys should meet each other. I'm kind of putting the work in your court. And you may or may not want to pursue that, but then you feel this pressure. And so I would then reach out to Dave and say, Hey, Dave, there's this guy Botond that I think you should chat with, I think it'd be, you know, you could offer him something valuable. Are you interested in the introduction, and then they've had the option to, you know, opt in or out, rather than just make the introduction, Dave almost has no choice. Unless he's okay with, you know, being seen as rude. Right. So, again,

Botond Seres 49:02
those can get awkward I think.

Mike Brcic 49:06
Yeah, yeah. And so again, my focus is on on, on the giving part. And, but also, you know, as we've chatted about, like, if you really need help, you know, ask for it, and ask for it when you need it. But if, you know, if you focus, as I have on creating value and giving, I feel that I have, I now have a very rich network of people to whom I've given to whom I've created value people that I can turn to, if I really need it, because I put that focus on on the giving. And, and undoubtedly, it will come back to you. Maybe not in the ways that you think it will and not directly or financially or whatever, but it will come back to you when you invest in those relationships. And it'll just feel really good in the process, and sometimes the giving is just, hey, let's you know, let's hang out and have a beer or something like that. Maybe that's just what they need right now. And that is The act of giving to somebody else is just to spend time with them.

Dave Erickson 50:03
Yeah, I didn't know it was called double opt in. I just naturally kind of do that. So yeah. Interesting. And I've noticed, you know, some of the there's a lot of automation for outreach. The biggest issue I have with it is, it's pretty obvious that the outreach is really I want to talk to you about business, right? I'm outreaching, for you to connect, so we can talk about our business. But sometimes I feel like okay, well, why is this person acting like he's a friend of mine, or a knowledgeable person, but then he's just saying, I just want to talk business? Aren't there other things to talk about? Right. So some of that automation can be done.

Mike Brcic 50:46
LinkedIn, LinkedIn is the worst. LinkedIn is the worst for that.

Dave Erickson 50:50
Yeah, LinkedIn, is it a curse or a blessing? I still try to figure that out. Right.

Mike Brcic 50:58
my LinkedIn inbox is definitely a career.

Botond Seres 51:01
Have you ever heard anything positive come out of LinkedIn?

Dave Erickson 51:06
I mean, I use LinkedIn. You know, for some, some people like using it, like some of my, the podcast that we do, I set it up completely on LinkedIn. Right. But other people just don't want to do it. I'm, I mean, I have like, I don't know, 6000 connections or something like that. I mean, my, my LinkedIn is just one long daily spam, right? I'm just getting spammed by everyone. It's hard to even see if somebody's interesting, or somebody who really wants to connect with me, or somebody I actually know is like, okay, trying to communicate with me, it's sometimes hard. It's bad enough on email, when I'm getting 200-300 emails a day. I don't know. Is there any tool that helps make LinkedIn usable?

Mike Brcic 51:53
Yeah, I don't know. ignore your inbox?

Dave Erickson 51:56
Well, I mean, organizing personal events, I've always liked going to small networking events. That's always been the way I've kind of built relationships. Sometimes, I did a lot of trade shows for many years, you know, every month or every other month going to a large trade show. And I build relationships that way. But I have found that it's easier, like you said, to kind of slow down a little bit and focus on, "How am I building quality relationships?" You know, things like this podcast, I've actually built some pretty decent relationships out of just podcast guests, because we actually get to know each other, because we're having an hour or so to talk about things. But also, all kinds of other ways that I've been meeting people. And you know, this, this philosophy is, spend some time to get to know the person, forget about the business side of it, just find out who they are as a person, and how can you help them? And, you know, what can you learn from them? That seems to be the best philosophy for, for at least on my side?

Mike Brcic 52:58
100%, 100 %percent. Yeah. And those will undoubtedly lead to much better business connections, when you're, when you're connecting as humans rather than, you know, transactions. Right. And too many people I think, look at relationships, yeah, transaction rather than an opportunity to connect.

Dave Erickson 53:18
Yeah, I mean, I'll admit, when I was doing a lot of sales in the gaming industry, I literally, that I was meeting so many people, everything was transactional, I only had one goal, which was okay to make a business transaction. And I think that that dehumanizes not just the people that you're meeting, but also yourself. And after a while, I found it very unsatisfying, right? Even when I was hitting my goals, and doing what I needed to do. I find that trying to, you know, if the goal of the relationship is to sell something, it's not a very meaningful relationship to begin with.

Mike Brcic 54:04
Like, if you're a sales rep or something like that, think about the difference between you going into that transaction, or that or that meeting, or whatever, whatever you're doing, with a goal of selling something, versus going into that meeting, conversation, whatever, with a goal of understanding that person, who they are, what keeps them up at night, what are their hopes and dreams, stuff like that, you know, maybe you only have 15 minutes, and you can't cover all of that, but that person, like one of our core needs as humans is to feel seen and heard. And a lot of us don't get that on a very regular basis. And if you give somebody an opportunity to feel seen and heard, they're probably going to, they're probably going to look at that relationship in a very different light than if you're just trying to sell them something. Probably in the end, they will trust you more, you're more likely to make the sale maybe, maybe because you're actually focused on their interests and their problems or whatever and maybe you have some opportunities to create value, they might become a lifetime customer because of your, you know, your focus on them as a human being rather than a transaction. So just a different way of thinking about it.

Botond Seres 55:13
Mike your opinion, what is the future of networking?

Mike Brcic 55:19
Yeah, that's an interesting one. You know, obviously, these days, AI is very much on people's minds. And particularly, you know, people focusing on doomsday scenarios, and it's going to kill all these jobs, or it's going to kill, kill us all. And um, I feel very blessed to be in the industry and have the type of company I have that is focused on building deep genuine connections between people, because I know that that's not something AI can replicate. And I think, you know, people will develop relationships with their AI assistants, much like that movie, Her. But it's, it's a poor substitute for really genuine human to human connection. There's all kinds of studies and data that show that you know, what, the neurochemical release that happens between two people who are deeply bonded, that doesn't happen online, or it doesn't happen, you know, in a relationship with a chatbot, for instance. And, and I think, as we go further and further down this technology path, that those human connections are going to be more and more valuable to people, because they'll become, you know, we're getting, we're getting sucked further into the technology matrix, where, you know, my big struggle these days is trying to keep my teens of, of apps and social media and author devices, because I can see the detrimental effect that has on their health. And, and so it's really just about trying to mitigate that and manage that. Because the more they get sucked in the, the more they have this sense that something is lacking in life, and then they think they can solve it by spending more time on social media or whatever. And so human connection, I think, is going to become more and more important. And I think the people and the companies and organizations that can provide that, that can provide opportunities. And I can tell you for you know, for myself, and especially as we're, you know, coming out of COVID, in this period of disconnection, people are starved for human connection more, more than ever. And if you can provide that to them, they will, you know, they will come to the well, and they will drink deeply of it. And I think, and so many of my peers in the event industry, are now approaching their events very differently, where they are putting the focus on, on human connection, and they're realizing the old model of like information, information information isn't really that valuable to people, because, you know, you get some guy on the stage and he's giving the same talk that you can just watch on his YouTube channel, that's not that valuable. But if I have the opportunity to connect with one of my peers or connect with that guy, you know, who's normally on stage. That's hugely valuable to me. And so I think that the future of networking is more and more people, putting intentionality between helping people forge deep, meaningful connections, just because, you know, from a strictly market standpoint, there's a huge demand. And whenever there's a huge demand, you know, supply will eventually come in. And so I look forward to seeing that.

Dave Erickson 58:21
Mike, thank you so much for helping us explore building personal business networks. Well, that's about all the time we have for this episode today. But before you go, dear audience, you might want to consider this important question.

Botond Seres 58:34
How are you going to get your personal network to be beneficial to everyone in your network?

Dave Erickson 58:40
For our listeners, please subscribe and click the notifications to join us for our next ScreamingBox technology and business rundown podcast. Until then, meet someone new and grow your network.

Dave Erickson 58:53
Thank you very much for taking this journey with us. Join us for our next exciting exploration of technology and business in the first week of every month. Please help us by subscribing, liking and following us on whichever platform you're listening to or watching us on. We hope you enjoyed this podcast and please let us know any subjects or topics you would like us to discuss in our next podcast by leaving a message for us in the comment sections or sending us a Twitter DM till next month. Please stay happy and healthy.


Building and maintaining valuable personal networks for business growth. (0:03)
Dave Erickson and Mike Beerick explore how to build a valuable personal network for business growth.

Starting a business based on a passion for mountain biking. (2:02)
Speaker 2 started a mountain biking guide business after being fired from multiple jobs, which eventually grew into a global company with 50+ employees and 45 countries.
Speaker 2 and Dave Erickson both shared their passion for mountain biking, but found that turning it into a business can make it feel like work instead of play.

Entrepreneurship, connection, and personal growth. (5:06)
Speaker 2 reflects on their entrepreneurial journey, from feeling unfulfilled in their existing business to creating a new event-based company focused on connection and personal growth.
Speaker 2 shares their experience of selling their mountain biking company and transitioning to focusing on their new venture, Wayfinders, while also managing the sale of their previous company.
Mike values personal connections over large-scale events, preferring smaller groups of 25-30 people to foster deeper relationships.
Mike hosts events in remote locations around the world, such as the jungles of Uganda, to create an immersive and intimate experience for attendees.

Creating unique adventure retreats for entrepreneurs. (10:06)
Speaker 2 creates immersive experiences for participants to gain new perspectives and deep connections through activities such as meditation, group exercises, and living with nomadic families.
Speaker 2 plans to take participants on a 10-day trip to Mongolia, where they will accompany a nomad family on their fall migration and learn about nomadic life, horse riding, and eagle hunting.
Speaker 2 emphasizes the importance of creating an amazing product or service as the best marketing strategy.
Speaker 2 shares insights on building deep relationships with entrepreneurs, including investing in a killer product and creating events that deliver value.

Prioritizing relationships for personal and professional growth. (15:33)
Speaker emphasizes the importance of prioritizing relationships, recognizing their value and investing time in them to create meaningful connections.
Speaker schedules time in their calendar for connecting with others, prioritizing relationships and creating value for others.
Speaker 2 emphasizes the importance of nurturing existing relationships (80-90%) over creating new ones (10-20%) for personal and professional growth.
Speaker 2 uses a database to manage their relationships, scheduling regular meetings and maintaining connections through follow-up conversations.

Networking strategies for introverts and connecting with peers. (21:22)
Speaker 2 emphasizes the importance of being present and curious at events, rather than just scanning the room for potential connections.
Speaker 2 suggests asking open-ended questions to encourage storytelling and build deeper connections with others.
Speaker 2 suggests creating opportunities for people to connect, such as hosting a barbecue or inviting peers to a social event, to build new connections and learn from others.
Speaker 2 and Botond Seres discuss alternative strategies for connecting with others, such as starting with shared interests or hobbies, to find potential friends or customers.

The benefits of giving and connecting with others. (25:42)
Speaker 2 discusses the importance of building relationships based on giving rather than taking, and how this approach can lead to more rewarding and richer connections.
Speaker 2's mentor Charles Eisenstein emphasizes the need to bring ourselves back into the web of relationships, rather than relying solely on technology and consumerism.
Speaker 2 shares their experience of volunteering for an organization supporting people with cancer and their caregivers, finding it to be a rewarding experience for both themselves and the people they helped.
Dave Erickson and Speaker 2 agree that helping others is a key happiness hack, and that giving to others can lead to a sense of fulfillment and well-being.

The value of asking for help and receiving it as a gift. (30:19)
Botond Seres struggles with accepting help or giving, feeling guilty or unworthy despite feeling good when giving.
Speaker 2 argues that asking for and receiving help is a gift to both parties, and denying this can deprive others of a positive experience.
Speaker 2 shared a personal experience of being asked for help and realized that it's a gift to the other person, not a burden.
Speaker 2 emphasized the importance of valuing the other person's time and energy when asking for help.

Building relationships and maintaining connections. (35:22)
Dave Erickson values helping others and appreciates when people offer assistance, suggesting graceful acceptance and thanking the giver.
Erickson discusses tips for maintaining a large network, including using tools to stay in touch and prioritizing relationships based on importance.
Strategizes time blocking for calls and uses Airtable as CRM for connections.

Maintaining business connections using technology and personal touches. (39:39)
Speaker uses technology to manage connections with friends and acquaintances, including a calendar scheduling tool and regular phone and text messaging.
Speaker prioritizes being genuine and specific in their communication, appreciating the people they reach out to and being clear about what they value in their friendship.
Maintaining connections with clients and peers through regular check-ins and personalized gestures is crucial for business success and personal fulfillment.

Building and maintaining connections. (43:32)
Dave Erickson: Asking someone about their exciting current projects or dreams can lead to a deeper connection.
Speaker 2: Asking about challenges or dreams can open up heartfelt responses and invite a connected conversation.
Focus on nurturing a select few connections before expanding your network.
Speaker 2 emphasizes the importance of creating value and giving to others, as it leads to a rich network of people who can help in times of need.
Speaker 2 advocates for the "double opt-in" introduction method, where the initiator provides an opportunity for the recipient to opt in or out of an introduction, rather than simply making the introduction.

Networking strategies and the future of relationships. (50:03)
Dave Erickson finds LinkedIn to be a mixed bag, with both useful and frustrating aspects.
He prioritizes building quality relationships by spending time getting to know people personally, rather than solely focusing on business outcomes.
Speaker 2 emphasizes the importance of connecting with people on a human level, rather than just focusing on transactions.
The future of networking may involve AI assistants, but genuine connections between people cannot be replicated by technology.
Speaker 2 emphasizes the importance of human connection in a technology-driven world, where people are starved for meaningful interactions.
The future of networking involves creating opportunities for people to forge deep, personal connections, rather than just sharing information.

connections, relationships, events, business, mountain biking, days, network, invest, create, technology

Creators and Guests

Botond Seres
Botond Seres
ScreamingBox developer extraordinaire.
Dave Erickson
Dave Erickson
Dave Erickson has 30 years of very diverse business experience covering marketing, sales, branding, licensing, publishing, software development, contract electronics manufacturing, PR, social media, advertising, SEO, SEM, and international business. A serial entrepreneur, he has started and owned businesses in the USA and Europe, as well as doing extensive business in Asia, and even finding time to serve on the board of directors for the Association of Internet Professionals. Prior to ScreamingBox, he was a primary partner in building the Fatal1ty gaming brand and licensing program; and ran an internet marketing company he founded in 2002, whose clients include Gunthy-Ranker, Qualcomm, Goldline, and Tigertext.
How building and maintaining larger personal networks can create $MILLION dollar businesses
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