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Did You Meet Someone Useful? Here's How to Make the Most of It

"Luck is when preparation and opportunity are followed by action.​"

When you meet someone who can help you, how do you make the most of it?

I want to tell you the story of someone who did it perfectly — with me. And his business grew as a result.

Now let me be clear: I don’t think of myself as some super-special guy. I don’t make miracles. I don’t anoint kings and queens. And I do not need to be pleased or sucked up to. But I do have a high-profile job in media, which means I can give people something they value — and that’s why, dozens of times a day, people contact me asking to be written about in Entrepreneur, or for an introduction to someone, or for some other kind of value.

As a result, I see what it’s like being on the receiving end of people’s wants.

It’s not always pleasant.

But still, this is an important thing to discuss! Because let’s be honest: Although we talk a lot about the value of relationships, and how we should value honest connections over transactions, it is also true that people can be valuable resources. They have things you want.

So how can you approach them wisely?

That’s why I want to tell you this story.

It’s about a guy named Terry Rice, who happened to recognize me at a kids’ gymnastics class, and who has since built a strong relationship with Entrepreneur.

In his recent newsletter, he explained how he thoughtfully approached the relationship. It’s smart and full of takeaways for anyone.

I asked him if I could reprint it, and he said yes. So here’s Terry...

From Terry's newsletter:

The first episode of my podcast, Launch Your Business, was released today.

Did You Meet Someone Useful? Here's How to Make the Most of It

And while I’d obviously appreciate your support — by listening and leaving a review — I’m hoping the story behind how I landed a partnership with Entrepreneur magazine will lead to radical growth with your business as well.

So, how did this all happen?

It all started four years ago when I took my then two year old daughter, Lena, to a free gymnastics class here in Brooklyn. This was about two months after I decided to stop working on weekends because she was getting old enough to miss me while I was gone.

Upon walking into the gym I immediately recognized one of the other parents. It was Jason Feifer, editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine. I was following him on social media for the past several months and listened to his podcast, Problem Solvers, every week so I couldn’t believe he was right there in front of me.

I knew I had to find an excuse to say something to him but as I recall, he was deep in conversation with his wife about where to celebrate his birthday. Which, as luck would have it, was that same day.

How do you interrupt a guy while he’s making birthday plans on his birthday?​​

I didn’t have an angle or anything funny to say. I just waited for them to take a break from planning and I said five words.

“Hey, I like your podcast.”

Jason is extremely kind and genuinely appreciates feedback so those five words kicked off a lengthy conversation. That conversation eventually led to us meeting up for coffee.

And while we were chatting — I remember I was speaking rather quickly due to nerves and way too much caffeine — he mentioned a new platform Entrepreneur Media was launching.​

In short, you could book experts to give you advice. After meeting with him I took a look at the platform and sent over a video offering tips on how they could make more money.​

That video then led to me meeting the executive team at Entrepreneur Media. They appreciated the input I provided and wanted my help with other business development related tasks.

I’ll spare you the additional details and fast forward to today, but that’s how it all happened.

Here’s the problem though. For years I felt like an impostor because it seemed like the only reason I landed this partnership is because I got lucky while taking my daughter to gymnastics class.

I also felt like it was impossible for me to help others get the same break, unless of course they had a toddler to drag around until they finally made the right connections.

I got lucky. How could I teach others how to do the same thing?

Eventually it hit me. Luck is when preparation and opportunity are followed by action.​

Preparation: I followed Jason and listened to his podcast​

Opportunity: I happened to meet him in person

Action: I provided free information that would benefit Entrepreneur Media

How can you repeat this process?​

Preparation: Make a list of people you would like to form a relationship with. Then follow them on social media, sign up for their newsletter and attend their online events.

Opportunity: Seek opportunities to make a connection. This could be as simple as writing a recap of a podcast episode they appeared on and tagging them in the post. Keep doing this until you get noticed by way of them commenting on your post or even sharing it with their audience.

Action: Find a way to provide value in exchange for their attention. Don’t just say “Is there anything I can help you with?” Be specific. Based on what you know about them, and your skills, how can you provide value? It could be as simple as creating a video that provides detailed feedback on something they’ve recently said or published.

I won’t go so far as to say you make your own luck, but you can put yourself in a position for serendipity to occur, and then follow that brief connection up with deliberate action.

Now back to me:

It's funny — I only remember part of that story.

I don't remember talking about my birthday. I do remember that Terry recognized me, which I was flattered by. And I remember one other thing that he isn't aware of, but that actually set everything in motion.

Here it is:

A few days after I met with Terry, I was in a meeting at Entrepreneur. We were planning that new platform he mentioned, and were talking about how we needed some outside help with a few projects. Terry was fresh in my mind because we'd just talked, and his skillset matched what we needed.

So I piped up. "I just met this interesting guy Terry Rice," I said, and then explained his background.

Everyone in the room thought he sounded promising. This would be a win for Terry, but let's not forget — it was a win for me too! Like anyone, I want to be useful to my team. I want to have ideas and connections that move us forward. So when I recommended Terry, I felt like I'd contributed something.

Terry provided me value. And in turn, he got value too.

That's how it works. Some of it is luck, yes, but Terry's right — luck is worth nothing unless you're prepared to maximize it.

That's how to make the most of the people you meet.

How to Solve Your "99% There" Problem

Did You Meet Someone Useful? Here's How to Make the Most of It

Want a first look at what's inside my new book? An excerpt ran in the new Entrepreneur, which you can read here! This chapter is about why change can be so hard — and how to solve it by shifting just 1% of what you're doing.

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Cover credit: Getty Images / Kelvin Murray