How To Wake Up Earlier + Design Your Perfect Day (Even If You’re Not A Morning Person)

I recently had a real heart-to-heart with one of my closest friends.

I set big goals for the year and I’m not on track for them…. He knows it and he knows how much I want it so he called me out on my shit because that’s what a great friend does.

If you have a bunch of people around you who never call you out when you’re slacking, those aren’t your friends… and if you get defensive when people call you out when you KNOW that you’ve been slacking, you don’t want to achieve your goals as much as you say you do.

That conversation lit a fire under me.

Not just because I realized I was slacking but because he reminded me how much he counted on me to achieve MY goals so that he could achieve HIS goals.

That’s how accountability works… We all succeed together.

That’s coopertition for you (coopertition is competitive cooperation — we are super supportive of each other and it’s still a competition for who’s going to be the best) or the popular term all over the internet is community over competition.

As I was falling asleep last night, I gave myself a hype talk…

It was sort of like Mufasa talking to Simba from the sky in the Lion King (don’t judge me).

I reminded myself that we don’t adjust our goals, we adjust our activities… That means I needed to 10x everything that I’m doing

The year is flying by… and waiting till Q3 isn’t going to get us to achieve our goals.

During that self hype-talk, I remembered someone telling me sometime, somewhere (yea seriously, I don’t even remember who told me this but it’s great advice)…

 

If you want to do more in a day, wake up earlier.

If you want to do more in a day, wake up earlier. Click To Tweet

How simple is that?!

I find the BEST advice is the simplest advice.

Think about it…

If you stay up till 5 in the morning, you’re probably not going to do anything productive (my mom used to say nothing good happens after midnight and the older I get, the more I realize she was right — even if you’re working, you’re probably not at your full energy)…

… But if you actually get up at 5am and actually get up, you’ll likely be way more productive.

The BEST advice is the simplest advice. Click To Tweet

Back when I was in a relationship, my ex and I committed to getting up at 4:30am every day so that we could workout, read in the morning and get to the gym by 7:30.

If you were to ask him, he’ll tell you how much I hated it and complained every day… But it really was a blessing.

Have you ever stepped outside at 4am?

It’s amazing.

The universe has secrets to tell you that it doesn’t want anyone else to hear and it feels like you’re privileged enough to have a private conversation with whatever spiritual being or metaphysical energy that you believe in.

The universe has secrets to tell you, you just have to wake up early enough to hear them. Click To Tweet

So after my pep talk, I was pumped to get up at 4am this morning.

… And if you’re in our Facebook group, you know about my struggle this morning… I did NOT want to get up.

I literally had to negotiate with my mind… but NOT getting up wasn’t an option, and so I did.

Once I was actually up and washed my face, I was ready for my morning and it was an awesome day.

 

My perfect morning goes like this:

4:00am – Brush my teeth, wash my face and stretch for a few minutes

4:30am – Write (this is my time to write these newsletters, blog for both my real estate business and Millennial Empire Builders, putting together courses for the Empire Builder Academy, scheduling my social media posts, creating email challenges and all of the other content that I annoy you with 😉 )

6:00am – Go to the gym

7:00am – Get ready, eat breakfast and have a dance party (because we all could use more dance parties at 8:30 in the morning)

8:30am – Brain dump before I start my day

We could all use more dance parties in the morning. Click To Tweet

And let’s get this straight… I am NOT a morning person.

Actually, now that I think about it… I’m not a night owl either.

I’m a sleep person.

In order to maintain my energy, I need 8.5-9 hours of sleep, however I have to get it… That’s just how my body works.

So go ahead and ask me how often I do my perfect morning routine….

HAH!

I wish I could say it was every day… But it’s not.

It’s a work in progress but the days that I do stick to that schedule, my days are INFINITELY more productive, I eat better and feel so much more accomplished after.

So here are a few of my favorite ways to get up earlier…

 

STOP TELLING YOURSELF YOU’RE NOT A MORNING PERSON.

Your thoughts become things…

If you keep telling yourself that you’re not a morning person, that thought is so embedded into your brain that your subconscious believes its true.

Being a “morning person” is just a habit that has to be built like going to the gym.

We have 90,000 thoughts in a day and a huge percentage of them are the same thoughts we had yesterday.

The more that you tell yourself that you’re not a morning person, the more you convince yourself that you’re not. Our thought patterns control who we are, the decisions we make and how we feel.

 

WAKING UP EARLIER STARTS THE NIGHT BEFORE

If you wake up in the morning after a night of terrible sleep, can’t find anything and are rushing, there’s a 100% chance that you aren’t going to have a powerful start to your day.

I would even argue that your morning starts the second that you get home.

The perfect morning starts the night before. Click To Tweet

Think about it this way — if you get home, throw your stuff down and plop down in front of the TV… Then it’s 6 hours later, you’ve barely eaten anything, have watched more TV than you planned to and realize it’s past your bedtime but you still have stuff to do…

So you end up staying up later to do whatever it was that you were supposed to do earlier.

Instead of “taking 10 minutes to rest” when you walk in the door, stick it out a little longer and have a ‘come home from work’ routine.

Where do you put your keys?

Make dinner.

Put your stuff away and prepare for tomorrow.

Make sure you give yourself a bed time and 30-60 minutes away from social media and TV to wind down before bed.

Once you’ve done that, you can hang out for a few hours with some peace of mind and don’t have to worry about those lingering annoyances of still having stuff to do before bed.

In the workbook that I put together for this post, you’ll identify your potential distractions, lay out your perfect day and even get your priorities in order… and you can download it right here, for free:

 

WAKE UP EARLIER THAN USUAL — IN 15 MINUTE INCREMENTS

Do not… I repeat, do not go waking up from 7am to then deciding to get up at 4. It’s not going to work.

Do not go waking up from 7am to then deciding to get up at 4. It's not going to work. Click To Tweet

We get super excited about the potential of achieving our goal so we go from waking up at 8am to now waking up at 5am… and then our body is like what the hell are you doing to me?!

As a result, it only sticks for a few days because your body hasn’t had time to adjust.

Instead, actually get up at the time you’re supposed to for a week.

If you keep setting your alarm at 7am because you know that you need to get up at 8am, stop it…. Force yourself to get up the first time.

Your body won’t like it at first but it’ll get easier.
By doing this, you’ll retrain your body to get up at that time and you’ll start to get tired around your bed time which will make falling asleep easier.

This could take a few weeks to get used to.

Once you’re used to hopping out of bed to brush your teeth and wash your face and have done that for a week or two, set your alarm 15 minutes earlier.

Do that for a week… and keep doing that until you get to your desired wakeup time.

That way your body will have time to adjust.

Which leads me to my next point…

 

HAVE A MORNING ROUTINE

First things first, get up, fix your bed (it’s harder to get back into a fixed bed once you’re up) and brush your teeth and wash your face.

You are not ‘you’ when you’re laying in your bed… The inner stubborn, temper tantrum five year old inside of you is in control and usually gets his or her way when it comes to hitting the snooze button.

You are not 'you' when you're laying in your bed in the morning. Click To Tweet

Once you’re up and wash your face, you’re up… So hop out of bed and wash your face.

While you’re doing that go listen to something positive – this is so easy… Go on YouTube and search motivation, go to iTunes and subscribe to a few podcasts or download the TED app.

There’s a million different videos and podcasts to get you ready for your day.

If you’re really in need of a schedule for your mornings, I highly recommend that you pick up the book The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. Here’s my improvised version of the routine outlined in the book:

  • Do a quick meditation (even if it’s just a minute or two to visualize your perfect day and give yourself a little pep talk)
  • Get moving — go do a workout… It’ll make you eat healthier, have more energy throughout your day and you will already have more time to yourself than most people take in a week.
  • Learn something new — whether that’s reading 10 pages (if you do this, you’ll read 18 books in a year), listen to an audiobook or watch a quick video that teaches you something. In order to feel fulfilled, you need to be growing and giving… If you grow first thing in the morning, you’re setting the stage for a great day.
  • Write something — whether you’re writing down your plans for the day, writing your schedule or just writing down a quick thought, get whatever is in your head down on paper. Your brain is a thinking machine, not a memory machine.

 

LISTEN TO SOME HYPE MUSIC

Lastly and what I think is most importantly, get excited for the day… Listen to something that will get you awake and ready for the day.

Whether that’s on the way to work or while you’re making your breakfast, it’ll get your energy up.

Maybe 4am is unnecessary for you but waking up earlier can help pretty much anyone get closer to their goals so long as you use that time productively.

You’ve heard people say that being “busy” isn’t the same as being “productive”, so I created this workbook to help you plan out your perfect day and it even includes an hour by hour breakdown to help you plan the day that will help you build extraordinary habits and an extraordinary life


How to Reach Your Goals When You Have No Willpower

What keeps you accountable to your goals when your motivation fails you?

If you said nothing, you might find that you’re having a hard time reaching your goals.

The good news is that this is an easy fix.

We know that big goals require you to build new habits and we also know that building new habits is uncomfortable as I’ve laid out herehere and here. The quick fix to a lack of willpower is to add accountability around those new goals.

In order to achieve your goals, you’re going to have to get uncomfortable… This is nothing new. It’s easier to stay in bed at 5am than go to the gym, play on Facebook when you’re supposed to be making phone calls or going out when you should be sleeping… and it’s wayyyy easier to say ‘I’ll just start tomorrow’.

Sometimes, your big why just isn’t enough. No matter how many vision boards you make or no matter how much you intend to do it, you just can’t find the willpower to do it.

… But when you have a deadline or someone to report to, you’re a whole lot less likely to slack off.

Introducing… Drum roll please!

Accountability. 

You might have just cringed a little (like I did when I first learned about it)…

… or you might be thinking something along the lines of:

  • I don’t need accountability
  • My bank account keeps me accountable

If you said the first, I mean this in the most humble and compassionate way possible – that’s all ego. If you didn’t need accountability, you would have achieved your goals already. We all need some sort of accountability.

Embrace it my friend, don’t fight it. Our willpower is finite so accountability steps in where willpower fails.

If you said the second, having your bank account as an accountability partner will make sure that your bills are paid but it will keep you in a state of stress, unfulfillment (because you’re only living to pay bills rather than living to reach your goals) and you will likely only do enough to meet your requirements (which means you will continue living paycheck to paycheck).

There’s a lot of negativity around the word ‘accountability’ because so many people go about it the wrong way.

If your way of holding people accountable is harassing them about why they did or didn’t do something (or people are doing that to you), how is that perceived?

Yep, like an attack.

And then what happens?

Yep, you guessed it. They (or you) will become defensive almost every single time. There’s a different way to approach accountability. The key is allowing the person being held accountable to take ownership of their actions or lack thereof and you are just the person helping them see that.

 

What are you going to be held accountable for?

The first thing you’ll need to decide is what you’re going to be held accountable for.

You can choose to be held accountable to a specific activity or to a specific result. I like to be held accountable to consistent activities over the result for a few reasons…

First, setting accountability for the result can put you in a state of “by any means necessary”… and contrary to popular belief, that’s not always a positive place to be in. When you’re willing to do anything, that’s how you get yourself in trouble.

The most effective way to decide on your most important goal right now.

Seriously, what’s your MOST important goal? I know they all seem important so ask yourself which goal will make everything else easier?

Got it?

Awesome. Now, ask yourself what ONE activity that you can do (whether that means doing it once or doing it consistently) that you can do to help you reach your goals. Don’t go crazy making commitments that you aren’t going to keep so start with one thing and leave it at that (trust me, this is coming from a true recovering over-committer).

Maybe your goal is to lose twenty pounds. You might decide that you’re going to workout three times a week and you’re going to send a picture every time you’re at the gym so your accountability partner knows that you’re actually there.

 

What’s the consequence?

Now that you have the activity, you need to decide what happens if you don’t meet your commitments.
Some of the best examples that I’ve seen for accountability (and some of which I’ve participated in) are as follows:

  • Having to send a picture at the gym every morning at 6am and having to write a check to your partner if you don’t make it there five times per week (someone from my office did this with me, he slacked off and I bought a pair of shoes with his money. I rubbed it in his face for a few weeks and he stopped slacking off at the gym)
  • Telling your kids that you will take them to Disney if you hit your specific goal. Kids are great accountability partners because they’ll be on your case to make sure you did what you said you’ll do and you never want to let your kids down.
  • Writing a check to an organization whose values you strongly disagree with and setting a specific goal (say writing a certain amount of pages or talking to a specific number of people). If you don’t hit your numbers, your accountability partner gets to send the check to the organization that you disagree with. This one is awesome because even when you’re not in the mood to hit your commitments, that voice in your head going “I don’t want my money going to ___ organization” is loud enough to get your butt moving.

There’s a million ways to hold someone accountable and it doesn’t always have to be money involved (like the kid example above), but I find that it’s a great motivator. No one wants to have a check cashed for not doing something, especially if it’s for something that you don’t agree with.

 

Who’s going to hold you accountable?

The people that you allow to hold you accountable should be someone who you respect and don’t want to let down, not someone who is going to let you off easy.

If you’re going to use the check example, don’t write it to someone who you wouldn’t mind them spending your money. I know that sounds weird, but hear me out.

If your commitment is to go to the gym three times a week and you write your daughter a check for $100, when it’s time to actually go to the gym, that little voice in the back of your head will go, “it’s your daughter… You’d give her $100 if she needed it anyways.”

Accountability should HURT if you don’t hit your commitments, so make sure it goes to someone you don’t want spending your money.

Make sure it’s someone you trust and who won’t cash your check unless you fail to hit your commitments, just don’t give it to someone who you would give money to anyways.

There’s a guy in my office who wrote me a check and his commitment was to workout 3x/week. I let him off the hook once and the second time that he missed, I went and bought myself a pair of shoes.

The next day, I went into the office wearing the shoes. He didn’t know that I bought shoes with his money and he complimented them…. So I told him he bought them for me and then rubbed it in for like a week. He hasn’t missed accountability since 😉

 

Accountability Questions

Here are the six accountability questions.

Whether you’re working on a team, are an employer or a parent, these come in handy.

By asking these questions, the answerer is forced to self-reflect and answer for themselves.

They won’t feel attacked but will get clarity on their progress and it will help make it clear for them what their next steps need to be.

  • What was your goal?
  • How did you do?
  • How do you feel about that?
  • Based on how you did, what’s your new goal?
  • Is there anything that might keep you from doing that?
  • If you needed training or support to do this, what might it be?

Every time that I use these questions to guide my accountability conversations, they’re massively impactful and we both walk away with a ton of clarity and ready to take on the world.

Ready to put some accountability around your goals? I’ve created this cheatsheet to help you kick those goals into high action so you can start seeing results.


reach your goals when you have no willpower

How To Get People To Buy Into Your Goals (And Why They Doubt You)

When we were kids, our parents and teachers would tell us we can be anything we want to be when we grow up.

By the time we get to middle school, we start to get a glimpse of how the real world works.

Instead of being president, we settle for being a CEO of a huge company and making millions of dollars every year.

… And then in high school, we have to start getting ‘realistic’ because we’re getting ready for college.

… College comes around and we’re told to go with something ‘secure’ that pays well and to forget passion.

Little by little, our ambitions are cut down by those around who want to protect us so we become quiet dreamers and are too afraid to speak those dreams for fear that someone is going to tell you that you can’t do it because when we do share, we get frustrated and maybe even wonder if they’re right about us being too ambitious.

Now I’m not justifying their case but since we’re taking focused on taking complete ownership, we have to look at it from their side, understand them and then address how we’re going to pursue our dreams without their negative influence.

Here’s the deal…

Our family and friends try to get us to be realistic because they love us, want the best for us and they don’t want us to be disappointed when we don’t reach our goals. At least that’s what they say, right?

Here’s what it comes down to…

 

FEAR

Every fear that humans have comes from one of two places — the fear that we’re not good enough or the fear that we won’t be loved.

To make it worse, remember, we have 60,000-90,000 thoughts in a day and 95% of them are the same thoughts that we’ve had every single day so far. Now I’m not justifying their thought process, I just want you to understand their perspective.

They’re afraid that…

  • When you’re successful, you’re going to be different (and we don’t like change — it’s human nature).
  • When you’re successful, you won’t love them anymore.
  • When you’re successful, they won’t be good enough for you.

They say they’re doing it for us (and they probably genuinely believe that they’re doing it for you) but they’re actually doing it because they’re afraid that your relationship will be different.

Their limiting beliefs have absolutely nothing to do with you.

It is their own fear that holds them back from thinking big and they’re doing the best that they can to hold onto what they love — you — just the way that you are.

Does that mean that you should cut them off?

No.

If they’re someone in your life that you can’t get rid of (and I mean that in the most loving way possible), pay attention to how you’re communicating with them.

 

Start by watching your word choice…

If you’re using exclusive phrasing (words and phrases that don’t include them) like “my success”, “my future” or “when I’m successful”, you’re telling them that they won’t get to be part of your success.

You can’t expect them to be happy for you if they don’t get to be part your success.

Don’t just assume that they know that they will be part of it… You have to reassure them that you want them to be there with you and that you love them unconditionally. Make sure you’re including them in your plans and making it clear that they are part of it.

On the opposite side of that, the fastest way to lose their support and get them to resent your ambition is to the weight of it all on them. If and when you’re using phrasing like, “I do this for you”, you’re putting the blame on them for your hard work.

Even if you mean it as a compliment, you are giving them the responsibility of your exhaustion, your struggle and you are telling them that they are the reason that you aren’t present for them right now.

Before you get defensive… Remember, we’re focused on taking complete ownership. We can’t control how they feel or react. We can, however, try to understand where they’re coming from and we can control ourselves.

All of this applies if you can’t get rid of this someone in your life. If this is someone who doesn’t deserve to be in your life, the most graceful way to allow them to dismiss themselves from your life is to have a conversation that goes like this, “over the next 10 weeks, I’m really looking to make some drastic changes in my life like [be specific about the changes in your diet, prospecting, whatever]. Would you be wiling to join me?”

If they’re willing to join you, make sure that they don’t distract you if and when they slack off. If they aren’t willing to join you, then ask for their support with the approach of, “I completely understand… I just thought I would ask. Even still, it would mean the world to me if you’d support me through this journey. Here’s what you can expect… [tell them how it’s going to affect your time, mood, etc.]”

Even still, it would mean the world to me if you’d support me through this journey. Here’s what you can expect… [tell them how it’s going to affect your time, mood, etc.]”

If they can stay supportive throughout the process, you probably don’t need to get rid of them. If they can’t, remind them how important it is to you and that you’re not giving up. If they still don’t support you, they will likely exit your life and that’s perfectly ok.

Before you let them dismiss themselves, remember…

 

Remember that it’s your vision, not theirs.

Ready to start putting this into action? I have a whole workbook to help you learn how to communicate more effectively with the people in your life. It’s totally free and you can download it here 😉

We have 60,000-90,000 thoughts in a day.

Just because you mention your goals once or twice, doesn’t mean they’re going to be jumping over joy with your level of passion. Some people just don’t have vision or they are simply skeptics by nature.

They will only get on board when they see results. All of that is fine, you just need to remember that you’re not going to get these people’s support without results.

It doesn’t mean that they don’t believe in you, they just can’t see the vision without hard, tangible evidence that they can see.

Just because you mention your goals once or twice, doesn’t mean they’re going to be jumping over joy with your level of passion.

Some people just don’t have vision or they are simply skeptics by nature. They will only get on board when they see results.

All of that is fine, you just need to remember that you’re not going to get these people’s support without results.

It doesn’t mean that they don’t believe in you, they just can’t see the vision without hard, tangible evidence that they can see.

You can’t be mad at them for the inability to think big, you just have to communicate at their level… which brings us to the communication ladder (cue Law and Order Style *don-don*)

 

The Communication Ladder

A few weeks ago, I posted something on Instagram asking for people’s goals. Almost every single person commented with something super vague and general. Vague, airy-fairy definitions of success might sound pretty but they’re immeasurable.

If you can’t measure your success, how will you ever know that you’re successful?

There were two specific people who I asked to clarify and both of the people I was interacting with were hesitant to tell me what their goals are (even in private).

Firstly, if you can’t share your goals with other people (especially those that are supportive), that is the ultimate form of self-doubt.

You don’t need to share all of your goals with everyone but you do need to share them with people.

By sharing your goals, you create automatic accountability around your goals and you give them the opportunity to help you achieve them… and the worst thing you could possibly do is to belittle them by telling them they don’t get it or that they just don’t think big enough to understand.

That’s not going to get you the understanding and passion for your goals that you’re looking for.

No matter how much of a superhero that you think you are, you cannot and will not succeed at the level that you’re looking to succeed at if you can’t include people in your vision.

Here’s the caveat — you don’t need to tell everyone your entire vision.

The goal is to communicate with them at their level. When you do that, you’ll find that when you share your goals, they are more supportive of your goals and you will leave the conversation without being frustrated that they’re not “getting it” or they’re trying to break you down.

Here’s the thing… Everyone’s capacity for thinking big is different. None of them are wrong, they’re just different.

Treat your conversations and relationships like rungs on a ladder. Start from the bottom and work your way to the top, just like you would climb a ladder.

 

Activities

Some people can only handle the monotonous day-to-day activities.

These people can handle (or are only interested in) your weekly plans, low level goals (like finishing a project) and specific activities.

These are simple tasks that can be achieved within a designated calendar time frame (a few hours or even a few days).

They don’t deserve to know (or care to know) anything beyond ‘right now’.

 

Manageable Goals

Next, you’ll have some people who can handle goals that take a few weeks or months to accomplish.

These are people who can handle your projects that can take up to 6 months to accomplish.

These are low-risk projects that lead to predictable success.

These are people like your significant other, coworkers and other people in your life that you’re likely in frequent communication with.

 

Stretch Goals

These are goals that you probably don’t know how you’ll achieve but they’re big enough that you’re passionate about them and they can make a massive impact.

You can achieve these within your lifetime and they might even make you a little comfortable to talk about (quick tip: the more you talk about them, the easier they become to talk about and the more you’ll believe in them).

You know those random conversations that you have that fill your soul and make you excited about all of the possibilities the world has to offer?

You’re probably talking about your stretch goals.

These are giant goals like building the largest young professionals organization in the world (which is mine), reforming the education system or creating equality for the homeless.

 

Vision

Lastly, there are the few conversations that we have where we peel back the layers of our soul, allow ourselves to be open, vulnerable and intimate with the inner most parts of ourselves and we talk about our vision.
If our stretch goals are the what, our vision is the why.

These are the inner most thoughts that we generally don’t think about unless we’re prompted to.

Our vision is what we want to be remembered for and the things that we want people to say that we stood for at our funeral and long after we’re gone.

Most people have absolutely no clue what their vision is, so you can’t expect to talk about your vision with any ol’ Joe Shmoe and expect them to get excited about it with you.

While a vision doesn’t have to be complicated, the level of thinking required to think of the impact that you will make overwhelms most people.

Related: Develop Your Vision

 

The Responsibility of Leadership

As a leader, your responsibility is to push the people that you’re communicating with to the next level on their ladder and you can do that very simply by asking great questions that force them to think big.

A simple formula to follow is the FROG, which I’ve outlined for you in this post.

Instead of word-vomitting and throwing your goals on other people, be genuinely interested in their goals.

Learn what’s important to them and why it’s important.

When you focus on learning about their ladder, you can see where they currently stand. Meet them there!

Don’t talk to them from the top rung if they’re on the bottom. Talk to them on the bottom and help them get to the next rung where you can share that new journey together.

 

Not to be confused…

While you should communicate your goals from the bottom up, you should be setting goals from top down.

When you set them from the top down, you will lead your life with a whole lot more purpose.

I’ve also prepared a workbook to help you learn about where you stand on the ladder and how to communicate it with those around you.


Share Your Goals

How To Break Bad Habits + Build Powerful New Habits

If you had to guess how many thoughts we had in a day, how many do you think we have?

If you guessed 60,000 to 90,000, you’re right.

That’s a lot of thoughts!

But here’s where it gets even more interesting…

Almost 95% of those thoughts are the same thoughts you had yesterday. That means you’ve been having the same thoughts every single day for a very, very long time.

So it’s no wonder that most people read a book or attend an event, and no matter how amazing the content is, they fail to implement it.

Imagine for a second that our thoughts to be a river and our brain to be the rock that the river runs through. The river breaks through the rock not because of it’s force, but because of it’s consistency. That’s exactly how our

thoughts work. Every time you have a thought, there’s a ridge that’s created in your brain. When you have the same thoughts consistently over and over and over and over and over again, those ridges continue to get deeper.

To make it worse, when you start trying to change your thoughts, your brain goes into protection mode. Your brain doesn’t want to change so the more you try to change your thoughts, the more your brain will fight back…

Initially.

… No wonder it’s so damn hard to change the way that we think!

In order to change your reality, you have to change your actions. In order to change your actions, you have to change your thoughts… so how do you change your thoughts when you’ve been having the same thoughts consistently?

The first step is to be realistic about how hard it is to change your thoughts and habits. When you’re honest with yourself about that, you can start to mentally prepare for the shift in mindset and start moving forward.

You will need to create new habits, new thought patterns, new ways of talking to yourself and commit to immersing yourself into whatever it is that you’re committing to.

 

How Habits Work

Keystone Habits

When you’re setting new habits, don’t focus on setting 20 different habits. In ‘The Power of Habit, Gary Keller asks us to answer the clarifying question:

“What is the one thing that you can do that by doing it, everything else becomes easier or unnecessary?”

That is your keystone habit – one habit that affects multiple aspects of your life. In my personal life, that keystone habit is working out. On the mornings that I work out, I eat better, manage my time better and have more energy.

In my real estate business, that is focusing on lead generation. For you, it could be something completely different. If you’re constantly asking yourself the clarifying question, you’ll know that you’re making effective use of your time.

 

The Habit Loop

In the Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg talks about how our habits work and what causes us to execute on them. Before I explain it, here’s what it looks like:

The example that stuck with me the most was when he talked about how toothpaste first started selling. Apparently, back in the day, we didn’t use toothpaste (ew).

There was a marketing campaign that used people licking their teeth and feeling the ‘film’ (you know, that layer of grime when you wake up in the morning).

That was the cue.

In the campaign, they used people brushing their teeth (routine) and then licking their teeth after and the layer of film being gone (reward). If you think about it, that still applies to our lives now.

When you’re trying to change your habits, keep the cue and the reward the same – just change the routine. Think about your existing habits, good or bad.

Let’s say your bad habit is checking social media non-stop. Your cue might be the notification that pops up, boredom or avoidance of doing something else. The habit is to check your phone and the reward is the instant gratification of having all of those likes and comments.

Keeping the cue and reward the same, maybe you change the routine to standing up to stretch, for example. You might have a hard time making the switch to stretching every time you have the urge to check your phone, but after a week or two, that awkward feeling will go away and standing up to stretch will be your new normal.

Think about your own existing habits. What’s the cue? What’s the reward? What routine can you replace your existing routine with?

This works with creating habits too. Let’s say you want to go to the gym every morning at 5am.

Your trigger might be that you put your clothes next to your bed and your shoes on the floor so as soon as you get out of bed, you are forced to look at them.

To take it a step further, you might even move your alarm across the room so that you’re forced to get up to turn it off and step over your gym stuff.

The routine is the workout and your reward will be that you feel good after your workout.

What habits would you like to create?

How can you use the habit loop to help you?

 

Discipline Is Only Temporary

A lot of times, when someone is experiencing great success, it’s very easy to think that they’re lucky or they’re naturally ‘like that’ or that they have so much discipline.

The reality is that discipline is only necessary until it becomes a habit.

Think about brushing your teeth for a second – how much effort does that take? Not a whole lot.

It’s just what you do.

Once habit kicks in, it will feel weird not to do it.

On the opposite hand, bad habits steal your dreams one ‘I don’t feel like it’ at a time.

Waiting for inspiration to strike is the fastest way to end up 65 years old, wondering why you never pursued your passions. Inspiration is for amateurs.

The compound effect is doing it even when you don’t feel like it, just because you’re supposed to do it.

You may not see results right away and that’s ok.

It didn’t take you seven days to get to where you are in your life, it’s not going to take you seven days to get to where you’re going either.

Here’s another way to look at it: if you had everything you wanted right now and got it easy, you would be bored with life and you would never grow.

The struggle of getting there is going to be what makes you the amazing person that you’ll end up being.

 

How To Change Old Habits + Develop New Ones

Go Back To Your Big Why 

Change is really uncomfortable because our brains don’t like change.

If we’re going to force ourselves to make changes, we’re going to have to have a reason big enough to be more powerful than the ‘I don’t feel like it’ feeling.

We have to make the pain of staying the same greater than the pain of changing… and the only way to do that is to focus on our big why and how much our lives will absolutely suck if we don’t achieve our goals.

Too often, we set goals with the mindset of ‘if I don’t achieve it, it’s not the end of the world.’

Unfortunately, that hurts you more than helps you.

If it’s not the end of the world when you don’t achieve your goals, you’re not going to go through the massive discomfort required to achieve those massive goals of yours.

 

Change The Way You Talk To Yourself

Before you roll your eyes, think about this for a second.

You talk to yourself every day as it is, affirmations are just getting more intentional about it.

I was having lunch with a friend recently who was talking about how she was dating someone who told her that she didn’t love herself because she was always so quick to put herself down, even if it was just in a joking way.

She continued on to say that she realized he was right and that she had been beating herself up over everything.

She would never talk to a friend the way she talked to herself, so she wanted to learn how to start changing that.

Just like anything else, this is habit building.

You might not be able to change your first thought, but you can control your second thought.

Here’s your assignment: take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of the page.

On the left side, make a list of all of the negative things you normally say to yourself.

No one will see this but you, so be honest.

On the right side, right something positive that you can replace it with. Let’s say you’re unhappy with your weight.

Instead of writing “I am skinny” on the right, start the sentence with “I am committed to getting in shape, eating right and living a healthy life.”

By taking this approach, you won’t feel so ridiculous about lying to yourself.

You’re simply saying what you’re committed to.

When you’re done, put it in your phone and everywhere that you will see it regularly.

Before you go to bed and when you wake up, spend five minutes or so reading those “I am committed to..” sentences out loud and if you catch yourself with those negative thoughts, replace them immediately with the ones you’re retraining your brain with.

 

Make It Visual

Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Keep your big why in front of you along with reminders for your new habits.

If you’re technology-driven, use an app that will remind you to do your new habits.

If you like paper, use a simple tracker that you color in when you complete the new habit.

Either way, this will benefit you because it will become a competition with yourself not to break your streak.

There are dozens of habit apps out there and will be a matter of preference for which you like most as most of them have very similar functionality.

Here’s an awesome habit tracker form by Passion Planner.

The tracker will help you stay on track and keep you accountable to your new habits, but that’s not enough.

Go overboard!

Put pictures of your goal everywhere, obsess over what you’re trying to achieve and focus on taking massive action.

The trick here is to focus on what it will be like once you have it, not the journey to get there.

If you focus on the journey, you just might think yourself out of doing it.

 

FEED YOUR BRAIN EVERY DAY.

In order to stay in this new mindset, you’re going to have to put effort into it.

What you’ve been doing isn’t enough.

Start focusing on your personal growth.

In order to do and have the things you say that you want, you have to be the person you need to be to get it.

That means constantly growing and learning.

If you read 10 pages a day, you’ll read 18 books in a year… That’s 18 books more than most people read in a lifetime.

The trick is to read about specifically what you’re working on. If you’re opening a gym, read everything you can about people who’ve done it before you.

Not only will you cut your learning curve exponentially and you will start applying that information.

What you’ll find starts to happen is every time you face a challenge, the first question you ask yourself is ‘what book can I read that will help me with this?’.

It’s an incredibly freeing feeling when you realize that every challenge that you will ever have has already been solved, you just have to find the answer.

My rule is always 5 books.

Anything that I want to learn, read 5 books about it.

That will give you enough background knowledge to cut down some of the learning curve, help you develop your own thoughts and opinions on the topic, give you some executable actions from reading and will force you to think bigger than your original goals.

When I wanted to get better at building habits, I read The Power of Habit, Miracle Morning, Grit, The Compound Effect, The 12 Week Year and The One Thing.

All of those have shaped who I am as a person today, simply because I read them back to back and started applying what I learned.

It’s not hard, it just takes consistency.

 

Make It Actionable

When you set a goal, break it down to the very basic activities.

If your goal is to lose 20 pounds in 6 months, that means you need to create about a 400 calorie deficit on a daily basis.

Knowing what your specific, daily goal is will keep you on track for your goal and keep you from getting too far off track.

6 Ways To Hack Small Talk + Have Better Conversations

Don’t talk about politics.

Don’t talk about religion.

Don’t talk about relationships.

As a matter of fact, don’t talk about anything that you care about or anything that’s actually important.

Those are the old rules of networking and small talk that I refuse to subscribe to.

Since we never teach people how to have sensitive and potentially controversial conversations, we just say don’t do them at all.

That’s BS.

When the “networking rule-makers” took away our ability to talk about anything that actually matters, they put a chokehold on the authenticity of the world which leads us to where we are today – shallow people, protecting themselves and ignoring the needs of others.

I don’t know if there’s science to back this up, so this is completely a hypothesis but I’ve witnessed it in myself and in others.

It’s easy to dismiss other people and desensitize yourself when you have no genuine connection to anyone else. I don’t just mean your friends and family, I mean everyone that you come into contact with.

As humans, we NEED to connect with people – we are social beings.

As humans, we NEED to connect with people - we are social beings. Click To Tweet

I don’t mean just online, but in person, in real conversations…. But because those old rules of networking have permeated into every part of our lives, we don’t connect with other people and we see them as strangers so we separate ourselves from them.

Connecting with people forces you to be compassionate… There’s no way around it.

Think about a time you had an amazing conversation with someone.

There’s no denying that when you have an incredible conversation – a genuine, authentic and true conversation – your soul fills up. That’s not an accident.

Now imagine having conversations every single day that fill your soul….

How would that change your perspective on the world?

How would you feel differently?

I run a networking group of young professionals where I have about 3 lunches a week with our members. I’ve had conversations with them about everything from aliens to communism, yoga to biology and everything in between.

I have learned more from those conversations than I would have ever imagined and while I didn’t always agree with their opinions, we both walked away smiling because of how powerful the conversation was and how we were able to differ in opinions without turning it into a complete debate or argument.

Here’s a simplified version of what I’ve learned from having that many lunches:

 

RULE 1. Be Interested, Not Interesting.

Be Interested, Not Interesting. Click To Tweet

By nature, I’m an expressive, outgoing person. I love to talk to people, am easily excited and I love to share stories and experiences.

Don’t be like me.

In a conversation, my personality can be a huge turn off.

So often, we listen for the purpose of answering, rather than listening for the purpose of understanding.

Think about that.

When you change your mindset to focus on understanding rather than responding, the whole dynamic of your conversations change.

When you change your mindset to focus on understanding rather than responding, the whole dynamic of your conversations change. Click To Tweet

When you listen for the sake of responding, you’re not thinking about connecting with the person you’re talking to. You’re being selfish and are worried about what you’re going to say and how they will perceive you.

If both of you are more worried about what the other person thinks than connecting with each other, how in the world can you have a real conversation?

If both people are more worried about what the other person thinks than connecting with each other, how can you have a real conversation? Click To Tweet

When you listen to understand rather than listening to respond, you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say and will lead the conversation with questions so that you can learn more than you share.

The one who speaks the most dominates the conversation, but the one who asks the most questions controls the conversation.

Ask great questions and you’ll see how easy it is to genuinely connect with people.

… and truthfully, when you have credibility, you don’t need to talk that much.

Credibility allows you to listen more and identify the specific ways that you can help other people…

When you really think about it, if you want to make more money, all you need to do is help more people get what they want.

 

RULE 2. Stay Out Of Judgment and In Curiosity.

If I asked you how many letters were in the English alphabet, you would probably say 26.

… and you would be wrong.

T-h-e–e-n-g-l-i-s-h–a-l-p-h-a-b-e-t

That’s 18 letters.

So often we are bring our assumptions into our conversations by assuming we understand what the other person is saying… and the root of MOST of the problems in your life comes from your assumptions and the stories

that you tell yourself.

The root of MOST of the problems in your life comes from your assumptions and the stories that you tell yourself. Click To Tweet

You know that person you’re afraid to talk to because of what they might say or do?

… or how about that question you don’t want to ask because they will probably do something?

When you assume, you’re making the decision for the other person… and let me ask you, do you like having decisions made for you?

I didn’t think so.

Leave your assumptions out of your conversations… and leave the judgment out too.

That means when someone says something you disagree with, go deeper and learn why they feel the way they do, rather than jumping on them about all of the reasons why they’re wrong.

The more you can focus on understanding, the more genuinely you will communicate with other people and they will feel it.

The more you can focus on understanding, the more genuinely you will communicate with other people and they will feel it. Click To Tweet

 

RULE 3. Forget About Business Cards.

I was at an event recently where there was an older gentleman who literally hopped from table to table and here was his exact script (I promise I’m not exaggerating)…

“Hi, my name is ____. Here’s my card, do you have one?”

That was his entire intro. Why in the world would you want to build a relationship with someone like that?

Here’s something you may not have heard before…

If you can do it without dying or having separation anxiety, don’t even hand out business cards.

I have them but I rarely pass them out… or at least I never hand them out first.

Focus on collecting them.

As soon as you give up your information, they have no incentive to give you theirs.

Most people throw the business cards they collect in a drawer to never be looked at again. Because you’re all about building relationships, that’s not you…

… and if you give up your card without getting theirs, you don’t have a way to follow-up with them.

Here’s the caveat to collecting business cards…

Unless you can write down at least 3 things about someone on their card and have a reason to follow-up, you haven’t earned the right to even ask to exchange information yet.

When you talk to new people, focus on learning about them and find opportunities to connect (which you’ll learn more about below in rule 5).

When you focus on connecting this way, I promise following-up will be so much easier and both of you will look forward to the next conversation.

Once you’ve connected with someone new, you should have a follow-up plan for after you meet… and it just so happens I wrote a wholeeee post about it right here:

 

Rule 4. Come From Contribution FIRST

Being that I lead a networking group, I literally cannot tell you how many times people have either said, Facebook messaged me or emailed me something along the lines of, “I just [insert whatever new thing they just started] and I’d like to network with you so that we can grow our businesses together.”

Ew.

Talk. About. Desperate.

If this has been you, let me tell you how this comes across…

“I have nothing to offer you (especially since I just started whatever I’m now doing) and I’m desperate for business so I want access to your network that you worked so hard to build.”

Bro.

I repeat… DO. NOT. DO. THIS.

First of all, you need to build a relationship first and secondly, you need to give four times to every ask.

 

RULE 5. Get FROG-y Style

FROG is an acronym for a simple system of asking great questions to build rapport.

It stands for FAMILY, RECREATION, OCCUPATION and GOALS.

Think about it – if you can learn all of that about someone, you have a huge connection with them. The only way to get this information is by asking great questions (aka see Rule #1).

I don’t usually do the FROG questions in order and I usually start with occupation because I generally meet new people in a professional setting. Here’s a few questions to start you off:

 

OCCUPATION

  • What do you do for a living?
  • What got you into that?
  • You sound really passionate about that, where does that passion come from?

 

GOALS

  • (After they finish telling you about what they do) Is this what you want to do forever or is this a stepping stone for you?
  • Do you plan on staying in the area for awhile?

 

RECREATION

  • Anything fun planned for this weekend, the upcoming holiday, etc.?
  • What do you like to do for fun?

 

FAMILY

  • Are you from here?
  • What brought you here?
  • Have you always lived in the area?

By the way, I have a cheat sheet to help you remember all of these tips. Go ahead and download it here.

Rule 6. Go Three Deep

All of these questions will lead you into a great conversation where you’ll learn more than you ever expected and you just have to stay in curiosity.

The trick is to go “three deep”.

If I ask you where your passion comes from, no matter what you say, I’m going to keep asking questions about that passion because I’m genuinely interested in why people are passionate about what they’re passionate about.

Don’t just go down the list asking the questions in order – dig deeper.

That “digging deep” will open up new conversations that have nothing to do with the question you asked.

For example, there was one person I had lunch with where I asked him what he liked to do for fun. He said yoga. I could’ve left it at that, but I asked why he was so interested in it. He started talking about how it was the mindset of yoga that really got him interested in and we ended up having an hour long conversation about consciousness, chakras and spirituality.

 

Make Sure Your Questions Are Open-Ended

Sometimes we ask questions like “did you move here by yourself or with family?” rather than “what brought you here?”.

When you ask the first question, it seems like an interrogation and they’ll just choose one… so the conversation stops there.

When you ask open ended questions, it invites them to share more and allows the conversation to keep going. While you’re at it, fight the urge to answer for them if they take a second to answer.

When you ask a really insightful question, sometimes they have to think about an answer before giving it to you.

Conversation Reciprocity

If you’re worried that you’re going to ask a ton of questions and never get to tell your story, you can stop worrying right here and you can thank your friend ‘conversation reciprocity’ for that.

Psychologically, we don’t like to make ourselves more vulnerable than the person that we’re interacting with.

After they’ve shared their whole life story, they’re going to feel weird for talking so much (and yet relieved because someone ACTUALLY listened)… and they’re going to want to learn about you.

Most of the time, we’re participating in small talk for the purpose of being polite rather than trying to connect.

Most of the time, we're participating in small talk for the purpose of being polite rather than trying to connect. Click To Tweet

When you’ve actually listened, cared and engaged with the other person, you’ll find that they’re way more engaged when it’s your turn to share.

Your homework is to go talk to someone, anyone, whether it’s someone you know or a complete stranger.

Start a conversation with them and then tell me how you feel after in the comments below.

If you listened to understand, asked great questions and really got to know their FROG, I guarantee that you’ll feel way more connected to that person.

To make it easier to remember, I’ve created a cheat sheet with all of these questions laid out for you and some quick bullet point reminders so you don’t ever have to worry about forgetting all of this. Get it here:

Networking and small talk doesn't have to be shallow. With a little bit of skill and practice, you can build relationships with complete strangers quickly and to have deeper, meaningful connections. Click through to learn how with the simple FROG system and cheat sheet.

The Epic Guide To Planning A Networking Event

Just a heads up, this post is a 6000 word monster to walk you through each and every step of planning a powerful networking event, but don’t worry…

Before you get overwhelmed, I have a totally free 7-page workbook for you that will help you take all of this and put it into action.

You can download it right here to follow along while you’re going through this post:

Now let’s get down to business.

 

The Back Story

To give you some background…

In early 2014, I started looking to meet new people but I didn’t want to be in a “happy hour” group.

I wanted to be part of an organization with substance… But as it turns out, there aren’t a whole lot of young professionals groups that are focused on professional development more than they are on partying.

So, I started my own group.

We started on Meetup as South Florida Young Professionals and eventually outgrew the platform.

We eventually moved to our own site (where you are now), used our Facebook page, group and email list to communicate and sold tickets through EventBrite.

We’ve since evolved to include the blog that you’re reading now and an online Empire Builder Academy.

Our primary goal is very simple: to develop young professionals and to put them in the right place, both mentally and physically, to create a better community.

Our long-term goal is to become the largest and most influential young professionals organization in the country (as it stands, there are tons of career specific young professionals groups, but there isn’t an organization that’s focused on bringing young professionals together across industries to build them up).

We started out by hosting mostly social events because they’re the easiest to get people to attend.

As we evolved, we grew a heavy focus on self-development and service, but always make sure to have our fun.

With that said, if I had to guess, I would say I’ve hosted at least fifty happy hour/social events and can easily draw 50-100 people to an event.

Because I’ve hosted so many networking events, I have it down to a science.

The purpose of this whole back story wasn’t to brag but just to make sure that you know this isn’t just fluff.

I’m giving you all of the strategies that I use that have helped me consistently host successful events.

In the interest of length, this post is specifically written about hosting networking mixers.

I could get into the details of hosting a dozen different types of events, but mixers are by far the simplest to host and the easiest to put together and starting a mastermind group is a close second.

Let’s get started.

 

Planning A Networking Event

Purpose

Besides wanting to get people together, the first thing that you have to decide is the purpose of your event.

… Is it to build professional relationships?

… Maybe raise money for an organization?

… Make a new announcement?

… Raise awareness for a cause?

… Recruit members?

Be specific.

While you’re planning your networking event, you should know what your “one thing” is.

Don’t skip this part… You need to know what your purpose is so that the rest of the decisions in the planning process are infinitely easier to make.

We run our events as series.

Each of our workshop series has 4 workshops, a service project and 2 social events over four months.

Of the social events, the first is a free, new member mixer for people to come and hangout with us where the goal is to recruit new members.

At the end of the series, we have our Diamond Event which is more formal than our new member mixer and we award our members who have completed our Diamond Experience during he series.

Your purpose and structure doesn’t have to be as formal as ours, but you need to have a specific purpose in mind.

You’ll have dozens of decisions to make in planning your networking event and when it comes time to promote it, you’ll need to be able to communicate it’s purpose in a clear and concise way.

Without a purpose, it’s just another random event that people might go to if they feel like.

A powerful purpose will compel them to want to join you for the event.

Start working on that now.

 

Demographics

Next, you need to know your target audience.

Everyone talks about having a niche, I know.

If you’re like I was, you probably want to just skip past the unsexy part and get to the planning.

Don’t do it!

It’s the most important part of having a successful event.

Your demographics don’t have to be by age like ours is… Your focus can be on gender, interest, religion, political affiliation, whatever you want it to be.

The goal of a networking event is to put like-minded people together, so focus on getting specific about the type of people at the event rather than quantity.

People will have a better time if there’s only 10 people who attend and they have great conversations than if there’s 100 people that they can’t connect with.

For us, we target young professionals ages 21-40 who want to make an impact on the community. Our average member is 25-35 and is a few years into their career already.

Knowing this makes planning and marketing the rest of the networking event easier because you know how to target them and you exactly what the attendees are looking for and what they expect. 

We are strict on the 40 year old age limit because there’s tons of events for professionals where the audience is in their 40’s and 50’s and there aren’t enough for young professionals.

I’ve actually asked people who were over 40 to leave our events because our members come back because they know what to expect and if we start straying away from that, their loyalty will waver (and every time we lose focus on our purpose, we HAVE lost them).

 

Target Number of Attendees

Personally, I don’t like when events get bigger than 50 people.

When there’s more than that, people resort to treating their business cards like frisbees and throwing them at anyone and everyone because FOMO (the fear of missing out) kicks in.

Our attendees get overwhelmed with too many people and lose depth in their conversations.

I love mixers of 30-50 people because you can talk to a decent number of them in 2 hours, it’s intimate enough where you can build great relationships, people will remember you, the people who are a little shy don’t get overwhelmed and you will have conversations that will lead to a welcomed follow-up. 

It’s also easier to remember names and give introductions when there’s only 30-50 people at the event.

 

Will you charge?

At first, I was really resistant to charging for our events because I didn’t want attendance to drop.

However, once we finally started charging, our attendance actually grew because people put a value on things they have to pay for.

I’m not saying you have to charge, just don’t have to be afraid of it.

HOWEVER…

If you’re going to charge, just make sure you’re offering something in return (drink tickets will suffice – more on that in the venue section).

Originally, we would charge sporadically for events to cover our costs and it worked fine, but our organization really blew up when we implemented our subscription model.

The membership gets you into all of our events.

The stakes are absolutely higher from a leadership standpoint when you charge on a subscription basis, but it makes it easier to host events because you don’t have to work as hard at promotion.

If someone doesn’t want to join, they can still come to our events for $25/event, but as you can see, joining is the better deal.

If you’re already getting overwhelmed, I recommend you download your workbook that accompanies this post. This post teaches you how to plan a networking event and the workbook will help you put it into action.

Leveraging People

When I’m working on a project, I’m a little (ok, I’m lying) I’m very meticulous.

Our members will tell you that they call me crazy because of how detailed I am about our events.

You could probably argue that I’m borderline OCD…. That’s because if my name is on it, I expect it to be extraordinary.

While that might sound great and all, it’s terrible for delegation purposes and my stress levels.

That puts 100x more work on me.

I’m still working on leveraging because you can’t plan a great networking event if you do it all by yourself.

I’ve learned that people will absolutely contribute (and be excited to do so) but you have to make them feel like their contribution is valued and welcome.

Saying thank you isn’t enough – make them feel like you need their help.

Go ahead, let that ego down.

You do need them and you’ll put on a better event with the help of others.

 

Make Your List

Next, you want to have at least 5-10 people who are influencers in your target demographic.

I’ll start by saying I didn’t do this at the beginning, but I wish I had.

Find a few people who are really passionate about whatever your purpose is and get them onboard and do yourself a favor… Get them onboard when you first start planning the event.

More than anything, you’ll need help with your invite list, promoting the event and venue suggestions or introductions.

If you know anything about millennials, we want to do things that have a purpose.

If you’re asking an acquaintance for an introduction, they’re not going to get excited.

If you ask them to help you put together an event so that you can raise money for a cause, I’m willing to bet that their attitude will change.

By having these influencers, you’ll establish credibility around your event instantly which will make all of the above easier.

Remember, promotion is going to be your toughest battle (especially if this is your first event).

People are bombarded with hundreds of invites and bits of information every second so you’re going to have to deal with the people who just don’t take action because they’re already overwhelmed by information.

Your influencers will make it easier to create buzz around your event.

 

Finding the Venue

When you’re finding a venue, my suggestion is to always go with a newer restaurant or bar.

Established places usually charge for the use of their rooms because they can.

Newer places need to get people in the door and your attendees will appreciate it because it’s somewhere they haven’t been before.

This is where knowing if you’re going to charge or not comes in handy. I can’t speak for everywhere, but here in South Florida, most places will offer drink tickets for their happy hour price… Most places will charge me $5 per drink ticket and we pay at the end.

I’ve also had places charge me just for the bartender in the private room and they offered a free drink ticket and appetizers.

It really depends on what they’re willing to do but you won’t know until you start the conversation.

 

Approaching the Venue

Instead of reaching out via email or by phone, I recommend you go to the venue that you’d like to host at and ask for the manager.

Yes, you absolutely read that right.

Trust me, it’s easier that way. Tell them that you want to bring 30-50 people to buy drinks from them and wanted to know if you could use their private area.

By being there, you’ll get all of the kinks worked out, know exactly where you’ll be and how the event will flow.

A few things to look for:

  • Whatever you do, make sure that the networking event is in it’s own private area. There’s nothing more annoying than trying to figure out who belongs to the group because there’s people walking back and forth through the group to go to the other side of the restaurant or to go to the bathroom.
  • Make sure the venue is small enough that it forces people to be close to each other – they’ll talk to each other that way. Think of it like a middle school dance – you have to get everyone interacting because they’re all scared of each other. Having a small venue makes that way easier.
  • This is a small detail that most people will overlook but it makes a difference. Make sure that the venue isn’t long and narrow. Your attendees will move around less and talk to less people because they don’t want to draw the attention of everyone by walking through the crowd to get from one end to the other. Networking doesn’t come naturally to most people so make sure that you do everything you can to make them comfortable.
  • Don’t give them too many places to sit. You want people on their feet so they’ll move around and talk to each other. As soon as they plant their butts in a chair, they instantly close off and stop talking to people.

If you decide not to charge, you’ll still want to let the venue know that you’re bringing a group.

They may still offer to give you drink tickets and light appetizers on the house (that’s a nice extra but don’t count on it).

Make sure that you’ve worked out how attendees will find you once they get there.

After meeting with the venue, confirm with the venue representative in an email everything that you’ve talked about, ensure that you’ve worked out payment (if there is any) and that you’re on the same page with expectations.

If anything changes, keep the venue in the loop. There’s nothing they hate more than having to accommodate major last minute changes.

By now, you’ve planned the major parts of your event.

You have your influencers, know how to convince someone to come to your event with your clear and concise messaging, and you’ve secured your venue.

I know this is a lot, so I created a whole workbook on planning a powerful networking event for you.

Next up, it’s time to start promoting the event.

The Grind: Promotional Frenzy

Designing the Marketing Materials

Now comes the fun (and stressful) part…

The marketing. 

*Cue Law & Order style duh-duh*.

If you’ve never heard of Canva, you better become besties with the platform.

It’s the best way to design pretty much anything and it’s free to use (they charge $1 for some of their templates or their images, but you can import your own images for free).

You can design your flyer quickly and painlessly using their beautiful templates.

You can let everyone think that you spent lots of money on your marketing, but we’ll keep the Canva secret between us!

 

Create the Event Online

If you’re putting this together as a recurring event, you’ll need to figure out what platform you want to use.

Meetup is awesome for bringing a constant flow of new people to your events but I absolutely abhor their limited capabilities to communicate with members – so if you use Meetup, don’t let that be your main source of communication.

You’ll want to direct them to a different signup form so you can get an email address and phone number.

Whether you’re doing this to start a group or just a one-time event, create a Facebook event for it and then direct everyone to RSVP on EventBrite.

I freaking LOVE EventBrite. 

EventBrite is so user-friendly, beautiful and full of amazing stats… and to top it off, they have an app called “Organizer” which makes it beautiful and simple to check people in at the networking event too.

However you decide to promote the event or start growing your group, I recommend using EventBrite as the place where you have people RSVP or buy tickets.

Facebook & LinkedIn

Now that you the event setup and the flyers put together, it’s time to go to work on promoting the crap out if it (the crap is definitely necessary because if you don’t overdo it, you’re not going to have the success you’re looking for).

Firstly, you’re going to have to introduce the event to your network. I recommend starting about 2 weeks in advance.

Invite everyone to the event on Facebook. Most people leave it at sending an invite but a lot of people ignore invites, so this is just a warmup.

A few things about promoting…

  • If your Facebook page (not you, the individual) hosts the event, you can boost the event (as in pay to have it seen by more people). There are tons of articles and videos about boosting posts. In my experience, if you spend $10-$20 for the 3 days before the event, you’ll get a few more attendees than you would have had otherwise and you’ll stay top of mind for the people who were “maybes”.
  • Make sure you promote the event in groups too. For us, there’s a bunch of young professionals groups on both Facebook and LinkedIn, so I always post them there too. The key to getting people’s attention in groups is that you have to make the event stand out. There are dozens of event invites going through those groups, so be different.

So once you’ve done all of that, start promoting the crap out of it on your personal page and get your influencers to do the same. Please…I repeat…PLEASE…DO NOT USE LANGUAGE LIKE:

“RSVP today!”

“It would really mean a lot to me if…”

“Come support!”

Wording like “RSVP today!” has ‘I’m going to sell you something’ written all over it.

For the rest of the god awful wording above, no one cares about you.

I’m not being mean but people are not going to go out of their way to support you, no matter how much you have a winning personality.

Regardless of what they tell you, they’re going to go because it will benefit them.

They might even donate money, but it’s not to support you — it’s because it makes them feel good to donate.

They might come, but it’s because they wanted to, not because you wanted them to.

All of your marketing needs to be centered around how it benefits them.
The wording above says ‘I’m special so you need to care about me’ rather than ‘you’re special so I want you at the event.’

If you have an issue with this new approach, that’s probably because you’re putting your ego above the success of your event.

I know this because I’ve been there before.

Being that I target millennials, my marketing approach might be a little more playful than if you were targeting a little bit of an older or different demographic.

I have a ton of fun with my marketing (it’s my favorite part of both selling real estate and running my organization).

I can’t tell you how many compliments I get on how much people love my Facebook and Snapchat presence – not because I do anything special, but because I keep it super positive, fun and informational.

A lot of what they love is how I promote my events.

When I first started, I was 100% certain that I was going to lose a bunch of friends because I was so annoying about the events.

Now, I’m always going for a laugh when I’m promoting our events and they love it. I can’t speak for promoting on LinkedIn yet because I’ve just started becoming really active here, so I’m still finding my voice.

Every post can’t be about the event.

Social media’s algorithms will only show some of your posts, so make sure your posts aren’t spammy.

Focus on the 411 rule.

The rule says you should post four posts that are not related to business, 1 post that’s informative and 1 post can be salesy. I follow this rule normally, with the exception of the 3 days before an event… Which leads me to ‘the blitz’.

The Blitz

Three days before the event, I go on an absolutely ridiculous promotional blitz.

Pretty much every single thing I post is about the event during the three days before the event.

The key is that you can’t add a link to every post.

Mix it up!
You can post information about the cause, mention other people who are attending the event, talk about planning the event and go for a few laughs.

We will also post pictures from past events, talk about the groups, share jokes and I always go #hashtagcrazy.

The hashtags have sort of become my signature — I don’t expect anyone to actually use them to search for other posts with the same hashtag, but I do them because they make me laugh and because I’m a millennial (I know, such a well thought out excuse).

Most of our members are super active on Facebook and Snapchat and less so on LinkedIn, so if I were to do this on LinkedIn, it would be a little more formal and a little less playful.

My goal in doing this is to wear people down to the point where they can no longer come up with excuses not to come.

They finally break and decide they have to be there or they’ll be missing out on something. I absolutely go into ‘overkill, overtime’ mode.

If your advertising is boring, it’s not going to get their attention. I have a lot of fun with this and I’m VERY annoying about the event but it works.

It gets people to the events.

I’ve never had someone complain that I was doing too much —I’ve only gotten compliments for how committed I am to this so my best advice is don’t be afraid to be annoying.

If you’re not passionate about it, you won’t get anyone else to be either.

Most of your tickets/RSVPs will come in the 48 hours before the event so don’t freak out if you’re not getting responses.

Most people don’t want to commit until they know they can actually come which is exactly why I always start my blitz 3 days before.

Those last three days are not procrastination, that’s strategic.

We always get a few people to RSVP early on but everyone else waits til right before.

During the 3 day blitz, I post every 3-4 hours about the event and I am not afraid to show how serious I am about getting people there.

Because I’m so ridiculous about it, we now have members who are also going crazy promoting the events for us too.

Being passive about your promotions will not get people to your event.
This chart is just to show you proof of how much people wait til the last minute… This was for our last mid-series mixer.

We sold 55 tickets and the event was on November 2nd. On Halloween, we sold 10 tickets, on November 1st, we sold 15.

The day of, we sold an additional 19… This is why I do the blitz for the 3 days before the event.

If you want to get RSVPs or ticket sales sooner, there are a few things you can do… If you put a cap on your RSVPs, you’ll get RSVPs/ticket sales faster too because you’re appeasing their urgency.

Again, I don’t like to go over 50 attendees, so I’ll usually cap the tickets at 55 or 60 for our mid-series mixer. As soon as we hit about 40-45 tickets, I start posting the link to EventBrite with however many hours and tickets are left.

Every time I do this, tickets go immediately.

You can also do tiered pricing.

For example, the first 10 tickets are free, the next 10 are $5, the next 10 are $10 and so on.

Another variation of this is to put deadlines on ticket prices — tickets are $X until this date, and then they go up to the next amount until that deadline and so on. You can do all of this in EventBrite.

Personal Invitations

Lastly and ABSOLUTELY most importantly, do not neglect personal invitations.

We all have a bajillion (yes, a bajillion — not just a million) things going on in our lives so it’s easy to brush off or forget the people and events that are not right in our faces.

When you’re doing your personal invitations, do yourself a favor and don’t sound like a club promoter.

Make them personal.

Have a conversation like you’re inviting a friend out for a drink.

Ask them if they already have plans for that day and share your messaging about the event.

Tell them why you want them to be there and if there’s anyone you want to introduce them to.

Focus on how their attendance would benefit them, not you.
They will only go if and when you can show them how attending will benefit them.

Start the personal invites early (2 weeks or so before the event) and keep a list of yes’s, no’s and maybe’s.

I like to do this in Trello because you can rearrange the cards easily and it’s visually appealing.

I have six lists in one Trello board:

  • Hit List: These are influencers and people I’m working on getting to an event but have never been yet.
  • To Invite: These are people who have been to events before but haven’t been yet.
  • Yes: No description necessary.
  • No: I always include why they can’t come.
  • Maybe: These are people who said maybe. Don’t let non-committal people ruin your event. Keep following up with them until they give you a yes or no.
  • Don’t Bother/Invite: These are people that I don’t want to come back to events or I’ve just given up on inviting because they’re wishy-washy.

About 2-3 days before, confirm with all of the yes’s to make sure they’re still coming and try to get a solid answer out of the maybe’s.

The morning of the event, text them all to remind them, let them know how to find you and what to expect with parking.

If you consistantly do this, you’ll get far less maybe’s and more committed yes or no’s.

You need to make sure that they know that they are wanted at the event.

When people feel wanted, they will show up.

If you act like you don’t care if they come or not, they won’t bother to show.

Let that pride down and let them know they’re wanted. It’s for the good of your event.

Pro Tip: After the event, anyone who said maybe or yes and didn’t show, reach out and let them know they were missed.

Tell them how awesome the event was and how much better it would have been if they were there.

I promise they’ll be at the next event.

Don’t just read this post and forget everything.

Put it into action with the workbook that I’ve created for you.

Hosting 101

Je Ne Sais Quoi (The Little Something)

You’re going to have three types of people at your events.

  • The Networking Pro: They know how to work a room, they’re masters of small talk and they attend events regularly. They might even run into some people they’ve met before at your event. They know why they’re there and they know how to get what they want.
  • The Once-In-A-Bluer’s: These are people who aren’t necessarily opposed to networking, but they don’t make a habit out of it. They will usually hang in the background and observe. These are generally the people who ask themselves why they come to these events anyways because they don’t go with a defined purpose.
  • The Newbie: These are your attendees who’ve never been to a networking event before and they don’t know what to expect.

Everyone will fall into one of these categories to varying degrees and you want to make sure you can give every single one of them a five-star experience.

You want the networking pro to talk about your event after and come back next time.

You want the OIAB’s to take action after the event and you want the newbies to have a good time.

That’s why this section is called the je ne sais quoi (the little something).

It’s the little touch that makes people continue to talk about your events and continue to come back.

It doesn’t take a whole lot.

It just has to be something that comes as a pleasant surprise.

We do a few things to give them that experience…

  • Hugs: I’m all about authenticity and getting people to be comfortable. I don’t believe in the old rules of networking, hence why I wrote this post about exactly that — so whenever someone reaches for a handshake, I always grab them and say “we give hugs, not handshakes.” That will usually get their guard down. That physical touch automatically gets them more relaxed.
  • Name Tags: At our social events, we always have name tags, but we don’t just do names. Under their name, we always have them put the answer to our random question for the event. We’ve done favorite ice cream, favorite Disney movie, liquor, what animal you’d be and dozens more. I usually leave it up to the first two or three people to come up with the question for the night. Name tags don’t tell you anything about a person if there’s just a name but the random question gives them something to start a conversation about. It works every single time.
  • Introductions/Clique-iness: when someone gets to the event, we always have them grab a drink and a name tag. I walk around and introduce them to other people. Once they look comfortable where they are, I move on to the next group of people. This immediately gets them talking to people so they don’t feel awkward at the beginning and makes sure that they don’t walk in the room standing around looking for someone to connect with. This also serves to make sure that people don’t get cliquey. That’s the biggest complaint about networking groups —there’s a few people who are like an elite little circle that no one else is allowed to be part of. Making sure that everyone is introduced to other people forces them to start talking to other people. People love this because they don’t have to awkwardly start conversations by themselves.

 

Be Humble & Graceful

This sounds like it would be obvious, but make sure you go above and beyond to be humble.

Since you’re hosting the event, people will try to put the spotlight on you and shine attention towards you.

It’s very easy to just eat it up and relish in it, but don’t — remember, they’re there for them, not for you.

Keep the focus on them.

You can gloat after the event (and trust me, after a great event, you definitely will!).

  • After you’ve introduced everyone, stand back and observe. If you ever pay attention to me at an event I’m hosting, I do a lot of this. It’s the most amazing feeling to see that all your hard work has paid off when you see a bunch of smiling faces and people who are talking to each other. Make sure that everyone’s talking to someone and if there’s anyone awkwardly by themselves or looks uncomfortable in a conversation, strike up a conversation with them.
  • I do a lot of check ups. You’ll find people tend to gravitate towards groups so I’ll just walk up, put my hand on whoever’s back and just ask if everyone’s ok and if they need anything. Sometimes they’ll have a question for me about the group, they might just include me in the conversation or they might just say they’re fine. I know they’re fine because they’re laughing together, but that check up is just to show them that I care.
  • Make sure you show them how grateful you are that they came and really listen when people speak to you. Don’t get distracted by everyone else. If you’re talking to one person, finish with them and include other people in the conversation, but don’t break your focus for every little distraction or you make them feel like they’re not important enough for your attention.
  • Make eye contact! It’s easier than ever to have your eyes somewhere else when it’s your event and you’re keeping an eye on everything but be aware of that. It’s just basic manners.
  • Seriously, stay humble. Make an effort to go out of your way to do so. I don’t mean humble brag, I mean stay completely humble. Let the attendees do the bragging for you.

 

To Speech or Not To Speech

This is completely up to you.

Some events will warrant it, some won’t.

I make a speech at our Diamond event but I don’t at our mid-series mixer.

Either way, you need to have a call to action and figure out how to deliver it so that everyone receives it.

If you’re raising money for an organization, you should absolutely make a speech —even if it’s just a few minutes.

If you’re not going to make a speech, make sure you go out of your way to talk to everyone and share what the purpose of the event is.

It is completely up to you.

I don’t think every event needs one so this is where you go back to your purpose for the event.

If you make a speech, make sure you thank everyone for coming, keep it concise and try to stay away from ‘I’.

Again, this isn’t about you.

The Follow-Up

Now that the event is over, you probably won’t sleep because you’ll be high off of the energy from the event.

Follow-up the day after — no exceptions.

This is where you go back to your purpose again.

You should reinforce your call-to-action in a way that adds value and is not salesy.

I usually do this with an email, thanking people for coming and I usually end it with “since we didn’t really get a chance to connect, I’m interested in learning more about what you’re doing.

Would you be open to grab lunch or coffee some time this week?”

Keep your follow-ups relevant to the purpose of the event.

For example, if you did the event as a fundraiser for a charity, don’t go trying to sell them something for your business and don’t you dare just add them to your business email list.

You haven’t earned that right yet.

They gave you their information for the event or organization that they attended, they did not give you their information for you to add them to your spam list.

If you’re strugglintrying to figure out how to turn those new contacts into actual opportunities without being salelsy, you can get my 8-week follow up plan that I use for new contacts right here.

I find that the lunch/coffee is a great way to transition the conversation to learn more about them and what else I can do to help them — and in my case, if they have any real estate needs.

I hope that you’ve gotten a ton of value out of this and feel a little more confident to go out there and host your own networking event. It’s a lot of work but also a lot of fun… I wish you the best of luck.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or want to see more about hosting networking events!