Effort is currency – how I got to speak at The Content Marketing Academy

These days I speak at dozens of conferences, shows and networking events every year and educate thousands of people in how to get better results from their networking.
People often ask me how I get the gigs that I do get, and how I end up working with large corporate clients.
The answer is often that a series of small events, lead to a large opportunity. But it involves me putting in the effort upfront, and I genuinely think that is where people often fall down.
I reckon effort, hard work, graft, is seriously underrated when it comes to networking, and most likely business in general. Putting the effort into building multiple relationships and making those relationships really strong, to the extent that people want to do business with you, that takes effort, it takes some time, it takes learning new stuff, it takes getting out of your comfort zone.
I use networking and social media to expand my network, to bring new people into my network. I then use the same methods to build each and every relationship as strong as possible. This isn’t just about broadcasting and hoping that people buy from you, this is about taking the time to connect with every single person individually, and on their turf.
I spoke recently at The Content Marketing Academy in Edinburgh and was asked this morning “how did you hear about that?”. The story goes a bit like this:
In December 2013 I went along to Vaynerworld in London, I’ve been a huge fan of Gary Vaynerchuk since about 2008 and really wanted to hear him speak in real life. The day after that event I set up a Twitter search and a Google Alert for the expression “#vaynerworld” so that I could see who else was talking about the event. I spotted a Medium article by a guy called Scott Torrance (who I had never at that point met or spoken to), entitled “The real value of an event like #VaynerWorld“. I recommended the article on Medium, then shared it on Twitter and tagged Scott in the share. He thanked me for the share and we engaged, got chatting, started to get to know each other. At some point after that, Scott asked if I would take part in a recorded Skype conversation with him about networking, which I did. Scott was based in Edinburgh and the next time I was working in Scotland, I hooked up with Scott for a coffee. Then, some time after that, I helped Scott with a white paper on networking he was putting together for a client.
Somewhere along the way, Scott suggested that I talk to a friend of his call Chris Marr, who had a podcast Scott thought that I should take part in. I spoke to Chris and joined in with Episode 21 of his Marketing Academy podcast – “Business Networking for Dummies“. I was due to be up in Scotland a little while later, so organised with Chris to meet for dinner, as it would be great to get to know him better.
At this stage, it had been all effort. Had I not taken the time to read and comment on Scott’s article, none of this would have happened. I was once again “in the right place at the right time” because I took the time and trouble to be there.
Over dinner, Chris asked if I would be interested in speaking at an event he was planning, and in September 2015, I was proud to be keynote speaker, alongside Marcus Sheridan and a host of other fantastic speakers at the event. The opportunity came after significant effort and time invested.
And you know what, along the way there have been many relationships which have led nowhere. Where there has been no opportunity yet. There might be in the future. But there might not and that’s cool. I had no idea this relationship would lead anywhere as exciting.
Stop looking for the shortcuts, for the easy fixes. Effort is currency. People respect the effort you put into commenting, liking and sharing their stuff and it helps, massively, in building the relationship. Both visits I had to Scotland were ferociously busy and yet I made sure I took the time to meet with Scott and Chris.
I’ve got many other stories like this, of seemingly innocuous conversations and relationships have led to spectacular and exciting opportunities.
Putting the effort in sets you apart. The opportunity is that most people don’t. So those who do, are the ones who stand out.

“I implemented one more thing from the Retreat and it has resulted in a new client which gives me a positive ROI within 6 days”
Claire McTernan – Employee to Business Owner

“within two months I went from an average of one client per month from networking, to five clients”
Samantha Rollins, Trinity Accountants