Tools For Success: Building a Network List

The first article in this series listed more than 25 tactics to increase your business success, all of them based on my experience. I started with nothing and didn’t get to college, so I know you can achieve maximum success, regardless of your education. E-mail me to get the first article (or any of the other articles) in the series. Each takes a closer look at one of the tactics listed in that first article.

I know this sounds trivial, but it’s got to be in my top 10 most important secrets of my success. You see, no matter how smart you are or how hard you work, you simply can’t achieve maximum success without help. Many of my articles talk about how you need others to help you, using leverage, delegating, being efficient, on and on. Many of those tactics require mastering this seemingly trivial tool.

When I was 30, I was saving business cards. I starting using a pocket electronic rolodex in the 80s, which everyone made fun of me for. This was long before iPhones or PDAs (Can you say Treo or Palm?). If you had a lake house, I knew the phone number. I was everyone else’s phone directory. All my friends used to say, “Sturgeon’s got the number; ask him.”

I’m not sure when I truly realized the value of keeping a database of contacts, sometimes in the 90’s I reckon, I just knew it made me more efficient and saved me time (another article in this series covers tactics to find an extra hour per day). I had a protocol for entering contacts though. I always entered your full name, phone, and mailing address. And keywords. This was important. If I met you at a business meeting, I got your card and entered what you did, and keywords like met at Kiwanis Club May 1993. When I did my first private stock offering I had over 2,000 contacts. Today, its 4,000. Today, I put them in categories also, for further sorting.

It takes me a minute or so, but it has paid off in spades. Need an SBA loan consultant? I’ve got 3 in my phone. Plumber? I can type the word plumber in the keywords, and 12 of those folks pop right up. I recently had a friend hit a young boy on a bicycle and kill him. He needed a criminal attorney. I’ve never needed one but had 3 referrals. The list goes on and on. I use the list. If you and I were business friends, you would regularly hear from me by mail. Today, I email mostly but the principle of building contact list is the same.

I’ve got every reporter who ever wrote a story about me. Every banker that I met or who has made me a loan. Every attorney, real estate professional, and folks that do obscure things like land survey, phase-one environmental reports, CAD drawings, or transportation cost audits. Imagine all the folks that you’ve met that you later you wished you could remember when the time comes.

Today, it’s about email. In a flash, as fast as you can say keep a list, I can reach out to that guy I met 5 years ago who does asbestos remediation reports. That’s efficient! I just scan my Outlook contacts for the word asbestos and I am on it!

Now, about that stock offering. They say one out of 10 private stock offerings gets to document stage, and one out of 50 actually funds. That’s one-in-500 odds. I sent my first one out to my list in 1998 (they are called friends-and-family offerings) and oversubscribed it in 2 weeks, raising $1 million. I’ve done 4 since, all oversubscribed. Many have asked me how to do it, but they don’t have a list; they haven’t kept it through the years. My magic list also makes party invitations and Christmas cards a breeze.

Remember only you can make business great!

Ron Sturgeon, Mr. Mission Possible, has been a successful business owner for more than 35 years. As a small business consultant, he can deliver wisdom and advice gleaned from an enviable business career that started when he opened a VW repair business as a homeless 17-year-old and culminated in the sale of several businesses he built to Fortune 500 companies.

Ron has helped bankers, lawyers, insurance agents, restaurant owners, and body shop owners, as well as countless salvage yard owners to become more successful business people. He is an expert in helping small business owners set the right business strategies, implement pay-for- performance, and find new customers on the web.

As a consultant, Ron shares his expertise in strategic planning, capitalization, compensation, growing market share, and more in his signature plainspoken style, providing field-proven, and high-profit best practices well ahead of the business news curve. Ron is the author of nine books, including How to Salvage More Millions from Your Small Business.

To inquire about consulting or keynote speaking, contact Ron at 817-834-3625, ext. 232, rons@MrMissionPossible.com5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117.