How to Build a World-Class Network

Colin and Brent discuss building a magnet for cool people, protecting your most valuable resource, and Basecamp's drama of the week

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Colin Keeley: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome back. This is Colin Keeley. Here

Brent Sanders: [00:00:02] And I'm Brent Sanders.

Colin Keeley: [00:00:03] we are two guys buying and building wonderful internet companies.

Brent Sanders: [00:00:07] Indeed. And today we wanted to talk about ,  sourcing in general, like this idea of, this kinda kicked off for me. I've had a bunch of really good introductions recently, just random ,  Random people that have been connected me by another person that was just Oh, you should talk to and I would tell you, I dread those introductions. Cause I'm like, my time is so I treat it like it's too valuable probably, but that's a personal thing, right? It's I've got so many hours a day. We have childcare and it's now that we're. Family, you really gotta be strategic. I can't work long night.

I could, but like I'm trying not to, I'm trying to have a nice balance and I have a set amount of work time. And so to give up 30 minutes or an hour for somebody that you have no idea about has been always something. And I'm just like, Ugh, I'd rather just work and get that satisfaction of getting my stuff done.

But. I've decided, it's a pandemic or we're getting out of the pandemic at least, how else are you meeting people, talking to people? So I've been taking a lot more meetings with people and it's been awesome. And it's been a really good way to shift focus around sourcing deals.

And as well as ,  sourcing talent, right? Cause it's there really is no other better way than sort of personal referrals. So I don't know. Collin, do you take cold? Because there was this period of my time that if someone was like, Hey, I'd love to the brain pickers. I'd love to pick your brain on something.

Or I'd love to schedule some time. It's tell me what you want. Tell me ,  get to the specifics. Don't waste my time. It was, I would always say, I don't want to waste your time. Which really means I don't want to waste my time. But, so if you ever got that email from me, that's really what I meant, but I'm curious ,  do you get, do you take all the meetings that you get or you feel like it's a good use of time?

Colin Keeley: [00:01:38] so early in my career, I took almost everything. And I still want to be helpful to like students that reach out to me ,  from my Alma mater ,  universe, Chicago or McAlester, but then like my presence grew with tech in Chicago. And then I just had everyone in the big 10 that's moving to Chicago, that's like into tech would Google it and find me.

So I had way too many people reaching out. And so I like meeting with people. I think it's the fastest way to learn if it's like super relevant to what I'm doing or want to do, but. I try to now throw a blockers. Like people have to, people will ask Hey, can I pick your brain? And I'll never say yes to that initially.

I'll say something like, Hey, happy to answer any questions you have here. So it's like on Twitter or whatever. And then we could schedule a meeting if it makes sense. And I would say like 50 to 80% of the people don't reply to that. And so that weeds out a lot of people pretty quickly, some people reply and then I could reply via text.

And then I could repurpose that text to like a blog post or something in the future. If it's something that comes up a bunch and then. Beyond that if it's like, Oh, this person's legit. It makes sense to actually do a meeting, I'll do a meeting. So if you're reaching out to me on Twitter, you'll probably get some variation of that response.

I don't mean it to be offensive or like my time's more valuable than yours, but I think it's, time's the most valuable resource any of us have. And so I am pretty protective of it.

Brent Sanders: [00:02:58] Yeah, I'm super protective of it. And I think, it's there, I've just had a lot of people in my spheres. There's been a profile of I got a guy, I got a guy, I got a tech guy, I got a developer guy and it's just they connect you to everybody and everything. And there's generally like a.

In education, you're going to provide somebody for 30 minutes of your time and sure. Maybe that'll come back and, turn into a project or a reference or something and you want to be helpful. But then there are also people like nothing drives me. More crazy than getting on the phone with somebody who is like delusional, or you can just tell is wasting your time.

Like they want to do something, but they haven't. And it's you've got bigger problems and I can't help you. But ,  and I'm not the kind of person to get off those ,  calls easily. Although I am straightforward with people when, especially if they're asked generally the conversations, I have an idea, I want to build an app.

I want to build a business and they're just dipping a toe in something. And I do enjoy some of those conversations. I really do enjoy, especially when people are like, Hey, I've got something built and I have customers and I don't know how to, I'm not technical and I don't know how to scale it.

Those are fun. But  when people are like, I have zero traction, I've done nothing to do this with my time, but I'd like to waste 30 minutes of your time to think about it. And it's Ooh, not a good intro. So it generally goes back to if you vouch for this person ,  I probably won't take the intro.

But yeah ,  I had ,  three really recent ,  introductions again. I was dreading them and they all turn into. Really good opportunities. One turned into an automation opportunity, another turned into potential deal sourcing, or even CEO's sourcing of Hey, I know somebody who'd be great for you, you guys to talk to.

So I think I'm going to start. And I think as part of this model is just start setting a quota and being that person who's actually doing the outreach.  I I I think. We do a podcast and do another podcast ,  for the automation business formulated. And it's those have been also really interesting excuses to talk to interesting people from all over the world.

And so that's another thing that I think just using as an excuse to talk to the people too. Let them know that I'm authentic. They're authentic. Talk about interesting things. See if we can find ways to help. I would say I'm not comfortable being like, how can I be helpful? That's always such a weird, I want to be helpful.

Don't get me wrong. I just, I feel awkward. It's what can I do to help you? And it's I don't know. I don't know. It's weird, but it is, that's very much I've learned in doing sales  for the agency for other businesses is like ,  that's the currency of sales. Folks is they just get into a room, understanding each other's background, build a rapport and then figure out, okay, how can we help one another to achieve our goals?

And I appreciate that because it's actually fairly ,  not transactional, but it's Hey ,  we're trying to climb this ladder together. How can we, push one another and help one another. So I guess it's ,  being more transparent in, in having some candor around. Okay ,  we had this meeting.

It was sure I'd like to meet people, but there is a goal that we're both trying to reach and we can likely support one another, which is that's cool. I don't know. I just have this thing stuck up my ass about it being weird to say, to ask for help or to say I need something from somebody I haven't given anything to write to, to start that sort of like balance of favors.

Colin Keeley: [00:06:10] Yeah, this is a bigger question of like, how do you network authentically,

Brent Sanders: [00:06:14] Yeah.

Colin Keeley: [00:06:18] I think the best way really is just do cool things like  do stuff on Twitter, do stuff in contents or podcasting, writing blog posts. And that kind of just acts as like a magnet to attract interesting people to you.

And so it's less like a, I don't know, outbound, help me. It's just mutual connections reach out to you. And that's much easier for someone like me or it sounds like someone like you as well.

Brent Sanders: [00:06:40] Yeah, I love that kind of stuff.  That's what really attracted me to the internet. When I was in college, just like going on a message boards and it was more so around creative interests, it was like learning graphic design, learning how to code learning 3d design. And there just weren't the resources that are out now.

I went to school. This is like the early two thousands. And. Finding communities and support and pushing one another like that, it was very comfortable with and confident about. And going back to that, I think would be ,  I often want to go back to that realm of more creative interests of creating music, creating art, whatever it is ,  and, sharing that out.

But ,  it's not as relevant to like what I do during the day. And it's a weird mix of putting out podcasts. This is technically a business podcast, it's. A sense. Yeah, it is. It's a business podcast. We have another podcast. We talk about business. We talk about code and I think eking into that world where kind of life, lifestyle, business, and art mix.

And when I say art, just saying like creativity, cool things, but there's a ton of creativity and coding, there's art within it. Just, I don't know. I'm interested in the sharing of that kind of stuff, which feels a little higher level to me. It's like stuff everyone can connect with.

Colin Keeley: [00:07:50] Yeah, it depends on you to find it. I think podcasting and like storytelling is arts, Twitter to me like is beauty and language and how you write stuff, especially in a fine format. So I like the wordplay of all of that, but.

Brent Sanders: [00:08:04] It's fun. I would say that you've hit me to the, the, you took the day rope Parral chorus and,

Colin Keeley: [00:08:09] I never took it.

Brent Sanders: [00:08:11] Oh, you never took it. I thought you did.

Colin Keeley: [00:08:12] no. This is a natural God given ability.

Brent Sanders: [00:08:18] Yeah. I, the more you read, the more you tune into that stuff, but I have noticed there is a fair amount of wordsmithing in Twitter that I never really appreciated until recently. Until I started creating my own Twitter threads, which maybe I'm due for another one this weekend. I don't know.

It's been two weeks been about a week since I tweeted. So yeah.

Colin Keeley: [00:08:34] What I noticed actually on Twitter is I used to do, I'll do one tweet a day, like 9:00 AM. It would fire out from buffer and. You get a lot of engagements. You don't get a ton of followers generally from that, but Twitter threads, like you don't get as much engagement, but you get way more followers. So I'm thinking of just doing one thread a week.

I think that may be a better use of my time.

Brent Sanders: [00:08:55] Yeah, it's gotta be ,  it's gotta be a hot take. It just, I don't spend a lot of time on Twitter. I know we talk about this every. Podcasts lately. But when I do, I've noticed, and I've even seen people make fun of it as like they'll come up with some hot take. And then the tweet right after that, it's I just had to say that because the algorithm, this type of take where I don't even remember what it was, something about NFTs or something who knows, but ,  I just ,  I got to come up with some hot takes.

I don't know. Maybe it'll be about ,  The candle business and what's wrong with it, or, something along those lines. Speaking of hot takes though, this was a hot week on the internet, around the base camp folks. I don't know if you want to talk about that at all.

Colin Keeley: [00:09:31] Yeah. Talk about sourcing, but let's do that maybe next week. I think it is probably worthy of its own episode. So we're seeing in the microcopy world. So yeah ,  let's talk about base camp ,  and then banning ,  political and society talk on work forums. So not outside of work. What was your take on that?

Brent Sanders: [00:09:48] Yeah. Coming from, two white dudes, which is relevant, I think to the ,  I think it is relevant, where it's coming from. It seems like that does matter. And so I, at first I would say, I was like, yeah, what's wrong with that? And then, I am ,  I re. As I said, I read Twitter a little bit, but then I, went on to this message board.

That is, again, it's more of a creative ,  artsy-fartsy message board and some of the perspectives there. And again, it's a little more toned down. It's like a message board. People are more accountable for their speech and there's actually some really good points in there that definitely shaped my view on it.

And I think my conclusion is just, you can't bifurcate these things right now. And I don't think you can have quote unquote, a mission-driven company, but I think. He mentioned was this freed, who mentioned ,  we're not an impact business. It's like wrong. Everybody's an impact business. You have people in your business, they are being affected by something, or they're concerned about something it's you can't say talk about something else.

So I think there's layers to it. But I think that was my takeaway is guess what? Everybody has an impact business and you have to  represent the concerns and feelings of your employees, otherwise you're, you're just, I don't know what you are if you don't, that's the question, but I do think that it introduced an interesting discussion.

Obviously it's great for their marketing. They're like always controversial with everything, but I was curious, what was your take

Colin Keeley: [00:11:05] Yeah. The best take on this whole thing is base camp is drama as a service. So they are just so good and turning every little like workplace quabble or quibble, whatever

Brent Sanders: [00:11:17] Squabble and

Colin Keeley: [00:11:18] squabble disagreement ,  into a enormous news story. And they employ like as many people as like a whole foods or something like it, it's so small in the world of the, Employees, but it is such an outsize impact on everything.

I don't know. I see both sides of it. I think it's so clear. Politics is getting more and more explosive and people are aligning identities, far too closely with politics and every issue that comes up. So I try to remove myself as much as possible. Like I'm mute and block, I guess it's called muting any explosive topic or keyword that I really just don't want to deal with. So I think it messes with people's minds a lot. So I see their point of wanting to remove that from the workplace. And I don't think Slack or anything, like email is a great way to, debate happen issues. Like I think everyone should do it in person if they're going to do it.

And then you could see ,  this is a whole person, not this know, they don't stand for this one issue. So I would love if you could remove it from the workplace. I don't know. I don't know if it's actually doable or if it's realistic nowadays, to be able to do that.

Brent Sanders: [00:12:23] yeah. The perspective that I do respect is that because. You're not affected by those issues. And I don't really know what the issues are. So that further furthers the point that the two white dudes don't really, or I, at least I'm not sure what the specific issue that was coming up. It sounds like there was this whole thing about funny names, which was just, that's just rude and disrespectful.

But  having this idea that the rebuttal to that of just like sticking your head in the sand is that, Hey ,  these issues still exist. And that was my kind of takeaway is like this. Everyone's an impact company. You have people there affected by things in society. I couldn't agree more on the electronic formats are not good for that.

Like maybe it does warrant having those conversations in person, but it also begs the question. It's we're here to make collaboration software or not. Make the world better. And it's okay, then that's the kind of business you are, but you can't say you're not an impact business.

I always think about the base camp people as being on the right side of this because of what they've written, what they put out there. So it's really interesting that this is coming from them, but it is. I think this is we're going to see this in a lot more workplaces. I think people are getting  just it's really hard to split what's going on in the world, which is full of chaos and what's going on at work, which is supposed to be clean and tidy and nice.

Colin Keeley: [00:14:41] Yeah, I think there's a question of like, how do you ever get work done if it continues down this path and gets worse and worse, and people are basically just debating all this stuff during their work time. So I don't know. I it's just.

Brent Sanders: [00:14:53] I know how you do it. It's Elon Musk does it. We, you have a mission that's that raises every, like we're going to go to Mars. We're going to elevate the human. I think that's the real challenge for CEOs is to have a mission that's going to be inclusive of everything, right?

We're going to create something wonderful and it's going to have these impacts. So it's an interesting challenge. I don't know, versus the Jack Welch's of the world where, Hey, we're just going to clean house every year. So it's a mix.

Colin Keeley: [00:15:17] Yeah. So the actual backstory here is they had this, funny names like art Simpson, Seymour butts. That's what it sounds like. At least the list names along those lines. And people were calling out D H for it, David, and then David was getting flagged by HR and he's the co-founder and he's just like classic David taking like the most explosive approach.

Like I'm done with this. We're not talking about this anymore. It's bad.

Brent Sanders: [00:15:42] Yeah. Anyways, he's I don't know. That's that guy's got a hot microphone at all times and loves, loves the drama. So there you go. He's probably the main driving factor is the drama as a surface.

Colin Keeley: [00:15:54] it's damn effective. I don't know if you want to pick a fight with someone with the podcast, I'll take it to Twitter and then, market, take it to the press. Get so much drama going on over here.

Brent Sanders: [00:16:04] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I'll start tweeting some hot takes. No, not going to have a see, I understand. I try to look at both sides too much. I have to balance have an opinion on anything.

Colin Keeley: [00:16:15] yeah, I that's a healthier way to live. I think the concern is a lot of people are very one-sided on all this stuff.

Brent Sanders: [00:16:22] Yeah. I think this has been a fragmented conversation, but worthwhile, I think, we've got to address this kind of stuff because we don't live in a bubble.

Colin Keeley: [00:16:29] Yeah, next week will be really good. So I'll talk about everything I've learned in talking with private equity folks in sourcing, which I think is the most opaque part of the process. So that would be helpful for everyone.

Brent Sanders: [00:16:40] Cool. Thanks for listening.

Colin Keeley: [00:16:42] I think everyone. Bye.

Brent Sanders: [00:16:43] Bye Bye.

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