Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

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Do you know the biggest networking mistake that you could possibly make? No it is not being shy, but it is actually ignoring the little guy. At every conference I have been to in the last few years I constantly see well-known people brush off the little guy.

This could be because they might not be well known or that they have little to no money, but the reality is there is a lot of value in them. You usually will not see the value out of these individuals right away, but over time you will.

For example, I was at a conference a few months ago where one individual who had no money needed marketing advice and was looking for free help. He chased down a few of the top marketers and no one wanted to help him out for free, but I decided to do so. After helping him for a few hours he became an evangelist and started going around telling people how great I was. And to make a long story short, one of the individuals he talked me up to ended up becoming a client that consistently spends 75k a month with my marketing firm.

Now in most cases when I help out people for free I usually don’t make money because of them, but that one rare occurrence can make it worth helping out people for free. So the next time you see a little guy, help them out. If you don’t, sooner or later you will make a big mistake.

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Comments

  1. Neil, great example. You never know who they know or what position they will be at certain points of their life. They may surprise you!

  2. That’s right. You never know who you are talking to.

    I was talking to an old lady at coffee shop few weeks ago. She was asking me for help to get on the Wi-Fi at Starbucks. I gave her my help. She bought me a cup of coffee.

    I just saw her face on the TV news few days ago. She is a very rich lady in Taiwan who owns many companies.

    • The funny thing about rich people, is many of them are people that you would have never expected to be rich. People like plumbers that own their own company are in many cases millionaires. As long as you don’t look down upon them, you’ll be in good shape.

  3. You are absolutely right! I can speak from personal experience that the people I helped out before I decided to make a career out of IT has helped me to get new clients through recommendations and references. What makes things better is the fact that most of them now hold good positions with various firms.

    • This is very true. Although someone may not be helpful to you now, in 5 to 10 years they can be very helpful. You never know where people will end up, which is why it is wise to be kind to everyone.

  4. Conrad Hees :

    Good advice, and something that is not talked about enough these days. Everyone is trying to give advice on how to reach the big guys, but there are lots of soon-to-be-big-guys all around who are way more accessible and way easier to forge a deeper, more powerful alliance with early on in their careers. Relationships with them will often yeild the greatest results.

    Nice post, Neil

    • Not only that, these people are more likely to still respect you when they become big. From my experiences, people usually remember the ones who help them out, even when they happen to make it.

  5. My grandfather was a salesman, back in the day, and told me how he would always spend a few minutes chatting to the front of house staff before making his way to the manager.

    “Those people,” he told me, “would be the decision makers one day.”

    It’s true. They’re at the bottom now, but they’re the ones next in line and ignoring them is to ignore your future.

    • Very true… something my father told me was that life is just like a tree. You climb up with the help of the branches (the little people), and if you break (hurt) them along the way you will find it difficult to come back down unless you decide to jump off the top. Just a thought I wanted to share…

    • In marketing and sales we call these people “gatekeepers”. Although they may not be anyone important, you still have to be friendly with them if you want to get to the management. Because not only do they control who sees management, but they can also influence them to some extent.

      And as you mentioned, they usually move up in their careers, so sooner or later they are the ones you have to impress.

      • You’ve hit it head-on about the gatekeepers. These people are even more important if you’re out looking for work, because they could be the ones that actually help you land your dream job or get the dream contract. Suck up to the gatekeepers if you can and weasel information out of them.

  6. Many of us work with early stage startups because it’s what we like to do. We admire the passion that the ‘little guys’ bring to the table. Congratulations on doing the right thing AND having it pay off.

    • Thanks Josh! I am the same way and work with many early stage startups. Although they don’t have as much money compared to large companies, they care more about their users.

  7. Good advice, we should grab some food I need free marketing advice :)

  8. Imran, send me a note. Check us out at morgandorado.com. Email is there.

  9. ROFL! I love that quote! I am going to start using it from now on.

  10. good advice, I go to mining, financial investors all the time and I see people who are after the big guys trying to get their attention. I on the other hand sit back relax and people tend to approach me. its prolly becuz am on TV every week.

  11. so you consider yourself one of the big guys?

  12. No. Me being on TV is something different. I host music show. When people are used to watching people on TV and seeing them up close they think they know the person and approach me while they try to remember how they know me.

  13. Neil if you were to visit Mongolia, I will have you on every show there is.

    Our bank is organizing a MicroFinance Conference this may check it out if you are interested.

    http://www.xacbank.mn/mfc-conference2008/

    It will be a big event for Micro Finance Institutes.

  14. It’s called “Ubs Music” the only music show that runs in english here in Mongolia. I started the show 2 years ago.

    Our team has won couple of awards from TV Festivals.

    Also the only advantage of our show is on every Oct 6th We Have the Ubs Music Video Music Awards ( The Only VMA’s here in Mongolia)

  15. Too many people get hung up on trying to land the “big guys” in business. In affiliate marketing at least, often times these are the guys that can produce a ton of volume but for smaller margins.

    Another thing I have seen is that many small guys with brilliant minds and a strong work ethic will develop in to superstars in a few years. Guess who they want to work with when they get there?

    As always, great post Niel

  16. Well said Neil, I am fortunate to work for a search engine marketing company that does just what you mentioned. This positive attitude is also reflected in the spirit of our employees. Good karma goes a long way.

    Glad to hear someone talking about helping the little guy.
    Dave

  17. This is a pretty amazing story. There are so many people in the world that only do things or offer help to be self serving. It is always about “what can this do for me” or “how good will this make me look.” If it doesn’t meet the criteria, they won’t even consider it. What is funny about that is that people who do things without thinking about the outcome often get a better one.

    Great job Neil and congrats on getting some “pay back” for it.

    • This is so true. Most of the people who only think about “what can this do for me” usually don’t end up succeeding. By having that kind of attitude people can usually tell that you only care about yourself.

  18. Humility is something that needs to be imbibed into more people these days. And that is something I have noticed only in the top-rung of people. Not in the mid-ones.

    Way to go Neil, you haven’t lost your Indian-ness in a foreign land.

    • I still represent in America, but I think I lost a lot of my Indian-ness. For example, I think the main difference is most Indians do not like spending money and are naturally cheap. I on the other hand spend money like it is water.

      I am not saying this is bad or good, but I think I have changed a good amount and adapted into the American culture.

  19. good advice Neil. I can personally attest that you live by those words. You were very kind to speak with me, and come out and speak at our conference last year. Our attendees really appreciated you being there.

    Keep leading my example 8).

  20. There is a flip side to this article. I work with a heavy network marketing model where I flip the 80/20, in my line of work (online gambling) it is more like 95/5. Essentially I can only focus on the big guys but big guys know other big guys. The good news is that with branding you can create an image that even the little guy will want to be a part of, most of my smaller customers don’t require as much attention as the big guys. I tend to lose the jerks that you just can’t please.

    • Your strategy makes sense. For your industry it makes sense to go after the big guys because they are the ones that will feed you, plus all the small guys will want a piece of the action so they will try and butter you up.

      At the end of the day this probably means higher payouts for you. :)

  21. Oh snap, Beanie showed up on Neil’s blog. He is one of the biggest poker affiliates out there in respect to rakeback. Welcome Beanie!

    Beanie has done a great job at branding over the years. The best comment he made is as follows:

    “The good news is that with branding you can create an image that even the little guy will want to be a part of”

    He has done just this in our industry, and makes loads of money because of it.

  22. Beanie how would you like to operate in Mongolia? We have law against real Casino’s after people went crazy over slot mashine’s and poker houses. By far there is no law against online casino’s.

  23. Always do good, just for good’s sake. The “pay back” will always come to you from where you least expect it and when you least expect it!

    And if possible always be nice to both the “big guy” and the “little guy” :-)

  24. Sadly I find myself thinking this way in the blogosphere. We get so caught up in the game that we loose focus on people helping out people.

    That’s one of the reasons I like escaping to Nicaragua. Such an easier going place and less “games”

  25. Well said Neil, great example. You never know who they know or what position they will be at certain points of their life. They may surprise you! This is so common within the online marketing industry, they bump into one another at pitches.

    • Or more importantly you don’t know where they are going to be in the future. The last thing you want to do is ignore a person because you don’t know who is going to be the next millionaire.

  26. Thats a great example, and a great attitude to have. Even without the added bonus from the new client, it’s great to help others regardless if you end up getting “something out of it”.

  27. Wow, very interesting, Neil. This story actually brought some tears of joy to my eyes – 75k per month eventually for helping someone that other top marketers didn’t pay any attention to because he wanted free advice… really interesting and inspiring. Yes, it’s good to help people out, especially those that need help but can’t afford to pay. I agree.

  28. sell textbooks :

    That is so true. Now there are those people that need to be ignored at conferences, I won’t name names. I remembered when I first started out no one wanted to give me the time of day. then I was taken under someones wings because of my persistence. I am now out on my own, and I love what I do.

    • I think that most people don’t have the time of day unless you can show the passionate persistence in what you want. Good for you for making it happen.

  29. This is an Excellent example of how good public relations with everybody inevitably pays dividends. Being known and loved as a nice person by all and sundry, and trying to help when you can, and being courteous when you can not is bound to help somewhere along the line. Your example may be a bit extreme Neil, but it just serves to reinforce your point to an unbelievable magnitude!

  30. thats very deep, sometimes in this kind of world people tend to ignore and be selfish because they thin its the only way to make money, by steping on others heads, i have never agreed with that philosophy

  31. I’ve had the same experience.

    I’ve been blessed with an amazing number of mentors so have passed it along to others.

    While never expecting it, I’ve landed quite a bit of consulting work over the years from their word of mouth promotion of me.

    Thanks for the great reminder to do more of it.

  32. I agree, and you shouldn’t be too quick to judge somebody. That person may just have something that you will need one day, or they are the complete opposite of the “bad person” you think they are just by looking at them.

    I was behind somebody in a drive-thru that was smoking. I am not a smoker, so I would rather not deal with smoke, especially when I am just trying to get my lunch and move on. So, instantly I thought “this person is so inconsiderate for smoking while they know I am driving behind them with my window down waiting for my food.” This made me think negatively of them…until I got up to the window to pay/get my food and the cashier said “Don’t worry, the guy in front of you paid for your meal.” Wow, I made a quick negative judgement, and it turns out this guy in front of me was so nice that he paid for the meal of a stranger. I’ll think twice next time.

    I also have found a great example of not judging a book by it’s cover that was written by a motivational speaker named Dave Weber. It is definitely worth taking a couple minutes to read. http://blog.weberassociates.com/?p=518

  33. Although the Google guys ( Larry & Bin) approached Yahoo yet they lost the chance to buy Google in its early stage. We too often fail to see the things which can turn into gold due to preconceived ideas. It is always better to judge a person or incident from the direction in which it is going not at the position it is standing.

  34. I’ve been in that exact same situation and have come out on top in the same way. I treat everyone as a prospective client with equal value

  35. Too many people get hung up on trying to land the “big guys” in business. In affiliate marketing at least, often times these are the guys that can produce a ton of volume but for smaller margins.

    As always, great post Niel

  36. It’s a good story. “It is not true that nice guys finish last. Nice guys are winners before the game ever starts.”

  37. you are so true neil. thanks

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