The simple way to find the four people you need to build a successful business

Lots of entrepreneurs struggle with finding like-minded people to help them grow their business. Here's a simple way to find the people you need to take on your journey with you.

“It’s really hard to find like-minded people.”

Have you ever felt that way?

Have you found it tough to find good people to surround yourself with as you build your business?

If so, you’re not alone.

I’ve heard a variation of that sentiment from business owners many times over the past few weeks.

It echoed what a few readers expressed a few months ago in response to a post I wrote about the four people you need to build a successful business.

It’s a frustrating feeling to know you need a rockstar crew, but not being sure about how to find them.

And that’s no bueno.

So today we change all that.

Today, I pull back the curtain on a simple way I personally use to find multiples of all four of the people needed to build a rockstar business.

The simple way to find your people

“Seth Godin is going to be speaking? I NEED to be there.”

That’s how the conversation went down in my head in late 2013. That’s when Copyblogger announced Seth would be keynoting their inaugural conference.

I need you to understand something. Like many of my fellow marketing geeks, I read Seth’s blog every day. I’ve got seven of his books. I often quote him, and share his posts with people I think need to read them.

Seth is my light shiner. He’s my virtual mentor (even though he doesn’t know it).

And by going to this conference, I was going to have the opportunity to get more of his wisdom. Live and in the flesh.

So I bought a ticket and showed up to the event five months later. I heard Seth’s keynote and soaked it all up. The jury’s still out on whether I sounded like I a bumbling fool when I spoke to him though. 🙂

Sonia and Seth
I wonder if some of Seth’s smarts rubbed off on me? 🙂

Seth and I aren’t quite best buds as a result of this brief meeting.  But what I learned from attending the event has made a significant difference in my business.

The people I need to help me move my business forward, hang out at live events.

And if you want to find the right people to engage with for your business, you should make your way to live events too.

The research-backed reasons why you shouldn’t avoid in-person events

The internet is a fabulous invention. It let’s you connect, and build relationships with people all over the world. It can let you run your business from the comfort of your home, while wearing your favorite pajamas.

But if you’re not careful, the internet will get you out of the habit of connecting with people in person.

And that’s exactly what you shouldn’t do. That is if you’re looking to connect with high quality people.

Research backs this up as well.  Studies have shown:

  • You’re less likely to bond with a person you’ve only met virtually
  • People who meet in person are more generous with one another
  • Meeting face-to-face is a more efficient way to establish trust
  • In-person meetings inspire positive emotions
  • Face-to-face meetings build relationships

When it comes to building relationships,  the authors of a paper written for the Cornell School of Hotel Administration put it this way:

“Face-to-face meetings provide the best environment for the chaotic process of networking, reconnecting, story-telling, and relationship-building to occur. Informal exchanges of ideas, “bumping into old friends,” striking up a conversation with someone you’ve never met before, or being introduced to someone a colleague just knew you had to meet…all in the context of the buzz of energized conversation all around you…just cannot be replicated virtually.”

Bottom line: If you want to have an easier go of it when building relationships with key people, you’ve got to power down your computer. You’ve got to go interact with them face-to-face at in-person events.

Fishing where the fish are: How four in-person events connected me with my people

Since spring 2014, I’ve attended several conferences and workshops on topics in my industry.

As a result, I’ve met and connected with multiples of the people my business needs most. Here are a few:

The Light Shiners

These are the people who’ll show you what’s possible with your business. They’ll show you the strategies to use to get to your goal. They’ll inspire you to dream bigger.

Here are some of the folks who’s light I’m basking in:

Sonia Simone – Copyblogger Media

She’s a super smart writer and business woman. She’s got pink hair, and an even more fabulous name. 🙂 She tells it like it is, and fully embraces what it means to be “The Real You” and incorporating it into your work. Sonia’s also co-founder of Copyblogger Media, a multi-million dollar company.

Here’s some of the wisdom she dropped at last year’s Authority Intensive:

“You will never be able to do something remarkable if you aren’t willing to suck badly for longer than you’d like.”

Sonia and Sonia!
for the record – I was wearing heels, Sonia was not
Henneke – Enchanting Marketing

I learn a ton from her writing tips. But I learn even more from just watching what she’s done in a short time to build her business. It’s super inspiring. As Henneke practices what she preaches, she blazes a trail for those of us who know her.

Here’s a great quote from her on success that highlights one of the reasons I pay such close attention to her:

“I think it’s about believing in yourself and just going for it, make that first step and be kind to yourself…we tend to beat ourselves up and think we need to know more…we get angry about mistakes, or bad habits…But, I think there’s a balance between discipline and being kind to ourselves as well.”

Jared Easley – Starve the Doubts and Podcast Movement

He’s the ultimate connector, community builder, and guy that everyone loves. He epitomizes what it means to collaborate.  And in the short time I’ve known him, I’ve observed his admirable work as a true servant leader.

Here are a few wise words from Jared’s keynote address at Florida Podfest:

“Be the noticer.”

Vernon Foster, Jared Easley, and me
Vernon Foster, Jared Easley, and moi
Sally Hogshead – Fascinate and How the World Sees You

She showed me what it means to OWN the stage. And she owned it by fascinating everyone in the audience from the time she walked out. At 8:30 in the morning. After taking taking a shot of Jaigermeister to kick-off the presentation.

Here’s my favorite quote from her keynote:

“Different is better than better.”

Henry Rollins – Punk Legend

He showed me what it looks like to never. say. die. He reminded me that sometimes you’ve got to kick down the doors of opportunity. And other times, you just have to build your own door.

Here’s one of the pearls I had to write down from a story he shared:

“You don’t think we [his band Black Flag] exist?!!! We’re coming back 10,000 times stronger!”

The GPS’

A coach prepares you for the big time. He whips you into shape. He pushes you to go beyond your own abilities, by training you, ridding you of bad habits, and helping you get better at your craft.

Here are a few folks who are training me to be better than I could ever be on my own:

Jerod Morris & Jon Nastor – The Showrunner

I’m in a course they run that teaches me and others how to be Showrunners. I need to know this as I prepare to launch a podcast (details coming soon!).

Since several of us from the course were at the Copyblogger conference last week, Jerod and Jon huddled with us over lunch. They gave us advice, and let us pick their brains on things to consider for our own shows. The time spent was super valuable.

Showrunner Huddle with Jerod and Jonny
Showrunner Huddle with Jerod and Jonny
Mike King – iPullRank

He gave a presentation on a topic I thought I was pretty well versed on. He delivered a ton of valuable information, and showed me I had only scratched the surface on the subject.

Besides, anyone who can inspire me to read a 12,000+ word blog post on a Saturday is someone I can totally learn from.

Danny Iny – Firepole Marketing

I attended an intimate workshop Danny held last summer with eight other attendees.  With such a small group, Danny was able to teach us some concepts, answer questions, and provide direct feedback for each one of our individual businesses.

The changes I made as a result of Danny’s guidance made a big impact.

Sonia Thompson, Danny Iny, and Bhoomi Pathak
Hanging with some cool Canadians, Danny Iny and his lovely wife and CFO, Bhoomi Pathak

The Sharpeners

Your peers hold you accountable. They won’t let you slack off or make excuses. They push you. They fuel you. When you are weak, the right peers will help make you strong.

Here are some of the good people who keep me on my toes. They get what I’m going through. And they’re just a cool bunch to hang with too:

Kevin Cucarro, Darren DeMatas, Anthony Sills, Brian Ruggiero, Keith Jennings, Raubi Perelli, Melissa Suzuno, Ed Feng, and Erin Flynn.

with Raubi Perilli and Melissa Suzuno
with Raubi Perilli and Melissa Suzuno
Sonia Thompson and Anthony Sills
with Anthony Sills at Authority 2014

The Cheerleaders

Your cheerleaders are those people in your life who won’t let you quit. They believe in you, and your vision, even when you don’t.

These beautiful souls provided emotional support that went straight to my heart.

Mica Gadhia – Living with a Different Brain and Copyblogger

She gave me the most awesome hugs. She has a way of spreading sunshine every time I interact with her, that always makes my day a little brighter.

Sonia Thompson and Mica Gahdia
getting some sunshine from Mica

4 Types of live events to consider as a means to find your people


These events are great, because they attract a crowd of people interested in a specific topic.

And the really good conferences provide opportunities for you to interact with experts and speakers in attendance.

Another cool thing, is that the agendas and speakers are often published in advance. Some of them even publish a list of attendees before the event.

By spending some time going over these materials, you’ll get a feel for the type of people going.

The educational components of the conferences are fabulous. But the real magic happens in conversations during breaks, meals, and other social events.

When choosing which conferences to go to, look for what’s happening in your industry. For instance, the events I’ve attended have been all about content marketing and podcasting. These are topics that are big parts of my business now and into the future.

So if you’re an accountant, for instance, check out accounting conferences. There should be events you can find on the local, regional, and national levels.

Conferences can range anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.

They’re not the cheapest events to go to. But the value you get in return from high quality relationships with high quality people is priceless.


Although still highly educational in nature, workshops tend to be a bit more intimate.  Where conferences are often in more of a lecture format, the idea behind workshops is to work on a specific topic and how you can apply it.

It’s much more of a roll-up-your-sleeves and get-to-work type of event.

Find out about relevant workshops for you by following influencers and leading organizations in your industry, in the event they’ll be holding one.

Similar to conferences, searches for live workshops in your local and regional areas should turn up some useful results.

Costs for workshops can range widely, depending on who’s administering it, the duration, and the level of personal engagement with the leaders.

Happy-hours and meet-ups

If you choose carefully, you can make some high quality connections at smaller, local events.

Meetups and happy hours that focus on topics of interest to your business require less of an investment in resources. And they can yield extremely positive results.

Chris Krimitsos (I met him at a free in-person event – see below.  He also organized Florida Podfest) holds a monthly meet-up on podcasting in the Tampa area.  I’m looking forward to attending.

And since signing-up on, I receive weekly emails to keep me in the know about upcoming events. Now I’ve got a good pulse of gatherings happening in my area on topics I’m interested in.

Costs for meet-ups and happy hours range anywhere from $0 to low double digits. It depends on the event. And of course on how much food and or drinks you consume while there.

Other free events

A friend introduced me to the organization 1 Million Cups. It’s a non-profit that brings together entrepreneurs each week to share and provide feedback on business ideas.

It’s also a great way to engage and be an active part of the entrepreneurial community in your local area.

And if 1 Million Cups isn’t in your city, there are many other similar type meetings happening just like it.

Local chambers of commerce, and business development centers, are options to check into for events as well.

It’s time to find your crew

You know you need to surround yourself with good people.

And good people are eager to get to know you. Especially once they learn about how hard you’re working to make life better for the people you serve.

But you can’t just go twiddle your thumbs and hope the A-team you need will show up on your doorstop.

You’ve got to go find them. You’ve got to show up where they’re hanging out.

Lot’s of high-quality, like minded people hang out at focused in-person events.

And if you want interact with large numbers of like-minded people, you need to invest in going to live events too.

Your four people are waiting for you.

Go meet them.