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SPI 686: How to Build Your Business Network with Benjamin Yeh

Your network is your net worth. That is to say, who you choose to surround yourself with can either support your growth or deplete your energy. When was the last time you received a warm lead or referral from your network? And when was the last time you extended an opportunity to a friend?

This fantastic Teaching Friday session with guest host Benjamin Yeh reveals the secret to building impactful relationships and connecting with the right people in your niche.

Tune in to get Benjamin’s 5WG framework for meaningful conversations, the top questions to ask when meeting someone new, advice on the relationships you should avoid, and more!

I’m always floored by the tips and strategies our SPI Pro members share when they guest host the show — this episode is no exception!

Benjamin hosts the Boom Vision Podcast and does incredible work helping entrepreneurs gain clarity in business and create fulfilling lives. Learn more about him at BenjaminYeh.com/spi, where you can also download resources to support you in implementing the techniques discussed today!

SPI 686: Benjamin Yeh Teaching Friday

Benjamin Yeh: True friendships are built from exchanges of meanings. It’s not words. It’s not only what you say, it’s the actions that follow that give those words meanings. The conversations that were meaningful to me are the ones who are either I gained new knowledge, I felt really good emotionally, or that I simply felt heard. If you give more than you take, you’ll receive more from life than you can ever imagine.

Pat Flynn: Hey, hey, it’s Pat here. You’re about to listen to something a little different on the show today. It’s not our usual Friday format where I follow up on Wednesday’s episode. Don’t worry, those aren’t going away forever. Just a little break to bring in our Teaching Friday series, which we do with our SPI Pro members.

We have an incredibly talented pool of people within SPI. Why not give our pros, the spotlight and teach you here on the podcast every once in a while. it’s just one of the perks of being a part of Pro in fact. With each episode, you get to hear a different pro, teach you something special from their area of expertise.

Without further ado, I’ll let them take it away. Oh, and if you want to find out more about SPI Pro and be a part of it, you can go ahead and apply at SPIPro.com.

Announcer: You’re listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network, a show that’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your guest host, he saw one of his favorite movies of all time, The Matrix, six times in the theaters when it was first released in 1999. Benjamin Yeh.

Benjamin Yeh: Louis, I think this is a beginning of a beautiful friendship. This quote was by Rick, played by Humphrey Bogart in the movie Casablanca. Folks, I’d like to ask you, when was the last time you received a warm lead, a referral, or an opportunity that came your way from your friends or network? When was the last time you actually gave a warm lead, referral, or an opportunity to someone you know within your network?

There’s a quote I want to share. Your network is your net worth. This quote was attributed to Jim Rohn. Now, I do believe this to a certain extent. I believe your network can be a powerful soil, an environment that you can cultivate. Who you choose to surround yourself with, that’s in alignment with your values, your vision, your soul is what I find to be vital in determining if your network is supporting your growth or depleting your energy.

Do you wanna know the secret to building impactful relationships? You’ll definitely wanna tune in to today’s episode because I’m gonna reveal the magic of how I’ve cultivated my network that has beared so many unexpected fruits over the past two decades. Hi folks. My name is Benjamin Yeh, and I’m a business and transformation coach.

I am so grateful to be back on SPI to share another Teaching Friday episode. As you may recall, I was on SPI 580 on how to listen to and follow your intuition, and I’m ecstatic to share today’s topic on the secret to building impactful relationships. As a quick recap, I’ve gone through several chapters of my life, starting off as a hospitality real estate consultant to becoming an investment officer for a Forbes 500 family office where I invested and deployed well over 1 billion anywhere from real estate to startups and direct private equity deals.

When I combined my professional experiences with my spiritual journey, I began to understand that the words we use and the thoughts that we think about are all energy. And when you bring that alignment in your life with the words you say, the actions you take and the directions you go towards that make you feel happy, life starts unfolding for you in a magical way.

If you have a burning desire to live an enriching life physically, mentally and spiritually, I invite you to subscribe to my Boom Vision Podcast. Boom Vision is all about health, wealth, and higher self. If you’re searching for a business and transformation coach that can guide you to discover your true north, create aligned wealth, and connect to your higher self while having fun throughout this journey, connect with me via my website BenjaminYeh.com. Follow me on Instagram at @BenjaminYeh. I’m ecstatic to be here because there’s tons to uncover. So let’s dive right in. Your network is your net worth. There’s another quote by Jim Rohn which said, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

I’ll be covering four topics today. The first topic is my personal story, how I met an early mentor in my life that taught me how to build impactful relationships the right way. The second topic is my secret framework. I call the 5WG that I’ve applied and refined throughout my entire life. The third topic is things to look out for, how to best nurture your soil, your environment that you’re rooted in, your immediate network.

And last but not least, is action steps. What you can start doing to intentionally cultivate new, meaningful relationships that best nourish your growth. So let’s start with my personal story.

Chapter one: Act of Kindness. This story starts during my freshman year in college when I was up at UC Berkeley.

It was a few months into my first semester when I got a really strange phone call. I got a call from a gentleman in the admissions office of Cornell University. To summarize his phone chat, he basically said that they were doing a year-end review of all the applicants that either got accepted, rejected, or the ones that were borderline maybes.

And when they were reviewing my application in the maybe pile, he said that their office made a mistake. I should have been admitted and I was like, Wait, hold on a minute. Am I getting punked here? Is this a prank call? The guy’s like, No, no. This is not a prank call. I wish it was a prank call. It is not. We recognize we made a mistake.

And for procedural purposes, would you be willing to resubmit a transfer application because you’ll be guaranteed emissions. And I was like, Um, okay, let me think about this. I appreciate the phone call, but I’m gonna have to really think about this. And gentleman’s like, look, here’s my number. Here’s my name, here’s my email.

We would love for you to reconsider. And then he hung up. And then the next evening I got another phone call. When I picked up the phone, I heard, hello, is this Ben? I was like, Uh, yeah, this is Ben. Who is this? Hey, this is Steve. Steve Cheryl. Mr. Cheryl, how are you? Wait, h how did he get in my phone number? Oh, I called your home and your parents gave me your dorm number.

Oh wow. Okay. Uh, Steve, how can I help you? Ben, did Cornell call you back yet? Uh, actually it’s funny that you say that cuz I did get a phone call yesterday and I had like the strangers conversation with the admissions office. And then Steve went, oh, good, good, good. Okay. Because when I called them back to ask about you, they told me that you didn’t get in.

And I yelled at them saying that If you don’t let Ben into our alma mater, I will never interview for you again. And I hung up and I just paused for a couple seconds. I was like, Steve, you, you didn’t have to do that. I mean, I was so taken back and what Steve was sharing for me, Because Mr. Cheryl was my interviewer when I was applying for Cornell University back when I was a senior in high school.

And so I want to just take a pause here and give you a flashback of the context of why this was so impactful for me. Back in high school when I was applying to different universities, one of my top schools that I want to get in was actually Cornell University. I wanted to get into their hospitality program as an undergrad.

And so when I applied for the school, I was assigned a interviewer, which was Mr. Steve Cheryl. Yeah. So I remember going into his house for the interview. We sat down on the couch in his living room, and we had a really pleasant conversation for about 15 minutes, and then a doorbell rang, and so when he excused himself and got up and opened a door, He realized, oh my gosh, I double booked.

He accidentally also booked a business meeting around the same time that I was gonna interview with Mr. Cheryl, and so he basically turned around and told me, Hey Ben, I’m really sorry I’m not able to cancel this business meeting I’m about to have. Do you mind if we finish up our interview over to phone?

I was like, yeah, sure, no problem. And so I got up and then I left his house. And when I went home and my parents were asking me, Hey, so how did an interview go? I created this story. I told them, you know, I don’t think the interview went that well. I don’t know why I was thinking that way, but I just told my parents, you know, I think Mr. Cheryl probably is just too busy, so why don’t we just call the university to get another interviewer? I had no idea why I created that story, but I did, and I did get a, a second interviewer and I went to that person’s house and we had a 30 minute interview. But long story short, I didn’t get in. So flashback now to my dorm room.

I mean, just thinking about this gets me emotional because here’s a gentleman in his mid sixties at a time that I never knew prior to that interview. I only had a 15 minute interaction, and I didn’t even think that it went all that well, but he went to bat for me. He believed in me, and when he followed up and realized I didn’t get in, and to actually tell them that if I don’t get into the university, he’s not gonna interview for them again.

I mean, he’s probably interviewed over a hundred different students in his lifetime. I was so moved by this, and so I told Steve, Steve, thank you so much. Let me just talk over with my parents to see what we ultimately decide. But I will call you back. I’ll let you know either, which way will we decide? And after talking to my parents, we ultimately decided that I was wanting to stay at UC Berkeley.

But I promised Steve, I call him back. So I called Steve back and I was like, Steve, I really appreciate your help, and I really appreciate that you believed in me. Ultimately, we’ve decided that I’m gonna stay here at Berkeley, but just to express my gratitude, my sincere gratitude for what you’ve done for me, can I help you this upcoming summer?

Would you mind if I intern for you for free for the whole summer and help you in any way I can, just to express just how much I’m grateful for what you’ve done. And Mr. Cheryl was like, well, I haven’t had an intern in a while, but sure, if you wanna come by, why don’t you come by this summer and help me out.

Chapter two: Learning from my Mentor. So when the summer came around, I interned for Mr. Cheryl. In fact, actually interned for him for two summers in a row, but it was that first summer towards the middle of that internship, I remember vividly this one interaction. Mr. Steve Cheryl he was a hospitality consultant and.

Seems like he just knew everyone in town. And so one time he was reaching out to an executive at one of the hospitality management companies. I forget if it was Marriott or Hilton, but for all intents and purposes, let’s assume he was trying to reach Mr. John Smith. And so I remember he was picking up his phone.

He had this tan colored planner that had all his contacts. It was sort of like his Rolodex, right? And he flipped to the page where it was for Mr. John Smith, and then he picked up the phone and called him up. And when a person picked up, he was like, Hey Dorothy, how’s it going? Hey, your son’s about to graduate high school pretty soon, right?

How’s that process going? Yeah, doesn’t time just fly? Hey, by the way, I remember last time you said that you really love Krispy Kreme donuts. I’ve got this voucher for a free dozen glazed Krispy Kreme donuts. Do you mind if I mail that to you? Great. Great, great. Okay. Hey, by the way, is Mr. Smith in? Oh yeah, Steve, right away.

Let me patch your right through. And as I was watching this conversation unfold, my mouth started to drop. I was like, holy cow. How does this guy know everyone? And I remember. Mr. Cheryl out of the corner of his eye, he saw that my mouth was just dropping and just like in awe. And so it was basically when he was on a phone, he was pointing at his planner and I remember looking at his planner and under the entry of Mr. John Smith, it said EA. EA stands for executive assistant EA Semicolon, Dorothy. Son’s about to graduate high school, loves Krispy Kreme. And I was just like, Whoa, what’s going on here? Mr. Cheryl had a system that is totally working for him, and so the takeaway I wanted to share in this second chapter is that the amount of effort that you spend in remembering people’s names and the details of that first conversation is really a reflection of how much you’re willing to care about them.

And so, Chapter three: Cultivating your Soil. What happens when you implement a system that resonates with you? So over years after that internship, I remember going back to university and I was telling everyone I knew, my cousins, my friends guys, there’s a system that works. You guys need to implement this.

And I remember it just, none of my friends really did it, but. I took it seriously cuz I realized this really works. So from my black planner book to palm pilots, to my Blackberry, to my iPhone, throughout the years, whether it’s analog or digital, I had this system that I learned from Mr. Cheryl. And the thing is, is that when you’re planting these seeds, Without continuing watering the seed, having direct sunlight, cultivating your environment, your soil, your network, it’s never gonna bear fruit as over the years with this implementing this system, I made it a point to nurture and cultivate this.

And so I ended up going to Cornell. I went there for a graduate degree, getting a master’s in real estate. But I remember my internship after grad school, my first job outta grad school, all the subsequent opportunities I had was a direct correlation of implementing this system. I’ll give you an example.

My first job outta grad school was working as a hospitality real estate consultant at Price Warehouse Coopers, PWC, right? I mean, interning for Mr. Cheryl. Having him as a mentor really impacted my life and since he was a hospitality consultant, I sort of kind of followed his footsteps from that perspective.

And I remember my first year at PWC I would man the booth whenever we were having conferences at different either hospitality conferences or real estate conferences. And I remember there’s one conference, there were at least three to four different hospitality shops, right? Competitors that would come to the booth and gimme the business card and be like, you know, if you ever want to leave PWC and work for us, you know l, love to have you.

And I was like, no, thank you. I’m actually really happy here at PWC I appreciate a kind gesture, but I would keep their business cards and after every interactions when they leave, well, would I do, I would turn the business card over. I would write the date that I met them, where I met them, which is at that conference.

And one thing about that conversation we had so that when I do follow up, there’s something memorable that I can bring up. And one of those people that I met was Karen Johnson, and she was at Jones Lang LaSalle. And so, I remember after the conference, I shot her an email and I was like, you know, hey KJ it was really nice to meet you at the conference.

I’m really happy here at PWC but I would love to just keep in touch and so hope you’re doing well right now. Fast forward about a year or so later, I got transferred to the Philly office, and I remember this was probably during the summertime that on the newsflash. K J’s Boss Art got a promotion and so all I did was I copied that article, I forwarded it to KJ and I said, Hey, Karen just saw that Art got a recent promotion.

Can you please tell him congratulations for me. I hope you’re doing well. Take care. And that’s it. And within a few hours, KJ write back and saying, Hey Ben, are you in Philly? If you are, you know, I’m gonna be there next week for a site visit. I’d love to grab coffee, let me know. And so I replied back and was like, yeah, actually I am still in Philly.

Love to have coffee, Karen. And so the following week she came into town. I grabbed coffee in the morning right before I went to work, and Karen just cut to the chase. She’s like, look, I would love for you to join my team. Do you want to move back to LA? And I was thinking, yeah, I actually do want to go back to LA Karen, you know what, why don’t we talk?

Let’s talk to your team, HR and let’s see what we can do to make this happen. And none of that, none of that would’ve happened if I didn’t see an article and I forwarded to Karen to reach out.

And so the main takeaway in why I wanted to share my personal story is this, when you can create a consistent habit on how you mindfully cultivate your soil, you create an environment where a little bit of intention, a little bit of kindness, and a little bit of effort can go a long way in bearing fruits in your future.

And so having shared my personal story, my secret framework is what I call the 5WG. So what does that mean? The five W is who, what, where, when, and why. Who, who are you? What are their names? What, what is it that they do? What’s their interests, their passions? Where, where did I meet them? Where are they from?

When? When did I meet them? When is their birthday, their kids’ birthday, their anniversaries and why? Why do they do what they do? These are just five basic questions you can think about and ask when you meet someone for the first time, and when you do hear their responses, make a mental note. When you leave, write it down.

Whatever process works for you to actually remember and record any of these responses for the five Ws. At the very minimum, when I meet someone new, if I get their business cards, I will always write down the date that I met them, where I met them, and one meaningful part of the conversation I write down.

And so just think of those five Ws as questions you can think about when you meet someone new. Now it’s called the five wg. What’s the g? The G stands for A give. The G stands for a give. A small act of kindness can possibly make the most profound impact on someone that you don’t know. So what are the things that you can give. When I’m having any interaction with someone, in the back of my mind, I have these three questions. The first one is, How do I leave this conversation giving this person something new that they didn’t know before? Do I give them the gift of knowledge? The second one is, how do I leave this conversation making this person feel better than they did before we started?

This second, give is a gift of feeling or emotions. When I think back on all the times I met someone new, or if I’m listening to a conference or a lecture, whatever it may be, there’s times where I, okay, I’ll remember either a quote or two or something they said, but it’s the times where, man, that person made me feel good.

Those type of feelings are oftentimes more memorable than a gift of knowledge. And so if you can make someone just feel better than they did when they came into the conversation, that’s a gift of feeling or emotion. And so the third gift, if it’s not the gift of knowledge, if it’s not the gift of feeling that the person really needs, the third question that I have is, how do I leave this conversation making this person feel heard?

Maybe all they need is just space and just to be heard. So the really easy way for you to remember these three gifts is iq, eq, sq. Iq, do I give the gift of knowledge? Eq, do I give the gift of emotion or feeling. Or sq, which is a space depending on what part of the world you’re in, it’s either square feet or square meter.

Do I give ’em the gift of knowledge? Do I give ’em the gift of feeling or do I give ’em the gift of space? I do my best in every interaction I have with someone new or someone I already know, do I give at least one of the three gives while striving to give all three? And so the third topic is things to look out for now that I’ve shared my secret framework of 5WG, what are things that you need to look out for?

When you are always in an act of giving more than you’re taking, sometimes whether people consciously or subconsciously do this, they might be taking more than they give, right? And you wanna be mindful of that. And so one of the things I’ve taught is one plus one, one plus one can have three different answers.

One is one plus one equals two. It’s when you meet someone and. What they say they do. The interaction could be, can’t be transactional, but you know what to expect. There’s no hidden agendas and the energy flow is fairly net neutral. That’s okay. I mean, as long as they do what they say, that’s fine. When does one plus one equal infinity now?

In my household, I have this sign, which is that anything is possible and it’s that infinity sign. And so when my kids see that, that infinity sign, I was asking ’em, what does that mean? It means anything is possible. Have you ever encounter where you met someone new and within the first like 5 or 10 minutes, it’s like, oh my gosh, it’s like meeting your long lost sole brother or sole sister, we just click. We have the same values. It seems like the more I talk to this person, the possibilities are endless and I feel much more energized leaving that conversation and having that interaction. That’s infinity. There’s times where you meet someone where one plus one equals infinity.

The energy is just so abundant. The people you meet who are one plus one equals two and especially the ones where are one plus one equals infinity are the people you really wanna mindfully nurture and cultivate because there’s a healthy flow of energy. Now, what’s the third answer of one plus one? It’s when it equals zero.

Have you ever encountered someone where you met with them and when you left a conversation it’s like, man, I just feel so drained what’s going on? Like whether they’re saying it consciously or subconsciously, they take more than a give or something about them, that your energy just feels very depleted. I want you to be mindful of that because it doesn’t mean to immediately avoid them, but just make a mental note if you feel drained after having a conversation, maybe they’re energetically taking more than they give, and if that’s the case, just keep an arm’s length away. You just wanna be mindful that you’re not surrounding yourself of people that are constantly depleting your energy. It wants to either be neutral or positive, but you don’t want to be in negative state.

So with that said, what are the action steps that you can take to create impactful relationships? The first action step is planting seeds. If you resonate with my method, incorporate this into your habits when you meet new people, when you’re meeting someone new, that you have a similar vibe, similar energy, similar values, make your best effort to remember at least three to five Ws and consciously think what form of give can this person benefit the most? The second is cultivating, cultivating your soil. In order for your seeds to bear fruit, you need to water it consistently. So what I’d like you to do is I’d like you to start reaching out to someone that you know at least once a week to help you build that momentum, that tiny habit.

Pick a day so that it becomes consistent for you, either like Monday morning or Friday afternoon, whatever it is. Just pick a day in time and put it in your calendar, and when that time comes in a calm state, just ask yourself, who can benefit from me reaching out? And whoever intuitively just pops in your head without your conscious mind thinking about it, just give that person either a text or a call.

And just like, Hey, I just thought about you. Just wanted to check in. How are you doing? And I’d like you to do that on a weekly basis so that you build that habit and that consistency of cultivating your soil. So for the next month, do your best in taking these two action steps with every new interactions, whether it’s a prospect or you’re at a networking event, use the five wg if this framework resonates with you. Cultivate. Pick a day each week for a short block of time to reach out to someone that you intuitively feel can benefit in you reaching out. The third action step is the sun, being mindful of the people in your life that bring you joy. This last tip is really important as you consciously create a new habit in planting new seeds and wiring them on a consistent basis, bring awareness of who really has intentions of supporting you versus depleting your energy.

I naturally give more than I take, so I gravitate towards people that have similar values and actions. It’s either two or infinity that I really want to cultivate, but since I’m also more sensitive to energy, I tend to keep an arm’s length away from the people that take more than they give. I’ve had to learn this to hard way over the past few decades.

One of the key indications is when I feel exhausted after talking to them. That’s my body indicating that there’s no energy flow. There’s no balance in this conversation that makes me feel grounded or nourished. So I keep a mental note of that and I’d like you to be more mindful too as you bring more awareness of who you bring into your environment.

So final thoughts for today’s episode. So quote I want to share, the language of friendship is not words but meanings. This quote was by Henry David Thoreau. Why I share this quote is that I really do believe true friendships are built from exchanges of meanings. It’s not words. It’s not only what you say, it’s the actions that follow that give those words meanings.

No matter how well spoken someone may be, the conversations that were meaningful to me are the ones who are either I gained new knowledge, I felt really good emotionally, or that I simply felt heard. Those are the ones that I remember. And so the final takeaway from today’s episode is that a small act of give of kindness can go such a long way in leaving a positive imprint and building a impactful relationship.

If you give more than you take, if you give without any expectations of return, you’ll receive more from life than you can ever imagine. It doesn’t take much to be kind. All it takes is a little bit of intentions and a little bit of effort. Folks, it’s been such an honor to serve you again in this SPI episode.

I am grateful to Pat and the SPI team for inviting me back on this show. I sincerely hope that you implement the 5WG as you cultivate your soil, your network to help support your growth. As a bonus for the SPI audience, I’ve created several free downloads exclusively for the SPI listeners. If you head over to BenjaminYeh.com/spi by signing up for my Boom Vision email community, you can get some free digital downloads as my gifts to you.

The first gift is a digital checklist of the 5WG, prompts to think about when you meet someone new and what to do as follow ups to cultivate your soil. The second digital download is a free MP3 file that you can download to your phone of the one minute breath work meditation that I shared in SPI episode 580.

This makes it really simple for you to bring more calmness to your life as you set your intentions. And last but not least, I’ve also included three music playlists that I personally curated to help you raise your energy and vibration if you’re looking for more high energy confidence or healing and self-love.

I love to hear from you. Send me a DM on Instagram at @BenjaminYeh. Let me know if the 5WG resonates with you or if you have your own framework on how you create meaningful relationships. If you want to create your tribe, that’s your vibe, and if you resonate with my vibe, I invite you to subscribe to my Boom Vision Podcast, if you have a burning desire to live an enriching life, physically, mentally, and spiritually. And if you’re searching for like-minded entrepreneurs, I also invite you to check out SPI Pro a private community that Pat and his team has curated with entrepreneurs like myself. I sincerely appreciate you listening today.

My name is Benjamin Yeh, and as always, be kind to yourself. Be in delight, be you.

Pat Flynn: Thank you so much for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at SmartPassiveIncome.com. I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media, and a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network. Catch you next week!


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