The Davies Allen Biz Buzz Blog: Jeff Rust of Corporate Alliance
This week’s feature, we had the opportunity to speak with Jeff Rust, co-founder of Corporate Alliance, a business designed to create and strengthen relationships meaningful through regularly hosted networking events.
D+ A: What inspired you to [join Corporate Alliance]?
Jeff Rust: [My brother] was a serial entrepreneur and he saw that most of the business we enjoy came from meaningful relationships. We were looking for a way that we could actually sell the way relationships were forged and so he started Corporate Alliance. I came in right from the beginning as an individual who loved what we did, and so I worked for 6 weeks at $8 an hour, and then the next two years I worked for equity. For me, it was inspiring because I loved what we did, and I wasn’t getting paid for it, per say. Two things that came out of that, number one, I wasn’t getting a paycheck, but I loved what I was doing, so I wasn’t working for that, and the other thing is it was a great opportunity to be able to do it. I couldn’t have done it had my wife not had a business to put food on the table for us so that we could survive while we had the business.
D+ A: You guys really are focused on relationships. What kind of advice do you have as far as forging new relationships and getting to meet people for the first time? What makes an impression on you?
Jeff Rust: A couple things I would say is number one, authenticity trumps everything. If you’re quirky, own it. If you’re funny, own it. If you’re serious, own it. Authenticity just trumps. The second thing I would say is that you have to have a strategy going in to any event so that you can relax and be yourself. If you’re trying to come up with your strategy the whole time that you’re there, you won’t be able to relax and people will sense that you’re uncomfortable. So one of the things that I would say to people is just know that new connections or re-connections are two different types of elements that happen in a relationship. So, most relationships are deepened through re-connections than they are re-connections. Now maybe sometimes where you meet someone and it’s like “I can’t believe this is the first time we’ve met”, and you just click. But usually it builds. So you have to have new connections so you can have re-connections, but when people go to an event, the re-connections are where the magic happens. So set a goal. How many new connections are you going to have in an event, and how many re-connections are you going to have so that you can just relax, be yourself.. The third thing is that relationships are built in a process called “Learn, Service, Grow”. You learn about people to discover their needs and wants, and you service those needs and wants, and then the relationship grows. It’s a cycle, it continues on and on and on. So it’s not like “Check, all right, I did the “Learn”, now time for the “Serve”. It’s a process.
D+ A: Is that what you do when you go to new events and meetings, you have a strategy?
Jeff Rust: There’s a different purpose sometimes, depending on the event you’re going to, so depending on the role you’re in say, sales, you may be going and saying “Hey, I’ve got to meet people that can lead to sales”, so in that kind of an instance, there’s a deeper strategy. So, does the person fall under the category of a potential prospect? Do they fall into being more of an advocate, where they aren’t a potential prospect, but there’s somebody who can know about me and can speak positively to others about me? Or are they both? Because there are certain instances where that is the case. Were they an existing client? Because with an existing client, you’re selling all the time, because you want them representing the latest and greatest and there’s so much that can happen from an existing client talking to someone else on your behalf than you trying to sell to that person.
D+ A: What’s a goal or mindset that you get in, are you a numbers man?
Jeff Rust: For me, it depends. There’s different roles and hats that I have, so I’m obviously the CEO of the company, and there are times where I’m coming into an event to watch how it’s run so that I can take that back and teach my mentee, or say “Hey, this is the best practice and how to implement it.” So, in those instances, I frankly don’t honestly care who or how many I meet because my purpose is different of why I’m there. If I’m in sales mode, and I need to meet people, then I go into that sales strategy. If I’m in more of the mode of just growing my network, then that’s really when the new connection, re-connection really will come into play for what I’m doing. And there are events that that is very much the case.
Jeff, thank you so much for sharing your insight and knowledge with us. For more information on Corporate Alliance and how to join, visit https://www.corporatealliance.net/.