B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 1729 · 3 months ago

Building a Networking Group that Actually Adds Value, with Rob Volk

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this replay episode, we talk to Rob Volk, Founder at Foxbox Digital.

Conversations from the front lines of marketing. This is be to be growth. Hey friends, welcome into Friday's show. Excited to share a throwback conversation with you today, one we had with Rob Volk on building a networking group that actually adds value. Wanted to say we've had a tremendous week here on be tob growth and if you've missed any of the episodes, man go back through the feed and take a listen. We're talking everything from effective wind loss interviews structuring a modern marketing team and actually guy ton Ol Danardy on yesterday show was talking about just the nuances as he's left be to be in Ben Indeed to see and what he's seen and learned there, as well as a great conversation with Gong's very own Devon read around authenticity, how to be yourself on Linkedin, on social and how to go left when be tob is going right, finding your unique voice, and Emily Brady as well here from sweet fish. She broke down a piece that she's put together from Gen Z to be to be Tick Tock strategy for your brand. So lots of just quality content and conversation. Don't want you to miss any of it and and so we'll be sure to check it out, and you can always search by topic over on the sweet fish website. All Right, today the feature conversation building a networking group that actually adds value with Rob Volk. Let's jump in. Welcome back to be to be growth. I'm your host for today's episode, Logan Lyles, with sweet fish media. I'm joined today by Rob Volk. He is the founder over at Fox box digital. Rob Height doing today? Sir? Hey, looking to do great. Thanks, awesome. Hopefully you're recovering well...

...from your ski trip out my way in Colorado right. Oh, man, it was amazing. I am sort of happy to be back. Yeah, absolutely, Man, awesome. Well, ROB, we're going to be talking about some strategies that you've really employed to grow your network and specifically build executive relationships that have contributed to the growth of your business, and breakdown some of the ways that you've done that effectively over the years. Before we jump straight into that, though, rob I would love for you to give listeners a little background on yourself, besides being a skier, and a little bit about what you and the team at Fox box digital or up to these days. Yeah, thanks, so. I mean, in short, I love building software. So I've been a software developer my whole life and sort of took that, did a lot of consulting and then jumped into the startup world really learned how to build new products, you know, from scratch using, you know, newer, modern techniques, and then they're decided to take that to larger companies and created Fox box digital. Awesome. And tell us a little bit about what you guys do, kind of the niche that you guys serve. What are you guys working on these days, Rob yes, so we focus on building mobile and Web APPs, using technology called react native on the mobile front, which really allows us to create a cross platform APP, create the IOS and ANDROID APP at the same time with the same codebase, and really just leads to a really efficient process but a really killer product at the end. Nice. I love that faster development of android APPs. Just on a personal note, I'm probably one of the few android users on our team and I catch some flak for it, but I'm always like the IOS APP is out for this Wednesday, android APP coming out. It drives men. Yeah, it's crazy. I mean, these days you can't just release the IPHONE APP and so for all of our clients, we release the ANDROID and iphone at the same day. Very cool, I love it. Awesome. Well, Rob let's jump into the the topic today, and really, you...

...know, that's growth through executive relationships and building your network with the folks that that really can can help you and and you can help you know, I know a lot of marketers don't necessarily love the word networking, but I think if we unpack it, you know, just talking with you a little bit offline before we hit record, you very much approach networking in the way that we think about it, in that it doesn't have to be this, Hey, I'm sizing you up to give you my pitch later, the those sorts of things. So tell us a little bit about the way you've gone about this. Really kind of the center is a monthly breakfast that you started several years ago. Right, yeah, absolutely. So, first of all, I didn't even know this is marketing, and this is all accidental in that I didn't. I didn't create this breakfast group in order to, you know, create a consulting business, because I did it two and a half years before I created the consulting business. But effactively, what I did was. I was talking about my friend Karen, and we were both tech leaders of small startups and you know, as a leader of a company, you don't have anyone who you can talk to when you have issues, right, and it's usually not about the technology, it's about the softer side, like managing people and issues like that. So we got together and we figured that, you know, there's probably others of the same issue, and so we created a monthly breakfast where we get together and we discuss a topic around managing people, around your growing businesses, growing technology, stuff like that. And Yeah, it just sort of grew from there. We about seventy five members right now and we meet every month. I Love It, rob I love the genuine nature of where this came out of. One of the ways you described it to me in a previous conversation was really it's founders therapy, right, is something that it's kind of become, right. Yeah, that's absolutely right. We basically get together and have an opportunity to be really open and honest in a private and setting where we can discuss the issues that we have on a daytoday. And you know, it's usually it's usually something that you don't...

...have an out with otherwise I love that. A few months ago I read a book called the introverts edge and it was talking about, you know, business owners and founders really kind of getting thrust into the sales roll and not necessarily being ready for that because they are an expert. They launched their business because they were an expert, you know, in their field. And it sounds like tackling kind of the same issue from other aspects is what you know, you started to do with building this group, because you know, founders are you know, they're great at the tech or different aspects, whatever they're, you know, their specialty is. And then all these other things come with actually building a business, right, the soft skills of managing people and, you know, different financial aspects and all those sorts of things, and so finding people that are going through the same things, I think is is really smart. Tell me a little bit about how it started to organically growt did you say you guys are up to seventy five regular attendees at these monthly breakfasts now? Yeah, so there's seventy five people in the group, but any given breakfast will have about twelve. Okay, so yeah, but we have a very active flag channel and so you know, it's sort of grown like that. It's just grown organically, where you know one member will bring a friend, a CTEO friend of theirs, and so are. Our group consists of mostly cteos of small startups from, you know, just single founder to founders up to you a hundred person company. Today's gross story revolves around search engine marketing. Delphis, a big data platform, had hired an agency to manage their Google adds a few years ago, but they weren't seeing the results they wanted to see. Being such a technical be tob solution, they set out to find a team that could take on their challenge. After countless proposals, they found the perfect fit directive consulting, the B Tob Search Marketing Agency. And just one week after launching directives campaigns, delphis saw their lead volume double and their costper lead drop by sixty percent. I have a hunch...

...that directive can get these kind of results for you to, so head over to directive consultingcom and request a totally free custom proposal. That's directive consultingcom. All right, let's get back to this interview. I love it. So tell us a little bit, rob, as this started to gain some some formality after it was just, you know, you and the first friend that you started having breakfast with. What are some of the things that you guys started to do to provide some structure to make sure that this was valuable, because obviously more people are joining in. Obviously, you know, every all of the seventy five folks that are, you know, apart can't make it all the time, but you've got people regularly showing up to this. So there must be something that you're doing outside of, you know, like we said, what people typically, you know, have the negative connotations with networking. That's actually delivering some values. So I would love to hear you know kind of how that has grown organically as well how you structured it to make it valuable for folks that keep coming and showing up to these conversations. Yeah, so we we do a few things. So we start with we start the breakfast with thirty minutes of just really unstructured you get to chat with the person next to you and just and just kind of honestly wake up. It's thirty in the morning. I'm not a morning person. So we get some coffee in us, we get a little loose and we reach out with each other and then as soon as twenty minutes come around, we take orders and then we start a structured topic. And so we're sitting around in a you know, a long table, twelve people in it, and we have one topic of discussion and then we have we just have a natural, cordial conversation where people aren't talking over each other, people are not on the phones and we all just engage in this conversation together, and then that's and that's one topic for the whole breakfast. Then it'll naturally kind of fade out and then we pay the bill and take off. I love it so with with busy...

...founders and ctos, you have to have a phone basket by the end of the table or something like that where people have to have to leave them or as just kind of standing rule for breakfast. You know, it's interesting that no, we don't and we we don't have any specific rules on it and of course occasionally people will take out their phones, but it's never been an issue or distraction and I don't know how, because usually, you know, I've had conversations with with Karen, my cofounder of this breakfast, and he was looking at his Apple Watch and response of your text message and then looking up at me, I'm like cure, and you're not. You're not engaged with me at all. So now, luckily, we have not to do that. Yeah, I think we've all been there and I think that goes to the quality of the the group that you've built in, the quality of the conversation that people have become accustomed to. That you know, and I think the lesson there, whether you're a founder or a marketer, is when you're building community, if you focus on genuine connections, which you know you guys allowed the conversations to start. Naturally give some time for people to wake up, if they need one or two cups of coffee to get going, and it happens organically and then there's valuable conversation. Then people tend to to and out other things. It's when we're sitting in those, you know, death by power point meetings where, you know we can't avoid that twitch to look at our phones. So tell us a little bit more about how you've, you know, structured engagement with this group outside of the breakfast itself. One of the things you mentioned is a slack channel. We've started to do this with guests that we've had on on this podcast on bb growth and some of our guest co hosts as well. I love the way slack is is able to kind of be that, you know, I know if it's technically a dark social network or if you'd you'd label it that way, but you know, another kind of mini social network. Have you guys been had that active channel for a while or is that something that's come up recently in kind of the evolution of this networking group? Yeah, so slack came up maybe a year, year and a half ago. You know, slack was,...

...you know, gaining popularity and really I think that we discovered that we needed to, you know, chat outside of this group and you know, once a month is great to discuss some you know, burning topic, but a lot of times we need help with little things. Hey, I need to hire an is developer, I need to find a designer, and so just this is a forum for those sorts of conversations to happen, and I describe it as a private social network. So we have a private channel that you have to be invited to and one thing that's that's important is that it's not too big. So seventy five people sounds like a lot, but of course not everyone's engaged and so it's a we have a healthy amount of discussion on there. We had discussed actually merging this with another competing group. There's no I really harsh competition here, but another competing group and they wanted to potentially merge with us, but we didn't want to get too big. So I think the size is important and organic growth is important, because if we doubled in size then it would change the whole dynamic. HMM. Yeah, absolutely. I think you're very smart to be mindful of that and and I love that idea of you know, we're bringing people together to be able to talk, to share ideas, to ask questions, to commiserate at times and just be you know, like you said, founders therapy or marketers therapy or whatever group that you're building, the community that you're building. But having that slack channel allows for those quick questions that can really accelerate things and save you from, you know, getting deep down a rabbit whole of a Google search or something on a specific topic or trying to find the right person. So being able to Ping your network very quickly and very efficiently. I think that's a great layer on top of this regular, you know, in person event. Is there anything else, any other form of communication that you guys have now developed with this group that have helped you, you know, kind of boiled down what you guys have been talking about or bring up, you know, certain topics that are kind of rising to the surface amongst these conversations? Yes, so, in order to pick the topic, we pulled the group beforehand...

...and we just asked he who's got a real issue they're facing right now, so that the question we like to ask is what are you struggling with? And I think that's important, important question, because it gets to you know, it gets gets sort of emotional, it triggers an emotional response and so, you know, if someone's actually struggling with something, they'll bring it up as a topic and if it sounds like a great topic and others agree, well then that's that's how we decide what we're going to talk about. I love it. So you guys just send out an email, like shortly after the last breakfast, pinging people for, you know, the topic for the next one, and then do they just respond or you give them a google form? How do you guys kind of structure it? Yeah, I wish, I wish we were that structured with it. It's really kind of an ad hoc process, but we yeah, you know, we have we host a breakfast, we wait a couple weeks and then we kind of get this feeling that maybe we should plan the next one. That peopling keeps coming on. Exactly. Yeah, I love it. Awesome, rob anything else you guys are doing? I think you mentioned, like gay, a quarterly email that you guys are doing. What's kind of the context there? You guys wrapping up some of the things that discussion or just like pointing out, you know, other events that this group, you know, might want to have on the radar, those sorts of things? How is that evolved to? Yes, so the quarterly email updates. It's a fair, fairly new thing and basically it's something that I sent around to my professional network. So it includes every one of the breakfast obviously, and then anyone else who I know somewhat personally, at least somewhat personally, and and so I it's a chance where I can actually be honest. I'm not really going out there and just bragging or selling it's a little bit of bragging, it's also being honest and and humble and and saying, Hey, I messed up in these shoe areas. This is what I learned from that, which is obviously the important part. And then I usually have an ask or something like Hey, I'm looking for, you know, a new a new developer or head of product or something like that. Yeah, I love that. I think that authenticity goes a long way one in building that connection with with your network and also giving...

...people things to learn from. We learned so much more from our failures and insecurities and you know, it may actually be a little bit back by the time that listeners here this episode, but as we're as we're recording this, Rob Guy Tano, one of our good friends over at next Eva, and James, our founder, kicked off what they called the insecurities challenge on Linkedin and James Actually challenged me, and so there are people, you know, posting to Linkedin right now with that Hashtag. Insecurities challenge too are something that you know, Peel back the curtain on themselves and their own insecurities a bit and what others can can learn from that. Both, you know, for us to connect as professionals more on the human level and also I think they're, like I said, some of the best lessons to be able to learn and help each other out and encourage each other, you know, in those ways. So I love that you're taken a very, very similar approach. From what it sounds like. I've never heard of that, but I love it. I love the concept and I just have to say that, you know, I used to be so selfconscious and I used to think that I had to have all the answers as you know, cteo of a company, and and then, you know, I just I kind of realized as I, you know, got older that hey, you know what, everyone has these insecurities. Everyone, you know, no one's perfect, people make mistakes and you can't have all the answers and so really by just, you know, being open and honest and coming out there, I've had such a great response from people where people just naturally want to help each other and no one thinks badly of me that I don't have this answer, and so it's really been a huge learning thing. Yeah, absolutely, there there's a tagline I hear from Craig Grow Shell on his leadership podcast listeners had probably heard me mention this several times lately, but that's one that's regularly in my rotation, whether you're a founder of a company, a marketing leader, a sales leader, whatever position of leadership you're in. The quote he always says is people would rather follow a leader who's always real than one who is always right, and I think that rings true and is really evident in what you're saying and sharing...

...their rob so again, I think we're likeminded in a lot of ways and I've really enjoyed this conversation breaking down. You know how you've been able to grow a network that has added value to folks that you want to be connected with, and it's contributed to the growth of your business, even though it wasn't necessarily you know the the reason for starting this from the onset, as you mentioned,.

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