The Blog of Jake Kelfer
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Earlier this week, I went to visit four colleges in Rhode Island. Luckily for me, the state is pretty small so I was able to cover a lot of ground. It also helped that these four colleges were all pretty close to one another.
My mission was to walk into each school and find decision makers who brought in speakers as well as meet with the athletic department at Providence College.
I had no meetings scheduled. No one was expecting me. No one knew who I was. I was just showing up and going for it. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew that I would have to be creative and make sure that I was sharp with my elevator pitch and reason for being there.
A lot of people would never take this step of showing up without a meeting. It’s risky. It can be nerve-wracking. Some people can think it comes off as too aggressive. Other people, however, think it is fantastic that you are willing to show up without a meeting and hustle. Mark Cuban always says on Shark Tank that he loves when he hears people who go door to door. For me, it's a chance to meet more people, provide some value, and have some fun and visit new places!
If you want to make something happen you have to take a chance and bet on yourself. You have to believe that what you have to offer and your reason for being there is of value to the person or people you are trying to meet. You do not want to show up all arrogant and cocky, but you definitely want to walk in with confidence.
At first, I walked in with a smile on my face and asked the assistant who might be the best person to speak with about who hires speakers for the athletics department. She referred me to a woman and directed me to her office which was down the hall. As I walked to her office, I made sure to assess the situation.
From my perspective, I was coming in blind with no meeting and asking for a few minutes of her time. My goal was to strike a conversation and inform her about what I do as well as give her a copy of Elevate Beyond. This is bold and depending on her schedule might be a total fail, but since I was there I needed to try and make it happen. I know that people don’t like to be blindsided, so I needed to approach her in a way that wouldn’t be too forward, but wouldn’t be too cautious either. I had to show up with the confidence knowing that what I was there to meet about was valuable to her and worth her time.
When I finally got to her office after preparing what I was going to say and with a copy of my book Elevate Beyond in hand, I walk in and she isn’t there. I was bummed but with the door locked and no one there I had no choice but to leave.
On my way out, I met a great guy who worked in the athletic department and we got to talking. He told me that the athletic director loved books and motivational speakers. I thought that was awesome and so I asked him where the AD’s office was because obviously, I had to try to give him a copy of my book. He told me and off I went.
Again, I had no idea if the AD would be around or if he would even consider taking a few minutes to talk with me, but I had to try.
I walked into his office with confidence that I belonged there and it just so happened that he was finishing a meeting with the staff. Once everyone cleared the room, I walked up to him and introduced myself. I told him that I had spoke with someone who told me he liked books and that I had to come to try and meet him. I told him I would love to give him a copy of my book. Notice, I didn’t ask to sell him on anything but rather provide him with value.
Not only did he appreciate the book, but we started chatting about Providence’s experience in the NCAA Tournament, their upcoming hockey game, and motivational speakers. He was a great guy, and I can easily see why people enjoy working in the athletic department with him.
He ended up giving me 5-10 minutes of his time and by the end of our conversation, I left with his card and we are going to try and connect again in late April when we are both in Los Angeles.
If I never took the chance to show up at Providence College, I never would’ve met anyone from there in person.
If I didn’t ask the assistant for the best person who hired speakers, I wouldn’t have found a locked door.
If I didn’t find the locked door, I wouldn’t have met the man who told me about the AD’s love for books.
If I hadn’t walked to the AD’s office, I wouldn’t have met the AD and started to build a relationship with him.
You can’t control timing and whether people are going to be around when you are, but you can control the actions you take to set yourself up for success.