Adam Marx is a networking & branding consultant, speaker, journalist, startup advisor, & founder of The Zero to One Networker. Formerly the CEO of music-tech startup Glipple, Inc., and as a writer appearing in Crunchbase News, Startup Grind, & others, Adam draws on a decade-plus of experiences in the music & tech industries to teach others how to create access & powerful relationships through tactics of patience, consistency, & storytelling.
As a networking consultant & speaker, he has worked with numerous organizations, including Georgia State University, TechStars Atlanta, Atlanta Tech Village, Startup Atlanta, ATDC (through Georgia Tech), Startup Showdown, and BIP Ventures (formerly Panoramic Ventures), where he’s advised & mentored founders on developing magnetic dialogues & maintaining long-term relationships. In addition to advising & consulting, Adam sits on the steering committee for InnovATL, cohosts LinkedIn Local Atlanta, & recently emceed the 2022 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) State conference in Burlington, Vermont.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Why networking is DIFFERENT from sales & marketing
- Mental health & finding a way again after closing his startup
- Why building networks is critical to people in ALL industries or disciplines
- How to create access out of thin air
- Understanding “side-entrances” and how to leverage different platforms
- Social capital vs. social debt 8. LinkedIn Local, InnovATL, and how to make Atlanta a top-5 business hub
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio. Brought to you by on pay. Atlanta’s New standard in payroll. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: Lee Kantor here another episode of Atlanta Business Radio, and this is going to be a good one. But before we get started, it’s important to recognize our sponsor, Onpay. Without them, we can’t be sharing these important stories. Today on Atlanta Business Radio, we have Adam Marx. He is the Zero to One networker. Welcome, Adam.
Adam Marx: Thank you for having me.
Lee Kantor: I am so excited to meet you and to learn what you’re up to. Tell us about being the 0 to 1 networker. What does that entail?
Adam Marx: Oh wow. What a great question. Basically, what it means is I teach founders and also leaders of enterprise companies how to get in front of anybody. So whether that means journalists, investors, different customer demographics, etcetera. I teach people how to build access through relationships and then maintain that access through authentic dialogs long term.
Lee Kantor: So what’s your backstory? How did you get involved in this line of work?
Adam Marx: Wow. Well, before I was in, I consider myself to be in the middle ground, let’s say, between tech and startups and and branding and consulting. Now, before that, I was in the music world for a decade and change, and that’s actually where I learned how to build relationships and maintain those dialogs, often with demographics, artist demographics who unfortunately are used to feeling taken advantage of. So the notion and the importance of building authentic relationships through mutual value creation consistently showing up, that’s where it really started.
Lee Kantor: So how did you recognize that, Hey, I’m good at this, number one. And number two, I can kind of create a methodology around it so I can maybe productize this and help other people or build a, you know, a consultancy around it.
Adam Marx: Well, you know, it’s interesting because initially I didn’t initially I didn’t think about it in that context. I always enjoyed talking to people, hearing their stories, creating connections. It seems like one day I woke up with a very large network in the music world. Obviously it wasn’t like that. In reality, it never is because you put in time and you put in just a lot of effort to grow the dialogs. And when I closed my first startup company, which which was a music tech company, I didn’t actually think that this was a skill set that that other people would value. I didn’t see, you know, the kind of value in it that I see now because when you’re good at something and when you have a natural affinity for it, I think there’s a tendency to think everybody else is good at it also. And so it wasn’t until much later on, around 2018, 19 and then during Covid that I realized, yeah, this is something that people are asking me for help with and there could be something here that could create value for myself, but also for the community.
Lee Kantor: So just walk me through what’s happening. So you have you’re interested in music, you have a music career. You also are interested in startups. You have an idea for a music startup or something that involves music and technology. You go all in, you build something with that and then it doesn’t work out and then you’re kind of assessing. And then is that where this kind of epiphany says, okay, maybe the superpower I have is this networking and I can show other people how to leverage that.
Adam Marx: Yeah, it kind of followed that path. I mean, you know, I studied history, I studied art, so I studied things. The music thing was something I did just for myself outside of the classroom. I did the band thing for a hot minute. I’ve done music journalism. I’ve done music tech journalism for publications like Crunchbase and Startup Grind and Mattermark. These are tech publications some some listeners may be familiar with. I had a college radio show and when I was getting towards the end of my my undergrad career, I started a music company. And as as any startup founder will tell you, it’s you think you know a lot more than you do. It was a mix of being very green and perhaps the market wasn’t right. You learn things on on that trajectory. And when I closed that, it was kind of like an, Oh wow, kind of what do I do now? Um, and during that period of time, I had spent a lot of effort, not only building relationships with people in the music vein, so artists, producers, engineers, etcetera, but also what I call prepping the ground. So building relationships with tech journalists, building relationships with venture capitalists and other founders, because my mentality was at such time that there is something to report or is something to pitch. I want to have that network kind of already already moving. And that was that. That was and is the genesis for understanding how to build networks in an industry agnostic context. So it worked in music. And when I closed that career, it’s worked for me in startups and tech, it’s worked in film, it’s worked in local leadership and business. These are skills. That I recognized. And I think it started to really crystallize during during Covid because I kind of fell into doing personal branding. But I don’t love like logo design, web design, the way that I love teaching people how to love to build relationships. And so I started to go all in on the relationship building component and focused less on the web design logo design and let people who who win in that area win in that area.
Lee Kantor: So then but you were reframing the relationship building to networking. I guess networking is a word that people can understand because it sounds to me a little more layered than networking.
Adam Marx: Well, I think I think you’re correct. And I use a lot of words to describe what I think networking should be, because I think that the term networking has a lot of connotations and not all of them are positive. Right? I think for a lot of people, the word networking is daunting and salesy and possibly negative in some contexts. And and sometimes that’s true because I think that that we as a society kind of mush networking in with sales and marketing and sales and marketing are absolutely critical to one’s business, but they’re fundamentally different skills.
Lee Kantor: Right? But when a lot of people hear the word networking, they look at that as some something along the path to sales and like that’s just one of the things you do on your, you know, on your journey through sales, through marketing and sales. So but to me, what I’m hearing and this could be off base, obviously it’s relationships are critically important in anybody’s life and in their career. And if you’re mindful and you’re strategic, you can create and nurture and develop more relationships with the people who matter most with you. If you just go about it in a very mindful manner, instead of this the way most people live their life is just randomly and haphazardly. They meet people and oh, that was great. That was, oh, you know, this like, you know, it’s kind of almost accidental. And it sounds like you’re trying to make it more purposeful.
Adam Marx: Well, the way that I would I would describe it is I look at networking and relationship building. The way that somebody would look at working out at the gym. There’s a fundamental difference between saying, okay, there’s a wedding coming up and I want to lose 50 pounds so I can fit into that tux, which is unrealistic to try to do it in a week or two weeks. And it’s probably not healthy versus saying, okay, I’m going to get healthier. I want to feel healthier and feel stronger. So I’m going to adopt little habits that have huge outsized effects. So I’m going to exercise, I’m going to eat better, I’m going to work on mental health and sleep better. And networking is the same thing, as opposed to saying, okay, there’s a networking event coming up. And that’s the thing I’m going to do for my networking this quarter. What I want my clients to understand is it’s a mentality that you adopt. So what you can say is, well, you know, the let’s say the holiday season is coming up and you can that’s a perfect time to send out just personal notes and say, hey, you know, I really appreciate you being in my network.
Adam Marx: You’re a positive voice. And, you know, I just wanted to wish you a happy New Year or to say something like, hey, you know, it’s been a minute since we talked. I’d love to hear what you’re working on. Let’s catch up some time in the new year and and let’s see what we can collaborate on together. Saying some some sometime in the new year is perfect because it’s a million years from now. You’re not asking anybody to commit to anything. You’re just acknowledging that they are a positive value in your network. And people love that feeling. And if you do that consistently and you learn to kind of build that muscle, then what happens is in 18 months, you end up with crazy access. You end up saying to yourself over and over again, How did I get in this room and how did I do it? Without a 32nd sales pitch? You may you may use your 32nd sales pitch once you’re in the room. But you have access to an incredible number of people and organizations who know you as you as opposed to, oh, this is email number 35 that came into my inbox today asking me for something.
Lee Kantor: Now walk me through what an engagement looks like, especially if you’re dealing with a lot of tech folks. I work in that industry as well. I’ve met a ton of founders. A lot of times this type of activity is well outside their comfort zone. They want to be in a room, you know, by themselves or with their team working on their thing. And they don’t like to, number one, even toot their own horn to tell people their thing exists. And number two, you know, to meet strangers in a in a way that feels inauthentic to them, like like how do you kind of have those first conversations with a prospect in order to get them to have this mindset shift that you’re asking for?
Adam Marx: That’s actually pardon me, a great question because so I’ve done advising on on exactly that topic at the Atlanta Tech Village and with panoramic now VIP ventures and Startup Showdown. So this is a question that I get very consistently and the answer is twofold. The first I think is very important to hear founders and or people looking to network when they say things like, I feel shy, I feel introverted. This is daunting to me to hear that and validate it and also to say, Hey, listen, me too. You know, honestly, I have anxiety too. I have some stage fright also. I think what that does is it lowers the barrier and it makes the conversation more relatable. And and to follow that up and say to them, this is not going to happen overnight, You can absolutely do this. You can do a podcast. You can talk to investors, you can talk to journalists, you can do a book tour or whatever it is. It’s just about training that muscle. And to go back to that, that gym example, you don’t walk into the gym day one and say, I’m going to go lift the heaviest weight here. You work up to it. You have a comfort zone and you kind of push those boundaries little by little.
Adam Marx: And then the other thing that it’s really important to to have them understand and I see a lot of founders actually really connect to this, is if you use a sales business example. So if a founder does, let’s say, B2B software, that’s their company and they have a deep network in the tech community, tech industry, that’s great. It’s great to have a deep network. But my very first question is, who do you know in construction? Who do you know in music and entertainment? Who do you know in legal or in the medical industry? Because if you’re selling primarily to people who are already in your silo, so are all of your competitors. And you’re all you’re all looking at that customer base and that set of investors, if you can get outside your silo, you can start to market and sell to other companies, other industries who may not even be aware that they have a problem you could address. So you open yourself up to lots of other opportunities and lots of other business possibilities. And I see that that is something they connect to because it’s, oh, it’s a new customer base we could really explore.
Lee Kantor: So when you open their mind to that. Is that something they’re like, okay, sounds good. Do you then help them kind of craft that plan? You know, the action items they have to do in order to penetrate that new channel or is it something that, you know, that some other resource helps them with that? Like where does your service begin and end?
Adam Marx: So the service focuses a lot on talking through and retraining the mindset and showing people examples of what is possible and showing people examples of what they can do to make that possibility their own. And what I what I tell people is so I don’t sell access to a network to my network. And it’s very important to underscore why that is the first reason why it is. Pardon me. First reason why that is, is because. I don’t believe people are commodities to be bought and sold. But it’s also really important for somebody who wants to build a network to understand that value is different for different people. So if somebody comes to me and says, Hey, I want to meet somebody in, let’s say, sports management, and who do you have in your network who I can get access to. My first response is going to be, well, you know, I don’t do that. But also, I don’t know a ton of people in sports management, so there’s not going to be that same sort of value because you’re looking for something that is inherently a little bit different. And what my job is, what my job is, is to to take a look at who do you want to get in front of? And it could be people in sports management or investors or journalists and say, how do you gain access to this person or this organization in a way that is going to incentivize them to respond to your email, to pick up your phone call, to start a dialog with you, because that creates an enormous amount of value. So a lot of it is just retraining thought processes and coming up with a plan that actually works for you. So I do have I do have material that I pull from and basic structures that I pull from.
Adam Marx: And then I, I tailor it to the particular company or client. So somebody who is a solo founder is going to need something different than somebody who is running a company of six employees versus somebody who’s running a company of 100 employees. And so understanding how to build networks and is critical and the 100 employee company example is also very, very important for for people to understand, because once you get to that level, you have time. That diminishes because your time is spent doing other things, running your company. So it’s very critical that people who are running these larger companies, these enterprise businesses, recognize networking is still important, and it’s absolutely crucial that you don’t just dump it all onto your sales and marketing team. A because it overloads the sales and marketing team. But B and perhaps more importantly, because when you can invest in creating the skill set for your entire organization to go out and build relationships, including your developers, your designers, your tech people, it creates huge opportunities for you to draw in high end talent, new customer bases, new potential partnerships. Because what I tell people is we’re real. Networking happens often isn’t at the networking events that happen maybe once a quarter. It happens when you go to that wedding over the weekend. It happens when you go to whatever your hobby is. Maybe you do barbecuing or you do cars and that’s your thing. Building networks that way and understanding how to open conversations and say, Oh, hey, you know. Have you thought about doing this? We’re kind of looking for that. Or do you do this kind of work? That’s where real interesting dialog start to pop off.
Lee Kantor: Now, when you’re explaining, explaining that to a founder and saying, Look, we have to teach everybody on the team how to be the best networker they can be in the in the way that they are, no matter their role in order to grow the company in the manner we want to do. And then also giving them the tools on, okay, this is what you do. Like your first step is this. And the second step is that. And then everybody kind of has a a playbook to help them grow their network as as best they can in order for the startup or the company to grow. That’s is that kind of what you just is that summarize what you just said.
Adam Marx: Yeah so the the talks that I give which I’ve given at, at the Tech village and at DC and Georgia State, a lot of them are focused on creating material that is very elastic, very flexible. So as opposed to going into a company and saying, okay, we’re going to do this workshop and this is your one, two, three, A, B, c equation for how to do, how to build a network. The goal is to get people to see where the network possibilities can be. What I call looking for side entrances. And what I mean by that is the best networking in my career and my experience often hasn’t started with Hi, my name is Adam and I do this whatever the business is or, you know, here’s my 32nd pitch. The very best networking conversations have started based on mutual music, taste or TV humor or, you know, who’s your sports team or something. Because when people see those things, it’s not as daunting. And what it does is it brings those barriers down to a much more human level so that you can have a conversation and get an idea of who somebody is. Oftentimes, people are in such a rush to make a sale in a sales mentality of, you know, get close the deal, get it done, that they miss the opportunity to have a longer conversation and potentially open themselves up to an even bigger opportunity at some point.
Adam Marx: Sales do have to happen at some. At some point business will happen. But the point of networking isn’t necessarily to just say, okay, did I get a sale done on this phone call? If the answer was no, it was a waste of time. The point of networking is to get to that next conversation. And so at that, once you adopt that sort of a mentality, you can have a 30 minute conversation where maybe you don’t make a sale or close the deal, but you have a strengthened dialog and relationship. And if you grow that over time, you could have access to lots of stuff through potentially through that person’s network. What’s really crucial to understand? Is that the best salespeople? And I’m friendly with many, many of them influencers and whoever on LinkedIn and Twitter and whatever. The best salespeople actually recognize when to stop selling and when to look at how they can create value for someone else. And I think that’s a skill that I wish we talked more about societally.
Lee Kantor: Yeah. Well, I think that a lot of times, and especially in this digital age that we’re in, people want to automate and scale things at the first whiff of anything. So they want to just quickly automate and scale and they kind of eliminate the humanity and, and the, you know, the authentic I care about you. I want to know more about you part of life. And they just see, you know, prospects on a in a database that they want to hit with. Like you said, the cadence of, you know, this is email number 12 in the cadence and I don’t really care about you. You’re just a means to an end for me. And the relationships transactional, it’s not really human to human.
Adam Marx: It’s it’s important that you touched on that word transactional, because when I talk to people and I say non transactional networking, I am not saying don’t do business. Of course do business. Business is very good. But when I look at non transactional networking, I’m looking at how do I get in front of somebody in a way where they’re not going to say, Oh, another LinkedIn message where somebody is pretending to offer to help me. But really what they want to do is sell me something because they want my money. The goal of the mindset that I teach is when I go to, let’s say, networking events or conferences or whatever it is. I approach life with a mindset of looking at whoever that person is on stage and saying, Gee, you know, I really enjoyed this conversation. I want to figure out how to get in front of this person and not in a not in a weird fanboy kind of way. Just how do I look at this person or this organization and say, I want to get in front of them and start a dialog and I want them to also want to continue that dialog. And that’s a skill set and it’s a mindset to walk into all aspects of life and have the, the, the perspective of saying, yes, it is possible to have this conversation, this is a reachable person or a reachable organization. And a lot of that means tailoring back the, okay, how can I sell them? What’s my business pitch, all that kind of maybe data oriented material and saying. What makes them laugh? What kind of TV do they share? A gif or music? Or where are they the most human? And if you approach people that way, it’s more fun. It’s it’s it’s kind of a warmer feeling as opposed to like this very cold, you know, sales automated approach and it’s oftentimes very much more successful. Um, I’ve had much more success getting in front of people that way than, you know, than giving them a business pitch.
Lee Kantor: Now, if somebody wants to connect with you is your ideal client startup founders, is it an individual person that’s working on their personal brand and their personal network? Like, who is your ideal client?
Adam Marx: Yeah, that’s a good question. I do love working with founders. Um, so founders are, are part of whom I do tend to open myself up to lately. More and more, though, I see a a significant need for this in larger enterprise businesses, particularly because I think that there’s just a need to to invest in making sure that people in a large organization understand that this is something they can do. And so the ideal client is really less about the size of the company and more about somebody who has a mindset that’s that is critical to networking. So the ideal client is someone who says this is not going to happen overnight. I’m not going to just pay him and it’ll be done in two weeks, two weeks because we have a launch in two weeks. It’s somebody, whether it’s a founder or a larger scale enterprise with a mindset of this is extremely valuable. This can totally change my trajectory. I’m ready to make this investment and be aware that it’s a time investment no different than paying a personal trainer to train you to get to where you want to be. It’s the mindset that that I find really separates out people who are successful at it and people who are less successful at it.
Lee Kantor: So if somebody wants to connect with you and have more substantive conversation, what’s the website? What’s the best way to get Ahold of you?
Adam Marx: Yeah, so the website is 0 to 1 networker.com. I’m 0 to 1 networker on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter. I’m very big on it used to be very big on Twitter. But all these changes are changing that a little bit. I’m also heavily on LinkedIn. Just, you know, look for Adam Marx. I tell people, you know, look for the orange sunglasses. I’m always wearing orange sunglasses. And, you know, I welcome people if they want to send me an email. Adam at 0 to 1 networker.com. And you know, I was listening to Rachel’s show with you Rachel Simon’s show and I will echo her point just to let me know where you’re coming from, because then I’ll know that that someone’s coming through your show.
Lee Kantor: Good stuff. Well, Adam, thank you so much for sharing your story today. You’re doing such important work and we appreciate you.
Adam Marx: Thank you so much for having me.
Lee Kantor: All right. This Lee Kantor. We’ll see you all next time on Atlanta Business Radio.
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