Making Your Network Work

On this episode of THE COMPANY WE KEEP podcast, host Jason Pearl brings you into his network, shares how it literally changed the course of his life, and how to make your network work for you (especially when you need it).

All right. All right. Welcome to another episode of The Company We Keep podcast. I'm your host, Jason Pearl. I'm happy to have you here with us for another day and another episode. Just as a recap, what is this podcast all about? This podcast is for everyday business owners, entrepreneurs, high-performers, and anyone else who wants to think differently about growth, think differently about success, and learn as much as possible about finding a way to have better balance in both business and in life.

In this episode, we're going to be talking about actually what the title of this podcast is, which is The Company We Keep. The company we keep is just another way to explain or to say your network, those you surround yourself with, and the people you do life with. And it is my position, and my point of view, that who you surround yourself with is so critically important to achieving what you want to achieve in life. Whether it's, I want to be the best husband I can possibly be, you got to surround yourself with the best husbands that are out there.

If you want to be a better business owner, or if you want to be a better entrepreneur, or you want to level up in some way, shape, or form, you have to surround yourself with people that help you level up. And today, I specifically want to talk about your network, and I want to talk about how your network is actually able to help you.

We live in a world where. We talk about vanity stats. We talk about followers. We talk about the vanity numbers of who you have, or how many friends you have, or how many followers you have. And we wear that oftentimes in society as a badge of honor. And listen, there's nothing wrong with having a ton of followers or anything like that.

But when it comes to success in having success with the company, you keep having success with your network; there are certain things you have to do. You want to surround yourself, or you want to have your network be people that you can believe in, people that you can trust, and you do the same for them as they do for you.


So last week, we talked about my failures. So we talked about certain times in my life where I fell down, and I wasn't either proud of what happened, or there are just circumstances that happened in my life that would be looked at as like a failure or a struggle. What I want to specifically talk about today is how out of one of those struggles, I was able to utilize a network or build a network that has become extremely fruitful for me and for those around me. And I just wanted to share a little bit of how that all took place and introduce you to a few people and a few names. That was really instrumental in my success over the past handful of years with Nacre Consulting and, just in my life in general.

So wanted to lay some of those out for you and see if maybe you're able to translate some of these things into your day-to-day with your network and the company that you keep. And go from there, or maybe you just get some new ideas with some of the things that I did.

This whole podcast is about getting growth out of each other, so I wanted to share a few very specific examples. Before I started Nacre Consulting, I worked with a financial services firm And had a significant amount of success. In May of ā€˜17, I was let go, and I had choices to make.

One of the things that I did that I often will talk about now that made me extremely successful in my consulting business is the action that I took almost immediately after I was let go from that company. I always had a dream to start my own business. And when. I had the opportunity to become a free agent in May of 2017. Within 24 hours, I did have a thought in my head about Nacre Consulting.

Within a week, I had the name Nacre Consulting, and obviously, it took me a few months to get some of the legal stuff in order. But one of the things that I did basically starting the day after I was a free agent. I made it a point to talk to, or to meet with, two different people every single day.

And what I did is I just started reaching out to the current network I had and was asking for phone calls or meetings. And then, in those phone calls or meetings that I had, I explained what my new reality was. And I started to talk about what I thought I wanted to do moving forward.

And one of those things that I was thinking about and wanted to do was start my own sales and growth consulting agency. So what this did is these two meetings or two calls a day gave me an opportunity to start pitching, informing, and communicating my ideas and my thoughts to those in my network.

In addition to that, during those meetings, I would ask my network and the people I was meeting with if there were other folks that they thought would be important to introduce me to, or that could help me potentially within my search and my walk of finding what the next step in my life was going to be.

And throughout that process, I probably for the next 90 days and maybe even a little more after that, I kept to that. Every business day, I met with two different people or spoke to two different people on the phone. And what that did is that created just a deluge of opportunity of new introductions for me, people that I did not have in my network before, as well as those that I trusted giving me advice and in helping me work through some of the things that I was thinking about doing.

And, just to be frank and to be real, everybody thinks that if you have a network like you can always rely on your network. And I think there is some credence to that, but I also think that there's a lot of things that you have to do individually to make that network work for you.

I knew my network, and I believed in my network, and I trusted my network. Still, I also knew that if I was going to grow my own business, there was no way that the network that I had when I was a free agent was going to be the network that was going to help me build what I wanted to build.

Moving forward, I'm going to introduce you to four names of people that were pretty instrumental in my early walk with getting Nacre Consulting off the ground but have also been very instrumental in the last four and a half years of what I've been doing.


The first person I want to introduce you to is a guy by the name of CJ Maurer.

CJ Maurer and I met about eight or nine years ago at a BNI event. So Business Networking International, I believe, is what BNI stands for. And I remember meeting CJ and just being drawn to him. He's got a very big engaging personality. He's extremely smart. He's very down-to-earth.

And he was just one of those guys that from across the room, I'm looking at him thinking. I want to meet this dude. All right. Like to, I want to get to know this guy. I'm going to find out what he's all about. I really like what he's saying. I like his approach. I like the way he handles himself. He was one of those guys that were always willing to give first and not take or not ask.

And I really admired that about him. Going back eight or nine years, we would go to some of these BNI meetings together. And I was able to be introduced to the marketing agency that he worked for. And the boss that he worked for a guy by the name of Eric Eustis. And then, I hired a CJ and Eric when I was still with a financial services company; I hired them as an agency to rebrand the company I was working for. And then, a couple of years later, CJ became available as well. And I was able to hire CJ as my marketing director. So CJ and I forged this really good relationship, a working relationship together over the course of the next few years, launching a lot of marketing initiatives and things of that nature, and just had a great working relationship.

When it became my time to be a free agent CJ, and I continued to talk and continue to work together and learn about certain opportunities in a way that we could help each other. Ultimately, CJ ended up referring me to a client I still have today that I do a significant amount of work for, and it was all just through networking.

So it was all through just having constant communication, having lunches, having networking meetings, having coffee meetings, things of that nature. CJ now runs his own agency. It's a marketing agency called The Gist. He's wildly successful in that company. And we continue to share business, do joint projects together, and work together. All of this comes from eight or nine years ago, showing up to a networking meeting and just being bold enough to say let's have a conversation about it and let's see where it goes from there. So sometimes you have to make the first move. Sometimes you just have to go up and say, Hey, I what you're saying and, let's talk more. And that was CJ, and our relationship continues to grow. And he's just a wonderful guy. If you don't follow him already, you should follow him as an, his company The Gist.


The second person I want to talk about is somebody that I did not know the day I became a free agent. I was introduced to a guy by the name of Kevin Kerl within a few weeks of me being let go and looking in and trying to plan my next move.

I met with Kevin, who at the time was the CEO of a search firm called SelectOne here in Buffalo, New York. Successful firm, both Kevin and the owner, John Baldo, great guys have done significant work in the community, significant work, finding a lot of high-end people jobs and they had, and still have a great firm.

But I met with Kevin, and one of the things Kevin and I talked about is we sat in this beautiful conference room they have in the Larkinville area in downtown Buffalo. And he just started asking me questions like, what do you think you're good at? What do you want to do? What are your thoughts and things of that nature?

And throughout this meeting, it wasn't an interview, but it was just us getting to know each other. And he basically started asking me like, Hey, are you interested in this position? Are you interested in that position that I may know of that's coming up that you may be a good fit for.

And ultimately, the conversation ended up with me saying, no, I really don't want to go find another job. I want to start my own consulting agency. And through that conversation, Kevin and I started to have more, very specific conversations. He said, okay, if that's what you want to do, how can I help you?

So we started having that conversation about how he could potentially help me. And then ultimately, what Kevin did is he opened up his Rolodex. He opened up his network of people that he'd already built relationships with and started introducing me to folks which is something that most people really do not do.

Everyone says, Oh yeah, I'll make an intro and things like that. But Kevin was real about it, and he meant business. He made introductions with an email in a very specific ask for each of those to meet with me and talk to me about what I was looking to do in the future. And for that, I'll be forever grateful to Kevin because he did not have to do that, and he did it.

And throughout that process, he introduced me to some dynamite guys. One Sam Russo. He's a partner of a private equity firm here in Buffalo. Lorraine Capital ā€“ Sam was super gracious. And ultimately, Sam introduced me to Mark McCabe, who was the founder and CEO of Bariatric Fusion, who shortly after this introduction to Sam, I was introduced to Mark.

And then, Mark hired me as one of my first clients ever within Nacre Consulting. Mark McCabe hired me to help them do some compensation planning and ultimately help them with their sales growth. And they are still a client at this point in time. So we're going four years on, this introduction and a four-year client of Nacre Consulting, which is amazing.

Kevin also introduced me to a guy by the name of Jack Greco. And Jack Greco is a legend in the upstate New York area. He's a partner to startups. He's got his hands in everything, and he's one of those guys that knows everyone and is probably the master networker in upstate New York.

He's got his hands in a lot of different things, and I sat down with Jack. And Jack was really gracious with his time. He also challenged some of my ideas and asked the really hard questions, which was what I needed at that time. As I'm building a business, Jack was awesome about just like being really direct and saying, Hey, if you want to do this, what does it mean here?

Or have you thought about this, or who are the people you ideally want to work with? What is your skillset, and how will that translate to what you're trying to do here? And he was really great about just helping. And helping isn't just being a yes, man; helping is challenging. Helping is helping formulate and really getting down to the nitty-gritty of how he can help me, help myself with what I was trying to do.

Jack has introduced me to a number of different people. One of which was a guy that also ran a software company here locally, Alex Villafranca, in his company. Arbeit became a client of mine as well. So just in being introduced to Kevin and meeting Kevin, he introduced me to others that all became clients.

By the way, Kevin and his firm hired me to help them with their growth. Shortly after, I started Nacre Consulting. So out of this one introduction, Essentially came three clients within the next six months. And when you're starting a new consulting agency, and you don't know who your next paycheck is coming from like that introduction is like I said, I'll be forever grateful to Kevin for the time he took to introduce me to those folks, everyone I just mentioned, I'm still close with I still chat with and we still work together and build networking together. So it's just amazing what an introduction like that can do.


Moving forward. About three years ago, I was searching on LinkedIn as I do almost every day for at least 30 minutes a day, I spend time on LinkedIn. That's the platform professionally that I build a lot of relationships on, and I was introduced to this guy who was posting, and I just really liked what he was posting.

His posts were different. He was put together and professional, but he also had so much heart that he put on his post and into his posts that it just really struck me as different. And I wanted to meet the guy. I had some mutual connections, but at this time, I was feeling a little bold, and I decided to reach out to this person and just say, Hey, listen, I really like what you're saying.

I like what you're doing. I resonate with all your posts. I'd really like to at least meet virtually or just get to know you a little bit. Cause I love what you're saying. This guy is Michael McGreevey. You've heard me mentioned him other times on this podcast. And he's a good friend right now.

And he and I have created a really close relationship, but I just reached out to Michael and said, Hey, I don't know you, you don't know me. We've got some mutual friends. I'd love to. Take you to lunch or take you to coffee and get to know you a little bit better.

He was super gracious with the opportunity we had lunch. That kind of began our conversation and our fast friendship, as well as some other business opportunities that we started to create for each other. You've heard me talk about the Entrepreneurial Family Man. Michael was one of the founders of the Entrepreneurial Family Man.

I ultimately ended up going on as a guest host on that podcast for about a year. And now he and I, and a few of our other friends, Chris Niemeyer being one of them. We're doing some joint projects together to really get to men and try to help men be the best that they can be in their lives.

Both business and professional. And this all comes down to just being bold enough on my end to say, Hey, I like what this guy's saying. I want to reach out. And that's a really good lesson. It's sometimes you just have to be bold. Sometimes you just have to say, Hey, this is what I like that. Iā€™m really interested in learning more about you.

I'm drawn to you for X, Y, or Z reason. Use a little flattery. And see where it goes. Michael is a friend for life and is somebody that you know, is going to be joining this podcast. He's slated to be my first podcast guest when we start bringing on guests in a couple of weeks.

So you'll get to meet him and learn more about him. And I'm really excited about that. But that's just another example of how your network can work for you, or even if they're not in your network, how you can create a network for yourself by just reaching out and being bold.


Finally, and there are so many other people I could talk to, but finally, I wanted to give one more name and one more example of how networking in how surrounding yourself with the right people can help you be successful.

Within a few weeks of me, again, going back to 2017, being a free agent, I was introduced. To a guy by the name of Nick Cavuoto was a high school friend of a former employee of mine and was a super successful marketing manager for a Fortune 50 company, but also had a side business of doing Facebook marketing ads and things of that nature and was really starting to be extremely successful.

The introduction that I had to Nick was actually a face-to-face meeting. We sat down, shared a cup of coffee started talking about ideas and ideologies and what he's doing and what I'm thinking about doing, and in different ways, we may be able to help each other out. He ultimately, within about a month of that conversation, really encouraged me to legalize and launch Nacre Consulting as well as he decided to hire me to help him with his business. And we worked together in that capacity for about six to eight months. He then continued to do what he was doing and then ultimately leave his full-time job to launch his agency with Facebook ads had created a seven-figure agency in about seven months and is now living out in the Denver, Colorado area, launched another company called Tenure Brands where he helps entrepreneurs get seen and get more exposure on social media. It is a significant business that he's running right now, but he also does personal brand coaching.

The reason I have this podcast is because last summer, in the middle of a pandemic, Nick and I were chatting, and he was talking to me about his personal brand coaching program. And he was like, Hey man. You should totally do this. He's you've got a great story. He's you need to get it out there.

Nacre Consulting's awesome. This isn't leaving Nacre Consulting. This is just you telling your story as an individual and building a personal brand around the professional brand you've built. So I owe this podcast,, and my platform really to Nick because he was the one to push me to go do things that I'm doing today.

And this podcast would not have happened if it wasn't for Nick and in his tutelage and his ability to build confidence in me just to start talking into a microphone, telling my story, and kind of sharing what we do with the world. Nick and I continue to be great friends.


I'm a sales advisor for his companies. He and I talk all the time, and this is a relationship that, five years ago, I didn't have. And that's the moral of the story of where I wanted this podcast to go. I just talked to you about these four guys- none of these guys were in my network or on my radar nine years ago.

Some of them weren't on my radar five years ago. Each one of these people has had an enormous impact on my life. Each of these people has helped me level up, has helped me see success differently, and has helped introduce me to people who have ultimately become clients and friends, and things of that nature in that are what it's all about.

That's where the company you keep is ever-evolving. That doesn't mean that if you're bringing new people into the company you keep that you have to push other people out. It just means that you have to make sure that you have new blood consistently, a new perspective coming into your network, and coming into your circle to help push you and help level you up to where you want to go. Those are things that I'm just so thankful for because there was a time where I was passive. There was a time where I wouldn't do that. I wouldn't be aggressive and say, Hey, I like what you're saying. I'd love to sit down and learn more about you because I wasn't confident enough in myself and my ability to be vulnerable just to say, Hey, listen, I love what you're saying.

I love what you're doing. I want to learn from you. And we live in a world where. On social media. It's so easy to consume what others are putting out there. You've got Instagram where you can DM these people. You've got LinkedIn in, in, in ways where you can in-mail them. Or you can just find ways on Facebook to comment on a post or something like that.

But if you see something, you'd reach out to these people, don't be passive, be aggressive. If you want to level up and want to level up the company you keep, you have to do that. And it's something that I've learned over the years past 5-10 years, and it's been life-changing both personally and professionally. These guys that I talked to you about today, yes, they've helped me professionally, but they've also helped me personally.

And I think that's really important that shows that like I'm trying to build a network that can serve both sides of the house. This isn't just these guys make me more money, right? These are really good guys that I surround myself with, and I also call friends. And I think that's what's really important when you're building your network.

I just want to encourage you guys to get out of your comfort zone. You see someone, or if you see something going on, you like just comment on it. If you're drawn to somebody, reach out and say, Hey, flatter them, tell them you think they're great. Be humble. Ask for help.

If you hold back or you're afraid, it's not going to get you anywhere. Sometimes you just have to take that action step. Sometimes it's just putting one foot in front of the other, and that'll get you to the next step. This isn't rocket science, what we're trying to do here, but it's something that I wanted to tell you guys, a personal story, and introduce you to a few people that are in my network that have really helped me have success in level up.

And if I can do it, you can do it as well. So just wanted to share that I hope you get some takeaways from it today. But the moral of the story is don't be passive. It's time to take action.


So as we wrap up here today, I appreciate you guys joining me. This is another Company We Keep podcast episode. Hopefully, you can get some practical takeaways from it. I appreciate your listening, and I appreciate your encouragement. If you're enjoying the podcast, we'd love for you to hit the subscribe button. Once you subscribe to this podcast, you're always going to get an auto-download. You're going to get notifications when it's time for my next podcast to be listened to.

But I'm really having a great time spending, spending some time with you guys, and looking forward to the next episode. Thanks for keeping me company today. I appreciate it. This is The Company We Keep podcast.

My name is Jason Pearl until next time I'm out.