How To Build Chemistry During An Agency Pitch.


Chemistry is one of the most important factors in winning a piece of business and one of the most elusive.

It is never included in the RFP as an ask.

Nonetheless when I have done reviews, I often hear clients say after the agency leaves.  “I liked their team.”  “I could work with them.”  “They seem easy to work with.”  “I really liked her or him.” “I felt good chemistry.”  Where did that come from?

During the reviews I conducted during Covid building chemistry was a challenge for sure.  How do you build chemistry on a Zoom call?  You background was one way but not the same as an in-person dynamic.

How do you build chemistry on a call when many of the clients during parts of the presentation turn their camera off?  I personal found this pretty rude but it was tough for me to call them out.  Presenting to a circle with an initial in it is not the ideal way to build chemistry.  I would rather that the client throw up an emoji.

So how do you build chemistry during a pitch?  First lose you posse.  Your agency team. You agency buddies.  You do not need the entire agency team to be focused on setting up the AV.  Leave that to one person and have the rest of your team engage with the client.

The crutch for many agencies in a pitch is the screen.  It is like a magnet for agencies. The gather around it.  Why?  It is just a comfort zone.

Agency teams generally sit close to the screen all in a pod when the client is at the other end of the table.

Lose that and get as many of your agency team members sitting as close to the client as possible.  Yes, sit right next to them,

Leave one to two folks to work with the AV.  A client will probably drift over and try to help them especially if the meeting is at the client’s office.

Engage in conversation with the client.  Have nothing to say?  Then you did not check out their LinkedIn profiles. You did not do your homework. You will know what languages they speak, where the went to school, and where they worked before.  You may also share connections with one of your friends and associates.    That certainly give you a starting point for dialogue and a chemistry build.

Think of the conference table not as a meeting table but a dining room with guests.  Stage yourself appropriately.  Be prepared to ask engagement questions before the meeting starts and you will build a Beacon Jar of Chemistry.


Career Advice For Young People. Get As Many Passports As You Can.


I have provided career advice for young people in the past.  Some of which must have resonated with my younger audiences.  Why Young People Shouldn’t Try To Find a Job and Networking Tips For Young People and College Students are my two most highly watched YouTube videos.

So today I thought I would share some additional thoughts on why young people should get as many passports as they can.

When I was growing up as a young student in Toronto there was a famous Canadian philosopher and futurist called Marshall McLuhan.  Today we have another Canadian called Malcom Gladwell.

Marshall McLuhan used to expound that the world was a Global village.  There was evidence to support that in those days but if you went to Toronto today that would be clearly evident with over 100 nationalities represented in the city.

Although I am recording this in sunny Southern CA I wasn’t born here.  I am Canadian and hold a Canadian passport.  If I wanted to immigrate to countries like New Zealand, Australia or The UK it would be easier for me because they are all part of the British Commonwealth.  Pretty appealing if I was 20 years old. 

I have an Argentine friend who lived in Argentina for many years and Orange County for a few and now lives in Spain because he holds an Italian passport.

If one of your parents was born in another country, there is probably a good chance you can get a passport for that country.  I know that my daughter who was born in the U.S. could do that and I am not an immigration lawyer.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc for sure, but it has reset priorities for people.  Why not live and work from where we want to? 

We have all read about digital nomads during these times.  What is interesting is that many countries in the Caribbean and places like Dubai actually have active campaigns to lure digital nomads.

Digital nomads are a new type of worker seldom heard of a few years ago.  Buenos Aries is looking to host 22,000 digital nomads by 2023 because of their higher average expenditures than the locals.

Digital nomads are no longer seen as young people with stubble working at a Starbucks all day on their laptops because they got free Wi-Fi and could not afford an office.

The Pandemic has taught us that we cannot predict which would be the best places to be in 20 years.  Twenty years ago, young people in financial services might have wanted to work in Hong Kong.  Not so much today.  Today if you could live anywhere many folks might pick New Zealand or Australia because of their low Covid cases. 

Having multiple passports will give you much more flexibility and will increase your opportunities.

And travelling certainly has other benefits.  As Mark Twain put it “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”  Beliefs quite prevalent in some countries today.

Is Networking Dead?


I wrote a blog in the beginning of April called How To Network In the Newer New Normal.

April seems like years ago today.  I miss my networking.  The 2 to 3 coffees a day. Drinks after work at the office.  The networking events exchanging business cards and standing next to somebody with a glass of wine in my hand chatting.

I miss connecting the dots and connecting folks with common backgrounds like language, culture, or experiences.  “You should meet this person.”

Many people attended networking events to show the flag as the expression went.  Being seen has great value.  It creates personal awareness for a person.  There is a famous restaurant in Buenos Aires called Café La Biela.  When I went the first time, I asked the waiter why it costs to sit outside.  He looked at me with a bit of curiosity and said, “because you will be seen sir.”

Oh, I still try to network.  I talk to folks, have the occasion well separated drink with somebody I know to catch up, but it doesn’t seem to be the same.  I like meeting strangers and the discovery and creation of common touch points to build connection.  I like the mystery and challenge of that journey.

I look at the Notification feed on LinkedIn daily and congratulate folks on birthdays and promotions.  A like or a congrats comment does provide some engagement, but it is not working a room.

I listen to news and conversations from around the world and one thing appears to be clear in a cloudy world.  Most people miss social engagement.  We miss people.  I know I do but networking is what I do.  My network employs me, nurtures me, teaches me and rewards me.  I need my people fix.

A group I attend virtually wanted to have an in-person networking meeting.  A great intent for sure but did I feel comfortable attending.  No really. Mixed.  I asked some of my friends, some in different countries would they attend?  No was what they said.  The event was cancelled. 

So, is networking dead?  Maybe not dead but changed for sure.  I live in California so attending an outdoor event in the New Year may happen.  Not sure when. Will people wear masks?  Probably.  Will they stand two meters apart?  Probably not.  Will they shake hands.  Probably not.  Will you exchange business cards?  Maybe.

So, what is your take?  Would you attend an in person outdoor meeting?  How long before you feel comfortable doing that?  How are you networking today?

What’s The Best Way For Agencies To Get New Business?


Referrals.  We all know that, but we don’t act like that.

And I am stupid just like you.  I like chasing strangers.  I don’t know what it is.  The elixir of the chase.  The pursuit.  When I am frustrated by the lack of response I reflect and look at the projects I have completed, and I ask myself how I landed them?  My stupid brain responds they came from people I knew.   I may not have talked to them in five years, but I knew them.

I had a drink the other night with an agency President. Outside of course.  Right by Newport Beach Harbor.  Nice and breezy.

I asked him how are you getting new business?

Referrals he said.  Sometimes it is from former clients who have gone elsewhere, and they reach out to us.  Some calls from people we don’t know but they were referred by our current or former clients.

The next day I started my day buy reaching out to total strangers.  It is tough to break bad habits.

I am going to be on a New Business Podcast called the Fuel, so I reached out to some clients.  The consensus was that they are all universally tired of unsolicited outreach from strange agencies.

“I’m not very open to solicitation and the constant stream of instant pitches on LinkedIn or emails is very off putting.  I’d prefer to receive a referral or make a connection at a networking event before receiving a pitch,” said one client.

Another client I know shared this comment.  “Overall, there needs to be some sort of personal connection.  I probably delete 5 to 10 emails a day from a totally random stranger trying to get my business.  It’s obviously they haven’t done any homework and I’m just on a list,” they wrote.

And chasing clients is harder.  When I reach out to clients I know many responses come with a big fat highlighted line saying something like CAUTION THIS EMAIL ORIGINATED FROM OUTSIDE OF THE ORGANIZATION.  DO NOT CLICK ON ANY UNVERIFIED LINKS OR OPEN ANY UNVERIFIED ATTACHACHMENT.

That’s probably an indication that much of your activity can be wasted or flagged as a nuisance.

So, what’s the answer? There are many.  Here is one.

If you know your clients really well, you can ask them if they have anybody in their network that you should reach out to. Don’t ask too often and don’t be pushy.  Ask them if you can use their name and put that in the Subject Line.  That may improve your chances to connect.

And in the end any solicitation to clients should be observations about their business and not just a blanket look at our agency.  We are terrific.  Relevance improves your chances of being heard.

How to Network In the Newer New Normal.


I am a networker.  I have spoken about effective Networking across the country.  I have created a lot of content about networking.

Social isolating is challenging for me.

I have always said that networking is not about going to an event but about having an attitude of engagement.  Connecting with people all the time.

I think there will be changes in consumer behavior after this crisis.  I see signs of it already.  I have reports that in some parts of China that have reopened people are nicer to each other.

When I go on my daily social distancing walk in a park near my house people I pass or meet now say hello or wave.  In the past they would look down at the sidewalk or path.  Peaceful in their own cocoon.

Zoom has become a ubiquitous part of human interaction in just a few weeks.

It is a powerful way to network and stay in touch.

I was on a Zoom call with Canadians in OC the other day creating community but also staying in front of peeps.  I am one of the Founders of the Group. Canadians in OC might seem like a social group and it is.  But 13% of California’s trade is with Canada so there is a commerce piece to it.  It is also estimated that approximately 1 in 40 Californians have Canadian routes.

I will be on a Zoom call tonight with Laguna Niguel Connectors.  It originally started as a transition group but has evolved into a business networking Group.  It has over 4500 members.  I am also one of the Founders.

One way for you to network in the Newer New Normal is to start your own group.  Seems hard you say.  Canadians in OC was started by a conversation between two people.  Laguna Niguel Connectors by a conversation between four people whose only commonality was living in Laguna Niguel.  Once the flame is lit the group grows organically if it composed of likeminded people.

This is also a great time to reach out to all of your clients new and old and to prospects to just check in on how they are doing?  How is their business going?  How are they coping?  You will find that in these times their responses often share more of how their personal life is going.  It is a great way to reconnect and stay top of mind with folks and build more meaningful relationships.

You know the daily stream that you get on LinkedIn notifications?  Well know this is the time to engage with those notifications.  Great time to congrats folks on talking a new position.  Congratulate those that have birthdays.  Great way to reconnect and also to engage and build new networking relationships.

A great way to network today in this socially isolated world is to talk live.  Yes call people.  You will find that it is easier to get people to take a call.

It is all about reaching out and touching somebody as the old ATT ad used to say.

It is ironic that in a world that is ravaged and upside down every contact today seems to be a bit closer and more personal, often sincere and more important in many ways.  That is why you need to network.