Build Energy then Go Where the Energy Is

I just came back from a 40 day, 9,400 mile motorcycle book tour. I visited 34 states and connected with thousands of people. Long trips are great for helping us see patterns and insights we might otherwise miss.

Keith Ferrazzi was right when he wrote in his book, Never Eat Alone, "build it before you need it." What he meant by this is that the time to build a network is NOT after we decide we want a new job. The network has to be already built and the relationships formed.

I had many amazing experiences on this tour and nearly all of them can be connected to people who I had known in a virtual way but may not have met. People who read my blog, other bloggers, and others who have connected with my work and then me. I connected with these folks in Brookings, Santa Rosa, Roseville, Santa Clara, Tucson, Birmingham, Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, Milwaukee, Fargo, Grand Junction, Salt Lake City, and Boise (and several near misses in Portland, Des Moines, Minneapolis). And an amazing thing happened when I met these folks for the first time in person: The conversation did not start at the beginning – we picked right up where we last left off from our virtual relationships.

In the cities where I had these connections, the book talks and signings were better, bigger, and/or more interesting. The network I had built over the last few years served me in many ways on the tour. Did I know that I would need them for this trip? No, and had I planned it that way it would not have been genuine and would not have worked. Real relationships are not managed.

I don’t know if I appreciated the importance of this community before this trip. They are a group of wonderful, interesting, and caring people who I feel honored to have met in person. And I am ready and eager to be their catalysts when and if needed.

And there were many other folks who I did not meet but who added energy to tour by following my progress and expressing interest and concern. I think many people were worried about me – and this was nice to know. Suffice it to say that I felt in the company of many friends as I rumbled through each state.

In the cities where I did not know anyone, the experience was different. I enjoyed seeing the place, but it did not feel magical or special. From a motorcycle touring standpoint, I found the Sonoran Desert, Badlands and Black Hills, and the Rocky Mountains inspiring. But from an overall tour perspective, nothing tops the people connections.

And this trend translated itself into a few other experiences. For example, I ended up changing a lot of hotel reservations a few days into the tour. When I travel for business, I generally stay in Marriott hotels because I think their beds, internet, and service are better. For the tour, I booked a lot of Best Westerns to save a few bucks (paying for 40 nights worth of hotels is not cheap at any price). After the first few Best Western stays (not the best experiences) I realized I was being foolish. I value the quality of Marriotts so much more – even their low end Fairfield hotels – than the Best Westerns. Their people seem more caring and well trained. So I canceled over 20 reservations and switched. What a difference real comfort and peace of mind makes when traveling.

I have always been attracted to forging new territories and exploring new grounds. And I honestly had downplayed my desire for, or need for, relationships. I have a different perspective now. I want to explore, move out onto the edge, and forge new territories, but I want to do these things in a way that also builds and fuels great human connections.

I want to collaborate and partner more as a result of this solo trip. Weird, huh?

Thanks to everyone who helped to make the trip memorable and a success. Some people ask me if I sold a lot of books. Sure, books were sold, but the real success for me is that I was able to connect with so many people about how to catalyze breakthroughs and have in-person conversations with many smart people who I had previously known in a virtual way.

This makes me think about the growth of social networking and its potential. I think when social networking leads to real human connection, that’s a great thing. Blogs are great facilitators of this. I am not so sure about podcasts or LinkedIn in this regard. Your thoughts?

I want to do more to bring virtual relationships to life and am eager to participate in more events and informal gatherings that facilitate this. On my list for next year is SOBCon and Bigger Small Talk, for sure, and perhaps others. And I would be happy to speak or help out at any of these. Maybe a group can ride over to these events on motorcycles? Hey, Rosa, how ’bout a gathering in Hawaii? Personally, I would love to see a small group work session in the Arizona/New Mexico area in the Fall or Spring. Perhaps – "Floating new Ideas" during the Albuquerque Balloon Festival.

Count me in!

Guest Author: Lisa Haneberg, author of Two Weeks to a Breakthrough, How to Zoom Toward Your Goal in 14 Days or Less. Her book’s blog is here, and it shares many more details about her amazing motorcycle tour. For instance, I could not resist sharing the picture below with you! Click on it to take you to the breakthrough story.  Be sure you also visit Lisa at Management Craft.

As for that gathering in Hawai’i, early ideas are cooking Lisa! Hazel will probably need to stay home though…


  1. says

    40 days and a 9,400 mile trek *WOW* !!!
    I too have had the experience of meeting folks in person who previously had been ‘virtual’ friends.
    People who don’t have virtual friends
    can hardly grasp how bonded
    friendships can be from only the written
    word, but in person meetings do add
    something very special to
    Kudos to the artist Terri for her
    wonderful graphic. :)

  2. says

    Lisa, I keep reading your posting over and over again, for I am less than three weeks away from a Ho’okipa Summer Series I had put together for Hawai’i – 10 weeks, 4 islands, 30 presentations and counting. No Hazel… for me there are ocean channels to cross, and it means 11 round-trip plane rides and many more car trips, but it is still very much about community, and having the opportunity to connect with many more people personally. I am incredibly excited about it, and the Ho’okipa stories waiting to happen!
    I do ask myself – have I built enough energy? What more can I build between now and then? There is no such thing as being over-prepared!

  3. says

    Wow, Rosa, that’s a lot of connecting. As far as energy building, I will say that I cherished the places where I was for more than one day, like Fargo, because I was able to also build energy and connections from one day to the next.
    Perhaps it is time to make a few “unreasonable requests” ask each of your connections to reach out to five new connections and bring them to the presentations. People love to help and feel a great sense of pride in helping up make things happen.

  4. says

    As one who met Lisa in person I can tell you she hit the nail right on the head. Though we had only a few exchanges via the internet prior to her arrival in Baltimore, when we had dinner together it was like being with an old friend.

  5. says

    Herman – it is so great you found Rosa’s blog.
    I was reading another post on another blog from a duo who did a book tour and used their social (virtual) network to help book the events. They did 40 talks, which is about the same as I did. The thing I found interesting is that while their tour was a bigger financial success, in terms of numbers of people subscribing to their blogs and books sold and such, they did not seem to get as big of a payoff on the relationship side or in the intangible department. My vehicle – hazel – and the fact that I drove from one place to the next made a big difference.
    If I knew all the numbers and could do it either way, I would do it the way I did all over again. It was fun rolling into these towns after seeing the countryside.
    That said, there are certainly things I would do differently, and planning more thoroughly is certainly one of them!

  6. says

    Hi Rosa, I’ve never done a trip like the one you are planning or Lisa has described, but I do know that when I travel about a lot it’s better to have some time to connect to each place rather than being constantly on the move. Finding some way to connect back into the source – the sense of place – as you go along. I’m not sure you can plan for that in advance – it’s more like topping up as you go along?
    I’m loving all these posts on hospitality – going to get going with mine very soon I promise :)
    PS If you ever organise the gathering in Hawaii count me in. It’s a long way from rainy old Edinburgh but I’m sure I’ll find a way :)