Matthew Grisafe has been a business owner for 20 years now. He runs AV Programming Associates (AVPA), a company that does customized programming for smart homes and businesses. If you’ve ever been in a high-end home in which all the systems (audiovisual, lighting, HVAC, security, and more) can be managed and automated from a single touch panel, it may have been programmed by a company like AVPA.
AVPA does programming largely for Crestron and Extron systems, which cater to users who want a high level of functionality and customized control. They have established themselves as a leader in the industry by providing exceptional service and operating with integrity.
Grisafe has never seen himself as a business “guru,” but he has learned a lot over the years about growing and running a successful business. On his company’s 20-year anniversary, Grisafe released a book, titled Business Ain’t Rocket Science, in which he outlines his approach to operating a successful business. This isn’t a book just for other people who run, or who are looking to start, Crestron programming companies. It’s for any business owner looking to grow and better manage their businesses. It offers simple, practical, and actionable advice that is applicable to any industry.
The advice in one chapter of the book is especially simple, practical, and actionable. It’s titled, “Activating Your Network.” If you assume the point of this chapter is to teach you how to turn your friends and family into your unpaid sales force, you’d be wrong. It’s actually much simpler (and probably more effective) than that. Grisafe encourages his readers to make sure that your friends, family, and even acquaintances know exactly what kind of business you run and the services you offer. Grisafe explains, “When it comes to friends and family, you might think they already know what you do, so you don’t have to talk about it. They don’t. You may have told them at one point in time, but people forget; or they only have a limited understanding of what you do.”
Grisafe encourages business owners to simply talk about what they do in a memorable way, but still in a conversational manner, so that when their friends and family members come across people who need the goods or services provided by that business, it is easier for them to offer a referral.
“When you meet new people, they almost always ask, ‘What do you do?,’” explains Grisafe. “When you tell them what you do, be specific. Don’t just say, ‘I’m in construction.’ You need to actually tell them what you do. Give them examples. Tell them about the services you specialize in or describe a cool project you recently completed. You don’t have to bore them with all the details or drone on and on about every single service you offer or product you sell, but you should be specific. So instead of ‘I’m in construction,’ you could say, ‘I’m a general contractor who specializes in home remodels. Right now, I’m doing a lot of add-ons for people looking to move their aging parents onto their properties. I also do a fair amount of kitchen and bath remodels. My favorite types of projects, though, are restoring older homes in a way that’s period accurate.’”
The latter answer to the what-do-you-do question is much more memorable to the listener. It gives them a good understanding of the type of work you do and what types of clients could benefit from your work. Later, when your friend comes across someone looking for help with a kitchen remodel, they’ll know exactly who to refer them to. You’re not asking anyone to help you sell your services—you’re simply helping them understand what you do. They’ll take it from there. Or they won’t. Either way, all you’ve done is had a simple (although intentional) conversation. You aren’t out any money, and you haven’t put any undue pressure on the people in your circles to buy anything from you or to encourage others to do so.
Grisafe says, “In general, people want to be helpful to the people in their lives. If they know of someone who could use the products or services you provide, they would probably love to refer you! That’s why it’s important to make sure people know what you do—so the leads that come from these referrals are actually good leads. Quality referrals come from people who know and understand what you do.”
At the conclusion of the chapter, Grisafe encourages readers to keep conversations about business casual and authentic. He says, “Don’t overthink it. If you get too strategic about what you share and with whom, it will start to feel inauthentic. Simply share your stories and struggles, and see what happens!”
Business Ain’t Rocket Science is available in both print and digital versions from most major booksellers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books. Learn more here.