The Marketing Trust variable-How influencers influence

A photo with Antonio from realmenrealstyle.com.

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*This is a review of the Menfluential conference in Atlanta

Antonio Centeno from RMRS (realmenrealstyle.com) has 1.7M youtube subscribers and started hosting a conference called “Menfluential” 4 years ago. He is the guy you want to market your product or learn key essentials to improve your image. Now, since I am not writing the longest blog post ever, I will focus on key aspects that I feel make him so successful, and a point or two to make your next (or first) conference more successful.

Antonio is a military veteran that went to a top MBA. About two years ago, I wrote him asking about his MBA experience and he responded with a video. His answer is here. Long story short, he says an MBA is good for some, but a waste of time for others. His honesty and approachable nature is key in this video, along with giving you action steps to make his suggested alternatives to an MBA possible.

One other thing he did was answer me with a voice email. He did not do this every time, but it definitely connected with me to hear an influencer speaking to me directly vs just in the written format. I am not sure how many other influencers you follow, but to have someone put that kind of effort into following up with you when they get an incredible flow of emails, that is rare.

Since Antonio, has learned to connect so well with his audience, they are ready to take action on his recommendations. Or even, when he asks for help directly with his business. For example, I saw a video for him talking about fixing his website and saying he was open for recommendations. Therefore, even though I have no direct benefit if he chose a designer I selected, I am more than willing to take the time to write an email. He has elevated himself from trustworthy to likable time and time again.

What about hosting a conference? This is a great status elevator for Antonio. He has a huge following across social media and works hard to engage on a personal level. He uses terms like “guys” and “gents” and people feel like he is speaking to them. As a leader at a conference you control the speakers, the event coordination, and get to meet your audience. This increases loyalty and influence. I bought products and books from almost every vendor, because I trust that Antonio surrounds himself with exceptional people. In my mind, I want to be a great business man and influencer, so seeing a lot of these influencers on stage got me fired up to bring my “A” game next year and argue for a panel position the following year. It sets up a level of accountability.

This is a very cheap conference in Atlanta for conferences of comparable value. This conference is $150 for two days compared to the social media world conference that might cost you $1500. It’s a no brainer to me because I know how committed the leaders are to churning out a great experience. Plus, since this is maxed at 400 people, you keep an intimate environment to connect with lots of influencers and make new friends.

Keys to success at the event:

Buy from the vendors and books from influencers even if you don’t know them well. Not only does this send a message of respect, but it starts a relationship with people that can really help you later on. Plus, my dear marketers, there are strong principles of reciprocity in action. If you buy from someone, they are much more likely going to be responsive down the line when you reach out to them. Plus, you can really amp up this principle, by sending them a review of their book after you read it.

Here is my “acorn” or nugget of knowledge that should help you at your next conference. Find the most social guy at the event that goes up to everybody. I met an awesome guy that would literally introduce great people to meet me without asking. Think about how a great introduction to you immediately builds trust before you even speak. Guys like that led me to many more meaningful conversations with my target audience and really improved the quality of the event for me. He is an influencer in his own right. He could start a whole business on this concept.

After the event:

My initial goal is that I follow-up within 5 days of the conference. I want to make sure everyone I was able to connect with knows how much I appreciate them and that I remember the unique insight I grabbed from each. A year from now, I cannot wait to see where some of our businesses are, and how we can work on collaborations. Hopefully, maybe someone will tell me that I inspired them to start their own business.

How many of you are attending conferences this year? How can you enhance the trust factor like Antonio in your own life?

8 comments

  1. While I have yet to ever attend a conference, or hear about them much for that matter, your post intrigues me. While the man is charismatic, how many stories of actual genuine connections have been made through this conference? Couldn’t it be considered a sort of scam? Personally I’m unsure that paid networking is genuine – but that’s just my two cents.
    I definitely loved the piece about sending a video, that kind of transparency definitely does make quite an impression!

  2. Hi @profgarbusmI personally made a lot of good connections. I am not sure what conference that you can attend that’s free and get you in the same room with a lot of like minded people like this. It costs money and coordination to get the venue and bring new speakers and panels for two days.

    I do agree that networking should be genuine and I think that’s the point you got at. That’s exactly why trust is so important.

  3. Your networking stories at conferences were really interesting. Meeting new people at those conferences definitely help creating networks. Whether that connection becomes genuine or superficial is largely determined by how you approach and maintain afterwards, I believe. The story of Antonio, who seemed very passionate and knowledgeable about elevating his personal brand through online and offline interactions, was also compelling. I like how he tries to help, as an image consultant, men dress well to make themselves marketable, which is very important in the business world. #RealMenRealStyle

  4. I like how you incorporated a personal experience in this blog post. I think the most successful influencers do exactly what Antonio does–engage their followers. He sounds like a person all of us could learn a thing or two about success from. I am interested to hear how it impacts you from a business perspective/if it has lead to business opportunities. As I get older I will definitely keep these type of conferences in mind. I think that building your network can never hurt. You may not always need it, but when you do you want to be able to turn to many quality connection.

  5. Great post! I think the video of Antonio explaining why for most people it is not a good idea getting a MBA degree. He is very influential indeed. I think the way you incorporate your personal experience into this post is a plus. Yet I have doubts on this so-called paid network. I would question its effectiveness.

  6. I completely agree that it’s great to have “connector” friends. @profgarbusm I think you have to go into these types of events with the mindset that everyone else there is also attending with the intention to network. It only feels fake if you think you are going there just to make friends.Along those lines, I think you should take it one step further than reacting positively to the representatives there: if you know a list of vendors ahead of time, you could do some research to determine who specifically you want to engage.

  7. I really enjoyed this post, and jumped right to the “Should you get an MBA?” video – a question I often contemplate and weight the cost-benefit. It seems to me that Antonio does a great job of creating a sense of personal connection among the large masses of followers/connections – a rare gift that appears to have made him a successful influencer.

    As someone currently enrolled in an MBA program and also taking advantage of networking opportunities/some of Antonio’s alternatives to an MBA, what has your experience been? What has been more valuable? What’s keeping you in the MBA program? Would be interested to hear your thoughts!

    1. Hi John,
      I am not going to say the MBA is waste of time for me. It is very costly though, and I will have to learn how to leverage that in my personal and professional life to make it beneficial. For instance, an MBA is valuable in the eyes of certain professional coaching clients, and it is a layer of trust for them. My military background is also a layer of trust. This breaks down many barriers. An MBA give perceived academic credentials (smarts) and military gives perceived (trust) since you have served. I think you should take the 16personalites.com test and see where you’re at. knowing myself better allowed me to be more comfortable taking risks.

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