How did Liz Parker start a successful strategic planning business in Hong Kong after quitting her job?

Liz Parker, Founder of LT Results, just released a new book called “Who’s Leading Your Business?”. Twenty-four years ago she quit her successful international sales training job at DHL in Hong Kong to start a strategic planning company from scratch. On this episode, Liz tells us the story of those first moments starting her business on the other side of the world and the tactics she’s used to get customers again and again.

Show Links

Liz Parker’s Certifications

  • ​TTI, Target Training International®
  • CPBA – Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst
  • CPMA – Certified Professional Motivators Analyst
  • CPHDA – Certified Professional HD (acumen) Analyst
  • LIM Ltd.® – Certified Learning Coach
  • Inside Out® and BMW – Certified Coach and Instructor
  • PPS International® and SyNet – Consultancy Consortium

Liz Parker’s Membership Organizations

  • Vistage International Speaker
  • Association of Consultancy Expertise (ACE)
  • International Association of Professional Business Consultants (IAPO)
  • Society of Professional Consultants (SPC)
  • Honorary Lifetime Member of Girl Scouts USA

Show Transcript

This transcript was generated automatically, please forgive misspelling or awkward phrases. The robots are doing their best.

Paris Vega (00:05.427)
Welcome to the first customers podcast. Today we have Liz Parker. She just released a new book called Who’s Leading Your Business. She quit her successful job 24 years ago and started a strategic planning company all from scratch while she was in Hong Kong. Liz, welcome to the show. Looking forward to hearing your story. Thanks for being here.

Liz Parker (00:22.770)
Ha ha ha. Thank you, Paris. I’m glad to be here and I’m happy to talk with you about customers and everything that people need to know about that because I learn every day.

Paris Vega (00:38.692)
All right, well, tell us how you got your very first customers.

Liz Parker (00:41.870)
Well, I can even go back to machine tool days because when I came out of college, I was a machine tool rep. And so we had our own basic customers that we could go out and find. But being a woman in Iowa, back in the, let me see how long ago that would have been, the 80s, it was tough to kind of find those customers out there and to let them in the door. So we finally got around to the point where I realized I had to just let them see me

Paris Vega (00:46.795)
Okay.

Liz Parker (01:11.930)
enough to go, does this woman even know anything? And that’s how I would get in the door. So I would never do anything over the phone. I would go and show up on their doorstep. And that’s how I actually got started when I was in machine tools.

Paris Vega (01:16.427)
yeah. Okay. Was that like just knocking on the door of the business cold or did you call them first and then show up? Okay

Liz Parker (01:26.476)
Yep. I did both and sometimes they would let me in just because they were like, okay, it’s Iowa, they’re all friendly. So they would let me in that way. But then other times it would just be curiosity that if I just walked up to the door and I had my briefcase or whatever, somebody let me in, let me talk to them. So my dad was in construction. So it helped that I kind of knew my way around industrial type areas. So that made a huge difference when I was selling machine tools.

Paris Vega (01:37.209)
Gotcha.

Paris Vega (01:53.748)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (01:57.027)
So you were literally door to door sales.

Liz Parker (02:02.252)
And it is a real education. I went from Iowa into Chicago and I started selling for DHL then. And when I started selling for DHL, I had downtown by Sears Tower in downtown Chicago, sorry, downtown Chicago. And I also had the South side by the stockyards. So I had to find customers in both of those areas. And of course, coming from Iowa, I was extremely naive and did not know what

Paris Vega (02:02.591)
Okay.

Paris Vega (02:05.091)
Yeah.

Liz Parker (02:29.070)
Chicago was going to have in store for me, nor did I understand what the south side of Chicago meant.

Paris Vega (02:39.887)
Okay, so how did you go from there to ending up in Hong Kong?

Liz Parker (02:45.690)
Right, well, it was with DHL. So I had been working for DHL in sales and I went into doing all kinds of sales training, doing things along that line. There was an opportunity that opened up and I was living in South Bend, Indiana at the time and they were looking for somebody like me to be the sales training manager over in Hong Kong. So I went over with them. I was in about my,

Liz Parker (03:15.650)
business about that time with DHL. So I went over and it was a whole new world. And my customers at that point became all the different country managers, the country trainers, all those people. So I worked for them for four years over there until they kind of changed the regime and I didn’t like what they wanted me to do. They wanted me to go to Brussels or they wanted me to go to the States and I wasn’t ready to leave Asia. So I was kind

Paris Vega (03:22.227)
Yeah.

Liz Parker (03:45.650)
Bye.

Paris Vega (03:48.727)
OK, so you didn’t like the

Liz Parker (03:49.550)
And that’s where I had to decide about a business.

Paris Vega (03:53.247)
Right. So you’re in Hong Kong, you just quit your job. What are you thinking? Like what were some of the ideas you were having about what you’re going to do next?

Liz Parker (04:01.770)
Well, I had always worked for a corporation. So in my world, I thought, I’ll just find a job for a corporation. And that’s what I was gonna plan to do. And I was starting to figure out what I, you know, where was I gonna go? How am I gonna do this? I’m living in Hong Kong. I’m on, because I’d left DHL, that was the end of my expat contract. So I either had to figure out how to get back to the States, or I had to find somebody who would hire me there in Hong Kong so I could continue to work.

Paris Vega (04:08.749)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (04:22.732)
Oh.

Liz Parker (04:32.310)
I couldn’t figure out how to get on. I didn’t know how this was going to work. So I had booked plane tickets for my son and I to fly home. And I was going to have to figure it out at home. And the day before our plane was to leave, the former, or the owner of DHL was running his own nonprofit foundation in strategic planning. And he knew me and he liked the way I did facilitation. So he called me that Friday afternoon and I was leaving on Saturday morning.

and said, hey, I want somebody to help me set up this strategic planning company and call on customers and do the whole thing and give these services out as kind of a philanthropic thing. And he said, but I don’t want an employee. I was like, well, then how does it work? He said, you need to start your own company. And I was like, I have to start my own company. So I had no clue. He goes, oh, I got a name. He gave me the name.

Paris Vega (05:18.149)
Hmm.

Liz Parker (05:31.790)
I left that meeting after about an hour and a half, went back up to the hotel suite because we were out of our apartment by then and told my son and we had a maid that everyone had maids in Hong Kong, but we had a maid and she was gonna fly back with us to see my family. And so I said, you two are headed to the States, I’m gonna stay here, figure out a place to live and I’m starting a business on Monday. And I had one customer, but I didn’t have the business yet.

Paris Vega (05:44.869)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (05:56.393)
Ha!

Liz Parker (06:02.391)
So he said, I will give you enough of an income to sustain you, but you got to go find other customers. And that was our deal.

Paris Vega (06:02.829)
the customer before the business.

Paris Vega (06:12.567)
Wow. Okay, so you’re in Hong Kong, you got a new business. How long did it take to find additional customers? Or did you just work with them?

Liz Parker (06:17.438)
Hehehe

Liz Parker (06:22.370)
I worked with him and let me think how long it probably did take. Hong Kong, when you’re over there, people network so strongly, both Westerners and Asians. And it was and because I’d already been there for years, I knew a lot of people and I had been exploring doing facilitation in other areas. So I just happened upon some people I knew they wanted a consultant. I started exploring it.

Paris Vega (06:33.531)
Okay.

Liz Parker (06:52.390)
What I find the most was that if I would give some service, if I would do a facilitation or if I would do an introduction, then it seemed they were very reciprocal. And I think that’s true today, too. When you give a little, people will give back to you. They’ll give you introductions. They’ll give you opportunities, whatever it was. And so I started working with another consulting group and started looking into how I could help them. And so their customers became my customers.

Liz Parker (07:22.471)
safe way to get me going.

Paris Vega (07:24.327)
So is that a situation where their services didn’t exactly overlap to what you did, but it was more of a compliment to each other? A strategic partnership kind of a… Okay.

Liz Parker (07:32.070)
It was. They were, yes, they were consultants. And because of that, what ended up happening was that I could become a provider for them, like a contractor, without having to join their company. And then also happened that the way that Poe had set up his nonprofit foundation was I was the coordinator for two other consultants. So when we went to work for customers, Poe had all of his

Paris Vega (07:43.569)
Mm-hmm.

Liz Parker (08:02.070)
all sit on boards. So we said, I’ll pay for the nonprofit, but if these guys want their own strategic plan run for their companies, you guys can have that. So that was how our customers would come in was if we had something that we did for the American Chamber of Commerce, and there were all kinds of people there represented, then we could pick up clients based on that. So that was

Paris Vega (08:14.571)
Yeah.

Liz Parker (08:32.312)
and giving to other things, we found customers.

Paris Vega (08:34.348)
Hmm.

Paris Vega (08:36.627)
Okay, and when you say giving, what exactly, or what types of things do you mean when you say, and I may have missed when you were saying, how do you give?

Liz Parker (08:45.150)
Yes. Okay. So what I would do is in this case, we were being paid to do the strategic planning, the nonprofit strategic planning. We were paid to do that. But what would tend to happen is if a client, if one of the representatives that sat on the board of directors for this nonprofit had their own business, we might be invited in to talk to them. And it might be where I could do an hour

Paris Vega (08:53.790)
Okay.

Liz Parker (09:15.250)
just the introduction is all I needed and we could get in the door. So what I do today is if somebody is not sure what they need and they’re not sure who I am, because I’m such a live experience when I facilitate, it may be that I offer to do a one hour meeting or a leadership meeting so they can see what I’m like and then they buy the services. So

Liz Parker (09:45.050)
Thanks for watching!

Paris Vega (09:46.327)
Okay. I see. So you’re giving them a little sample of what they could be getting on an ongoing basis there. Okay. And so when you say facilitate, is this, are you like training people on how to do strategic planning?

Liz Parker (09:49.794)
Yes.

Liz Parker (09:52.731)
Yes.

Liz Parker (09:59.670)
Thank you, Paris. We use these terms and they are these nebulous terms that nobody understands what they are. So thank you very much. Facilitate is the modern way of saying train or it’s the modern way of, I’m saying modern, it’s been around for years and years, but it’s talking about doing training for people or even just running their meetings. Sometimes when you are in a team meeting, the person who has to lead the meeting

Paris Vega (10:12.632)
Okay.

Paris Vega (10:21.127)
Gotcha.

Paris Vega (10:24.792)
Okay.

Liz Parker (10:29.690)
get to participate as fully. So anytime I can step in in a company and run their meeting, it allows everybody to participate. So that’s when I use facilitation. That’s how I use it. Thank you for that clarification. I’m sorry about that.

Paris Vega (10:36.189)
I definitely, yeah, I definitely value in that.

Paris Vega (10:41.331)
Okay.

Paris Vega (10:43.927)
Oh yeah. Yeah. I’ve, uh, I try to be humble enough to always ask if I don’t understand exactly what something means, even though I might look dumb in doing so, but I think it’s good. It’s good to have that clarity.

Liz Parker (10:54.430)
You never looked dumb. And that, you know, when you’re in business for 24 years, you forget that. And when people are looking at you with this blank face, you know, there’s the clue, right?

Paris Vega (11:02.727)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (11:08.067)
Yeah, I think everybody, you get your own and kind of internal lingo within your industry and your niche, and you can forget that the just person off the street may not know what you mean the way you use that word in your industry. So speaking of things I don’t know, let’s scoot back just a little bit and talk about doing business in Hong Kong in general, a little bit about what’s that like, because I’m guessing a lot of people listening probably haven’t done business in Hong Kong.

Liz Parker (11:19.570)
That is very true.

Paris Vega (11:36.747)
I mean, I don’t even know what language is the primary language in Hong Kong.

Liz Parker (11:41.110)
It is now it’s Mandarin Chinese. So when I was there, I went over right before the handover in 1995 and they were speaking Chinese that’s Cantonese. So there are many, many different dialects. And so that’s what they spoke in Hong Kong. And then mainland China spoke Mandarin. So when they took over, slowly they started going to Mandarin Chinese and knowing the Hong Kong culture, they’re probably still speaking Cantonese.

Paris Vega (11:43.547)
It is. Okay.

Paris Vega (11:53.736)
because trying to keep the time just hits. Right.

Paris Vega (12:05.127)
Yeah. Gotcha.

Paris Vega (12:11.470)
Oh, okay.

Liz Parker (12:12.055)
Just to show their independence.

Paris Vega (12:14.187)
Gotcha. And so did you have to learn the language locally or did you guys at the business level speak English or?

Liz Parker (12:20.870)
We spoke English at the business level, thank goodness. We did try. The company was very good about giving us opportunities to learn how to read it and write it. It is a difficult language to learn and Mandarin being easier than Cantonese. But it was one of those where, you know, I can tell you that my American brain did not digest international language very well. So my son was able to speak it a little bit better because he was younger.

Paris Vega (12:24.190)
OK.

Paris Vega (12:33.927)
share.

Paris Vega (12:36.890)
Mm.

Paris Vega (12:45.748)
Yeah.

Liz Parker (12:50.450)
So he was able to kind of incorporate that, but I had a terrible time.

Paris Vega (12:50.548)
Sure.

Paris Vega (12:55.067)
I took a year of Mandarin in college and it was, it was difficult for sure. I mean, I remember a few little, I can make a few little marks, but it’s been so long. I found some notes from it and I didn’t know what any of it said. I haven’t kept it up as I should have. But, but yeah, it’s, it’s literally a totally different way of thinking about language.

Liz Parker (12:57.930)
Ooh, bravo.

Liz Parker (13:05.770)
Can you write anything or can you read anything?

Liz Parker (13:20.691)
It’s hard.

Liz Parker (13:24.791)
Yes.

Paris Vega (13:25.551)
It’s not anything close to English.

Liz Parker (13:27.630)
No, not at all. So, you know, that was a super interesting aspect, but when 9-11 happened, I ended up having to come back to the States. I had to just about sell everything I owned to get plane tickets to come back. All business stopped over there. And when that happened, I had one or two clients with this consulting group I was still working with, and we were doing international things, but I ended up landing in Atlanta, and I was back to square one

Paris Vega (13:29.431)
like

Paris Vega (13:38.569)
Hmm.

Paris Vega (13:45.227)
Wow.

Liz Parker (13:57.870)
And I didn’t have any reputation. I hadn’t lived in the States for seven years. So I didn’t even have a car. So it was like one of those where I was going back going, oh my gosh, here I am again. Now we got to figure out another customer base. So, and I was a mover. So I moved about every six years. So I had to find customers in Atlanta. Then I moved again and went back to Iowa. Then I went to Florida. Then I went, then I went back to Iowa. And then I ended up in Greenville, South Carolina, where I am now.

Paris Vega (14:00.527)
Well.

Paris Vega (14:10.991)
Hmm.

Paris Vega (14:27.627)
Okay.

Liz Parker (14:27.670)
time you have to start a new customer base.

Paris Vega (14:31.227)
Yeah. All right. So you went from Hong Kong to Atlanta. What did you do then to find those new customers?

Liz Parker (14:38.850)
I had a hell of a time. I really, really did struggle with that. I didn’t have a reputation in Atlanta. I hadn’t been around, so I didn’t even know what was going on in the marketplace anymore. I mean, I was overwhelmed by the size of the grocery store aisles where the cereal is. Like, there was more cereal than I’d ever seen in my life. So I was just like in that space of almost overwhelmed. And, you know, Coca-Cola was there. So of course I had been working

Paris Vega (14:41.291)
Okay.

Liz Parker (15:08.690)
multinationals over in Hong Kong. But the difference in Hong Kong when you’re working with multinationals back in the day in the 90s was they were small divisions of the multinational. So there might only be five or 10 people in that office, but they had the name Warner Brothers, Disney, and those were some of the people that I was working for. But they just happened to be

Liz Parker (15:38.890)
to me when I came back and I’m trying to walk into Coca-Cola and I’m going, well, but I’ve worked in multinationals. And I see how monstrous they are and the relationships they had. I really, I couldn’t make it. That’s when we ended up kind of packing up and we were like, oh my gosh, this is just too much. I cannot, I’ve got to have some kind of a base. And

Paris Vega (15:46.412)
Yeah.

Liz Parker (16:08.830)
at that point. And I was like, okay, I have to figure out who do I know? And I started pulling my international resources. So I started calling the people that I know, trying to figure out who they knew where. And so I was in the middle of all of interviewing actually with a businessman in Bahrain, because DHL had strong ties in international business there. That fell through too. So I ended up back down in Florida with another family member, my sister down there, who

Paris Vega (16:33.431)
Okay.

Liz Parker (16:38.630)
there and there I was able to find some customers and it was a previous customer I had before I left the states. So it is thinking through all the people you know and figuring out, hey, who can I track? Who can I find? How am I going to go back? And I think I mentioned to you earlier, it takes one customer. That’s all it takes to get you going. And once you have one, then you have that confidence and you can kind of go out then and you feel a little stronger. But when you don’t have a

Liz Parker (17:08.854)
unsettling feeling.

Paris Vega (17:11.347)
sure. So what was it when you went to Atlanta, you were saying you had to retreat, was it you were just interviewing and not able to get the right, get through the job interviews and just land a job or was it just not being able to connect with anybody? What was that?

Liz Parker (17:17.192)
Yes.

Liz Parker (17:28.290)
And you know, I think that I was just so out of the loop. And I had this, it was probably my own self-awareness that, you know, I had been in international and I had figured out how to do this and run my own business. Why wouldn’t you want to use me? But it was about relationships and I had no relationships there. I didn’t know a single soul in Atlanta.

Paris Vega (17:55.187)
You needed relationships at the company that you were trying to… Okay.

Liz Parker (17:58.750)
Yes. And so I didn’t know anybody. And I, you know, one of the common things was to go back to DHL, to go ask them, see what they had, see who they knew, how could I contract and do some work with them. But it was really difficult. And I refused to really go to work for somebody because I had seen the freedom and the opportunity. And even though there are huge highs and lows to run in your own business,

Liz Parker (18:28.250)
Freedom meant more than anything else. I could set my own schedule. I could work with the customers I wanted to work with. I didn’t have to put up with anybody’s nonsense, we might say, if I didn’t like their style, right? And if they didn’t mesh with me. And I was all about really trying to find that connection with somebody. And I did not have that. I just basically threw a dart to go to Atlanta and I didn’t have it. But I had relationships yet.

Paris Vega (18:41.611)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (18:44.191)
Yeah.

Liz Parker (19:00.412)
that kept these other customers going. So when I left Iowa after Atlanta, I headed to Florida, because that’s where the contacts were. And so I headed right to where they were so that I could start to build off that.

Paris Vega (19:14.067)
Okay, so big lesson from your story so far is having those relationships, keeping those don’t burn the bridges from past jobs. Because even when you quit your job, you still had a good enough relationship, right? With, I guess, the former boss for him to want to help you get your own business started. Okay.

Liz Parker (19:22.110)
Ugh, bingo.

Liz Parker (19:28.030)
Yes. Yes. To use me. Yeah. Yeah. And that, and I think that’s really important because if you live in your integrity and your passion is there, you, it comes across to customers. It really does. And I think that when I think about, you know, how I found some customers in Florida and went back to

Liz Parker (19:58.030)
Philadelphia and he was just like, Hey, do you know a sales trainer? Do you know somebody who does this? And I’m like, Oh yeah, I do. You want to hire me? And so I had worked with him on in a different level, like nine years earlier. And he actually happened to be my retainer customer. And I had him for, I think I had him for six years. So it just, and I, and it is all about continuing to make them happy. And then when he was happy, he’d refer me to somebody.

else. And so my business has totally been built on referrals and those relationships. Now, I once in a while might get somebody who out of the blue just heard about me or something and wants to use me. But for the most part, all of my relationships, even in Greenville, that’s how it all started. It was I needed to know one person who is happy with what they’ve

Liz Parker (20:57.970)
to make that happen. And you learn how to eat very cheaply during those months.

Paris Vega (21:06.189)
Sure.

Liz Parker (21:09.850)
See you.

Paris Vega (21:10.127)
All right. So building a relationship with that first customer, and then it sounds like obsessing over providing them with the best service possible so that you blow their minds and just inspire them to refer you to other people. Because you do such a great job. What about building more relationships or business relationships or networking? You mentioned that Hong Kong was really big on networking.

Liz Parker (21:25.413)
Yes.

Paris Vega (21:40.549)
than the US networking wise and what do you do to network?

Liz Parker (21:44.310)
I would say that over there, because Westerners were in the minority, you would go to association meetings, you would go to the chamber, you would go to the American club, you would go to these places where these Westerners would gather. And it tended to be usually the multinationals brought in Westerners to run the companies. However, I was always big about the culture and I wanted to be local.

Liz Parker (22:14.950)
DHL was huge in these countries. And so all the nationals, so the Japanese ran the Japanese company, the Hong Kong ran the Hong Kong companies, the Malays ran the Malaysian company, and Singaporean, Singaporean. So it gave me the opportunity to meet these leaders who were national, who were running these multinational divisions, but they were all so much smaller, right? And so you got to know them and you ate with them.

with them, you went out of your way to network and sit, network, when I say network, I mean, you went and had cocktails with them and you went and had dinner with them and they may not have done much for you at that point, but you were building the relationships. So even today, I know after, it’s been 20 years since I lived in Hong Kong, that I know I can pick up the phone to one of the people that I knew over there, one of the wonderful Asian ladies who worked for Po

Liz Parker (23:14.870)
She worked all the people she knew how to give and take in either favors or helping. It was just, hey, I do this. Why don’t you do this for me and I’ll do this for you? And it was all very transparent, right? It wasn’t stuff that was under the rug going, oh, I’ll do this and you can have this. It was all very transparent. So I think here that’s the same thing that happens. It’s the giving attitude.

Liz Parker (23:44.310)
because of the fact that it talks about how you first give and when you give, people will see that and it’s all about abundance. You know, if you get, I’m not a big competitive person. I’m a, hey, there are enough people in this world. Somebody will like my style, somebody will like your style and we got enough customers out there, but you gotta get out of that mindset of saying that there’s scarcity out there.

Paris Vega (23:44.927)
Okay.

Paris Vega (24:08.927)
Okay, I’m gonna put that book in the show notes. The Go Giver. Okay, that’s right. We’ll put that link in the show notes, of course. Who’s running your business, right? Isn’t that the name? Who’s leading your business?

Liz Parker (24:11.090)
Yes, The Go Giver is a really good one. Besides my book, you know.

Liz Parker (24:21.330)
That’s right. Who’s leading it? That’s right. Who’s leading it? And which does mean who’s running it?

Paris Vega (24:27.189)
That’s right.

Paris Vega (24:30.527)
Okay, right, right, interchangeable there. Okay, so go giving. That’s how you network, giving, taking people out to dinner. That was one of the topics that came up on a previous episode, talking to a CEO. He was saying that a bigger part of his process was taking people out to dinner, taking prospects out. I’m curious, love getting into the weeds and the details of these different, basically sales tactics or customer acquisition tactics,

Liz Parker (24:49.935)
Yeah.

Liz Parker (24:58.176)
Sure.

Paris Vega (25:00.427)
networking tactics. What does a dinner, a sales dinner or a networking or just relationship building dinner look like?

Liz Parker (25:08.630)
Okay. Well, first, when you are on your own business and you’re not a CEO of a big company, you will tend to choose coffee or breakfast because it’s cheaper. And what you’re doing is really trying to be introduced. It’s really just trying to make a connection with people. So I might, when I came to town, I found one person that I had that I knew

Paris Vega (25:21.179)
Good tip. Okay.

Liz Parker (25:38.550)
introduce me to somebody who actually ran meetings. And so they introduced me to somebody who runs meetings. That allows me to have a coffee with them. All I’m doing is trying to find a connection, trying to find commonality. It’s those basic things of what do we share that’s in common that makes me like you and that you like me? And we’re not in this to, eventually we’re in this to make money if we can, but you’re really just trying to meet people and say, hey, what do you do? What do you need?

Liz Parker (26:08.750)
ask what you can do for them and in return eventually they will do something for you. It’s just part of human nature to do that. So if you go out and say, hey, I’d love to take you to coffee and just learn about your work and where I can help you find customers. If you go out with that attitude, you will eventually find other people that will help you.

Paris Vega (26:32.047)
Okay, so it’s kind of an indirect soft ask in a way where you’re, okay, you’re offering to be of service to them and just letting that goodwill, the pressure of goodwill build up enough to where they’re like, you know what, I need to send them something or you’ll be top of mind whenever they have a specific need that they know you can solve. Okay.

Liz Parker (26:48.971)
Yeah, it is.

Liz Parker (26:54.810)
Yes. And you find that when you do like the lunches and the dinners, normally, and I just really like the breakfast and the lunch because dinners, especially when I was in Asia, it was very big to have dinner. You didn’t bring spouses. It was all business. And so you got to know people on a personal level. You got to know them very well. And it was all around the business dinner and

Paris Vega (27:10.512)
Okay.

Liz Parker (27:24.910)
hours where you were trying different food and sharing and the whole is very collaborative, right? When I came to the States, it was a lot pricier. I didn’t have the income to go take people to dinner. And sometimes it looks like you’re trying to buy them. So if you are just really sincere about trying to meet people, I just find it’s easier to just say, hey, here’s some networking events that are going on. And when you’re there, take advantage of it and see

Paris Vega (27:28.927)
That’s amazing.

Paris Vega (27:31.627)
Okay.

Liz Parker (27:54.770)
how many people you can help and you shift your mind and say, how many can I walk out and help tonight? Not how many am I gonna get a business card for and take home. And if you shift that mindset, you become much more interesting to talk to because you wanna learn about their business.

Paris Vega (28:13.687)
Because you’re genuinely trying to understand what they do and what they need so that you can refer customers to them is the context. You mentioned specifically that trying to figure out how you can send them customers, help them find new customers. Is that the specific angle you usually take? How can I help you grow your business? Even though you’re not necessarily, that doesn’t sound like it’s necessarily the service related to the service that you offer because strategic planning is a little different there. But okay.

Liz Parker (28:18.670)
Yes.

Liz Parker (28:25.750)
Yes. Yes. Yes.

Liz Parker (28:37.830)
Yeah. But it is anyone that you end up meeting, if you say, hey, who are you looking for for a customer? Because you run across people all the time and you’re like, I just want to know who you’re looking for. And the other thing, since I’ve come to Greenville, I have found there are some people here that are super good at their connections. And I call them center of influences. And I’m going to guess you’ve already had some conversations with people around who’s a center

Paris Vega (28:45.369)
Right.

Paris Vega (29:07.487)
I don’t know if we use that specific term, but.

Liz Parker (29:07.910)
of those yet? Okay. So we call those COIs, the center of influence. So when you think about it, it is somebody who knows a lot of people. They may not use your service, but it’s for me, when I’m in strategic planning, it’s like accountants because they’re always seeing CEOs and running the business. So they’re a center of influence for me. One accountant, lawyers,

Paris Vega (29:12.632)
Okay.

Paris Vega (29:29.047)
Got you. Yeah. Lawyers.

Paris Vega (29:35.007)
Yeah. Okay.

Liz Parker (29:38.190)
Oh my gosh, realtors get the whole shebang, right? So it’s find those centers of influence and just say, hey, I provide this service, you provide this service. Could we just meet, have coffee, compare notes? Let me see what you need. I’ll tell you what I need. And if we run across somebody, I promise I’ll send them over to you.

Paris Vega (30:00.088)
makes a lot of sense.

Liz Parker (30:01.930)
and you build your business on that. So when I came to Greenville, I came 12 years ago, and I was like in this, oh, poor me, I cannot find another customer. I had one customer, which I always start with one customer. I’m like, all I need is one customer. But then what ends up happening is I service that customer so well that I’m not looking for other customers. And so, because you know what? It’s much funner to work with that one customer than it is to go and put yourself out there and find others, right?

Paris Vega (30:31.647)
So you just go deeper into that customer by getting more work from them or like a higher amount of more services. Okay.

Liz Parker (30:36.570)
Yes, more services, expand what I can do. Because if you do a really good job, what I found, they didn’t want to refer me. They didn’t want to share me. Yes, and so then that even became an issue, right? So it really does take a concerted effort, especially if you’re a one person business, if you’re a two person business, you’re so busy fulfilling what the customer needs.

Paris Vega (30:46.355)
Right.

Paris Vega (30:49.087)
Right. If they’re a big enough company and they’ve got other stuff for you to do. Yeah.

Liz Parker (31:06.650)
out and have some of those meetings and make sure that you are very, very focused on going out to find people, you won’t find them. And you will eventually, what would happen to me, and this is, I’ve even put this in my book, it’s my cashflow chapter. It was painful because what would happen is you’d be so busy working and servicing that customer. And I enjoyed it so much that when 2008 happened and we had a big old downturn, right? The

Paris Vega (31:22.027)
Okay.

Liz Parker (31:36.690)
off and they were like, I’m sorry, we’re just, we’re good for now. We’re just going to have to wait. Here I am going, Oh my gosh. I had spent my entire time only servicing them. I had not been looking for anybody else. And I was down and out in Iowa again, going, Oh my gosh, who the heck am I going to find in Iowa? And I had been working with Philadelphia. I had been traveling around the United States with this particular company. It was a logistics company. Um, and so I was stuck looking for more customers.

And that’s where you start going, okay, who do I know? How can I get connected again? But that networking and that relationship building is doesn’t happen overnight. So I just wanna urge people to say, any chance you get build it into your schedule, make sure you’re going out and having coffee with somebody once or twice a week, somebody new, just try and get introduced, figure out who else you wanna meet.

Paris Vega (32:20.327)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (32:34.527)
How long do you think it would take if somebody’s like, cause you’ve done this several times now you move into a new location. I’m actually about to move to a new location. Well, so you move somewhere new, you want to start building connections and depending on where you’re at in business, it may be like, kind of have a customer right now. Like you know what I mean? You’re kind of desperate, but how long do you think it takes to do that style of kind of building relationships and hoping to get sales?

Liz Parker (32:41.392)
Are you okay?

Liz Parker (32:51.113)
Yes.

Liz Parker (32:53.570)
very desperate.

Liz Parker (33:00.850)
Well, I remember that I was going to tell you that part of the story, too. I remember when I came to Greenville, I had this one customer and I asked for that one introduction. But I went probably, I would say I probably went nine months before I found another customer, because what was happening is I had not had enough of the connection and I was continuing to go back to the business I did have and I wasn’t spending the time out there.

Paris Vega (33:06.849)
Okay.

Paris Vega (33:30.687)
in the story of my life, I feel like.

Liz Parker (33:30.770)
I’ve finally been, yeah, right? It is. And so I finally had met this woman through a friend of mine that had known these other people. We just happened to go out to coffee and it was one of those emotional things. I was like balling in my coffee, just going, I don’t know how I’m ever gonna build my business again. And this is like my one, two, three, four, five, fifth move, right, fifth or sixth move. So I should have known by now. And she just said,

Paris Vega (33:35.227)
Yep.

Paris Vega (33:56.455)
Yeah.

Liz Parker (34:00.810)
When you’re here 20 years, you just get your name around. She said you might need to not move so much. Right. And I was like, oh, my gosh, really? Well, this is the first time I’ve remained in a place. We’re in our 12th year and we had a pattern of moving every six years. And I have more business now because I have not moved. Now, we’re also more virtual. So it’s not near as important as it was

Paris Vega (34:04.049)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (34:07.127)
There’s a strategic advantage to that for sure. There is.

Paris Vega (34:25.426)
Hmm.

Paris Vega (34:28.426)
Okay, I was about to say even in this digital age, there is some value still to those physical roots being in one place, but you can still leverage it.

Liz Parker (34:38.530)
There is. In fact, that makes me think of a story because when I did need to find a customer, if you are in a service that you do something similar and you can be either a contractor for a company for a while or something along that line, it gets you their customers or your customers. So again, when I came to Greenville, I got introduced to another consulting group and I started to do contracting services for them and I was coming under their name,

Liz Parker (35:08.149)
their customers. And it helped me though to build my credibility and to let the people see how I worked so that if they knew somebody and they referred me, then I could have that business. So that is how I tended to work. So I did that when I went to Florida, I did that when I came to Greenville, I should have done that in Atlanta, but I didn’t know any consultants there that I could align to. And I did it for sure for Florida. So Florida really made the big difference

Paris Vega (35:20.249)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (35:34.149)
Yeah.

Liz Parker (35:38.169)
teaching me how to do that. So I highly recommend you find somebody to align to, or you find that center of influence. Find a banker, your own banker. If you’re gonna go set up in a new town, Paris, think about that. Think of who you’re gonna meet. Oh, my hairdresser. Oh my gosh, they know everybody, right?

Paris Vega (35:56.547)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (35:59.527)
I guess so, yeah.

Liz Parker (36:00.550)
They do so it’s those people that you are gonna do day-to-day services with to say hey, this is my business Can I leave you my card and if you run across somebody that you think it’s interesting for me to meet? I’m not gonna try and sell them. I just want to meet them and That’s how you get your foot in the door to start

Paris Vega (36:20.227)
awesome.

Liz Parker (36:21.570)
So where are you gonna move to, can I ask?

Paris Vega (36:23.588)
Oh, man, putting this out there.

Liz Parker (36:26.771)
Oh, okay. Well, you don’t have to talk about it, but you brought it up. I’m just interested in how can I help you find a customer?

Paris Vega (36:31.167)
Yeah, there we go. So yeah, I’m in Alabama right now and we’re moving to Texas.

Liz Parker (36:39.191)
Perfect.

Paris Vega (36:40.267)
we are in the process of doing that right now over the next few months.

Liz Parker (36:43.370)
Excellent. So do you have any customers lined up?

Paris Vega (36:47.247)
Well, through the agency that I’m a partner in, the Nine, we have customers around the world. And so I work remotely right now. So it’s, I’m able to just transfer location. We all work all over the place. So it’s less of an issue for us as far as going to a location to get customers. But for the other side parts of life, like getting the family connected to a community and rounding out your life

Liz Parker (36:59.370)
There you go.

Paris Vega (37:17.407)
in the community, you know, that’s the part where we definitely want to make more connections. And if business comes from it as well, that’s great.

Liz Parker (37:25.930)
Well, that is terrific. So you’re going to have to let us know who you’re looking for and what kind of customers you need so we can pass it on. Because truly, you’re right. You are living in a virtual world. And right now, after COVID happened, I could do a lot more of my work virtually, but I still want to be with the people. I can get the feel from you and the energy from you, but it just is so much more fulfilling for me to be in person.

Paris Vega (37:32.167)
Oh, that’s right. That’s right.

Paris Vega (37:37.927)
Thanks for watching!

Paris Vega (37:46.191)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (37:52.491)
Yeah.

Liz Parker (37:55.970)
but this is a wonderful medium and it allows us to have total freedom and that is what we need.

Paris Vega (38:00.707)
Yeah. I think there is still definitely an advantage if you’re able to, to meet physically, have those physical meetings or do physical trainings, like you’re talking about, like it’s way more powerful if you’re actually shared space with somebody, like you’re going to make a much deeper connection, it seems like. Um, cause even like doing this podcast, meeting people, it’s also making all these new connections with people around the world in all these different, uh, roles and everything. But it’s still.

Liz Parker (38:28.553)
Right.

Paris Vega (38:30.827)
Definitely a stronger connection to people I meet physically and you have to actually shake hands and you know There’s something about I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to really replace that physical presence with technology But I know they’re gonna try but there’s something about it

Liz Parker (38:44.230)
Well, I’ll tell you what, you do a pretty good job on it. You make people feel very comfortable just by sitting here. So you do a really nice job on it. But you did make a comment about where you work. And, you know, we’ve got these shared spaces now where you can rent offices and you can do that if you are going to a new city. I highly recommend you do that, because if you can afford to do it, or even if you can just afford to have them answer your phones

Paris Vega (38:49.147)
Oh, well, thank you. Good.

Paris Vega (39:00.411)
Mm-hmm.

Liz Parker (39:14.190)
that. It connects you to a business group of entrepreneurs usually, and they will, sorry, they will start to feed each other, right? And so that’s a really good way to do it because now we’ve got those mobile work workspaces, and it does make a difference.

Paris Vega (39:18.427)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (39:21.527)
That’s right. Mm-hmm.

Paris Vega (39:29.253)
Right.

Paris Vega (39:32.187)
Yeah, it helps you kind of, you automatically are kind of having coffee with people every day because you’re just showing up, working on whatever projects together.

Liz Parker (39:41.290)
So can I tell you my latest tactic for getting new customers? Is it going to sound too self-serving?

Paris Vega (39:44.947)
Please do.

Paris Vega (39:47.908)
Oh no, that’s why you’re here. Let’s do this.

Liz Parker (39:51.970)
Well, so I wrote this book for the reason that I wanted to find another way to connect with customers. And I have worked in my career with so many different avenues of strategic planning, team alignment, leadership development. There’s so much out there that I was just like, you know what, if I can get customers that come to me through my books, then I don’t have to rely on all the personal communications and I don’t have to rely on that.

Liz Parker (40:22.010)
so virtual, there is no reason that I have to sit here and wait for that customer to call me to go across town, right? So I felt like the book broke all the boundaries of trying to get customers to me, that it was a whole new way that I hadn’t tried yet to get them in the door. So that’s my latest one. Now, I do know that it’s going to still take some work and I still have to follow up and I still have to do all those things

Paris Vega (40:44.827)
that’s smart.

Paris Vega (40:48.727)
For sure.

Liz Parker (40:52.110)
and thank you notes. Oh my gosh, thank you notes are huge. If people are not writing thank you notes today, keep writing the thank you notes because nobody gets a piece of mail anymore.

Paris Vega (40:56.567)
Okay, I’m not.

Paris Vega (41:00.749)
Okay.

Paris Vega (41:05.428)
Yeah, I don’t really get too much spam mail anymore even. I think I’ve put myself on the list of not to get spammed enough to where it’s only an occasional credit card offer these days. Okay, so thank you, Notes. It helps you stand out.

Liz Parker (41:08.470)
Right?

Liz Parker (41:15.190)
There you go. Well, I’m telling you what. Yeah, they do. They do. When you go out and have coffee with somebody, if you are, you know, you can easily print your own little note card with your logo on it or your name on it and pop a stamp on it, even though that is maybe fifty five or fifty six cents now. But, you know, you pop the stamp on it and send it off to them. They get it. It’s another reminder of you. And that that is huge.

Paris Vega (41:34.648)
Yeah.

Liz Parker (41:45.270)
us those anymore. You always hear, oh, I’ll send him a text. It’s like, yeah, right.

Paris Vega (41:46.831)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (41:51.707)
Right. Just like with anything, I guess the more thought or the more effort it seems like was put into it, it’s going to mean a little more.

Liz Parker (41:59.250)
Yeah, some old school stuff still does work.

Paris Vega (42:02.467)
Yeah, I think we’re coming full circle to where if you’re if you’re actually doing a lot of that old school stuff, you can stand out. It’s a new way to differentiate yourself for sure.

Liz Parker (42:11.690)
You know, I just did some work with one of the consultants in Atlanta. Believe it or not, now that’s even more interesting because I just got a job with a consultant in Atlanta and here I am like 20 years later going, oh, finally, somebody from Atlanta called me.

Paris Vega (42:26.747)
It took 20 years to get accustomed to that.

Liz Parker (42:28.070)
Right, just 20 years. But, and I had met her through a different group, an association, and so we had just known each other over the last six years maybe, and my name popped in her head, and she’s like, oh, Liz does that. And so she called me. So that was six years in the making to have that happen in 20 for Atlanta. So you gotta have some consistency, I guess, or some sting ability, I’m not sure what it is.

Paris Vega (42:53.591)
Yeah.

Liz Parker (42:58.192)
I was going to tell you about that, but now I’ve lost track of it.

Paris Vega (43:01.927)
That’s a good enough story on its own there. I mean, sometimes it takes 20 years.

Liz Parker (43:05.574)
I know that was actually the better story, wasn’t it?

Paris Vega (43:08.607)
Yeah. So you got to, I guess, keep meeting with all kinds of people because you don’t know how long any given person would take to kind of give that value back to you, even though that’s not the main goal. But

Liz Parker (43:21.230)
No, you know, and that is it. When I think about the customers that I have now, especially when you do strategic planning or team alignment, once I’ve kind of done that and they feel like they’re, my role as a consultant is not to be needed every day. I wanna, oh, I know what I was gonna tell you about those Atlanta people. It has to do with your role. It’s all about, you’re trying to make sure people are realizing their own potential,

Paris Vega (43:41.653)
Okay.

Liz Parker (43:51.350)
who they are and how they can be better people. And if all you do is connect with them on that level and figure out how you can help them be who they want to be, you end up being so fulfilled and then figuring out ways to help them, they’re going to want to do the same thing for you. So it’s really this group in Atlanta, when I worked with them, they were all about the platinum rule, not the golden rule. So have you heard of the platinum rule? Oh, man, you are doing really good.

Paris Vega (44:17.607)
I have, I have a little plan.

Liz Parker (44:21.230)
like I hadn’t even heard of the platinum rule!

Paris Vega (44:24.629)
Well, there might be multiple versions of it, so go ahead.

Liz Parker (44:27.110)
Well, that’s true. That’s true. My version is doing for others what they would want done for them. So, you know, really doing it for them and thinking about how they would want to receive it. And I was like, you know, that is so true. It’s like you want to do unto others so that you can have it done unto you. But at the same point, it’s like, wait a minute, if I really put myself in their shoes, this is going to make a difference.

Paris Vega (44:35.048)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (44:47.248)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (44:51.412)
Yeah.

Liz Parker (44:57.510)
any associations, asking for people who know people just so that you can start to make connections. If it’s your barber, your hairdresser, your dentist, in fact, my dentist. So today I took my book into my dentist because the last time I was in, she was telling me about she and her husband, she has her own business in her dentistry and he has his own company that he works with. And we were talking about what I do and the whole thing. So today I took one of my books in

said, hey, here, you guys use this, see if this helps and, you know, do whatever you can with it. You have questions, call me. But I have no expectation of business from them, but I know that this might help what they’re doing. And that makes me feel good.

Paris Vega (45:40.787)
Yeah. Yeah. That’s good. All right. Let’s wrap up by giving you a chance to talk directly to, let’s say we have a thousand of your target customers and I haven’t had a chance to ask you yet, but who, who would be your target customer? Kind of using your own tactic. Like you were saying, what kind of, you know, business are you looking for? What kind of customers do you want to connect with?

Liz Parker (45:51.633)
Okay.

Liz Parker (46:01.710)
Good for you, Paris. Yes. Thank you. See how that’s reciprocal? My customers tend to be either business owners, leaders who can make a difference in the company, HR people, and sometimes their supervisors who can make a difference in a company. So it is somebody who has that feeling that they have some control and they want to see a difference in either their department,

Paris Vega (46:06.989)
Yeah.

Liz Parker (46:32.970)
They’re also individual entrepreneurs. When you are just starting your business, they’re a perfect client also. I do a program called the Seven Stages of Entrepreneurial Growth, and through that program, it’s really powerful because it shows what issues you need to address as you grow in your business. And so that takes you from an employee of one up to over 500 and more. So that also allows

to just say, hey, it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, business is business. You have to, you are the expert in your industry, but I know processes. And so let’s talk about how these processes can be scaled for the size of your business.

Paris Vega (47:17.947)
Awesome. So if you’re in that target demographic, that target customer audience, reach out to Liz. You said your website is LT results, is that right? LTresults.com. And you can get the book, Who’s Leading, Who’s Leading Your Business. Yeah, Who’s Leading Your Business. You can get it from your website. You can see it’s on Amazon. Okay.

Liz Parker (47:29.931)
LTresults.com. Yes.

Liz Parker (47:37.190)
Oh, if they want the book, they can get the book. Who’s leading your business? So, yes. And the fun part about this business, this is the one thing I do want to tell everybody. My son is an illustrator. And so we made monsters throughout this entire book to represent icons of what goes on in your business. So, for example, when you’re thinking about the voices in your head and you’re like, who’s telling me what to do next?

Liz Parker (48:07.150)
your mother’s over here, your uncle’s over here, your wife’s or your husband’s over here, where’s your voice, right? And so he made these wonderful illustrations that are fun, they’re lively, and when we talk about who’s leading your business, we make you compare yourself to Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. So they can have some fun as they go through this. Business should be fun. It shouldn’t be like a drudgery. So.

Paris Vega (48:32.027)
For sure. All right, so we’ll have all the links in the show notes. Liz, this has been awesome. I think we got a lot of golden nuggets there, a lot of powerful lessons that I’m gonna probably listen back to this and make sure I get my head more around what we talked about with networking and giving and building those relationships. I definitely think that’s something that gets overlooked when if you’re just so focused on building this business

Paris Vega (49:02.387)
Just like I’ve got caught up in so many past projects and don’t take time to connect with humans Outside of your business and build those relationships so that you can actually have customers and and people that care about what you’re building so a lot of value here, thank you for your time and

Liz Parker (49:14.834)
Yeah.

Liz Parker (49:20.290)
You are welcome. And I’m going to tell you, I know a couple of COIs, those Centers of Influence, if you want them for your podcast, let me know. I’ll give you their names. All right, perfect. I’ll get it sent over to you.

Paris Vega (49:25.731)
Okay.

Paris Vega (49:29.828)
For sure, that’d be great. I appreciate it. All right, thanks everybody for listening. We’ll catch you next time.

Liz Parker (49:37.693)
Bye bye.

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