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I spent a year traveling around the world, sleeping in the homes of strangers as part of a social experiment on kindness. After being hosted in 20+ countries by 100+ people, my biggest takeaway from the experience was: human connection is everything. From circumnavigating the globe to building my brand story coaching business, it’s become apparent that relationship-building is crucial when it comes to scaling a successful business.
I was connected to publicity and marketing strategist Selena Soo during my visit to New York City after an Instagram follower messaged me that I must meet the woman who–in just a few years–built a multi 7-figure empire by helping experts, authors, and coaches go from hidden gem to admired industry leaders… and even household names.
Sitting in a local coffee shop, I was taken aback by how down-to-earth and open she was despite being a “big deal.” A master connector by nature, Soo instantly made me feel comfortable, at ease, and supported in my vision. It was easy to see how she’s helped thought leaders and influencers become visible as the leading experts in their industry by leveraging the power of meaningful relationship-building.
Soo shares insights on her journey to scaling a 7-figure business, and how we can all tap into human connection to achieve massive success:
Da Costa: Tell us about your background.
Soo: Growing up in a wealthy community in Hong Kong, I became aware of the power of relationships and the value of nurturing them, even as a little girl. My dad was a successful stockbroker and entrepreneur who regularly hosted dinner parties at our home to build relationships with clients. I learned many lessons about wealth, business, and connection just by attending these gatherings.
Years later, I moved to New York City for college on a temporary student visa. I desperately wanted to stay in the U.S., but I was automatically disqualified from most jobs because companies didn’t want to sponsor an entry-level employee for a visa. While I felt like I had no control over my future, these doors shutting in front of me lit a fire to become a person who opens doors for others.
Eventually, I found full-time employment in the U.S. by networking with employers and going above and beyond in these relationships. I quickly learned that cultivating relationships with people who become your advocate is the ultimate competitive advantage. My dream of building a life in New York finally came true.
Da Costa: What was the breaking point that made you realize you needed a change?
Soo: Shortly after college, I started working at a nonprofit that I thought was my dream job. But, I felt lost after a few years. I knew I was meant for more, but I didn’t know what. I was making $42,000 a year, had hit a ceiling at work, struggled with cripplingly low self-esteem, and was in a toxic romantic relationship. This combination led me to fall into a dark depression. At my lowest point, I had trouble eating, getting out of bed, going to work, and functioning as a regular human being. My mom flew to New York to be by my side because she was so worried about my health.
I finally opened up about my emotional struggles with a few close friends, and one of them introduced me to a life coach who ran women’s groups. The personal development world was new to me and investing in a life coach was a leap of faith, but I was willing to do anything to feel better.
When I walked through the doors of that first class, there was no way I could have known that this one connection would transform my life.
I left that class six weeks later feeling like a completely different person. I stopped playing the victim role and taking everything so personally. I let go of the need to control every little detail. Instead, I took responsibility for my life and learned to embrace the power of right now.
Furthermore, this one connection to my life coach opened me up to a whole new world of inspirational experts and thought leaders I didn’t even know existed, such as Louise Hay and Deepak Chopra.
As time went on, I learned about people like Marie Forleo, Ramit Sethi, and Danielle LaPorte – a new generation of thought leaders who were helping people find their dream job, start a business, discover their purpose, improve their health, or let go of toxic relationships.
None of my friends knew who these experts were, and I remember thinking, “I want the whole world to know about these people!” Because I knew from personal experience that when people are struggling, they don’t just need more information — they are looking for inspiration.
While these experts had no idea who I was, I felt like they were my friends. I read every newsletter they wrote and watch every video they published. Because I followed their work so closely, I began to see ways to support them.
So I started to reach out, saying things like, “I know someone you should connect with.” Or, “This would be a great opportunity for you — can I put you in touch?”
Even though I’d always been shy, this wasn’t about me. It was about making connections that could help people I truly admired. And I knew from personal experience that one connection could change everything.
After consistently adding value over time, I became a trusted person to my favorite experts. Many of them became my friends, mentors, and even clients.
Da Costa: How did you build a successful business that helps experts become admired industry leaders?
Soo: Before I had a business, I proactively found ways to help the people I admired. So when I did launch my business, I was able to do so with a bang.
From day one, my website had testimonials from some of the biggest thought leaders in my industry, as well as media professionals who were grateful that I’d introduced them to so many experts. All this buzz generated interest in my work, which allowed me to attract my first set of clients.
I hired my first business coach and joined a mastermind group. I knew that with the right coach and community, my business would take off — and it did. During my first year as a coach in 2013, my business generated $157,000.
Successfully investing in a mastermind group and courses inspired me to create my own. In 2013, I created my first mastermind, in which I introduced my clients to media and influencers who could help them reach more people.
I hosted influencer parties for my clients, similar to the gatherings I attended as a little girl. Except this time, the influencers I was supporting were people committed to making a big difference in the world: impact and contribution came first. Money, while important, was secondary.
In 2014, I started creating courses ranging from $497 to $5,000 to give people a variety of ways to work with me, as my masterminds cost around $25,000 per year or more to join.
Having these multiple revenue streams allowed me to grow my business to multiple 7-figures within six years.
Da Costa: What is your secret to scaling to a 7-figure business, and how can people establish themselves as respected leaders in their industry?
Soo: Here are 7 essential steps to growing a 7-figure business:
- Stay connected to your purpose — and the people you’re meant to help. Business isn’t easy, but having a greater sense of purpose helps you stay in the game when times get tough. For me, my purpose is helping experts go from hidden gem to household name so they can transform more lives. When our business is bigger than us, it gives us the drive and willpower to push through obstacles and create greater levels of success.
- Step outside of your comfort zone. To go from nonprofit employee to multi 7-figure business owner, I had to think differently. One of the key ideas I embraced was “start before you’re ready.” So often, we think that we need to be confident and comfortable in order to take the next step forward — whether it’s making a big investment, getting our first client, raising our prices, or putting ourselves out there. The truth is, the most successful people move forward even in the face of discomfort .
- Get visible. If you want to get clients, people need to know you exist. They won’t just magically fall from the sky. That’s why it’s so important to drum up publicity and attention for your business. I started writing guest posts and doing podcast interviews in my first year of business. In fact, my first media opportunity for my business was an article on Forbes that got me my first 150 newsletter subscribers! Consistently appearing in the media grew my audience, got me paying clients, and positioned me as an industry leader. It can do the same for you.
- Create offers you love to deliver and that people want. Like us, our offers will continuously evolve. You need to fall in love with your business and your offerings — otherwise, you’ll sabotage your growth. I recommend having a small bite-sized offer that provides an easy entry point to start working with you. From there, you’ll ideally have at least two premium offers that provide clients with a deeper transformation.
Design your offerings so they are scalable. You can do this by having a team that supports you in delivering the product or service, or structuring the offering to allow you to serve lots of people at once. It’s virtually impossible to build a 7-figure business without scalable offerings.
- Be choosy about your clients. When we first start a business, we’re often happy to work with anyone who will pay us. But attracting and working with high-quality clients is critical as they have a track record of success and taking action quickly. They get big results, become case studies for your business, and tend to become repeat buyers who may refer friends and colleagues to you. Difficult clients can easily be three times more work than a regular client!
- Create meaningful business connections. The saying is true, “Your network is your net worth.” That’s why it’s so important to create and nurture relationships. This could include referral partners and affiliate partners who send ideal clients to you; your star clients, customers, and super fans who spread the word about your work, and influencers and media professionals who have big platforms and can introduce you to new audiences. The more you invest in people by helping them reach their goals and showing them that you care, the more they’ll want to give back to you.
- Hire a mentor who can accelerate your success. Of all the relationships I’ve invested in, the most valuable have been with mentors. This is the ultimate shortcut to achieving your dreams. A mentor will take you under their wing, open up doors for you, and guide you to your end goal faster. The first life coach I invested in opened up my eyes to a world of self-help and business experts, which led me to start the business I have today.
I continue to invest in mentors at each stage of my growth, whether it’s joining their group programs, masterminds, or coaching with them. The inspiration and guidance I’ve received from mentors have had a powerful ripple effect on me, allowing me to serve and reach more people. That’s why I’m so passionate about creating and elevating these experts.
I believe that each person has the potential to impact millions through their personal story, hard-won knowledge, and wisdom — and it’s my purpose to help people unlock that potential deep inside of them.
January 30, 2019 at 11:47AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs