Welcome to the first article of the “Networking 101” series!
This article will be covering how I got one of my first mentors.
Maybe you’ve already heard of Lucio Buffalmano, but in case you haven’t, Lucio Buffalmano is a sociologist and researcher of human nature with a master’s degree from La Sapienza, department of communication and sociological research. He’s a member of the American Psychology Association (APA), and dedicates his life to researching, uncovering, testing, and refining the most effective strategies and techniques for social success.
Today, we’ll be going over how I was able to get this top social scientist to help me step into developing advanced social skills, the very same skills that have led to many of my biggest achievements today as well as my ability to create lasting connections with the people I meet.
In 2017, I lost all of my friends and family.
I was growing up in an abusive household. Between a father I hardly saw because his work called him away for so long, so often, and a mother who took out the frustrations of her failing marriage on me, my friends were my only family.
Then, when a near-death experience left me isolated and helpless in an unforgiving hospital bed, my friends never called.
They left me completely alone. And, from that moment on, I realized I had to start from scratch to rebuild my social life.
Many dark days followed. But, when the time came for me to decide whether or not I would pick myself up or end it all, I began to pursue self-help.
More than that, I started to search for a way to get the social life I dreamed of.
Then, I found The Power Moves. And, my life changed.
How I Met Lucio Buffalmano
It started with a search for a review on Charisma University by Charlie Houpert (over at Charisma On Command).
The review over at The Power Moves stood out to me. It was more than detailed, it was helpful. As if I was learning from the review (which was odd to me at the time, because I was only expecting to hear thoughts, likes, and criticisms, not so much a sharing of advanced ideas).
Intrigued, I began to explore the website.
Back then, the color scheme was still blue and white with black text and a flagship course named Social Power.
I read the sales page for that course (written by Lucio Buffalmano, the head of the site, sharing his own personal story) and, alongside his emotional vulnerability, there was one line that stood out to me the most.
A line that said this course would teach you how to:
“…get the raise you want, get the partner you dream about, buy the clothes you deserve, and drive the cars you love.”
That line stoked the flames of my thirst for more out of life. More than the ambition of achieving the dreams I’d often get lost in during the day, but the feelings of gaining success as the best revenge against those who had left me to die.
So, I joined.
But, what I found was different from what I expected.
Lesson #1: Avoid the Mistakes I Made Early On
First, I have to note that before joining the course, I was making a few mistakes.
The Power Moves has a forum that, at one point, allowed for Guest posting.
In the earlier days, I guest posted, then made an account as I grew more familiar with (and excited about) the forum and, from there, started posting more frequently.
The issue was, I was mainly posting direct questions to Lucio.
I’d already gotten a taste of his wisdom from much of the free content available on his blog and forum, so I wanted to learn and discover more.
Plus, I (foolishly) thought to myself back then:
Young Me: Growing his forum grows his community (which grows his website) and he needs forum topic ideas to grow the forum. So, by opening more threads, I’m helping him expand the forum.
But, no, I was really creating more work for him.
And, eventually, he gave it to me softly, saying:
Lucio: Ali, mate, your curiosity outstrips my forum availability :).
Some answers are particularly difficult for the time they demand -especially if one wants to do it properly-. Watching a video, analyzing it, analyzing your understanding of it, then putting down my thoughts in relation to yours, that’s time-intensive.
Unluckily I can only allocate a limited amount of time to the forum.
So, I had to rethink my approach :).
Lesson #2: Do Your Best To Learn From Mistakes Quickly
Realizing where I’d messed up in how I’d read things, I immediately went from a “taking” mode to a more “giving” mode based on his feedback.
On top of joining Social Power (which is now called “Power University”), I also joined a Yale course on negotiation and persuasion and shared a full summary and review in the forum.
*Note: In your case, it doesn’t have to be something as prestigious as a Yale course, it could simply be a valuable resource that, if you summarized and/or reviewed it, would also be (potentially) valuable for any readers. And, after that Yale course, to continue giving value, I also joined many other less “high-status” courses such as programs on Udemy and LinkedInLearning.
I dived deeper into Lucio’s thread on making exchanges balanced and win-win, taking note of how to be a better giver.
And, most especially, I made sure to heavily reduce how often I asked questions in the forum, especially if I found myself wanting to ask without having given first.
Note: Another quick note here, notice that I didn’t say I reduced how many questions I asked. If there’s something you don’t yet understand that’s important for your growth to learn, it’s OK to ask. It’s simply also a good idea (and good social strategy) to make the receivers of your question more likely to answer it (and even happy to do so) by giving a fair amount before taking their time and wisdom.
Lesson #3: Absorb Their Wisdom First, Then Ask (Better) Questions
I was a beginner with social skills. To be honest, I hardly had the basics down.
Lucio will tell you I was “OK-ish”, but let’s be real here: you don’t lose everyone you care about by being “OK”.
And, when Lucio recommended a book to get the basics and foundations down, I found myself taking plenty of notes and doing a lot of in-field practicing.
However, that book recommendation was pulled from his “Best Of” resources review list, and I only bought it after I had completed the Social Power course.
So, having hardly a foundational understanding of social skills, I was still going through the trenches here, making index cards for every course lesson, studying every day on top of my current work, and doing my best to answer all of my questions on my own before bringing any to the forum.
I wanted to make sure I would only ask questions that:
- He hadn’t already answered before
- I couldn’t answer on my own
- May be insightful for the other members of the community to read as well (by doing my best to combine the question with current knowledge)
On that last bullet point, albeit it wasn’t always possible, an example is when I did an analysis of a YouTube video on my own regarding “how to say ‘no’ to unpaid overtime when dealing with a bad boss”, and then asked for feedback on it, rather than the alternative of dropping a link to the video, asking for someone else to tell me what they think first and then waiting (and hoping) for a response.
All of this was long, daily, hard work.
And, throughout that time of grinding to grow, I saw a lot of people on a similar journey come and go.
Assess Your Mentors
I’ve seen some interesting things studying under Lucio.
I’ve seen people:
- Sneakily or manipulatively try to get Lucio to give them free coaching: one time by sending coaching questions to his personal email, another by (manipulatively) framing his customer support as including coaching as well
- Try to manipulate the community into giving them free value: the example I’m thinking of is someone who used a bunch of power moves to try and turn the tables (and maybe could’ve succeeded on the less advanced of us, if only he had used that power-awareness for good 🙂 )
- Show up to the forum, refuse to learn and grow, make numerous mistakes as a result, and then leave negative reviews to spite Lucio for taking admin action on their more damaging errors: which is one of the most recent events, actually
You can learn a lot about a person from how they deal with life when everything is going great, of course.
However, I’d also argue that you can learn a lot about someone from how they deal with adversity, when tough calls need to be made, or when they’re handling a difficult situation (especially if it’s in a way that you disagree with which, keep in mind, you may not always agree with your mentor).
And, from what I’ve observed, Lucio has what I feel are areas where he excels (which is where we can most likely learn from him) and areas for improvement, such as being:
- Patient with the learners in his community: including me, a complete beginner lost in a place that, at the time, was meant more for the advanced (and, in some ways, still is to this day, at the time of this article’s writing)
- Open to receiving feedback himself: (albeit he doesn’t receive personal feedback very often) he sometimes will even turn TPM (The Power Moves) or Power University-related feedback into a forum case study (example here)
- Cool about refunds, insults, and disagreements between other members in the community: granted, he does seem to get more annoyed and assertive when one crosses his boundaries (such as by spamming the forum or his email with “answer me now” messages), but other than that, I aim to reach his level of emotional mastery someday
Now, usually, it would be odd to say anyone “always” is anything. There are always exceptions (and he’s even been open enough to share moments when he has lost his cool, such as one time when he was having a difficult conversation with his dad and got upset).
Still, in reality, we are all made up of habits. And, it seems that Lucio has simply made a habit of using the emotional management skills he’s learned to be (or at least come across) comfortable in the vast majority of situations.
This was very helpful for me because there were many days I could swear Lucio was fed up with me or simply wanted to spend more time dealing with the more advanced people in the forum because I was so far behind.
And, luckily, on that point, I was wrong.
Lesson #4: Give Your Mentor Value
At the very least, make an effort to.
In my case, I proposed the idea that Lucio write the foreword for my latest book at that time, The Clever Connector.
He agreed and the book’s exposure (as well as much of the marketing) also indirectly gave Lucio and his business a share of exposure as well.
More than that though, the way I gave value was in the form of a collaboration, which meant that it was an opportunity for us to work together (which could also lead to us growing closer throughout the collaboration process).
Even so, of course, I still gave him gifts whenever it felt appropriate (and anytime I simply felt like showing my gratitude).
Lesson #5: (If Possible) Transition the Professional Relationship to a Friendship
This one is sometimes tricky because it also takes a willingness to be open to a friendship on the counterpart’s side.
In my case, I learned the advanced social skills to effectively build rapport, grow my social capital, and manage my relationship with him to where these days, I’m happy to be able to call him a friend.
It’s led to easy, smooth talks regarding possible collaborations in the future and I’m looking forward to any that come to fruition.
Why Lucio Buffalmano Has Been An Invaluable Mentor
Reading this back, this ended up becoming more of a review on Lucio himself in certain areas than a breakdown of how I acquired him as a mentor, but when you’re talking about someone you like, respect, and admire, it’s only natural that might happen (and, ideally, your mentor would be someone who checks those three boxes).
Lucio is not perfect, of course. We all have our areas for improvement, but that’s only to say that Lucio too, as much as I view him as a close friend, can also grow further (and probably will, business-wise as well) which can sometimes be reflected in how he runs The Power Moves.
But, Lucio is also over a decade into practical self-development, the kind that shows real results and truly makes one a better person. And, it shows in how many others love The Power Moves (over 10k+ visitors per day, many of whom are returning visitors), as well as those who have found his work to be life-changing, “gold as the eye can see”, or simply the best resource on how to protect yourself and advance in life after having discovered him.
In your own search for a mentor, make sure to avoid people you find yourself idealizing as “perfect” who seem to make no mistakes. They may be wearing a mask of inauthenticity to gain more support, and it’s wiser (and safer) to follow the leadership of those who make mistakes, but keep those mistakes small, manageable, and a learning opportunity for everyone (themself included).