Practical Networking Tips

This week’s episode of the Frame of Mind Coaching™ Podcast is all about practical tips for networking. We talk about how to prepare, how to impress, and how to make the best out of conferences. We also talk about what to do if networking isn’t really your thing and how to help yourself by helping others.

Episode Transcript

 
[00:00:00] Kim Ades: Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades, I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching and the Co-founder of The Journal That Talks Back. You have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching Podcast with my awesome, amazing, and incredible daughter and co-host Ferne Kotlyar. Ferne, welcome. 

[00:00:24] Ferne Kotlyar: Hello! These introductions... Wow wow wow! Thank you. 

[00:00:28] Kim Ades: How's it going? What's up? What's new? What's happening? 

[00:00:32] Ferne Kotlyar: Good, I'm excellent! I am in Montreal for the weekend, spending time with my awesome, amazing, and incredible boyfriend, so I'm happy. 

[00:00:44] Kim Ades: Happy Ferne means happy Kim. So good, good. Are you doing anything exciting this weekend?

[00:00:51] Ferne Kotlyar: Actually, yeah! For New Year's he bought us a helicopter ride over the city, so we're going to do that tomorrow, which I'm really looking forward to. 

[00:01:00] Kim Ades: You're doing it tomorrow? 

[00:01:02] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah!

[00:01:03] Kim Ades: Before you come back? 

[00:01:04] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah. 

[00:01:05] Kim Ades: Oh, exciting. 

[00:01:08] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles] 

[00:01:08] Kim Ades: So not everybody loves helicopter rides, so I hope for you it's smooth sailing all the way.

[00:01:15] Ferne Kotlyar: I hope so too. I'll make sure to take a gravel beforehand. 

[00:01:18] Kim Ades: I think that's a good idea. All right, so what are we discussing today? 

[00:01:22] Ferne Kotlyar: So today I wanted to talk about practical tips for networking. 

[00:01:26] Kim Ades: Okay. 

[00:01:27] Ferne Kotlyar: I know that in my industry and academia, people aren't always the most socially fluid, they don't necessarily feel that comfortable talking to people, talking to random strangers, maybe in other sectors it's easier. But just practical tips for kind of getting to know people and kind of having that in their back pocket when you're looking for jobs or whatever it may be. I think it's relevant for everyone.

[00:01:51] Kim Ades: Okay. So, I don't know if you know, but in the olden days, many, many years ago, I was probably one of the best networkers a person could find. So much so-- 

[00:02:04] Ferne Kotlyar: Have things changed? 

[00:02:06] Kim Ades: Well, I've lost my edge. 

[00:02:08] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles] 

[00:02:10] Kim Ades: But... So much so that I won an award for being one of the 50 most influential women in the real estate industry. 

[00:02:16] Ferne Kotlyar: Really? When were you in the real estate industry? 

[00:02:20] Kim Ades: [Chuckles] We had a product that we built called the Real Estate Simulator. 

[00:02:25] Ferne Kotlyar: Ah, yes! 

[00:02:27] Kim Ades: And the Real Estate Simulator was an assessment that we used to help the real estate industry with their recruiting, retention, and training of their real estate professionals or real estate agents.

So I used to go to every single event known to man in the real estate industry, all the conferences, and I used to have a trade show booth, I used to try to get speaking engagements. But I would walk down the hall and I would know everybody. 

[00:02:57] Ferne Kotlyar: Wow. 

[00:02:58] Kim Ades: And it was incredible. It's interesting 'cause just the other day I had a speaking engagement at WBE. WBE is Women's Business Enterprise and I knew a lot of people, but it reminded me of the real estate days when my networking skills were on fire.

[00:03:16] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles] 

[00:03:17] Kim Ades: I was with Jonathan, who is my co-founder with The Journal That Talks Back, and I told him I feel like an older, sorrier, sadder version of myself, but...

[00:03:29] Ferne Kotlyar: Oh no! 

[00:03:29] Kim Ades: I was still pretty good. Oh yeah. I was like, it used to be amazing. But let me give you some practical skills, some practical tips. So the first thing you wanna do is you wanna know who's gonna be there? 

[00:03:42] Ferne Kotlyar: Oh, I really thought you were gonna say put on makeup. [Laughs] 

[00:03:45] Kim Ades: That's a good idea too, but not for everybody. 

[00:03:48] Ferne Kotlyar: Look good, yeah. 

[00:03:50] Kim Ades: Yeah, you gotta look good, sure. Absolutely. But before you look good, you gotta figure out who's gonna be there. And so it's really important for you to look at the agenda, look at the event, understand who are the sponsors, who are the speakers, who are the attendees, who are the critical players. And you could generally extract that by looking at the event agenda, looking at the website, looking at the sponsor page, looking at even some of the articles that may have been written around the subject.

If there are pre-event podcasts, you wanna pay attention to who's speaking on those podcast, what they're speaking about. So you wanna pick out some critical names, understand who they are and what they do, and why you might wanna get to know them. So number one is get to know the lay of the land. 

Number two is now we have the capacity to reach out to these people on LinkedIn and get connected to them even before the event. So it's really a good idea to create a list of your key players. 

Go to LinkedIn and then make a contact with these people with a message that says "Hey, I'm really looking forward to meeting you at this event" or I'm gonna be attending your speaking engagement, or your presentation, can't wait to hear what you have to say about X, Y, or Z". 

In some cases you might say "Hey, now, I have a few questions for you. Would you be okay to meet for a few minutes after your speaking engagement?" Whatever it is, right? So, what you're doing is you're connecting, you're making them know your name, you're making them see your face even before you get there.

So you're making a connection ahead of time. Ideally you're setting up appointments. So you might reach out to them and say "Hey, do you have a few minutes for me? Can we meet up for coffee? I wanna share something I'm working on" or "I wanna ask you about your initiative with X, Y, or Z" or "I'd really learn like to learn about how you achieve this and this and that". Whatever it is, doesn't really matter. 

[00:06:05] Ferne Kotlyar: Okay. So-- 

[00:06:06] Kim Ades: Yep. 

[00:06:07] Ferne Kotlyar: Oh, sorry. Go ahead. 

[00:06:08] Kim Ades: Go ahead. No, you go ahead. 

[00:06:10] Ferne Kotlyar: I was gonna ask about kind of power dynamics. So like what I'm familiar with is kind of academic conferences, but I'm sure that it applies in a lot of industries in the sense that like if you're a new student, let's say first, second year PhD, and you are reaching out to professors or postdocs, people who are really influential in the field, who have written papers that you read on a regular basis. 

[00:06:33] Kim Ades: Yeah. 

[00:06:33] Ferne Kotlyar: How do you kind of get over that hump of feeling like "why would they wanna talk to me? I'm just a student. I don't have anything really to contribute. I don't know what to say to them"?

[00:06:48] Kim Ades: So, I think that one of the things that I used to go in with, and I was in a very similar position because I was young at the time and I wanted the attention of specific brokers because those people were my target clients. And I was a salesperson, what do they want from me? Right? 

And so what you wanna do is say "Hey, I read your article about X, Y, and Z on the subject of (...) And I'd really like to learn about... whatever" or "I'd love for you to share with me how you achieved..." And so the focus is on them, it's not on you. 

[00:07:25] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, but even if you are someone, like, a young person trying to talk to someone who has like a 50 year career who's... 

[00:07:33] Kim Ades: Doesn't matter 

[00:07:34] Ferne Kotlyar: ...At the top spectrum. Like, if they're giving a presentation, they're like the keynote speaker. I'm sure they'd be filled with appointments. How do you-- 

[00:07:44] Kim Ades: Don't assume that, actually. Don't assume that. That's not actually true. 

[00:07:48] Ferne Kotlyar: Well. 

[00:07:49] Kim Ades: And I will tell you something else. Enthusiasm beats everything. So go in prepared, know who you're targeting, know something about them, know who they are, what they belong to, what they've done, what they've achieved, what matters to them. Go in prepared and understand enthusiasm, energy is always attractive, especially when you're enthusiastic about their work. 

[00:08:16] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah. So how do you know that you're prepared enough? 

[00:08:20] Kim Ades: There's no such thing as enough. I mean, you can never be prepared enough. So we're not trying to get prepared all the way to the end of the world of preparation. We're trying to know enough to have a conversation. To say "I learned X, Y, and Z about you. That's really interesting to me. Here's why. Here's what I'm working on and here's what I'd love to learn about you". And you're going in asking questions. You're interested, you're curious. 

So let's go one step further. Again, enthusiasm is really, really critical, especially when you're going to an event and you can identify, pre-identify the people you wanna talk to. But let's say that's not the case. Let's say you can't pre-identify. Let's say you're invited to some networking event and nobody tells you who's gonna be there in advance, 'cause that happens all the time, right? So now what do you do? 

A lot of people feel uncomfortable about that. They're like "well, who do I talk to? How do I approach people? What kind of conversation do I have?" And the concept is everybody has an agenda and everybody's there to sell their own idea or their own product or their own-- Right?

And so what I want you to do is think "what would be a win for me?" And a win might be to connect with one person whereby you have a follow up meeting, a follow up coffee date, a follow up zoom conversation, one meeting that has a follow up.

Now, how do you get that done? And we often think that we go to a networking event to share with people what we're up to so that they become interested in us. And I want you to reverse the intention. Okay? 

So when you go to a networking event, the idea is to be interested in them, interested in whatever they're struggling with, interested in whatever they're working on, interested in their projects, interested in their objectives, their goals. Because if I can help them with their objectives and goals, now I have value. But I can't do that unless I learn what their objectives and goals are. 

[00:10:25] Ferne Kotlyar: Absolutely. 

[00:10:26] Kim Ades: So for me, for example, we're doing a lot of work in the area of recruiting and retention, right? The Journal That Talks Back is a huge component of helping young people deal with their emotional volatility, which exists and is a huge source of departures, that's why people leave. They experience friction and they feel super uncomfortable, so it's easier for them to just quit. Or something they perceive is a wrongdoing to them, they just quit. 

[00:11:01] Ferne Kotlyar: Or find another job. 

[00:11:04] Kim Ades: They just go find another job. Or they're afraid to ask for a raise, so they just quit. So there's all these emotionally triggered reasons why people are leaving organizations and The Journal That Talks Back is there to circumvent that, to help young people approach or deal with these emotionally triggered events in a more appropriate way. 

So I have a solution I think that will mitigate some of the-- not all, but some of the departures we're seeing, the huge amount of turnover we're seeing in organizations, but I don't know if that's a problem for everybody. 

So I might go into a room and say "Hey, tell me about what it's been like for you this past couple of years with the recruiting and retention. Is that an issue for you? Well, tell me what you've been seeing. Tell me where the struggle is. Tell me what you've been trying for recruiting. But then what are you seeing with respect to turnover? Why are people leaving?" 

And so the person's telling me about what's going on for them, why it's a problem, what their recruiting goals might be, right? So they're sharing their story with me. And then I might say "well, I might have something that could help you. Would you be open to a follow up conversation?" Then they might say yes or no. 

So the key is that you're looking to hear other people's stories and see if it matches with you, rather than tell everybody your story for them to decide whether it matches with them. So you kind of hold the power a little bit more. 

Well, it's not about power, it's about I'm not shoving my ideas down anybody's throat until it has relevance. You know? If I can serve somebody, I will, and if not, that's okay too, I can still connect with people. And by the way, connections are a very interesting thing because you could connect with someone who is not your target at all. Who could be a colleague, who could be the gateway for a new introduction. Right? 

So years and years ago when I first started Frame of Mind Coaching, I went to an event and I had a friend there. She wasn't-- like, I wasn't trying to sell anything to her, but she was a friend. Right? I knew her from a long time ago. She wasn't a buyer or anything like that, but we hung out 'cause it was fun and she was like a cool person. 

And we were walking down the street and she introduced me to someone who then became a client. You know, "Hey Dave! You need to meet Kim. I know that you're looking for a coach you should talk to Kim".

[00:13:37] Ferne Kotlyar: Oh! Very nice. 

[00:13:38] Kim Ades: And that's the other component of networking is to make friends, is to build a world where people know what you're up to and can lean on you even if there's no hidden agenda. Like again, another example. Yesterday... Or... Was it yesterday? Two days ago I was at this WBE conference.

Great. I found a whole bunch of people and then I left the conference and shortly after that I got a message from a good friend of mine who was still at the conference, saying "Hey, I just spoke to this woman from this organization and she really needs your services". 

[00:14:21] Ferne Kotlyar: Very nice. 

[00:14:22] Kim Ades: Right? "So you should connect with her". Okay, great. So, networking is about opening doors, even if you don't think the door is necessarily relevant. So you're there with excitement, enthusiasm, openness, warmth, engagement. You're not there bored going "ah, nobody can help me. This is stupid. I'm just gonna lean against the wall. I'm gonna go have a drink".

[00:14:46] Ferne Kotlyar: Kind of one of the criticisms that I've heard of networking, that people kind of, don't like about it is this idea that, as you mentioned, everyone seems to have an agenda. 

[00:14:57] Kim Ades: Yeah. 

[00:14:57] Ferne Kotlyar: So, coming in with that, this perception that everybody wants something from me, they all want me to buy something, they all want something from me, it feels, for a lot of people, negative and I guess kind of... not manipulative, but... I don't know what the right word is to express that feeling. So how do you get over that emotional hump? 

[00:15:22] Kim Ades: First of all, is it okay to have an agenda? Of course, it's okay to have an agenda. Everybody's there to achieve a specific goal. What if we could help people achieve their goals? So instead of ducking from somebody's agenda, we say "Hey, what's your goal here? Maybe I can help you achieve it. I don't know if I'm your target market, but may I know a lot of people. Maybe I can introduce you to the right people. What's your agenda?" 

Now it's on the table, it's not so hidden. You don't have to like hide from it. So ask people, help people reach their goals. That is the epitome of networking, right there. If you're a person who could help others reach their goals, you're the queen of networking. 

[00:16:04] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles] Is that the top number one secret? 

[00:16:08] Kim Ades: Number one secret: help people reach their goals, help people connect with other people that they're looking to connect with. So, know everybody. 

[00:16:20] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, fair enough. And so, we kind of tackled the issue of this agenda, but what if now you're like "okay, I'm ready to help people, but I'm just not a social person. Like, too many people stress me out. I don't know what to say. This is awkward. I don't know how to deal with--" 

[00:16:36] Kim Ades: You don't have to say anything. Don't say anything. Don't come in with a script. Go in with curiosity. 

[00:16:42] Ferne Kotlyar: But I guess there's this idea that questions may come naturally to some people, like you, maybe me, but they don't come naturally to everybody. Conversations--

[00:16:51] Kim Ades: So go in prepared, write down 10 questions that you can go in with. Learn your questions. 

[00:16:57] Ferne Kotlyar: But I guess it's more of the idea of feeling uncomfortable. It's like you are a very social person, you are good with people, and so, going to networking events is easy for you, but what about people who have anxiety, social anxiety, whatever it may be, that kind of emotionally hinder them from being excited, being at ease.

How do we kind of get over this? Or not necessarily get over, but what's a tool to kind of deal with this discomfort? 

[00:17:27] Kim Ades: I think, like, we're talking about networking, like, you know, killing it at networking and how you go in and maybe what we need to do is for the person who feels completely uncomfortable and socially, what did you call it? Socially... 

[00:17:41] Ferne Kotlyar: Anxious. 

[00:17:42] Kim Ades: Anxious, then what we do is we create a different goal for that person. And the different goal for that person might be "Hey, your goal in this session is to meet one person and say hello. And to say, you know, like, what company are you with? Oh, are you in this department? I am too!" 

[00:18:04] Ferne Kotlyar: [Lightly chuckles] 

[00:18:05] Kim Ades: Right? So it's to make one connection. It's to practice the process of saying hello and introducing yourself and asking about another person. 

[00:18:16] Ferne Kotlyar: Okay. Very nice. 

[00:18:17] Kim Ades: Right? So, we're lowering the requirement per se, for someone who's socially anxious. And so what we're doing is we're changing what is a win for each person.

[00:18:32] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, absolutely. 

[00:18:34] Kim Ades: Right? So for me, the best networking I could do is actually being on stage, so people can hear what I have to say and they know who I am, and they can make a decision about whether or not there's a match. I mean, it's not ideal actually because then they have to come and approach me, right? But at least I'm speaking to many people at once. 

[00:19:03] Ferne Kotlyar: That's true. 

[00:19:05] Kim Ades: Yeah. 

[00:19:05] Ferne Kotlyar: Getting a big target. 

[00:19:07] Kim Ades: Right, but that's not necessarily the goal for everybody. 

[00:19:11] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah. 

[00:19:12] Kim Ades: The goal for another person could be, hey, you're sitting in an event, you're listening to a speaker, just say hello to the person sitting beside you. You could say something like "Hey, the coffee's good, right?" You know, something really simple just to open that door. It doesn't even have to be work related. You could say "I love your shoes". 

[00:19:31] Ferne Kotlyar: That's a good one. Easy. 

[00:19:33] Kim Ades: Right? Easy, easy. It doesn't have to be like super, super strategic. It just doesn't. Be warm, be friendly, connect with people on a human level. Like again, the other day I was at this event and I saw this woman's hair was like, one piece was on the other side, right? [Chuckles] It was misplaced and so I just reached up and fixed her hair. So what did I do? I just stepped into her world. Right? I stepped into her world and I connected with her on a personal level to make sure she looks good at this event.

[00:20:14] Ferne Kotlyar: Did she appreciate it? 

[00:20:15] Kim Ades: Of course! 

[00:20:16] Ferne Kotlyar: That's good. 

[00:20:17] Kim Ades: Of course. 

[00:20:20] Ferne Kotlyar: So if we were to kind of sum up this idea of top few networking tips from what I gather, kind of number one is to come in prepared, if possible. Get to know the players, get to know the field, see who's who and what's what so you know who you wanna talk to.

And number two, big tip, number two is to see who you can help. That's the goal rather than kind of the other way around of who can help me. I mean, I guess it's a similar question, but framed in a different way. And then change your goals based on you as a person. You don't have to have the same goals as everybody around you, so if networking may not be for you, take baby steps, meet one person, and accomplish that goal. 

[00:21:08] Kim Ades: You nailed it. That's it. 

[00:21:10] Ferne Kotlyar: Amazing! Awesome. Well, thank you so much! I think this was really, really helpful. 

[00:21:15] Kim Ades: Totally practical, right? 

[00:21:17] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah. 

[00:21:19] Kim Ades: For those of you who are listening, if you're uncomfortable with networking, I hope you've picked something up from this podcast. And if there's something else going on in your life where you're like "Hey, I really need to achieve this goal and I'm struggling to achieve it, and I could use some help", then go to Frame of Mind Coaching, set up some time to talk and let's discuss that problem. We're happy, happy to help you in any way we can. It's frameofmindcoaching.com. 

Ferne, how do people reach you if they wanna share with you a subject that we should maybe cover on our podcast? 

[00:21:52] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, I'd love to hear it. Any ideas are more than welcome, so please email me at Fernekotlyar@live.com. 

[00:22:05] Kim Ades: And I am Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com. We will see you next week. Have a great week everyone. 

[00:22:12] Ferne Kotlyar: Bye! 

[00:22:13] Kim Ades: Bye.

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