Katie is a writer specializing in customer case studies. She has written for technology and education companies and coaches of all types. In her free time, Katie enjoys baking, reading fantasy novels, and going on road trips with her husband. Katie lives in Wisconsin and thinks cheese should be in its own food group.
Can you share with our listeners what a customer case study is?
A customer case study is the success story of how a client or customer has gotten results through a product or service. So basically it takes your happy customer from how they found you, why they decided to work with you, through that experience of working with you, and down to the results that they got when they had finished working with you.
What are some characteristics of an ideal customer to feature in a case study?
So customers that make a great fit have likely told you that they are happy with the work that you both did together. They may have recommended you to others, which is great because a customer case study is kind of a recommendation, so to speak so if they've already been recommending you to other people, they'll be able to give more ideal quotes for the case study. Also, if your customer has told you about a result that was particularly impactful, that is also a great qualifier for a customer who might make a great case study, because having a great story and pairing that with enticing data, or even really great emotional benefit, is definitely a way to create a piece that shows your prospects and your leads what they will get if they work with you.
So you have mentioned that there are four sections to a case study. What are examples of the questions that I could ask my customers to make sure that I have information in each of those four parts?
So the first part is the introduction. You'll want to ask your customer if they are a business owner, where is their business located, what types of work do they do with their clients and customers, how long have they been in business, and then if they're a consumer, then you'll ask them things like, where do they live, how old they are if they're comfortable sharing that. Sometimes people's hobbies and interests can be good to know about just to make it a little more personable. So those are the basic introduction questions. Then we get into the challenge part and the challenge part talks about what challenges they were looking to solve. So I usually ask, what was the challenge you were looking to solve, why did you choose to have someone else help you solve your problem, how are you solving your problem before you found the product or service that ended up being the solution, and then we get into your business because we want to have a little information about you and your business and why they chose you. That can come from asking them, how did you learn about the solutions, why did you specifically choose to work with my company, if you're doing the interview yourself. Then, of course, the most impactful section is the results. So a few questions that I usually ask are, what are some qualitative results that you've experienced? So that gets really into those emotions, those feelings. What are some quantitative results that you've experienced as a result of the work? Which gets into the numbers? Then another question I love is, tell me about a time when the work we did made a real difference because that can open up a whole story of, "Oh, I was just spending all my time answering emails, but with the autoresponder that your company provides, I now have a ton of time to do the work that I love, and I'm really happy." So that question can be really open-ended and give the readers an idea of how the results can impact them on a day-to-day basis. Then I always ask, why would you recommend this business to others? That is a great question, because sometimes they'll even say, "Well, yeah it has, I have sent referrals, or I have recommended this business to other people and here's why." It kind of, it kind of touches on the warmth that a person can experience in your customer service, or in the way that you solve problems, or just in your approach in general, that doesn't always get captured in the results. So those are the four sections and those are some questions that can help you make sure that you're covering your bases when you're creating your case studies.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
I think one of my favorites might have been when I attended a networking event online in 2020. It was just a really fun and really interactive networking event. They asked questions like if your business were an emoji, put the emoji that you would represent your business into the chat and that was just super fun because it really highlighted each of our businesses in a really unique way. It also brought up some important aspects of our branding and messaging that doesn’t always come out in your own logo or in your own storytelling. Mine was a megaphone emoji, by the way, because I see my business as a business that champions and cheers on the success of other businesses. So it was just fun to connect with people from that networking event afterward and have one-on-ones with them and have that insight into just the fun, creative businesses that they are.
How do you stay in front of and best nurture your network and your community?
I love LinkedIn. It is the place where a lot of my ideal customers are hanging out and it's just a little more focused than some of the other social platforms. So I post on LinkedIn weekly and I'm also a big proponent of sending messages to people. So asking them to connect, asking them to hop on a quick call so we can get to know each other, and then even if I have conversations with people that really stand out, and I really want to reconnect with them later, there are a couple of people that I've connected with almost monthly just to shoot the breeze and talk shop, especially other writers, and other people in marketing. I think it's really fun to share ideas and just talk with each other about how business and life are going. It's great to build relationships and really get to know people as people.
What advice would you offer the business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
I would say connect. There are people in the world who are connectors. They usually will tell you that they are a connector and if you are fortunate to have a connector in your network, definitely leverage that relationship. Also set goals for what you can accomplish and by that, I mean plan to reach out to a certain number of people per day, and plan to send a certain number of connection requests each week. Just make it a part of your everyday business routine and business practices and that will help your network grow. Also, I've had success joining groups of people who are either in my target audience or who are in my field, parts of marketing groups, and writing groups, and people will connect to you in a group as well. That's great because if you're looking at the members of a group, you can send messages to them even if you're not connected on a first-level connection basis, and it doesn't count against your searches if you're connecting with people from groups which is helpful.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I would tell myself not to be afraid to freelance and do writing jobs for people. It took me a long time to think of myself as a freelancer and I think part of that had to do with just the way the internet developed and the way that freelancing became a little more well known in the area where I was living at the time as I grew a little older. But yeah, I would tell myself to just not be afraid to reach out to people and network with people. I don't think I understood the value of networking quite as much as I do now so don't be afraid is my main message for my 20-year-old self.
Let's talk about the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with and do you think you could do it within the sixth degree?
Probably Tim Ferriss, because he's been a huge inspiration to me. I read one of his books, and I had so much energy, I didn't know what to do with it that I like went skydiving with a friend because I just had to get the energy out. And six degrees of separation, I mean, one of my co-workers moved to Austin, Texas. I know Tim either does live or used to live in Austin. So maybe one of my co-worker’s friends knows him. I'm sure somewhere along the line it'll happen because we probably do know people who know people, especially since I've been floating a little more in entrepreneurial spaces these days.
Do you have any final words of advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
As you're reaching out to people, and as you are connecting with people, you're going to connect with some people that you will just learn about and get to know and that's great. You're going to connect with some people who have something to offer you and they will help you. You're also going to connect with some people who are looking for your help. That could be they're looking to connect with someone that you know, that could also be they're looking for a service that you provide, or they might even be a job seeker who's looking for encouragement, and you can share your story. I have found it to be such a joy to help people when I get the opportunity. So I would encourage you to keep a special watch out for the ways that you can help others as you're growing your network.
Connect with Katie:
Melinda is a sales coach who specializes in helping female entrepreneurs sell to corporations. Not only does she coach how to sell, she still practices her own sales. Melinda works as a sales executive and holds an impressive track record of over $40 million. With 20 plus years of b2b sales experience, she is determined to help other women expand their impact by selling to big companies. She also leads a Facebook community of amazing women trailblazers called B2B Women Making Big Sales.
How do small business owners sell to big clients?
Yeah, I think this is usually the first question people have. When we are small entrepreneurs, and we look at other people going after or working with more established businesses and corporations, and a lot of times they look at fellow entrepreneurs that are able to have an impressive client list. A lot of people often ask me, how can I sell to corporations, and I personally think in today's world, the world has gone through so many changes and companies are actually becoming more flexible in terms of looking for consultants or companies or business owners to work with me. So I've worked with a lot of women that told me the same thing. Sometimes companies are looking for employees, but because of different reasons, they started looking for consultants to help them with different services or different solutions. But the first thing that when people are thinking about starting to go after corporations, the first thing they often have is that, "How do I get started? Is it even possible?" I like to say the first step when it comes to going after corporate clients is all about the target. If you want to stand out and compete with other people, especially more established competitors, the first thing you need to ask yourself is, can I be more specific or targeted in terms of my marketing? Can I find an industry that is highly specialized, and in terms of what I do, can I be considered as a specialist in terms of my service offering. Your positioning statements should be the first thing you stand out for because business prospects or business clients are super busy, they often do not have a lot of time to listen to a long speech or long elevator speech. So to have a very clear understanding of how you stand out how you can be a specialist should really be the first thing that you want to focus on. But if you are able to stand out within a very specialized industry or something you offer, I personally think that there is a great opportunity for you out there to go after corporate clients because you are going to tell them, "Hey, I'm going to stand out from my more established competitors because working with me, you get to have direct access to me, you are able to work with me rather than some other teams or other companies where they have a lot of turnovers." I think that for small entrepreneurs when it comes to going after corporate clients, our customer service and personalized approach is definitely a way to that will appeal to a lot of corporate clients.
How do small business owners stand out when they're selling to these big clients?
Yeah, definitely niching down. I often tell people that in terms of sales perspective, the first thing, industry can be a really great way for you to stand out from your competitors. It's one thing to say, "Hey, I'm a marketing consultant," or you can say, "I'm a marketing consultant that really specializes in sporting industries," and that instantly helps you stand out from your competitors. So to really find an industry that you're passionate about, and one thing you can look at is to look at your past experience. A lot of women when they start out probably already have years of experience, either in the corporate world or from their education, or where they're located. So you can also always look back to your professional experience, and try to ask yourself, in terms of experience I have, what industry can I specialize in, and that is a great way to really stay focused, to stand out. Similar to a lot of marketing conversations people might have with you, it's niching down. But I think by niching down for corporate clients, when you're having a sales conversation, it becomes really easy for you to understand and it also allows you to have a better impact in terms of your sales activities. Think about this, if you want to go after companies in the sports industry, it's one thing to go after one or two prospects in the industry, but if you decide to niche down and focus on this industry, then you can easily go after all the companies within that industry, and continue to have a sales conversation that's very industry-specific, rather than going after a broad range of market. If you have a sales communication style message that is more broad-based, by niching down to a specific industry, then you can go after one industry at a time. Every time you go after one industry, you're more likely to stand out because you're focusing and you're being the specialist of the specific industry. So that's definitely the first thing that you need to think about and a lot of women I support within our Executive Lounge Program, I also ask them to really have a very clear understanding of their competitors. By knowing the bigger competitors, you can also understand how you're going to be different from those competitors and that should be the next step in terms of helping you stand out from the competitors.
How do you manage your sales process as a busy entrepreneur?
That's led to a little bit of that industry-specific sales strategy. The way I help female entrepreneurs sell, the way we design it, it all happens for a reason. First of all, by niching down, you are less likely to feel overwhelmed. By focusing on one industry you are going to start to connect with people that tend to know each other. I've been selling for 20 years, I've sold in different industries around the world, but every time I get into one industry here's what I noticed: I noticed that everybody tends to know each other. So if you are able to niche down and focus on specific industries, a small number of industries, and the more you network with people, you're going to notice that people tend to know each other. A lot of people in the marketing positions within the sports industry, I bet you that most people know each other, and people tend to go from one business to the other. So the more you network, and the more you connect with people, you are going to become the insider of that industry and that is how you stop being overwhelmed. If you try to go after a lot of people, one of the biggest mistakes I hear entrepreneurs face is that they will go after a broad range of industries, and then they end up having hundreds of prospects on their CRM client management systems and they will have hundreds of prospects and not knowing how to follow up, or people will be telling me, "Oh, my God, LinkedIn, I'm getting so many messages, and I'm having trouble managing them," but if you're able to really prioritize and know who you want to go after and make sure that you connect with people that are really going to give you those 5-6 figure sales, that is the first step to avoid feeling overwhelmed, and you've definitely got to have a very clear sales system. I teach a five-step sales system, and we focus on one step at a time. Always asking yourself, where am I in this step within this sales success plan, where am I, and what should I do to just simply move forward? So that's definitely the second one, and once you have that system down, I encourage you to probably outsource part of your sales success plan to somebody else and that is when you can start thriving and start to feel less overwhelmed. But definitely, it's a step-by-step process. It's about niching down because the more you can know, within one specific industry, you are going to be known and people are going to start talking about you and refer your clients. That is the reason why I'm able to do what I do while still being a director of sales for another company. I had to start building my relationship and connect with a lot of people, but now I am known and while I'm known, I'm able to offer time to female entrepreneurs as support to go in after big clients. So it is possible to do that.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
I'm just looking at the most recent thing. I am in sporting goods, I represent another company and we go after large sports brand. So one thing that came to mind is that these days I'm going after the boxing industry. I've been attending trade shows for a long time and every year I will be going to trade shows. A lot of times when you go in after trade shows you meet different kinds of people and recently, I was just going after this boxing industry and I remember two years ago somebody briefly introduced me to the top r&d person, within a boxing company a really important brand. That is really something that really resonated with me in terms of networking stories you were talking about is that you really don't know the kind of people you're going to connect with. But two years ago, when I bumped into the person, and we had a common connection, I call it super connectors and the person introduced me to this top r&d person of this boxing brand. This just reminded me that whenever we do networking, we always got to think long-term. Two years ago I met this person, and today this person would be my ideal client and I'm super grateful. If I were to try to reach out to this person on LinkedIn, and try to connect with this person, first of all, this person doesn't even have a LinkedIn profile. It would have taken me so much longer to try to track down this person and let alone getting a meeting or a face-to-face meeting with this person. But just by two years ago, being able to network with people, especially industry insiders, people that are hanging out in the industry within the industries, I was able to get a business card of my ideal client. Two years later I'm super grateful to be able to have his business card, and I've kept it and that would have saved me so much trouble tried to reach out to or figure out what that person is. Again, back to if you have a good right target, and if your target is specific enough, you really are going to notice that the more you network, the more you meet people, everybody knows each other. That also goes to your reputation because you've got to have a great reputation to make sure that people are going to talk about you positively. But that turned out to be a great opportunity for me to meet my ideal clients two years later. You just never know where your business is going to take you out who might end up benefiting, or what networking event might end up being super beneficial.
As you've met people from all over how do you best stay in front of our best nurture these relationships that you're creating?
I think, first of all, you've got to have a very simple to implement client relationship system. It doesn't have to be fancy, a lot of people like to use HubSpot, I like to keep my sales on a client management system. Also making sure that you prioritize those people that are important to your target industry. I talked within my group, I talk to the women I support a lot about the super connectors to really recognize that a small group of people could provide the most impact on your sales. So when you're networking with people, I think the first thing to really keep in mind and avoid feeling overwhelmed is to prioritize the most important connections you want to keep in touch with and have a simple system. Some ladies in my group use something as simple as Excel but have simple systems so that you stay focused when it's time to do your sales s you don't have hundreds of prospects that you need to follow up. Focus on your most important prospects and focus on nurturing relationships with them. I think staying focused is also another very important thing for busy entrepreneurs. Let's face it, we have so many things to do, I support mostly female entrepreneurs and I always tell the ladies, we don't just have to sell, we have to manage our clients, manage our people, some of us are moms, daughters, friends, we have so many things to manage. So keep your system as simple as possible. Don't overcomplicate it and stay focused.
What advice would you offer to the business professional who is really looking to grow their network?
I often talk about the super connectors. Super connectors are specifically designed for people who are going after 5-6 figure decision-makers like businesses and corporations. A lot of times, when you try to reach out to decision-makers, many of them don't hang out on LinkedIn. I think that is a lot of challenges entrepreneurs or professionals face is that they'll be posting a lot on LinkedIn, but their content is only consumed by smaller professionals, but most decision-makers often are not consuming content on LinkedIn, or sometimes they don't even have LinkedIn messages. So reaching out to super connectors, and try to develop opportunities for business referrals is another opportunity or another sales strategy I often share with my fellow entrepreneurs or women I support. But basically, super connectors are the people that would be connected to your decision-makers, but that is also open to networking opportunities. One thing when it comes to superconductors that you want to keep in mind is there are a lot of different people that might be able to give you business referral opportunities, look for those super connectors because these people could potentially get your foot in the door with your business decision-makers, and be conscious and spend time to nurture those relationships. I often joke about this, but sometimes I'm nicer to my super connectors than my actual prospective clients. But these are the people that first of all, have a huge amount of industry knowledge that you probably couldn't get by googling or by talking to other people. So these people, have been in the industry for a long time, and they could probably share a lot of information and knowledge with you. These are the people you're able to create win-win relationships with, these are the people that could refer you clients and give you that business introduction. Oftentimes, a lot of professionals and entrepreneurs, all know that business introduction is the most powerful way to get the attention of decision-makers or corporate clients. So yes, when you're building your network, look for those that are able to introduce you to your ideal clients.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I would say focus on the next best step. So I often talked about how I've got a success plan and these are the five steps to getting more corporate clients. But in terms of day-to-day, I would encourage myself to focus on the next best step and really just focus on making that progress. I am a very impatient person, I'm going to be very frank about it. I'm always trying to do better go after different things over the years, I've gone to different markets. But looking back, I would tell myself don't be so impatient, but just focus on the next best step, what is the next best step I should focus on, and enjoy the process. I am proud to say that even though I've been selling for 20 years, and I've done 1000s of cold calls, and I also like to joke about this, frankly, I probably been rejected more than most people I know. But I have to say, I've really enjoyed this process and I continue to love being an entrepreneur. There have been ups and downs, but if I were to talk to myself, 20 years ago, I'd say enjoy the ride, focus on your next best step and just focus on doing it with more joy and more purpose, and enjoy the ride because I always thought I'd be so happy if I made it or if I closed this deal. Turned out that I did close those deals, but I continued to want to grow and I continued to want to go after the next big plan. So it doesn't stop, this whole process never stops and it's more about the journey. Seriously, your journey is your destination, the more I've been in sales and as an entrepreneur, the more I appreciate what they're saying. So just have fun and enjoy whatever you're doing every single day and stay focused on your next best job and continue to grow and appreciate people we know every single day. I know we've talked so much about sports, and I love the fact that I've got somebody to talk about hockey with so enjoy the people you know and have fun.
What final word of advice you have to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I think the most important thing that I would like to share with everybody listening when is when somebody is in front of you, I would say listen, pay close attention and just focus on listening. So many people come to me and say, "Hey, what is the step-by-step script to closing sales?" While I do have lots of sales scripts and sales templates, I always like to remind people when it comes to sales or even any relationship you're trying to build in your business world, it's about the person in front of you. While there are still those templates, those scripts, we will often consume different content about the strategies and a step-by-step process when you are in front of anybody, just listen closely and ask yourself, how do I create a win-win relationship with this person? How can I support the person? How can I help the person? Always be helpful, and being helpful is the best way to build a relationship because a lot of times, we don't know what might happen. As I said, two years ago I had a simple networking opportunity, and boom, two years later, this person now is my ideal client. I would say focus on the person in front of you, always be helpful, and create win-win situations. The more creativity you've got, the better you are at creating win-win relationships, and the more likely you're going to build that powerful network. The essence of a powerful network, or even closing sales is all about having a win-win relationship where the person knows that if he or she works with you, there is going to be a win-win relationship. That, in essence, is the foundation of any successful sales relationship or business relationship. So yeah, I would say just focus on listening to the person and then genuinely create a win-win relationship, and be creative in terms of how can I support this person and if you're able to help this person, then this person is going to be very happy to refer your clients to give you a business or share knowledge with you. So always be helpful. I think Dale Carnegie once said, "If you're able to help that person, the person in front of you, then you can achieve anything." I'm paraphrasing it, but I really believe that for me, I think that's part of the reason why every time I do networking events or when I'm in front of prospective clients, I'm able to have a pretty good closing rate because of that sincere desire to really want to help people and I'm always trying to find ways to support and help people.
Connect with Melinda
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Mike graduated in 2015 from William Paterson University, where he studied New and Digital Marketing Methods. During his senior year, he accepted an internship at an advertising agency that specialized in marketing for manufacturing and logistics companies. This is where he developed his passion for manufacturing that ultimately led him to the New Jersey Manufacturing Extensions Program where he can actively make a difference and support the industry.
Why are you advocating so vigorously for the manufacturing industry?
It kind of goes off of the fact that it's been stigmatized. Manufacturing, when people think about it, they think the dark, dirty, dangerous facilities in the Henry Ford videos of the assembly line where right now it's so beyond that image, where it without talking about advocating for it, students, young adults won't know that the industry average salary in New Jersey is over $94,000 a year. That impact on the nation of high-paying jobs, the impact to the GDP of the nation itself is just too important to forget about or let dwindle. So those factors really are the sole reason why people need to speak up for manufacturing and get that underappreciated opportunity in the forefront, where there's so much opportunity, there's so much value for the workers, the communities, the states, the nation. Without advocating for it, it's just gonna get forgotten because when I was in school, I was told that all manufacturing went overseas. So I didn't look at the industry and I think that was a miss. But glad I made it to where I can actually talk about it and engage with students and engage with the local communities to make sure people know about the opportunities.
How can manufacturers ensure the success of their business and the industry as a whole here in the US?
It goes back to advocacy. Stay engaged with the local community, and really the local government, because, in New Jersey, the legislature thought that all manufacturing moved. They're lawyers, they're business people and professional services, they're not necessarily manufacturers, so they didn't know the industry existed, especially to the extent it does, where New Jersey has over 11,000 manufacturing and stem firms. So if manufacturers get engaged, speak up and come together at events, you have an opportunity to convince or at least showcase the value of the industry to let the local government know where they can create legislation and bills, and laws to support the industry. What you put in is what you get out of it. If you're looking internally, you can look forward and really take into consideration of continuous improvement mindset. That continuous improvement mindset could be that advocacy push, that engagement, always trying to improve how you engage with your local community or your production line. How can you advance yourself to really kind of drive your own business forward in a way? It's not all new tech, but there is a lot of new tech involved too so don't be turned away by buzzwords where the buzzwords are really, at least pieces of stuff you can implement today. Systems, automation processes, robotics that you can implement today. Lastly, never, never, ever be too busy to approve. That's my biggest thing. If you're too busy to improve, you're just going to keep on taking steps backward. It's not going to stay the same, you're not going to continue that growth. You're always going to have to improve and find that time to take those steps forward.
Can the manufacturing industry benefit from Digital networking tools to help promote themselves in the industry?
It doesn't necessarily have to be that much of a shift off of improving your business or improving your standing within the state in terms of an industry because digital tools are all a different way that you can kind of get the word out there and advocate for yourself, find and connect with thought leaders who might have some insight of how you can find continuous improvement for yourself in business. So you can look inwards, and again, look towards the community, look towards the government and figure out different ways that you can promote yourself as a thought leader or connect with people that are thought leaders in the industry to learn from speak up about. Also, USA manufacturing hour on Twitter is a great chat, #USAMFGHOUR. It happens every Thursday, it's a big community of manufacturers that come together, they all talk on Twitter answered questions on a specific topic and it's just a great networking opportunity. You can use these digital tools like Twitter, or even if you want to look at automation, for continuous improvement, use these digital tools to really bolster your business, bolster your brand, bolster your image, and get the most out of what these technologies can offer. It doesn't just have to be kind of a superficial thing, it really could be a tool to be used to improve your manufacturing operation as a whole.
Can you share with us one of your most successful or favorite networking stories that you've had?
It goes back to the USA Manufacturing Hour and maybe it's not my most successful, but it's a great kind of case study for how networking can kind of evolve. So we were doing one of these Twitter chats, which evolved into a zoom mixer, and everyone's going around the zoom call introducing themselves and I was kind of just writing names down that resonated with me. The conversations were great, the breakout sessions were great, but one name and one person and one company in there really stood out. They seem familiar so I reached out and direct messaged them in the zoom chat and as I hit send, they hit send and we connected. We had a meeting after the zoom chat and we're talking both in manufacturing marketing spaces, different mediums. I'm copy communications, they were digital and photography and video. We were just talking and we realized we ended up knowing the same people, actually family friends from when we were children. So how weird that is, and how funny that is in and of itself is just an interesting story of how connections are made. But it actually turned into a pretty good friendship and because we are all in that same networking circle, we've actually been able to create this great professional relationship where we share ideas, share contacts, and it's astonishing how many of the same people we knew, or how many people that I've been engaged with, that they've been trying to get in touch with, and vice versa. So we really became this great little team of just friends that are in the same industry, after the same kind of work, and have been able to bounce ideas back and forth and really grow our network together. So because of that, it really helped expand our reach. We've had actually, national news networks reach out to us because of the engagement that we've been able to do and the PR that we've been able to put out through these networking events. So it really goes to show that a small coincidence of how it took an hour of my time today to get on that mixer to really kind of expand the reach in a big, big way.
As you continue to meet new people and expand and grow your community, how do you stay in front of them and best nurture these relationships?
I love to do reminders on my Outlook calendar. Sometimes I'll just put a, "Hey, let's just throw a time on the calendar in the next quarter," we'll connect we'll touch base, we'll shoot an email back and forth to see if there's a reason to get on a call. It really is just constant maintenance. That's a challenging part of any relationship, right? That nurturing, staying engaged, but the digital tools that we have are just fantastic. We have the Outlook calendar, we have LinkedIn, we have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, it's easy to keep on sharing content. You know what? When they pop up on my newsfeed, and I haven't spoken to them in a while, I'm gonna shoot him a text to see if everything's good has business. But also creating opportunities to re-engage. We have Manufacturing Matters, our quarterly magazine that takes contributors, advertising opportunities, and it's great. Every quarter there's new reasons to reach out to new contacts that we've made over the quarter, over the year, over the decade, and reach out say, "Hey, do you want to contribute an article? How's everything going?" So it's about creating your own reasons to reach out, opportunities, content that is mutually beneficial, has been the most beneficial, and of course, utilizing those digital tools that we have at our fingertips.
What advice would you offer the business professionals looking to grow their network?
Get out there, talk to Lori, get connected with the local communities and also your social communities? When I first started going to Manufacturer Hour, I said to myself, "There's no way there's going to be a Twitter following per manufacturer." Not only was I wrong, there already was, but getting engaged and getting actively engaged in it helped it grow and it just snowballs. You'd be so surprised how many places there are for niche industries. So just going out and doing a quick Google search, a quick networking event. Just go out there and talk to people, that's really everything. Whether it's on Twitter, whether it's on LinkedIn, stay consistent with it and really educate yourself so when you have those meetings, you have those conversations where you can provide value and then they can provide value back. So it's a two-way street there.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
That's a good question. Probably fewer video games and TV. More industry publications and case studies. Education is everything and staying plugged in with the industry is everything. I was lucky enough to start my career in this specific space at 22 so that's really where I kind of dove in and started learning about the industry and reading all those articles. I would also tell myself to take a few more English classes and writing classes to hone that in and even more so because right now, content is always king, whether it's video, audio, or written! So any production courses that you can use to produce your own content, whether it's an article on LinkedIn, a quick little video that you're going to shoot and share to your network. Learning the industry, I would put that number one, and then two, anything that can help you my 20-year-old self produced better, more consistent content.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with and do you think you can do it within the sixth degree?
I know exactly who! Jim Womack, no relation by the way. They call him the godfather of Lean Manufacturing which is a methodology that helps cut out waste in a production operation. When I was learning about the industry reading about Lean, it's a great topic for manufacturers because it's a great way to do more with fewer people and fewer resources. The name Womack kept on popping up, my own last name, and I was so confused and then Jim Womack ended up being the person that really kind of brought Lean to the forefront in America from Japan. So I know Harry Moser actually owns a house right next to him so I think I can get him.
Connect with Mike
Jeff is a life architect, owner of Creative Web Studios, and mentor to young entrepreneurs. Many people will tell you where to go, what to do and how to live, but there's a higher path and calling inside of you that only you can unearth. It's time to stop living by other people's scripts and expectations for your life and have your own awakening.
So let's talk about your marketing agency. How did you get started?
Sure. So I followed up a pretty typical entrepreneurial dream. If you're like me, you go to school, perhaps your parents tell you to go to college, or they want to push you to get some stable jobs somewhere. So I did all that I had a good run, I went to the University of North Florida, got my computer science degree, and quickly here in Jacksonville, Florida launched out into corporate working at a large municipality, so electric, water, wastewater, and there are about 2000 people there. I enjoyed it and had a pension plan to work there for 32 years get 80% of your salary for life. I rose to the top there in leadership and got an interim director position and I remember I had this epiphany one day I was in this old civil service looking wood panel building well maintained, but from like the 60s, and I just looked across the table and this awesome colleague, Richard was there. He was about seven years out from retirement, and he just made a marginal amount of money more than me. I was just like, dude, I gotta do this for like 25 more years, day after day, you know, do this 45-minute commute and I just realized it wasn't for me. So I had a computer science degree, I minored in graphic design so I had all this creativity. At that time, in 2005, websites were really starting to pop and they were kind of hard to build. So I started moonlighting on the side, and I hatched this little six-month plan in 2005 where I said I'll just give it a go for a year and if it works out great, and if it doesn't, I'll just hop back into corporate so boom, that independence, autonomy, that entrepreneurial dream, that's how I founded the agency back in 2005.
How did you set it up so that the business is running without your day-to-day involvement?
Yeah, so over time, and it's taken a while I just slowly fired myself from positions and for a few reasons. Some stuff I was never good at, I was pretty sloppy at the invoicing and collecting. Obviously, I ultimately did it, but you can really get that stuff on a machine and I'll have problems there. So that was an example of something as soon as I could get like the CPA help or like the accounts receivable help I did, but then other things just logically made sense. So I was going out on my own, and I sold five websites, and say, a site at the time took me 40 hours to code. Well, that's 200 hours just for the coding part of the site. So at that point, I really couldn't go in on any more business so I just saw certain stuff I had mastered and I was good at, it was time for someone else to do it. So slowly but surely I started to outsource stuff. Coding is pretty technical so you can outsource it and not have to worry about the language barrier. Then finally, I got to the point today where I love selling but different people do an amazing job at it so when leads come in, they do it. So I just slowly fired myself and changed my position and got to go into more of a leadership role, like giving back and helping others and doing some mentoring. So that's been the progression, fire yourself from things that you've mastered, like give someone else the opportunity and things that you're never good at, get those off your plate as soon as possible.
What are the biggest marketing mistakes that you see small businesses making?
What I find is business owners don't take into account everything that goes into their online presence. So a lot of times we might focus on redesigning the site, or we might be like, I want to show up for spine pain relief doctor so we'll launch a Google AdWords campaign and focus just on that. All those things are going to be great, the website should be up to par, Google text ads, Google AdWords can be a good route to go. But a lot of times, the practice owner doesn't take into account all the various ways that their practice may be found. Let's just say Jacksonville, Jackspinepain.com. Well, as a prospective patient, or someone doing research having been referred to them, I'm most likely not going to type in that domain name. So I'm going to Google like Jacksonville spine and pain center, maybe some variant of the doctor's name, and then that Google search results page is going to return and that's where it gets interesting. There are the maps listings, and there might be multiple locations for a bigger Medical Center and there are the reviews there, there are health grades where the doctors are listed, there are social media that comes up for them. So all these are potential avenues for your customers to find you and I find a lot of times businesses, you know, they'll really focus on trying to hit a home run with one area and not take into account the whole journey in having each of those pieces at least buttoned up or where to some degree. For doctors like reviews are super important and a lot of times in spine pain, perhaps it's a more elderly population so useability on the site. That's kind of how we like to guide people, take a comprehensive look at their online presence because a lot of times they think, "Oh, we're just gonna start posting on social it's gonna fix everything," or, "Oh, we just need to get some better reviews and we're don," and it doesn't work like that, no marketing works like that frankly.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
For sure, and it's actually going on right now. So last fall I started guesting on podcasts. I had some time to give back and talk about entrepreneurship, mentoring, marketing. So randomly I stumbled in this community and they're at podmax.co and they hosted this a virtual all-day event and as part of attending, you get to guest on three podcasts. So I find that the podcasting community, even what we're doing right now is really open-minded. Everybody's out to help each other, it's not competitive. You and I both run digital agencies but the chances of us stumbling on the same client and like pitching to the same people is slim to none. So I find that being a guest on a podcast, or in our case, we started our own and we are 20 episodes in right now, it's just been a wonderful way to connect with people, have conversations that we're already having kind of like you and I would talk about this if we weren't on a podcast. But being on a podcast really forces us to say it in a way that would be useful to the masses and be useful to your audience here. So I love podcasts for networking, I've gotten the most value out of that. I put one-second one on there, with the pandemic and people being so comfortable on zoom, having those virtual ones to ones has been really cool. People at times have been isolated, or you've always gone to like some physical conference and all the rigor more doing that and I find that getting a nice home office setup and getting the lighting good and virtual coffees have been really fun. So those are two things I've been knocking out a lot during the last six months and really meeting some cool people.
How do you stay in front of and best nurture these relationships?
So that's something we're figuring out now. Previously, I wasn't active on social media and didn't really have a reason to be. At the time, when I first put out that message on mentoring out there, I realized the power of social media. That's so funny, but I didn't have any need to build a personal brand or do anything like that and as part of this experience I did launch my own website and own brand. I really honed in on what I was about with entrepreneurship, with marketing with mentoring. Out of that I, you know, got on social and for me, I found that Facebook and LinkedIn have been awesome. So as I've guessed it on these podcasts, many times the guest or the host will produce a little video snippet, take out a high point, do a bunch of tagging and when we have guests on there, we do the same. So we'll get this little video snippet going, that pulls out the high point of their interview, tagged them up mentioned their thing that's going on, and a lot of times, they'll be shared on that network. So it's been really cool as we've met various guests, other marketing agency owners, ours is about growing your business. So it's really cool to bring out these stories and see them share it out on their network and we’re tagged in them.
What advice would you offer that professional who's really looking to grow their network?
Find something that works for you that you can sustain. Having launched our own podcast a couple of months ago and determining what networks to get on, it's whatever creates the least friction. So do that. So if you like to write, write! Get it out there in an email newsletter, get it out there on a blog, get it out there in social media, and have it be more written and verbal. If you like to connect with people like I do. I'll do like a live with Jeff and I'll get people on a little five-minute live q&a on my Facebook page. So for me, I love connecting with other people. I love sharing their stories, I love the energy that comes from doing a live so for me, that's the most frictionless way. Having that podcast live and knowing this Friday at 12 just excites me and gets me going, where someone really might like writing and so there's still a place for blogs, there's still a place for an email newsletter. Consistency is the main thing so the thing that causes the least amount of friction, do that thing and do it for a long while before you change it.
So I had a computer science degree and I could code the website, either graphic design monitor enjoyed the design, but I kind of moved at a pretty slow pace when it came to delegating and getting stuff off my plate. I had a lot of pleasure in building out the team and the leadership aspect of it. So I would tell my younger self, "Hey, move a little faster for getting some stuff off your plate." I had to think big picture and give someone else an opportunity so I could build a team together. A lot of times I have remote workers that just kind of stayed in a little box and it's a lot more rewarding for me at least to connect with others. So I'd say Jeff, get out of your shell, delegate more quickly and you'll have greater life satisfaction.
Connect with Jeff
Jeff’s Website: https://www.jeffvenn.com/
Create Web Studios: https://createwebstudios.com/
Gail has a Degree in Journalism and Masters in curiosity! She guides clients to success with a marketing strategy centered around telling stories and making the right connections. How? Sign up, suit up, show up. Her resume includes media fundraising, advertising, PR, and owning a b&b. Gail now is a powerhouse connector, strategic brand consultant, and keynote speaker with a focus on manufacturing. She is a Twitter evangelist, a passionate networker, and an avid storyteller.
As I stated in the bio, but you're calling yourself a chief curiosity officer. Why is curiosity so important to you in the new virtual manufacturing marketing world?
Well, with curiosity, I encourage people to use it. First of all, I use it because that's how I really did the pivot into learning more about this world because I was a journalist, which I covered a lot of different topics. But manufacturing, I did not know much about that, and certainly, I've been doing work in mold-making, which is a very niche world and I use curiosity for me to learn. But then when I'm teaching now and working with clients in that world, I'm encouraging them to be curious about marketing, curious about outreach, curious about how can they make a change from the traditional trade shows. Especially since the pandemic, things have changed, and it's a disruption, not an interruption. So we're not going to go back to the way it was, it forever changed how we're going to be doing things and even if we go back to live, there's still going to be a digital component. So curiosity is like a muscle, if you're not using it, it just won't grow and curiosity is about growing, learning, and exploring the virtual world that for some people may seem overwhelming to them and may even seem a bit scary. So that's why I say number one if you're curious, you can learn so many new things, and become more adept at how to use all these virtual technologies.
Can you share some tips to help salespeople that are in the manufacturing industry that are trying to get away from the trade shows to best understand selling in the digital marketing world?
It is about asking those questions and first doing your research. So I always say before you try to sell to anyone, first learn about who your clients are and what they're looking for. What's happening is those same clients are doing that with you. They're doing research about your company, they're looking at your social media, they're looking at websites, they want to know who you are before they're even gonna think about buying from you. So you need as a salesperson to do the same thing. Dig in, find out who they are as much as possible. There's a lot of information you can find online about someone and some people and I've had some salespeople kind of feel uncomfortable with that they feel like "Well, I'm nosing around." I said, "In this world, if someone posts something publicly, they post it on a social media platform, it is done because they want to share something." So that's one tip is to do your research. The other thing is instead of selling, be generous with your information, share your knowledge, try to be a guide to who you're trying to sell to. So if you're in an engineering role, as a salesperson, you want to share all the intricacies of what goes into everything. Give me some insights, and I mean, give me meaning the person looking at your profile. One of the big stop gaps for a lot of the people in sales that I'm finding manufacturing is they go, "They're gonna know this," or, "If I explain this, most people already know this, I don't want them to think that I don't know it." So I said, "You'd be surprised at what people may want to learn about, and the people that may be doing the research aren't always the people that know about how that tool works, or what machine is on that tool. So be that guide, share information, and also share a bit of information about yourself. So if you have an interest in, for example, I may post something related to cycling, I got into cycling. So you need to focus on what are some of the interests that I have that might relate to even my role. We know when it comes to connecting with people, if you have a common interest it can be beneficial. Now, Lori, I know from your podcast that I know you're into cycling, so that we had a conversation about cycling, and what bike you use and so that's another thing. I make the correlation back to trade shows as well, when they went to a trade show, they would have been having these casual conversations. So it's about taking those casual conversations in real life and bringing them over to the virtual world.
Why do you think there's a resistance to virtual networking especially in the manufacturing space?
This is something I've actually been studying because as I came into this world of working in the manufacturing sector and trying to understand it. When I find resistance, I'm the kind of person I step back and I question why is that, what's happening? So I did a lot of listening, I asked for some feedback and it comes down to one is a lack of understanding of how social media works. So that means we need to do better in how we're explaining that. The other is fear. Fear of the unknown and most people naturally don't like change. It's like those comfortable shoes, right? You get into this comfortable lifestyle and then if someone comes along and says "Let's change," sometimes we resist. Now maybe because I've had some life changes for myself but I think it's also I can roll with things fairly easy and I actually find change exciting. I know not everybody is as excited about changes as I am so it's about trying to find that middle ground that balance and again, that goes back to utilizing curiosity because the more you're learning, the more you're asking questions, without fail, you will overcome some of those fears. It's like anything we fear things we don't know, we don't understand and once we learn about it, it makes it so much easier. So that's the work I'm doing right now is really taking a few steps back and also showing not telling. A lot of it goes back to what I say, "You have to just show up." Step one is just show up and trust in the process and then you can overcome. So in terms of why is there resistance, it goes back to, they've done trade shows before and that's the way they've always done it which worked for them. So there is a resistance to change. So mindset is also big and I've had these talks that if you're not going to have that open mind, then you're probably going to have some difficulties. So you have to make some decisions, and for me, I use the example of I get up at 5:30, I have my cold shower, I do my workout before I start my day because I'm not going to do it at the end of the day. I know I won't so if I'm going to get my workouts in my mindset is that I put my feet on the floor and I begin and I have conversations in my head like, "I don't want to do this." I think of all the excuses, but I just say, "Get going get going," and it's the same thing with networking when it comes to manufacturing. Sometimes you've got to do things you don't want to do as much.
Can you share one of your favorite networking stories with our listeners?
I have so many and networking has been the foundation of probably everything I've done from my high school days through to now but I'm going to give one that's more recent because it shows the trajectory of where I've come from on Twitter over to even being here today talking to you. So I started using Twitter. Then I was on a Twitter chat with Madalyn Sklar called Twitter Smarter and from there I met Nathalie Gregg, who had a Twitter chat called Lead Loudly. So I was on there and connected somehow with Jen Wagman, who introduced me to the USA Manufacturing Hour Twitter chat, which I did not know about. I'm now involved in that and they had a live networking event where I met Kurt Anderson who then introduces me to Sam Gupta and he also introduced me to you! So through all of this, I have been taking this path, and each of those people I now know and I know I can call them up, I can have a conversation and they have helped open doors for me. So that's my favorite networking because I can almost see this map taking me across all different networks from Twitter to LinkedIn, to zoom, and all of these other different platforms. So I didn't know some of them, but the reason I say just show up is because when I just show up, that's where the magic happens.
How do you stay in front of, invest, and nurture the relationships you're creating?
For me, I would say certain things are like breathing for me. So I do it naturally and I'm on so many different platforms and it's not that I'm there all the time and I'm not always online, I have a very active life outside of sitting at my computer on my phone. But it's about consistency. For example, in some of the networking groups that I go to, I try to show up regularly, maybe not all the time, but there are certain ones that it's like listening to podcasts, right? I listened to them, I have a system, and I try to just plan it into my day. People often say, "Well, I don't have time to do everything you do, Gail," and I said, "Well, we all have the same 24 hours." The same people sometimes that I hear say, "I have no time," will binge watch something on Netflix, and I'm like, "How do you have time to watch 30 programs on a Saturday, that seems strange to me." But that's because that's not a priority in my life and it's not like I don't watch Netflix shows, but I watch them differently. So to me, building relationships is crucial to my life, to my soul, and it's not just for work either. I do this because I love connecting to people and it just happens to provide phenomenal success to me from a business perspective. That's what I'm trying to work with the salespeople I say, "If you want to have an endless sales funnel, or you want to have an endless supply of people who will come to buy from you, stay connected with people build those relationships," and I very seldom ever really go on when I'm on my social media and promote what I do. In fact, a lot of people actually say, "What do you do exactly?" Because most people come and say that they want to work with me because of the relationships that were built or word of mouth.
What advice would you offer the business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
A lot of times people want to jump into multiple platforms and they get overwhelmed by everything. So I bring it down to the basics of if you are looking to build your business and build your contacts, you really need to start by building those relationships and connecting to people. So there are lots of opportunities now because there are groups, there are Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, there's the Friday webinar series with Kurt Anderson on the Ecommerce for Success and I show up on Fridays because they have phenomenal guests. But there's a chat down the side when the people are speaking, and people drop their LinkedIn and so it's very live in terms of I can be listening to the person speaking but we have side conversations over on the chat. So that's what I encourage people to do and it's about just showing up. So when I show up even if I think that I don't think that guests will apply to me, I still show up and have always felt like it’s worthwhile and have always connected with a new person. So that's the first thing to do. I often tell people don't worry so much about feeling you have to post every day or that you have to send out massive amounts of connections. I'm going to say this anybody listening to is that if you're on LinkedIn, and you decide that you're going to send out all these connections to people, I would say slow down, figure out why you're connecting to people and for sure, do not connect and then send them a sales pitch. I get quite a few of those and I don't even respond. Instead, for example, I may listen to someone on a podcast and I really love what they have to say. So I'll send them a connection, say I heard them on this podcast, tell them what I found interesting or what resonated with them, ask them if they'd be interested in connecting, and I leave it at that. Sometimes I just follow someone first just so I can see their information and sometimes they will send me a connection. So it's about building relationships first and setting aside the selling, don't try to push what you have on to people, instead build those relationships. I say this because manufacturers did this when they went to trade shows. So I often say, "What did you do at a tradeshow? Did you walk up to someone put your hand out said hello, and then say, do you want to buy a tool for me?" I know they didn't do that so I tell them not to do that on social media. So instead, I think I may have heard it, even by one of your guests, it's social media, not social selling. So be social, be engaging, be generous, be kind, I think that you can disagree with someone and not have to always make it a public disagreement. So just find people that you feel you can have a conversation with.
This is a really good question because it really makes you think about what would I do. Maybe when I was younger I would answer differently because my life has actually taken a different path than I thought I was going to take from high school. Probably I'd say, to keep doing what I'm doing because I'm now in a place in my life that I actually love what I do, I'm not looking to say, "Hey, when do I get to retire?" I love the people I'm meeting so I probably just say keeping curious and keep showing up even more. Maybe one thing I'd say is to own your power a bit earlier in life. I think I might have thought of ways that instead of shrinking back sometimes, own your power and now I use that as part of my planning and work with clients is own your power.
What is the final word of advice that you'd offer listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
First, your mindset, you have to decide this is what you want, and break it down into bite-sized pieces. I use the analogy of when I'm planning out a campaign for a salesperson, sometimes people at the start of the year, they'll say, "I want to do a marathon," for example. Well, you can have that as your goal and it can sit there staring at you for a long time. But if you then break it down and say, "I'm going to start with first walking around the block once a day during week one, week two I'm going to double that, week three I'm going to do a little light jog," so you put it into bite-sized pieces. I say the same thing when it comes to networking so first show up and just listen. and break it down into steps and ask for help, there are people like myself out here willing to help. Listen to podcasts, become educated, I listen to a lot of manufacturing podcasts as well and that's how I've learned. So start somewhere, then show up.
Connect with Gail
He is the founder of Voice Express Corporation, with multiple patents covering the personalization of voice-enabled print media, and VOT (the voice of things), Stern has been at the forefront of using voice to drive commerce and customer engagement. Stern's products have been used in over 60 million Build-a-Bears in sentiment expression, photo imaging, direct mail, packaging, and point of sale signage to name a few.
Does every product, service, and brand need a voice, and how do you discover that voice?
I think when we're in school, we're always asked to find our own voice, whether we're writing or whether we're an artist. Think of a child where the first thing that they do, the first interaction that they have is to hear their loved one mother's or father's voice and to start to gurgle and interact with the world through voice. So voice is very primal and it's also a primal trigger. There were some brands that really kind of feature themselves and define themselves through audio. There were others, especially business to business type brands that might not realize that they have a voice too and they have a voice in the larger sense of the world in the sense that whether you sell a spring or a widget or personal care products when the customer uses it, your brand should be delivering a message that is more than just the physical product or service. So our company, as you said, is involved with linking products that can speak, can engage, can interact with the consumer. But I would suggest that anyone listening who is involved with any sort of branding, whether it be a product, a service, or just their own personal capital, needs to have a voice and needs to explore ways to engage with that voice and to flesh out all of the different personalities, characteristics, and aspects of that voice.
How does a brand innovate and keep fresh?
It's part of the sense of a voice and there is kind of a new tagline out there. It's called conversational commerce and it doesn't necessarily relate to products like mine that literally talk. But ultimately, whenever you have a customer who's interacting with a product, there's a conversation, and it's a two-way conversation. So brands that are growing, are constantly listening to their customers and hoping that their customers are also listening to them. One of the things that we did during the past year and so many brands have pivoted is we started offering our products on Amazon. We did it for the obvious reasons of having another channel of revenue, but more to the point because we are a technology enabler and many times stand quietly, silently behind the brand, when you offer something direct to consumer through Amazon so that we don't have to get involved with customer service, shipping, and delivery, it enables us to everyday look at the comments and look at the way that our customers are using our products. Frankly, most of our best ideas literally come from our customers. So I think the secret to growth is really listening to the users of your products, watching how they engage with your products or services and that's the best source of innovation.
What is the future of voice and what do you see happening with the voice of things?
Well, I think the biggest misconception about voice in terms of the recent introduction of smart speakers like Alexa or Google Home, or even Siri is that these are voice assistants, they're smart, they're artificial intelligence-driven. It's all true, but at a much lower level their interfaces are more in line with a mouse or a touchscreen, they're simply a way of interacting with other devices that maybe don't need touch and maybe have a higher level of privacy because every voice has its own coding. But I think that a voice, on the one hand, has to be put up on a pedestal in terms of, "Wow, this is amazing what you can do with it!" But on the other hand, it has to be integrated into all of the simple, trivial, habitual things that we do, and again, it's not the end-all of everything. When it's appropriate, when you need a hands-free environment, voice is great. Sometimes you need to move from voice, to screen, to mouse, to a touchpad. So it's just another tool in the arsenal, but it's a very powerful tool and the beautiful thing about it is the more it gets us the better it gets. So I think that we are going to find voice integration and voice interaction in more and more products, and it's going to impact how we humanoids converse because we're going to learn to appreciate that voice is something that needs to be used just to establish a conversation and an interaction.
Well, I've started my company from the beginning, and we're 20 plus years old as a virtual company, pretty much. We manufacture a lot of stuff in the Far East. I have software programmers and hardware engineers that I've worked with for over 20 years, but it's based on a network. It's a kind of a precursor of the gig economy and I just love waking up in the morning and not knowing who I'm going to be talking to, where they're located, what timezone they're on. But I think what you need to do in terms of networking, is to be open to the serendipity of finding relationships, finding things in common and I think people are very open to that. So networking is something that one should look at as something that is actually enjoyable and opens up your little world to the global economy in ways that never could happen before. We can network today as we've never networked before.
How do you stay in front of them best nurture these relationships, especially on a global level?
Well, I think the most important thing, and this is a trite answer, but character. You need to know and your network of friends and associates need to know that your word is your word, that if you say you're going to help, if you say you're going to look into something you will. That is this cement of any network that people have confidence in you. We talked today about influences, and we are all micro-influencers, and we're all brand ambassadors, and all of that is based on trust in someone else expanding your reach which ultimately, is what networking is about.
What advice would you offer to those business professionals really looking to grow their network?
You have to be seen and heard, you can't grow a network by living in a cave. So it's not giving up everything that you've done and dedicating an hour a day to troll, whether it's LinkedIn or other social networking platforms. I just think it means that doing what you do integrate into your life, the ability when you get a good idea, to share it, or when you embark on a project to share that journey. You have to integrate it into your life, as opposed to segregating it out of your life. If you do that, then it becomes something very natural and I think that is probably not only the best way to do it, but if you if you're talking to somebody and they want to network, more than likely if you ask them to change the way they do business or work, it's a tough lift. But if you ask them to enhance the way they do what they're doing already or to share it more, or to be open to learning from others, then networking can become much more natural.
I think delegating is my biggest challenge. I'm an entrepreneur and it's wonderful to sing the praises of being a virtual company, and having all of these networks, but in my particular regard, the challenge is on the other side to be able to let go and to launch an idea and let other people take it from there. Ultimately, that is the most profound way we can network. It comes to when we raise children and all of a sudden they say something that we didn't teach them but they extrapolated from something that we said so you kind of see your ideas take on a new life. It's the same in business and I just have to learn and I'm constantly striving to throw out an idea or throw out a project, and then see where it goes using its own inertia.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with and do you think you can do it within the sixth degree?
There are so many people that I admire in the tech world. I think that I have some people that I've looked at forever, some of them are no longer with us, whether it's a Steve Jobs or others. But I think that actually, to focus on just one person is probably selling oneself short. I think that one has to find the Steve Jobs or the iconic person inside of pretty much everyone. If we drill down, I think we'll rather than trying to extend our six degrees, I think within six degrees, we can find all of the role models and mentors that we probably need.
Do you have any final word or advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Always experiment or try something new. The worst that can happen is you fail, but no one has succeeded without failing and keep trying, and ultimately, something is going to work out. Sometimes you send out 100 messages, 100 emails, you post X amount of times, and it's that one lead that can change everything. So keep at it, keep trying, always experiment and try something new.
Connect with Geoffrey
If you want a sample of Geoffrey’s new product, Connect, reach out to me (lori.highby@keystoneclick) and if you are one of the first 25 listeners to reach out, you will receive your sample!
After almost 30 years with Monofrax, Valerie has progressed from Clerk to Marketing Manager. She's just beginning to network and has found that the last year of virtual networking meetings and webinars was the perfect place to start. Just don't ask her to attend a speed networking event!
I'm curious why you're not interested in speed networking, is there any reason why?
Speed networking is sort of my worst nightmare. I mean, frankly, it's the business version of speed dating, and I'm just like, "Oh, this is so bad," and especially for someone who's an introvert that likes to have a few moments to think before they answer on anything, the pressure is a little too much.
I totally understand. So tell me a bit about Monofrax and what you guys do.
The short boring answer is that we are a manufacturer of fused cast refractories. The more interesting answer is that we are a foundry that does not pour steel, we pour artificial stone.
What exactly is artificial stone?
Well, first of all, we're at twice the temperature of lava, which I think is really cool and we're pouring blocks that are to be used for the linings of glass furnaces and metal furnaces.
So who's your buyer that's buying from you?
Predominantly our customers are the glass industry and light steel or light metal. We've also been used for nuclear vitrification and we have a global presence and we have been selling worldwide for the last 30 years.
What's it like coming into a marketing role without any experience in that space?
It was a little frightening because I have no background and no experience. But on the other hand, I consider it a huge advantage because if I'd taken marketing 30 years ago in college, things have changed so much since then that I'm looking at it with fresh eyes. Nothing is out of the question and I'm just willing to throw myself into it completely.
What was your biggest challenge that you faced moving into this role?
The biggest challenge has been the organization, marketing, strategy, and plans. All of those things that I probably would have learned if I'd studied in college. The rest of it would be the writing for social media, and articles for industry magazines, those things came a lot easier.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking experiences that you’ve had?
My favorite probably is when this all started and I can either blame or credit Kurt Anderson, for all of this who I know he's been a guest on your podcast. I attended a Manufacturing Marketing World Conference back in 2019, sat in the center of the room and this gentleman comes and sits next to me and starts a conversation. He's as energetic as always, he's the biggest cheerleader for manufacturing and that's where it all started. I started talking to him and then when he started his manufacturing Ecommerce Success Series, I started attending that and I started networking with the people that were also in that attending and it sort of just started rolling from there.
As you continue to connect and meet with new people, how do you best nurture these relationships that you're creating?
I'm probably not really good at the nurturing part, I'm better at the connecting part because I go to a webinar, if it's one that's weekly or bi-weekly and I consistently go I get to the point where I recognize the other people in the room. Then it's much easier to go down the chat list or look at the people in the gallery and go, "Oh, okay, I need to connect with this person, and then I can write them a quick message on LinkedIn and say, Hey, I see you're attending the same webinar." So I already have my script prepared, because we're doing something together at the same time, we have the same interest and it just makes it a whole lot easier to do that.
What advice would you offer that business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
Probably to do something very similar, where you're going to a webinar series or something else like that and on a consistent basis, you're seeing the same people and you can start to come up with a list of who looks interesting who can help you, which is my primary reason for networking because since I'm new to marketing, I'm looking for all the people that I can that are experts because I figured why not learn from the best? Then you'll know who you would be interested in marketing and networking with which makes it a whole lot easier.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, would you tell yourself to do more or less than or differently with regards to your professional career?
I think if I went back to my 20-year-old self, I would say, take more risks. Don't be quite so afraid of doing things, you're more capable than you think you are.
Connect with Valerie:
Andy was a business executive who learned to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing, highly uncertain environment. Now, he's a leadership coach and career strategist who helps individuals who want to go from just getting by, to having insanely awesome careers. Andy is a Certified Professional Coach, has an MBA in management, is certified as an expert in Lead Management Systems, and is a Board Certified Healthcare Administrator.
I'm curious to learn about what led you to change careers and become a leadership coach, could you tell us a bit about that process?
Wow, that's a great question. Not to be boastful, but I had a pretty successful career. As you mentioned in the intro, my career was in healthcare administration and so I had a really good career, I had some great mentors and I worked for some great organizations. But I got to a point in my career, kind of a crossroads, where I thought that I've got the second half of my career to look forward to, and how do I really want to spend that? What I really enjoyed most about my career, up to that point was helping develop others in seeing future leaders grow and develop and advance their careers. I was involved in a lot of extracurricular professional organizations and such, where I found myself speaking to large audiences about career advancement, working with individuals, one on one mentoring individuals. So when I got to that crossroads, in my career, I made the decision that what I enjoy most about leadership is helping others develop as leaders. I found this thing called coaching, that, quite frankly, I didn't know much about myself. It's just one of those things that just really spoke to me and really hit on a lot of my personal values and passions. Over the last few years, I took the time to deliberately make that transition and become certified and I'm enjoying the heck out of working with folks as they want to advance their careers and have those insanely awesome careers.
It sounds like more and more people are finding coaching as a pathway to their career advancement, why do you think that is?
We can't ignore what happened over the last year, but up into and through and even now, to this point, the corporate environment, the business world itself has just become so competitive and so fast-paced and constantly evolving. New changes are happening every day, especially with innovation and, and the digital era that we're in. It's hard for a leader to keep up with everything so you have a lot of working professionals, you have dual-income families where the husband and the wife, or the spouses are both working and raising families. So there's just a lot on people's plates these days. I think individuals are looking for ways to continue to have that competitive advantage in the workplace, and continue to advance their careers. For so long coaching has been this wizard behind the curtain kind of thing, if you will, where folks have heard of it, but don't really know much about it, and haven't looked into it all that much and one of the things that have really helped coaching kind of launch more into the mainstream and be more evident, is the digitization of it. So many organizations are going to online virtual platforms, much like we're doing here with the podcast, where you can work with a coach from your home, the coach can be anywhere in the world. So it's a great opportunity to work with somebody to put together your plan of action. The biggest thing about a coach is that a coach is not an advisor, they're not a counselor, they're not a mentor, they don't have all the answers for you, a coach really believes that you have all the answers you need and that you know your path forward, you have the skills that will make you successful. So a coach kind of helps draw that out and package that up in such a way that you have the vision and the pathway forward, to help with your success. Individuals are looking for things like work-life balance, or career advancement, or maybe even thinking about a career change themselves and are curious about the steps to make that career change. The idea of becoming a solopreneur these days is very attractive and so folks trying to maybe get out of the corporate grind like me, and looking to put their thoughts together into, "Is that the right move for me? Should I make that move? What are the pros and cons of all of that?" A coach is really there to help you think through all of those kinds of things and really press you to take some action.
What are some of the myths that you hear around coaching that you'd like to dispel?
I think the biggest myth is that coaching is needed when you have a performance improvement plan, or when your organization has decided that they need to see your performance improve. So it's almost punitive, in a sense that coaching has traditionally been looked at that way. Everything that I just described up until this point, would really dispel that myth. It is a very proactive way to manage yourself, manage your career, manage your life, manage your family, your finances, and so on and so forth. Anything you can think of that you want to improve on, a coach can help you with that. I think a lot of folks also tend to lump mentors and coaches together. Those are similar, but there are some differences there. A mentor to somebody you go to when you want to walk in their shoes, and you want to learn the way that they got to where they are so you're looking to understand exactly what they did and follow in their footsteps. Again, as I said a minute ago, coaching is not that. Coaching believes you already know what you want to do, what you need to do, and is going to help you put those thoughts into action. I think the last myth with coaching, that I think is important to understand is that, like mentoring folks, especially in leadership, tend to think that attending leadership development programs or signing up for leadership development cohorts is similar. I always like to think that leadership development is one thing that is very helpful. I had a lot of opportunities in my past career with leadership development, and it was great and it helped me advance my career, but there was never a partner that I had through any leadership development program who was going to help me put a lot of what I learned in development programs into play. So what I like about coaching is that you have that accountability partner who is going to make sure that all of the skills and abilities that you've acquired through the years, whether it be through experience or whether it be through formal development, that you're employing those in the workplace and in your field of expertise, and really bringing out the best in yourself. Then coaches make sure they are holding you accountable to making sure that you are performing at your best.
Can you help me do that by sharing with our listeners, one of your most successful favorite networking experiences that you've had?
I didn't realize until a short time ago that I would label myself as kind of a perpetual networker. It is something that's always been important to me, especially in my career to be involved in various ways especially through professional organizations. For me, I was a member and still am a member and have been in leadership roles with the American College of Healthcare Executives. So again, that was my past career as a healthcare executive. Now, as a leadership coach, I still work with many healthcare executives as well. So it's still important to me to maintain that networking relationship with the American College of Healthcare Executives. But even personally, getting involved with things at school, with the kids, with the church, with things in the community. I think it's important to have a balance so that you don't overindulge yourself in networking. My favorite networking experiences, though, are those ones where you really develop lasting relationships. So one in particular, that I'm thinking of was early on in my career when I was first getting into leadership and really looking at how could I formulate that my vision and my career goals. I reached out to somebody who was a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives who ended up becoming a really close friend of mine. We talk regularly, our kids ended up playing on the same little league team together for a while. So we kind of followed each other in terms of our career path and obviously, I'm on a different path now than he is, but it was something that we always found each other is kind of confidants and friends and, helpful advisors, if you will, and mentors to each other. I can't say enough about the value of networking in terms of developing those types of relationships that you can always leverage because we all need what I call your personal Board of Directors, for your career or life, and networking is a great way to build that personal Board of Directors.
How do you stay in front of these relationships that you're creating and cultivating your community?
I think one of the silver linings to really come out of this pandemic is the ability to stay connected virtually. When we were all working from home, and it was difficult to go out to networking events or have a lunch meeting or anything like that, you found that you can stay in touch virtually by having virtual coffee sessions, or even just messaging on LinkedIn, just to check in with folks. I always made it a goal throughout the last year to, check in with a certain number of folks a week. They were who I was going to check in with just to see how things are going. What was great about that was I was reaching out to folks that were outside of my immediate area of where I lived so I was able to connect with folks across the country, who otherwise, I would not have been able to connect with and probably would have lost touch with. I can't say enough about what this last year has done for us as individuals in terms of our ability to network and expand our horizons, and meet new people and establish new connections and stay connected with old connections as well.
I really think what I would have told my younger self was to pace myself a little bit more. I think I became so focused on climbing the quote, unquote, ladder, that I missed some opportunities and experiences. I think if anything, I would go back and tell myself to just pace things out and to not get out over the tips of my skis because there's a burnout factor that's real for a lot of us when we're trying to chase something relentlessly, and missing opportunities in other ways. So that would be one of the big things because even though I definitely enjoyed my 20s and it was later in my 20s when I first started having a family, I think that that is important. You're only young once, and there's a lot to enjoy about life other than focusing too much on your career.
Do you have any final words of advice for listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Get out there and connect with folks on LinkedIn. Look for those in companies that you are interested in working for, or organizations that you're interested in being a part of, and don't be afraid to just send that connection on LinkedIn. I always like to say to attach a note to it as well. Just send a nice personal note of, "Hey, I'm interested in your company," or, "I'm interested in learning more about your organization and would you mind being my connection?" It just adds an extra little personal touch that helps to create a stronger connection, rather than just adding to your list of how many are in your network. Just get out there and do it is the best advice I can give.
Connect with Andy
John brings his experience of lead generation, marketing automation, and social media marketing to up Optessa. started out his career with New York, Community Bancorp as a marketing assistant and later worked for iCIMS and Hermetic Solutions Group and Versatile Roles, driving new business and elevating the brand within their respective industries. John holds a bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing and advertising from Seton Hall University.
How do you determine the channels where you have a presence online?
So I always start with doing research. I think that there are no shortage of platforms that are available to anyone these days, and there seems to be a new one every week or new features so I think it all starts with doing your research. The other piece that a lot of people forget is that you don't have to be on every single one of them. I don't think anyone really has the time to do this effectively so you have to stick to the channels where you feel you can provide the most value, jump on, and start engaging. For myself, I spend the bulk of my time on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook because that's where most of my customers are, my communities are, individuals within the industries I serve are providing value, or have a robust presence if you will. Once you've actually joined those channels and selected them, you have to start building credibility, you have to start engaging, you have to start providing value and that's another piece where when you're online, it can't always be a sales pitch. I say that a lot in the chats and in the communities I'm a part of. I tend to provide thought leadership pieces, blog posts, reports that I come by that are relevant for my industry, and I have individual look to me and my company to kind of be that soundboard of what's happening or what's trending. Then I let pieces like my website or my social profile do the selling for me, and I make sure that where I drive them gives the opportunity to engage with me, get in contact with me or members of my team so I'm less spending less time selling. So I think once you're on those channels, you have to find your way of providing value without being too salesy. So get your research, don't join every channel, you will not have enough time to have a presence on each of the channels effectively and once you're there, spend a lot of time on they're building credibility, provide value, and don't sell people every minute you're on there. Have a nice balance between the value provide and what you're selling, as well.
Why are online communities vital to the success of a business today?
Communities were what I really started doing back when I was with Hermetic Solutions Group and it was one of those things again, going back to I just said like, I was just doing my research. I had to understand where my buyers were, where my audiences were, and where I can provide the most value and ultimately return to my business. So I started building communities online, and it started with just getting that profile. So when you're looking at Twitter or LinkedIn, specifically, you have the ability to create a profile, add images, add a bio, put links, and start engaging and having people go to these profiles as an extension of your website. So I was building those communities online and then I was struggling with what next? Now what? I'm on there now, how do people find me? I really gravitated towards the online communities and what people were saying about certain topics, topics using different industry hashtags, Twitter chats had been huge, events have been tremendous and always follow the event hashtag. I tended to shy away from what's trending topics, because to me, sometimes it feels like the brand, or the company or the person is trying to stretch their purpose or their tie back to the trending topics so I kind of stay away from those. But going back to online communities, they're vital. I mean, no matter the size of your business, you need to be online, take the COVID-19, take the pandemic out of it. I think even before that, I think there was a shift of going online where more people were looking to online forums, or online channels or social media, where they're getting their news where they were talking with family and friends, where they were doing more of their networking for business, I think it was all gravitating more online. I saw a stat where the adoption of social media in the last year went up over 13%, which is another 490 million people who joined a social network in the last year. Facebook has always been the leader, but there are so many other channels, microchannels that are starting to nip at the heel of Facebook, and they're starting to provide more value to their users because they're starting to do things differently and they're starting to innovate. I think the more that this innovation is happening with these different platforms, I think you're gonna see those numbers of the users online, jump and be consistently growing by 10% year over year. Now the use of the platform's you know, some people are on them very casually, some check it every now and again, but your users like myself use it every day. Every day you can find me either sending out a tweet or a post on LinkedIn or sharing something to Facebook. I'm very active on there and I make sure that I'm engaging with my communities so they know that they can find me, they know if they send me something on one of those channels I'm going to respond, or at least I'm going to see it. As a business you have to embrace the online communities, they're not going away. The tools that are on and available, are only going to get better and I think it is only going to increase in frequency, just look at the start of things like Clubhouse or Twitter spaces and the different stories and fleets and everything else. Every channel seems to be doing very similar things, but you still see pockets where people only still use Twitter, only use LinkedIn, or people will stay with Facebook, and that's fine. But you also get people that are on all of them who share across all the platforms. So I think it's vital that if you have a business, you're trying to sell something, and you're just trying to stay relevant this day and age, you have to be online.
How do you know if things are actually working? Is it just looking at the metrics, or is it engagement? What's your take on that?
I think the piece of it when you're doing your community and I would you just said him on touch upon is there's a lot of negativity on the social platforms and it's a lot of what people see is that people just go on it and use it to complain. I think if you're a business and a customer tries reaching out, or a potential client tries reaching out and you don't answer them, that's potential money left on the table, you have to be there. You have to understand that if you have a Twitter page or a Twitter profile, and you never check it, but someone that's researching your company is sending you messages or is interacting with you and tagging you in posts and you are dormant, they're not going to engage you and then potentially you can miss out on a business opportunity with them. I would say there's a lot more positive going out on the social platforms, I don't think it's all negative. I think the negative outweighs the positive at times, but I think it quickly snaps back like a rubber band and I think people get back to business, back to what they're doing. But your question related to metrics, and how to measure what to do here. Vanity metrics are good and need to be your obsession when you're first starting out with a new profile. So if you're just starting a new profile, you want to make sure you build a following base, get those subscribers, get that community around you because that bolsters your profile and makes you feel good. When you see those numbers go up, you get those email notifications, and you start seeing the numbers go up, and you're feeling good. You can also look at what I call the thoughtless actions in many metrics. Those are things like people that are doing simple retweets, liking your posts, or simple reactions to your story. There's no real engagement, just minimal, it's almost like the person wants to like acknowledge they saw it. It's good still, but I would rather see the engagement piece of it and I think after some time of you starting to build up your profile and get those numbers and you get a follower base, and I'm not saying you need to get to thousands of followers. It doesn't matter the size of your follower base because as long as they are fans, and they are engaging with you, and you're responding to them, and you're just consistently providing value to him, I think that's enough to say you have a presence online, and when engaging can kind of look like because there are certain people that have 1000s of followers, and they put a post up and they get no interaction, no engagement, there's nothing there. Like I said, sharing it just because this celebrity said it or whatever it is, isn't really engagement. How many times you see celebrities or politicians or anyone really taking the time to really respond to every single thing that person has said, or really going back and liking or doing something that you did. There's no real engagement there. But I really think vanity is good as you start, I think that you need to make sure that you don't see a dip in the vanity metrics. If you start seeing people not following you, or unsubscribing, or if you start posting on a consistent basis, but you're not seeing as many likes or retweets, or you're not seeing those things, you might have to rethink what you're sharing because there could be that idea that your content is getting tired. I'm not saying message fatigue in terms of repetition, because that's almost like repurposing your content. But if you're saying the same thing, if you're sharing the same white paper, like people don't want to see that, they want to see new, they want exciting, they want something that you're providing more value to them. As you are building online communities you get that engagement, you actually start having conversations with people and you have conversations about different topics. If it's a topic about a product or service that you're offering even better because now you're having almost like a sales conversation without even knowing it. So you're just engaging with them, you're going back and forth, they're asking you questions, you're responding. Or you could be responding to a gripe that someone has, or you could be just offering advice. If you can speak about something, you know, I'm in service and if I can help you or if I know a software that can help or I have experience with software, I'm absolutely going to give my two cents about it if someone asks, or they're in a community in which we engage on a consistent basis, because why not? I'm here to help! Everyone should be here to help and, and bring people up instead of tearing them down on the social network. So I think vanity is good to start. I think that you should pay attention to it, focus on it, but then you should quickly look at who is engaging with me? What do they do? What are the topics and subjects that matter to them? Then see where you can take those conversations to either help your business or also help build your credibility as well.
So I love Twitter chats and I think it's an absolutely unbelievable way to network. Usually, the Twitter chats are an hour each week so there's a consistency to it. I think you jump in and you engage, and you learn from others in these Twitter chats in these communities and your network. People are always looking for on social media that return and the return is what you make of it. So you can engage with people, and then you can say, "Okay, I engaged with you for an hour, now I'm going to go away." But recently, I've been taking the conversations a step further and I've reached out to a number of individuals that I've engaged with on a community or Twitter chat for about a couple of months now. I didn't do it after my first time there, but after some time you start providing value, engaging, and getting to know the people, you can research a little bit, you can understand what they're doing, their business is doing, and you learn from them, now it's time to take the conversation to a new level. You have to reach out, you have to network, you have to better understand what all those around are doing, how you can service them, it's pretty much how we connected and why I'm on with you, which is fantastic. You have to step out, you have to take it upon yourself to network and go above and beyond. You'd be surprised that a lot more people are open and receptive to it. People forget that behind the handles online are people and there are people behind the brands. You get to know their names, you can understand who they are. You see a lot of brands and a lot of social media managers now starting to sign their names on tweets and Twitter, for example, because they want to be addressed by name, they don't want to be at x company, they want to be @Lori, or like when I'm tweeting for up Optessa, I always say it's John, or my product manager, Alex will put Alex. There are others that are doing and as well because there's a person behind there. You have to understand who's tweeting because there could be multiple people, there could be different individuals that are taking different stances. There could be a salesperson on the other end, or there could be a social manager on the other end, it could be the CEO. So it's very important when you're networking or when you're online to go and look and see the opportunities that can present themselves with consistent engagement, and don't be afraid to jump in. I would say I've had more conversations with people in the last three months than I have in three years and it was just due to the simple fact that I started to engage with people outside of the normal channel and I use Twitter chats as that gateway. So I'm consistent with a number of them, there are about eight of them that I am a frequent member of the chat there on my Twitter profile. I'm able to speak intelligently about almost everyone that engages so I know about their companies. We've either had side conversations after the chats, or I paid attention and made my own notes about them during the chats. So you had to figure out ways to network and you have to do stuff that's not your norma. It's amazing, but you can still pick up the phone, and still call people and still engage with them or shoot them a text. So there are plenty of ways to network and I think the more people do it, and the more you do it, the more you're going to like. Like I said, in the last three months, I think I've had over a dozen conversations where people on the phone or zoom or whatever it is, that I would not have gotten in front of if I didn't utilize Twitter, and the chats and decided upon myself to say that I'm going to call someone and we're gonna have a conversation. It always comes from a genuine place of I want to learn more about you and I also want to tell you about me.
How do you nurture your network and your community?
I consistently engage especially on Twitter because it's so fast-paced. I think from the Twitter chat in the communities that I'm a part of there are unbelievable opportunities within them to consistently reach out to them. On a weekly basis, you have the chat, but then you're also able to follow them, you're also able to check out their website, or their blog, or the content they're sharing outside of the chat and I make sure I show up. Of course, life happens, and there are things that get in the way and I do miss a couple of chats because there are things that come up outside of my control, but I make sure that if I can be present, I'm present. I network with the teams, I speak with them and it's not all business. People are talking about what's happening in their lives, cool new renovations, or what happened over the weekend, it's beyond the business conversation. It's almost like you nurture it to the point where you become friends, just by your tweets, and you become friends by engaging them enough on social media that you know so much about them. You know so much about people and you haven't even met them before and that's the best thing.
I would definitely say I should have networked more. I spent more time focused on the tasks within the company and didn't dedicate enough time to go into events, or networking efficiently. I also think I would have done a lot more certifications and training as well because that's another huge area where you can network and grow. I've recently done a couple of marketing certifications, and I just learned so much in those times and there is an investment, but at the same time you always have to invest in yourself. So if I had to go back and kick myself when I was 20 I would definitely say, go to that happy hour, or networking event and really start making those connections. As I progressed in my career and changed roles, I've built relationships with the people I worked around, and I've always been able to go back to them and every time I've had the conversations if I was changing a career, or if I needed advice, they were always so happy to provide it. I like to say that to others, as well that if I can help you, or if we've crossed paths, please reach out to me, I'm very open. But yeah, if I had to go back and kick myself at 20, I would definitely say, network, and also spend more time investing in yourself from a certification and training standpoint, because those are the things that people can't take away from you and things that just helped build and bolster your professional profile.
Do you have any final words of advice to offer listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Do your research and don't try to be everywhere. Like Tic Toc is great, but if you don't have a reason to be on there, please don't. Pick your platform, do your research, and engage meaning you have to be there, you have to be present, you have to engage. I'm very active, like I said on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook every now and again, but you can definitely find me on Twitter. I'm happy to answer any questions, happy to welcome into any communities I'm a part of, I'm also open to introductions into new ones as well. I think providing value, engage with communities you pick, and also taking part in more of what profiles you're sticking with is crucial. I think if you have a presence, be present on that channel and it'll make itself out and I think there'll be a lot of value in the long run for you.
Connect with John