Meet Lyle Stoflet
Lyle is the Managing Partner at Stratus Industries, Gear Grove and Containers Up. He’s a lifelong learning advocate. People connector. And strives to be 1% better every day.
What is the difference between networking and real connections?
You can collect a lot of business cards and have those fun conversations at the different events. But it's really about after that event of what you do, and making those real connections, and some of them for myself have been many years of connecting with people, and if it's personal, or if it's on the business side of things I've had both and some morph to both of them. So it's really about caring for people and trying to have their best interests at heart when you meet them. But also take that to the next step and not just talk about things but actually put action to it.
How do you anticipate small specialized events evolving or taking place in what is being referred to as our new normal now?
In our containers upside of our business, we take shipping containers and modify them into bars, restaurants, meeting spaces, pop up shops, all different pieces and try to figure out the new cycle, what are people's needs? Everything from parklets downtown Milwaukee, we're looking at putting in offices that we can drop off in your driveway that have two large windows, a patio doors, super comfortable, but you can walk out and have a different office. Most people are working from home and sometimes you just need that different space, especially if you have a driveway or a space to be able to put a 20-foot container.
In your experiences, what networking venues are the best?
Everybody has their personal opinion, but the name tags and the venue that is intimate so you don't feel like you're jammed in a space. Something that’s not this huge hall where you're like, wow, there's a lot of people here and you're intimidated, but also having the name tags that are color coded. So you kind of know who you're trying to meet and the people you're looking for because not everybody's a fit. Networking events have been successful for me, and it's also been a total, well, you know, there's X amount of insurance people here. That's great. They're out there too, and they have to make connections too. But it’s do you really want to try to make those long-lasting connections with people.
Can you share with our listeners, one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
We use an HR firm, and I met Shelly Miles with City Partners through that. And it was truly a cold networking event and we traded cards. And you know, the thing about networking events is everybody's there to meet people. It's not anything scary to walk up to somebody because that's what everyone is going to do. If you’re the person walking up or the person that is sitting there talking or jumping into a conversation. So from my story, the connection was simply that I walked up and started having a conversation. And you have to have your elevator pitch ready, if that's what you want to call it that 30 seconds. It was, oh interesting. You know, tell me more about that. And, you know, really getting to know what that person does on the other end. So now, this has been five years now and she's been our outsource HR partner.
So when you went into that networking event, did you go in looking for an outsourced HR partner?
No, but it probably took three meetings after that. But it wasn't a hard sell at that point. It was getting to know that person, and to see if that person was a fit for our culture, what we stood for. So, it was going in with that open mind of, hey, either I can help, or I might be able to connect somebody that could use their help. And part of that is that I think finding other people who you can help is a lot of fun, just in general.
How do you best nurture these relationships that you're creating?
It takes work, like any good relationship, it takes work, it takes communication. It could be checking in with a quick email, text message as we have so many communication devices at our fingertips and ways to communicate. It's just about keeping in front of people.
What advice would you offer that business professional who is looking to grow their network?
It's so easy not to do things. And we're all busy. And I'm talking about myself right there too. It's easy not to do the events, not to put yourself out there. I'm not a natural, super outgoing person that loves to just go meet a million people. I have to work at it and you have to set your goals and say, alright, I need to do one event this week or whatever it is, or I have to meet five people this week. I'm a goal orientated person. So I go, okay, it's Tuesday or Wednesday, and I’m not there yet. I know that I have to put some work in to get there, because it does pay dividends. And it may not be today or a year from now. But all of a sudden after two years and you’re at a different networking event, you see the same person and, hey, you need to meet so and so. So I think it's a it's a skill. It's something that is planned, but it's something that you have to put into your schedule. And don't let it get chopped out of your schedule.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of less than or differently with regards to your professional career?
Oh, fail fast. Don't be afraid to fail. I know, it's a cliché now, but it's one of those things that sometimes you have to, you know, look at it and say, okay, it's not working, how do we, what do we change? How do we pivot? And be okay with that. You know, I would have probably looked for more of a mentor, a little bit more a little earlier and expanded my network faster. So to find people who are doing things, not just talking about doing things, but actually doing things.
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 could do it with them the sixth degree?
Tony Robbins would be one. Just from his energy and I think having lunch with him or breakfast with him would be a very eye opening, energy filled time that you could really take. You know, you can listen to the podcasts and do your studying and continue to grow. But to have that one on one time, I think would be invaluable.
Do you have any final word or advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
You know, the biggest thing is to be authentic. Be there to help and know that eventually it all comes full circle. May not be today, but you know, just be yourself and everybody's there to network and to meet people. So don't be shy. We're all there to learn and meet new people.
How to connect with Lyle