Meet Tanya Stanfield
A brand strategist, sales leader, performance activator, and well-being advocate, Tanya is a multi-dimensional entrepreneur dedicated to using her superpowers of content and connection to build brands and create communities for good. Her most recent project, MKTG XT, is a cross-training community built for marketers of all types to gather and build stronger skills, stronger networks, and transformed careers.
What are some of the general struggles that everyone's experiencing right now in this current environment?
First, I think a lot of people are experiencing a lot of uncertainty. And some might argue that goes without saying. But we all know that a lot of times marketing is the first to go when companies are struggling financially. So that's definitely top of mind. It's just a lot of uncertainty. But I think another thing marketers struggle with, and I think particularly marketers who work in house, more on the client side, is the thing I see here over and over stakeholder engagement, stakeholder management, influencing others who might not work on your team with who you need on board to accomplish certain goals is a constant challenge that I hear marketers talk about over and over again.
What can marketing leaders do to support themselves and our colleagues during this time?
I think during this time, what marketing leaders and colleagues can do to support themselves and each others is through continuing to just connect with each other and keep communication open with each other and continue to learn, educate themselves and also educate others. You know, when we talk about those stakeholders, again, there's just uncertainty all across the spectrum. And I think the more leaders and their teams can connect with others outside of their disciplines and really learn about what they value, what your colleagues value, and then share what you value as well. I think that's really important. It's all about capturing that. Our job as marketers is to capture customer value. But we also need to capture company value as well. So learning what's important to everyone from the C suite, in finance and everywhere in between. So really building relationships with each other and across disciplines I think is really important right now.
So how do you personally continue to stretch and develop your skills as a marketer?
I am a self-admitted introvert. An error I think earlier, my career was that I didn't really reach out a lot for help. Or I thought I had to learn things on my own. And while being self-sufficient, is really valuable. I found the most value in the past couple of years as I've progressed more in my career, in learning through speaking with others, and talking to others, and that's just not in my own industry, although that's been very important. Because our industry just changes so fast. I don't think there's any way you can keep up with the industry completely. But talking to people who are actually in it every day is a key part of how I've been able to keep up. So like talking to people in my industry, and then talking to people in other industries and just learning more and more about how other businesses operate. That's really how I've been able to manage my own education.
Can you share with our listeners, one of your most successful or favorite networking stories that you have?
About five years ago when I was still working at a consulting firm, and I was pretty early in my career there, I was really struggling to understand how I can move up. I can speak in front of big crowds of people that's not a problem. But when it came to more impromptu speaking, when someone asked me a question in a meeting answering off the cuff, I would just get my heart would just pound I could hear it and I would get so nervous. So from then I decided to join Toastmasters which I'm sure you've heard of. Every Toastmasters group is different. it's an international organization, complete with chapters, local chapters, and I think in Chicago, they're probably like, over 50 chapters. So every chapter has its own unique culture. But I tried a chapter that was 100% focused on not just public speaking, but professional networking. It was only for professionals. You had to be a working professional. And after we would go through our meeting where someone would have tabled topics, which is where that impromptu speaking comes in. And when someone would do their speech, we always did networking afterwards and we would meet at a hotel. And I think I made the best connections professionally and personally on my life being a part of that group.
How do you stay in front of them best nurture these relationships in your network in your community?
I think that's something that is since I have met so many people throughout my career and my many businesses and all my travels, keeping up with that can be really difficult. What I started doing is I honestly started scheduling it in. And I resisted that for a long time because it felt I didn't want it to feel like another meeting. And it also felt kind of lame to schedule in keeping in touch with someone. But I found that I've had to do that not just in my professional networking life, but with my business, I'm terrible, but with my own family, because what doesn't get planned doesn't get done. So when it comes to nurturing my network I have regular intervals where I touch base with people and sometimes that can be a phone call, just dropping in on LinkedIn to people and just saying hi, and saying how's it going and trying to keep up that cadence. I think particularly with people who are struggling professionally right now, I just have such a heart for that struggle. I've been there before. So I really have this cadence going of just dropping in on people on LinkedIn and saying, Hey, how's it going? How can I help you out? So that that's how I've been doing it.
What advice would you offer that business professionals looking to grow their network?
It's time to start reaching out and it can be something as simple as you talk about that, that closest five, you know, determine who your closest five might be. And even if it just starts with two, that's a start. So I would definitely recommend doing that because It can be a little challenging if you start too big, it can be hard to sort of focus on where you should start. But if you don't have anyone to start with if you're feeling completely alone and sort of out in space, and I think that's really, that's how a lot of you are feeling right now in this new virtual environment, join a community. You and I were talking earlier about how virtual communities seem to be a thing. So whatever that community might be for you. Join it for a little bit. It's always a little awkward at first, and that maybe I'm just saying that because I am an introvert. And I'm not one to always feel super comfortable jumping into conversations, but it's definitely a start.
Let's talk about digital versus traditional networking. Obviously, the traditional networking has a lot of restrictions today, just in general which one do you find more value in?
This is a tough one to answer because I do miss connecting with people face to face. And I was just thinking about this this morning, even in my own work where I do a lot of sales calls and everything or I do calls with my clients. I am missing sort of going on site and seeing my clients because I do feel like that personal connection, there's just less distraction. I think sometimes that there is such a thing as screen fatigue, but I am finding a way to make it work digitally. Having conversation starters which I think is a really great way to sort of get digital connections going. But I also think digital is better in a way because I'm finding that people are a lot more open and honest about what's really going on with them in a digital space. I think sometimes when you talk to people face to face, they're not always super comfortable bringing up the things that are challenging them. But now I'm getting to know them on a deeper level because there's a little more comfortable sharing a little bit more about what's going on, the things that they're struggling with, the things that they're looking forward to, the things that they're not looking forward to the thing that they're fearful about. I'm finding that people are a lot more open to talking about that in the digital space.
If you could go back to your 20 year old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
This is how I can get a little personal but I mentioned how I was going to those working events early on especially when I first moved to Chicago, and I would always go with a group. And they were sort of my buffer, but it was a big group so the buffer was almost like a wall. So I think I would have been pushed a little differently, I think I would have went to events with maybe fewer people. And also, I think the drinking aspect of a lot of those networking events was sort of the pull for us in our 20s. And I think because of that, I was able to do less authentic connecting. You weren't really taught to network in college and all of a sudden you're expected to do it. And you're like, what is this? I think I would have I would have approached networking groups a little differently. Oh, and join more groups and stuff going to more events, more affinity groups, I would have joined more boards. That's something I really wish I would have done in my 20s when I had a lot more energy to do that type of thing.
And so we 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 within the sixth degree?
I started my business three years ago, but it really didn't start taking off probably until about a year and a half ago. And that all changed when I started listening to a podcast called Earn Your Happy hosted by Lori Harder. Lori Harder and her husband, Chris Harder also has a podcast called For the Love of Money. And I will say hands down those two podcasts have changed my life. They've really changed the trajectory of my career, my business. They are both from Wisconsin originally. So I have to believe that somehow I am connected to them through the six degrees of separation.
Do you have any final word or advice off our listeners about growing and supporting their networks?
I would just say just keep on doing it. I know, it's hard in this virtual environment where we don't know when things are going to get back to “normal”. And I think it's really easy to sort of slip into isolation. I think that's something that I'm really concerned about not just from a professional level, but on a personal level. So I would encourage people to do what you can. And it doesn't have to be anything big. Drop one person a message every day, if you can just say hi, just keep in touch with people do little things to grow your network every day. Because over time, it's going to compound it's going to make a real difference. And it's just going to make you feel better about whatever business challenges or what challenges you're going through having a network around you to support, you can really sort of pull you out of a negative mindset and really help you see possibilities.
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