Online networking is the only networking these days! Executive recruiter Sharon-Mah-Gin shares advice on how to approach people when networking online, how to follow-up, as well as general networking advice. There are many reasons to be optimistic! Just remember: “With true networking, it’s really not about you. It’s really about building relationships with like-minded people. And the benefits will come later.”
- References & Resources
- Andrea’s Introduction
- Interview Transcript
- Andrea’s Conclusion
GENERAL ADVICE ON NETWORKING
Reasons to be Optimistic
- “Just continue and push on.” Don’t hesitate just because we’re all WFH. We have more time now. This is a wonderful opportunity to reach out to people.
- There are jobs out there. Vacancies from retirements, people moving on and growth industries.
- People are being hired after virtual interviews, without being met in real life. In other words, the Zoom or Teams interview is sufficient enough.
- COVID can be a catalyst or an excuse for reaching out and/or for you getting a little more personal with people in your online network.
- Good news for Introverts: The physical isolation associated with COVID may be easier for introverts, who are typically great listeners. Listening is a key skill for successful networking.
- Sharon recommends online networking with people who are like-minded; people with whom the conversations are natural, and who leave you feeling energized and better about yourself.
It’s Not About You –
- Networking is always about giving and not receiving. Start with an offer, especially in the beginning it’s really about building relationships with like-minded people. As Sharon says, it’s really about “how can I help YOU?”
- Things to offer: insight, a video, course, advice, support, a connection…
APPROACHING PEOPLE THROUGH ONLINE NETWORKING
Kick start your online networking with LinkedIn.
- Keeping your LinkedIn profile updated and professional might be a competitive advantage for you.
- Use the filtering function. Filter by geography if you want to go for a walk with someone. Also filter by discipline, by firm, etc.
- Grow your online network by connecting with your connections’ connections.
Consider the catalyst for your connection – why are you emailing?
- Suggestion to use something positive as a catalyst, like the video or course that Sharon recommends (see Resources)
- Any newsworthy article, video, course, even a meme
- Use COVID as the catalyst. “I’m just checking in. We used to do coffee every few months. Wanna meet for 15 minutes and get caught up?”
- Virtual coffees and “walk’n’talks” are becoming more accepted.
- “How are you? “ is no longer just conversation filler. Ask people, how are you?
FOLLOWING UP WHEN YOU’RE ONLINE NETWORKING
Be more patient.
- You never know what’s going on. They might be dealing with a lot.
Follow up with a maximum of 3 requests:
- Two emails, then a phone call a week later.
Thank you notes are easy and very much appreciated.
- They’re also a great opportunity for you to emphasize the one takeaway you want to reinforce, or maybe something you forgot to say. As Sharon says, thank you notes are your second shot.
- LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharonmahgin/
- Executive Search Alliance – http://www.execsearchalliance.com/
- Video – Mat and Savannah Hallelujah– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fP8sE6H7j2s
- Yale course on Happiness – https://news.yale.edu/2020/03/25/housebound-world-finds-solace-yales-science-well-being-course
- Netflix – My Octopus Teacher – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Octopus_Teacher
- Netflix – A Life on Our Planet – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Attenborough:_A_Life_on_Our_Planet
- Netflix – The Biggest Little Farm – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Biggest_Little_Farm
- Original “NETWORKING” Talk About Talk podcast episode with Sharon Mah-Gin (Mar.2020) – https://talkabouttalk.com/45-networking/
- Granovetter, Mark (1973) “The Strength of Weak Ties,” American Journal of Sociology, https://sociology.stanford.edu/sites/g/files/sbiybj9501/f/publications/the_strength_of_weak_ties_and_exch_w-gans.pdf
Talk About Talk & Dr. Andrea Wojnicki
- Website – https://talkabouttalk.com
- Podcast – https://talkabouttalk.com/podcasts
- Email – Andrea@TalkAboutTalk.com
- Free Weekly Newsletter – https://talkabouttalk.com/blog/#newsletter-signup
- Andrea on LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/andreawojnicki/
Dr. ANDREA’s INTRODUCTION
Hey there – I’m your communication coach, Dr. Andrea Wojnicki (please call me Andrea!) Welcome to Talk About Talk.
Talk About Talk is the communication skills focused podcast for life-long learners and folks who are seeking to get noticed and advance their careers. Does that sound like you? Well, you’re in the right place! Sure, some people make communication skills look easy. But it’s not easy. It takes practice and it takes know-how. Talk About Talk gives you the know-how on things like storytelling, leading productive online meetings, and communicating with confidence. Today, we’re talking ONLINE NETWORKING.
Of course networking is important in advancing our careers. We’ve all heard that right? In 1973, a sociologist named Mark Granovetter published a seminal article called “The Strength of Weak Ties,” and since then, job seekers have been networking like crazy, hoping the friend of a friend will connect them to that elusive job.
But online networking helps with more than just job searching. Networking can also keep you informed about what going on inside and outside of your industry, it can help you connect with prospective clients and customers, you can find mentors, and establish other meaningful professional and even personal relationships!
Speaking of relationships, I’m so excited to introduce you to our networking expert, my friend, executive recruiter Sharon Mah-Gin. I met Sharon over ten years ago in a professional context and w developed a friendship. Last year I interviewed Sharon for an episode about NETWORKING, and that episode is currently ranked #1 of all the Talk About Talk podcast episodes in terms of downloads.
Given what’s going on the world, Sharon and I thought we should continue that conversation with this episode, focused on ONLINE NETWORKING. Since COVID hit in early 2020, our work-worlds have changed, with physical distancing, working from home and the prevalence of virtual meetings. SO how are we supposed to actively maintain and grow our networks in this new normal? People ask me this Q all the time! Well, I’ve got a few ideas and Sharon has many more.
I’m going to formally introduce Sharon again to you now, then we’ll get right into the interview. As usual, I’ll briefly summarize everything after the interview. People tell me they love these summaries, so I’m going to keep doing them.
And a reminder, as always, you don’t need to take notes. Just keep doing whatever you’re doing while you’re listening. Then, later, you can go to TalkAboutTalk.com to access the shownotes. Click on PODCASTS then SHOWNOTES and they’re all there – a summary, the transcript, and links to all the references and recommendations.
Sharon-Mah-Gin earned her Commerce degree from Queens and she is a CPA and CA. She worked in auditing as and as controller before switching to executive search in 1996, when she started at Korn/Ferry International.
Sharon is now an independent executive recruiter having successfully completed engagements in all functional areas including sales, marketing, operations, HR, general management, and financial.
Sharon has also served on several boards, and she’s now working with the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards program.
To keep her out of trouble in her spare time, Sharon is an active skier and she has completed several half marathons. She’s also a hiker, and as you’ll hear in a minute, she’d prefer a walk n talk over a zoom meeting anytime. She has a lot of energy, and it’s infectious!
Dr. Andrea Wojnicki: Thank you so much, Sharon, for joining us to talk about online networking.
Sharon Mah-Gin: I’m delighted to be here. Thank you.
AW: So hello, COVID, and goodbye to live networking. There’s no more conference meetings, there’s no more networking events. How are we supposed to maintain, never mind grow our network?
SMG: Well, you continue on and push forward! And I mean, when we think about how we network in this virtual environment, my sense is that we just continue and push on. We have more time now. Like, think about it, people are at home. So this is an absolutely wonderful opportunity to reach out to people, whether it be your warm network, or people that you’ve lost connections with to. So go and say, Can I grab 15 minutes and catch up? Because people have time, it’s a chance now for us to really reach out and reconnect with people that we may have lost touch with because we were too busy. Because they’ve got time. And I’ve been doing a lot of that, and people have been reaching out to me. And the answer is usually, yes. Start with 15 minutes with the ones that are maybe more distant in terms of you reconnecting but grab a coffee, say hello. And I would just share with you a few tips in terms of that. One of the things that I would say is just the usual greetings. You say How are things? right, but in today’s world with, you know, people losing their jobs, being more stressed out, I think it’s more about reaching out and saying, How are you? How are you doing? How are you finding it during this COVID-19 sort of situation?
AW: You know, what I’ve heard? You know, what I’ve heard people say is, how are you really doing?
SMG: Yes, yes, it’s really about being more genuine and showing more empathy. And I think that that would be one thing that I would suggest. The other thing is, you’re going from face to face to face to face. In other words, when we were doing networking was over coffee. And we now do video chat, right? And so it’s easier to establish a connection and to be authentic. You know, give yourself a few extra minutes to prepare. You want to make sure that your technology is working, that you’re comfortable with it. And really checking in in terms of what you just said earlier, being more authentic, and really saying how are you finding it? It’s really that genuine, empathetic, “I care,” especially when it’s done through video.
AW: Okay, so I have I have two thoughts about that. So one is, while we’re not, as you said, face to face, like physically face to face, there’s a screen between us. And there’s all this technology between us, it can be at least as personal, right? If you just make that extra effort. And the other thing I’m kind of hearing it implicitly is that the whole COVID situation is almost like a catalyst or an excuse for you getting a little more personal with people in your online network.
SMG: Correct. It is because we’re all in this together. And so you got to just call it out. And you’re exactly right. I mean, one of the stories I will share with you is I know you’ve heard of Matt and Savannah, but they’re a father and daughter team, they just decided to record a song like a prayer. And it came out in March, she was 15 years old and had no social media account. She was in the choir. And they decided let’s just try to record a song for fun. And they have garnered over 7 million hits. And they just came out with a song called Hallelujah, which I just love. I took it as an opportunity to say, well, with the US election being over with a vaccine around the corner, I sent that YouTube video out to my network. I cannot tell you how many positive responses I got from everybody while sharing that. And it was a great way to reconnect with everybody. And that was more on a personal note. But I mean, it’s all personal and business. So that was networking, though, if you think about it, absolutely.
AW: Absolutely. It’s it. Here’s something that’s newsworthy. I love that and spreading good news.
SMG: Exactly, because I did it in terms of the nice weather, vaccine, and also the US election. So that’s networking. Like I mean, it’s not just about a job. It’s not just sharing anything. That’s good news, but I’m thinking of you. And so it’s not about I’m looking for a job, or I need you for something and again, from my earlier podcast on networking, it’s always about giving and not receiving. You’re just sharing it for the pure joy of this case, positive news and a beautiful song, which I’ll send to you right after this, by the way.
AW: Yeah, and I was gonna say a couple things. I’m gonna include a link to that video that you’re talking about for sure in the show notes so people can see it. And also in reference to the previous podcast that we did number 45 on networking. Whenever I think about that podcast, I think about your one key message, as you said, it’s giving and reciprocally so you don’t start with an ask. You start with an offer you provide something and you know, I kind of hadn’t consciously really understood or internalized why when some people reach out to network with me It’s so off-putting and with others. It’s not and I realized it’s because of that.
SMG: Right. With true networking, it’s really not about you. It’s really about building relationships with like-minded people. And the benefits will come later. But it really is not about you. And so thank you for again repeating that. And I, when people say, Sharon, I hate networking, I go, Well, why? Oh I feel like I’m begging, I said, Excuse me, it’s not about you, it really is, how can I help you? And it really truly and genuinely expecting nothing in return? Right? It’s not gonna be a one way street. But especially in the beginning it’s really about building relationships with like-minded people. And I often say you don’t even do an ask until at least after a year, you don’t even ask for anything until you build that relationship.
AW: So I just have to interject and say, meanwhile, I’m getting LinkedIn requests every day from people where the ask is actually in the LinkedIn request.
AW: Yeah, every day.
SMG: And what sort of ask, are they asking?
AW: So hey, Andrea, I checked out your profile. Do you have five minutes where I can tell you all about how my company could help you?
SMG: I’ve had those sorts of emails, but for some reason, they’ve all ended up in junk.
AW: Haha. Okay, well, we’re gonna get into LinkedIn in a minute.
SMG: Okay, fair enough. And then the other thing is, in terms of networking, just be more patient. If you haven’t heard back from a company, allow, like, I always say, three requests You’ll wait a few days, do the thank you note or whatever, then follow up again, another week. And then also follow up with a phone call if you can, because I have found situations where people have reached out or responded to me. And for some reason, they end up in my spam or junk email. My recommendation there is you go to via email, if you within a week of each other. And the third follow up should be voice.
AW: I think that’s great. And you know what, a lot of people are looking for that kind of prescriptive advice. So two emails.
AW: And a week later a call?
AW: I love that. And you can kind of feel more confident this is Yeah, this is according to Sharon, she’s an expert, she knows!
SMG: exactly. Three attempts. And then that last one, it might be Listen, I’m just calling to follow up, I sent two follow up emails, you know, and you mentioned that there could be an opportunity, I’m certainly not here to nag you, but just want to get, you know, close it off one way or the other. You know, I’m hoping there’s an opportunity. But if there isn’t, just appreciate just letting me know, so I can just close it off. And that is fair. But for me, in my opinion, sometimes you may not hear back, and that’s okay, too, you know, it is what it is. But just if you’re job searching, my suggestion is you just keep at it all in a positive mindset.
AW: So let’s imagine that you are job searching. And you know, we used to meet with people, we’d have coffees, and in a coffee shop right? at Starbucks, or Tim Hortons or whatever, we would go to networking events, we would go to conferences, there were all these in real life ways to meet people to expand our network, because we all know that we’re more likely to get jobs from a contact of a contact or a friend of a friend rather than directly. So what should a job searcher do?
SMG: Well, the first thing I’m going to say is that 80% of people who get jobs, it’s usually done through networking.
AW: Mm hmm.
SMG: In these COVID-19 times, the networking will be virtual: Zoom, or video or Microsoft Team calls. Or the other thing I just did before this podcast is I just caught up with a gentleman I said, Let’s walk and talk. So we talked and walked and it is a beautiful day today. I encourage everyone to get out and get some sunshine. Mental health is really critical these days, in these COVID-19 times. If you’re looking for a job to it’s even more important, because you have to have a very positive mindset. I will share with you with the gentleman that I was talking with, I just said, you know, you’re sounding a little bit off, but you’re sounding a little bit down and he says, You’re right. And I said, Have you done any walks outside? No. , I’m really busy at work and stuff. And I said, I really need you to go out and just walk and talk. And people are really open to that like, especially if you know the person maybe that first call, you may not want to do it that way. You want to do Zoom. But if you’ve known someone for two or three times, then it’s important not to just work but also to reach out to friends or acquaintances or people that you haven’t been able to connect with and say, Hey, can we grab 30 minutes in walk and talk? And even doing it in the warm sunshine and you’re doing it in nature in a quiet spot. It is so good for the soul, and that positivity needs to come across when you’re looking for a job.
AW: Ah, yes, that’s for your whole outlook and it affects everything doesn’t it?
SMG: And it comes across – like this gentleman was not looking for a job but I even picked up from just a walk and talk sensing that I care about you and I’m sensing you’re a little bit down. This goes back again to being that genuinely caring person. Calling it out and being kind to others. I really feel it’s important to be authentic and genuine and empathetic and share that if you see it.
AW: Yeah, I have. I have two really quick stories that I want to share. One is I interviewed a woman named Gretchen Barton. And she’s a market researcher. She works for a professor of mine named Jerry Zaltman. And he asked in a zoom meeting, how’s everyone doing? And when it got to her, she was like, you know, this is this is not great. And she didn’t really want to share, but he kind of forced her to but then afterwards, she was like, it was amazing that somebody cared that much. And honestly, her loyalty to him just grew exponentially in that moment. And all he said, was, really tell us about it. And she said, Well, I didn’t sleep well, last night, and this and this, and this, and, and then afterwards, you know, that really resonated with her. Another friend of mine told me recently that someone and one of her senior vice presidents that works for her just resigned. And when they were doing the exit interview, they asked him, you know, what, you know, what’s going on? Did you get another job? And he said, No, I just, I couldn’t handle it anymore. The work was piling up and the zoom calls. And she said, but we asked you, like, every week, how’s everything going? And you always said, Fine. Unfortunately, she didn’t say, How are you really doing? Right? He didn’t feel comfortable to answer. So…
SMG: and that might have been a better one on one conversation, right? Like, I mean, people will share more if it’s one on one. And that again, goes back to that premise of networking that we spoke about Andrea, where I said it like if you’re an introvert, you actually will do quite well in this because you’re a very good active listener, and you will actually listen. And we go back to the basic premise of what networking is, it’s not about you, it’s about the other person. So when you actually look at that person and say, because they would like to talk about themselves, right? And you say, How are you really doing given the COVID-19, and all the challenges the world is facing, and you look them in the eye, and you’re genuine people will usually open up.
AW: So so in creating this list, we have, of course, setting up the video conference meetings, as you said, and after maybe after a few of those, you could ask someone to go for a walk and talk or as you said, if they’re in your warm online network, you could ask them immediately to go for a walk and talk or…
SMG: Exactly. Some of them could be live, some of them could just you put on your headset, I’ll put on mine, let’s walk the talk and catch up. Absolutely. Don’t just sit there and do a zoom call after zoom call.
AW: Someday you and I are going to go for a hike, Sharon!
SMG: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. We can even start with a walk.
AW: Yeah. Okay. Um, so early on a couple minutes ago, you mentioned warm networks. And then you said that people that you have let slide, do you have a hierarchy of, I guess, labels or segments that you call people in your online network?
SMG: Yes, absolutely. First of all, try to network with people that are like minded, like, you know, there might be a person on your network, we think, Wow, they’re really powerful to do whatever. But if you don’t have that chemistry, or you’re not like minded, don’t do it. Like that’s just wasted energy. In other words, so I would first of all look for like minded people. And when I say like minded, those are the people when you have a conversation with them. It’s natural. It’s easy. You feel like you can be yourself. And when you finish that conversation, you feel a new energy, they make you feel better about yourself, or that they give you hope. That’s what I mean, about like minded people.
AW: So Sharon, for me that that would be you.
SMG: Oh, that would also be you. I know after this call, it would be just like I just finished doing a great hike, you know, up the mountain. Yeah, on a sunshiny day.
AW: So let’s turn this question around 180 degrees. So as an executive recruiter, you have great insight on this, but how have firms shifted their recruiting strategy? Now that everything’s online, they can’t be hosting live in real life events. So what are they doing?
SMG: Yeah. Well, that’s a great question, Andrea. And I’m really glad you’re asking. So especially for people who are job searching it. So I was telling you that, you know, I have seen a real pivot in the change in terms of recruiting that people are actually getting hired without being met. In other words, the zoom or the team is sufficient enough. And these are some very senior executives, too. So that has been surprising for me, because I mean, these people can make or break the company, right? So the first thing I’m going to tell you is that from a recruiting side, a lot of the big firms – I came out of Korn Ferry – but a lot of the big firms have unfortunately, done a number of layoffs because of all the overhead, the offices, you know, the marketing, etc. Now firms like that are smaller like myself, which are more boutique where we have, you know, minimal overhead, it’s really about your network and your connections and who, you know, we’ve done well, so I’ve really been fortunate, I’ve been quite busy. I had one individual, one client right now, in the industrial space, they found a superstar, eight years ago. Well, that person is going to retire. So it’s a retirement, so we have to fill that void. I’ve had another search where it’s a commodity trading type company, and in that situation, that incumbent left, so the role is vacant. So again, they have to find somebody. And then the third piece, which I’ve done a lot of work in is in growth industries. So I’ve done a CEO and the CFO, and some board searches for a company that is in the COVID-19 growth space and received a big government contract. And so therefore, there is a need. So there are jobs out there in terms of vacancies, retirement, right? And growth industries, there is no new norm. Ladies and gentlemen, don’t sit there thinking when things get back to normal, it is a new normal. So the faster you can accept that, keep looking, don’t stop your search, you know, be patient, leverage your online network, LinkedIn is a fabulous tool there to sort of go back and look at all your contacts and revisit them, you know, in terms of who can I reach out to be ready for video interviews, because everything’s done through video now, right? You know, update your skills, you know, and then follow up. But there are jobs out there.
AW: Right there, there are many silver linings. And, gosh, there’s so many things that you just went through. Another thing that you mentioned is taking online courses. And I know from someone who offers online courses, but that side is exploding right now. Right? People are really investing in themselves, because they have the time and they’re on their computer. Any comments about that?
SMG: Yeah. Well, I was gonna say, there is one that I just signed up recently, and you’ll laugh at this Andrea but it was through Yale, and it’s the number one, it’s free. It’s the number one course
AW: Yeah, I did it! I just signed up! You sent it to me! So this is an example of you networking. You sent that to me. And I just registered.
SMG: You did? Okay, great. Because I took that as an opportunity like, wow, Yale, number one course: happiness. And it’s free. So why wouldn’t I share that with my warm network And so it’s a matter of just taking that time, and then reconnecting you’re thinking, oh, here comes something. Share it and it’s a positive thing. So I like to send out positive stuff, because then again, you’re working on your online presence, you’re working on your personal brand. And my personal brand that I want is that I want to share positive things that I think can make someone feel better than where they’re at or to make them feel happy. Or to put a smile on their face.
AW: I’m thinking I’m thinking about whether you’re looking for a new job, or maybe you’re happy in your job, but you want to upskill there are sort of categories of online courses you could take, right? It could be personal interest. So something that has absolutely nothing to do with your job. It could be your upskilling within your job, you’re trying to demonstrate on your resume to your current and potentially future employers. But then I love this third category that you have, which is a personal interest. That’s really not a hobby, but it’s something that you can use as a catalyst or news, positive news to share with others. I love that.
SMG: Yes, that’s exactly it. And that’s my intent when I send out the Hallelujah video – it’s positive news. Or the Yale course, like, like, wow, like, I mean, why wouldn’t I want to share that? It’s the number one course at Yale, I might add.
AW: That’s what that’s what’s kind of newsworthy about it. Right. Like, it’s not just a random course that Sharon took. This is their number one. In terms of enrollment. Yes. So I’m gonna have to put a link to that in the show notes as well.
SMG: Okay. Fair enough.
AW: Speaking of links, I think we have to talk a little bit about LinkedIn.
SMG: Yes, we do. Yes.
AW: How important is LinkedIn in terms of networking really, in these times?
SMG: Extremely important. Okay. because number one, if we’re going to reach out to your network, one of the things you want to do is go into your contacts, all these people that I have over 7000 in mine, but that’s unusual, because what I do, most people have maybe 500 to 1000. And you’ll be amazed when you go through who they are, Oh, my gosh, I haven’t spoken to them. Oh, my goodness, I loved it when I met this person. Or you’ll be amazed when you go through that in terms of people that you had forgotten about, but you had very positive memories with maybe from a network and you want to start with that. First, from my networking podcast. I was talking about how, when you meet someone, the first thing I do is I link-in with them. I think you had a really fantastic speaker who focused on LinkedIn. I listened to that podcast. Andrew Jenkins spoke about the LinkedIn profile. And I really agree with what he said. But one of the key things: to create a media rich business card, and I totally concur with that. I love that. And so I absolutely from a from a networking perspective. So you go look at your contacts, you’ll figure out who you want to reconnect with, reach out to them, whether it be a job search, or maybe you want to do an informational interview, we just want to reconnect with them, because they were just great individuals that you can deepen that relationship. Because remember what I said to you before true networking, it’s all about meeting people that are like minded, really, it’s about how can I help you building that relationship and the benefits come later. So this is a wonderful time to deepen those relationships, right? Because people have time. So LinkedIn is a wonderful way to get kick started.
AW: So as you were saying that I was just imagining you said that most people probably have just upwards of 500 contacts somewhere in there.
AW: even 500 is really overwhelming in terms of a list to go through. But with LinkedIn, you can filter them, right? So you can filter by geography. If you want to go for a walk with someone, you could say, hey, do you want to join a meeting, go for a walk, but you could filter by discipline, or by their directory or by their firm?
SMG: So yes, excellent. I totally agree with you Andrea. So that’s where I would tell you the number one place to start would be with your LinkedIn contacts and looking at and then also, when you reach out to them, you may find this other similar people that show up and you go, Oh, I forgot about them. And then that’s another chance for you to just keep expanding it right. Because again, the power of LinkedIn, I think we talked about this last time in my networking podcast is that mutual connections are so critical when youre looking for a job. So when you look at the mutual connections, you’re going in, and you’re saying, okay, I want to get a job at Lulu Lemon, (because that’s, I’m wearing Lululemon pants right now!).
AW: Haha – I’m glad you have pants on.
SMG: Haha. But being able to say, I want to get a job there, and then going into your contacts and finding the oh my gosh, I have five people who are actually working at Lulu Lemon or Google and saying, Hey, can you put in a good word for me? That mutual connection is so critical.
AW: So so that’s a do is to leverage the mutual contacts, right?
AW: And to use the filter?
AW: And to, as you said, throughout to make sure that there’s reciprocality and you’re focusing on the relationship and giving and not just taking, do you have any other do’s and don’ts in terms of online networking on LinkedIn?
SMG: I would just say, I mean, you want to keep it current, right? Like, you know, you want a professional photo, because it really is, you know, professional networking versus like a Facebook. So I would say again, the professional photo, and also trying to really build up what your brand is, like, Andrea, what looked at yours, yours is excellent. It’s very clear, it’s a beautiful picture of you, then your first three lines are very clear in terms of what you are right? Communications, , Coach, you know, I really love the way you did that.
AW: So I can tell you personally, from conversations that I’ve had with people, especially like friends of friends that are looking for jobs, and they’ll say, Well, my friend wants to get into marketing, or they want to get into the communication industry, and or podcasting, whatever it is, Andrea, maybe you can help them out. And then I’ll look find them on LinkedIn. And I’m actually shocked at the proportion of people who are really job searching who don’t pay attention, they their LinkedIn profile is simply not updated. Right? And they have yet they haven’t even probably connected with their friends. It’s crazy. So in your experience, how rare is that people that you know you connect with that are looking for a job, and then you go in? And it’s like, what is this?
SMG: I would say that that’s more common. Like you, I am totally shocked. I’ve had situations where you’re telling me you’re a salesperson, and then the word sales is not even in your resume. I would say that is it is more common. Unfortunately, it’s disappointing. Actually. I think it’s just because I think people are just lazy. I think people are just lazy. And really the ones that are really good in terms of profiles are what I call true leaders. I when I see that effort that they’ve done to really care and do their brand. I have seen their career advance, as a general comment again, quite quickly. I remember doing a networking event before at one of the tier one accounting firm, and I had about 30 or 40 people. And at the end of it, I said: if you want to reach out, I’m happy to answer any questions that you might have. I had maybe two or three people who actually did reach out and I had one in particular, she said, Can I take you out for lunch and really pick your brains? And I thought, wow, and that individual? I mean, she’s in her 30s. And she was just announced as one of the top 40 under 40.
AW: Oh, I saw that.
SMG: I thought Yeah, probably makes sense. I mean, when you think she was the only one that who saw it as an opportunity and thought, wow, I need to really learn what to do. You know, it was like, may I take you up for lunch? Just to further have a dialogue about this conversation. I remember thinking she’s gonna go far. Well, my gut was right. And I mean, top 40 under 40.
AW: Yeah. So there’s a couple things there. One is that she was giving, not taking, right. Yes. But the other thing that I the other things that I’m hearing are being proactive.
SMG: Yes. Right.
AW: So getting putting yourself out there, but then also a conscientiousness right? And I’ve heard that being conscientious is a huge contributor to success. So people that dot their I’s cross their T’s take care of their LinkedIn profiles, right?
SMG: Andrea, that is so wonderful, because you’re such an excellent interviewer and as someone who does these podcasts with you. I love it because it’s so rich because you’re obviously learning from every person that you’re interviewing and you have this incredible ability to pull it all together right and make it even more rich. You’re absolutely right. That is what I call a true leader.
AW: So you know, one theme back to your point about me learning from the people that I’m interviewing and the research that I’m doing something that more and more often is coming to my mind as a theme that links all of us together is just having a growth mindset, right. And if you think about it, the person who wanted to connect with you and she stuck her neck out, she was proactive, she was giving, she was conscientious. She also had a growth mindset she wanted to learn. And I feel like that’s also for me a big difference between confidence and arrogance.
SMG: It’s totally true, you don’t know at all. You don’t not know that we might, you know, you hit it right on the nose, the growth mindset. those are those are what I call the true leaders. And I’ve interviewed I mean, 1000s, probably more people and I’m in the enviable position that, you know, companies pay me pay me a lot of money, actually, to figure out who’s going to be the next CEO or the CFO. Tthese are senior leadership roles, right? You know, that I am the gatekeeper . That’s not lost on me. And it’s the soft skill set that I look for. It’s the cultural fit. It’s the ability to communicate, it’s the ability to be confident and not arrogant. That’s what’s critical in true leadership. Yeah, and the growth mindset overrides it all. Yeah. And we’re talking a lifetime learner.
AW: Yeah. I love that term, too. So clearly, Sharon, we are like minded.
AW: We’ve established that if nothing else
SMG: yes, we have.
AW: I actually have one more question to ask you. Before we get to the five rapid fire questions. What do you think about a virtual coffee? I’ve had several of those invitations from people, what do you think about that?
SMG: I think they’re fantastic to do, I tend to do them more with people that I know that I want to either deepen the relationship, or just catch up with them. I think people are more confident now with doing things virtually, that they’re getting used to technology, I’ve had some very rich conversations. Just having a – I don’t drink but – either someone have a glass of wine, or have a cup of coffee, just to catch up. Again, I prefer wherever possible to do them through walk and talks. But as the weather gets colder, and the weather gets more miserable, I don’t know about you, but the thought of a nice hot cup of hot chocolate, or a warm beverage of some kind, maybe with a little bit of Kahlua in it or whatever.
AW: Yeah, I agree with I agree with all those points, I think I did have a few invitations from complete strangers to have a quote unquote, virtual coffee date. And I was kind of off put by that. But you said, if it’s someone that you already know, you could say Listen, you know, normally you and I go out for coffee a couple times a year, and we really enjoy reconnecting, we can’t do that. So let’s do a virtual coffee. And then it seems really natural.
SMG: It does. And I’ve really enjoyed those. That’s why I said I wouldn’t do it with a first time person. I mean, I guess it won’t be the negatives, reversed that question, Andrea, what would be the negatives for having a virtual coffee?
AW: Well, this woman was connected with me on LinkedIn. And then she was like, I know, so and so and so and so that you know, and I really want to talk to you. And we could do a virtual coffee, or you can come to my backyard, blah, blah, blah. And I was like, What are you selling me,
SMG: she didn’t even know you? She was a total random stranger?
AW: She was a total random stranger. And she named two people that I know that are painters. And I was like, you’re either creepy, or you’re trying to sell me something. So that’s the negative.
SMG: So that that’s a great example of It’s all about them and not about you. And that’s also jumping to being familiar way too quickly.
AW: You make it sound so easy, but I think that’s actually maybe one of the best pieces of advice is to just be empathetic?
SMG: be empathetic, be genuine. And really, how can I help you? Yeah, those would be the three biggest things I would say right there.
AW: Brilliant. Okay, ready to move on to the five rapid fire questions?
SMG: I am.
AW: Okay, so we’re gonna do this a little bit differently. I’m gonna remind you what you said last time and see if you have any anything to add? Okay?
SMG: Oh, okay.
AW: So the first question is, what are your pet peeves? And last time you said, people who are not lifelong learners. Do you have anything new to add to that?
SMG: Yeah, I still agree with that. That certainly a change. But I’m going to add, especially given our conversation today, people who don’t make it easy to help them.
AW: I can hear the passion in your voice. And I would say, I bet another pet peeve is not keeping your LinkedIn profile updated.
SMG: That is absolutely true. And then the other thing that I’m going to say is thank you notes. It’s so easy to send a two sentence email with a gracious Thank you, right. There’s no excuse.
SMG: Do you find that Andrew and what you do? Are you finding that too?
AW: Oh, I mean, personally and professionally. That’s also I would say one of my pet peeves, like just say, thank you. It takes zero effort, zero.
SMG: Yeah, I know. It doesn’t have to be really fancy or anything like that at all. And I’ve even had executives sometimes where they’ll go, Well, I want to send a thank you note, like you know, like is it proper in the process? So I appreciate that they’re wanting to check in in terms of the process. I always look at them going. Well, I appreciate you. You’re asking me because you want to make sure you’re not doing anything inappropriate in terms of the search process. But as far as I know, I don’t think thank you notes have ever ever been a no-no, or being ever like outdated?
AW: Yeah. So that said, I’m gonna I’m gonna just tell you this quick story. I was helping a friend’s niece in her job search. And I was basically counseling her and she showed me a thank you note that she had handwritten to someone after she had done an interview. And I said, just so you know, they usually have the meeting to decide who’s going to get the job within 24 hours of the last interviewee. So that is not going to be a thank you note that they’re going to receive in time. They’re going to get that thank you note after they’ve made the decision, you need to go home and send an email like right now. And she said, Oh my gosh, I thought they would appreciate this. I said: I’m sure they will. But it’s too late.
SMG: Andrea, that was excellent advice. And I would tell them the same thing. The handwritten notes are lovely too. And the other thing about thanking those of you should also be aware of for job searchers is when I do go deeper, they go oh, Sharon, I, I didn’t get this point across quite clearly. Or I wish I set this I said, Not a problem. And they go What do you mean, I said, that’s what thank you notes are for right? It’s your second shot. So when you do your thank you note and you’re thanking them for whatever, you can also say just further, I just want to clarify that whatever or, you know, I dawned on me, you know, I realized afterwards, that I didn’t share this point, which I think might be important for you to know. That is your second shot. So that’s the other reason why you should send thank you.
AW: There you go. I’m so glad I told you that story. Because I guess that’s a great point. Okay. These rapid fire questions are not very rapid, but they’re great for getting information. So the second question is, what type of learner are you and the first time you said, definitely visual?
SMG: Yes. And that definitely is still the same and even more so now with a videos like everything’s done through video. So it’s very visual.
AW: It’s Yes. Bizarre to be looking at ourselves and and others when we’re on video conferences. Okay. I think question number three hasn’t changed. introvert or extrovert?
SMG: Definitely an extrovert. How about we just put big capitals on it?
AW: So you made a comment, though, about perhaps COVID is a little bit easier for introverts.
SMG: Yes, I do believe that. My one nephew, who’s an introvert has said, Oh, Auntie Sharon, I’m just loving it. He said, he said, because I just, you know, online, doing my courses and stuff. But he actually said to me, he said that he actually is meeting more people because everything is being done online.
AW: Oh, the poor extroverts. Okay. Next question. Number four, your communication or media preference for personal conversations. And last time you said definitely face-to-face. If it’s a serious conversation. You can’t do that anymore.
SMG: Yeah, you can’t. Although I would say to you with the technology. We’ve done it all through video, but we’re okay. Because I have had a number of hires with them just doing the zoom or the teams etc.
AW: Yep. All virtual. Okay, last question. Is there a podcast or blog or an email newsletter that you find yourself recommending the most lately? And I just want to say last time, you jokingly said TalkAboutTalk. And since then, that episode, where we talked about networking, that episode has become the number one of the well over 60 episodes in terms of downloads, I’m thrilled to tell you and grateful. Are there any other podcasts or blogs or email newsletters that you find yourself recommending?
SMG: Well, first of all, thank you for letting me know that, Andrea. I really think what you’re doing is fantastic. You’re still right up there in my books. But I want to change the question around a little bit. And so I’m going to talk instead about three documentaries. And I would really recommend, on Netflix. And these are documentaries, so real-life stories. Number one, My Octopus Teacher. It sounds like a weird thing, but it’s about a guy who really had a breakdown and falls in love with this Octopus. But the photography and the shooting is absolutely amazing.
AW: I heard about that. When I was listening to NPR. It sounds fascinating.
SMG: I highly recommend it. My octopus teacher, you may not want to eat octopus ever again, if you like seafood. But anyways, number one, number two, on life on our planet by David Attenborough. He’s 93 years old that the David Suzuki is about climate change, but it’s so well done and narrated by himself, and he’s 93 years old, but it gives you a solution. So that’s what I love. And then the third one, which I just watched the other day, which I love is the biggest little farm.
AW: Oh, I haven’t heard of that.
AW: Yes, it’s really about being able to farm the land and how every ecosystem supports each other. So I would like to recommend on Netflix the documentaries, my octopus teacher, a life on our planet by David Attenborough, and the biggest little farm,
AW: amazing. Okay, I’m gonna put links to those in the show notes. Okay, is there anything else you want to add Sharon, about online networking?
SMG: Just be positive, be genuine, and be patient.
AW: Thank you so much, Sharon, for sharing your time and your expertise. We all really appreciate it.
SMG: My pleasure. Thank you so much for the opportunity.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Dr. ANDREA’s CONCLUSION
Well, whether you’re job-searching or not, I’m guessing you found that interview helpful and inspiring. Thanks so much again to Sharon for sharing her expertise with us.
Now I’m going to briefly summarize a few of the learnings. We went through a LOT in this conversation, so I’m not going to repeat everything. Just pull out a few of the major points. I categorized the learning into three categories: general online networking advice, how to approach people, and last how to follow up with people when you’reonline networking. So first:
3 PIECES OF GENERAL ADVICE ON NETWORKING:
- Reasons to be Optimistic. Sharon started by saying: just continue and push on. Don’t hesitate just because we’re all WFH. We have more time now. People are at home and this is a wonderful opportunity to reach out to people.
- There are jobs out there. Vacancies from retirements and people moving on. Also some industries are growing. Tech, health & medical.
- People are being hired without being met. In other words, the zoom or the team is sufficient enough.
- the whole COVID situation is almost like a catalyst or an excuse for reaching out and/or for you getting a little more personal with people in your online network.
- In terms of personality, Sharon and agree this physical isolation associated with COVID might be easier for introverts. But here’s the really good news for introverts: Introverts are great listeners, and listening is a key skill for successful online networking.
- LIKEMINDED – Regardless of your personality, Sharon recommends online networking with people who are like minded… people with whom the conversations are natural and easy, and who leave you feeling energized and better about yourself.
- It’s not about you – One other general Reminder: Networking is always about giving and not receiving. If you haven’t listened to talk about talk podcast episode # 45 on networking, Sharon is very explicit about all this in that episode. Networking is about giving and reciprocality, so you DEFINITELY don’t start with an ask. You start with an offer you provide something. especially in the beginning it’s really about building relationships with like-minded people. And I often say you don’t even do an ask until at least after a year. As Sharon says, it’s really about “how can I help YOU?”
- You can offer insight, a video, course, advice, support, a connection.
“With true networking, it’s really not about you.
It’s really about building relationships with like-minded people.
And the benefits will come later.”
3 POINTERS ON APPROACHING PEOPLE WHEN YOU’RE ONLINE NETWORKING
Kick start your online networking with LinkedIn.
- keeping your LinkedIn profile updated and looking professional is not as common as it should be, as both Sharon and I have noticed. So being diligent, that is, professional and current with your LinkedIn profile might end up being a competitive advantage for you.
- Filter by geography. If you want to go for a walk with someone, you could say, hey, do you want to join a meeting, go for a walk, but you could filter by discipline, or by their discipline or by their firm?
- Grow your network by connecting with your connections’ connections.
Think about the catalyst for your connection. Probably via email. But why are you emailing?
- Could also use something positive as a catalyst. Like the Matt and Savannah Hallelujah video that Sharon sent to hr network. Or the Yale course on Happiness. Links to both in the shownotes. Share things that reflect your personal brand. An article, a video, a course, even a meme. As long as it is newsworthy and relevant to your brand – what you want to say about yourself.
- Checking in. Use COVID as the catalyst. We used to do coffee every few months. Wanna met for 15 minutes and get caught up?
- People are becoming more comfortable with virtual coffees.
- Don’t be creepy. Probably not cool to invite a stranger to come to your private backyard for a coffee date. Remember it is all about stablishing a relationship. It’s about giving – for at least a year before you have an ask.
- Need exercise? GO for a walk n talk.
- The GREETING. You say How are things? right, but in today’s world with, you know, people losing their jobs, being more stressed out, I think it’s more about reaching out and saying, how are you? How are you doing?
3 POINTERS ON FOLLOWING UP WHEN YOU’RE ONLINE NETWORKING
- be more patient. With people. You never know what’s going on. They might be looking after kids at home. They might be dealing with a lot. Be patient.
- Following up: with a maximum of 3 requests. Sharon also offered prescriptive advice in terms of getting back to people but not hounding them. If you haven’t heard back from a company, allow three requests. So two emails. And a week later a call.?
- Thank you notes –That said thank you mails are easy and very much appreciated. Not just for a job interview, but even just for advice or support. And a great opportunity for you to emphasize something with the recipient – maybe the one takeaway you want to reinforce, or maybe something you forgot to say. As Sharon says, thank you notes are your second shot.
There you go- 3 pieces of general advice about online networking (be optimistic, online networking with like-minded people, and being generous, it’s not all about you.) then there’s 3 points about approaching people(kick-starting your networking in terms of LinkedIn, considering the catalyst for your connection, and then the greeting) and last 3 pointers on following up when you’re networking (being patient, following up with a maximum of 3 requests, and always following up with a thank you)
Thanks again to Sharon Mah-Gin for sharing her awesome advice and her positive energy with us.. You can find her contact information in the shownotes if you want to connect with her, maybe one LinkedIn!
OK – One last thing before you go start with your online networking. If you’re not signed up for the Talk About Talk communication skills newsletter, please do! This is your chance to get free communication skills coaching from me every week in a simple to digest email. I promise no spam and no more than one per week. Just go to talk abouttalk.com to sign up or email me directly and I’ll add you to the list. You can email me anytime at Andrea@TalkAboutTalk.com.
THANKS for listening – and READING!
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