Coffee in the Barn

4. Networking like a Boss with Ashley Owens Part 1

March 09, 2022 The Sunswine Group Season 1 Episode 4
Coffee in the Barn
4. Networking like a Boss with Ashley Owens Part 1
Show Notes Transcript

Regardless of the work you do, or the job that you're in, networking is a key determining factor that really levels up your success.

In this two parts episode,  networking expert Ashley Owens from Ashley Assists will teach us the secrets on how to grow your network from a tactical and strategical perspective like a boss.

What You’ll Learn

  • Keys to expanding your network
  • How to start a conversation in the business world
  • Setting goals
  • How to communicate effectively and more!

About our Founder:

Casey Bradley Ph.D. is an Experienced Animal Scientist and Nutritionist that has worked with swine, poultry, ruminants, and pets. Specialties include product development, technical writing, and presentations, research, technical sales, mentoring, and networking. Academic training includes nutrition, immunology, and animal wellbeing. She has presented at large conferences in USA, Canada, Greece, and Denmark. Work experience includes farm management, research management, technical service and sales, regulatory, project management, and employee management.

About the Guest:

Ashley Owens is a networking concierge and the founder of Ashley Assists, LLC, her business for consulting with professionals and businesses to create strategic partnerships and assist in networking events and business development. With Ashley’s network and expertise, she turns leads into new business and identifies networking opportunities that range from events, groups, and communities. Similar to a concierge service, these tasks are all customized to specific networking challenges and needs.

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Today to educate us all on tactical networking, and how to network like the boss. Please welcome Ashley. 



Thank you everybody for being here today. We're gonna talk about networking like a boss. And what this really means is being very tactical about your networking activities because sometimes networking just sucks. Sometimes it's really tough and sometimes we just don't want to hang out and actually have conversations with people and I understand the fear that goes into that. Yes, I am an extrovert but I did not get the slide by being an extrovert or by being always being an extrovert. The main point about this program we're going to talk about today is you're going to be able to cherry-pick from things that make sense for you. You're going to get a ton of information. Don't worry about taking notes, you're welcome to, but I'm going to provide a link to a hidden page, so that way, you can get all the necessary information from this presentation, as well as helpful resources that I also reference in this presentation.


Alright, so we have just heard about a ton of things about me, but let's just some fun facts just because that's how networking really is, is getting to know something new. So let's do this. I'm originally from North Jersey, which just means I’m a real fast talker. I've got the best bagels. I mean, I'm for coming from Jersey, but let me tell you all the Jews and the Italians that come from New York and then they pop themselves in North Jersey, so I can do a really good croissant or I can go to New York and get him otherwise. I haven't found a good bagel in Pennsylvania yet. I have no kids, I have a very fat cat. So if you hear a small child crying at some point during this presentation, that is my fat cat wanting a second breakfast, just ignore him as I do. Previously, I was a celebrity personal assistant, which just means I have a lot of therapy bills and I know how to navigate New York pretty well. I've competed in CrossFit competitions. Honestly what I was really good at was I could deadlift 225 lbs one time and then cry in corners quietly. But I've given three first place at a 34 in a competition which just means I survived it. Don't clap. It's pretty embarrassing. Karaoke champ 2016, to be fair, it was at my bachelorette party. I have since been divorced. So that I'll tell you what that means. Then in 12 movies as an extra in drug movies as an extra which just means I can sleep really anywhere up against any hard surface when you're extra in different movies, they get you on set for about 12 to 16 hours so I get a chance to learn more about the movie business in that area, but otherwise, the only cool skill in gaming from that as I can really just take these little micro naps and sleep on any surface. And then I once eat a Carolina Reaper does anybody know what a Carolina Reaper is?



You survived it



I'm not dead yet. Jack. I think you're nodding. Do you know what a Carolina Reaper is? Oh, we got to yourself up a new down.



It's just one of the hottest peppers around



A bad life choice that's what that is



I was gonna say As a nutritionist, how does that digestive tract end up?



It was a story and a half that's not appropriate for this kind of professional presentation I'm giving today but thank you very much for asking Jack. Thank you for your participation, you get a gold star. All right Folks. This is the interactive session. Do me a favor. I need to kind of gauge the audience. This is purely for me just to understand where you guys are at. How stressful for you is networking on a scale of one to 1 to 10? being the worst. 10 being like super-duper scared having a panic attack in a parking lot which I think everybody needs to have at one point in their lives. You guys can take yourselves off mute and tell me why. Or you could put it in the chat. I'd be happy to answer that as well. Thank you.



I feel like I'm so one now thanks to Ashley.



Thank you very much. (keeps asking what people's level think – people gives feedback)…


But there's also a fear that comes with that, right? There's like, I feel like I have to tell you the cool things about me and then you have to reciprocate and they're like ‘’I have like three cool things that my mom said that I was cool about that and I don't know what else to tell you’’. Right So what we're going to go through today and I talked about being very really cherry-picking from the things that make sense for you. Networking is a personal activity. Sort of a one size fits all type thing. So, when you're communicating and networking with another individual, you have to remember that there are opportunities to build relationships by actually just being a person. I really want you to take away the stress of feeling like you have to prove yourself or to just show value every single time like why you're valuable. What I want you to do is just have a conversation, because at the end of the day, nobody's gonna buy from you or nobody's going to want to connect with you If you haven't built up the know the like and the trust factor. We're gonna go more into that or touch on a little bit. But think about it when you're networking, we're communicating internally with somebody let's say within your own organization. Nobody cares about what you do. Nobody cares. Really, truly, nobody cares. They care what you can do for that. And it's vice versa. So how do you build up a relationship that you can build the know like and trust factor and give value at the same time?


We're gonna go through a couple of things, the reality of networking because everyone talks about building relationships, but it's like, how do you do that? How do you do that? Right steps to get started. Knowing yourself and once you're in therapy, it's a little hard to digest. Knowing your audience. Planning your work and working on your plan, Tools and resources, and questions on how I can help if you have questions. This is an interactive session, no question is dumb. No question is ‘’oh, you know, because she's an expert. She's not going to understand’’. Let's talk about it because I want to have these conversations with you to really understand how I can help directly.


I have put my foot just as an FYI, I have put my foot in my mouth more often than I think any of you have, because I just talk a lot, so if you’re talking about being embarrassed, Don't, I am the queen of that. Awesome.


Here's the problem with people because people sometimes suck for you. Here's what the norm is right now. Most professionals are operating virtually right? So that really means that we are trying to learn a different form of communicating by doing things virtually. The enthusiasm around talking to somebody new, or at least trying to gauge how to communicate can be really frustrating and stressful, and plus, sometimes again, just like we see here, technology can be kind of a pain in the butt. And unless it's working 100% of the time, sometimes it can give off a bad reputation but more of a conflicting way of communicating, because you're not always you know, I'm enthusiastic because I've got 70 cups of coffee in me which I've prepped for before I do these things. but otherwise, sometimes things get lost in translation. Or you've got you to know, somebody's not having a clue how to join a webinar and then you got to talk to them about the whole thing. It's a whole like ‘’scroll down Carl, please just scroll down in the email, click the link will begin to go’’. It's not always easy for everybody. So being able to network virtually sometimes might be a little challenging in the beginning, and then are you able to connect with new people? So by connecting with new people, how does that compare to meeting somebody in person? And then you know, to that point, sometimes the small talk can be even more awkward when you're doing things virtually. And then our pants optional, because apparently, that's the thing now, people don't wear pants on calls. I don't get it. It's just so it's always Darren who just forget he's not wearing pants.


Alright, here's the reality. Now when you're building up a network when you're identifying ways to truly build up people that will advocate for you when you're not in the room. You really want to make sure before you even consider keeping them in your sphere of influence or people that you want to back you up. Do they do these three things?


  • Only people who actually genuinely care are going to talk to you


And not at you wanting to tell mother during Christmas time asking when you're going to have kids or


  • Only generally people who care are going to help you anyway.


You don't have to beg for their help. You don't have to ask them to say ‘’hey because if I do this, will you do this?’’ People who generally care are people that are called givers. These givers will identify ways to bring you value and help you with a resource with an introduction, something of that nature. In their bones, they want to help.


  • And then only people who genuinely care will ask you for realistic favors.


I'm not saying ask them for $10,000 sponsorship for an event that may or may not happen right? Or ‘’hey, would you mind you know picking up my dry cleaning going and get my kids and then you know, maybe make dinner’’ like that's an unrealistic favor, right? So, when you start to build up people in your influence, make sure that they hit these top things because that foundation means that they actually give a damn. And if they care, they're going to help you more throughout the entirety of your networking growth. Here's a question. You can throw these in the chat no problem. What is the maximum number of people that we can maintain relationships with and have social interactions with what do you guys think? Number wise?



No, I know. I mean. (laughs)



If you guys throw in the chat, Casey's cheating 50 Close Catherine, you're close. Are you going folks during Shabbat know Oh, Morgan, you're even closer.



I started low on purpose., Ashley.



Thank you. Patricia, you're close. Ellen, close. The number is 150. And the reason why it's 150 is that there's a theory by a British anthropologist Robin Dunbar and what they're talking about here in this theory is at the tightest circle has just five people, those are loved ones, then that's followed by the success of layer of 15 Good Friends 50 Friends 150 meaningful contacts 500 acquaintances, and then 1500 people that you can recognize. People might migrate in and out of these layers, but the idea is that they have to be carved out for anybody new to come in. So, if you exceed 150 a network is unlikely to last long or cohere well, so think about that when you're meeting with somebody new or if you're trying to get the attention of somebody that could potentially help you down the line. They really have to hit these top three things, and you don't have to talk to every single Joe, Dick, and Harry.



No.1 Casey's mistake, talking to everybody.



Yeah, I know! It's okay. So here's a storytime. So now that you understand, like, what your boundaries are for keeping people like in your network, let's think about the way that you're communicating and why it's important to be able to communicate effectively with these people. Let's talk about the story. So everyone knows Paul Revere, right? You'll know Paul Revere, he runs Boston 1775 road north race and militia, right. He sounded the alarm for the Revolutionary War. William Dawes did the exact same thing except he wrote south, which doesn't really matter in this instance, but his message was the same. The reason why history remembers Paul Revere is that Paul Revere was an information broker, an information broker is a person who occupies a key role in his social network by connecting unrelated groups of people. When he targeted well-connected people during his ride, the news then spread wildly and very quickly.


William Dawes was not an information broker. He didn't know what doors to knock down and when he entered that small town, so the moral of the story is, take this into consideration with your own skill sets, with your businesses, with whatever you're working on those have value, if that information is not delivered to the right people, it will fall into obscurity, just like William Dawes. Now that you guys have an understanding of why you're communicating effectively, let's think about what your networking goal actually is. So everything on this page that you see here, these are identifiable networking activities, is not just picking up the phone talking to somebody, is actually identifying ways that you can continue to maintain and nurture the kinds of people you already have in your network. But to do that, you need to build engagement on your LinkedIn profile. Is your subject matter expert in your field, or even have thoughtful intentional content that you know you can put out? That's what you should be doing on your LinkedIn profile because people are checking you out. Are you staying in front of your current network with again, that thoughtful content so if you've got a really great article that you've written if you've done a podcast if you've done Casey’s podcast, whatever it may be, keeping in front of your current network by connecting with those right people on LinkedIn is a great way for them to see what's going on.



Are you building new professional friendships? Again, low-hanging fruit, is very important to build up your tier one and tier two people when it comes to building a network. However, are you building new professional relationships? which means that you have to support them in some way. Commenting on their article reaching out to say ‘’Hey, I've got this event or this networking group I think you'd be really interested in’’. Providing value is the foundation of networking.


Are we reaching out to past clients or vendors or colleagues and Checking in? now I'm talking about checking in as you're going into the conversation hot, which means that you've got a resource or tool or something that you can share with them that could potentially help them grow their business or just help them personally because you took the second to think ‘’how can I really make this person's day?’’ Are you learning and developing a new skill from a local subject matter expert? Guess what? subject matter experts right now have no gatekeepers because everyone's at home. So if you go and reach out to them via LinkedIn, send a message, Casey has done this before, and just start the conversation and say ‘’I would love to learn more about how you got started in this business. Or your thoughts on this from the article that you wrote’’. Have a conversation because SMEs also have a really close-knit network. They also have a broader network because they specialized in one area and they typically outsource other topics to other vendors. So think about that, as you guys are communicating with somebody new.


Again, are you nurturing your network by staying engaged with their content? Their content is important, whether it's on Instagram, whether it's on Facebook or LinkedIn, we're going to specifically talk about LinkedIn today and Social media profiles, a little bit more intense, but LinkedIn is the place where professionally where you should be at all times.


Now when you understand the activities that actually take to build a network, think about who the hell am I networking with? Putting that into perspective, think about these top three categories of people,


-       strategic partners


These are people who compliment your industry. So for example, a real estate agent and divorce lawyer are fantastic strategic partners because when somebody is getting a divorce typically they're downsizing or upgrading depending on the agreement. But they're able to share clients throughout the timeline or the phase that that client is going through. So if someone's getting more so tentatively going to need a financial advisor, they're going to need somebody to sell our house we're gonna need somebody to work with on the lawyer front. Think about the lifecycle of your client, so that way you can network with people that also have a touchpoint with that same client.


-       Subject matter experts.


If you suck at something and you want to get better at it, reach out to those people. These people should be in your network so you can reference them, so you can showcase them and you can also identify ways to work with them because their audience is very broad. And then


-       Your current network


these are people that you've already built the know the like and the trust factor with these people are the ones are going to advocate for you when you're not in the room. You have to maintain that conversation. As you're figuring out who to network with. It's gonna go through these top three areas.



Can I give an example for them as a grad student, because they're not selling today. A lot of them. So you're a subject matter expert, I think Melissa's on here, I'm not sure if she's on here, but she's studying enzymes in beef cattle. When I was at AB Vista, I think we support her master's thesis for instance, and used that network, that's going to advocate for you out of the room when you're looking for a job AB VISTA may not be hiring for instance, but hopefully, you know, here's a job and says ‘’Well, I know this really great graduate student coming out, connect with her’’. And that's kind of really what I'm trying to do is connect you guys with a great recruiting firm to help you find your new job. And then I'm also advocating for some of you outside of the room. So by connecting with me, but you're looking to get a job, where do you want to work at? build that network around people That's in that industry, in that type of job that you want, connect with them. Because they're going to hear about jobs that will come open and potentially help you get those jobs. Everybody knows me as an enzyme person or a solid lameness person. But if I'm not selling the right ingredient, I advocate for people who are selling the right ingredients. you're advocating. we're going to become subject matter experts or we're known as subject matter experts. But we don't know everything. So you need to have a good portfolio and your network of people who do know, so you can help and that's what makes stronger relationships.



It’s okay that you don't know how to help just yet but start being curious about those industries. Start asking the right questions. So especially if you guys again, if you're not selling anything right now, but what you're doing is that you're providing, you're giving people ways to help you. But you have to ask a question. You have to ask for that information, and now your network could potentially be again, I'm talking about strategic partners for going on the student side, Really, people that you've worked with in the past, people, you know, your previous managers. Go into a deeper dive into who they are, what they do, what makes them awesome, and then also share what your goals are. People genuinely want to help. And if you're already built and the known the like factor with them and you're working on building the trust, ask. We're going to talk more about what those questions may or may not be.


For example, if you're reaching out to an SME, we're going to talk about how to communicate effectively and what questions to ask them and you guys will also get this as well.


Alright, so how to communicate effectively?


You're all students understand the fear of really trying to stand out, in order to get the job or to be seen as an SME in your field. So, what you only want to start thinking about is making your name memorable. I'm not talking about going and giving somebody call and like steamrolling the conversation, or peacocking it at an event or a virtual event. So as you are communicating effectively, you really, really, really, really, really want to make your name memorable. This is giving yourself permission to engage in a way that's a bit vulnerable. Yes, the world is a dumpster fire right now. Everyone is struggling. How do you help? How do you provide value? How can you help them or provide insight or have a good brainstorming session with that person? And the conversation with the future in mind, if you're ending the conversation with the future in mind, you've actually taken some thought into how you might be able to help that person or if you want to continue and expand on a particular topic that you talked about, you know the next time you're going to talk to that person. So that's how you nurture the network. That's how you nurture the people that you have the pleasure and the privilege of having in your network.


Plan structured next-step conversations. If you have an introductory conversation with somebody on LinkedIn, or you've commented thoughtfully on someone of their posts, you always, always, always want to make sure that you're ending the conversation with the future in mind, or excuse me, you're playing the next structure next time conversation, so this person knows what you'd like to talk about. They can become a mentor halfway down the line. The other bit is recognizing storytelling opportunities. You've really got to recognize the fact that right now you may not have a ton of experience and that's okay. But if you're able to help someone in an effective way, it allows you to tell the story of how you go out there, take a problem, they get fixed. You're in school right now, I completely understand that. Let me tell you something. There's a project that you have troubleshot through, there's a lesson that you've learned, educate that person and how you've been able to go through and manage your way through that conversation. Because at the end of the day, that's going to show the kind of character that you have and the kind of person that you are.


Build a diverse network. Don't just stick to the people that you want to chat with. Now brews wine sameness, because we all network with people that look like us, all of us do. It's a human behavior trait. I will challenge you to build a diverse network because it is so much more eye-opening, there's so much growth potential there. And the reason why it can develop a more complete and creative unbiased review of issues is that when you trade information or skills with people whose experiences differ from your own, you're now providing one another with a unique and exceptionally valuable resource. So start putting yourself out there talking to all different kinds of groups. You guys are younger than me I'm a millennial, so you guys are all way more inclusive than I was brought to be. But so, start continuing to do those activities. Because it's so so so so, so, so important. Oh Caroline, great question. How did you have people that are not open to talking? it depends on when they shut you down. Is it you're already on the call? Or are they saying no, I'm not available to talk right now? Because the way that you approach the question, usually you're giving them no reason to say no if you're just saying can we talk, but if you're saying ‘’here's what I would like to talk about. I was hoping that you had 15 minutes to discuss I'm really interested in X Y & Z’’ Why wouldn't anybody want to talk to you? They may not have the time or they may ignore you. And you know, what if they ignore you, tough shit, just 14,000 million people that could also go in and then you can chat with.