225: How to Build Your Dream Network with J. Kelly Hoey

By November 3, 2017Podcasts



J. Kelly Hoey says: "Go for the bull's eye of telling people specifically what you're looking for... because then they have a radius of how to help."

Kelly Hoey dismantles networking misconceptions and share how you can make connections effectively.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Why networking is more important now than ever before
  2. How to come up with better ice breakers than the weather
  3. How to present yourself optimally on social media

About Kelly

J. Kelly Hoey is a writer, investor, connector and networking expert, lauded everywhere from Forbes (“1 of 5 Women Changing the World of VC/Entrepreneurship”) to Fast Company (“25 Smartest Women On Twitter”). A columnist for Inc.com, she’s appeared on CNBC’s Power Pitch, and as an influencer, her clients include Comcast, Turnstone and Capital One.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

J. Kelly Hoey Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Kelly, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

J. Kelly Hoey
Thank you for having me.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I think we’re going to have a whole lot of fun chatting about some things. And I was really enjoying perusing your Medium post with 50 Secrets Across 50 Years and so, I mean, we could zero in any one of them. But I want to hear this tale about doing four all-nighters in six days and what you say the key is to doing that effectively if you have to?

J. Kelly Hoey
Vitamin B, and a really good team.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

J. Kelly Hoey
If you’re going to, fueling on a lack of sleep, Vitamin B, B complex, you know, I want to say it’s a vitamin water or one of my favorites is originally an Australian product Berocca. It’s quite good for hangovers as well, I will add, but it’ll help you. Rather than the caffeine, go for the vitamin B. And when I was pulling all-nighters, I had an extraordinary group of, I want to say, legal assistants and paralegals who I worked with. And if you’re going to put in those kind of hours you need people who are going to roll with you. That made all the difference in the world. Not that I’d want to do it again but Lord knows I can.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. Well, I already found that I’m less able to do that now at 34 than when I just maybe ten years ago, so there it is.

J. Kelly Hoey
You know what, there’s times when you know you’d have to deliver and you just have to, for lack of a better word, just got to suck it up and do it. And that was one extraordinary week in my life as a lawyer. But I recently, you know, when you have to like call on those experiences to know you can get through it, and I had a flight that got delayed so I was going to land in Omaha to do a keynote and I had 20 minutes before the keynote and it was a red-eye via Minneapolis or something.

And we got off the plane kind of like the last 20 minutes of the flight, put my makeup on, went to the bathroom, changed my shirt, you know, whatever, landed, a guy was there to pick me up, got to the startup week there in Omaha, and the organizers looked at me and I said, “We’re good to go. I probably will last an hour then you’re going to need to get me to the hotel, but I can do this.”

Pete Mockaitis

J. Kelly Hoey
What was I going to do? Text them and tell them to change the schedule. It’s like the show must go on, so.

Pete Mockaitis
“Sorry, I’m sleepy.”

J. Kelly Hoey
Exactly. “I’m cranky. I’ve been in economy for four hours.” No, that doesn’t work, you know. Things happen and you’re just like, “Right, what can I do?” Hey, I can have a midday nap. It made for a fun day.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, yeah, those are nice. Those are nice. Well, I want to talk mostly today about your networking wisdom. You sort of earned quite the acclaim in that realm as being one of 25 smartest women on Twitter, and you got this book in which you share a lot of your wisdom called Build Your Dream Network. Tell us, what’s the big idea behind the book and why is this important now?

J. Kelly Hoey
I would say, I think networks matter more than ever before. I like to say we’re in an era that’s not what you know or who you know. It’s who knows what you know. And whether you are looking to start your own venture or working within a company, or looking for a new job, that word-of-mouth networks that were always, I want to say always important but some of it closed off to us, matter more, and they’re sort of easier ways for us to, I want to say, tap into new networks. I want to say social media and other platforms have democratized access, but that importance of remembering the human skills and flexing that muscle continuously.

The reason for writing the book was, you know, what’s the question you’re always asked, that maybe your secret sauce, and for me it was the same questions all the time on networking and how to make really valuable connections. And I can’t go for endless coffee days just like I can’t pull endless all-nighters, so putting everything in a book was the way to go.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, that’s great to have that resource now available. So, can you lay it on us then, what are some of the maybe top things? Maybe for those who think they’ve got networking pretty well handled, maybe you could shed some light on stuff in terms of what are some of the top mistakes or failings folks make when it comes to doing the building of the network?

J. Kelly Hoey
Well, I mean, the first thing is I think the top mistake is what we think networking is. And I think most of us think of networking as an activity we all need to undertake when we’re in a time of need or if we’re in sales. I think people look at it as something that is a power imbalance, like, “I need something and you can give it to me.” And we typically think of it as something that we have to do with strangers, “So how do I make idle small talk, and those kinds of things?”

Let’s just blow that up. As I say in the book, if I can come up with a new definition, you can call it relationship-building, you can call it connecting, you can call it whatever you want, call it networking, bundle all that stuff together. The reality is in this day and age, I think everything we do when we interact with another human being is networking.

So, think of all the touchpoints you have on any point in time, whether it’s your email signature line, whether you listen to this podcast and you share it with somebody else, who you greet in the elevator, how you say hello to a security guard or a doorman, how you mentor, how you follow up. You know, you asked what the greatest networking mistake is, the failure to follow up. It’s not the lousy handshake. It’s not having your snappy elevator pitch. The failure to follow up is the number one networking mistake. But the first thing is to think about every single thing you do as an activity, thinking of networking as an activity, that is networking.

The second think to think about is every single activity when you’re networking is with another person so I don’t care if it’s a text or a tweet. You’re networking with a human being so be human and remember that. Someone asked me recently, “What’s the biggest secret and trick to networking?” I said, “Don’t be jerk.” It’s not that hard, people. Be kind.

And the first thing, and this is where maybe the real driver for writing the book, is, as I said, people make the error of thinking of networking as an activity that you undertake in need and, therefore, when they think about networking they’re always thinking about, “Oh, should I go to this event? Should I join this club? Should I be on this committee at work, this kind of thing?” And I’m like, “Whoa, stop. Wrong place to think about networking. Go back to what are your goals.”

And if we’re talking to people who have an ambition to climb the corporate ladder or switch careers or how to get higher or change functionaries in the company they’re working at, like think about what your career goal is. Now, who are the people who can help you make that career goal a possibility, either the next step or an intern step, whatever it may be? Now, how do you connect with them?

And part of the reason to write this book, to go back to your initial question, is there’s a lot of really great networking books out there. My frustration with them, reading them years ago, was thinking, “Okay, I get all of this.” But what they haven’t done for someone is provide them with a roadmap. And a roadmap for me starts with a starting point. And a starting point for networking for your career starts with your career goals. What is it that you want to achieve? When we achieve things with the help of other people, now how do you connect effectively with them?

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. You know, I like that so much. It seems so simple and almost like, “Well, of course, that’s what we should do and how we should approach it.” But, you’re right, it’s sort of like we have it inverted. When people asks you those questions, “Should I join this committee? Should I join this networking group?” It’s almost like, “This networking is happening here, therefore maybe I should do that because I’ve heard networking is important.” You’re saying, “No, no, time out. Let’s flip the script and say, okay, ultimately where do you want to go? Who could help and how do you connect?” So, I think this is really solid stuff.

J. Kelly Hoey
I was going to say, like, people often asks me, they said, “Well, what’s a good icebreaker question, Kelly?” And I’m like, “I don’t know.” And they look at me blankly, and I said, “You’ve got to ask yourself why you’re in that room. If you’ve stepped into a networking activity, if you understand why you’re there, you understand what the first question is you can ask someone.”

I don’t know. “Have you joined a committee because you’re going to get to work with other people across the company?” “Have you joined a not-for-profit board because you care about that cause?” “Have you attended a meetup because you want to hear the speaker?” Like, what’s your reason for stepping into that networking venue? Then you can probably figure out what your first question is. Versus, “What’s the icebreaker?” like a generic one-size-fits-all, which is just like so doesn’t work for me.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I hear, and I do feel a little bit about the whole weather conversations and, you know, “So I guess that’s all you got. And so go with it.” But, I mean, you’re right, it’s so much more fun to say, “Oh, have you heard the speaker before? I’m really excited to hear him live.” It’s like that’s a much stronger, I think, opening connection point than, “Oh, it’s getting chilly, huh?”

J. Kelly Hoey
Exactly. Or to be able to say, “This is my first time attending one of these meetings. How about you?” And then one of the person says, “No, I’ve been a lifelong member.” “Well, tell me what keeps you coming back?” Like, something where you’re sharing with that other person and understand why they’re there and to be able to say, “Hey, this is my first time. I’ve heard a lot of really great things about…” Or, “I’m excited to join this committee. Here’s the reason why I wanted to join. How about you?”

It’s so much easier for you to understand why you’re undertaking an activity. I mean, sometimes I say to people I think about networking, when you think about it in this sort of team and goal focus as opposed to some Machiavellian, “It’s all about me and what’s my goal.” But if you think about it as team and goal focus, think about it like football. You’re in one end zone and you know the other end zone. If you don’t know what your goal is and you don’t know, “Well, where am I throwing the ball? Am I throwing it behind me? Am I throwing it to the right, the left, the side? Which way am I going?”

But if you clearly know what your goal is, then who are the people that you need to work with? March down that field and achieve that goal because you’ve got to work as a team. A quarterback doesn’t win a football game on their own. And every once in a while with networking, you can throw a Hail Mary, you can throw a long pass and you get lucky.

But what happens most of the time? We keep on this football analogy, what happens most of the time? You fumble. You go switch up your plays. You’ve got to call in special teams, you know. And guess what? Sometimes it doesn’t work and you’ve got to re-strategize and re-group and start again. And so think about networking that way. Yes, there’s an individual goal but this is a team activity. And how are you building relationships so other people want to get on that field and help you achieve your goal?

Pete Mockaitis
All right. So, I really dig that. Now, I guess I’m thinking, when it comes to think about your goal, I think that probably sounds, at least to me, you know, pretty quick and easy in terms of, “Oh, this is what I want.” But maybe you, do share, are there are some extra layers of insightful question or investigation that should go into this step beforehand?

J. Kelly Hoey
Well, I mean, this is where I say to people, like, “Spend more time. If you had a yardstick and you use that as a measurement for your time of networking. Rather than spending an inch of your time researching and the rest of the yardstick’s length running around, I want you to invert that.” Because not only is it thinking about, “Right, what’s my goal?” Break that goal down, and then with each piece of it, who are the people who can help you?

So, let me give you an example. When I’m decided, had this crazy notion in my head that I wanted to write this book, the first think I thought was, “Where do you even start with this?” So, I immediately thought of three friends: one who is in the publishing industry, other two were who were in the process of writing books or recently had a book published.

And I said, “I’ve got this idea that I want to write a book. Can I talk to you about it?” And one of them is like, “Yes, let’s have lunch. I’ll tell you what goes on in the publishing industry.” And another one said, “Absolutely. By the way, if it’s helpful, here’s my book proposal so that you can read and look at it.” And the third one was, “Yes, let me walk you through where I’m at with mine. And once you have your book proposal, like you’re starting to draft it, I will help edit it and help you get it to a place where you could then start thinking about literary agents.”

When I got to the point of going, “Oh, shoot. Maybe I should find a literary agent,” I sat down and I made another list of the original three people probably with another 12 on that list, so now I’ve got 15 people. And I individually emailed those people and I said, “Guess what? I want to write a book. I’ve got a book proposal. This is what the book is about. If you have recommendations on literary agents I’d love them.”

And people got back to me, and from there, one in particular I’m thinking of, one friend was like, “I think I have someone who would be a great literary agent. This is what I need you to give me so I can reach out to her. If this literary agent is interested, she’ll let you know.” So that’s the other thing that double-blind introduction not just dumping me in someone’s inbox saying, “Oh, Kelly is fabulous. You should get her book.”

So, based on personal recommendations then I had, I want to say, insight into literary agents. You know, I’ll stop there because if my friends had come back and said, “Well, here’s some names, whatever.” Or if my friends had come back and said, “We don’t know of anyone. Here’s maybe some ways to find them,” you know, then I would’ve been like, “Okay, let me jump on the internet. Let me search around. Let me see who’s done this type of genre. Let me go and look at this.”

But, fortunately, I had a good luck of having some people in my network who had written books and had some recommendations, so then I got the meeting with the literary agent. But then sort of fast forward, “All right, the book is going to be coming out. I need a publicist.” And same thing again, I’m not posting on my Facebook page, “Hey, all of my network, I want to write a book. Can anyone help me?” Like that’s not helpful to anybody.

Like you’re either going to get a bunch of people doing happy face or some likes or, “Yay, good for you,” or something. Versus saying, “You know my big goal is to write a book. Now, let’s break this down into the sub-goals, like every yard of a football field. Like, all right, how can I get that first down? Like, how do you break it down in pieces and then get really hyper-specific?”

We’ll keep on this sport analogy. Think of like a target with darts, right? Go for the bull’s eye of telling people specifically what you’re looking for because then they have a radius of how to help you. So, take the example of looking for a job, “Hey, I’m looking for a job.” “Well, are you looking for a job at McDonald’s or are you looking for a job at General Motors? Like, I don’t know. What are you looking for?” You don’t know where to aim for someone.

Whereas, if someone said, “I’ve been on this management trainee program for five years but this is where it looks like it’s going to go and I’m reading the tea leaves at my company and the hierarchy. And what I think I really need to do if I’m going to advance is to step out so I can step back in, so I’m looking for a role.”

And be really specific, “Hey, I think I should go over to a consumer products company because I’ve been in a business enterprise company, so I’m looking for a job. I live here in New York City so here are some names of the companies, or whatever,” because then someone can say, “Guess what? I don’t know anybody over at Lipton but I know somebody at Campbell Soup. Would you want to talk to them and that could help you?”

But the more specific, and I don’t know what it is in life, it’s like people go, “Oh, don’t be so narrow. Don’t be so specific because you’ll miss opportunities.” I’m like, “No, no, no, no, no. You’ll make it so much easier for someone in your network to really help you if you tell them exactly what you’re looking for because then they can think of adjacent things.” If you’re just out there with, “I’m looking for a new job,” we don’t know how to answer that one. That’s a lot of work and that’s a big a lot of territory to try and figure out.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely. And I find that both, really when I’m on the receiving end of maybe emails or requests, it’s sort of like the more ambiguous and tricky it is to like think through, “What are you even asking me and what are we going for here? And I don’t even know if I have someone.” I think, I guess tragically, when time is scarce and incoming emails or requests are vague or tricky it just reduces the likelihood of any sort of response as opposed to, “Oh, that’s what you want? Well, I know just the person. And this is easy.” Twenty seconds later we’re moving things forward a little bit as opposed to, “Oh, let me think about that,” and then maybe you’ll never return.

So, I love the specificity and the itty-bitty steps. But one thing I’m thinking, as you laid out that process, it seemed like you were in an advantageous situation of kind of reaping what you’ve been sowing for years such that you just had numerous people who are applicable, who were friend of the elite, able to say, “Well, sure, Kelly. I’m glad to help you with that.” So, I’d like to maybe go back in time a little bit to what is sort of like the ongoing relationship-building lifestyle that puts you in that position?

J. Kelly Hoey
Well, as soon as you said that I’m like, “Oh, yeah, we got to dial it back,” because it’s not like, “Oh, gee, Kelly got lucky.” It’s I’ve learned some lessons in my life and my career. And one of the things is, you know, having worked in large professional services firms, there was always the external networking. But the internal networking was so important.

But there was a time period in my life where I had really great internal network. My external network was very limited. It was limited in terms of the clients I was working with. So, a terrific network of, I want to say, lawyers, of paralegals, and investment bankers because I get my job done, pull those four all-nighters, you know, do that sort of thing, but I didn’t have this narrow deep network. I did not have a broad shallow network, and the fact is you need both of those kinds of networks.

And so when I wanted then to make a career change back in 2001-2002 that’s when it hit me in the face that I did not have the network I needed to make the career change I was desiring and a very word-of-mouth network. And I kind of said, “I’m not putting myself in that position again. I need to make sure that I have enough diversity both in terms of geography, age, experience, industry.”

And so that’s when you start to kind of look around and say, “Right. Is there a not-for-profit or is there a community service thing I can do where I can go and interact around an activity that I enjoy with people who are in the same pool as I am every day?” So, New York Cares is a really great not-for-profit here, sort of an umbrella organization to get volunteers for New York City-based projects and initiatives. And that was a really great way because you could say, “Great. I’m going to go reading from 4:00 to 6:00 at homeless shelter with kids.”

Well, you’re around a bunch of other people who enjoy that activity. You start doing that regularly enough, you’re connecting with new and different people. Another friend of mine, she’s like, “Oh, God, all I ever do is hang around with people in the legal industry,” so she went and got involved with Dress for Success as junior board and all of a sudden she’s networking with people from fashion and from the beauty industry, and she’s like, “Well, great. Now I have a much more diverse and interesting network.”

And so some of this is like sort of think about, “All right, what are the activities that you’re undertaking? But think about that mix. Like, where’s the opportunities you’re getting? What’s the point of view? What’s the perspective you’re having that’s either helping you do the job that you’re doing now or presenting opportunities in the future?”

And as particularly, I want to say, my network got really, I want to say, mixed up when I got involved with a startup community in New York City and having been the first president of a Global Business Women’s Network that, at the time, was known as 85 Broads. And the diversity of people who have moved in and out of big corporate Wall Street professional services who are now doing entrepreneurship or they’re in school and they’re looking at their career.

And as soon as I was in the network that was really diverse that way that’s when sort of things spread apart and enabled me to sort of sit back now and figure out, “All right, who within that network do I tap and seek out guidance from?” which, as I sort of say to people, like, “Do that audit of your network and do that audit of how you’re spending your time so that you can create that really, I want to say, broad diverse network.”

Pete Mockaitis
Excellent. And I think that I will have to ask you some questions about some cool digital approaches, tactics, LinkedIn goodness. I know that’s sort of a small part of the overall pie, but it’s a sexy part so I’m going to have to talk about it. So, what do we know? What should we know about LinkedIn goodies and social media stuff and becoming known that way?

J. Kelly Hoey
Well, I mean, the first thing I think I say to people is, “You can’t think of those platforms as any different than in-person networking.” And for anyone who’s sort of hesitating on thinking about, “All right, how do I use these things?” I mean, think of them as a physical room. Because we’re networking with other people so I always think of LinkedIn as the office and put my suit back on and grab the briefcase and step into that room.

And that’s where I’m like, “Okay, how are you presenting your expertise there?” We’ll use an example. Let’s say someone is sharing what they do at work, maybe they’re sharing a promotion. Think about how you talk to peers and colleagues, people within your industry. Think about how you share that knowledge if you were standing with them at the same conference. That, to me, is how you present yourself on LinkedIn.

“I want to know someone’s expertise. I maybe want to know what they’re involved with in the community. I sure don’t want to see an LOL and I don’t want to know what you ate for breakfast.” That’s not the context for that. Now, think about, flip over to Facebook. For me that’s always been more friends and family, and I think for a lot of people who were career and working in a company, as opposed to owning your own business, that’s probably more of along the lines of ways you think about it.

Let’s say you got a promotion. How do you explain a promotion and share a promotion with work colleagues, right? Think about how you talk about it. Now, think about how you share a promotion with your family around the Thanksgiving table. It’s still you but the language and the expression is different. So, it’s sort of like think of yourself when you step on those platforms like you’re in that physical room with the people who are there because then I think you can start seeing, “Oh, how do I share myself? How do I show who I am? How do I show how I am human and really can get engage people in the right way?”

And then, for me, as I always say, Twitter is a cocktail party. So, staying on that notion of a promotion, how do you share it when you walk into either a Starbucks or a pub with your friends and share what’s going on?

Pete Mockaitis
It’ll vary by personality but right now I’m imagining some rowdy folks standing on a table.

J. Kelly Hoey
You know what, sometimes you do that with people. But that’s why I always say, Twitter, for me, is a great cocktail party. And if you go in and you’re a great listener, that’s the biggest part of, I want to say, making a human connection is listening and seeing and hearing the other person. That’s all we ever want to do is we want to be heard, we want to be seen, and seen not in a Kardashian way but like, “Hey, you know, I’m not ignoring you. You’re another person. I’m interested in what you have to say.” That kind of way of being seen.

So, Twitter is this great cocktail party that if you go in and listen, think about it, access has been democratized. We can walk into and engage in conversations with people who were otherwise closed off to us. And you can use the extreme example now of the Office of the President. Before President Obama, think about how you got communications from the White House. If you weren’t in the Press Corps, if you weren’t getting something on official letterhead and an invitation to the White House, if you weren’t standing there along a parade route and got lucky, your direct line of communication to the Office of the President was very slim.

Now, guess what? It’s been democratized. And you could say that for CEOs. We can get off the Office of the President controversial stuff, but it’s a really good example. But you think about it with celebrities, you think about it with CEOs, you think about it, like one of my friends – and I say friends – we became friends because of having conversations around corporate governance issues on Twitter.

And we, there was a group of us, we aggregated around a #corpgov. We would seem to be re-tweeting it and sharing similar information, so that led to a direct message that said, “We should chat some time. We clearly have some of the same interests.” Our first face-to-face meeting was over Skype, and then boom, Lucy was in New York a few years ago, and I get this email that said, “Hey, come and meet. A bunch of us are getting together for dinner.” Met at Midtown and, lo and behold, of the eight people at the table, only two had met face-to-face before the rest of us. It was all based on relationships that had started with this person on Twitter.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. That’s good. Thank you.

J. Kelly Hoey
But the part of all this I’m like I could probably do a timeline. I’m thinking of a timeline now with one friend of mine who has become an incredible mentor through this author journey, and I think the first time I started to follow and then tweet a re-tweet and see author Tom Peters, who was a co-author of In Search of Excellence, that was in 2010.

And late last year, Tom tweeted and said, “By the way, I pre-ordered your book,” and I had one of my “what are you talking about?” moments. But think about it in that example. Like I said, this democratization of access that we have. Maybe this is why I’m so crazy about mobile devices and social platforms is it’s now democratized access. But we still have to be a decent human being and we still have to kind of follow some of the old rules of relationship-building.

And if we do that, really magical things can happen. So, in my case, like I said, 2010 started following Tom and re-tweeting his stuff, and for no other reason than what he writes about in management issues is of interest to me. So, then he says he pre-ordered my book, and I’m like, “What the what? How did this happen?”

And then earlier this year he was going to be in New York, and he’s like, “Well, I’d love to meet you in person and say hello. And if there’s any chance you can do that, let’s grab a coffee.” Where would I have had that chance in the past other than showing up at maybe one of his book-signings and looking like a gushing fool, “Hey, Tom, you’re greatest ever.” Like, what?

But that has been a seven-year journey that I can honestly say, now this person is, like I said, a mentor, a confidant, a friend in this author journey of mine. But this didn’t happen overnight. It happened because of social media. But if I was foolish to think that just because we’re following each other on Twitter, or friends on Facebook, connected on LinkedIn, means that all of a sudden there truly is a deep human connection. I want to say, maybe that’s part of the problem I’m out to solve.

Pete Mockaitis
No, that makes great sense. But for the metaphor analogy, it’s sort of like they’re in the same room. It doesn’t mean anything about the nature of your relationship. And I also want to get your take on within this realm of asking people for things, how do you think about just the give-and-take when it comes to helping people out, and being helped out, and asking for help? I think some folks get a little bit hung up in the sense of, “Oh, you know, I don’t want to be greedy,” or just the opposite. Some folks, all they do is take. So, how do you think through that?

J. Kelly Hoey
Yeah, there are the ones who always take. I think I refer to them as death-eaters, you know, go that Harry Potter analogy. No, so the give and the consideration and the generosity that sort of the things we think about in sort of old school networking kind of ethos I think is really, really important. If you’re not showing up for other people, why on earth do they want to show up for you?

So, like, hey, you’re the quarterback of your own career. You’re standing there on the field. Who is showing up on the field with you? And if you can’t assemble a team then you got to stop and look at yourself and say, “Am I, when somebody else is quarterbacking their career, have I been there for them? Have I shown up for their initiatives? Have I shown up when they’ve had an ask? Have I supported them?”

Because if you’re not continuously building community and being there for other people, why am I going to want to give up my two important and most precious assets – reputation and time? Why am I going to give them up for you? So, you need to always be building. That’s part of the reason for always building community and being there for other people so that when you’re ready to say, “Hey, I need some help,” here it shows up.

But on that kind of the give and the take, and particularly what do you give, because I often find, for people who are earlier, maybe mid in their career, they’re always like, “Oh, this person is so much more important. And if they make a great connection for me, how am I going to give them a great connection?” And I’m like, “Time out. If you really think thoughtfully and purposely on why that person can help you.”

And, I want to say, you’ve done the research, and you can go to them and say to them, “Hey, this is why I want to talk to you. You, at some point, you know, I looked at your bio and I’ve read the things you’ve taught about in your career, but I still don’t understand how you were able to make this career move that enabled you to move out of a human resource function into an operations function. And I’m intrigued how you did that because I’m looking at my career right now and I’m really stuck over here in this function, and I want to move to one that people can’t see how to bridge it. Can you guide me on that?”

That, to me, is the absolute, like the most considerate the give, the generous networking thing to do. If you’ve researched, you understand why you’re asking for someone’s time, you were considerate of their time. And then when you – biggest networking mistake, which is the failure to follow up – follow up and let people know what you did with their advice, I think that is – I’m particularly keeping in mind people who, as I said, are earlier or mid in their career – someone who’s at the top of their game doesn’t need you to necessarily make an immediate introduction or whatever else.

If you were considerate of their time, and you are considerate and thoughtful on the fact that you understand why you’re asking them a question because you can’t find the answer anywhere else, then, to me, like you are being the consummate networker.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Excellent. Thank you. Well, so now, tell me, Kelly, is there anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear, rapid fire, about some of your favorite things?

J. Kelly Hoey
Oh, you know, the one thing I think on all of this, and maybe it gets back to your last question on being considerate. When I was writing the book and it’s very case study-driven, as you know, and I looked and interviewed people who I saw had achieved really great results with their life in terms of, think about, mostly about their professional life, whether it was working at the corporate ladder or building their wealth management practice, go on and on, you know, their startup, their crowdfunding campaign, etcetera, etcetera.

And I started at the end, “Hey, you achieved this. Can we now unpack this? How did you get here?” And everyone got their individual questions that I said to them to answer. What I never asked anyone was their personality type. There was no question on there that said, “How did you do on Myers-Briggs?” And my answer started coming back.

And most of the people I interviewed were introverts and I had no idea. And I think it gets back to this notion we were talking about people being considerate. And I think people who are introverts understand what it feels like to have your time wasted, or the agony of not knowing, understanding or knowing why you’re doing something because you could be doing something else with your time.

I think people who are more thoughtful, deliberate and considerate with how they’re using their time and, more importantly, how they’re using the time of other people are far better networkers in an era where we are so like hyperconnected 24/7, option up the Wazoo, I think the more clarity you can have on why you’re undertaking activities and why you’re asking for somebody else’s time, that’s what’s going to propel you ahead and get you through all this noise.


Pete Mockaitis
Oh, excellent. Thank you. Well, now could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

J. Kelly Hoey
Well, my quote that I’m known for is, “Stop committing random acts of networking,” to get people to be more focused.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And how about a favorite book?

J. Kelly Hoey
Favorite book is Katharine Graham’s Personal History. I recommend that one all the time. So, she’s the late editor of the Washington Post, and someone who was thrust into a role, a leadership role that she had not been groomed for and hadn’t expected. And I think that’s probably, I’d say most people would feel sort of that way. We’re all thrust into circumstances and into situations and roles that we weren’t feel we were fully prepared for.

And, of course, she was the editor through Watergate, and I think her principles and how she led that company during that time. And as people know, one of my biggest crushes is on Warren Buffett. And the reason why Warren hasn’t written his memoir is, as he has said, “My friend, the late great Kate Graham wrote hers, and it has been said.”

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. And how about a favorite nugget that you share that really seems to connect or resonate. Maybe it is the not committing random acts of networking. Or is there something else that seems to really get folks kind of Kindle book highlighting, re-tweeting, etcetera?

J. Kelly Hoey
You know, a story I share, it was an event. You know what, I say one of those typical networking events that people try and avoid, it was a breakfast at the 21 Club. And the editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar was asked, Glenda Bailey was asked what her greatest career achievement was. And, you know, you could think of someone talking about circulation numbers or whatever, finding a supermodel, or discovering the next great designer.

Instead she told a story of realizing that she had mentored an incredible number of other people to success. And what had happened was she went back to London Fashion Week, and the way they organized those runway shows at the time, editors in chiefs got the front row, not Kardashians or celebrities. And the editors in chiefs of British and European magazine sat on one side of the runway, and for the first time in her career, a very lengthy career, first time in her career she’s on the other side of the runway.

And she looked across the runway, and as she told the story she said, “I recognized one of my former colleagues.” So, she waved, and she’s thinking that she’s waving at one person. And instead what happens is the entire front row waved back, and that’s when it had hit her that she had mentored every single one of these editors in chiefs.

And I tell people that story because when I think about networking and I think about careers I want your listeners to sit and imagine themselves looking across the runway at their career. When you wave, looking ahead, when you wave back at your career, what is coming back at you? And I think of my first career as a lawyer, deal toys and prospectuses don’t do a lot of waving.

Former clients, former colleagues, the mailroom that helped you get your FedEx, hold the FedEx guy another five minutes so you could finish your document, those are the people that are going to wave back at me. The intern, the person that you mentored one summer, the colleague you worked on a community service event with. Sit on one side and look across that runway of your career, and what do you see when you wave across at it? And start building your legacy.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s powerful. Thank you. Kelly, tell us, if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

J. Kelly Hoey
Well, Twitter is always a good place. So, I’m at @jkhoey on Twitter. And then if you go to BuildYourDreamNetwork.com you’ll find all sorts of my musings on networking, and they come out every week.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Well, Kelly, thank you so much for sharing this perspective here. And keep on rocking and selling books and making connections. It’s been a lot of fun.

J. Kelly Hoey
Oh, I’ve loved it. Thank you so much.

Leave a Reply