J. Kelly Hoey, author of Build Your Dream Network
Our first Superstar for 2017 is J. Kelly Hoey, author of the new book Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in a Hyper-Connected World.J.
Q: What inspired you to write your new book and how long did it take to create it?
J. Kelly Hoey: My network encouraged and inspired me to write. And as I’m frequently tapped to mentor or provide guidance, I was looking for a way to scale the career networking advice I’m frequently asked for. I started blogging, sending out a weekly newsletter and writing for Inc.com, so the book in many ways was a natural next (communication) step. I also had a thump-on-the-head “aha” moment after being sought out for insights to be included in several other books on networking (I’d described it as a “AHA! Why am I not writing a book providing my point-of-view on this subject!”). As for how long it took to write the book...there are two answers to that question! Writing regularly for several years (i.e. blogs, newsletters etc.) helped me develop my writing style. As for writing and delivery of the Build Your Dream Network manuscript to my editor – I wrote to a deadline, and delivered the manuscript in four months.
Q: Not everyone is comfortable in person-to-person networking. How can someone who is in this situation find the confidence to interact with ease?
J. Kelly Hoey: Effective networking requires purpose and preparation. It requires understanding why you’re saying yes to a networking opportunity. When you don’t understand why you’re in a networking situation, it can quickly become an awkward, stressful interaction. As I share in Build Your Dream Network:
One of the pieces of advice I regularly dish out is, “Stop committing random acts of networking.” Just as hope is not a strategy, random outreach is not an effective approach to problem solving, and at its core networking really is about seeking a solution to a problem or challenge you’re facing.
Think about how you’re approaching making connections now. How many times have you found yourself attending events and feeling you don’t know why you’re in the room (or why you got invited in the first place)? Or how many times have you declined to attend an office reception or holiday party because you figured it’s just the folks in accounting who you can talk to any day, so why go? Did you succumb to FOMO (fear of missing out) and establish profiles on social media sites you rarely visit (other than to set up your profile)? The list of the random acts of networking we commit goes on and on.
Random networking is a time waster (and anxiety producer). To ease awkward interactions, prepare! prepare! prepare! Understand how and why a networking interaction (whether it is a reception or committee or club) fits in to your bigger career (or business) goals. Understand how you can add value to the interaction (and ensure you have the time and resources to do so). Doing the groundwork of networking before you step in to the in-person interaction will definitely lessen the stress.
Q: The book refers to "humble bragging" - how does one achieve that without either under-selling or over-selling themselves?
J. Kelly Hoey: Keeping your network informed on what you’re doing (at the same time being responsive and helpful to people within your network) ensures you have the advocates you need for your accomplishments. Joe Styler’s career networking case study in Build Your Dream Network is a brilliant example of this. Joe has moved up the corporate ladder at GoDaddy by seeking guidance on the skills he knows he needs to learn, investing the time to connect with his network in multiple ways (email, in-person, at conferences) and mentoring those around him. As a result, he has a diverse network across the company (in terms of experience and seniority) that genuinely cares about his career. When you’re truly invested in your own network, it is easier to “brag” because you have a receptive audience.
Q: How can social media networking help with your career? And, on the flip side, can social media also torpedo one's networking efforts?
J. Kelly Hoey: Social networking platforms have been invaluable for expanding my career. And you’ll note I refer to social media as social “networking”. These platforms are wonderful communication tools for making genuine connections (yes, I share a lot of my tips in Build Your Dream Network). Remember that social media platforms have real people behind them! You may be networking on an app or via an image or Emoji however, always remember you’re connecting with a human being. When you lose sight of that, your networking efforts online are less helpful to your career goals.
Another tip: social media is an incredible research tool. Just as you’re seeking opportunities online, employers and recruiters are looking for talent. I’m not saying watch what you post – be just be aware that your posts, likes, pins etc. are going to be viewed through the eyes of someone you may want (or need) to advance your career.
J. Kelly Hoey is online at jkellyhoey.co and on Twitter @jkhoey.