The Power of Networking for Your Career, Business, and Life (Live at FinCon18)
Welcome to The MapleMoney Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their personal finances to create lasting financial freedom. I’m your host, Tom Drake, the founder of MapleMoney, where I’ve been writing about all things related to personal finance since 2009.
I’ve got a special episode for you this week. My guests, Miranda Marquit & Kyle Prevost, have appeared on the MapleMoney Show before. In fact, we previously co-hosted another podcast together, called The Money Mastermind Show.
In a reunion of sorts, I had an opportunity to interview Miranda and Kyle live from FinCon, in late September. In this episode, we discuss the power of networking for your career and business.
Kyle describes what he calls the “semi-immediate reach out”, and explains how to use it to reinforce the connections you make at conferences such as FinCon.
Miranda explains what it’s like to be an introvert in a fast-paced conference environment, and shares some tips that have made it easier for her. Hint: it’s ok to pace yourself.
We discuss the importance of reading a person’s body language, and why, before leaning in for a hug, you’re better off using a more conservative approach when meeting someone for the first time.
Our sponsor this week is Wealthsimple. Do you have a sizeable investment portfolio that’s being dragged down by high mutual fund fees? It might be time to check out Wealthsimple Black. With Weathsimple Black, fees are as low as 0.4%, for portfolios over $100,000. Black will also give you access to financial planning and tax-loss harvesting. They even throw in airport lounge access. Check them out today.
- How attending conferences can benefit your career
- Kyle explains the semi-immediate reach out and why it’s helpful
- How to use Linkedin to network for yourcareer.
- Be wary of the multi-level marketing approach to networking
- Networking for introverts
- Local business associations can be great ways to meet people
- The importance of understanding body language in networking
- Why you should get involved in your local startup community
Networking it isn’t about shoving your business card in everyone’s face or going for coffee with a co-worker, neighbor, or to an industry conference. These tips are to help you build meaningful lasting connections that are worth much more than a stack of business cards from people you barely recall meeting. Speaking of conferences, this episode is live from FinCon18, a conference for those of us in the money niche. Joining me onstage are Miranda Marquit and Kyle Prevost. Both are past guests of the Maple Money Show. But the reason I brought them on was to have a Money Mastermind Show reunion, a podcast we had a few years ago that was always explained as the “view” for personal finance.
Welcome to the Maple Money Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their personal finances to create lasting financial freedom. Do you have a larger portfolio that’s being dragged down by the fees that are typical with mutual funds? Have a look at Wealthsimple Black from our sponsor, Wealthsimple. For portfolios over $100,000 Wealthsimple drops the fee down to .4 percent and gives you access to financial planning and tax loss harvesting even through an airport lounge access. Check them out at maplemoney.com/wealthsimple. Now, let’s go live, onstage at FinCon 18 with Miranda and Kyle.
Tom: Hi Miranda and Kyle. Thanks for joining me.
Miranda: Hey, it’s nice to be here in person at FinCon.
Kyle: Yeah, it’s nice to be here looking out at a massive crowd here at FinCon, Tom, so thanks for having us on to chat.
Tom: For people that aren’t aware, a long time ago we were all part of a panel podcast called The Money Mastermind Show. While we’re all together, I wanted to have a chance to rekindle some of that but still be part of The Maple Money Show. In fact, a lot of times when I say Maple Money Show at the beginning of a podcast I stumble on it a little because Money Mastermind is still in my head. It’s still MMS so it’s—
Miranda: Yeah, it’s still there. Yeah, good memories.
Tom: I just wanted to thank Allied Bank. They’re sponsoring the podcasting here at FinCon 18 which is where we are right now. It’s a conference for financial bloggers. And because of that, we kind of wanted to talk about networking. Not just for bloggers but networking affects anyone whether it’s for your career or your personal life. Let’s go straight into conference networking. For us, yes, we’re at a blog conference but you could just as easily be down the hall from us where there’s a Barnes and Noble conference. You guys have any tips along the lines of how you can benefit your career with conferences?
Kyle: Yeah, I think there’s sort of inauthentic and authentic networking. There’s the inauthentic networking that was taught at business schools something like 10 years ago, I think. I wasn’t there but that’s like a shake-hand, trade-a-business-card, “What can I do for you?” slick salesman approach. Maybe that got someone somewhere at the time, but it didn’t get me anywhere. I don’t think I’ve ever made a contact that way.
Miranda: Did you try?
Kyle: Yeah, I did. At my first FinCon I was pretty humble, pretty young and knew the key was to get my business card out there to as many people as possible. Everybody knows that. I spent a lot of time designing my business card. I don’t even bring business cards now. Maybe that’s not a great idea but—
Miranda: I always forget mine.
Kyle: I feel that the more authentic you are where you are just having an actual conversation with people and learning what makes them tick or their “why” if you want to get a little buzz-worthy. You’re going to build some longer lasting friendships. You’re going to end up with some natural groupings of pretty bright people if you just let things develop a little more naturally. And invest some actual time and emotion into the networking—into meeting people instead of being so blatantly transactional thinking, “Well, how can I make money off of you? Maybe you can make money off of me. And here are our cards…” And now we have a suitcase full of cards to go home with and no actual plan to talk to anyone.
Tom: Yeah, I’m a little more pro-card than that. But I do agree that you build a real relationship with people. A business card can be really handy. If you have a pen you can write something down about that person and it doesn’t become someone you completely forget because at a conferences like this you can go home with 100 business cards.
Miranda: Oh, easy, easy.
Tom: Anything else Miranda?
Miranda: No, no. I really like idea of the authentic networking and being who you are. The nice thing about networking at a conference is that you actually find people who are kind of in your same space. You have that chance for a real connection and you don’t get that all the time if you’re just randomly at work or whatever. So the nice thing about conferences is that you are going to be in the space and you can be very focused and very strategic about how you go about it. One of the nice things also about a conference like FinCon or the Barnes and Noble conference, whatever it is, you really have a chance to learn things and then also say, “Okay, who’s going to be attending? Is there somebody I really want to meet and get to know?” And you can kind of go from there. I think what helps a lot too with a conference like this is the connection and the space because you have something in common that you can build on and that really helps you make an authentic connection down the road.
Tom: Yeah. Another thing, within this networking for career I try to go for coffee as often as once a week with just a random person. I actually use my LinkedIn a lot for this.
Miranda: Oh, nice.
Tom: I’ll normally search by the town I live in but also if I’m going somewhere else I’ll sort of get a few people together from that town. LinkedIn is a great way to do that because you’ve already got all these contacts and you can sort them by where you live or where you’re visiting. And it’s so easy to just say, “Well, let’s go out for a meal. Let’s go for coffee.” Those kinds of connections are so much easier than being at a 2,000-person conference where you have to get rid of that huge number and work it down to something manageable.
Kyle: Yeah, I’m a big fan of the semi-immediate, reach-out after a conference. So, maybe you got the business card, like Tom says, and you wrote down a couple of neat things or maybe some ideas you had because there’s a tendency when you get back to see that you’ve got 500 emails. In my case, as a teacher I’ve got sub-plans and if the kids didn’t do right and day-to-day life has ground to a halt for you for several days, then all those impactful things you can take away can get lost in the normal noise. One of those things can be, “Man, who was that person again?” Or, “How were we planning on doing things again?” Don’t just copy and paste something. Make it genuine, whether it’s a LinkedIn connection or an email. Make a genuine effort to say, “Hey, thanks for the coffee the other day,” or “Thanks for taking some time to talk with me at the such-and-such mixer.” I think that goes a long way in terms of being authentic.
Tom: That’s why I like writing on the business cards because my memory is terrible. If I meet someone for the first time, I need to remember why I was even going to follow up with that person. What did we talk about? It’s helped a lot for when I followed up. Another thing along the idea of building these business opportunities is something I know Kyle really wanted to get into. You’ve got your friend on Facebook and they’re trying to tell you about how great their latest multi-level marketing opportunity is and they consider that a form of networking. They’re building a network—that’s true, but it’s kind of the wrong reason they should be doing it.
Kyle: Yeah, I guess it’s because I’m a business teacher. When I ask my students if their parents or anyone has ever thought of starting a business, I get lots of hands, “My mom sold the latest pour-powder-into-water and you body will be perfect crazes…”
Miranda: Ooh, I want one!
Kyle: Yeah, right. And for now they’re only $3.99.
Miranda: I can buy a membership. (Laughs)
Kyle: Just the idea of these courses that these multi-level marketers have now put up—and it’s not a pyramid. Just because the highest earners earn 98 percent of their income off of people beneath them as opposed to selling the product and the organizational chart looks like a pyramid, it’s not a pyramid. It’s just multi-levels. I think it’s predatory, in my opinion, and actually I think there is an element of sexism to it when you look at how these companies are marketed towards women and the idea of monetizing your friendships just seems very distasteful and odd. And in some cases, it’s criminal. So, if you’re going to look into some of these remember, they won’t call themselves multi-level marketers. They’ll call themselves multi-vertical something, something or whatever. Just do your homework. Understand how the revenues work. Look up how the company is structured and take a look at their products. Are they priced properly? When you think about how profit margins work in business 101, how are these companies able to kick money up to eight different people on the food chain and still make a profit? The business model doesn’t make sense. Wal-Mart would be selling these products if it made sense.
Miranda: And I think the key you’ve come up with here is anything that says your networking is selling to your friends, is not the kind of networking you want to do. Like you said… I mean, you were talking about authenticity earlier and I’ve had people reach out to me like old high school friends who will talk to me through Facebook Messenger, who say, “Hey, I’d like to network with you and get to know you again. And how’s it been going? How can I help you live your life better? And by the way, I’m a beach-body coach. Will you please buy this thing and be part of my group and I’ll totally coach you.” It’s definitely something that if you’re going to be networking and trying to advance your career, if it’s off monetizing your friends, that’s probably the wrong way to go about it.
Tom: Yeah, there’s only so far you can go with before you’ve destroyed every relationship you have. It’s not a real business and it’s not real networking. It’s very insincere.
Tom: Can we go into some of your top five networking tips? What would you suggest people do when they do want to build a real relationship with someone that could possibly further their business or you will be able to work together somehow?
Kyle: Go ahead, Miranda.
Miranda: Oh, I get to start? Okay, my number one tip… So, I’m an introvert. You may or may not know but I’m an introvert and my top tip is to follow Tom Drake around at a conference because he’s an extrovert and he meets people. So if you’re an introvert, one of the things I like to do is to latch onto an extrovert and let him do the heavy lifting. But the other thing too is remember to pace yourself especially if you are an introvert and you are having the energy sucked out of you by all of the social interaction. I like to go have a nap or go up to my room and just chill for a couple hours before I have to get out there and do it again. That’s very helpful. And then I do try and say, “Hi” to people I don’t know. It’s hard and I don’t like it but sometimes it has to be done. I’m sure you guys have better tips because my tips just consist of hiding in my room so I have the energy to follow Tom around.
Tom: It’s interesting that you bring up introvert and extrovert because I’m probably still really an introvert when it comes to the idea of just being around a lot of people who drain you. Granted, I’m probably more on the bubble when it comes to that but—
Miranda: You’re an ambivert.
Tom: But ultimately, (laughs) running around here is going to drain me more than fill me up. I’m also going to have a nap at some point today and recharge. But then, yeah, I want to get back out there and meet new people. And you’re welcome to follow me around.
Miranda: I will. You know I will.
Kyle: I think my number one tip is to be curious. People like to talk about themselves. It’s pretty natural. Don’t just ask a question and then stare blankly as they talk because it’s going to become pretty readily apparent that you don’t really care. I have to say maybe there’s a little bit of inherent curiosity to people but if you genuinely want to know more— and generally people that go to these conferences I find are pretty interesting people by in large, it will help. For one, you’ll just learn cool stuff. It’s also a quick way to maybe experience more authenticity in your conversations.
Tom: Similar to that, someone who does it better than I do is John Rampton. And I try to model this; ask people what you can do for them. If you’re constantly giving it’s going to benefit you in the long run. It doesn’t have to be a constant, “What can that person do for me?” And that’s often the people that are handing out those business cards are saying, “I want you to promote the same for me or I want you to work for me.” And it’s always one-sided that way but if you’re just constantly trying to help people things are going to happen. If it’s your career or maybe you’re helping someone in one business and all of a sudden they’ve got someone in their business that needs a new hire then you move them onto that. It gets you noticed. I don’t want to call it karma but maybe a little bit—
Kyle: Are you putting of good vibes out onto the universe?
Tom: It sounds like I’m headed that direction but it does just seem to work out.
Miranda: It just got “new-agey” up in this business.
Tom: Yeah, and I don’t mean to do that but just in my own business with 10 years online you sort of build up relationships by constantly giving and it does seem to come back to you.
Kyle: One quick thing. When I was getting ready to come on I saw someone had posted on Facebook in the group basically saying, “Hey, a quick shout out to—” and I’m going to go ahead and guess it was probably a fellow of my size—a bigger guy, who said, “Not everyone likes to be hugged.” Now, this may sound like readily apparent but I’ve since found out that this is much more widespread than I would have ever guessed. Be conservative the first time you meet someone in terms of not going into that full-out hug unless you’ve gotten some crazy signal like a blinking green neon light that says, “I want a hug.” And even then, I don’t know if that’s a given.
Miranda: I like hugs.
Kyle: Yeah, from people you know.
Miranda: Oh, I’d take them from people I don’t know too.
Tom: In general though, that makes sense.
Kyle: That’s interesting. We have to delve into that.
Miranda: No, no. The first time I meet somebody, yes, I’d prefer a handshake, honestly. But I am cognizant of somebody who does like the hugs. It’s kind of a little more handy. I have been making it a point with people that I don’t know particularly well or I’ve only met once or twice, asking them, “Hey, do we hug? Are we hugging acquaintances?” I think it’s important to keep in mind as you’re networking and doing things that “don’t be creepy” situations really come up a lot of the time. That’s a very valid point that was made. I mean, people like you guys, Kyle and Tom, I’m just going in for the hug. It’s a long hug and I expect it. I expect the bear hug.
Tom: It’s built up over time though. That becomes a friendship hug. When you’re meeting someone for the first time there’s that first impression and I like how you said it, kind of be conservative with how you meet them. Are there any other rules of engagement?
Kyle: Just be aware of nonverbal communication. Make eye contact. This is maybe the part of business 101 that does make a little bit of sense. I think a lot of those Dale Carnegie type rules still apply today so just be aware of what your body is doing. It may sound dumb but be engaged with what sort of contact or impression you’re giving.
Miranda: Yeah, definitely.
Tom: One thing I like to do is if I’m talking to someone and someone else comes up, turn your body a little bit.
Kyle: It sounds simple but it’s a big deal.
Miranda: Yeah, you want to be inclusive.
Tom: Make sure they’ve met each other. Again, about giving back all the time, if someone walks up, one of the simplest icebreakers is just saying, “Oh, have you met so-and-so?” and then everybody feels like part of the thing and everyone’s getting a chance to meet someone.
Miranda: Right. I like that a lot. Actually, I was doing that earlier today. I was talking to somebody and some folks came over to say hi and I just kind of turned and said, “Oh, hi. Nice to see you again. And by the way, have you met so-and-so?” I think that’s a huge thing because it is important to be inclusive. That’s one of the things that’s hard, especially if you’re at a big conference rather than something like a small LinkedIn thing. It’s just like when you’re doing a networking thing in your neighborhood. I’m active in my Chamber of Commerce which is a good place to network as well—we didn’t touch on that. And maybe I’ll just say this briefly… if you have a local small business association or a Chamber of Commerce, those are great places to meet people. If you are in those small places it’s easier to branch out and meet new people, I find. When you’re at a big conference like this, especially for me, it’s really hard to like branch out. I kind of tend to collapse in on myself and just want to stick with the people I know, that I’m comfortable with. So keep that in mind. Be inclusive. Take a step back, open up, show that open body language and say, “Oh, hey, have you met so-and-so?” Be a connector as well as a networker. I think that that’s a good thing.
Tom: The Chamber of Commerce is a great example because for a lot of people listening to the show, they’re not bloggers. They’re not online. So local is most of it. And a lot of these tips will fly. If you can be the person that is connecting other people locally or within your business—I don’t want to be sleazy about it, but there’s a power to being the person with the connections. You can always find something for someone. It’s very helpful. You also mentioned the idea of local, around your neighborhood. Another thing I did want to touch on is things like moms networking.
Miranda: Or dads networking.
Tom: Yes. They might be stay-at-home or they might be interested in parenting and I guess especially with Miranda, have you done this before, reached out to other parents?
Miranda: How long have you known me?
Tom: Quite awhile.
Miranda: What about that makes you think I have a mom group?
Kyle: Well, you’re more likely than me to have a mom group.
Miranda: That’s true because I am, in fact, a mother. So no, I actually haven’t done a lot of that locally even though I probably should. I do have a goal to try and have more female friends in my life. I’m working on that. But I think the Chamber of Commerce or the Small Business Association or even service organizations like the Rotary Club or Kiwanis International, those kinds of service organizations can be great places to network, get to know people and find similar charitable passions or projects you can work on with other folks. That can be a good way to get connected as well. I’m involved in local politics. I’m involved in the Chamber of Commerce and I’m looking at the different service clubs. If you can do that, then you become a connector not just within your group but across all groups. I’ve found that it’s actually helpful with the political organization I’m involved with—the fact that I’m a chamber member and active in my Chamber of Commerce. So getting involved in service organizations and bringing that piece of it in, I think will be very helpful as well. And if you’re in your neighborhood and you want to do a group, like a playgroup or for young kids—I know when I was a young mom there were lots of folks who had these little play groups they went to. My ex-husband actually did that because I was working and he was staying home. He actually went to the neighborhood playgroup with one dude (another stay-at-home dad) and all the stay-at-home moms. They had this networking thing. And it was kind of a fun thing because it did get us introduced to some couples that we could network with and do things with. That’s another thing too, interests. Then just kind of move out from there naturally.
Tom: You brought up a couple of good things there too when you mentioned politics and volunteering. It’s all these different interests. Another thing that came to mind was in regard to my day job where we do this “corporate challenge.” Some groups go bowling and others will pull a truck—there are all sorts of different challenges. But within that year, you’re pitted against another company so you start to meet these people from other companies. And again, all of a sudden you’ve got these contacts at different companies in your town, city, or whatever and it all sort of works out where if someone’s looking for (in my case) a financial analyst or maybe someone wants Kyle to be a teacher somewhere—when you reach out to these different areas they’ll remember you and come back to you compared to just being another resume in a pile.
Kyle: Yeah, I like the idea of cross-cultural pollination you guys are talking about because what I find is within certain groups or verticals—again, you get my MBA here—
Miranda: I’m working on mine.
Kyle: There tends to be a bit of group-think and oftentimes there tends to be a certain group of knowledge where people think, “This is the best practice, this is how things are done.” But if you’re coming at things from a bit of a different angle, from a different world, obviously with related experience, those insights can be pretty valuable. And like you said, if you’ve got online experience, “Hey, welcome to your local Chamber of Commerce,” which maybe that’s pretty unique. Or maybe if you’ve got just basic sales experience, sales is really hard. It’s not the natural thing for most people so maybe you can teach someone something about that. I’m a fan of those sorts of things. Again, it comes down to being curious. And don’t be afraid to meet people and ask questions.
Tom: The last thing I wanted to close on is we give all these ideas—and there’s probably a lot of people out there either in their careers or businesses, sitting at a desk and that’s it. That’s the amount of time they put in. If you’re not doing any of this then find those organizations you can connect with. It could be a political party or church or any of these kinds of things where you can find people of any kind of interest. If you’re not attending a conference, you can attend a conference. If you’re not using LinkedIn that much connect with everybody you know there and you’ll start to see opportunities. Do you have any closing notes like we used to do on the Money Mastermind Show?
Miranda: Oh, my gosh…
Kyle: I can jump in here real quick—
Miranda: You do it, you do it. Take it away.
Kyle: Be part of the startup seed wherever you are. Whatever company you’re currently with, whatever you’re currently doing, whatever the startup scene looks like in your community, get into that because those are fresh thinkers. Even if you don’t have a startup or you’re not thinking about startups, maybe you can provide services to a startup. But those people are crazy fonts of wisdom and new things. So I really like the idea of getting involved with the startup community whether it’s one of those 24-hour startup competitions—whatever the case may be. Look for those people because they’re going to be the movers and shakers if they aren’t already.
Tom: Miranda, any closing thoughts?
Miranda: Follow Tom around. No, listen to the Maple Money Show. It’s super great. I’ve got nothing for you.
Tom: It’s all good. I’m going to give mine. Basically, just even starting to consider networking there’s a lot of people I know I see at my day job that just come in to do the work. They don’t reach out and see about other opportunities beyond just applying for another job.
Miranda: Yeah, and I think that’s the important thing right there is to say, “Okay, what can I do that’s going to give purpose and meaning to my life and my career right now?” And networking can help you find that.
Tom: Great, then you did have a closing thought after all didn’t you, Miranda?
Miranda: I’m right there.
Tom: Thanks for being on, Miranda. And thanks for being on, Kyle.
Miranda: Thank you so much for having us.
Kyle: I just miss when we did this weekly.
Miranda: I know. Let’s start it up again because we’re not busy enough. (Laughs)
Thanks to both Miranda Marquit and Kyle Prevost for joining me on this special live episode. You can find show notes for this episode at maplemoney.com/fincon18.
If you liked this panel discussion format, search for the Money Mastermind Show in your favorite podcast player or head over to moneymastermindshow.com where you’ll find over 80 episodes in the archives. Thanks for listening. Next week we’ll get back to our regular Maple Money Show.