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Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing humanity in the workplace. I’m Susan White, a national HR consultant. With me is my co-host, JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm, and the author of “JoyPowered®” and “The JoyPowered® Family.” In today’s episode, we’re gonna talk about networking. JoDee, I recently read a really good blog that you did on networking. You know, why is this topic so important to you?
Well, I think partially it’s important to me because I like doing it, but I also wanted to share the blog because I think a lot of people envision that they don’t like it. Like, like networking seems like a negative word to them or something. They don’t want to go to an event all by themselves and feel that they have to network. But in my blog, I said five reasons why people might want to network or are create and obtain opportunities, to learn, to get advice, to get a new job, or to make new friends. And I don’t think people have to want to do all of those things at the same time, but it seems like almost every one of us at any time in our life might want to do one of those.
Makes sense. I think it’s really an important topic. Especially as professional, for you to be able to grow and to learn and just get better at what you’re doing, I think you have to have a network of people, and they don’t necessarily have to be in the same field you’re in. But – it’s nice if it is, but if not, you might learn things from other business leaders, by people that you get to know socially, just really building out a cadre of people that you can learn from. I think the important and easiest way to do that, I think, is to get comfortable with networking. So that’s really our goal of this podcast today, is to figure out how can we all get better at networking?
So JoDee, I do think it’s fun for our listeners to know that you and I met through networking.
I don’t know if you remember, it’s been almost five years.
I remember sitting at that little Starbucks cafe.
Exactly! Our mutual friend Patty Prosser suggested, given the fact that you were a very successful HR consultant, and I was dreaming of being a successful HR consultant, she thought I should sit down and meet with you. So, thank you for that. The fact is, you can’t shake me now.
That’s right. And I don’t want to. But I do think that’s an important point to note that that was one on one networking, right? It’s not like we had to go walk into a room full of 100 people where we didn’t know anyone, right? To me, that’s some people’s vision of networking, is being in a room with people they don’t know.
You know what, I think you’re right. Now, I’ve got to be honest, in those last five years that I’ve been building my consulting practice, there’s been a lot of Starbucks meetings, Panera meetings, you know, McDonald’s meetings. The fact is, it is a little intimidating to walk into a public place, and, you know, you’re meeting someone for the first time and you have no idea what they look like, right? And you have to go up to people and say, “Are you JoDee? Are you JoDee?” Maybe if we were on Tinder, maybe something like that – we would be doing the same thing.
Right! That’s right.
Although I do – if you’re on LinkedIn, and I can find you, at least I have the best photos that you’re ever going to take of yourself. So I’m in there looking for somebody who looks like their photo on LinkedIn.
Right. I do the same. So.
So in preparation for today’s podcast, we did a little research. And I would tell you that Elle Kaplan, who’s the CEO of LexION Capital Management, actually wrote an article that I thought was very interesting in Inc., and it cited that over 70% of people have found their jobs through networking. JoDee, I have seen that statistic done by other researchers, and they’ve said that it’s high as 80%.
Yeah. Well, I’ve seen those statistics before, too, and I – part of me wants to say I am surprised it’s that high, but I believe it, because that’s the way we fill a lot of positions at Purple Ink, both on our own team and for our clients.
Well, I would be interested in that, because I do know you have a very vibrant recruiting arm of your consulting practice. How do you see networking happen? You know, how does it play out with the placements that your team facilitates every year?
Yeah, in so many different ways. It’s crazy. I think that maybe because, you know, we get opportunities through networking that someone finds out that, hey, Purple Ink does recruiting, and they hire us to do the placement, but then also through networking we’re finding new candidates. But even more so, the thing that happens more than anything else is that we meet someone who knows someone else, right? That they might not be the person for the position, but they know someone who does. So they’re referring someone, or they’re saying, hey, mom or hey, brother, Purple Ink has this opportunity, whether they’ve, they’ve met us or know something about the client. It’s just such an array of different opportunities that can come from the networking or knowing other people.
I know that when I help someone sell a job, and back when I was doing talent acquisition as a full time position, I always appreciated getting a referral. I – you know, clearly, we were an equal opportunity employer and I promote that, I want to cast the net widely, but I really appreciate when somebody I know and value says you’ve got to look at this person. This is a really great human being that, you know, your company or your firm would be interested in having. Do you feel the same way?
I do. And we always follow up with those people who were referred to us, many times even I do it myself, right? That I’ll suggest to someone I know, hey, check this person out, I might not really have worked with them or know what their skill sets are, but I know enough to say, hey, this is a good solid person that you’d be proud to have in your company. You figure out if they’re the right skill set match or not, right? And of course, sometimes I have worked with them, so I can refer them based on their skill sets as well. But just knowing someone who can vouch for this person, I think, is very positive. So.
I do. So when I think about that, if you’re a listener, and you’re thinking, oh, I don’t really want to bother my friends, my family, my former colleague, to ask them to network with me, understand that if these folks care about you, if they have a network of their own, they, they’re going to be pleased to, even if they don’t know this particular job, that they’re going to be pleased to introduce you. And that’s why networking can be so valuable. Right? Are there any tips, JoDee, given, you know, your firm’s activity and recruiting, that you think that people or our listeners should avoid doing when they’re trying to use their network during the job search? Are there any anything that’s taboo?
Well, I think people should avoid asking for a job outright, really, or sort of implying that that’s what they’re looking for. But to ask for ideas, ask for connections, ask for, you know, can you share more about the company or do you know someone who might be involved in the direct hiring? Do you, you know – asking for help in a different way besides saying, here’s my resume, will you hire me? Or can you make sure I get hired, right? That puts people on the spot, that makes people feel uncomfortable, but to ask for a connection or a positive word or to make an employee referral, I think is always a good idea.
Well, I agree totally. JoDee, I do believe that the majority of people can thank their networking for really landing jobs. It’s not always that someone tells them that this is the particular company you should apply for, here’s the job requisition you need to apply for. Sometimes it’s as easy as someone saying, have you tried applying at Roche Diagnostics? Or have you thought about such a such a place? My brother-in-law is there, and I know that he’d want to tell the recruiter that you are somebody they’ve got to talk to. Sometimes it happens that way. Sometimes it’s where the person finds a job post for it and then does a quick LinkedIn search to see do I have any first or second connections there? People always say to me, well, Susan, I don’t know anybody who works there. And I say let’s sit down together, let’s look at your LinkedIn, and even if you don’t have that first connection, meaning somebody you know who works there, maybe you have a second. And so let’s look and see who your second connections are, and then we’ll do that quick lookup to see who was it that you know in common? And then they find out okay, well, that’s my Aunt Betty. I say, why don’t you call your Aunt Betty and see if she knows that first connection very well. And sometimes Betty will say, I go bowling with him every Tuesday night, and voila. We’ve got somebody inside the company who’s vouching for this candidate as a decent person. Right? So I just see it work magic every day.
Right. Right. You know, I have a quick story on that. My son Kip, who’s a senior at Indiana University and was going through recruiting in the fall, and he even went – he was applying for a position that was about 3,000 miles away, didn’t know anyone at the organization. But he went on LinkedIn and looked at the Kelley School, the business school of Indiana University, and just looked at – he connected the company he was applying for with people who had graduated from the Kelley School and made a connection that way. And I was really – I didn’t give him that advice. He did that or learned that on his own. But I thought that was a great way to do it too. And the guy who responded back with him was thrilled to find out that someone reached out to him because they went to the same school. Probably 15 years apart, but, yeah.
Isn’t that wonderful? Well done, Kip. Yeah, you know, we spent a lot of time so far talking about how useful networking can be for finding a job, but I want to tell you, I think networking can also be valuable, as I mentioned earlier about, you know, really your own professional development. I’m a big believer that if I have met somebody professionally, or worked with them, and I’ve liked them, that I want to make sure we stay connected. So one of my very favorite bosses ever, she left the organization I was working for about a year or two before I did. And I remember the day I called her and, you know, we were saying our goodbyes, I said, listen, I ain’t quitting you, you may be leaving this organization, but I refuse to quit you. And we have stayed very connected as friends and professionally, in my consulting work, she’s been so good at the company she’s at at really bringing me into variety of projects and whatnot. So that is just one example of probably, I’m going to say hundreds of people who I stay connected with because I like them as people. And I want to make sure even though we don’t work together anymore, I don’t have – we don’t belong to the same organization anymore, I won’t let them go. JoDee, that, no doubt I bet that’s true of you as well.
Absolutely. And specifically with regards to almost nine years ago when I started Purple Ink. There were people in my network that I had built over time that I didn’t even – some of them I specifically reached out to to share about my business, but many of them who have become clients or have referred clients to us or have, have been candidates of ours for positions, based on 30 years of growing a network, right, that have all come to fruition in a way I never imagined. You know, I didn’t build that network knowing they might be a future client of mine. I just enjoyed building the network.
That’s wonderful. Wonderful. So in my career coaching practice, as part of my HR consulting, I’m forever pitching the idea to my candidates, you know, let’s talk about you, who is in your network and how do we expand it? And if there happens to be an opportunity to go somewhere that could be a good networking event for them, you know, I say, let’s get comfortable with the idea that you’re going to go there and let people know that you’re on a job hunt, or whatever the situation is for them. And I often hear back from the person, oh, Susan, please don’t make me network. I’m not comfortable, it always feels so forced, so fake. I just, oh, it’s just not me. So what I’d like to do is talk a little bit about how can you go to those events, networking events, or, or even maybe professional organization events and things where you could do some networking, how can you do it authentically and effectively?
So, let’s go back to Elle Kaplan’s Inc. article, I-N-C article, that’s entitled, “Eight Brilliant Tricks That Will Make You a Master at Networking.” So she’s got some suggestions for us that when you attend a networking event or even arrange a networking meeting with someone one on one, what are some things you can do? So, JoDee, why don’t we go back and forth and share those eight tricks?
Yeah. Alright. Well, the first one makes me a little bit nervous when I read it, because she says spill out your personal details when you meet that stranger. So I think, in the end, her advice is good, but the way she approaches it makes me a little nervous. But she says to be vulnerable and that people are more likely to connect with you. That when someone says, you know, where are you from, not just saying, I’m from Loogootee, Indiana, but sharing something the next step. I have a high school reunion, I just met up with some friends from my hometown, do you happen to know this person, whatever, making a story out of it? And who couldn’t help themselves responding with questions wanting to know more, right? So I think it’s just a good way to get the conversation started. Maybe not to share all of your personal details in the first meeting.
Yeah, no TMI. Right. But yes, let them know that you’re human and not being too stiff, I think, is what it sort of sounds like. That’s great. Okay, so her tip number two of eight brilliant tricks is stand up. So I know that sounds fairly obvious, but when you’re meeting somebody, you know, take the time to stand up. Be confident, shake their hands and look the individual in the eye. Now, clearly we want to have sensitivity culturally. So if you could pick up on the fact that perhaps the person would not be comfortable touching your, you know, your hand, this may be a male and you’re a female from a different culture, or if looking you in the eye, you know, I know that, you know, some Asians are uncomfortable with that, depending on their upbringing. It’s thinking about being sensitive, but putting forth kind of a respectful hello. Meeting somebody is a big event, and maybe not just, you know, staying seated and nodding, making sure they feel like they’re welcomed.
Right, right. I really like her third one, which is remember that it is a two way street. You know, it’s best not to rush up to people telling them you’re trying to find a job or trying to grow your network, but asking questions of them and even specifically, after the – starting an initial conversation, asking how can you help them, right? Or personally to say, how can I be of help to you? I think it is really powerful, and if we can all do that for each other, think how much faster we can get the opportunities we’re looking for or to be connected to other people as well.
I agree. And even in that moment, if you can’t think of how can you help this person you just met, maybe you go home, you think about it the next day, you send them a quick LinkedIn invitation with a message saying, you know, you had mentioned that you’re trying to do XYZ, I had an idea that might be of help to you. Yeah, it’s a wonderful, I think, way to strengthen the barely, you know, a really new relationship.
Right. And actually, I think that might even be more powerful sometimes, to know that, hey, they really thought about me, they remembered what they said, that they were, they remembered that we even had a conversation. So.
I agree. Good. Number four is be authentic. And you know, it takes a lot less energy to be yourself. And not really trying to be the super professional person. That’s really not who you are. So be yourself be comfortable in your own skin, and that helps the other person be comfortable with you too.
Yeah. Yeah. Number five is to find out their treasure. She suggests engaging someone on a topic that makes the conversation more fun for both of you, as opposed to just saying, which I frequently ask, what do you do? How about asking what made you get into your field? Or what made you choose to work at your particular organization? Asking them in a little bit different way.
That’s great. I love that. Anything to break down barriers. You know, I’d like to break the ice with people, you know, once you say your hellos and, and figure out how do you get them comfortable? If it’s a certain time of the year I like to say so, you know, what holiday plans do you have coming up? Or maybe it’s in the spring and you say have you started your gardening yet? Or you know, starting with something that kept people relaxed. Now if someone asked me about gardening, I’d say, heck no. I like to look at flowers, I don’t like to work on flowers, but, but yes, something to get people talking.
It’d be a long time before I’m starting on my garden. But.
There you go. Number six is act like you want to talk. So put away that cell phone, you know, on vibrate. My husband goes to a lot of university events, and there’s networking time before and after. He goes to professional organizations, and he comes home and I always think, well, so did you have dinner there? Because they serve food. He says, Are you kidding? I can’t walk around and talk to people and be eating or have food in my hand. And I’m always like, oh, great, what do you want for dinner, but I think that’s true. Put down the food so that you are free to shake hands. And if there’s an eating time, eat during that time, but even if it’s just the time devoted to walking around, getting to know people, make that the priority of that.
Yeah. Yeah, great advice. And then number eight, don’t forget that thank you. Follow up with them with a note thanking them for their time, follow up with a LinkedIn connection, keep them updated on anything you maybe had a conversation about, and just say thank you.
That’s really powerful. I agree. As we build our networks, you know, we need to be intentional, so as not to just go out and find friends and colleagues and contacts who look just like we do and think just like we do. So that’s why, JoDee, I’m really excited about our guest today, Amy Waninger. Amy works with organizations that want to build diverse leadership pipelines. She’s the author of “Network Beyond Bias: Making Diversity a Competitive Advantage for Your Career,” and “Network like a CHAMP Networking Activity Journal.” Amy is a professional member of the National Speakers Association, and a ProSci certified Change Practitioner. Other credentials include two degrees from Indiana University and a World’s Best Mom coffee mug. You got to start with the coffee mug. Who gave you the mug and how did you become the world’s best?
Well, you know, I have three kids and one of them likes me. So that’s how I got the mug.
I’m gonna guess that that one’s not the teenager.
You are correct.
I think we all take a vacation from being the best parent during those high school years.
You know, it’s funny. I’ve got a teenager and a toddler at the same time, and so there’s like a zero percent chance of me ever getting anything right.
Amy, I have three kids and I’m still waiting on the world’s best coffee mug. So. World’s best mom coffee mug.
That’s great. So Amy, you know, please tell us a little bit what your book is about, the “Network Beyond Bias.”
Sure. My book really seeks to, to help people who are interested in the diversity and inclusion work that’s going on in a lot of companies around the country and around the world. But it’s really for people who say, yeah, but I’m just one person, what can I do? And how can I have an impact all by myself? And so I thought about that, I gave that a lot of thought, because it was the book that I was looking for, right? And I was just one person, and what could I do? And I couldn’t find that book anywhere, so I decided that I would have to be the one to write it.
Love it. And what – so I love that you were looking for that book, but then what, what sort of inspired or propelled you to sit down and write it? Was there anything in particular you were doing?
Yeah, so I kind of backed myself into a corner professionally, if you will. I had gone to a conference in my industry, I’ve worked in the insurance industry for a number of years, and I had gone to a conference and I thought, wow, I would really love to give back to this organization. And what better way for me to give back to the organization that, you know, that I went to this conference for than to present at the conference. And so I submitted a proposal, and I think I had just a couple of sentences and a couple of bullet points on what I wanted to talk about, and what I really wanted to talk about was diversity and inclusion for everyday people, and, you know, how can we make this part of, you know, part of the way we do business in the insurance industry, you know, internally as well as externally? And when I thought about all the ways – well, let me back up. So they accepted my proposal, and then I thought, you know, now I have to come up with content, to talk to people in my industry about what we can do about this, this problem of, you know, we all look alike, and we all think alike. And so, as I was thinking about, well, what am I going to talk about, I thought, well, I need to make it relevant to people who are new in their careers, all the way up to executive level, and I need to make it relevant to people in all kinds of different functions in the industry. So that’s who my audience would be. I thought, well, what’s important to everyone’s career? Everyone needs a strong network. Because if you’re early in your career, that’s how you get opportunities, and if you’re more seasoned in your career, you know, you have more tenure, that’s how you do business deals, right? I mean, that’s how we, how we all work is with our network, and what better place to show our commitment to diversity and inclusion individually than in our networks? So as I was building the content for this session, I came up with an assessment tool that I then took myself and I was absolutely mortified at how poorly I scored on my own assessment, in terms of the diversity, the breadth and the depth of my network. And so then what happened after that is like, okay, this is great. But then what happened is, I noticed that I changed my behavior to make sure that I was more inclusive in my own networking. And when I noticed the impact that that had on me, I wanted to make sure I could share it with as many people as possible, because I think a lot of us think we’re doing a really good job. I know I did. And then when I saw on paper that I really wasn’t, it really inspired me to do something different.
Well, it sounds like before you got intentional about it that maybe, you know, you succumbed to unconscious bias as you were building your network. How would you define unconscious bias and what tips, maybe, through this journey that you’ve gone through, you could share with us how to get rid of it in our own life?
Sure. So I’ll start with I don’t know that we can ever really get rid of unconscious bias, but I think we can get beyond it. I think if we accept it, and recognize it, we can make better decisions for ourselves. So what I think unconscious bias is is really the the decisions that we make without realizing that we’re making decisions. It’s the preferences that we have that we reinforce with, you know, our identities, the people that we associate with, you know, the experiences that we choose. And we keep reinforcing these preferences to a point where we forget that we have them, we forget that we’re making decisions, we forget that we made a choice. So, you know, the people that we hang out with or, you know, where we, you know, the the direction that we drive, the, you know, the route that we take to work every day becomes habit, right? We don’t realize we’re doing it anymore. And when we can recognize that we’ve fallen into these patterns, it’s only then that we can make different decisions to kind of get past those patterns and be intentional and reach out to other people. So I offer three tips, like, kind of a three step process, and they’re pretty simple steps, but they’re not always easy. And the first is to put yourself on notice. Notice your own responses and situations. Notice your patterns, notice your habits, and kind of your default mode of operation, and think about what are the values or the identities that those habits or preferences are seeking to protect or reinforce. And sometimes just that can make huge changes in your behaviors and your results, because you’ll just do things differently as a result of noticing that you’ve been doing them the same way for a while. The second step is to observe the responses of others. How do other people behave in the same situation? How might they make a different choice? Or have a different response when something happens that kind of disrupts the status quo? And then you can think about sort of what identities or values are they protecting or bringing? What experiences have they brought to that situation that might cause them to react differently than you did? And you can sort of build a database, if you will, of all of these responses. And then the third step is really the most important one, and it’s what I call pressing your pause button. Now, we all have a physical pause button on our faces right under our noses. It’s called our philtrum, and it’s that little divot right under your nose up above your upper lip, you probably never even knew what that was for. I’ll tell you what it’s for. It’s to keep your mouth shut and your brain active for just enough time to go back through that database and pick the best response in any given situation. It may not be your first one, right? If we ever said something, like, in response, you react quickly, we say something and then we think, oh, I shouldn’t have said that.
If you just put your finger on your pause button for just a second, you can stop that first instinct from coming out into the world where you can’t take it back, and you can maybe pick a better response along the way.
I love it. That is great advice. Great advice, Amy. And how can – I love your three action items, but can you maybe give us an example or share specifically how we might do that when networking?
Absolutely. So I had someone that reported to me a while back when I was, I was the manager of a fairly good sized team. And I had someone who reported to me, and I noticed, first of all, she was an outstanding employee. She was top notch, everything she did was excellent, thorough work, really driven self starter, like, everything you’d want to have in an employee, right? Make you look good as a manager. And I noticed that when I was… really uncomfortable in the interaction, and I couldn’t figure out why. And, you know, if you think about it, there’s somebody in your life that you’ve spent a lot of time with, and you think, well, I’m uncomfortable, and I kind of want to extract myself from the situation, right? And so, of course, that was my initial reaction at first, but then I started thinking, what is it about my interactions with this individual that are making me uncomfortable? And I noticed it wasn’t when we were in meetings together, and it wasn’t when she was at my desk or I was at her desk, at was, like, hallway conversations. And then I realized she’s shorter than I am. And I’m not used to that. And it made me uncomfortable, because I felt like she had to look up to me to talk to me, and that violated my sense of being kind of an egalitarian sort of manager where everybody counts the same, right, everybody’s opinion matters, and, and, you know, we’re all in this together, and my sense of being a team player, as a manager. And just noticing and realizing that that’s what I was protecting made me feel so silly, right? That I had to get over myself. And I’m like, well, that’s dumb. And so then I thought about it from her perspective. I’m like, well, you know, I’m, I’m not very tall. I’m five foot three, and she’s shorter than I am. So her interacting with me on a daily basis is probably no different than everybody else she interacts with on a daily basis. Like, this is not a problem between the two of us. This is a problem between my own ears. And so by pressing my pause button and thinking about this for a little bit, I was really able to reposition this in a way that I was able to laugh at how silly I was being. But then when you think about all of the differences that exist between me and other people at work or in my personal life that makes me uncomfortable I haven’t explored, and maybe I’ve given up on those relationships too quickly. And I bet other people have, too, because they don’t know what’s making them uncomfortable. They just retreat.
Right. What a fantastic example of truly being unconscious about it, right, of something that, I don’t know, most of us would never even think about that, this being a way that we were being biased. So thank you for sharing that story.
And Amy, in your book, you talk about a CHAMP network. What is the CHAMP network?
So, it’s part of the assessment tool that I created. It’s really the, the first dimension of the assessment tool, and it, it breaks down how deep is your network for your career. So I know a lot of times when we think about diversity and inclusion, which is really what my book drives toward, we think about very specific categories and demographics. So, you know, race, gender, ethnicity, those sorts of things. And I do talk about those things, but I think first, from a career perspective, we need to understand, you know, are we networked deeply enough. And so I look at network breadth as having these five components, and the reason these components are important is because they’re the people that you choose. So you don’t necessarily choose your boss or your coworkers, just like you maybe not choose your own family, right? Like, you kind of get what you get. But people in our networks, our professional networks that we choose, and my acronym for that is CHAMP, and each letter of CHAMP stands for a different type of person that you need to have in your network. Now, of course, you can have lots and lots of these folks in your network, right? So you might have multiple people in each category, but think about who’s top of mind for you. So C stands for customer or constituent. So if – no matter what role you have, whether you’re in the HR department, or the IT department, or a sales role, you still need to understand your customer and their needs. Right? And that’s true not just for the work that you do in the company, or, you know, or for your own business, but it’s also like, from the larger company perspective, who are the customers? And what does the industry look like? You need to have a relationship with a real customer with a real first name and a handshake, probably, right? Not a profile or a persona, but a real person that you can interact with, because that’s going to tell you a lot more about your company and the market than anything you could Google, right? You’re going to uncover some real truth there. So C stands for customer or constituent. H is for hire or help get a job. And this is somebody that you’ve – not because it benefits you, but because it benefits them, you’ve helped connect them to gainful employment. Either you’ve recommended them for a promotion, or you’ve sent a letter of recommendation, you know, for a job, you’ve connected them with a hiring manager or recruiter that you trust, or you’ve hired them yourself. We hear a lot as we’re developing our careers about the importance of having a sponsor, and we hear very little about the importance of sponsoring others, but any of us can do that. If you know somebody who’s hiring and you know somebody who’s looking for a job, you can fulfill that role for someone. So it’s really important to build that kind of goodwill, make those connections.
And it’s very cool because you’re really vested in that person’s success, and they look at it, in a way, differently, because you helped them get to where they are. So I love that. So that’s the H.
Yeah. So A is for associate, and this is somebody who has about the same level of responsibility as you and somebody that you can kind of bounce ideas off of. Maybe you’re, you’re helping set pace in your careers or your businesses for one another. Sometimes you have like a mastermind group that you might work with, or you have a whole cohort group in school, or you know, in a development program, that sort of thing, and so you need somebody that, you know, you can trust, that you can really sanity check your own ideas and that sort of thing. So that’s kind of the, at the same level. And then M and P are sort of hand in hand. M is for mentor, and P is for protege. So just as we all need someone to help us move forward in our careers, somebody to tell us, you know, you don’t want to step there, you don’t want to say that, right? Don’t make the same mistakes I’ve made, even if they’re only a few minutes ahead of you, or, you know, even if it’s somebody who wrote a book 500 years ago, and you look at that as someone who, you know, has given you guidance, right, you need to get some guidance from somewhere. But similarly, we all need to take on proteges. We need to reach out to the people who come behind us, and people who, you know, have less experience than we do. The people who are maybe struggling to finish school, and people who are, maybe you’re struggling even to reenter the workforce after being incarcerated, for example, there’s so many people out there who need our help. And investing in a protege not only helps them, but it helps us see how far we’ve come and really appreciate what we have, and that gratitude is huge for our own growth and our own moving forward.
I love an attitude of gratitude.
Yeah. And Amy, I would suggest that those – although I love your acronym and your definitions for those, that, that some of those might even be very informal, right? We don’t have to necessarily go out and seek people or be involved in an organization, but that might be our our family or our neighbor or a student, or that can come in many aspects of our lives. Do you agree?
Oh, absolutely. And you know, I, I’ve defined a mentor, as, you know, an author of a book that you like, or someone who someone who does a webinar or a podcast, like, whose voice are you listening to? And as far as proteges, you know, who are you investing in?
And that depth of your network really sets the stage then for when you think of who’s top of mind in those categories? Do they look just like you now? Because if you’re only investing in people who look just like you, and you’re only listening to people who look just like you, and you’re only helping people get, you know, find gainful employment who look just like you, and you’re only talking to your customers who look just like you, and you’re only associating with peers who look just like you, you’re not learning very much.
Love it. So why is that important for us, Amy, to be really intentional about focusing on diversity and inclusion? You mentioned one thing, which is so that we could learn more. What are other reasons why we should do that?
Absolutely. So we talked about unconscious bias in the beginning as being the patterns of behavior or the patterns of preference that you don’t know you have, and the reason I say we need to be intentional about our networks and intentional about building diverse networks is it doesn’t happen by default. So whenever I do my programs that I do, when I talk to people about the book one on one and I walk them through the assessment, it’s always the most well-meaning people who are the most troubled by the results on the assessment, because they really think they’re doing a good job of being inclusive and connecting with people broadly. And what I can tell you is to a person, they are not doing as good a job as they think they are. And if the most well-meaning people aren’t doing it, then my guess is no one else is either. So I can tell you from, from anecdotal experience, and just from being out doing this work, that people don’t do this automatically, this is something that, that, you know, they have to, people have to make a conscious effort to reach beyond what’s comfortable. But you ask, why do that? Here’s the thing. If I only connect with people who are just like me, I’m not likely to be very innovative. I go to a lot of conferences now, because I speak on this all the time, and I’ll go to an education conference and they’re talking about the same problems that people in the tech industry are talking about, and they’re talking about the same problems with talent and, you know, management issues and employee engagement issues that people in the energy sector are talking about. And what’s funny is, they’re at different phases of solving these problems, and they’re all trying different things, but they’re not talking to each other about what’s working.
And so if you only think about it from an industry perspective, and I’m not even getting into the whole host of, you know, different, different cultures, you know, different genders, although, we do find that the more culturally and gender diverse an organization’s leadership is, the better they perform. So there’s all kinds of reasons from a company perspective to do this, but I’m saying if you want to get ahead in your career, if you want to be a leader, you need to consider as many perspectives as possible, right? The more diverse the better, and solve problems that don’t just impact you, but then impact others as well.
Wow. Amy, do you have any examples, perhaps in your work, or even in your reading, of people who really do this well?
You know, I would love to say, yes, I do, but the fact is, I’ve really not come across very many people who do it well without conscious thought. And so what I’ve noticed is, though, once people see on paper what they’re doing, what they’re really doing, not what they think they’re doing, but what they’re really doing, it sparks conversations and it sparks different behaviors. And so I’ve seen people who will say, oh, wow, I need to change this, what can I do? And they’ll start mentoring in places where they wouldn’t normally even show up, because they don’t think about that as an option. They will seek out people to be their mentors that they wouldn’t normally approach, because now it’s like a personal challenge, right, to seek out someone who’s a little bit different. They’ll go to conferences they wouldn’t normally go to, and, you know, I always tell people, go to the conference that’s not for you. And if you’re at a conference, go to the session that’s not for you, right? So if you’re a man and you’re at a financial services conference, and there’s a session about women in financial services, go to it and find out what the issues are that those individuals face, right? I was at an education – I’m not part of the education, you know, the higher education industry, but I was at a higher education conference and there was a wonderful presentation that was done on specific challenges for African Americans seeking tenure, and I went to it because I thought, wow, that’d be fascinating. I was the only white person in the room. I thought, what a tragedy. You’ve got all of these folks who can be allies, right? There’s, there were tons and tons of white folks there who were in higher ed, who can be allies to their African American colleagues. But they didn’t even show up to find out what the issues were, and I thought that was sad. Now, most of the people in the room already knew what the issues were because they were already living that experience, right? So show up in places where you can listen and learn, and then take that information back to your default network where nobody else is getting out of their comfort zone either and, and be the one to educate others.
Yeah. That is great advice. I feel like, Amy, that I’m very intentional about building a network, but I can tell you already after listening to speak, I have not been intentional about building a diverse network. So I love that advice.
You know, the beauty of this, though, is that you can start today and change it.
Right, right. What other advice do you have for our listeners today who may be looking to grow their professional networks or to be more intentional, like me, to build a more diverse network?
So I would say if you’re really just getting started in this conversation, and so many of us are, don’t feel shame for the past, but make a commitment to do better. And you can start with very low risk activities. So some of the things that I recommend, are pay attention to where you get your news, what books you read, who authored them, who you follow on social media, because you can change those things without ever sticking your neck out even a little bit. And you can learn a lot that will prepare you for those braver steps of showing up in places where you may be the other for the first time.
Wow, that’s really good. How can any of our listeners reach you if they want to learn more about your work or even discuss with you maybe speaking for their groups?
Absolutely. So I’ve given you guys a link for your show notes that folks can follow and they’ll get a complimentary ebook from me, “21 Insights for Inclusive Networking,” I believe it’s called, and it’s just insights and excerpts from my book “Network Beyond Bias.” And if they download that, in a few days, they’ll also get the first 50 pages of my book in their inbox absolutely free. But if they want to reach me directly, they can do so at leadatanylevel.com, and I am all over social media at Lead at Any Level or Amy C. Waninger, which is harder to spell.
And just for fun, let’s make sure people know how to spell Waninger.
Sure. It’s W-A-N-I-N-G-E-R.
Excellent, Amy, this has been so fun and so enlightening. Thank you so much for joining our podcast today.
Thank you so much for having me.
Really been a pleasure and I’ve learned a lot. Thanks, Amy.
So for our first time listeners, we’re getting ready for our next section, which is called our “best practice sharing.” We do this periodically when we have a topic that we think would be helpful and our listeners actually give us some of their good ideas and things that are working for them. So for this particular podcast on networking, we asked our listeners, what do you do to make networking easier for you? And here’s some of the ideas and tips that we heard. JoDee, do you want to start out?
Sure. One that I really liked said to go to networking events with a friend, but don’t start out or stay together. Like, how many times do you see people doing that? They go and they don’t talk to anyone but the friend they went with. So start on opposite rooms, make it a game, I think even. Then throughout the event, when you find yourselves near each other in one on ones or smaller groups, bring your friend over and introduce him or her and then let them do the same to you. People you’re talking to will appreciate you’re introducing them to new people, and it lightens the mood as you have a friend join you in the one on one small group.
I think that’s great. The second tip we really liked was be sure you take your business cards with you. Yes, I know some of you are saying business cards, you still use those? Absolutely. Have them at the ready. Now you’re obviously, once you get connected to somebody and you have that relationship, you’re going to get connected on your smartphone, and maybe you don’t need that, you throw away the business card once you have them on your mobile. But it’s important, I think, for people to have something quickly they can take away and then that helps you go back and find them on LinkedIn the next day, however you want to stay in touch. So take plenty of business cards with you to not only formal networking events, but when you’re out for lunch, when you’re out socially, when you attend meetings. Just have them in your pocket.
Right. And then the third one, which we have mentioned, that I think is worth repeating, after meeting someone you like, within the next 48 hours, send them a LinkedIn invitation with an added note reminding them of what you discussed and when you met with them, where, and when, as sort of a reminder to that. That’s great advice, too.
Unknown Speaker 46:21
Yeah. Oh, that’s great. And then I would just add one tip of my own, I really do suggest to folks when they go to a networking event, or they’re trying to network with someone, go in there and pretend like you are an interviewer. This isn’t about you, it’s about the person you’re talking to. And when you get to know them, be truly interested and peel back the onion of them, because you’re going to find a confidence, something about them that you have in common, and that’s going to let the conversation just organically grow. So just pretend like when you walk in there, all the eyes are not on you. Go in there and figure out how you can interview that person who’s standing alone over by the cocktails.
Love it. Love it.
Alright, so now it’s time for our listener question, and if this is your first podcast with us, we do invite questions, either by email by phone, we’ll give you that phone number at the end of this podcast, on our Facebook or Twitter pages, would love to hear from you. And if there’s a question that you just don’t want to ask your HR person or that you kind of don’t want let your boss know about, feel free to let us know and we’ll take a crack at it. So what was the question this week, JoDee?
The question was, “How do I make poor leaders realize they are poor leaders of people, and what can I do to help them get better?”
Well, that can be tough. It can be very tough, especially when that leader thinks that he or she is pretty good at it. Right?
The first thing that comes to mind for me is I would recommend perhaps that the senior teams do 360. I think it’s a powerful tool in development for everybody at every level, but to the leader, I’d probably say, you know, we really need to start with the leadership team so that we get comfortable with this. And what a 360 is, is, of course, getting feedback from your boss, from your colleagues, and from your staff members, and you also evaluate yourself on a set of competencies. The value of it is you get a chance from a full 360 degree level, get an understanding of how do you perform on certain basic competency that’s important in your role or in your organization. So I’m hopeful, now I can’t swear that all the people who fill it out on your leader is going to be truthful, but it’s done anonymously, so I’m hopeful it will be, it will give some data to that leader that perhaps they aren’t as good, perhaps in communication or not as good at team building, or whatever those factors are you want to include. So that’s the first thing I would think of. Secondly, I think as that HR business person, or consultant, or whatever role you have, maybe the HR, Chief HR Officer, that you should think of yourself as a coach, a people coach. And so depending on your relationship with that leader, if you’re getting different data points that lets you believe perhaps his or her leadership skills could be improved, coming at it gently and yet analytically, share, perhaps, you know, here’s what I’m seeing as a trend on exit interviews that people are saying about leadership here. Or perhaps you’re having turnover and although you’re maybe, you’re not doing exit interviews yet, but your company, you’re seeing that people are turning over at the one year to two year, whatever, mark, I would come in with as much data as I could to try to paint the story that perhaps we have opportunity to improve leadership skills here. JoDee, any ideas that you have?
Yeah, I think just on a – I love those two ideas, and maybe on a more informal basis, or maybe this person might be a peer of yours or even your own boss, is to identify at least one item, what is it specifically that they’re doing that you think makes them a poor leader? Are they not effectively delegating? Are they not allowing open communication? Are they not setting good expectations? And having a conversation with them, just an open and honest conversation. As much as you can, have specific examples or observations that you can start with, I like to call it instead of feedback, which makes a lot of people nervous, I like to call it feed forward, in thinking about what information do you have about this person that could help them be better going forward. So just having some of those informal conversations with them to let them be aware, sometimes people aren’t even aware of some of the things they’re doing.
That’s so true. So true. Well listener, I wish you luck and if you get a chance, let us know how you do impacting the leadership style of your executive. Alright, so now we’re ready for our in the news section, where we just talk about trends and things that are happening on the HR landscape. So as we’re recording this particular episode, it’s the beginning of 2019, and with the start of every year, it’s a good time to do a quick assessment of what external changes could impact some of your HR policies, your procedures or practices in your company. So it’s a good time, I think, to do kind of an annual self check. What do we need to change or update? A few examples for 2019 are, first of all, mileage reimbursement changes are needed, perhaps, on your T&E forms. If you already have them printed on your form, or in your policies, have you communicated this change to all of your staff members and have you changed those forms? Since January 1, 2019, the IRS increased the standard rate that employers can use to calculate deductible expenses for operating company cars and trucks by 3.5 cents. So it’s up to 58 cents per mile now, it’s 20 cents per mile for medical or moving purposes, up from 18 cents, and it’s 14 cents per mile in the service of charitable organizations, which is still unchanged from 2018. Second example might be the US employers should annually adjust their payroll system to account for each year’s changing taxable wage base. Starting January 1, 2019, the maximum earnings subject to Social Security payroll tax increased to $132,900. Just want to make sure that’s updated if you do your own payroll. And then finally, I think it’s important to look at all of your benefit documents, you know, any changes there, is everything updated in your onboarding process to reflect the current year information?
Yeah, like HSAs, Flexible Spending Plan limits, 401(k) contribution maximums, all those typically change on an annual basis.
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