Intro: Welcome to Sheepdog Financial, you will get answers to your financial questions. Learn to plan for your financial future and have the type of life that people dream of. Brought to you by Trisuli Financial Advising, a fiduciary financial advisor practice focused on military members and their finances. Your host of sheepdog financial is Scott Vance.
Scott: Today on Sheepdog Financial, we have Karen Wickre. We talk about why you should need to network even when you don't need help right now. She says it is more important than ever to make connections. The increased pace of job change combined with the ease of moving locations has increased the value of a wider array of connections. Karen is an expert in networking. She's a former editorial director at Twitter and has been called the most connected woman in Silicon Valley. Karen says the most successful networks are those that are nurtured before needing help. She's the author of a new book called taking the work out of networking and introvert's guide to connections that count. Karen, welcome to the show.
Karen: Thank you so much, Scott. I'm glad to be here.
Scott: Great. So what are the current topics that I see or repetitive topics I see as people transition? Is networking how you network to get that, that bump as you transition to a different job or a different location? But a lot of times I see people, especially in my experience with the military is they really don't network. Is that a mistake? And I pretty much assuming it is and, and if, if so, how do you fix that?
Karen: Well, uh, I mean it is kind of a mistake for people to think today that they have the job they're in and it's all set or you know, they are going to apply for the next job and they don't need to kind of connect with anybody about it. The fact is that we all hate this idea of networking and even the verb networking is bad. But I would say the reason that we need to essentially let's substitute continually making connections with people you don't know for particular reasons. That's, that's really kind of what networking is and it's, it doesn't have to be transactional. And I'll talk a little bit more about that later. But the important thing is to remember is most of us, and I think this goes, uh, applies to folks in the military too. You're not going to have one job forever. Even if you're, if you're staying in the organization, there are opportunities to move around. But for most of us, we're going to have multiple jobs over the course of our life. We're going to make geographical moves. We may have a new interest, especially it may be coming out of service one of get into a new field. These are all occasions for essentially connecting with people you didn't know before and then keeping in touch with them because that's how you kind of build a network over time. Different people that you can call on when you have particular questions and new things come up. And by the way, you're not the only one with questions. This is very much a mutual connection kind of kind of thing. So it is important, I think, to think of it as much more than, "Oh, I need a new job, I've got to go network," and then you're done. That's the mistake, if any that people make.
Scott: Right. It's almost like just a general conversation. You don't want to be the person that talks all the time. It pushes them away. But you can say give and take.
Karen: Uh, yes, exactly. It's very much it kind of give and get, I think people hate networking because they think, "Oh, I got to go to a networking event and then I'm like trying to get the name of someone's name tag while I'm making small talk with them. And the whole thing feels very phony and just, you know, weird." And also like, "Oh, I need something and you know, I don't want to bother someone else but how do I make my ask right?" But you don't have to go to those. So that's why in larger if you do, there are ways to sort of navigate them, but that's really something much more transactional kind of way to approach it. Then if you make your requests known, "Oh, you know, I'm looking into, you know, maybe getting a degree in this different field." You know, who do I know who might know something about that field or has a job doing that or went to that school, whatever it is, and making that known so that you say informally to people, that's what I'm looking for. And then someone will say, "Oh, I know someone who does that. I know someone who went through that." That's kind of how the, this sort of more authentic networking takes place.
Scott: Well, yeah. And we talked a little about, so we've talked a little bit so far about networking and I probably missed that. We probably should start at the basic and what do you consider a good definition?
Karen: I would say making connections that count. And by that I mean genuinely connecting with people that you like. Not everybody you ever meet, that's not who you have to network with. But uh, making connections that count and that, that count part is not tit for tat. Like they helped me do this and then we're done. Or like, then I, then I'll take a turn and help them. It's not kind of an eye for an eye situation. I have a, there's a quote that I use in the, in the book that I, that I really liked, which is from a guy named Ivan Meisner, "Networking is less like hunting and more like farming." To, which I did think of gardening and farming as sort of too much. Uh, but in any case, the difference there is farming or gardening or very seasonal and continuous, and you're weeding and you're planting and you're watering and you know, you have a few, a dead plants that you take out, you know, but it's ongoing, right? Whereas hunting is pretty transactional. Okay. So that's, that's a good way to think. Think of the difference.
Scott: So talking a little bit about the farming analogy with the ongoing farming to build those networks, how do you, in a practical sense, how do you recommend people do that? I mean, you think about people's very busy lives. How do you fit that in to, you know, be continuous?
Karen: Well, here, here, we're living at a really wonderful time for this because more of us are more connected to more people by and large because of the different, uh, social media channels we're already using. So if we, if we only want to talk about LinkedIn and, and we can cause that's a, that's a valuable tool. But in addition to that, we're, we're already used to perhaps posing a question to our Facebook friends or if you're on Twitter, you know, kind of seeing who you know, who might know something about this or that and ask them. And even Instagram to some degree. So we're, we're connected to people and it's just a matter then of sort of plucking, you know, one person out and having sort of the private reach out with somebody and, and in that way you can keep in touch very informally and quickly with people without having to have a lot of scheduled time and a lot of meetings in person or, or that sort of thing. We all, I think don't appreciate maybe how many more people we know and can reach quickly when the time comes.
Scott: Yeah. And then also talking with making connections, do you recommend that people, obviously you probably do that they kind of focus their connections or make some decisions about who they connect with and spend time with. How do you kind of suggest people either rank or you some sort of system to figure out who to connect with more or less so than others?
Karen: Well, I think there are two answers to that. I think part of it is who you genuinely, you know, get a good feeling from or enjoy your interactions with. And that could be a colleague at work. It's like some people you kind of instinctively know, "Hey, we're gonna have a fun five minutes here."Just we have a nice connection that we understand something about each other or we see things the same way. Pay attention to the people that you have good feelings about and make them part of your network. But in addition, I think that having a specific question or area of focus. So rather than, you wouldn't just reach out to people and say, "Hey, I need a job. Can you help me?" Or a, you know, "I'm moving to a new city that I don't know anything about." You would do a little work first to kind of think about and maybe research, well who do I know, who knows something about this new field or this company that I'm interested in or this new city. And so that you can do a little bit on LinkedIn, you can do a little bit and just looking at your own contacts and kind of putting out the word so you're not kind of a blanket like I have a need, but you're saying I have a need about this thing on, I'm exploring this idea, right? And then someone can say, no, I don't know anything about that. Oh, but wait a minute. I do know someone who knows something. Let me introduce you. And then then you're often running right. Because then you make sure to follow up to have that connection. And in my experience people, they are flattered and like to help. If someone asked that, can you, you know, meet this person or can you answer my question about this? Because you know something about it. People generally like to like to help. What you don't like is when you say, hi, I'm a stranger and I need an answer by 2:00 PM on Tuesday. So you know that you, we don't want to maybe respond to strangers quite as you know, that way. And so it's more like at your convenience, you know, can we set up a time for a call or a coffee or something, or can I send you my questions by email? You know, whichever way works.
Scott: Yeah, yeah, no, in the military we used to call that a failure to plan on your part, doesn't constitute an emergency on my part. So, yeah,
Scott: Makes sense. And then one of the things you talk about in your book is the power of introverts and their three superpowers.
Scott: Can you speak to the powers of those introverts are and how that helps with networking?
Karen: Yeah. So this is strictly by observation. I have a focus group of one and that is me. And so I would say, you know, people always say to me like, you're not, how can you be an introvert? You know, you're very sociable, you know, lots of people. Introvert is not the same as shy, right? Introvert essentially means in order to thrive, you need sort of quiet time away from the crowd to kind of regroup and process and kind of think on your own. It doesn't mean you, you never want to go out or see people or be sociable. It just means you also need to maybe not overbook. Like I get anxious if my calendar is too full of things, right? Then going from this meeting to this meal. So I need, you know, sort of my own kind of downtime just to, you know, kind of kind of reset. I guess extra extroverts tend not to need so much of that. We're all kind of on a spectrum here, but I think that extroverts get their energy from, I'm meeting someone for drinks and then, um, some friends for dinner and then there's the after party and I'm good all night where I'm thinking, and I think most introverts would think, how soon can I go home?
Karen: And so that's really the, the difference. And so I've always been that way. And one of the things I noticed very early on is that I kind of made a game out of getting the other person to talk first. Okay. Now at that that, so that's the first superpower. Being able to listen. We don't have to be in the spotlight and in fact We may not want to be, but you know, when someone says, well how are you? What's new? I mean inevitably I just say, tell me about what's new with you. Then we'll get to me. Then I get to listen and hear kind of gauge where they're coming from. And if it's a brand new person then it's like, Oh, you know, what kind of things do they focus on and are they, what's their style? But it gives you a few moments to kind of process that. And so listening is a wonderful skill when you're connecting to new people, right? So that you kind of get where they are and you can kind of focus your questions or your, or your conversation to that. The second power superpower I'd say ties to this is the power of observation. And it's really the same thing. But similar to listening, but it's about visual observation. Right. And I, and I'd like to think all my military friends would be really good at observing or because you spend a lot of time, you spend a lot of time waiting and watching it. So I would, I would think that, you know, observing is sort of like people watching is, is a form of it. But also just like what, why is that person seemed so nervous? Or why does that person always have to say no first or, or why, you know, somebody over here calls attention to himself all the time. What is that? Just observing and again it's sort of like gives you more Intel on kind of framing your, your questions and your and your conversation. And then the third super power that I think is really helpful and I think introverts are better suited, somewhat better suited for this. Not that anyone else can't do this, it's simply being curious and open. And this ties to, you know, people watching, which being able to just sort of sit back and take in the scene. But also being curious. I am curious about the psychology of people, you know, what, why, why is that person always angry or why are they so anxious? You know, I'm just, I'm just curious about that. But equally curious, Oh, you have someone you want me to meet and you think we have something in common? I'm absolutely open for that because you know a little about me. Why not, you know, as, as opposed to, no, I don't take any new inputs. Right. So being curious, all these things, listening, observing, and being curious are like just good skills to have, to be able to connect easily with new people, even just for a moment and to be able to follow up in a kind of light way and, and gauge things appropriately for, for who that person is.
Scott: Yeah. And then another thing that a lot of military veterans probably feel as that they don't feel like they fit in, whether that's based on PTSD or just general uncomfortableness. So how do you recommend people deal with that as they begin networking and speaking with other people?
Karen: Well, I think the, the thing, one thing I know I've asked a lot of my, of my contacts, you know, what, what is it you hate so much about networking or having a network? And one thing is, I think we all have this, we hear that word at, we immediately think there's a faceless mass of people out there and I am all by myself over here. And that faceless mass, they have all the answers and they have everything figured out. And I do not. And I'm all by myself. And that's really not true. First of all. Everybody, one by one has whatever issues they have and their own fears and so on. But the other thing is you're not having to meet a faceless mass. It's everything about connecting with other people starts out one-to-one. And so that is just back to the having the, the small exchanges that you might have, the pleasantries, the basic conversation or be curious about, Oh, tell me more about that. First of all, you're talking and I'm not, but um, but tell me a story. You know, and so if you think of it that way, really as the each contact, each conversation, each new meeting is, is a one to one experience. And then the fact that you can use your email, you can use the different private mechanisms on the social channels, private LinkedIn message, private Twitter message, messenger on Facebook. So that is still one-to-one, right? That you're, you're just sitting in front of the screen asking a particular person a particular thing. There's no faceless mass. So I think if you can think about it that way, kind of break it down. In other words, from that kind of scary, faceless mass thing to, Oh, I'm just going to reach out to this one person about this one thing and it might be three minutes.
Scott: That ties into the next thing I was thinking about was advocate, the idea of keeping in loose touch. So what is exactly keeping loose touch? I can probably imagine based off of what you talked about earlier, but what is it, how do you use it? And then ultimately what are the benefits of it?
Karen: So we've been talking about it actually this, this idea of the quick email to someone, haven't seen you in a while. How are you or let's catch up soon. I use Twitter a lot and I used to work at Twitter so I don't know. I'm, I'm, I'm in, I'm all in on Twitter. Good or for bad. I use Twitter a lot. But one of the things that I like about the private message function on any of the other applications does the same thing. I will see a news story or a video or a meme or something funny and it'll make me think of somebody and I'll just send it to them, you know, in a private message and say, you have to see this. Or I knew you'd love this or you know, this made me think of you. How are you? Now for me? I've, I've lived in the Bay area for a long time. I've worked in Silicon Valley for a long time, uh, where it's a very fluid job market. So I have a lot of contacts and friends who are former colleagues and you know, we all go off and have new jobs and don't see each other all the time. This is the way of staying at loose touch with people that I know it's not for you with a stranger with a brand new contact, but it is for people you've already met, right? And you already know something about. So it can be as simple as you know, you know that somebody else is their favorite team, you know who their favorite team is and they had a big win or a big loss right the night before. So you simply send a message just saying, sorry about that, or congratulations, good for you. You know like and how are you? That does a couple things. One is it reminds that person of you and that here you are, you're giving them a gift. I know something about you and I'm thinking about you, right? Even in that brief message. And then the other thing is you're, you're just saying it's not a request for a meeting. It's simply saying, you know, how are you, I'd love to catch up soon, no obligation there. If you do want to actually do that, "Hey, I haven't talked to you in a while. Can we make a phone date soon? Or you know, can we get together?" And the other person says, I'm, I'm good in two weeks, fine, let's make you know, then follow up to make that time.
Karen: But a lot of loose touch is people that you don't regularly see, but you have a fond memory of a fun feeling about just sort of, "Hey, what's new? How are you? I'm thinking of you." with something attached to that. It's like, "Oh, you know, did you see the game last night? Did you see the show? Have you seen this movie?" You know that, that kind of thing, that where you have some commonality.
Scott: Yay, I imagine you could almost work this into your daily routine. Like first 10 minutes a day I send out X number of loose contacts or something like that. Something along those lines.
Karen: You have read my mind that that's exactly what I do. That's kind of how I warm up for the day. It's sort of like, okay, before I have to, you know, write the work email or do the something else, some other assignment kind of thing. It's, it's more like, let me scan the news or let me scan, you know, what, what's in my feeds of various feeds and then that'll send the, you know, that'll give you something to pass along to somebody else. I had a very unexpected example of this last week. About 20 years ago, I worked at a wonderful little company, about a hundred people. We all had a kind of special bond. It was one of those places where, you know, we just all were friendly and kind of stayed friends even though people scattered and I'm sitting at a cafe, my phone rings, I see the name pop up on the screen and it's one of the women I worked with. She lives in the area. We're connected on Facebook, but we probably haven't actually seen each other for five or six years at least. And she just called and said, I know you're going to see the Downton Abbey movie, the new one this weekend. I'm going to see it too. And I was just thinking about you cause I, you know, I know we're both fans and I miss you and let's get together soon. Like that was totally out of nowhere. And of course I loved it and I followed up and said her email and said, okay, now when can we actually get together and talk about the movie that we both just saw. But like that she was having a loose touch moment there. And the, the benefit of that is simply, it's a kind of human moment and it's a wonderful kind of serendipitous thing. But it's also like you feel like in begin to feel, I'm not alone. There are people I can turn to to ask questions or if I need something. Right. You know, and it could be, this is why I think it's more important than just thinking about a job hunt. Right. It could be like I have friends with various ages now and some of my friends are going through dealing with, with their elderly parents. Right, right. And so if I can say someone you know, tells me whatever their situation is, someone I know and I say, you know, I have another friend who's doing exactly that or this is what they told me about that. Or, or you know, they're in the same state, the parents are in the same state. Maybe you two could talk about that. Right. You know, it's like that's the other, that's the kind of bigger power of, of these connections.
Scott: So do you use any sort of formal tracking system? Like a CRM?
Karen: No CRM. You know, a lot of people ask me that and, and I don't, but it's funny, I was just talking to a guy last night, he does an interesting thing. He said, this is a little nerdy, but he kind of made a spreadsheet of, I think, I think he said like 20 people that he really cares about and wants to keep in touch with. And he just indicates like, when did I last talk to them, right? Or, or see them or whatever. And they're not all in the same geographical area. So then he kind of refers to that spreadsheet and then says, Oh, you know what, it's time for a call. It's time, it's time for me to like send them a note or see what's going on. Or even, you know, make a plan for a, you know, a weekend away or, or whatever it is. So I guess my version of that is I keep, I'm a Google calendar with all kinds of stuff in it. So it's, it's certainly meetings and dates and directions and stuff. But for example, on my calendar when you sent me a sort of here are the kind of questions I'm looking for. I copy and paste that into my calendar notice.
Karen: Right. And then I can look that up. And then your, your, you know, your phone number, your email and stuff. And so, and of course I have, you know, birthdays and you know, trips and whatnot. But for me that's a way of sort of both having a record of the past, but then then I can look up when was the last time I had an exchange with this person. Some people do really kind of nerd out about their contact lists and stuff. I wish I had a single tool that was fantastic. I could tell you to you, there are a bunch of contact apps now that let you, you know, have reminders and different things and I'd say, you know, read the reviews and try one out and see if you'd like it. I think the big challenge is keeping updated with uh, you know, what's their current email or the current address or whatever and phone number. And that's just an ongoing little task that we just all have to attend to in some way.
Scott: Just like any other technology you have to use what works for you.
Karen: Yeah. Exactly.
Scott: And then also using technology to drive that personal relationship I think is a good example of positively using technology. I don't know why, but it pops in my head, Neal days. You know, you used to have to whenever go pick up your horse to the stable and then you'd talk to the stable guy. It's almost like the CRM helps you do that. You're not going to physically go in there, but it forces you to make that connection. I don't know why that popped into my head. Maybe I'll watch, have watched a little house on the Prairie or something last night. I don't know.
Karen: Pay attention to those associations. Right.
Scott: Okay. And then a lot of people that I've, I've met and talked with, they talk about how many contacts they have. You know, I got 10,000 people on LinkedIn and 10,000 people over here on Facebook. And do you advocate those large numbers? Are you focusing more on quantity? Our quality, I meant, yeah. Yeah,
Karen: it's all quality. It know the numbers. The social media following thing is really a different thing entirely. And um, I've been kind of glad to see it kind of died down as a, as an important thing. If you're running a small business, yes, you want to build up your followers, you know, that kind of thing. Or if you are uh, you know, you do public speaking, you want to reach more people. But really for most of us it is much more about having people that you actually know and care about. I would say LinkedIn is a little bit different in that it pays to connect with people. Not everyone necessarily who might reach out to you if there's no reason to, but it can be a broader group of people you may not have met just because they might be professionally interesting and that's what it's designed for. Right. It's not designed for friends and family. It's designed to actually connect with more people.
Scott: Maintaining your network is essential to all this. You put your time into it. Yeah. What do you see as the most common networking mistake in your experience?
Karen: Well, I mean, one might be the sort of fixation on the numbers or a part of that might be the reaching out to people sort of cold just to say, you know, I'd like to be connected with you because I may want a business contact out of you. You know, a, at some point, and again, I think that's most common, uh, on LinkedIn for example. So I would say, you know, don't fixate on, uh, the numbers per se and don't feel like everybody you meet has to be in your network. Right. That's what I think leads to a lot of anxiety and resentment about the whole thing.
Scott: Yeah and then as we're slowly starting to draw down here from your book, what would you recommend that Readers pay most attention to or focus on?
Karen: Well, I mean, maybe just the general notion that, well, two things that networking in a good way, right? And the making connections that count way is really a lifelong kind of endeavor. And it just as you suggested, part your daily routine and part of just how one operates in the world, being curious and being open and then paying attention to, Oh, I have that person's interesting, I'd like to follow up. I'd like to know more there. I believe in serendipity, right? There's a lot that can come from just the CI. I always do. I liked that person. And now there there's a specific thing that has come out of this that, you know, you just never know. And so I think the lifelong notion of just sort of building that muscle. And then the other thing I think is being aware that it's really a give and get ongoing pay it forward. Kind of seeing that the best way to think about it rather than the transactional hunting.
Scott: One of my last questions is, what is your favorite military movie?
Karen: Oh my gosh, that is such a good question. Well, I do love the iconic, A Few Good Men. Uh, so that one, that one for sure and maybe dating myself going way, way back in time. Coming home.
Scott: Coming home.
Karen: Yeah. With Jane Fonda and Bruce Stern, and John Voight. So it's, it's a Vietnam era. Uh, it's a, it's a, it's an having come home story. It's, it's uh, yeah, yeah. Very old, very old.
Scott: For listeners want to get a hold of you or read more about you, where can they go?
Karen: Uh, so my, my own website is just my name, Karenwickre.com. I'm on Twitter as KVox and I'm on LinkedIn. Just again, my name. Those are all easy ways to find me.
Scott: Okay. And I'll make sure to link to those in the show notes. Thanks for coming on the show.
Scott: While networking is not my favorite topic, I truly enjoyed talking with Karen. I especially like her suggestion about adding daily networking tasks, your list of tasks to nurture and grow your network. Thanks for listening. Sheepdog Financial and listening next week when I chat with Deb Meyer about how to define your wealth.
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