Networking - it's not a 4-letter word, and it's not just for getting a job or selling stuff. It's a key professional competency for everyone, regardless of your level, role, profession, or industry. In this episode, I talk to networking expert Lynne Waymon about ways to be more strategic about developing your networking know-how. We review the eight networking competencies and the six trust-building stages, as well as how you can use networking to accelerate your career growth and increase your leadership effectiveness. Lynne offers you a chance to get her 40-item online assessment to diagnose their current networking proficiency and how to ratchet it up. Finally, as always, I invite Lynne to share one actionable suggestion that you can use right away to give your networking a booster shot in the arm. Do it!
What you'll learn
- Why most professionals now recognize that networking is a professional competency required by everyone regardless of position or industry
- What are the 8 competencies of making networking work?
- Why networking is not a 4-letter word (as I've said before!)
- What percentage of the general population are ‘natural networkers’? (It’s too low.) Good news – it’s a totally learnable skill!
- Why does Lynne love my little clue that teaches people how to say my name right here on my About Page? [I've definitely discussed the importance of getting names right before - and how to do it.]
- How come people that are not connected to other employees within your organization can actually hurt the bottom line of the organization
- What’s your OrgNet and how do you figure out how to become more useful to it and extract more value?
- What’s in it for you? How can networking help accelerate your own career growth as well as effectiveness as a leader? (Hint: 80% of a leader’s worth to the organization is their connections!!)
- What are the 6 stages of trust and how to create more trust and advance your trust level with your contacts
- What does it take to get someone to be your advocate – to go out on a limb for you and put their reputation on the line? (And how some people are doing it all wrong...)
- Find out how to take a networking competency assessment that Lynne will provide to listeners of the TalentGrow Show – it will help you know how you’re doing on the eight competencies and how to develop them
- What’s are the biggest mistakes that people make in terms of using networking to advance their career and how to avoid them
- What is your “networker identity” and why you should care – and why it’s important to have the right mindset
- Why building skills like networking is over-time, not over-night
- Lynne tells a story about a significant transformation she was able to create for one organization (and cracks Halelly up)
- REACH-BACK – what’s that? How do you do it? Lynne tells about an experiment that you can learn from about the hidden treasures in people that are outside of your current networking circle – people you’ve fallen out of touch with
- What's the one actionable thing you should do to jump-start your networking or give it a boost? (Hint: it involves gratitude)
- Lynne is the first guest who gives out her phone number on my show…
- And more!
About Lynne Waymon
Lynne Waymon is the CEO of Contacts Count LLC, an international training & consulting firm that specializes in working with corporations, gov't agencies, associations, and professional services firms to support their business development initiatives and the growth & development of the Network-Oriented Workforce. Lynne co-founded the company 20+ years ago. Her clients are companies such as KPMG, eBay, Booz Allen, Sapient, Lockheed Martin, Deloitte Touche, and Corning, major universities, government agencies, non-profits, and associations.
Networking used to be seen as merely a job-finding or sales skill. Now it's recognized as a professional competency. As thought leaders in professional collaboration, Lynne and her partner identified The 8 Competencies for the Network-Oriented Workforce. These competencies are needed by people in almost every job type, at almost every level, in almost every kind of organization
Lynne's latest book, Strategic Connections: The New Face of Networking in a Collaborative World
Lynne's previous book, Make Your Contacts Count
Connect with Lynne by phone or email to request her Networking Competency Assessment - 301.589.8633 firstname.lastname@example.org
Subscribe to Halelly’s free weekly newsletter.
Intro/outro music for The TalentGrow Show: "Why-Y" by Esta - a great band of exquisitely talented musicians, and good friends of mine.
Scroll to read Transcript
Welcome back to the TalentGrow Show. This is Halelly Azulay, I’m your leadership development strategist and we are here with Lynne Waymon. Lynne is the CEO of Contacts Count LLC, which is an international training and consulting firm that she founded more than 20 years ago, and specializes in working with corporations, Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, associations, professional services firms, to support their business development initiatives and the growth and development of what she calls the network-oriented workforce. Lynne and I are going to talk today about networking and how people used to think about it as a tool just for finding a job or getting new clients for sales. And now, most professionals and most organizations recognize that it is actually a professional competency and that every person in an organization – regardless of their job type and their level and the type of organization they’re in – really needs to build networking professional competency. So, Lynne, welcome to the TalentGrow Show.
Lynne: Thank you.
Halelly: It’s my pleasure to have you, and I always ask my guests to give us a very, very quick overview of their professional journey before we dive into the content, just so we can get a sense of where you’ve been and how you got here.
Lynne: Of course! Well, around 1990 – 25 years ago – my sister and I started this business. She was in Kansas City and I was in Washington, D.C., at the time, and we realized that a real niche that we loved and a niche that needed to be served was to teach people how to network. And it was a challenge, Halelly, because at the time, networking had sort of a jaded reputation. I mean, people used to think of it as pushy or manipulative, so our mission has been to bring it up and help people realize that there are actually eight different competencies that will make you a good networker – and maybe we’ll go into some of those.
Halelly: I would love to do that for sure. I get this all the time in my work. I actually also help people learn about networking as part of the work that I do with leaders and aspiring leaders. And it’s almost like networking is a four-letter word, people get so (inaudible 2:34).
Lynne: That’s right!Halelly: And it has a lot more letters and a lot more to offer. So definitely I’m on a similar mission, although not as singularly focused on it as you have been in your career. Lynne: Yes, this has been our whole focus for 25 years. Halelly: It’s amazing. And you’ve done so much research and you’ve got so much on the ground experience, so I really look forward to digging into some of that and unpacking it for the listeners. Because I know that even they might be part of this camp that thinks networking is icky. And it isn’t! Lynne: Probably so. A lot of people are. Our studies show, Halelly, that about 20 percent of the population – no matter what job type we’re talking about, no matter what profession – about 20 percent are what we would call natural networkers. They have some just natural facility in talking to people and doing all the right things that make them likeable and competent and show their character and competence. And then the other 80 percent just have never run into it as a skill, never thought of it as a skill, that could be learned and is a professional skill. So whether they’re CPAs or lawyers or in a large corporation or running a nonprofit, they need to think of these eight competencies. I could go over them very, very quickly, if you’d like? Halelly: Okay, why don’t you do that? Lynne: The first one has to do with your networking identity, how you view yourself as a networker. We’ll talk more about that later. The second one has to do with the skills that are involved in taking a strategic approach rather than a scatter shot approach. The third one is about your ideal network, and visualizing what it looks like and then gaining the skills to actually cultivate it and capitalize on it. The fourth one is trusting relationships. We’ve discovered in our research and work with so many different companies that there are actually six stages of trust building, or relationship building, and there are appropriate things to do and say at each stage. So, people say to us, “I don’t want to be too pushy, but I don’t want to be too passive either.” And that’s what the six stages are about. Once you know what stage you’re at, stage of trust building, then you can figure out what to do or say, so you can avoid asking for too much too soon or, worse yet, asking for too little, too late. The fifth competency has to do with social acumen. These are the things like teaching your name – and Halelly, I love what you have on your website, the bottom of the first page, you’ve got a audio recording of how to say your name! That’s brilliant. I love it. So learning names, teaching your name, joining groups of people, ending conversations, all of those things. The sixth competency is how do you deepen interactions? How do you listen and ask questions so that the conversation actually has some meat to it? The seventh competency has to do with communicating your expertise – answering the question “What do you do?” And we have a formula for that. And also being able to tell a short story or example that teaches people what to come to you for, what you’re good at, what to count on you for. And then the eighth competency is how do you create new value? Not just for your career, not just to get your job done, but to have enterprise-wide results. That’s it. Halelly: I love it. And I think you lay it out in such a clear way and I love that there’s a graphic in your book, too, that really helps encapsulate this and make it memorable, but you also of course go into great detail in the book, which I love. I’m mentioning the book – I should probably say what the book is! It is called Strategic Connections: The New Face of Networking in a Collaborative World. Later I’m going to link to that in the show notes, so when people are finished listening or maybe right in the middle of listening, they can go and grab this book. Because it is such a very handy one. Lynne: Wonderful. Halelly: I love it. Oh my God, we could probably talk about this for days, and how do we really get into the meat of it without taking more than the time that we have? But you mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of people that are either not aware or don’t have the natural proclivity for networking, like 80 percent I think you said. And the idea being that this is a learnable skill. It isn’t just something you’re either born with or not born with. You say that people that are not connected actually hurt the bottom line. Can you speak more to that? Lynne: Sure. If you’re in a large organization and you’re not connected to other employees – you don’t know them, if you’re spending too much time in your cubicle or at your computer – you can actually hurt the bottom line. And I think the others around you, the managers and leaders in that community, are disappointed because you don’t have the big picture. You don’t know the big picture. You are also invisible. You don’t have the skills to tell people what to come to you for and what you’re good at, and it makes you invisible and they don’t know how to involve you in the collaboration and problem solving processes. You don’t, another way you hurt the community or the organization, is you don’t know who to go to when you need some help. There are very, very few of us who can completely, expertly do our job alone. So, in one of the modules that we teach, we talk about developing your OrgNet. See, your WorkNet is who you work with everyday. But your OrgNet are the people in the wider organization. Sometimes there are thousands of those, like when we worked at Lockheed Martin, teaching managers these skills. They have thousands of people in their OrgNet. So how do you figure out who would be useful to know? Who you could be useful to? So that’s just a few ways that the unconnected employee is not really carrying their weight. Not contributing to the enterprise-wide results. Halelly: And this is very much a focus of what’s in it for the organization, but of course there’s so much in it for each of us to gain. You know, as we’re thinking about the audience for this particular show, they’re probably already managers, supervisors, team leaders or they’re aspiring to grow into a leadership role. What is the connection that helps them see that this can actually accelerate their own career growth, but also their effectiveness as a leader? Lynne: Well, the Corporate Executive Board did a recent study that I was fascinated by. They’ve determined that about 80 percent of a leader’s worth to their organization depends on the network they develop. For the very reasons that I’ve said, that then they know who to call if one of their people reporting to them says, “I need to find out more about this and this and this,” that leader knows who to put them in touch with. And furthermore, the person they put them in touch with is eager to talk with them because they’ve shown their likeability and their competence. Halelly: And that is what makes it easier for people to connect with them and for them to be able to tap into those connections once they actually have them. Do you notice how there’s a lot of people that are trying to do it, they’ll kind of go through the motions, “Oh, I’ve been told I’m supposed to network. I’m supposed to reach out to people.” I get this all the time. Like yesterday, I got this random email from someone who is a connection of mine on LinkedIn, but I don’t have the slightest clue who he is. Because I’m relatively open and unless the person looks like a total creep, I’ll accept their connection. But if you don’t strike up a conversation with me or if you don’t show up in my day-to-day or at all as somebody who is noticeable or memorable or we’ve never even talked, and then he sends me this email that says, “Oh, I know it’s been a while. We haven’t really connected. I know I’ve been really busy and I know you’ve been really busy, but I’m starting my own business and I thought that I’d love to have you on my mailing list for my newsletter.” And I’m like, “Who are you?” Why? Lynne: Why? What’s in it for you? Halelly: Exactly. You’re doing it all wrong, my friend. You have to connect with people personally, but then maintain it. And that’s really hard for people. Lynne: What we teach is we teach people the steps in showing people your character and your competence. And once they really believe in that, they move to the advocate stage that we call, of the sixth stage, where they are willing to talk good about you, to recommend you to other people because they have a direct experience of your character and your competence. And you don’t have that with this fellow. So your interest is below zero in doing anything for him. Halelly: I mean, I guess I’m probably pretty low on the trust formula. Tell us, what are those six stages? Lynne: Well, the first stage is the accident stage. You just bump into somebody at Starbucks, and maybe you have a great conversation, but nothing happens to build a relationship unless one of you takes the initiative. So you might sit next to somebody on the airplane, but one of you has to take the initiative to make that into a relationship. Next are acquaintances. Now, these are people that also you meet once, but you could find them again. Suppose you go to a holiday party, Halelly, and you meet somebody who is the brother-in-law of the next-door-neighbor of the person whose party you’re at. And then months later you think, “Who was that person? I really would love to talk to them.” Well, you could find them again. Those are acquaintances. Then the next stage are associates. These are people who have joined the same groups that you’ve joined. So now you have almost instant access to them. So, maybe at a professional meeting, maybe at the health club, maybe even at a religious group, maybe at some kind of what we call wild card group. You have met each other and you see each other, often face-to-face is the very best. And so you can strike up a conversation and show your character and competence. The next stage is the active stage. This is where you are in active exchange or conversation with somebody, giving and receiving, showing your character and competence and seeing what people are like and they see what you’re like. Once they trust in your character and competence, they move to the advocate stage. And that’s a big leap. Let’s just be very clear about that. It doesn’t happen overnight. Mostly it takes five or six conversations or contacts to go from being just active with somebody and exchange with them to them being your advocate. Because have you ever noticed, we have these sayings in our society, about, “She stuck her neck out for him,” or, “He went out on a limb for somebody.” That’s because that’s a big leap, to advocate for somebody. Your reputation is on the line. And then the closest stage of networking with people is what we call allies. These are the people you have total trust with, you’re going through life with them. If you move to California, like you did Halelly, you’re going to hang onto each other. And there’s a degree of confidentiality that is really respected. So you can say to an ally, “I am going to pull my hair out over this boss. She is driving me crazy!” And they know, you know that they will not spread that around the business, and that you have the integrity and character to figure out how to deal with that problem. So, those are the six stages, quickly. We have a whole chapter in the Strategic Connections book about them, and if you’re really curious about how you’re doing with these skills, you can contact me and ask to take our networking competency assessment. That’s a 40-item online test and it gives you the results of how you’re doing in each of the eight competencies. Halelly: Oh cool, good. Can we link to that in the show notes or is that something where people would just email you to ask? Lynne: No, they need to email me about that, if they want to get a copy of that. Halelly: All right. You’ve got it here, so you make sure that you email Lynne. I’ll add her contact information in the show notes and you just tell her that you heard her on the TalentGrow Show and you want to know how you’re doing on those eight things. Lynne: And you can just ask for the NCA – the Networking Competency Assessment. Halelly: Sounds good. So Lynne, you meet a lot of people, you help a lot of people with these competencies, to develop them in the course of your work. I know you do a lot of webinars and training and you have actually certified trainers around the world who do this for you. So what is the biggest mistake that you see people making in terms of networking to advance their career? Lynne: Okay, good question. I think it’s not being at all aware of the six stages of trust building. And so constantly making mistakes. Either not asking for help in a way that you actually could, or asking for things that are inappropriate. If we just meet and I pass you my resume and say, “Will you show this to your boss?” why would you do that? You don’t know who I am. It might not be a good idea. The other mistake I think is that people are unaware, unconscious of what we call their networker identity – how they view themselves as a networker. Networker identity is the story I tell myself about the role I play in the lives of other people. So for instance, we work with a lot of CPAs and lawyers. And they often are very technically skilled, very, very professionally adept. But, they aren’t aware of how they view their role with other people. So they say things like, “I’m a CPA. Don’t we have a marketing department to get out there and get the business?” They don’t realize their business role. Or they say, “I’m an introvert, I’ll never be good at this. I’ll let somebody else do it.” Or they’ll say, “I don’t really like people. I’m not really good at this.” It’s just the same way people say, “I’m a good marathoner or I’m really dangerous in the kitchen.” Everybody has a networker identity, just like you have a sports identity and a kitchen identity. So it’s the story you tell yourself about the role you play in the lives of others. And we teach people how to make it robust and positive. Then, you can begin to learn the skills. Halelly: Makes sense. So it starts with your mindset, almost. Lynne: Yes, definitely the mindset. Halelly: And I totally get it and I don’t work with lawyers as much, but I do work with people in the financial and accounting and regulatory field a lot. And I see it, where that’s just not part of their view of themselves and then if they don’t have a growth mindset – which is something I love to talk about Carol Dweck – but this growth mindset says, “You are a work in progress and you’re never done.” And a fixed mindset, that means, “I am how I am. This is just how I am.” Lynne: I’m done! Halelly: And it sounds like if they’re telling themselves that story, “I’m just not good at networking,” then you can learn the eight skills until you’re blue in the face and you can probably even recreate them on some exam, because you’re smart, but you won’t be able to do it if you don’t think of yourself as someone who could. Lynne: And you know, it’s over time. It’s not overnight, Halelly. You’ve noticed that in your work, I’m sure, that these ideas and skills grow over time. That’s why we created an eight-month program for many of our clients where something happens each month. It might only be three hours, might only take a total of four or five hours out of their month, but some learning activity happens. Because we know it takes a while for these skills to become part of your repertoire. Halelly: And do they belong to a kind of cohort of peers that can track with each other and compare notes? Lynne: Yes. Yes, all in one company is how we offer this. So it might be in a corporate or a CPA firm. And so yes, they do get to know each other very, very well. Halelly: Awesome. Lynne: And it’s so necessary – there’s a firm in Cincinnati that’s engineering, and they had 35 engineers all out at client sites and they were told, these engineers were told that one-third of their annual bonus would depend on their success in uncovering new business or extending the business at these client sites where they were every single day. For months and months. Amazingly enough, only three of those 35 engineers got that part of their bonus. And you know, two reasons. Their networker identity was undeveloped – it was negative – and secondly they didn’t have the skills. They didn’t see that as part of their role and they had not ever encountered any skill base. Just not something that’s taught very often. Halelly: And were you able to see a change as a result of your work? Lynne: Oh yes, a big change. Over time, I mean, one fellow used to say, “I know a lot of people. I just don’t know what to do with them.” [Halelly laughs] Halelly: What did you suggest he do with them? Lynne: Well, just exactly what I said, that we talk about identity and get very conscious about what is your current identity and where do you want it to go? And then what skills are going to be necessary to learn? And that’s where the networker competency assessment that we talked about previously comes in. It helps people realize, “Okay, I’m good at this part, but this part – not so much. I need help there.” Halelly: Makes sense. Well, there’s so much more I want to talk to you about and we’re coming close on time. Before I ask you to share one actionable tip and advice that I always ask my guests to share with listeners and before we talk about what’s next on the horizon and how to get in touch with you, just one quick last question. There is some, and I know you go into greater depth in the book, but there’s this thing called reach back. I’d love for you to just talk about it quickly. This is the part where I think I definitely am not as strong in as I could be, which is maintaining, sustaining the connections once you have them. Lynne: Well, reach back is a fascinating concept, because a study was done where executives were asked to reach back to three people that they had not talked with in two years, and they chose these people because they thought, they said, “Choose people you think could help you solve a problem that is currently festering on your desk.” So in this experiment, these people begrudgingly – they thought, “Oh, this is a stupid idea, I don’t want to do this,” – but they went back to these three people they hadn’t talked to in two years and posed this certain challenge or problem, and they found they got much better, more creative, more useful information from them than they had from their current coworkers. So the current coworkers were also steeped in the same problems and knew the same people and knew the same solutions, which weren’t working. So these people that the executives hadn’t talked to for two years had new resources, fresh ideas, had been different places, and they were able to contribute so much more. So, the next question, Halelly, is that people say, “But what do I say when I call this person I haven’t talked to for two years?” And what I recommend is you just say, “Hey, let’s have our annual lunch. I’ve been thinking about your recently and I’ve got a question to ask you.” So by joking around that it’s your annual lunch – which everybody knows it isn’t and it lets everybody off the hook for not reconnecting. Halelly: Okay, so it can be like your first annual lunch! Lynne: Right! Or phone call, if they’re not geographically desirable. Halelly: Yeah. Good, that’s a good idea. I need to do that. Well, Lynne, this book I know it’s been out for a few months and you’ve been talking about it on Huffington Post and all kinds of other exciting places, and I know that you are a person who is always busy with what’s next, so what’s next on your horizon? Lynne: Oh my goodness, we are talking about the book a whole lot. And doing keynotes and training programs. A lot of train the trainer programs also, where people want to bring this material in house and really impress upon their employees that the collaborative world is upon us here and that we all live in network-oriented workplaces, where it behooves us to know who is there, inside and outside the organization. Halelly: So that you can add more value? Lynne: Yeah. Exactly. And I do have a final tip – would you like to hear that? Halelly: Yes, please. I always like to leave listeners with something that’s super actionable that they can do right away. Lynne: All right. Imagine that it’s 4:30 in the afternoon on Friday. And you are ready to get out of these and have your weekend. There’s one last thing I suggest you do. Find five people to thank, five people who have contributed to your life and your work in some way that week. Maybe they referred somebody to you. Maybe they gave you a great resource. Maybe they just gave you a pat on the back. Maybe they introduced you to someone, but five people that you appreciate, and then find a good way to thank them. It might be email, might be a handwritten note or a Hallmark card. You might even send them a $10 Starbucks card. It just depends on the relationship and what happened. And if you thank those five people – if you can find five people to thank every week – you will be growing your network through gratitude. And gratitude does make the world go around. So find five people to thank and close your week out that way. Halelly: I love that. On such a high note, right? So you’re adding value to others, but we all know that actually gratitude actually adds a ton of value to you and makes you happier. I had an episode of that, right around Thanksgiving, and I believe that very strongly. Good idea. I love it. And I hope that people will be doing that and you don’t have to wait for Friday, right? You can do this today. Lynne: That’s true. It’s a great way to reconnect. Halelly: Right. Okay, cool. So how can people connect with you, Lynne? Lynne: All right. So I’m in Newtown, Pennsylvania, and my phone number is 301-589-8633. And my email is email@example.com. Like “make your contacts count.” Halelly: I don’t think any guest has ever given their phone number out on my show, so way to go! Out on a limb, Lynne. Lynne: Oh sure, I love talking with people. Halelly: Very cool. Well, I’ve enjoyed talking with you. I’m glad that you’re part of my network so that I could invite you to be on the TalentGrow Show and share your insights and experience with my listeners. I hope that listeners will take you up on that offer to keep in touch, so that you can be part of their network, that they’ll take you up on the offer to get the assessment, and that they’ll take the action that you’ve suggested by thanking five people on Friday or Tuesday or whatever day it happens to be. Lynne, thank you. Lynne: Thank you Halelly. Thank you so much for doing all of your podcasts. They’re a great resource on your website. Halelly: Thank you very much, Lynne. I appreciate that. I appreciate you and everyone, make today great. So what was your biggest takeaway from that discussion? I hope that you have seen the light about how networking is something that is totally doable and really important and that you got some actionable ideas that you can implement to take your networking to the next level. And I love that last suggestion, so let’s do it, okay? Let’s all do it. Either you do it today, you do it tomorrow, do it one day this week, okay? Send out those five thank yous to people, and you know that’s going to make a huge difference. So let’s hold each other accountable. So, tell me in the comments on the show notes page, which is found at www.talentgrow.com/podcast/episode21, tell me in the comments what it is that you took away from this episode and what you’d like to hear in future episodes. Remember, I do interviews of interesting people about leadership and communication, but I also now will be doing more and more of those solo shows where I teach you something from my repertoire about leadership and communication and maybe just in general self improvement and workplace skills. So I’d love to hear from you about what you want to hear from me, and that will make this work great as a win-win for both of us. Deal? All right, so I hope you make today great. Thanks for tuning in. This is Halelly Azulay, your leadership development strategist. See you next time. Announcer: Thanks for listening to the TalentGrow Show, where we help you develop your talent to become the kind of leader that people want to follow. For more information, visit TalentGrow.com.
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