Build Relationships, Not a Platform
One of the things that you know, as you're mentioning, a lot of these little moments in networking that really matter that I think that you are best in the world at, and it is one of my favorite things about you, you are the best user of auto responders, or away or not at my email, whatever those are called these days. Can you tell me a little bit about where that came from? And how it works for you because it's brilliant.
(laughs) Thank you, the only time my email autoresponder was not a good idea was, I wanna say, I think it might've been a Fast Company article, and they published my email auto response and they put my email address in there. And I'm like, "D'oh, you could've just put the response." I think a lot of us, I mean, I think it comes down to one of the points in networking. We want to be heard. We want to be acknowledged. That human need to be validated and sometimes that's just seeing you know, like I said, it's being heard or seeing someone. So to be able to indicate t...
o people, I've heard you, I value that you've asked me something, or you've sought me out, but here's the reality, here's why you're not gonna hear from me right away and that's why I use that. It helps somebody else but also it helps me so that I'm just not there going, oh my god, I got all these emails I have to answer them all. And rather than you know, that piece of somebody else's priority doesn't need to become my priority because I am you know, a psycho Virgo who likes everything organized and neat and boxes checked and to-do lists accomplished by the end of the day, and I can get knocked off my game of what I need to achieve if I'm like fall down that rabbit hole because that clutter in an inbox, drives my essential being off. But more importantly to be able to say to someone, I've heard you. I've acknowledged you. Now, here's when I'm gonna be able to get you an answer. And I think that's an important thing to do. And you know, you can put personality into it. A lot of personality into it. You can have fun with them.
Well it was in Fast Company for a reason. They're so creative, this is a thing you guys may not know if you haven't gotten it from her. I mean, I know where you are, I know what you're doing, and it's amazing because I understand why I'm not gonna hear from you, but they always make me laugh, but also share insight into your world that I think is really, really creative and helpful, so.
Well thank you.
I love it. Such a good tactic.
But it's also a little bit self promotional because I said, hey, here's why I'm not around. So if someone emailed me this week it's like, hey, I'm not around because I'm in San Francisco taping Creative Live. By the way, let me hyperlink this, so you can get to my darn course and if you haven't signed up for it, well when do you think I'm gonna answer your, no. (laughing) But so you can be that self promotional, and you can be marketing but you be could also be kind and generous to someone else. Who can be going, "Oh my God, "why haven't I heard back from you?" Someone had emailed me this week because they wanted to get some signed copies of the book because I'd done a podcast and they wanna give them away, and they have a deadline of when they need them. They've now got my auto response and they know, she's not paying attention to this 'til the end of the week, what's plan B? I haven't left somebody else hanging and I'm not digging through my inbox finding this two weeks from now going, alright, everyone can get their answer, but a lot of the times I think it's just that acknowledgement and being heard, and that's also too, when you know, if I had my favorite slide of my, what's your goal, who can help you? What are the tactics? That's why you don't wanna go to tactics first because if networking is about being heard, I have my way of communicating and the way I see the world and hear things, well, that's not necessarily anybody else's. So I need to understand how I need to present information, or how I need to ask a question, so that you hear me. Jessica was heard because she'd done all that research before sending a cover letter, alright? People in Evan's network are heard because they're generous and they get invited back. Jennifer Johnson Scalzi was heard because she realized what other people were capable of and she wasn't afraid of taking on really mundane tasks. Taking that ego out of the way. So, factor in all of that and I think that you know, this maybe, sort of began revealing why this whole networking thing, this onion of the layers right? Maybe why my, my hair lights on fire when I see the 10 things you need to do, to be a better networker, or master networking, and I'm like, god damn it, if it was 10 things? It's not like having a, I'm gonna say a washboard stomach. We know what we have to do to get a washboard stomach. We just choose not to do it, right? We don't need to read another article on our summer abs. We know what to do, right? There's not something new. It's the same thing. I don't need to lie here on the ground and demonstrate it, though that could be kind of fun but no. But networking is, you know, we're all unique, our relationships are unique and it's this layers of stuff that we need to keep pulling back. I was asked and the reason I wanted to put this piece in here, I was asked at, it was one of those peculiar questions when you're asked something and you're like, that's a new question and that's a really odd one, and I was asked at a book event how someone could become an influencer. Exactly, I was like, what do you mean? How, I look at it is like, what are you doing, again, to build value? To contribute, to help someone else's life, and at the end of the day, if a whole lot of people think you're doing that, and seek you out for that, pat yourself on the back, that's great. But seek to add value. Seek to be of service. Seek to build relationships. Seek to build relationships so they know what it is you stand for, what it is that you're really damn good at, don't seek to be like the influencer or I'm gonna say that marketing platform where you're using, I'm gonna say sort of, that crossing the line with self-promotion that gets in that like, "Oh God, here comes so and so again. "Are we gonna hear anything else?" I think Joe, back to Joe again. He is ferocious in terms of building a platform around his expertise and what he is known for because now, he's this great mentor and he's this great manager. And that's the platform he has built, but he's built it by building relationships. The introduction for my book contains a story, and these are the only pictures I have because I had emotion a lot, because it was like, it was so unbelievably extraordinary. It was one of those New York moments where you know, folks who have lived in New York where, you get invited to a dinner at a very fancy Park or 5th Avenue address, and the doorman tells you what floor to go to, and you wanna say, "Yes, but what apartment?" And then you realize it's the entire floor, and you have to keep a very straight face. Like you do it all the time. And, I ended up at this dinner and I ended up sitting at a table across from her parents. Like here's me having dinner, table of eight. There's Malala's parents. And by the way, Kerry Kennedy was sitting right here, and I was having this absolutely surreal, how did this happen? And it happened because of building relationships. And it happened because I helped somebody else build his business and made introductions for him that he called me and said, "Are you free on this night? "And by the way you're not allowed to tweet." (laughs) "There's security issues, Kelly, no social media." And he gave up his seat at the dinner for me. So, extraordinary, people say, "Well, why would you just, you know, "why would you just sit there and help other people?" Because you know what? Some beautiful and extraordinary things happen, but I didn't set out to be like, oh, how can I get invited to fancy parties? Or, oh, if I help this person out, they're going to do this. No, I built a reputation around building relationships, connecting relationships when it was meaningful and helping other people get where they're going. Another example and this one's a great one because Porter Gale is also on the Creative Live platform. Absolutely love Porter. I had, for a two, two and a half year period, a speaker series with Apple that I co-created with them called Meet the Innovators. And you know, I designed programming and moderated conversations on stage at the Apple store in New York and San Francisco, Chicago, London, it was awesome. And that happened because why? I had this reputation. I didn't wanna be like, oh, how can I get a speaker series? How can I do this? No, I had got a reputation on curating audiences and creating great content. And having great conversations that people wanted to listen to and why did I do that? Because I had that damn startup accelerator (laughs) and we had a whole lot of people who were interested in what we were doing, and I knew that after doing one cohort of startups, I was gonna need my pick of the next cohort of startups. So how do I keep a marketing funnel constantly that would keep people interested and engaged? How could I find new mentors for my startup? So that's what I did. I used to do a breakfast every Friday. I was the organizer, the chief bottle washer, chef, cook, you name it, I did everything. And then got a call from Apple saying, "You're doing some interesting stuff. "Could you come and co-create this with us?" And that was an extraordinary experience, and clearly we had a good time when I interviewed Porter. So, some of this, too, I'm talking about when I'm doing, and I'm talking about, alright, you need to build your relationships, you need to, you know, not kind of be the me, me, me, me, get the self-promotion right, and one of the places I find people have a real struggle is with social media and social platforms and how this fits in because so much of it is self-promotional, and so much of it is, I wanna say, sort of this vomiting one-way marketing that is coming at us, how can you get it right? And we're gonna get into it more in the next bit, but this is, I wanna say, a good place to start that conversation, and a good place to continue the conversation of what I really wanted was just to build a relationship, I wasn't looking for a particular outcome. I wasn't looking my friend to invite me to a fancy dinner so I could sit next to Malala's parents and have a conversation with them and meet her and all the rest of it, like, no, no, no, no, I was just building relationships. So I think of social media like physical platforms, and in our next segment, we'll dive into it more, but in particular I think of Twitter like a really damn good cocktail party. And how am I a good guest that can get invited into and back to parties and conversations, and what do I want to be known for and what do I want to be found for? I don't think of it as a platform. I think of it as walking into conversations. And I did that seven years ago, and I met this guy. Who's this guy? And Maxi and I were talking before, what do you do when you meet someone who's like your idol or your celebrity? Why I'm excited probably now more than ever about our opportunities with networking and why I want all of you to gain the confidence to really harness this and take control of it for yourself is because social tools have democratized our access. If you can build that strong reputation on what you know, if you can generously share your expertise, if you can pull those old rules of being that person who can listen and hear and have a conversation and engage with other people, the doors that open are unbelievable, and for me so many of those doors have been opened because of Twitter. So Tom Peters and I started following each other seven years ago. I was interested a lot in management issues and a lot of corporate governance issues, still am, I talk about them less so, but the things on that sideline, how do we succeed, what, and being in the startup world, I thought a lot about, was thinking a lot about at the time, what would be our next 100 year company? Now we can sit here and say, oh my god, startups are, and the economy is disrupting, you know, pick an industry, there's not one that's being left behind, but I'm sort of like, whoa, if that's the case, what will be our next IBM? What will be our next General Motors? What will be our next GE? Verizon's only 50 years, like, shit, are we gonna have 100 year companies anymore? And if not, what does that mean? And what have we built? So you know these questions are running through my mind, so what makes a good, well-managed company that it will be around in a hundred years' time to provide the lifestyle and the livelihood and also it interests me that we can talk about startups and the new economy and the new way of doing work, but I'm like, yeah, but do we get to a tipping point with companies that we all fall into the same behavior? You can think where I'm going on this, I've worked with a lot of Wall Street bankers. Don't tell me what's going on in the startup world, I've seen it all, you know, with guys in suits, so at this point, it's all really dull and boring for me, but from an intellectual question, can we, do we shift out of this corporate model, so that's why I started following Tom, and at some point he started following me, and for me that retweet is no different than going, yeah, I agree with you, Kelly. Or someone liking a tweet is like someone nodding when you're having a conversation in a cocktail party. And then late 2016 he said to me, "I pre-ordered your book." And I kind of fell on the ground, and you know, as I like to teasingly say, I think maybe the bruises and injuries have recovered, until he direct messaged me and asked me who was writing the forward to the paperback. And I had a very blank moment, said there isn't one. He's like, "That's not the question I'm asking you." And as he says in the forward, he volunteered to do it. But for seven years, and yes, we finally got offline, and it was no different. It was just we didn't have to talk at 140 (laughs) or 280 or 140 characters, anymore. We could actually have a longer conversation, but it was the same person. Be who you are, be generous, be caring. Make it seamless, make all these things you're already doing, you're already sending email, you're already probably, like, buying a coffee, volunteering, posting some pictures, make it all work for you, and make it create a full, like all those puzzle pieces, make them all additive to what it is that you want to achieve because people are going to be able to help you more and you're gonna have some extraordinary moments where you have the chance to walk into rooms and meet people that, I mean, what, before Twitter, what was I gonna be, like some sort of fawning sycophant at a book signing? Oh, Mr. Peters, you're the greatest, you had the best-selling business book, oh good god, I wouldn't wanna talk to me. That's the calling of security moment, so, generosity is how this relationship formed. Interested in what someone else was talking about, sharing their ideas, and again, seven years, seven years. It wasn't like, follow Tom Peters and ask him to write a forward to the book. I think it's also understanding, I used to get a volume of emails when I was practicing law, and you gotta go through all of those because you're either gonna have, you know, agitated opposing counsel, you are gonna have, you know, the junior person, the summer associate, who's seeking guidance, you're either getting client comments, you had to read them all, and you know, I very much take the view of go back to what your goal and what you wanna achieve in life, I chose to do this, right? It didn't choose me. I chose to pursue this, so I really do feel like, okay, I do need to answer these things, and I do need to acknowledge people, and if I also go back to what's my why? What makes, what's my purpose, where my goal, you know, what I'm telling all the rest of you to do is to help other people be successful, so yeah, I read them all. Some get a longer answer, some get a shorter answer. (laughing)
I love that when you ask the people listening, it's like a show of hands have gone up online, so they're still there, still listening and taking notes, (laughs) thank you.
No, this is also one of those things too, again, I mean we gotta practice what we're preaching, where I'm saying, online, offline, you can build these relationships, you know, the, hey, how'd you become really good friends? Well, you know, I remember when friends of mine, I wanna say back in the '90s, they did online online dating, it was like "Oh, god." Like the most hideous thing ever to ever imagine, and so now what I think, you know, people say, "Hey, how'd you two meet?" "Oh, Twitter." It's, like, no problem, but if you start thinking about, these are human beings, this is a person, what's the context, how can I get to know them without an expectation? Gee, I'm gonna become friends with you, so I can get this at the end. I'm gonna become friends with you and help you with your business so you invite me to fancy parties. No, that wasn't it. But those beautiful and incredible experiences have come as a result of that.
You know, in your book and during the class today, you've showcased a lot of wonderful relationships and amazing, spectacular people. I'm sure in the hundreds and thousands of people you meet there are the few that aren't so formidable, aren't so pleasant. What do you do with that? You know, do you keep them at arm's length? Do you still forge a pleasant relationship in spite of the negatives that you see? People whose values don't align with yours.
I think that someone else asked me a similar question recently, and I really do think it comes down to values, and I'm very willing to kind of hear people out, and I often resort to humor as I find that's a good way to kind of get some defenses down. I was interviewed for a piece in The Wall Street Journal. It was sort of like, those awkward conversations. I said, let me tell you about the one with someone I know whose political views are so polar opposite to mine, and how we got to the point we could actually hear each other and have a beer and have a few laughs was, yeah, this is like a punchline in a joke, or the start of a joke, the ultraconservative and the ultraliberal walk into a bar, and this guy finally said to me, "If anyone saw us, both of our reputations are ruined." I'm like, pretty much, we're destroyed, so we're gonna go to a bar where we know no one, and we're not gonna talk about this ever, but we were able to have a conversation. But I think, definitely, when you start to think about, alright, have those people, you know, not in the spiteful, in this heat of the moment, have they been there for me, but have they been there for other people, and I can maybe get pissy and annoyed if someone doesn't step up for me, but if I step back and go, they don't step up for anybody, you know? Or the person who continually emails you, and when they email you, like you know when you see their name before you read the subject line, you're like, them again. Sure, those people I put at arm's distance, and things will happen in your life that you will, I'm gonna say, close relationships will dissipate, but for me more than anything these days it's values, and your reputation. I mean, it's sort of showing my age, I mean, other than Michael Milken, who has had a resurrection and a complete like phoenix from the gutter of a reputation, right? From junk bond trader, to convict, to the Milken Institute. Like, no one gets that kind of a chance with their reputation. And so at the end of the day, you know, who you keep in, who you let out, like, go with your moral compass, and what do you want to stand for? But I'm also laughing because of what you shared with me, so I think you need to tell everyone who you are and how you ended up in this class today.
Hi, my name is Anise. I am a recent, I recently relocated to the west coast from, after 19 years in New York, by way of Beijing, and about two weeks ago, I called up an old friend and colleague named Jen Aleman-Hutter, who is my guru for lots of things, personally and professionally, and I called her up just looking for guidance, just blind guidance, and she sent me your link, the link to this class, the next day. And I had no expectations. Coming in, I didn't know what to expect, but I trusted Jen, and I trusted her network, and you know, her advice. So here I am.
So say the name of the firm you first worked at. Wall Street?
I was at Credit Suisse, which is formerly the DLJ team.
So the cover of my book, when I said a former client selected the cover of the book, and like, when and how you let relationships go? Guy by the name of Dante LaRocca, who happened to be at DLJ, who happened to be part of a team doing structured finance, who in 1998 happened to have a summer intern, summer analyst, by the name of Jen Aleman. Jen Aleman met her husband Carl at a wedding I was at, which was another former DLJ person, and I was on the phone with Jen Aleman-Hutter, I was at their wedding down in Mexico, and it was not but, like, three days ago, I was on email and call with Jen, so, like, such a small world, how we get things, but this coincidence is so hilarious, but also, who do we turn to? Hey, trusted advice, when's the last time you worked with Jen? So 2007, last worked with Jen, you know, Jen and I, I stopped practicing law in 2002, yet now the way our lives, like people often say, how and when do you keep people in your network, like I said, keep it value-driven, not like, oh well, I'm not doing that anymore. If I hadn't stayed in touch with Dante, we have dinner once a year, gosh, well, I might've picked this cover for the book, but thankfully he picked it, alright? Jen and I, we stopped, really, contact on a work basis, 2001, but full circle, there's projects we're working together now because we've just stayed in touch, and this close relationship from a couple of summers in New York when she was starting her career in investment banking, you know, it did this, saw each other socially, to now back this again. You never know, but someone in terms of values, having that connection, having that really positive experience, nothing like pulling all-nighters at the printer's to create some really formidable bonds, that's all I can say.