J. Kelly Hoey On Cutting Through The Networking Clutter


Networking is an art. Just ask J. Kelly Hoey, a lawyer, entrepreneur, investor, author, and expert schmoozer. The author of Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships In a Hyper Connected World chatted with SWAAY about the networking learnings she’s picked up throughout a life filled with DIY-community building and purposeful mingling.

Hoey, who began her career as an attorney, said she learned from her own professional shift towards legal management that it took “18 months to build a network of vibrancy, trust and strength.” In her new role, Hoey built programs for junior attorneys, a global women’s initiative and global alumni program, all while bouncing ideas off a community of mentors she had built.

“In each case I was given next to zero resources to make things happen,” says Hoey. “If I hadn’t build strong internal relationships with not only the partners in the firms (my bosses), the associates (my clientele), and my peers, there’s no way I would have gotten what I got done in five and a half years.”

After co-founding a startup accelerator and holding a role as an interim CMO with a startup, Hoey then moved to becoming an influencer, author and investor. After so much varied experience helping to build the companies of others, Hoey said she was ready to document all that she had learned, and reach the masses.

“When I started telling people I was going to write a book, it was this collective sigh of relief from my network,” says Hoey. “They all wanted me to do that for years.”

“Sometimes when you think about what you should be doing, look around and see how your network responds," says Hoey. "They may see the potential before you do. Maybe it’s that outside verification or maybe they see something in us and it gives us confidence, or maybe we never looked at ourselves that way because of our own blinders we’ve put up. Either way, pay attention to your community.”

Hoey began blogging and created a newsletter to get her advice out, but soon realized there was much more she wanted to share.

“I needed a way to scale the advice I’m constantly asked for because there are only so many coffee dates I can go on,” says Hoey with a laugh. “It was just not proving to be enough. I needed to consolidate it all in a book. The book solved my frustration with a lot of networking advice out there that promises ‘How Introverts Can Network Like Extroverts’ or “10 Ways To Become An Expert Networker in One Day.’ If it were that easy we would all do it."

Here are eight of Hoey’s simple rules for networking success.

1. Be Picky

Pick your networking opportunities for times when you know you can really dive in and give them a lot of attention. Get involved, ask a lot of questions, make suggestions. Really assess how your involvement in any organization or event can enhance your career. Think about your levels of engagement and what makes it meaningful and helpful for reaching your goals. What you get is what you give, so make sure wherever it is that you are giving your energy, time, resources, and focus to will have results that make it worth it to you.

2. Engage Your “Why” Filter

I believe networking is all about problem solving. What’s the goal? What’s the focus that you have right now? Do your actions somehow contribute to that? If you decide to go to a conference you must know why, and be aware that the "why" changes. Do your research. There is an abundance of events and you have to cut through the marketing clutter. You need to find the secret menu. See what the value is and go from there. The one thing we haven’t been able to hack is more hours in the day. So always ask yourself if you are spending your time wisely, because you have a life to live and a company to build.

3. Align And Update

If you are a founder or business owner then that’s what you are across all platforms. I think the number one mistake these days are when founders have profiles that read they are a founder, speaker, writer, and a million other things. If you have a scalable business model then you should portray and network yourself as doing one thing and that is building that business. Remember that networking is every single human interaction. From your email signature to your Twitter to your LinkedIn headline, it should all match and be one message. Also make sure your social and your website are all up to date. It’s your business, so make time to do it. Investors don’t want to hear “I didn’t have time.” You will be in a better position to have people help you market and build your brand if you’ve done it for yourself.

“Always keep in mind that only one to three percent of founders who have an opportunity to pitch angels or vcs ever get funding. You have to be strategic. Have communications that show what you are doing to build your business. Hold their interest so they come back to you on their own.”

4. Sync Your Info

If you see a job that interests you, first search to see if you know anyone there. Remember that the power of LinkedIn comes from having a full profile. Also remember that human resource teams will be checking your credentials against the resume you submitted so make them identical, at least in dates. They will also be checking your resume with who you know. Have the right keywords in your profile to attract recruiters looking for candidates with your expertise, and make sure to follow the companies you are interested in. If you think you don’t know someone at a particular company, follow the business on LinkedIn and see if there are any former employees in your network. Even if they no longer work there you can reach out and ask for pointers.

5. Ask The Real Question

Don’t be afraid to say what you really want to say. When you ask someone just to "catch up” it can be very frustrating. Pussyfooting around will not get me on a call. Think about who in your network are those mentors who make up a strong sounding board and say “Can I chat with you? I’m applying for a job and wanted your feedback.” They may know people at that particular company. It’s also good to get hyper specific. Think of it like shooting practice. If you tell people where your bullseye iis it gives them a radius to help you. Mentors don’t know where to aim with a general “I’m looking for a job.”

6. Weed Out The “Death Eaters”

Those people who suck the life out of you I call the “death eaters.” Sometimes, as a founder you just need to be able to say no. I like to say "no" is a complete sentence but of course you have to be more tactful. When you have a lot on your plate, stay focused on what you need to do to grow your business and decline politely if you realize this person is not adding value.

7. But Don’t Cut All Ties

It's harder when you have someone who has been helpful. Sometimes you have to just accept the upside with the downside. If the person has been a great mentor or done a lot for you in the past, you don’t need to cut them off completely just because the relationship is less helpful at this moment. Perhaps just move it to weekend or a brunch, sometime outside of the times you are working.

8. Research Your Investors

Research the investors you really want to get way before a fundraise. Think of the people who are going to help you grow your business. Come up with an edited list of the ideal investors and where you fit in their fund. After you have a list get online. See if they have a blog, or newsletter and subscribe so you get to know their communication style. Check out their website, follow their Twitter accounts. Start to get to know them as individuals, because in an early fundraising stage we are investing in the individual, and its best you seem them as such as well.

3 Min Read

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.