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Build Your Dream Network

community flourish womeninleadership Mar 19, 2022

Podcast Episode 78 

Have you ever started a journey knowing exactly where you’re headed, but ended up someplace else?  

I know, I generally teach that you need to know where you’re going, but every once in a while you meet someone who’s the exception that proves the rule - or, shall I say, all the other rules?

Kelly Hoey started out as a lawyer and ended up a networking expert, and author of Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships In A Hyper-Connected World. How, you ask? Well, her story includes a unique opportunity that infused her career with confidence and encouraged her to stop playing it safe. In short, she recognized an entirely new horizon she’d never seen before. 

Just taking the chance to pivot and pursue something new has given her a passion and a mission into which she invites you and me. 

Now, if “networking” sounds to you, like telling a kid to “eat your greens,” you might be surprised. Yes, we all know we SHOULD do it… but how many of us really do?  And, how many of us know how? 

I interview women to showcase their stories, and inspire you, yes… but also because I want to LEARN. As an entrepreneur, teacher and coach, I am always on the lookout to learn what I can when I can. If it’s something I can target or plan for, you KNOW it’s going to learn it and share it!  

This is why l love meeting women like Kelly. She’s so full of experience and wisdom, AND she’s enthusiastic about sharing it.   

You can hear the entire conversation here: Podcast Episode 78 

Here are my big takeaways from our conversation.  

Kelly may have mastered the art of networking to build her career, but:

The first step in her journey was a 360 review that allowed her to see herself in a completely new light.

Whew! Awareness… isn’t that always the key? I accidentally signed up for one, and while it was one of the more painful learning experiences I’ve ever had, it did set me up to begin thinking differently about my work, and what I wanted to do. So - I’d say it was a success. 

The concept that others can see things in you that you don’t yet recognize is really vital to understand here. Most of us don’t like feedback. We’ve been conditioned to think it’s bad or hard, or painful (like my own 360)... but even in my case, I learned. If we aren’t able to receive feedback, we will grossly limit our ability to grow, and especially to lead. 

Kelly’s willingness to allow others to show her the strengths they saw but she didn’t, opened up an entirely new career path.  

She didn’t set out to build her career - she set out to learn, and her curiosity was rewarded. 

I just loved the story of how she came to 85 Broads. She was given the task of beginning a new alumni network at her company, and went looking for a good "template" to follow.  When she found 85 Broads, she knew she'd found what she needed, joined, and immediately got involved. All of a sudden she found herself on the other end of the phone line being offered a job that didn't exist prior to the call. Has that ever happened to you? You start a project, then get lost in it, then discover you got out of it WAY more than you expected? Not many of us will have her exact experience of getting on a phone call that ends with a job offer that probably didn’t exist before the conversation started. BUT… part of the lesson here is that sometimes just following a passion (or something that turns out to be a passion) can lead to some amazing places.  

Curiosity is one of my favorite character traits, and while some are born with a more natural bent, it’s totally something you can learn and develop. I’ve talked extensively about this topic, and I just love it when a guest proves the point.  

She doesn’t use networking NOW to only further her career - she uses it for the benefit of those coming behind her. 

She said the most valuable piece of advice she received was from a boss who said he liked to “Train his own assassins.” I just can’t let that phrase go. The very idea that you can be so invested in those you are mentoring, teaching and helping, to allow them the opportunity to either replace or surpass you is so refreshing.  

I like to reference the kid’s toy “Barrel of Monkeys.” I love those little guys, and how you can build a long chain with them without much work. That’s how I want to see us working together as women.  As you pull me up to the next level, I reach back and pull up the next person. 

Kelly is absolutely dedicated to this concept. Training your assassins is just one way to put it. It’s more about getting comfortable with others having the same knowledge as you, not hoarding it, but giving it away.  For instance, you’ll find so many amazing free tools and resources on her website - including a free downloadable 70 page bonus to her book. She gives, openly and freely. 

So how can we apply these principles? 

I think it’s important we challenge ourselves in these same areas. 

For instance:

  • Are you willing to take feedback - even if it’s negative? I, famously, don’t like negative feedback. I get ill over potential or anticipated negative feedback!  I have a personality that is super sensitive to criticism so I really don’t like negative feedback. However, once you learn that ALL feedback is DATA you can use to inform how you’ll move forward next, it takes some of the sting out of it.  Yes, it takes a while to desensitize yourself, but it’s worth it. However, it’s important to remember that not all feedback is NEGATIVE! What if you find out you’re really good at something you didn’t even realize you could do?  
  • How curious are you willing to be in order to grow? I know, I talk about curiosity a ton, but trust me, it’s a good one. Kelly pointed out that the biggest roadblock she sees in others building a good network has to do with their mindset and what kind of people they’re surrounding themselves with.  

She suggests you get curious about:

  • What kind of friend are you being to those in your community? This will tell you whether or not you’re giving or only taking, which will tell you much about your own motivation and where it might get you.
  • Besides the normal, traditional ones, what are the networking events you may have overlooked? She shared a story of one of the newer associates in her firm who didn’t realize all the events with her kids were opportunities to meet their parents. 
  • Where do you need to have your finger on the pulse of your industry peers? Are you taking advantage of those opportunities?

In general, it’s important to understand we must be far more imaginative than we have been in the past… just get curious and build relationships.

  • How willing are you to invest in others, without being protective about your own position?  Are you willing to train your own assassins? I get that this process can be really scary - especially when you are a woman in corporate America, where we’ve been taught that there is only so much room at the top. But the only reason that’s true is because we allow it to be. So BE the difference. BE the one who pulls the next woman up who just might surpass you.  BE the one who is willing to accept a hand while still extending a hand… yep, just like a barrel of monkeys. 

Kelly’s Green Flags:

Based on her experience, Kelly shared some ideas on how to know when it might be a good time to pivot or move into something new.

  • Take time to pause and reflect - why are we engaging? Ask yourself - what’s the purpose of this relationship? Sometimes we don’t understand WHY we’re doing things. Just having a sense of why we’re doing things will help you see …
  • All the puzzle pieces… Sometimes you need to allow those pieces to fall into place. If you don’t wait long enough, pause, then you might not have what you need.
  • Just take some time every once in a while and ask yourself “how does it FEEL to be doing this?”  

Kelly’s One Piece of Advice: 

If you’d like to stay on your path - even with a long, drawn out career transition, focus on the things you CAN control! 

Things like how you show up every day and how you mentor, collaborate and manage others. 

These are 100% within your control and you can decide to make a difference in the areas you CAN control. Regain power and optimism by recognizing what you CAN control.

I know I’ll be applying all this information where and when I can in my own professional life.  If you’d like help applying them in your life, reach out. 

As an empowerment and leadership coach, I can help you strategize and make a plan to accomplish your goals. You can book a free, 30 minute consultation. 

Remember, Unconventional Leaders LEAD At EVERY level, in ANY area, using their UNIQUE gifts.

Until Next Time!


Where to find Kelly:  Website:   J. Kelly Hoey

Kelly offers a modern approach to the essential career skill of networking, together with practical strategies on how to connect for success in the social media age.  Kelly is a speaker on the topic of networking and career advancement, including networking into leadership roles, the networks both executive and entrepreneurial-minded women need, and deceptively simple ways to maximize networking opportunities without adding more to your calendar.

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