In March, 20 alumni of the American Express Leadership Academy network met up in Austin, Texas, and turned the annual South by Southwest creative gathering into a leadership development and network-building opportunity. This is the third post in this series.
Molly Beck, founder of the podcasting platform Messy Bun, has always been passionate about networking and helping others. An expert at all things networking and creating communities, Molly Beck left a corporate job to launch her own website to help people looking to join or create communities, mainly through podcasting. She is now a weekly contributor at Forbes, and recently published her first book, Reach Out: The Simple Strategy You Need to Expand Your Network and Increase Your Influence.
In conversation with Julie Smith, Director and Coach, Pressurevalve, Molly shares her expertise on networking to help leaders who want to expand their inner circles.
Highlights from the Conversation
There are four types of reaching out, according to Molly.
- The “Re-reach Out”: Reaching out to someone you used to be close to, but with whom you have lost touch.
- The Follow-up Reach Out: Meeting someone at a conference, event, or other in-real-life excursion and contacting them to meet up or maintain a relationship after the fact.
- Borrowed Connection Reach Out: You know someone who knows someone whose career, industry, or goals align with yours - reach out and ask them to connect you.
- The Cool Reach Out: This is essentially a “cold e-mail” or reaching out to someone you happen to find online and admire, and want to start a conversation or relationship with despite not having a direct connection or not having previously met.
What is the difference between “reaching out” and traditional networking?
“Who hasn’t had that panic where you walk into a room, and everyone seems like they’re best friends with everyone else? You have your name badge, you’re always kind of fiddling with it, and I think that’s what people think of when they think of networking,” Molly says. She’s found that networking doesn’t have to be in real life or in a room full of people. Reaching out is as simple as sending a message to someone you admire or want to have a conversation with. And Molly aims to make networking feel more accessible and achievable on a daily basis by encouraging people to use digital tools.
Why is online networking and reaching out so important, even if you’re not looking for a job?
Molly sees many people make the mistake of assuming that networking is only important when you’re thinking of finding a new job. She has learned that building and maintaining genuine professional relationships pays off in the long run. Reaching out only when you need something from someone makes it feel less natural, and more transactional. Instead, build a relationship that goes both ways and focuses on how you can help each other. When you do this, Molly says, people are more likely to help you solve a problem when you need support down the road.
What are some of Molly’s top tips?
Molly says it’s important to try to reach out to someone “on the edge of your network” at least once a day, to expand your circle. This can be done through e-mail, social media, even LinkedIn. The key is making it a real habit. Molly also shares that while many people think networking is only about bolstering your career, it can also be about finding a side hustle, finding or becoming a mentor, making more friends at work, or being invited to conferences and events. Expanding your mindset about what networking can be used for will help you figure out how to network in a way that feels most natural and productive to you.
Do you want to learn about how to network if you don’t live in a large city, don’t have the time to frequently attend events, or just don’t know where to start? Watch the full interview above between Julie Smith and Molly Beck. In it, Molly explains exactly how to start reaching out, how to build your own reach out strategy, what to say in a reach out, and more. While you’re at it, you can follow Molly Beck on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, check out her website or check out her book, Reach Out: The Simple Strategy You Need to Expand Your Network and Increase Your Influence at your local library or order it on Amazon.
Molly Beck is the founder of the podcast creation site Messy Bun. She also launched and built Forbes Podcasts, and wrote a book chronicling exactly how she built her own podcast company by using her own networking strategy.
Julie Smith is the Director of Pressurevalve Coaching , through her work Julie gets to do what she loves most – helping other people develop themselves and shape the lives they want. For more information and free resources visit: https://www.pressurevalvecoaching.com/free-stuff
This blog is one of a four-part series of reflections from the #amexleads leadership meetup at this year's South by Southwest festival. We will update this post with each week's new blog.
Part 1: Building Leadership Ecosystems that Thrive by Blair Glencorse
Part 2: How I Didn't Meet Barry Jenkins - My Experience at SXSW by Kim Gube
Part 3: The “Reach Out” versus Networking: A Conversation with Molly Beck of Messy Bun by Julie Smith
Part 4: What's a Conservation Nerd Doing at #SXSW? by Mary Burke