Last Thursday, Kelly Hoey– founder of Women Innovate Mobile– graced the Levo waves with her presence on our online interactive video platform, Office Hours. She chatted with Levo users about networking tactics, her career path and strategies, and overcoming her fears.
Every career opportunity I’ve ever had has all happened through a network, or a connection, or an introduction. It has never happened because of a job listing or a posting.
External relationships are always important for things you want to do outside your employer but internal relations are equally important in terms of opportunities and connections to other opportunities. It’s a heck of a lot nicer to reinvent yourself somewhere where you already have a strong reputation and support network than to go and have to build a whole new reputation at a new employer.
Build your network. Your network and your credentials will get you what you want.
On her dream job:
If someone had said to me, Kelly describe your dream job I would have described something that involved a lot of mentoring, that allowed me to think creatively and connect other people to the resources and networks that they need, and to be that catalyst for someone else’s success. That would have been the description and that job may exist somewhere in corporate America but, guess what, I’ve been able to create it for myself as part of Women Innovate Mobile.
On Janet Hansen:
She is such a legend. She is one of the most creative and passionate people I know in terms of empowering talented young people and others to achieve their best. I don’t know how many of us would sit in a room and say I got here because I was pushed by Janet Hansen.
Janet says: “you can do this,” “why are you doing what you’re doing,” “push yourself harder,” “do more.” Janet is really incredible that way.
Every generation is going to have trailblazers. That’s just a fact of corporate life. Janet Hansen is a trailblazer.
On making a genuine connection with a new contact:
The last thing you ever want to do or have someone else do for you is the drive by networking. You always want a warm introduction of why you should be meeting. You want a valuable connection. I always recommend putting in a personal note and remind them how you met them. Don’t worry if you don’t get a response. People are busy and they don’t always have time to respond.
Make your connection genuine and attach it to something tangible. The more specific you make it the easier it is to connect.
The last thing you should do is as someone to be your mentor. Instead, ask a specific question and ask them about their experience.
Make your questions specific and around specific bite-sized amounts of information and people will be more likely to help.
The first thing to do is to get them talking about themselves. Everyone likes to talk about themselves. Make it about them and then they are going to invest their time in you.
Always ask them what YOU can give back. That’s the biggest thing. Ask: “What can I give back to a mentor?”
All I ever ask from everyone I mentor is you have to do it in the future. The only way we can pull ahead, change culture, and enable others to reach their full career potential is if all of us reach down and pull someone up and achieve that culture of helping others achieve their best. I’m prepared to invest in you if you’re prepared to invest in others. I want all of you to be better leaders, lawyers, start-up founders than I was. It’ll be a lot easier for me in my older age if all of you do well.
Reintroduce yourself. Put your hand out. Don’t expect them to remember you.
If you’re wondering what to talk to them about have a specific ask. Make it easy for a mentor and you will be paid in spades that way. You’ll get so much out of mentors and sponsors and people invested in your career if you make it easier for them.
On the importance of bragging about your achievements:
If you don’t brag about your career and your achievements who is going to do it? You need to own your expertise and you need to put it out there. If you don’t own your accomplishments someone else will. If you want to get advances you need to do that.
The Levo League gives you the opportunity to get comfortable in your professional skin and feel proud of what you achieve in school and in the work place.
Highlight what you like to do best and opportunities you want to seek more of.
On using social media to connect:
I sent that email, now what? If you don’t hear back via email use social media sites to connect.
Connect with people you meet and post updates including updates about things you’ve accomplished in school or in the community. Post it where appropriate.
You have to understand that people are busy and an email in an inbox might be invasive so connect in different places like The Levo League message boards, Facebook, and Twitter.
You have to remember people are busy and choose to pay attention to what they want to so don’t take it personally.
On meeting people at networking events:
Prioritize. Reach out to people you made a genuine connection with first. Understand that you don’t necessarily need to connect to people immediately. I highly recommend connecting with people you meet at an event on a social networking site.
Once you connect in a community setting you have their attention and you can stay in touch as you update your profile and your information. Follow up on email, connect on Facebook , Linkedin, and Twitter.
When you reach out to people be specific about where you met because it makes it easier for them to remember who you are and makes you stand out.
On the decision to focus on mobile applications:
We saw that the opportunities in developing world were on a mobile device and that the opportunities to improve people’s lives are immense with mobile.
There is a great opportunity there. Why not pursue it and push women to get to the forefront in this wave of development.
On taking your less than ideal job:
We understand if you’ve taken your less than ideal job but what else have you been doing to educate and inform yourself on the job that you want to be doing?
Ask yourself: where do I have gaps in my education or career? Fill in those gaps.
You may not have the job and the experience so how do you fill in the gaps? Are there professional organizations you can volunteer for? Can you become a volunteer? There are a heck of a lot of people you can meet and learn from putting out nametags at a conference. Are you reading the information? Are you reading the blogs? Even if you aren’t in the job you want why not have a blog to say what you would do if you had that job? Read the materials. Make yourself an expert.
On the advice she would give to her mid-twenties self:
I would look back at mid-twenties self and say you’ll get there.
Don’t worry. Don’t rush. Take your time. Learn from everything. You’ll get there.
There are two pieces of advice I always tell people:
1) Build your network. You’re all smart and you all have great credentials but build your network because your network with your credentials is going to give you the powerful career you want.
2) Build your bank account. Build the bank account that allows you to take career risks and make the career choices you want. I spent too long surrounded by professionals saying, “I’d love to do that but…” Build your bank account so you can take career risks you want. It enables you to take a lower paying job but one you want. It is so much more worthwhile to be happy and to do what you want to do.
On the ability to say no (and other time management skills):
The best time management tip I have is learning to say no. You need to learn to say NO to manage your time.
Say yes to the opportunities and the people who are going to cover your back, look after you, and present you with other opportunities.
I’m always happy to overextend my time to a great professional friend because I know that a great professional friends respect your time. You do need to spend time saying no but when you are going to say yes and overextend yourself do it when you know the person knows your overextending yourself and will cover your back.
Use other inbox. It scrapes all the “busy work” all those RSS Feeds, Newsletters, and Google Alerts so you can go through and scan them and file them really easily and it is saving me a lot of time these days.
Elana Lyn Gross is a superstar Levo League associate and social media guru. She is a graduate of George Washington university.