EPISODE 116: NETWORKING ONLINE

cropped-cyb_tiger_final_full_color

EPISODE 116: NETWORKING ONLINE

Does networking online feel like a daunting or tedious task for your business?  Well you’re definitely not alone on that.  Today I’m joined by Conquer Your Business’ own Community Concierge, Lynn Stacy-Smith, who shares with us how we’ve grown our Facebook group, what to expect when networking online, and what to avoid.  The backbone of how we operate online is to always be of service, and of course, have some fun in the process.

Resources

Transcript

Hello. Welcome to this special episode of the Ready Yet?! podcast. Yes, there is a cat in this episode, evidently, so she’ll be meowing directly to the microphone, because that is what she does. By the way, thanks to COVID, this cat is officially an international speaker. So, she deserves to be here and has the credentials to back it up. Can’t make her go if I wanted to. 

So, why is this a special episode, right? You guys have seen me do solo episodes where I’m coaching and teaching on a certain topic and this is going to be a version of that because with me today, I have Lynn Stacy-Smith. And if you don’t already know, Lynn is, we describe her as my community concierge. She is in charge of the Facebook group, the community that we run for Conquer Your Business. And as part of being in charge of that group, Lynn goes out into the Facebook universe and networks there much in the same way as we network in-person. She just meets people online, often bringing them back to the group, inviting them to learn more about Conquer Your Business, giving them resources. And we’re going to get into all of these details in a minute. 

I wanted to have this conversation for you guys because I don’t think Lynn and I were alone in the fact that we were confident in networking in-person and we were even got used to networking on Zoom, which is really just a different version of in-person networking. But when we made the conscious decision to network online and we’re of an age, right? I think this is more organically easier for younger people who grew up with this, but we did not grow up with this. I know a lot of entrepreneurs did not grow up living their lives online. It was an interesting journey to learn how to do that. 

The other reason I wanted to share Lynn to share her insights and our experiences is because we are not at the point at Conquer Your Business, where we’re running around offering to convince you that we can teach you how to make millions of dollars with your online community, right? That’s not what we’re doing. One of the things I’ll say to people is to a fourth grader, a fifth grader is really cool. We’re a few steps ahead, right? We’re a few steps ahead. I think there is a lot to learn by people who have more recently figured something out that you’re trying to do. 

So, with that, Lynn, how do I want to kick this off? I’m going to ask you all these random questions. So, let’s just start here: what has been the most surprising thing for you as someone who runs a networking chapter? Your personality is a lot like mine. We’re very friendly, we’re very outgoing. What was some of the biggest shocks when you decided, all right, we’re going to do this. We’re going to just go meet people online? What were some of the biggest surprises that you ran into?

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Well, the biggest shock is how many groups there are, for one thing. Just sometimes seeing how hard it is to strike up a conversation. I see a lot of the posts like you referred to and I don’t mean to be dismissive or insulting of these women who are working just as hard as we are. But their posts are very, like I made this document. It has all the ways to make $5 million by tomorrow, put your email here, if you want it. I don’t know how to start a conversation with that.

 

Erin Marcus:

I think there’s a place for that in marketing at certain points. If what you have is a value, it just wasn’t what we’ve been trying to do. Right?

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Right. I mean, it’s just another way of getting their lead magnet out there, which I fully respect.

 

Erin Marcus:

But that’s not networking.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

It’s not networking, right.

 

Erin Marcus:

To your point though, I think that’s a really important distinction.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

I saw someone asked in one of the groups yesterday and I couldn’t tell you which one, because again, there’s like 30 that I’m in. She said, “If I’m here to sell and everyone else is here to sell, how does this all work?” I felt brilliant because I could say, “Well, we’re not all here to sell. Being in your group, I’ve learned. I always have something to offer. So, I’m just here to have a conversation. Whether you want to join Conquer Your Business or you just want a friend or have some other service that I know about, that’s just here.” If you’re all here to sell, yeah, it won’t work. But if you’re here just to make connections and see how you can help each other.

Erin Marcus:

Right. I think that it’s coming from a completely different starting point because here’s the thing, have you gone out and networked online, met people who have then joined our group and come to my event and become a client in one way or another? Yeah, absolutely. But it’s not a hundred percent the only thing we’re trying to do.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Right. I’m not just offering your group to make money.

Erin Marcus:

Right. Pitch, pitch, pitch, pitch. Right. It doesn’t work.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

I want them to get the help that I know they can get.

 

Erin Marcus:

Yeah. And to your earlier point, what was so shocking. You and I laugh about this all the time, because you’re from New Jersey, I’m from Chicago, neither one of us is shy. We’re loud, we’re laughing. We have no problem being the center of attention in a room where we’re joking around with people. So, to all of a sudden find it hard to strike up a conversation. Like my boyfriend teases me, I could have a conversation with a tree. This is not a problem, but it is a little different online.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

It is. Sometimes I’ll see an interesting post and I’ll ask, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s so interesting. How did you get started doing that? Or what’s your favorite thing about what you do?’ And they’ll write back, ‘Thanks.’ Now what? 

 

Erin Marcus:

Now what? Exactly. The other piece of this puzzle that’s so weird and I think it’s the reason people fall into one or two sides of the problem, they either give up or they go into what we all joke is, “Hey girl, hey” approach and because it’s just so odd to be completely ignored in such high volume. Right?

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Right. Yeah, I’m not used to being ignored.

 

Erin Marcus:

No, I’m not used to being ignored either, but it’s part of the process.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Yeah.

Erin Marcus:

It really would very seldom happen. Maybe not since high school where if you walked up to a group of people in a networking event and made a comment like, “Oh my God, that’s so interesting about what you do. How did you get started?” They wouldn’t just stare at you blankly and walk away, which is what’s basically happening online.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

That’s a good point. Yeah, that’s funny. I never thought of it that way. Right. You answer something or–

 

Erin Marcus:

They’d say something, right.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Yeah. So, it’s an interesting world out there for sure, out in the wilderness of the Facebook networking groups, for sure.

 

Erin Marcus:

So, how do you keep going? How do you keep going without turning in a Hey, girl hey, put it that way?

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Part of it is a challenge, because I have seen some success and made some connections and becoming friends with them on Facebook. My own business when I’m not with you is in the pet industry and I’m such a dog person that a lot of us have bonded over pets and we’re just becoming friends too. I had someone once say, “You have enough friends, networking is for business.” I’m like, “Well, no, if I become friends with someone that’s just a bonus.” 

 

Erin Marcus:

Right. That’s the relationship side of business. Am I best friends with everybody? No.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Right. No, but tell us how you keep going because there are people who have the same mindset and they’re out there. And the people who aren’t responsive, I don’t think they are coming from a negative place. I just think they’re not used to this either.

 

Erin Marcus:

That’s a really good point. I think that’s a really, really good point. We joke around about being ignored. We joke around about replies that are not congruent with what we’ve said, but the one thing we’ve learned is we don’t make it mean anything except this person didn’t reply.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Yeah, because if you take it personally, you’ll drive yourself crazy. You have to be thicker skinned in life and in business. 

 

Erin Marcus:

We didn’t even know If they saw it and we didn’t even know if they see responses.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Right, yeah. It’s funny, I was so shy when I was a little girl that I almost didn’t get to go see Star Wars. So, the fact that I’m out all over, like, “Hey, tell me about your business,” is kind of amazing. That’s how you keep going is just you see a little bit that it’s working. 

 

Erin Marcus:

Isn’t that one of the jokes that they make about golf, right? People keep golfing because of the one perfect shot in the four-hour game. Right?

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

I don’t understand golf. My dad plays golf and he beats himself up mentally about it. “Ugh, my game was terrible.” I’m like, ‘Why do you keep playing it?’

 

Erin Marcus:

If it’s so horrible, why do you keep doing this? So, let’s give some tips for people who want to start networking online, literally networking online, not pitching online, but creating relationships, finding like-minded people, people who may become their clients. You’re in all of these groups, what were some red flags or some green flags that you’ve seen about online networking groups to help people know when should you run screaming and when should you be like, “Hey, this might be a good opportunity.’

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

So, the only groups from which I’ve run screaming are the public groups. It’s just a different type of marketing. There’s a lot of people who want to scam one another and be very pushy. So, the private groups are definitely my suggestion. They’re more moderated. Most of them are owned by other business coaches or professional marketers.

 

Erin Marcus:

Well, that’s a good point too, because it’s not our goal to take somebody else’s group and hijack it.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Right, right. A hundred percent right. You just have to keep looking until you find the right fit. I know that sounds so vague, but some of them are very active. Some are more conducive to conversations. I think it’s a lot of just joining them and spending some time and figuring out what works for you.

 

Erin Marcus:

Here’s the thing, and it depends on what business you’re in. But I say the same thing about in-person networking, almost any version of networking will let you go to one or two events before you have to decide if you want to join. So, you go to your 1 or 2 events and then you decide, “Is this something I want to do? And you go, you join and you track how it’s going to see if it makes sense to continue. One of the things about online networking, you can figure that out a lot faster.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Yes.

 

Erin Marcus:

You can figure that out in 30 days instead of six months.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Yeah. The best ones are where the admin or the group owner continually post conversation starters. Nice. So, maybe on Mondays, you can put your Instagram page or on Tuesdays, you can share your Facebook group or they’ll ask you questions like I just asked in our group yesterday, “When do you listen to podcasts?” So conversation starters. So, I just keep track, I just highlight the ones on a spreadsheet that are more conducive to conversations. Some of them, you can buy the ability to post on their wall. 

 

Erin Marcus:

I did that once. That’s so funny, I didn’t remember that until you said it. I did that once a long time ago. I don’t even remember why, but now that you said it, I did like a sponsorship.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Yeah. When I first started doing it, I listened to some free tutorials from other experts on it. And they said to look for large groups, but I found that sometimes some of the small groups are just as interactive because even if there’s 60,000 people in a group or 200 people in a group, I’m not trying to meet all 60,000.

 

Erin Marcus:

Well, one of the things we all know about Facebook is it’s only going to show you 10 people, right? I mean, we know that algorithm is what it is. You’re never going to meet 60,000 people.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Right. Another suggestion or another bit of advice is that you have to be willing to be friends with them, whether or not you create a special Facebook page, which Facebook doesn’t like, but people do it or if you just trust them that they’re not going to come rob your house, if you could say you’re going on vacation, but being willing to be friends with them is key.

 

Erin Marcus:

Yeah. I think that’s something that I decided several years ago that I was going to be perfectly fine with using. I have a Facebook group, I have a business page on Facebook and I have a personal profile. I decided several years ago that I was just going to have to get comfortable with sharing what I do for a living on my personal page. Like not pitch, pitch, pitch, because that’s not what it’s for. But I think that holds up a lot of entrepreneurs so that my cousins and my friends from high school now can see all the business-related things that I do. It’s a little weird, and it goes back to what we said about I would be fine in person if I went to a high school reunion and say, “Oh, what are you doing?” I would have no problem telling them what I’m doing. But it’s weird. It feels like screaming it from the rooftops when I post it on Facebook. I don’t have kids, so it makes my decisions a little bit easier because I’m not putting tiny humans at risk by sharing information and I understand the reality of that.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

For me, it was the opposite of not sharing so much personal stuff. I mean, as a business owner, if you have extreme political views, do you want to put them on Facebook? I mean, maybe, maybe not. You’re going to alienate possibly half of your potential clients, regardless of which.

 

Erin Marcus:

Sometimes people are fine with that, and sometimes they’re not. My take is no good comes from screaming at each other from across the room. So, why would it come from screaming at each other on the computer? I’m happy to have conversations with people about anything.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

I have no desire to fight with people on the internet.

 

Erin Marcus:

No. I have no desire to fight with people on the internet. My views are kind of obvious. If you paid attention, you would see what they are. I don’t hide from them. But I totally agree.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

So, I mostly share dogs and dogs and dogs and travel and dogs and business. So, I’m willing to let people–and you can always utilize your privacy settings. 

 

Erin Marcus:

Well, and it’s also a change in, it was already happening. Social media created a situation that you and I didn’t grow up in where people who worked together knew more. If you became friends on Facebook, they knew more about you than previously because previously, you’d be at the office. They might know you have a husband, but they didn’t know what he looked like. Now, your friends on Facebook, they know what he looks like. Your boss, you know them, they know you at a different level. The COVID shutdown, just exacerbated that, because now we’re really used to like literally being in each other’s living rooms.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Yeah.

 

Erin Marcus:

And so, there is a level of intimacy almost with other humans or at least knowledge of privacy what used to be private that just exists now.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Yeah. I don’t think that’s really a bad thing in some ways. Two different organizations that I’ve been involved with have both said, people do business with people they know. If someone is an animal lover and they’re deciding on this coach or another coach, is it a bad thing that they see that you have animals and a bird and you volunteer at rescue? No. That’s only going to make them more comfortable working with you.

 

Erin Marcus:

I had this conversation with somebody yesterday. In fact, I’m trying to remember the words that we used to describe it. I think this is something that is working for you and I in our efforts to network online. We’re not trying to be an influencer. “Hey, look at me, look at me.” I think it’s more about the, “Hey, listen to me. I have a way to help you. Listen, I have something to say,” right? It’s about sharing the message and the outcome, not the, “Hey, look how great I am.” And that’s the difference.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Yeah. We’re thought leaders, not “Hey, look at what I wore.”

 

Erin Marcus:

Right. Just to go back to it because we always laugh about it. I think that’s where the “Hey girl, hey,” people get in trouble, because it’s all about them. It’s all about them. And when you’re networking, when you’re trying to network online, when you claim to be networking online and all you do is saying, “I’m so great by my widget. I’m so great by my widget. The widget’s so great by the widget.” And you don’t know anything about the other person, that’s not networking. I’m still waiting. I’m dying. No one will reply to me. When I get those messages from people who are particularly persistent, I will eventually respond and ask them, “Please, I have to know, does this work?” Because they’re still teaching it to people because people are still doing it. It’s working for somebody. But no one I know enjoys that message, ever buys from anybody who does it and I don’t know anybody who’s trying it who’s ever succeeded.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Well, I think it’s normally they just don’t know that that’s not the approach. I have definitely done, ‘Hey, girl, hey,’ way back when I first became self-employed and I was selling for a very popular jewelry company. My upline told me, “Sit down at lunchtime and call 50 people who you know.” I think I made it to person seven before I quit in tears. My husband came in the room and said, “What are you doing? It doesn’t even sound like your voice.” I was like, “This is terrible. It was called a booking blitz.” And there were so much, “Hey, girl, hey.” And I think people still have me blocked on social media. I want to tell them, “It’s safe. I’m okay.”

 

Erin Marcus:

There are still repercussions 10 years later.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

I have learned the error of my, ‘Hey, girl, hey’ ways, but I think they just don’t know. Part of it is they’re also so excited that they have this new product that they sell. Some is they don’t realize sales is about asking questions about what the person needs not deciding they need that.

 

Erin Marcus:

Right, and forcing it down someone’s throat. Yes.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Right. You need this. No, I don’t. 

 

Erin Marcus:

Here’s the thing, I buy a lot of stuff from direct marketing companies. I have zero problems purchasing. It’s not a direct marketing chip on my shoulder. I actually used several products from direct marketing companies.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Oh, me too. Some of them make the best.

Erin Marcus:

Right. It’s not a problem with the industries. It’s a problem with the marketing.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

People call them pyramid schemes but when you look at the business I came from, it was the same bonus structure. You had a store manager and a regional and the regional got a bonus from their store’s performance. It’s the same setup. It’s only a pyramid when no product is exchanging hands. That’s why they have a direct seller’s alliance. But yeah, some of them make the best products I love. 

 

Erin Marcus:

Absolutely. So, the other thing that I think we found in our efforts was if we’re going to go out and network, literally network, just to repeat network online, one which we’ve already covered is starting conversations with people by being conversational. And then the other thing that in my business is one of the things I say is the litmus test for everything we do is are we being of service? I think that’s the other thing that’s helped us immensely is once we had, even if it’s small, it doesn’t even have to be your own, it doesn’t have to be your own, a bit of a library of resources to share, it made it easier to start conversations and be friendly and just be of service instead of jumping to prematurely to want to buy my widget.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Oh, absolutely. To say, “Oh my gosh,” well, especially we ask questions when someone enters the group, what is your biggest struggle? So, instead of just directly saying, “Do you want to work with Erin? I can honestly say, “Here, you might really love this blog,” or “We have this free tutorial. You mentioned time management was your issue, we have Conquer your–

 

Erin Marcus:

Conquer Your Clock, right?

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Conquer Your Clock, oh my gosh. 



Erin Marcus: 

Control Your Clock is what we called it, right? What the hell are we talking about? Control Your Clock. 

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Control Your Clock, right. 

 

Erin Marcus:

Yeah. And it doesn’t have to be your own.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Right, right. Yeah. That’s a good point.

 

Erin Marcus:

Like when I first started, especially in my last business working with aging parents, I had bookmarked helpful articles, all sorts of things that I found were really well done that I could share as a resource because we’re being of service.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Absolutely. I met a woman who she has become friends with me. She’s in the group and she is entering the pet industry. And so, I was able to send her a huge list of pet support groups that I’m in for pet business professionals. I obviously don’t know everyone’s specific industry to do that, but it just happened that she was going into the industry that I’m also in. And so, yeah, I sent her all these resources and magazines she could get.

 

Erin Marcus:

Right. And that’s just it. So, it really is a second piece to me. I think if it comes down to a couple of tips, as we wrap this up for folks, it’s yes, you’re going to be ignored more than you’ve ever been used to being ignored. It’s a little weird. Be conversational and kind of like you give before you get, show up how you want to be responded to. That gets hard for me truthfully, because I have no attention span and I’ll do it for a little while and then I’ll stop, which is not what anyone should be doing, but I’ll miss replying to people and then I feel like a jerk, right? So, if you want people to respond to you, respond to them. Network don’t pitch. Follow the rules and be respectful of other people’s groups and efforts. 

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

That’s a huge one, absolutely. Respect their rules.

 

Erin Marcus:

It’s hard, right? It wasn’t easy for them to create their group. Don’t disrespect it.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Right. And don’t poach their clients. Don’t hijack their feeds. Another tip is understand some people might be untrustworthy of you. I’ve had people where they think I want something more than just to connect.

 

Erin Marcus:

I think that’s one thing in the online world that’s so prevalent that we don’t have nearly as much when you meet people in person is there’s just such a ridiculous amount of scam and predators out there that when people respond to you as if you are a predator, don’t get offended, they don’t know and they have to be leery.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

And some people have had scams happen to them. It’s like the golden rule of the internet. Just be a good human.

 

Erin Marcus:

Be a good human. 

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Don’t be sketchy.

 

Erin Marcus:

Don’t be sketchy. Don’t be a creeper. Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, I think bottom line, it’s worth trying. It’s worth putting in the effort. It’s different. It’s harder in some ways, but easier in others because you can do this in tiny increments without having to like drive to Starbucks and pay for parking and all of that pieces of it. Regardless of what happens to any of the different platforms, I don’t think this online world of meeting people internationally will ever go away.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

I don’t think so. I think it’s so much a part of our day-to-day life now and future generations coming up, if you think about it. My kids are Generation Z. They are in the workforce. One of them is done with college. He’s in the workforce and he’s Generation Z and they’ve grown up with Snapchat and everything.

 

Erin Marcus:

I think that’s the other thing. If you’re of our age, don’t have a chip on your shoulder about it. You never have to do anything a very specific way. Right? You can make it your own. Don’t lose your integrity just because there’s other people out there not being in integrity.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Yeah. I’ve been doing this for another group that I’m in to build. I run a local networking group and I’ve been doing this locally too. And it’s just fun meeting people. Be of service and have fun.

 

Erin Marcus:

Hundred percent. Cool! Well, thank you for sharing your experiences. We do joke around a lot about some of the absurdity of it. At the same time, this is the world that allows me to have a private client in New Zealand. This is the world that allows me to have team members in three different countries.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Yup. I have a client in India who I write for, yeah.

 

Erin Marcus:

I have clients in Canada. I have team members in Canada. I had a team member who lives in Miami who moved to Spain and got to stay. This is the world that created that, which is absolutely amazing.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

Yeah. I love that I can work from anywhere. 

 

Erin Marcus:

Right. I’m going to Florida tomorrow. I’ll still be online. Well, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And if anybody’s looking for Lynn, you can find her in the Conquer Your Business Facebook group.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

That’s right. I’m there every day.

 

Erin Marcus:

Every day, rain or shine. Awesome! As long as there’s internet, anyway.

 

Lynn Stacy-Smith:

As long as there’s internet.

 

Erin Marcus:

I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Ready Yet?! podcast. I truly enjoy bringing these stories of success and inspiration to you. Please join us in our mission to empower entrepreneurs to be in charge of their businesses and in charge of their lives by sharing this with anyone you know who would benefit from our tactical and motivating advice, leaving us a review and letting us know if there are any particular topics you would really appreciate hearing about. See you next time.

Spread the word

Erin Marcus

Permission to be you with erin marcus

Erin Marcus is an author, speaker and communications specialist helping organizations to “Conquer the Conversation,” and creating improvement in sales, customer service and team dynamics. To bring Erin to your event or business:

Get In Touch