The Power of Networking and Being a Connector

My guest on this episode of the Ready Yet podcast is Larry Kaufman, aka Linked In Larry, who is a Regional Managing Director for Jefferson Wells USA, Global Keynote Speaker, Business Leader, and author of the Best-Selling book, The NCG Factor – A Formula for Building Life-Changing Relationships from College to Retirement.

Join us as we discuss the significant impact and techniques of networking and connecting with others for personal and business growth, PLUS insightful ways to network authentically and the importance of leading with empathy. Larry reveals how an accidental meeting changed his perspective on networking, leading him to become a strategic connector. The episode explores common networking mistakes, emphasizes the need for asking good questions, and highlights the potent combination of being service-oriented and resourceful.



Ready Yet?! Podcast Episode 232 with Larry Kaufman: The Power of Networking and Being a Connector 

Transcribed with Descript

Erin Marcus: All right. Hello. Hello. And welcome to this episode of the ready yet podcast where I’ve been talking to. I didn’t know your nickname LinkedIn Larry, but I’ve been talking to Mr. Larry Kaufman and I’m excited about this conversation because it’s a topic that I didn’t realize I was good at. It was probably just an extension of how I grew up.

Erin Marcus: But now that I’ve put intention behind it, as I’ve grown my business, but this idea of networking of growing your network there’s so many amazing ways to do this. Now we watch people do it wrong. I try to lead with empathy, not because they. Are jerks, but just because they don’t know a better way.

Erin Marcus: Right. So I can’t wait to give some specifics and learn more about you. And how you do all this and how you came to be doing all this. So why don’t you give everybody a bit of a formal introduction of who you are and what you do.

Larry Kaufman: So my name is Larry Kaufman. I’m here in the Chicago area. And what I do is I am a giver and a connector first and foremost.

Larry Kaufman: So I’m very focused. I guess you’d say it’s like others focused.

Erin Marcus: So I

Larry Kaufman: think about everybody else, but myself, I’m always last and I’m in a leadership position. I run the Midwest region, running sales and operations for Jefferson Wells, which is a manpower group company and brand. And I authored this lovely book behind me, the NCG factor about networking, connecting, giving back in July of 2019.

Larry Kaufman: I’m a global speaker on my book and you could see, yes, LinkedIn, Larry, a name given to me many years ago. I don’t pay for it. I hope LinkedIn won’t charge me for it, but it seems to work.

Erin Marcus: Your cease and desist letter is in the mail, right?

Larry Kaufman: Maybe happening now, Erin, but hopefully it’s not. It will stay. Thank you.

Erin Marcus: So one of the things I want to point out that is so blaringly amazing to me, and it’s a nuanced takeaway. You describe yourself, and I know it to be true by the way, you’re not just saying this. I know firsthand that it’s true as this giver, right? And You’re in a top C suite corporate position. And most people consider high level, like they, I think too many people approach us, what I’m trying to say is as if those two things were mutually exclusive and I love proof positive that they go together.

Larry Kaufman: I’m not C suite. I think I am.

Erin Marcus: I think you are.

Larry Kaufman: I’m leadership suite.

Erin Marcus: Works the same for me. But you get what I’m saying, right? I think so many now I do believe, and I understand that many jobs in many situations feel inherently competitive. They really do. I get it, right? There’s a hundred people on the team, five get promoted, one get promoted.

Erin Marcus: I get it. But I don’t think you have to, and again, you’re proof positive that you don’t have to approach everything as competition, as scarcity, and it can all still work really well.

Larry Kaufman: Yes, it can.

Erin Marcus: Yes, it can. So how did you get, how did that come to you? How did you figure that out?

Larry Kaufman: About the networking and being a connector.

Larry Kaufman: It wasn’t, On purpose. It was on, it was kind of on accident. So I think it was a, it was a meeting years ago with an attorney. So my friend Brenda Kinney name may ring a bell, ultimate connector. She said, you gotta meet this guy Brian, who’s an attorney. He just has a unique approach in how he fosters relationships.

Larry Kaufman: Just meet him. It’s how he builds business for his firm. And I was in a very similar leadership role. It can be competing firm to what I do today. And I was pushing back as I thought, you know, attorneys, you only meet when you get in trouble. You need them to defend you. But I said, okay, I’ll do it. And I met with him and very unique, unique approach.

Larry Kaufman: The unique approach was at the end of the meeting, he said, Larry, this is great to meet you. I’m going to now introduce you. I’m going to, you know, after we meet to two people, you don’t know. And, you know, that was a foreign concept to me, you know, many years ago. And I didn’t think that way. I like, why would you do that?

Larry Kaufman: And he said, because it’s an expand your, your network of connections. You’re going to build new relationships with people you don’t know. And I said, that’s intriguing now. It didn’t immediately convert me to be. a super connector, but it didn’t, it did make me stop and think, you know, when I meet with people, should I be introducing them to other people?

Larry Kaufman: And it, it finally started to sink in after I met those people and I started talking and you know, the two that he introduced me to, I started thinking that way, I’m not a Aaron, I’m going to get you to two, we’re going to get you at three or 10, I may get you to no one. And then two weeks later, I go, wait a minute.

Larry Kaufman: You got to know this guy, you know, Steve or Josh, And I’ll make that connection or introduction, but then, you know, Brenda got me introduced to Brian that kind of launched that thought process and it slowly morphed into where I became a very strategic, thoughtful connector came to learn more about people.

Larry Kaufman: And then I can make the right introduction or introductions.

Erin Marcus: Yeah, I had a mine was more because I left corporate and I, I mean, what I was doing in corporate was networking, but I didn’t realize it, I guess, because in our field, in the long term care insurance world, the company I was with was a big fish in that small pond.

Erin Marcus: So we knew everybody. So it was very easy Easy to know everybody, all of our friendly competitors, all of the insurance companies. So I didn’t really see it as networking. And then when I started my own business, you go to the networking event. I think it was also an accident to hear you say it that way, where I realized as I was talking to somebody that I knew a person who could solve their problem.

Erin Marcus: Like, as I’m just having a conversation, oh my God, I met so and so the other day. They were talking about the same thing. I bet. They can help you. And then in a classic like Pavlov’s dog situation, I got a lot of accolades and thanks you, thank yous for that, right? I got positive reinforcement for having done that.

Erin Marcus: And I think it just built from there where you get the endorphins, right? I got the treat, I got the treat for doing a good job, right? And I start to carry on my, my, right. Comparison or I’d start to get all excited every time I would meet new people about who could I connect them to.

Larry Kaufman: And then when you connect them and they say, oh, Aaron, right?

Larry Kaufman: That’s when the endorphins really go crazy because you feel good, you know, whether. You’ve introduced someone and you help their charity or you get them into someone that, you know, it’s just someone that like, wow, this person thinks like I do. We talk alike. We think alike. This is the perfect introduction.

Larry Kaufman: Or, you know, I do a lot of. You know, matchmaking. So, you know, and I get someone introduced like, Oh, wow. And, you know, Hey, we’re together now it’s going on a year. Thank you. It’s our year anniversary and sending me picture. That’s fantastic. So I feel good about those things. That’s the best part.

Erin Marcus: Yeah.

Erin Marcus: It’s

Larry Kaufman: meeting new people, but when you hit it out of the park and they reach out and I, I love getting those calls and those emails and those letters. And that’s what I live for to change people’s lives. And it’s

Erin Marcus: amazing. I had a situation where I threw, it took several conversations to figure this out, but I figured out a woman that I had known in a networking group and was very friendly within that group was actually the sister of one of my mother’s neighbors.

Erin Marcus: So it took a while. Put those pieces together. Cause I was not living anywhere near my mother at the time. And we, I was ended up able to get her daughter, an internship with the company, my ex boyfriend was working at, which was a very difficult internship to land. I mean, but if you just start thinking, how can I be of service?

Erin Marcus: Like so many of us run around saying we want to help people. This is to me, one of the easiest ways to help people. It’s just right there available to you.

Larry Kaufman: Well, and I know you have like a lot of, you know, small business owners that listen and, you know, Hey, we’re so busy. We’re working 50, 60 hour work weeks, but those relationships you foster, and it could be with your clients.

Larry Kaufman: And like you said, maybe you help out your client’s child, get an internship, but you now have a client for life. And, but if you do it authentically, And so I think the more that we learn about people, we ask more questions instead of trying to sell what we do, we learn about people’s needs and whether it’s health, love, business or other, you know, that’s how we can be helpful and become more authentic connectors that transform people’s lives.

Erin Marcus: So you keep saying authentic. I 100 percent agree with you. If you come with, you know, I always say it’s your underlying intentions are what will get you into trouble, right? Cause if you say one thing, but your underlying, your come from energy is different, that incongruity, people just feel it. What are some of the mistakes?

Erin Marcus: If you if you focus on the business, the small business side of this, what are some of the mistakes people make? Or even if you want to flip it, what are some of the things that people could be doing that they’re not doing that would make a big difference for them? Because we keep hearing networking is the way to grow your business.

Erin Marcus: But what does that even mean?

Larry Kaufman: Well, I I think you know if you’re a small business owner you’re meeting with let’s say you happen to get introduced or You even made a cold call and you got the meeting with aaron marcus, you know Did you look up aaron on linkedin? Did you happen to see who you share in common?

Larry Kaufman: Did you see anything interesting on her profile that you could reference in your meeting? and The more that you ask and learn about people up front and you know, and don’t go right for You Selling your business, you know, you

Erin Marcus: send me a you don’t you mean you’re telling me don’t send me a sales sales page in the linkedin DMS is not the way to go

Larry Kaufman: all right.

Larry Kaufman: You just you want to foster a connection relationship. You may not. I love when I meet with something. Oh, Larry. I don’t even know what you do. We’ve met for an hour and a half. What do you even do? You know what? We’ll talk about the next meeting if you if you want to. But based upon what I heard today, I want to do x, y, and z for you.

Larry Kaufman: And so that’s why I came up with the quote, if you lead with yourself, you will leave with yourself.

Erin Marcus: Oh my God, that’s awesome. If you lead with yourself, you will leave with yourself. On the flip side, I, I have a habit. I do it very intentionally. I ask everybody. At the end of these conversations, once we’re done recording or even if I’m, you know, in other conversations, what else do you need?

Erin Marcus: Who do you need? And I’m surprised at how many people tell me nothing. They’re like, oh, I don’t need anything. I’ve never, I’m 53 years old, I’ve never had a moment in my life where I haven’t needed something, right? I’ve never had that situation. I don’t think people are prepared. To answer that question,

Larry Kaufman: you know, it is difficult.

Larry Kaufman: Sometimes that’s why I say if you ask enough good questions, or maybe something that I heard from you about your family or hey, I saw on your profile, you support a cause for autism, have an autistic child or something. I may hear it’s like, oh, you know, I know a charity that you should know about. And, you know, I know they’re looking for board members.

Larry Kaufman: You serve on a board. Oh, wow. Great. And so someone in my book, it happened that way. And so, she joined the board of this autistic, you know, charity. And so, if you ask a question, sometimes you don’t need to say what you said, which I love. But you can go right to, hey, you said earlier, would you mind if I did this for you?

Larry Kaufman: Wow. And sometimes when people ask me, you know the way you can help me, Erin? When I need to help someone else? I may come to you or you may be connected to someone I’m trying to help to get a job and you know that head of HR, that business owner. Can I come to you for that? And you’re like, yes.

Erin Marcus: Yeah.

Larry Kaufman: That’s how you’ll help me. But I may come to you, but typically it’s not for me. It’s usually for other people. I

Erin Marcus: think that’s huge. I think if you don’t have an specific ask, or if to your point, I haven’t figured out what to even offer necessarily just to say that you are willing to be of service, you are willing to help in some way, and it’s not I think I try to not judge about it because it is the natural way that my brain works to put pieces to everything to me is a puzzle to put pieces together.

Erin Marcus: I can’t help it. Right. But to be open to it. I think people are worried that. Someone’s going to ask something of them that they don’t want to do, or something’s going to take a lot of their time. And it really isn’t, it really isn’t, it’s not hard.

Larry Kaufman: No, it’s not, you know, it, it takes time and energy to become a connector and a giver and, and help other people.

Larry Kaufman: But if you want to grow your business, if you want to grow and enrich your life. If you’re others focused, it comes back around and it really changes just your perspective on everything you do. And so I, I feel great every week knowing I’m going to do something for somebody else. And it just. It’s, it’s a great thing and it could be for your staff, it could be, you know, someone on my staff asked me to help, you know, someone he was talking to who has a sick child, you know, to get a specialist and came, you know, came to me, you know, I’m not in health care, you know, but I love doing that.

Larry Kaufman: So I, you know, I think we both look at that as a challenge. Like I like to say. Challenge me. What do you need?

Erin Marcus: Yeah, or

Larry Kaufman: what or what does someone in your world need but you could also Hey, can I can I do anything for you? How can I help you? Nothing? Okay Well, then what I tell people is Aaron now think of me as being indispensable to you And it could be to you and to others in your world.

Larry Kaufman: So you’re a small business owner Maybe you have a client that has a need or you don’t know where to go. It could be a personal need, it could be a business need, and you don’t know where to go. I have people come to me, Larry, so and so needs a person that does this in HR. Here’s three people. Someone said, Hey Larry, I need a recruiter that does something in the food industry like this.

Larry Kaufman: I’ve got someone come on, come up and give me something like really challenging that like, I have to reach for the stars to get to. And then you go, Oh, my God, how did you, how did you do that? And I remember I was talking to someone who was a controller in a medical device company in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Larry Kaufman: And he, you know, he and I are having a great conversation. And I pulled this out, challenge me. Because I love to help you. It goes, well, I need a firm that does something with the FDA and does this, this, and this. It’s like a consulting firm. And I had no idea what he was talking about, but I took notes. And within 24 hours, I had three firms that did what he wanted to get done.

Larry Kaufman: And guess what? One of the firms was in Kenosha. That was pretty good. He was blown away. So he flew me out a couple of years later to speak in Sarasota to his global team. So, you know, you never know.

Erin Marcus: You never know.

Larry Kaufman: You know, but I love challenging people.

Erin Marcus: Well, and I love how, you know, I was going to ask you, so how did you go from, getting introduced to this concept to making it such an integral part of your life, but clearly, you know, you take it a step further than I do.

Erin Marcus: I give, I get the endorphins of making the connection and you also like that, but then you also get the, you also throw the, the challenge out there by, you know, give me the, the person you’re looking for that’s, Kind of like a, where’s Waldo type of situation.

Larry Kaufman: Well, but if we all think of trying to be indispensable to our clients, to our families, then they think of us besides just what we do in our business.

Larry Kaufman: And then we have continued contact and we deepen our relationships. So I just, I just think that, you know, for me, that was a great, you know, concept, right? Become this connector giver. The book came into play because I want to put to paper and I want to impact Cause the book is, you know, from college to retirement and, you know, in college, I wasn’t thinking about networking, you know, having a coffee with my professor, you know, and, and retirement was, I actually added retirement because I met someone at an engagement of mine in Wisconsin, and there were over a hundred executives that were in finance and accounting capacity, and this executive was there first and I said, you know, I, so, so tell me where are you a CFO at?

Larry Kaufman: And she said, I’m not. I’m retired. So what are you doing here? So that I want to learn how to use, you know, tools like LinkedIn to become a connector because, you know, as we get older too, well, we have children, they have children, right? We have grandkids and they actually grow up and they may go to school and they may need a job.

Larry Kaufman: And boy, you know, a grandpa or grandma could help out. Never thought of that. Great. You know, I don’t want to be called grandpa, but you know, yeah. You know, that old guy with the bloodline. He’s very connected. You know, can he help make an intro? Yes. And so I, I love it. Sometimes I help people and they’ll be like, Hey, they got to do it themselves.

Larry Kaufman: I’m like, well, if I, if I have that network of relationships, let me help them because, you know, not a lot of people helped me early on and I could have used

Erin Marcus: it. Right. And it’s not like you’re doing it for them. They still, it’s opening doors. It’s not guaranteeing anything.

Larry Kaufman: That’s right.

Erin Marcus: And this is all, you know, you’ve used LinkedIn and it’s the way I’ve used podcasting.

Erin Marcus: I, most of last year, my primary source of networking was trading podcast platforms. I would be on their show. They would be on my show and it’s my world in one year became massively international just from doing that.

Larry Kaufman: That’s awesome.

Erin Marcus: And it’s unbelievable who I’ve gotten to meet. and help and interact with, and they’ve helped me.

Erin Marcus: And it is one thing I love about, you know, the modern world, the way we do things now, that’s just crazy. It’s just crazy even a few years ago to think that not only is it possible, but it’s the norm.

Erin Marcus: Yeah, to be close friends and have clients all over the world and never having to leave, never having to put on actual pants, right?

Larry Kaufman: Well, wear some pants.

Erin Marcus: Wear some pants, especially now here, right? It’s freezing.

Larry Kaufman: Yes.

Erin Marcus: So what’s next for you? Where do you take this? I, I get this feeling from you that like, This is a journey for you, not just a thing you do

Larry Kaufman: well, you know, I love spreading the word.

Larry Kaufman: I spread it within my profession with the people that we deal with the executives. I do it with how

Erin Marcus: is it received? I want I’m curious. How is it received?

Larry Kaufman: It’s it’s received. Well, because what I speak on is more developmental, right? That those soft skills versus. You know, I’m in kind of an accounting, finance, risk and compliance world, but, you know, I can’t talk at a technical level, but all those folks in that space.

Larry Kaufman: Need to refine and sharpen their skills and how they interact with their peer group. If they’re in leadership, you know, I’ve done a lot of emerging leader programs and, you know, but I’ve, I’ve done down to interns, you know, and so I, I think it’s really applicable, but people need those soft skills, how to build internal relationships at your company, external.

Larry Kaufman: And, you know, it’s just a different way to network. And because we’re virtual more so than that, you could do more of this. And then when you add LinkedIn, it becomes, you know, a great way to really interact with people and walk in knowing more about, you know, Your prospect or actually someone that works for you that you know, when you’re, you’re an iron man, you’re a triathlete, you’re a run climber, you’re an eighth degree black belt.

Larry Kaufman: Oh, my God, tell me more. And you know, one I saw was a crop duster. I’m like, wait, tell me about crop dust. But you look at people’s profiles, you find the weirdest things and the most interesting things. And, and then, you know, how do you know these people? And you see people in common and you’re like, how do you know this person?

Larry Kaufman: Well, that’s my client. Well, that’s my brother in law. Wow.

Erin Marcus: I love that. I was in, I My old assistant used to laugh and say, I’m only, you know, you hear what is that six degrees of Kevin Bacon? I’m like two people away from everybody. And I was, so I live in Chicago. I was at a meeting in San Antonio where I met a man who lives in Philadelphia.

Erin Marcus: And so we were both at this meeting in San Antonio. And I don’t know how he, Oh, I think I had a barbell t shirt on. And he asked me if I work out. And I, we had this whole conversation about my background in powerlifting, et cetera, et cetera. And he starts telling me. about his sister who still lives in Ireland, who’s on the powerlift, the international powerlifting team for Ireland.

Erin Marcus: And I said, Oh really? Because my father is a judge for the international powerlifting federation. And I went on Facebook and found a picture of my dad and his sister in another country. They were both like in France at the time, like crazy.

Larry Kaufman: It’s crazy

Erin Marcus: how You know, it even happened with you. I was talking to somebody last week.

Erin Marcus: I don’t even know how your name came up. And I’m like, Oh, yeah, I know, Larry. I’m talking to him next week. So you shoot somebody a message and say, Hey, your name came up. It’s just a feel good section. You know, a second people are thinking about you.

Larry Kaufman: Well, I think the commonality of things you like your interest.

Larry Kaufman: And so I show a lot of folks that are in college and and actually mid and later career, like on LinkedIn, how you could find. You know, power lifters who went to your university, who live in Chicago, right? It’s probably a very small group, like three

Erin Marcus: of us

Larry Kaufman: globally, who are those folks? And these are the people I like to connect to.

Larry Kaufman: And so I help people understand how you could filter LinkedIn, where you have commonality and broaden your network too, with people who are like minded. And so it’s, it’s really powerful, but I love those stories.

Erin Marcus: It’s hysterical and it’s working at the intersection where you have an activity that feels good and help helps you, helps them.

Erin Marcus: And then if you throw intention behind it and do it, not just randomly, but as you’re describing with intention and parameters, It just becomes even more powerful. Totally. Nice. So if people want to continue this conversation with you, get a copy of your book. How do they get a hold of you? I’m assuming LinkedIn is one of the ways they can find you.

Larry Kaufman: Probably find me on LinkedIn in Chicago, Larry Kaufman, all caps. K-A-U-F-M-N kaufman larry.com is a website with some of, you know, the things I speak about. Course, Amazon, you know, dot com to find the NCG factor. And you know, you know, LinkedIn, like you said, that’s that’s where I’m at. That’s where I spend a lot of my time.

Larry Kaufman: I push out a lot of thought leadership. I’m very, very focused into helping people understand some job search strategies. And so you’ll see a lot of content that I post and in my featured section and wonderful podcasts like this one, Aaron,

Erin Marcus: we will get that out there as well. Thank you for spending time with me and your insights in this.

Erin Marcus: I love. I love the approach that it’s not just for the single end of getting a client that this can be so much bigger than that. It’s definitely a lot more fulfilling than just that. So thank you for reinforcing that and then adding your approach to it.

Larry Kaufman: Thank you, Aaron. I wish you a wonderful day and continued success with your business and podcast.

Erin Marcus: Awesome. Thank you.

Larry Kaufman: Thank you.

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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:

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