Ken Kilday, Leader's Cut
Ken Kilday is the Founder of Leader's Cut
Can you share a little about what makes you an authority on building a great network?
One example I use is joining LinkedIn in 2003 after reading an article in Newsweek Magazine. As member number 30,467 out of the current 930 million subscribers, I’d identify as an early adopter of what we identify as modern networking. That commitment to being part of a larger community really hit home when I launched my own coaching business in 2018. Thanks to lifelong networking, I immediately had clients and have never been without them. Not every entrepreneur is so blessed.
How important is networking for professional success, and why?
Success has a ceiling that is defined by what we contribute. There is a professional bank account of sorts that says when we contribute without expecting anything, we are rewarded beyond measure. We’ve all had the experience of seeing a post on LinkedIn from someone looking for work, for example, yet it’s the only post we can recall seeing in recent memory. That means, they haven’t been present, contributing, or helping until they needed something. That always seems to fall flat, in my observation.
What's your usual ice-breaker question when meeting someone for the first time?
What brings you joy?
How do you approach networking differently when you're meeting someone in person versus virtually?
Eye contact. It’s one of the most underrated connections and limitations when working on camera. Looking into someone’s eyes is so much more heartwarming than looking into a camera lens.
What are some common mistakes people make when trying to build their professional network, and how can they avoid them?
The worst thing you can do is be a poor listener. No one wants to be held hostage, hear a pitch, or feel as though they’ve been cornered at a car dealership. Instead, get out there, meet people, get to know them, and find out if there’s something you can do to help them.
Have you noticed any differences in the types of relationships you build through in-person versus virtual networking? If so, can you describe those differences?
My corporate career included experience building relationships by phone, on camera, and in person. I reject the notion that in-person interactions cannot be as meaningful. Therefore, the difference is really about accommodating the medium rather than a difference in the relationship itself. I position the camera, microphone, and screen to mimic an in person interaction. The trap people fall into is that they don’t do their homework to be better in a virtual environment.
What are some strategies you've found effective for building rapport and establishing trust with someone you've only just met?
First, I do my homework by reading their social media page, website, or bio (when provided). This demonstrates that I care enough to invest time in advance. Second, when I ask a question, I listen and take notes to keep my brain from preparing another question. This is a much better way to stay present and follow a more natural conversation. I never want another person to think it’s an interview or game of 20-questions. Third, I ask follow up questions based on their answers. Finally, I make sure they know that I’m willing to answer any questions, though I tend not to focus on myself.
How can someone use social media and online networking to expand their professional network?
Be you and be present. If you’re going to have an account, then complete the profile. For example, if I find your profile on LinkedIn and it’s sparse, incomplete, has a very old (or no) photograph, that creates one kind of impression. Therefore, be all in or all out.
Next, post interesting content that is yours, not some template you copied. I have many connections from my former industry with a concentration in one particular firm. I cringe when I see a few hundred posts with the exact same verbiage copied from their media department, no doubt. That’s almost worse than not posting.
What advice would you give to someone who is new to networking and trying to make connections in their industry?
Get started with that very first step and reject the voice in your head that says, he/she wouldn’t want to talk/connect with me. There are people I have admired, read, watched, and followed that I reached out to - many of whom connected, responded, and chatted with me. In fact, some that I have mentored were from them walking up to me, reaching out to me, or calling me. Remember, the answer is always “no” if you don’t ask.
Be all in or all out - don’t leave incomplete profiles, dated pictures, or half-hearted summaries on social media sites or attend social networking functions unless you’re going to “show up”. Whichever channel you are networking in, do it with gusto.
Be 100% yourself. If you are identifying yourself as “like Tony Robbins”, well, we already have one of those, so we can just follow him. Be the real McCoy. Be willing and able to tell the unique story of you.
Trust your gut. You are the expert on the brand that is YOU, therefore if something feels/sounds/looks cheesy to you (gut), then trust that. You absolutely know when you’re on to something because you’ll get the vulnerability butterflies.