Trina Persyn, Founder of Juiced
Trina Persyn, founder of Juiced
Can you share a little about what makes you an authority on building a great network?
Before I started building my business, I started building my network. It is something that I started early on in my career and I am so grateful that I did. I now have over 6,000 followers on LinkedIn and over 1,000 on Instagram. But it's really not all about numbers, it's about the quality of your network. You can have thousands of followers and 0 connections. Or, you could have a couple hundred of followers including multiple strong connections. I know which I'd prefer.
Building your network isn't about chasing vanity metrics. It's about building meaningful connections that aren't one-sided. And I'd definitely recommend taking this offline and attending events too - I feel like you really get to know someone on another level when you speak face to face!
I wouldn't be where I am today without the people I've met along the way. Networking has brought me clients, mentors and a support network of people who 'get it.' Networking isn't about making money. It's about adding value to your professional life, which can be defined in a multitude of ways.
How important is networking for professional success, and why?
That saying, 'your network is your net worth,' is so true. There's so many opportunities I would have missed if it wasn't for my network. And it's not just about the professional opportunities. You have the chance to build strong connections with people in similar positions to you. Building a business can be lonely - but it doesn't have to be!
What's your usual ice-breaker question when meeting someone for the first time?
I'm terrible at generic ice-breaker questions. I prefer to personalise these where possible, but when all else fails, ask them about their journey and how they got to the place they're at now!
How do you approach networking differently when you're meeting someone in person versus virtually?
In person can be a lot more intimidating. I love networking, but that doesn't mean I don't get the feeling of anxiety beforehand! When networking in person I try to take things slowly rather than rushing to speak to everyone in the room. A longer, more meaningful chat with one person is more valuable to me than a quick 2 minute 'small talk sesh' with everyone!
Virtually, things can go a bit slower. I like to get chatting to new connections and find out more about them, then we can set up a virtual coffee at our own pace!
What are some common mistakes people make when trying to build their professional network, and how can they avoid them?
Spam adding everyone you can because you want to reach a certain number. Don't do it, it's pointless. Build your network slowly and purposefully.
And definitely don't send everyone the same copy and pasted message. Have a little stalk of their profile and find some common ground. Be interested in them, and not just what they can do for you!
Most of all, don't slap them with a sales pitch!
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?
Quite a lot of the in-person people I've met, I've known online first. I love that sort of connection because finally getting to meet an online connection in person is so fun!
I feel like people are naturally a bit different online. It's not that they're being fake, it's more that being behind a screen definitely filters a bit of personality - so it's really nice to meet people properly.
What are some strategies you've found effective for building rapport and establishing trust with someone you've only just met?
Be yourself. I know people always say that, but honestly it works. You don't have to fit in a corporate box just because that's what you THINK you should act like. Your personality is unique to you, and you'll be a lot more memorable (and comfortable) when you embrace it.
There's also the thing about authenticity. If you're playing a part, people will usually start to notice. Take a deep breath and remember to be yourself.
How can someone use social media and online networking to expand their professional network?
Start building your personal brand. Honestly, this is a game changer. Building your online presence and working on your positioning can help you get noticed by so many different types of people who can all add different types of value to your journey.
If you're stuck choosing a platform, I'd definitely recommend LinkedIn due to it's huge potential for organic reach (TikTok is another platform which is good for this, but less good at networking and more for awareness). I'm also a big fan of Instagram, that's where I started.
Whatever platform you choose, you need to put in the work. Try to post consistently (this doesn't mean everyday - find what works for you!) and engage with other creators! You can't just do a few posts and wait for everyone to come to you - you need to be regularly engaging with meaningful comments and personalised messages.
What advice would you give to someone who is new to networking and trying to make connections in their industry?
Send that message. A common problem I hear from people who are new to networking is that they feel too scared to start a conversation or publish a post. I've been there, I get it. Once you start, it gets so much easier. It's so much better to put yourself out there and 'fail' a few times than to not put yourself out there at all!
You could be missing out on huge opportunities and valuable connections all because you were scared of being left on read. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
This applies to in-person networking too! See what events are on and if you need to, bring a friend! Networking should be fun, don't put too much pressure on yourself and just see where it takes you.
It's about the quality of your network, not the quantity. Don't chase numbers, it won't get you anywhere and will just make you miserable. Instead, strive to make high-quality and mutually-beneficial connections. You'll thank yourself later!
Be yourself. You don't have to pretend to be a certain type of professional. People will love you for being you. Honestly, I've made connections that I now class as friends and that's down to being myself rather than trying to be what I think is expected.
Remember that networking isn't about 'what can this person do for me?' It's about a mutually-beneficial exchange of value. Which can be defined in different ways. Don't network with bad intentions. Go into it with an open mind and you'll find it much more rewarding!