The Intelligent Workplace

The Intelligent Workplace

Episode 17

New-world networking…lessons from LinkedIn.

Sally Illingworth
Content Marketing Strategist, Illingworth Media

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With the advent of social media, the way that we conduct business and build networks in the modern age has seen significant change . LinkedIn is a big part of that change, but even the way that platform is being used is changing. A new wave of influencers on LinkedIn are changing the way people network in the modern age.
 
Sally Illingworth, is one of the new wave of influences with a network of 50,000 LinkedIn followers. She is an experienced Content Marketing Strategist who is an engaging presenter.
 
Sally is also passionate about diversity in the workplace. #brainsoverbreasts is her online campaign that recognises women for their intellect, not their inherent female body features.
 
In this episode I speak with Sally about the strategies she is using on LinkedIn and how they translate to the Intelligent Workplace.
 
Show links
https://www.linkedin.com/in/sallyaillingworth
http://sallyillingworth.com
https://nucleuscyber.com/

Chris:                    

Welcome to the intelligent workplace, Sally.

Sally:                     

Thanks, Chris. I’m excited to be here.

Chris:                    

I’m very glad to have you here. I do apologize to the listeners if they can hear a little bit of our work in the background. That sounds like a few jackhammers outside this meeting room here. We’ll run with it and see how we go. Let’s set the scene. These days, you’re running your own agency dealing with media and you work with clients on content and media strategies. Among other things, of course. How did you find yourself here?

Sally:                     

Well, it’s interesting because it sort of all came about by accident, if you like. About 19 months ago, I was sort of just interested in the content marketing space in general. I think, probably you much like me, everyone else, we’re spending so much time consuming content online. I’m fascinated by behavior, and I was like, “Okay, well, I’m going to give this a go and just see what happens.” I had no expectations, no commercial objective, nothing like that.

Chris:                    

Just a good old Aussie “I’ll have a crack.”

Sally:                     

Yeah.

Chris:                    

Basically.

Sally:                     

Pretty much. And then what happened was it just started taking off. I just started by focusing on things that I knew, so like you have some sort of expertise in. And then I also was just focusing on things I was interested in and I started with video content. Little did I know at the time that video was actually new to LinkedIn, so I came in at a really good time. I was naive about that fact. And then over time, it just sort of started. I built momentum and then I was testing different things in terms of different posting frequencies and all that sort of stuff. And before I knew it, I had all this demand to help people do the same thing. So then I sort of had to sit there and reverse engineer everything I’d done and go, “So what do I actually do?”

Chris:                    

I think you’re selling yourself a little bit short because there is a lot of science around any sort of social media posting and that sort of thing around the algorithms they use, who’s watching the channels at what times, and who you need to speak to in your target market. So pat yourself on the back a little bit. Look, as I mentioned in the opener, you’re very active on LinkedIn and you are building a significant following. I think there’s over 50,000 followers now.

Sally:                     

Yep.

Chris:                    

From here, what’s your overall aim with LinkedIn then?

Sally:                     

Well, it’s interesting because obviously there’s demand now for me to help other people. Both individual and enterprise do the exact same thing. And really use… Most are the art of, I suppose, video storytelling to really unlock their brands. That’s where I’m seeing a lot of focus from people and where they really want the most help. So I’m focusing on that at the moment. But I suppose from a more macro level, I’m trying to figure out, well, how do I, one, I suppose, provide more to my LinkedIn community, my LinkedIn audience, because they want more at the end of the day. Majority of them, they’re sort of, “Well, okay, what’s next? I watch these two minute videos every day. What’s next? Where can we connect? What can we do together?” And I suppose there’s sort of requests and demand coming from all sorts of brands, so I’m trying to get really clear at the moment, well, how do I, I suppose, service those people.

Chris:                    

And taking it from the online world into the real world.

Sally:                     

Offline world.

Chris:                    

The offline world. Yeah.

Sally:                      Yeah. Which is a challenge. Particularly at that scale and with that many people and that big of an audience. So it’s a big challenge at the moment and I’m trying to work through that because it’s continuing to grow and it’s going to continue growing even from here on out, which is an exciting problem to have.

Chris:                    

Sounds awesome. Let’s quickly chat about old and new world networking. LinkedIn was established in the early 2000s. Launched its IPO in 2011. The idea of new world networking for the majority of its nearly 600 million users is probably less than maybe 10 years old, I guess. And in that time, LinkedIn has gone from a platform pretty much designed to assist job seekers initially to, it is becoming more of a social network. And on that social network, your own individual brand is really important, isn’t it?

Sally:                     

Yeah, yeah. Particularly when it comes to standing out. I think you make a good point. Traditionally speaking, with LinkedIn is, I mean how, how often do you hear it that LinkedIn was almost this taboo topic. If you’re at work and you’re on LinkedIn, “Oh my God, they’re leaving.”

Chris:                     [crosstalk 00:06:03].

Sally:                     

Yeah. It was like water cooler talk. But what’s happened, particularly now that they’ve released the video feature. I think that was around the end of August, maybe 2017, thereabouts. What’s happened now is people are using it for their brand and to build their brand and really unlock the potential of their brand, I suppose. And brand is something I’m very passionate about because I sit there and go, “Well, your personal brand or your enterprise brand is the single most important asset that you have available to you.” Because no employee can fire it, no bank can repossess it, no competitor can replicate it. If you really are in that, and invest in that, then that’s yours to hold forever no matter what happens in your business or in your career.

                               

What we’re seeing now is that LinkedIn’s not so much taboo anymore and it’s becoming more of a content haven. Think about traditionally on LinkedIn, not many people were contributing content. And from what I understand in the very early days, not everyone could contribute content even if they wanted to. I think it was only certain people could do articles and so forth. So now it’s just like this sea of content and more and more people are jumping on the content bandwagon, if you like. And so therefore, it’s becoming more diluted, but still less than 1% of LinkedIn users actually publish their own content, which is an interesting stat when you think about it.

                               

That’s why we’re seeing amazing organic reach, because if there’s over 10 billion content impressions on LinkedIn every single week and less than 1% of users are publishing content, well, it just means we’re consuming a whole lot more content than we’re actually distributing and it’s not as diluted as other platforms. What you’re seeing a lot of people do at enterprise level and just individual level is people are using things like video to really, I suppose, bring life to the person behind the profile. To grow their brand, and grow their business, and grow their career at the end of the day.

Chris:                    

For me, the world feels a little bit smaller because of technology such as this. Do you feel that’s a good or a bad thing?

Sally:                     

Look, I think it’s good in the sense that… When you think about it, I agree with you, it feels smaller. I sit there and… Every day, something will happen through something. [inaudible 00:08:08], “Wow, the world’s really freaking small, isn’t it?” And we’re not actually that far from, or that disconnected, from one another. But despite the fact it feels smaller, I think at the same time, that opens up the opportunity for us to think about things in a very expansive way.

                               

Because if we feel like we’re closer to things or we’re more connected, I feel like that has the potential to really open up this sort of new age of expansive thinking within ourselves, and going, “Well, things aren’t that hard to achieve” or “I’m not that far from my next opportunity or my next massive client who’s across the other side of the world.” In that sense, it feels smaller, but I think it’s also more expansive in that sense because we feel more connected, if that makes any sort of sense.

                               

It’s sort of like a contrast. But that’s the way I look at it because I’m like, “Well, yeah, I feel so much closer to all these people, so the world feels smaller.” But because it feels smaller, it’s like mentally this expansive experience because I’m like, “Well, things aren’t that unreachable. Opportunity isn’t that scarce. Opportunity isn’t that hard to get. Myself personally, even opportunities that are coming from the US and so forth, before, because the world felt so big and spread out and I was so disconnected, that wouldn’t have been possible. But now mentally, I’m like, “Wow, there’s massive opportunity.”

Chris:                    

Yeah. You think of sort of back in the day, creating a network of business peers was all about shaking hands, face to face introductions to new colleagues, working out deals over long lunches. Real, tangible sort of interactions. How do you feel LinkedIn does in, sort of, making up for that kind of gap these days?

Sally:                     

I think there’s probably multiple things it really addresses. I think from a… One thing I focus a lot on is traditional networking. If you think about it in terms of trying to grow your network from, especially from a professional capacity, what would you do? You’d go to hit and miss networking events. You meet 75% of the people, and you’re like, Ugh, that was just not good.” And then the others, you’re like, “Okay, maybe there’s some potential there.”

                               

I think from a networking perspective, in terms of growing your business, your professional network, it does a lot in the sense that it allows you to really gravitate towards people who are putting themselves out there, gravitate towards people that align with you, your business, your objectives, and all that sort of stuff. I think when it comes to getting deals across the line, obviously from a deal flow perspective, if you’re quite active, it helps you to generate leads quicker. And in that sense, it’s really good. It can increase your deal flow, like prospective deal flow, really easily.

Chris:                    

Getting new people into the funnel, but not necessarily converting them.

Sally:                     

Yeah, not necessarily closing. But from a closing perspective, what I’m finding with myself as well as other people that I work with is if you’re putting out content, you’re actually, in a weird way, increasing the efficiency in which you, I suppose, warm leads or qualify leads. Because if you’re putting out video content or content in general, and being really vocal about who it is that you are, what you offer, and what you do, what you’re allowing prospective leads to do is qualify themselves and go, “Well, do I align with this person? Do I actually believe they can help me?” So in that sense, you’re not necessarily trying to convince someone that, “Hey, I can help you.” You’re deploying content assets that are going to continue compounding in the background, and they’re always going to be circulating out there, and you’re letting people qualify themselves. And then so from an outreach perspective, you find that there’s a lot more inbound than outbound. I think the sales dynamic has changed a lot there.

Chris:                    

You take the example of one of your videos had 60,000 impressions on it, which took you maybe two minutes to record, let’s say an hour to edit and get up there. What sort of conversion do you get in terms of business coming from that one video?

Sally:                     

Yeah. It’s interesting you ask that because for me, and this is something I’m always trying to explain to people, is particularly from an impressions perspective, we get really excited when we see the videos and stuff with massive views. For myself personally, my business, my brand, the highest converting video assets, if you like, are the ones with less views. So that’s like micro versus macro content. Because typically, if you produce content, say for example, video that tackles macro conversations, very general sort of topics like business or motivation or money and whatnot, that aren’t directly tied to your actual core offering, you’re going to get a macro appeal. So the numbers organically are going to be larger.

                               

But what’s interesting is if I put out micro content that’s very targeted, like I am addressing this to people that are specifically interested in this topic, it performs lower from an organic reach perspective. So instead of 60,000 views, it might only get 10,000, but that’s a high converting piece of content for me because it’s so targeted, if that makes sense. I think that’s something a lot of people, particularly at an enterprise level, need to take into consideration. Because lots of impressions are great. Everyone would agree it’s great for brand, and exposure and what not, and building momentum. But at the end of the day, from a business perspective, that’s not always where the value sits.

Chris:                    

Yeah. Just like with any sort of piece of marketing, one size does not fit all. You’ve still got to know your audience and target that market, don’t you?

Sally:                     

Yeah.

Chris:                    

As I said before, you’ve got a pretty large network on LinkedIn, which is really awesome.

Sally:                     

Sometimes it scares me.

Chris:                    

I noticed you mentioned-

Sally:                     

Why are so many people tuning in?

Chris:                    

… that you’re getting close to breaking the number of connections you can have on LinkedIn yet?

Sally:                     

Yes, I’m pretty much at capacity now. But I’ve got like 16,000 pending connection requests. I can’t accept them. There’s no way. And that keeps growing. I did one thing a couple of months ago and I changed my default button on my profile from connect to follow to try and encourage people to follow instead of connect. Because it’s like, oh, I can’t go through 16,000 connection requests and accept anymore anyway. Yeah, it’s a little bit sort of frustrating. I hope LinkedIn changes that soon.

Chris:                    

Yeah. Why can’t you have more connections? The more the merrier. What other sort of strategies have you used to build this followers, connections, and that sort of thing?

Sally:                     

I think probably one of the biggest things I attribute my growth to from a strategy perspective is actually using the numbers I have available to me to inform my decisions, if that makes sense. I think I look a lot at content, what I refer to as content engagement. That is a massive metric for me. So likes plus comments plus shares as a percentage of total views. I look at that as a, I suppose, immediate impact that I’ve managed to influence or a piece of content. And I treat each piece of content, essentially, as it’s in isolation, as its own asset. So I don’t try and [inaudible 00:14:57] between that piece of content and this piece of content because there’s so many variables when you put out a post. Not every single person is going to see the same pieces of content and so forth. Like you said before, timing’s a big thing. One of my most powerful strategies is using those numbers.

                               

From a content creation perspective, I think definitely trying to stay on brand is really important. It’s easy to get dragged into things or into conversations that you’re like, “Oh, I can really capitalize on that.” But you don’t want to detract too much from your brand and what you’re actually trying to deliver on, which all comes down to your objective at the end of the day. There’s a lot of people that I work with and they just want to build a massive brand, whether it’s because they want to be on a speaking circuit or whatnot. For them, it’s not necessarily about the quality of the followers for their business. It’s just about the social proof behind their profile. For them, it’s really just about volume and just the macro numbers. It doesn’t really matter what’s happening on the back end.

                               

But for me, trying to grow a business, trying to grow lead lists, which a lot of people are, looking at those numbers for every single piece of content and then also looking at the numbers on my profile so profile views, is a big one. And then how that converts over to inbound connection requests or followers because that’s obviously quite indicative of how, I suppose, good you are at influencing people to take action once they get to your profile. So yeah, the numbers are a big one.

Chris:                    

Do you have rules in terms of who you do and don’t connect with? What do you do?

Sally:                     

Yeah. Well, that’s the thing. It’s a hard one. I’ve tried, I suppose… I shouldn’t say I’ve tried multiple different things, but at different times I’ve had a different connection request acceptance approach, if you like. I’ve never tried to explain it before. When I first got started, I wasn’t as selective. I was sort of like, “Okay, cool. I’ll just sort of connect with anyone and everyone.” But at the same time, I still wouldn’t accept every connection requests because there’s… you can really pick out some of the fake profiles and whatnot.

                               

But there’s been, yeah, different scenarios. For example, there’s been scenarios where I’ll target… And when I say target, I mean when I’m reviewing connection requests, I’ll be more focused on a particular industry or a particular profession. For example, I might be like, “Okay. At the moment I’m really targeting people in the TV and media industry.” And I just tried a few different things. Then there’s been other times where I’ve considered, and this is obviously from a really macro level, just brand level and building massive brand presence. This isn’t for backend business.

                               

Then there’s been times where I’ve focused on different locations. Like, okay, at the moment I really want to focus on increasing my footprint in Brazil because I’ve gone and read something about Brazilians on LinkedIn and how many of them are on. And I’m like, “Okay, any connection requests that comes through from Brazil, I will highly consider.” So it’s really weird like that.

                               

Then there’s other things. For example, you know you can see on someone’s LinkedIn profile like their first, second, or third class in terms of how close they are to you from a connection perspective. Then there’s been times where I know I’ll put out some content and I’ll see this massive influx of connection requests from people that are in my third plus degree of connections, which means that the reach is really good because I’m spreading quite far. So I might go, “Okay, I’ll target some of those people to then increase my second order and third order effects in terms of second degree connections.” If that makes sense.

                               

So I try different things. But from a purely business perspective, I think, if you’re just focusing on, for example, leads and stuff like that, you need to be really targeted. But if your strategy with your connections and increasing your reach there is you’re just more so focused on that element from a brand perspective, I think you can afford to test different things like I do and see what happens. But obviously, it all comes back to what are you trying to achieve on LinkedIn at the end of the day.

Chris:                    

Yeah. Fair enough. Let’s spin this idea of new old networking around and think about it from the perspective of an employee within a company. I mean, really, in the current climate of globally dispersed workers who may rarely, if ever, actually shake hands with some of their coworkers, do you think these LinkedIn strategies might work within a company network as well?

Sally:                     

Yeah, I think so. If you look at something like video. How personal is that and how vulnerable are people being? Going back to what I was saying earlier, in terms of prospective leads almost qualifying themselves. Because in business, let’s face it, a lot of it is if we like someone or we feel comfortable around someone or we feel like we can really trust them, that’s really powerful in terms of getting deals across the line and whatnot, in any case. From that perspective, I think it’ll allow… Strategies that I use on LinkedIn and other people are using, especially when it comes to video content and using that as a communications tool to both broadcast communications outwards as well as internally in an organization, broadcasting communications, I suppose more internally focused. But what it allows us to do is really just use technology to connect at a very human level, which can strengthen our connections with one another and so forth. So I think, yes, certainly you can.

Chris:                    

Yeah. What about, so for some employees who, maybe more junior, lower in the company hierarchy, whatever you want to call it. Should they tread a little carefully in trying to reach out to some of the people who are higher up the food chain, if you like, or is the expectation these days that everyone is fair game in terms of connecting at all levels within a company?

Sally:                     

That’s a really interesting question.

Chris:                    

I feel it’s changed a lot over the last 10 or 15 years.

Sally:                     

Yeah. It’s interesting you ask that because my experience in corporate is that, yeah, there’s a lot of hierarchy, there’s politics, you can’t go more than two rungs above you and… You’re right, I think. That scares a lot of people. It’s uncomfortable. I personally believe that works to the detriment of a lot of companies because it just sort of really tarnishes the sentiment in a company. But I think you make a good point. Personally speaking, I’m the type of person where, to me, there is no barrier. I don’t care what your position is. If I really wanted to, for example, get in contact with the president Donald Trump, I’d go for gold. Not saying I’d be successful at it, but I would just try my best to get there.

                               

I’ve done it in a large corporate environment before where I wasn’t supposed to go directly to the top, but for me I was just like, “Well, I’m a person just as much as you are. I want to talk to you, so I’m going to reach out.” I think in that sense there, probably things like LinkedIn and content and how we’re all being, I suppose, more transparent with one another in that sense, I think you make a good point that that’s probably influencing expectations internally, particularly for younger generations.

Chris:                    

I feel like things like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Yammer makes everybody equally accessible to each other. Should there be rules of engagement? If someone is three rungs up, I shouldn’t comment on their Yammer post? That kind of thing.

Sally:                     

I don’t believe so. I really don’t believe so. I think that comes down to personal preference. Because I’m the type of person where it’s like you can have this massive title or you could make so much more money than me or whatever the case may be, but at the end of the day, I’m a person, you’re a person, I’m going to treat you like a person. So I think it really comes down to preference and comfort and how people perceive certain things. I mean, if you’re in the mindset where it’s like, “Okay, well if you know this person’s two rungs above me in a corporate enterprise, then I just believe that my mindset is I can’t talk to them. They’re too far above me.” So I think it comes down to the individual.

Chris:                    

Yeah. I think it’s, maybe, it could almost be an age thing too. Back in my banking days in the ’90s, you’d always have to call some of the senior managers by Mr. Or Mrs., and that sort of thing. We would never even dream of even maybe speaking to them in the corridor, let alone sending them an email or maybe a Yammer post. But these days with the new younger generation coming through, they’re almost like, “Well, why not I? Why can’t I?”

Sally:                     

Yes. Yeah. And look, I think I’m one of those people.

Chris:                    

I think you might be.

Sally:                     

Yeah. That’s where it’s… we’re changing our expectations and that puts a lot of pressure on enterprise. Because large corporates, that’s how they tend to operate. So you’ve got people like me who come in and try and disrupt that and sort of defy, I suppose, corporate hierarchy and so forth, which is, I feel, I don’t feel that worried about it. But for an organization, it can be a massive challenge, because I think a lot of it comes back to culture, really. What is the culture? Is the culture that anyone and everyone can go and talk to each other irrespective of their position in the company? Which comes down to the individuals, at the end of the day, in those positions. Are they willing and able to adapt to that new age culture, if you like?

Chris:                    

I know definitely, a lot of times, we have that culture. From me, coming from externally, having lived in some of the older world cultures in the past, it took me quite a while to understand that I didn’t have to go to my direct manager to talk to the person at his level to-

Sally:                     

To adjust to it. Yeah.

Chris:                    

I could go straight to him because it was all okay and that was the culture that we were building there. It was a real collaborative sort of culture that we were having.

Sally:                     

For you, was that a process of breaking down mental barriers or mental, sort of, frameworks?

Chris:                    

It was. Absolutely. It took a couple of pretty strong conversations with another colleague to say, “Hey, stop doing that. He doesn’t want you to pass everything by him. You can go directly to that other person and have that conversation or make that decision, so stop it.” I was like, “Oh, okay, that was sort of what I was used to in the past, so…”

Sally:                     

I think that’s the future. Particularly if you… You were speaking about before, obviously having teams where people work across the other side of the globe from one another, maybe haven’t necessarily met each other and whatnot. And so I think what’s happening is that, as a result, we are connecting in different ways because we don’t necessarily work in the same office anymore. It’s not a matter of me going and knocking on your door that’s closed. There’s not that physical, tangible barrier. Maybe a lot of it now more so is mindset, but in the process of being so connected to people.

                               

Even if you look at… And I know this comes from the traditional mindset of that corporate hierarchy. “Who can I speak to? Who can I not?” Even some of the people that have reached out to me off the back of my LinkedIn efforts, and reach out to me not necessarily from a business or consultancy perspective, but just person to person. And they’ve got these X global roles at PWC and stuff. That mindset comes over me where I’m like, “Oh, I can’t talk to these people. They’re C-suite of the C-suite and I can’t engage with them.” But it’s about breaking down those barriers and going, “Well, I can. They’re a person, I’m a person.” They’ve reached out to me and personally want to connect with me offline, off of LinkedIn. And I need to embrace that and really own it and get rid of those limiting beliefs and those barriers in my mind that I could never talk to someone that’s higher up.

Chris:                    

Technology plays a huge part in this idea of new world networking. Sometimes it feels a little bit shallow. Do you think that technology could do more to help create more meaningful, longer-lasting, mutually beneficial connections?

Sally:                     

I think so. I think one of the challenges when it comes to building longer-lasting, more meaningful relationships online is that… And again, this is probably just a mindset thing, a perception issue is, I suppose… A lot of what happens on social media and what we see on social media can feel, and a lot of it actually is, superficial. I think that’s a big challenge. Particularly, for example, if you look at something like LinkedIn where there’s a lot of people on there now who are trying to build massive brands. What happens is the meaning of actually connecting with someone is not what it maybe once was before.

                               

I speak to people who’ve been on LinkedIn twice as long, three times as long as I have, and how they perceive even just a functional technical connection on LinkedIn is so much different to how I perceive it. So I think that’s a challenge at the end of the day because how we behave towards one another online, how we perceive one another, that’s changing in comparison to what it used to be. You look at things like LinkedIn. Some people I know through LinkedIn that are also building brands. What happens is they are very much losing meaning of what it actually means to build a meaningful brand and connect with people and it’s becoming this political landscape. It’s becoming this superficial landscape and, “Oh, you’re just a follower. For as long as you’re a follower and engaging with me, I’ll support you. But as soon as you stopped supporting me in the online arena, we don’t have that meaningful connection anymore.”

                               

I think it comes down to us as individuals to have that responsibility to decide from a character perspective, a morals perspective, what does that actually mean to us in terms of how we connect with people online and how do we bring and add value to that in the offline world, which is still so incredibly important. You can’t just survive online. You’ve got to bring those connections offline, so they are longterm and they are meaningful, like you said.

Chris:                    

That brings me nicely to my next question. We’ve spoken a lot about technology, but maybe, as you’re saying, at some stage you’ve got to take it into the offline world. In a virtual network, you might find them in a real world situation where they’re actually shaking the hand of someone who they’ve only ever met online. And I can imagine that for some, and maybe mostly for the younger generation who do live a lot more of their life relying on technology, that face to face next step can be quite nerve-racking. How can we help them take that next step? Going from online to offline?

Sally:                     

Yeah. For me, it’s interesting. My personal experience is I’ve always been… I’ve always been sort of shy, believe it or not. But at the same time, sort of courageous in that sense that I’ll meet anyone. So when I first got started with LinkedIn, god, was I nervous. For the first time ever, I was really, at a mass level, connecting with people online. Then I’d start to make these LinkedIn connections offline, and yeah, it can be a bit nerve-racking. You worry about what will they think. I think a lot of it just comes down to, for me, I’ve been really committed to, yes, build online, but I need to also keep the, I suppose, keep making it human, keep connecting with people offline. It’s overcoming that fear.

                               

The way I look at it, and this is where I think a lot of it comes down to your individual perception, why you’re doing it. Why are you connecting with a lot of people online? Why would you even bother engaging in social media? What does that mean to you in your life and your business and your career? For me, that’s been really important, so I sort of have to force myself to overcome a lot of that discomfort. Even you and I, we met through LinkedIn. And every single time I’m like, “Okay, I’m meeting someone that I’ve spoken to online or via email or off the back of online,” and it can feel a bit nerve-racking.

                               

But I think it’s just a matter of reminding yourself that, well, if I’m not connecting with… You probably don’t have the capacity to meet with everyone you talk to online. But if I’m not actually connecting with these people offline, what does that actually mean at the end of the day? Where’s the humanness in that connection? Where’s the value at the end of the day? Because how we engage with one another online is limited and it’s restricted.

                               

And going back to the word superficial, sometimes it can feel superficial. I’ve even said to a good friend of mine before… Something as simple as responding to comments on LinkedIn posts. I might put out a piece of content, it gets a ton of comments, and I’m responding. And I said to a friend the other week, I said, “Sometimes I get a little bit sick of just responding to all these comments because it feels robotic to me. I’d prefer if all of these people, we were all in the same room, and I could thank them all for their compliments or their thanks to me. Because when I do it in the form of a comment, it feels robotic, and I don’t want it to feel robotic.”

                               

I think from, in terms of taking those connections offline, it’s just reminding yourself, what does it actually mean to have connections online in the first place. And if you’re not connecting with those people offline when you can and where it aligns for both parties, then what’s the value at the end of the day?

Chris:                    

I think, at the end of the day, we are humans and we are made to love and feel senses and feelings and all that sort of stuff and you just can’t get all of that in the online world.

Sally:                     

Have you heard the notion that… I’ve heard people say it a lot, particularly over the last couple of months, is that we’re more connected than we’ve ever been, but we feel more alone.

Chris:                    

Yes, I have. Yeah, absolutely.

Sally:                     

I think it’s because we start to feel like numbers. We’re just another follower, we’re just another profile.

Chris:                    

I think someone once said to me, “You’ve got 500, let’s call it Facebook friends. How many of those friends would you actually have over to your house for dinner?” 10 maybe.

Sally:                     

It is shocking.

Chris:                    

What does it mean? We’re connected to them, but are they really friends?

Sally:                     

Yeah. That’s the challenge. Because there’s a lot that can be achieved by connecting with people online, but how do you keep it as human as possible? That’s a challenge. [inaudible 00:32:35] find it challenging. And I always remind myself, exactly with the comments situation, I hate it when it feels robotic because it scares me almost that it feels that robotic when I sit there and go… Okay, I’m still amazed every single day that there are 50…. I was amazed when there was 5,000 people following me on LinkedIn. I was amazed when there was 10,000. Now there’s 50,000 and I know it’s going to keep growing. So that still amazes me every day. It makes me feel good and it’s an honor in a sense.

                               

But I hate the idea of that feeling robotic, of that feeling like they’re not actually people. And that’s a fear I have. So it’s like, well, what can I do every single day to try and keep that as human as possible?And I don’t have all the answers. The best shot I can give it is talk to people beyond comments where I can. Meet people offline because I never want it to feel robotic.

Chris:                    

I think to wrap all this stuff up, we’re saying that new world networking is fantastic, it’s very powerful, it’s very effective, but maybe that old world networking isn’t quite dead after all.

Sally:                     

No, I don’t think so.

Chris:                     [crosstalk 00:33:43].

Sally:                     

Yeah, I don’t think so. I would hate that if it was. I love having conversations offline.

Chris:                    

Where would we be without long lunches for business deals?

Sally:                     

Yeah, exactly.

Chris:                    

Not that that happens that much anymore, but there’s still a time and place.

Sally:                     

What is it now? It’s all Zoom calls.

Chris:                    

Yeah. Well, Sally, look, thank you very much for joining me. You’re a busy person and I appreciate the time that you’ve given us to sort of talk about this idea of new world networking. It’s absolutely fascinating and you are just an absolute testament of how successful you can be when you put your heart and soul into it. You’re very passionate about what you’re doing and you’re doing some great things. I just want to say thanks a lot for joining us today.

Sally:                     

Thanks, Chris, I appreciate it. I really enjoyed this chat. It’s probably the deepest I’ve ever gone [inaudible 00:34:23] in terms of really opening up about it.

Chris:                    

What can I say? I’m a great interviewer.

Sally:                      Y

eah. Thank you so much.

Chris:                    

Thanks.

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