Insert Yourself Into Trending Topics. When I post on LinkedIn, I always think about what is trending and how that can connect with my message. I recently posted about AAAIM’s marquee national conference and connected it to #fijiwatergirl!
As part of my series of interviews about “How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Grace Reyes, one of the most prominent voices in finance when it comes to promoting diversity and gender balance in the investment management industry. As the President of the Association of Asian American Investment Managers (AAAIM), a non-profit organization featuring seasoned and rising investment managers that handle over $1T AUM collectively, Grace helps Emerging Managers get access to the largest institutional investors. Over the past decade she has formed a close rapport with an array of industry leaders and prominent investors — relationships that have helped her bring awareness to this personal and professional mission as she leads and drives growth for AAAIM. Grace’s message is further amplified through her top 1% investment management profile on LinkedIn where she engages with 13,000+ followers sharing selfies and conversations with some of the industry’s best-known investors. Grace’s previous experience includes time as the Head of Investor Relations & Fundraising at The Reliant Group, a real estate private equity firm with $2B in assets under management. Most recently before joining AAAIM, she worked on the corporate and business development team at Switchfly, a travel-tech firm, reporting to the Executive suite. Grace is also the Founder and Co-Host of goodtimesSF, San Francisco’s largest investment networking happy hour. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics with a Computer Specialization from the University of California, Los Angeles and an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
A bit of luck and also hard work! After a few jobs in the investment industry, I landed my dream position at a real estate private equity firm. As the head of fundraising, I was always out networking and wanted to find a more efficient way to connect with industry leaders and investors without having to go out every night. I decided to host happy hour events to bring people together and called it goodtimesSF, because I think networking should be something enjoyable and fun! GoodtimesSF took off and became the largest investment happy hour in San Francisco. Co-hosting these events connected me to some amazing individuals including David Kushner, a former Chief Investment Officer who served on two US public pension plans.
Fast forward five years, after leaving the private equity firm for grad school at UC Berkeley and doing a stint at a startup, I continued to keep in touch with my network of contacts and it was at this time that I heard from David regarding the position as President of AAAIM. He suggested I look into it. To be honest, at first, I pushed back. Me? Working for a non-profit? No thanks. You see, I grew up from very humble beginnings in the south side of Stockton. I remember watching Pretty Women and being fascinated with Richard Gere — of course by his looks, but also his career. (That was my first exposure to how private equity works.) As such, all I ever wanted to do was get out in the real world and work in finance. Working for a non-profit was not in the books and if you were to tell me when I was younger that I would be working for a non-profit, I would have never believed you.
However, the more I looked into AAAIM’s mission and this position, the more I realized how much it aligned with not only my skills and talent but my values and what I cherish most in my life — time with my son, Jayden. My work with AAAIM enables me to leverage my broad investor network while furthering a positive message of diversity and gender balance in our field. And while I travel a lot for work, it’s on my schedule. I appreciate the great work-life balance.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
There are many interesting things to share! I get a lot of views on my LinkedIn posts, sometimes up to 50,000 or 100,000. This has enabled me to participate in some amazing experiences, partnering with organizations which have brought me to events, sometimes across the world! I love broadening my horizons, meeting new business leaders and how LinkedIn has been a channel to help make these connections. I recognize the importance of my words on LinkedIn and the businesses I work with and really focus now on the message I want to get across in all of my posts.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I first started out I was traveling A LOT for work and it took me a while to get used to. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, thinking I was at home and bumping into things. Sometimes hard! I might hit a lamp or a cabinet and the next day I’d wake up with a bruise from sleep walking. I’ve learned over the years that helping prioritize rest and doing something calm and relaxing before sleep can help to cut down on night waking and any feelings of being disoriented!
Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?
My niche is working with institutional investors and for this reason LinkedIn is absolutely the social media of choice to reach this audience. Using LinkedIn as a channel where I can spread the word about AAAIM’s work and mission has been instrumental in helping us double our corporate membership. AAAIM has always had a strong value proposition and mission statement along with a prominent Board of Directors, Advisory Board and a prestigious member network. Social media has been a tool for me to bring light and exposure to all of this and for the investment industry to see the power of AAAIM through the posts that I share. We get a great amount of inbound inquiries through LinkedIn.
In the end it’s about leveraging social media as a means for networking and promoting your work. Visibility brings awareness and awareness is one of the strongest tools for supporting all kinds of growth.
Let’s talk about LinkedIn specifically, now. Can you share 5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.
By Building Credibility. People want to know that you’re worth their time and sometimes you have to prove it. In my case I could talk a big talk about having a prominent network of investment professionals but can I back it up? I do this by sharing selfies and behind the scenes insight from my meetings with notable people.
By Showing Authenticity. I think it’s of the utmost importance to always be genuine and authentic — your real self, and I say your funniest self, are always your best self. People respond to authenticity plain and simple.
By Inserting Yourself Into Trending Topics. When I post on LinkedIn, I always think about what is trending and how that can connect with my message. I recently posted about AAAIM’s marquee national conference and connected it to #fijiwatergirl!
By Being Relatable. I don’t keep my LinkedIn exclusive just to professional. For example, I made a post about my son and how he got the attention of a basketball star. Presenting a wholistic self makes you relatable and more engaging! To stay appropriate for LinkedIn, when I do share personal items, I like to turn it back to how it might connect or represent a professional message as well. For example, I recently shared about how I disconnected on a trip to Cuba to re-energize for 2019.
By Engaging with your Audience. There’s no question that social media is one of the most powerful channels to connect with your audience. Consistency is important and speaking in a direct voice to your followers produces the best dialogue.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My personal and professional mission is to inspire ethnic and gender diversity within the investment industry. Thinking bigger, I do hope that the efforts that I work on day in and day out with AAAIM have a rippling effect beyond the investment industry and to all parts of our country’s workforce.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I’m fortunate that through my work and role at AAAIM, I have access to many of the biggest names in the investment industry. So, for this opportunity I would have to say that I would love, love, love to have a brunch with Tina Fey and Trevor Noah. (Can I pick two?) They’re hilarious as it is — I can only imagine how much funnier they would be after a few rounds of mimosas. Cheers, Tina & Noah! Let me know time and day works for you and I’ll be there…
Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!
Thank you for having me!