I had the pleasure of interviewing Networking expert Kelly Hoey. Her career story is one transformation, and can only be explained by her unique ability to tap into networks and make valuable connections. Kelly is the author of Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships In A Hyper-Connected World (described by best-selling author and management expert Tom Peters as a “revolutionary guide to getting things done”).
Kelly has been lauded from Forbes (“1 of 5 Women Changing the World of VC/Entrepreneurship”) to Fast Company (“1 of the 25 Smartest Women On Twitter”) to Business Insider (“1 of the 100 Most Influential Tech Women On Twitter”) and Inc. (“1 of the 10 Most Well-Connected People in New York City’s Startup Scene”). EBW 2020 included her on their list of the “100 Most Influential Global Leaders Empowering Women Worldwide”.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Quite simply, I finally realized that a skill set that came intuitively to me, was my “super-power” and rather than continuing to ignore that, I should focus all my energy on building a business around that specific skill-set.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
When my publisher asked me to prepare an author’s questionnaire for the marketing of my book “Build Your Dream Network”, their reaction was shock as they had never seen such a thorough and detailed marketing outline from an author. The publicist I ultimately hired for the promotion and launch of my book (Bri Halverson at Orange PRM) had a similar reaction — and wondered why on earth I imagined I needed a publicist. My response: because of all the things I don’t know.
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?
Not sure it is funny, but when I finally reached out to my network to tell them I was writing a book on networking, the reaction was universally “thank god! We’ve been waiting for you to do this!”. Pay attention to your network and don’t be afraid to crowdsource work ideas from them. They just may know you more than you know yourself.
How did you scale your business to profitability? How long did it take? Please share the steps you took.
I’m two years into this business of being a published author. Beyond my advice to build your network before you start your business, is to be willing to try new things to grow your business. Best selling author Gretchen Rubin gave me some priceless marketing advice when my book was coming out. She said “marketing a book is like cooking spaghetti, you’ve got to be willing to toss ideas out there to see what sticks.” I think about that everyday.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I write for Forbes and GO Banking Rates. Based on what I learned working with Bri, I pitch stories regularly to other media outlets and publications. What’s exciting is how the ideas and opportunities keep coming. Plus I love passing on what I’ve learned from publishing and marketing my book to others.
Based on your personal experience, what advice would you give to young people considering a career in PR?
Ramp up your curiosity dial and spend a lot of time researching the people you’re pitching on behalf of your clients. You want your emails to solve someone’s problem or spark a “wow, I never knew that” not simply landing as more generic pitch noise in their inbox. And challenge your clients to come up with new ideas! One of the things I loved about working with Bri, was she’d really push me to think of new and novel story ideas.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
The real key to networking is being a great listener. Listen and observe more whether that is IRL or online. Networking is problem-solving. If you listen more, you’ll find more ways to help others (and in doing so, get the opportunities you’re seeking to).
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I recommend Katharine Graham’s biography “Personal History” all the time. Sometimes life throws opportunities and situations in front of us when we feel the least prepared — and when that happens, you have the chance to live up to your full potential.
Because of the role you play, 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?
Mentoring. No one ever goes it alone. We all get help along the way from other people. Just think what we could accomplish if we chose to proactively support and mentor others in their career pursuits?
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.
- Your career will unfold as it should. I was far to anxious in my 20’s about the pace of my career and I realize now that comparing my progress to others was a waste of time. I may just have enjoyed those early career years more if I’d simply stayed focused on my own personal growth and career needs.
- One bad experience doesn’t need to be more than one bad experience. I bombed at public speaking when I was in law school. I found the whole experience so awful that i refused any opportunity to use my voice for 14 years.
- Build a yes-me fund. I really started putting money aside when I decided to make my first career change back in 2001/2002. In hindsight, I wish I’d started creating a “yes-me” fund earlier (i.e. an account that would let me quit my job and pursue new opportunities versus my retirement savings). Having the funds to pursue your own venture or change careers is extremely powerful.
- Think outside the box. A few roles I had came with big responsibilities (and high expectations) and zero resources. To accomplish what I’d been tasked to do I had to make do with the limited resources I had on hand. Wishing I had more time or more budget or more staff was not the answer, getting wildly imaginative within the constraints of my current situation, was.
- Careers are a marathon, not a sprint. I’ve always loved working but early on I had a tendency to over do it. I missed out on things and didn’t take the time to tune into my needs by tuning out work. To ensure my career stamina remains high, I say no more now than I ever did before.