How can you nurture your professional relationships and expand your network?
In the latest episode of the Happier at Work podcast we were joined by Career and Executive Coach Fay Wallis. Fay shares invaluable insights on the impact of personal connections and the importance of being known within your industry. She emphasises the concept that “it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you,” and provide practical examples of how to leverage networking for career advancement.
Fay shares a model of three essential networks to pay attention to: personal, internal work, and external professional. Fay also emphasises the importance of nurturing relationships in networking, giving and taking, and providing small touchpoints for relationship building.
We both share our personal experiences with overcoming fears of visibility and public speaking, emphasising the importance of taking small, gradual steps to build confidence in these areas.
Furthermore, we discussed the impact of social media on interpersonal connections and the value of networking, particularly on LinkedIn, for professional growth and career opportunities.
If you’re looking to expand your professional network and bolster your career prospects, this episode is a must-listen.
The main points throughout this podcast include:
- “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you”.
- Practical examples of how to leverage networking for career advancement.
- A model of three essential networks to pay attention to: personal, internal work, and external professional.
- The importance of nurturing relationships in networking, giving and taking, and providing small touchpoints for relationship building.
- The impact of social media on interpersonal connections and the value of networking for professional growth and career opportunities.
Connect with Fay
HR Planner page: https://brightskycareercoaching.co.uk/2023-hr-planner/
Do you have any feedback or thoughts on this discussion? If so, please connect with Aoife via the links below and let her know. Aoife would love to hear from you!
Connect with Happier at Work host Aoife O’Brien:
Aoife O’Brien [00:00:02]:
Faye, you’re so welcome to the Happier at Work podcast. I’m delighted to have you as my guest today. Do you want to let your let listeners know a little bit about you, your background, and how you got to where you are?
Fay Wallis [00:00:14]:
Absolutely. Well, first of all, I’m delighted to be here. Thank you so much for having me, Aoife. I’ve been a long term long term long time fan of the show, so it’s great to be here. And as far as who I am, I’m Faye Wallace. My business is Bright Sky Career Coaching. Before becoming a career and executive coach, I spent most of my career working in HR and recruitment. When I became a coach, I then worked with people across all professions.
Fay Wallis [00:00:42]:
But since creating some specific resources for HR professionals, Like, I have a podcast as well, HR coffee time, and I have a resource called the HR planner for helping people set and stick to their career goals throughout the year. I’ve found that I’ve attracted more and more HR people coming towards me to ask for support and coaching. So that is the type of profession I tend to support the most now.
Aoife O’Brien [00:01:07]:
Brilliant. Love it. And I know that there’s a lot of HR listeners on my podcast as well, so I’m sure they can benefit from your expertise and from your experience and I know for me, I have downloaded the HR tool even though it’s probably not directly, target it at me? But I’ve downloaded it, and I have had a quick look through it, but I haven’t sat down properly. When I’m doing my 2024 planning, I’ll be like, okay. This will be one resource that I can use to really have a think about? I you know, just because I’m self employed, let’s say. Just because I’m an entrepreneur doesn’t mean I don’t have a career. I need to think about these things as well. So Faye, I know we had talked before about maybe covering the topic of networking and how to use networking to successfully build your career? What do you see as the big challenges associated with it?
Fay Wallis [00:01:58]:
Oh, gosh. I guess there are several challenges associated with networking. First of all, I would say, yes. I wholeheartedly agree with what you just said, which is Networking can really help your career. And I’ve realized that more and more and more as my life has progressed, I suppose, and I’ve seen how many people have supported me on the way with my career, but also with all of my coaching clients, Especially the ones who are in very senior roles. If you ask any of them how they got to where they were, at some point in their story, they’ll say I had help, And it was from someone within my network. And I’ve just realized I forgot what the actual question was I’ve just gone into talking about how much I think it’s brilliant and how it works.
Aoife O’Brien [00:02:44]:
The question let’s bring it back to the question. I just gonna make a note of this, for the video, for the editing.
Fay Wallis [00:02:52]:
Aoife O’Brien [00:02:53]:
No. No. No. No stress at all. It’s re yeah. The some of the challenges. So I know that there’s there’s a lot of people out there who find networking or maybe networking the term has a bad reputation or people kind of think it’s a bit of a cringey thing or that you show up at an event, and it’s a bit scary to introduce yourself to new people, so you stick to the people that you know. And you have a chat with them, and you feel like you’ve done good because you’ve gone out and you’ve got out of the house and you’ve gone to an event, but actually it hasn’t had any results for you because you haven’t spoken to anyone new.
Aoife O’Brien [00:03:27]:
So what are some of the challenges that you would see then with with networking?
Fay Wallis [00:03:32]:
There are lots of challenges. I would say The first challenge is people just hate the idea of doing anything that feels like it’s gonna be contrived, and they’re just out there to get something for themselves, and they feel like it can be this horrible, icky, insincere thing? I think also some people don’t really believe that it works? And they think, well, everyone talks about networking, but I don’t really need that. I have a job, and hopefully, they’re happy in that role. And I’m so busy in this role. I haven’t got time to be thinking about things like networking. So as a very first step, I think it’s helpful to Address those perhaps misconceptions about what networking really is as well as a reassurance that it is going to help, And there definitely is a point in doing it.
Aoife O’Brien [00:04:22]:
Yeah. And if I I suppose if I cast my mind back to my corporate say is the only networking we re if I you know, the or how I would associate networking is when we as an organization ran events or if it if I went along to an industry based event as well, like showing up at those things. And, you know, if I if I think back, there was one time that one of the senior managers in the team couldn’t make it to this event, and I went along with another one of the senior managers felt so completely out of place talk about impostor syndrome? And you’re kind of hobnobbing, for want of a better word, with all of these other people who you perceive to be, quote, unquote, better than you you know, you have this perception that you’re in the wrong place. And I know that the it was a, the person I went with was a man. So he was a senior leader within within the business that I worked in? And I’m sure he just kind of went off and said, I know who I want to talk to. I know what it is that I want to get from this session and I know what to say and I know what to do. Whereas I was kinda drifting from person to person, saw 1 person that I recognized, and I always remember people? That’s the the kind of difficulty. If I’ve met someone before and I know their face, I’ll remember them.
Aoife O’Brien [00:05:41]:
But sometimes people don’t remember who I am, and I forget that. And and so I started talking, and he was sort of like, oh, did we work together, like, you know, 10 years ago or whatever? So yeah. Sorry. I just rambled on on a completely slightly related topic. But I I suppose it’s that is maybe what people think that networking is do you wanna talk a little bit more about in in your experience or the experience of your clients as well, some of the examples of of what networking is?
Fay Wallis [00:06:14]:
Absolutely. But first of all, I need to say how impressed that you remember everybody? I wish that I did. I I definitely don’t find it easy to always remember subtly who someone is? So, yes, as a tip to you, as someone who is brilliant at remembering people, definitely a good idea to remind them of, Who you are. Who I am. And met before.
Aoife O’Brien [00:06:36]:
Yeah. Exactly. And I have made that mistake when I first came back to Ireland after having lived abroad for about seven and a half years. Someone who I had previously worked with in London was heading up one of the businesses that I wanted to work in in Ireland? And I reached out to him on the assumption that he knew who I was. But in retrospect, I never got a reply, by the way, and so I just assumed he was rude or you know, it never really occurred to me that he he may not remember who I was because we had worked together. S but it just goes to show, I think you do need to take that time to remind people how they know you. And it was years later that I realized I was like, oh, maybe he s He didn’t actually remember who I was. I should have introduced myself because interestingly, someone else from that business, but who was working in a a different location, reached speech out to me and said, oh, you should apply for a job in in that place? And I was like, oh, that’s interesting because I never heard anything back from the guy, you know? Anyway, I will let you continue, Faye.
Fay Wallis [00:07:36]:
That’s such a good point though about the reminding people who you are, and it makes me think of LinkedIn and networking thing on LinkedIn when you can send connection requests to people? And I had a similar experience to you, Aoife, with that person. I sent a connection request to someone who I worked with, oh my gosh. More than 20 years ago now. That makes me feel like I’m getting old. But, I was so surprised when she didn’t accept my connection request, And it was only after I thought about it afterwards, I thought, she probably has no idea who I am because I was really junior, and she was quite senior.
Aoife O’Brien [00:08:11]:
Fay Wallis [00:08:11]:
was only in that organization for a short period of time, so she’s probably thinking, who is this random person sending me a connection request? So I guess within this broader theme of networking that we’re talking about today, LinkedIn is something that I think is an incredible tool your to networking. So it’s good advice from there as well for when you’re sending connection requests.
Aoife O’Brien [00:08:32]:
Definitely. And and again, like, this has kinda sprung a memory from someone who I worked with in Australia. We would have done some training together. And LinkedIn at that stage was probably relatively in its infancy? I remember when I first signed up, it was when I lived in London and only 1 other person in my organization. And I’ll let you know a little secret, Faye. It was someone I didn’t really like that much, so I didn’t connect with him on LinkedIn. So yeah. I sent her a connection request, still relatively new, and and she replied and said, we don’t know each other that well, so I’m not going to accept it.
Aoife O’Brien [00:09:08]:
S and I just think how things have evolved now on on LinkedIn. You know? Like, I receive random requests from people without even a message? And if if I think that their headline looks interesting or that we could be collaborators or that their businesses interesting or that they might find my business interesting? Then I’ll happily connect with that person. You know?
Fay Wallis [00:09:31]:
Oh, absolutely. It has Definitely really changed. But I I’ve taken you off on a tangent down LinkedIn. You asked
Aoife O’Brien [00:09:39]:
me Exactly. Yeah. Yeah.
Fay Wallis [00:09:41]:
You asked me if I talk about what networking is. And I suppose the way that I would define it is to say it’s about building and maintaining relationships. Because I think when you think of it like that, it feels far less icky and uncomfortable and horrible. In fact, it feels much more of a human natural thing to Do because everyone can build relationships. All of us has got relationships.
Aoife O’Brien [00:10:06]:
Fay Wallis [00:10:06]:
it’s only a handful of people that we’re close to, we have got that handful of people. So it shows that we have all got the skills to network even if we’re doubting ourselves and thinking, oh, I just don’t think I can do it. Well, I’ll challenge anyone who’s feeling like that into saying you absolutely can. So Yeah. On a very broad level, that’s what I would describe it
Aoife O’Brien [00:10:27]:
Fay Wallis [00:10:28]:
Yeah. When it becomes particularly effective though is when you are intentional about it, and you do make sure that you’re doing that nurturing part as well? So being a little bit strategic and planned about thinking about your network thinking, are there people that I would benefit from seeing if I could add them to my network in real life as much as on LinkedIn? And, Actually, am I doing a good enough job of looking after the relationships that I do have?
Aoife O’Brien [00:10:55]:
Fay Wallis [00:10:56]:
Where everyone is so busy, it’s really easy to lose sight of those 2 things?
Aoife O’Brien [00:11:00]:
Mhmm. Yeah. Yeah. For me, I think that’s something where I fall down a little bit in in some ways. But you know what? I I used to be really good at the personal maintaining of relationships, sending WhatsApps, connecting with people, keeping in touch. Stand recently whether it’s a sense of overwhelm, whether I’m just too busy, and I don’t really like using that word. But just getting on top of things, it’s it’s, when I send that message and someone replies, then it’s like, oh, now now there’s an obligation to reply again and get into a kind of a conversation, which takes time as well? But I was always one of those people who who was kind of nurturing my personal relationships. Probably didn’t do it in an intentional strategic way for business, certainly when I was in corporate, but it’s definitely something that I could work on.
Aoife O’Brien [00:11:50]:
Any insights around how to nurture those relationships whether it’s using tools like LinkedIn or or something else?
Fay Wallis [00:11:58]:
Yeah. And, again, I’m sure that so many people listening will be able stew relate to what you just said, Aoife? I definitely feel like I used to find it easier to maintain those personal relationships in a real quality in-depth way, Whether that is by sending messages or meeting up with someone for dinner or having a chat with them on the phone, it feels weird that now there are so many ways we can Be connected to each other, but I feel like a lot of that depth of connection isn’t quite there so much anymore. I said To a friend the other day, gosh. I feel so terrible. I never call any of my friends on the phone anymore. It’s all just voice notes or WhatsApps. And she said, Oh my goodness. I didn’t think anyone talks to their friends on the phone anymore, Faye.
Fay Wallis [00:12:39]:
And I thought, wow. You know, times have changed. I’m sure that’s not true for everything everyone, But times have changed so much.
Aoife O’Brien [00:12:46]:
Fay Wallis [00:12:47]:
And so staying in touch with your network definitely doesn’t have to mean making sure that you’re spending really lovely quality time with people? Although for people who are in your inner network, your friends and family and people you do want to spend a lot of time with, Not because they could help your career, but just generally anyway, then I would really encourage everyone to try and make that little bit of an effort. Some of the things you can do To make an effort with people who really do matter to you, you can take some of those learnings and apply them to the business world as well. So, For example, a couple of friends that I have, whenever I’ve seen them, at the end of the night, I’ll say, right. Let’s get our next date in the calendar for when we’re going to meet up, Even if it’s not going to be 4 months, 6 months, because then I know it will happen. So taking that kind of approach when you’re talk taking that kind of approach when you’re thinking about networking on a broader level can also be useful? So if I’ve spoken to someone who I think, oh, that was a really good conversation, I can really see how professionally maybe we’re going to be able to support each other going forward, or I’d love to stay in touch with them because They feel like they could be a bit of a mentor to me or maybe I could support them. You can approach this from so many different angles. Then again, thinking at the end of that conversation saying, it has been so nice to speak to you today. I would love to stay in touch.
Fay Wallis [00:14:08]:
Shall we put a time in the diary for another call? And in fact Aoife, I’m going to say that to you at the end of our time together today because it’s just so lovely chatting to you.
Aoife O’Brien [00:14:15]:
Brilliant. I love that. For anyone listening today, we have an hour scheduled to record the podcast? But I think we spent the 1st 25 minutes just having a catch up, and we’re certainly gonna continue our chat after we finish recording the podcast. When myself and Faye get together, we can solve the world’s problems. It’s absolutely brilliant. Faye, I love I love that as a tip. Let’s get the the next date in the calendar. One thing I kind of that occurred to me as you were talking is this idea of how how there are so many options to connect now? And that is driving more disconnection than ever, basically.
Aoife O’Brien [00:14:51]:
There’s just no other way to say that, and it’s something that’s been really, occurring to me lately? I think as someone who used to probably way more regularly post on Facebook, I would be the person checking in and sharing all of my photos and which is lovely because now all the stuff is popping up in my memories and and things like that. But I think we’ve almost replaced that broadcasting as a two way relationship? And and really the crooks of networking is more about that two way relationship rather than the broadcasting sting out? But it sort of feels like, well, I posted that on Facebook, therefore, all my friends know about that already. Or I posted that on LinkedIn, and therefore, my network knows say this thing when it’s not necessarily the case that that’s happening? But maybe we perceive that we’ve put ourselves out there in some way that we’re connecting, but actually there’s a massive disconnect between that, you know, 1 to 1 type of relationship. And and maybe we can talk about that because what I’m finding actually is that maybe a lot of fears exist around the one to many, and you’re entering into an event, for example or you’re joining an online event where there’s many people, and the scary thing is that that those people maybe know each other already and you’re you’re the new person that’s join in. What I’m finding is, and I want to do a lot more of this in in 2024, is the one to ones. Like, actually catching up with someone 1 to 1, human to human and really get to know how can we support each other in our lives? And and, you know, work is a huge part of of your life, basically. So any any thoughts on on any of those things that I that I shared in relation to social media, the kind of broadcasting, the one to many versus the one to 1?
Fay Wallis [00:16:35]:
Yeah. Absolutely. So as far as broadcasting, I’m gonna bring it back to LinkedIn again. I’m a bit of a LinkedIn geek. I’m not on there 20 I’m not on there 24 hours a day, but I just think it’s such a fantastic tool. And I’ve seen so many of my clients really reap the benefits of being active on LinkedIn. Yeah. And we can’t possibly have these really high quality, high intense touch points with everybody within our network.
Fay Wallis [00:17:02]:
Often, it’s people that we’re actually only loosely connected to that end up helping us in our career, and we’d never expect them to? It’s just sort of the way that fate plays out, and there’s research that proves that that’s true as well. There’s this concept of weak ties, Which is people that you are connected to, but you may not even know them. They may know someone who knows you. And, of course, the power with LinkedIn is that if you post or you share an update about your work? People you’re connected to are the 1st people who will see that post. If they start engaging with it and liking it and sing or well done? Then people who they’re connected to but you’re not connected to, so your 2nd degree connections, will start being shown that content as well. And it’s amazing how people can start to get to know some things about you professionally, not necessarily from a personal perspective just from having a more active presence on LinkedIn. And I need to be careful not to just spend the whole of our time together today talking about LinkedIn. But, again, I’ve just seen it have such powerful results for some of my clients.
Fay Wallis [00:18:04]:
I had 1 person who’d say to me, oh my gosh. You know, I just can’t seem to get this really senior level role, but I want to get it. It’s so frustrating. There seem to be hardly any roles Advertised. I’m just not getting through on final interview. I’m so disheartened. Just tell me what she said to me. Just tell me What to do, Faye? And I’ll do it.
Fay Wallis [00:18:26]:
And I said, well, I can tell you what to do, but I don’t know if you’re gonna like it. Like, lots of people just don’t do it. So are you sure? And she said, yes. I will do whatever you tell me. And I said, okay. Fine. You need to start posting on LinkedIn. And I expected her to go, oh, no.
Fay Wallis [00:18:41]:
I can’t possibly because it it does feel uncomfortable Well, if you’re not used to doing it. Yeah. I I remember feeling physically sick when I first put posts on LinkedIn because you feel very vulnerable and Yeah. Exposing even if you’re just putting something very professional on that?
Aoife O’Brien [00:18:54]:
Fay Wallis [00:18:54]:
So, I set her a challenge and said, just post on LinkedIn once a week. It can be about a work creative thing or about what you think about work or an event you’re going to at work or it hasn’t got to be anything really personal or really exposing. Just send it to me so I can see the post, and I’ll support it. Anyway, she got her job because people in her network started seeing how active she was on there. And what that means is that when a recruiter or someone internally is saying, who who does anyone know who could fill that role if Half the people in that room have been seeing your post pop up in their feed week after week. You’re just the 1st person they think of. It’s incredible. It’s like magic.
Fay Wallis [00:19:38]:
You know? Yeah. Being in mind counts for an awful lot. So she wasn’t having really high-depth quality see interactions with all of these people? But they noticed her, and I’m just so, a, relieved that I gave her that advice and it worked. And, b, just, like, so thrilled for her that she has this role she absolutely loves. And it was her network that was able to guess it for her without her even having to pick up a phone to anyone or message anyone directly. It was just from making herself that bit more visible to her network and making sure I also said to her, you have to connect with Everyone you have ever worked with and everyone who you’ve ever met professionally so that they’ll be seeing your posts as well.
Aoife O’Brien [00:20:23]:
Yeah. Yeah. I think some really solid advice, and I think a lot of people don’t know that roles are not necessarily advertised. So if you’re finding exactly, like, Faye, your your client the issue that that she had, that roles are not being advertised or that you’re getting to the kind of the final few? And it seems like there’s not much out there? It’s probably because the roles at that level are not being advertised that they’re actually being recruited just through people’s networks. Like, do you know anyone for this? Because I was gonna say, like, advertising is sort of the last resort. I wouldn’t say it’s the last resort, but, like, people are definitely going to try and go down a more cost effective route by getting, internal referrals and internal recommendations before they they start looking externally as well? Or, like, I don’t mean looking externally, but rather starting to advertise publicly that the role is available? That if they can if they can fill a role without having to advertise it, then it’s gonna save them a good bit of money?
Fay Wallis [00:21:25]:
Absolutely. It’s human nature. If you even think if you have to get anything done in your home, You don’t necessarily want to just go online and have a look at who the local builder is or who the local electrician is. You want a personal recommendation.
Aoife O’Brien [00:21:39]:
Fay Wallis [00:21:40]:
And so It’s the same thing when it comes to jobs. If you have 2 people apply and one of them you only know from their CV and from interview, But the other one, you know, because they’re connected to someone in your network potentially. They’ve been recommended or you’ve been seeing all of these brilliant posts on LinkedIn? You and you feel like you know them and you trust them, you’re much more likely if those 2 candidates both interview well To go with the person you’ve got some sort of connection with. It’s just so much more reassuring.
Aoife O’Brien [00:22:09]:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. No. It’s a really good point. And I I suppose, case in point with the podcast, when people talk to me, they feel like they know me already. So if they’ve listened to the podcast, s they sort of feel that personal connection already, which is really great, especially from a business perspective. If they people feel like they know me, see? That’s why they want to talk to me, and they know that they want to work with me already.
Aoife O’Brien [00:22:30]:
So same goes for job applications. So for anyone listening today and you’re not that active and and nurturing? And I think LinkedIn is just a tool, but it’s a tool that you can use in a really effective way to to kinda get your message out there. And as Faye said, it doesn’t necessarily have to be anything too personal. It can be work related. It can be about an event that you’re going to. And certainly when I first started posting on LinkedIn, it like, if I just think back now, it’s really scary. It’s like that very first, all company or all department email that you send? And you’re like, I hope there’s no typos in this, and I hope I’m coming across okay because you feel like you’re going to be judged. But when people start commenting and interacting and that was something else that occurred to me as we were talking as well, Faye, that LinkedIn, it doesn’t have to be see just a broadcast one way people can comment on your post and interact? And I know certainly that’s how people get my attention and how I reach out and connect with people when they comment on my stuff? And other people have commented to me that they see my stuff coming up all the time because I’m commenting on other people’s post? Even if we’re already connected, they can see how active I am on LinkedIn.
Aoife O’Brien [00:23:43]:
And it feels like I am there 24 hours a day or it looks like I’m there 24 hours a day even though I’m not because they’re seeing what I’m commenting about in in my feed. It’s also a really great way for people to get you and get what you stand for and what you stand against by the comments that you add on the assumption that you’re not just saying love this post, great post, that you’re actually adding some value to to it in some way? Any thoughts on that or or maybe let’s move on from LinkedIn
Fay Wallis [00:24:14]:
specifically? Yeah. Sorry. I’m somehow turning our chat into a whole LinkedIn thing, aren’t I? Well, then if if you’d like me to move along from LinkedIn, on the same theme, I was just talking about how LinkedIn can be very powerful If you use it to post and you mentioned the engagement, which I wholeheartedly agree with, fantastic, fantastic point. You can really get across your Personality and your skills just by interacting with other people, especially if you don’t feel brave enough to start posting on there? I think that It can be a great way of starting to get comfortable with the platform. But if you’re thinking about your career from an internal perspective and, say, you’re in a mid level role or you’re in a senior level role? And the network that’s really important to you is actually everyone else in the organisation that you work in. You need them to know who you are because you want to be able to influence them. And, again, I guess I’m thinking of this from an HR or people practitioner’s point of view because often They will need to launch initiatives whether it’s getting everyone to take an engagement survey or fill in an appraisal form or Give feedback or attend training? It could be a whole range of things that they need to get by in for. It is so much harder to get by in if no one knows who you are, If you’re just some faceless name in an email.
Fay Wallis [00:25:35]:
So really thinking about what internal systems can you use to raise your profile and have people in your network just understand who you are, that you are good at your job, that you do care about them, that you are approachable? So really making the most of things like, is there an internal newsletter that’s going out? If so, see if you can start having a spot for your team or your in there just to raise the profile and raise the visibility? Is there an internal podcast that you could volunteer to go on and have a conversation and talk about some of the work that you’re doing or talk about yourself personally? Are there social events happening thing within the organization? And you never go to them because you think, oh, that’s not my thing or I’m too busy. Well, actually, could you push yourself out of your comfort zone to start attending some of those? Because then people will get to meet you in real life or virtually if they’re virtual social events and start to feel like, oh, That’s not just a person who’s asking me to do stuff all the time. It’s someone who I know and I like and I respect them, and I’m gonna do what team they ask next time they get in touch. And when they move on to a new organization, again, thinking about, you know, moving roles, If anyone says to them, oh my gosh, you know, if we need a new person in the HR team or the this team or the that team, you’re gonna spring to mind because you’re not a faceless Just email address. Again, they’re someone that they you’re someone that they feel like they know and they think is really credible, and so they’re much more likely to recommend you. So Yeah. There’s a big thing about this, Just being visible to your network as well. You know, none of this stuff is the high touch stuff that we talked about at Beginning, as in going out for dinners or or having 1 on 1 calls.
Fay Wallis [00:27:13]:
That is all important, but you can have an awful lot of impact as well with this one to many approach why you’re making sure that lots of people know who you are
Aoife O’Brien [00:27:22]:
and what you do. Yeah. That’s I think that’s such a that’s such some solid advice, but it’s such a nice, such a nice approach and and such an important thing to do, I think. Thinking about, like, how can I become more recognizable or visible internally? Now something again, came to mind when you were talking about that, and it was someone so I worked in or I worked closely with the European team in one of the roles that I had. Stand so we would get requests? Well, in a few of the roles, actually, I’ve had over the years, but you would get a request from someone. And when that person is a faceless person and see someone at the other end of an email? It makes a huge difference when you meet in person. So this lady came from I say which country, but she came from, from somewhere in Europe, and she came to visit us in the Dublin office. And it just made such a difference.
Aoife O’Brien [00:28:13]:
So when I saw her name coming up, she was now a human. She she wasn’t just an email address anymore? And I think it just makes such a difference. Like, fair play to the companies who have built an entire, an entire organization on the remote model? I think it’s so important to to have that face to face time occasionally as well. I say this as I’m recording in Tenerife, and I’m quite far removed from what’s going on in Ireland. But I can see that there’s a lot more kind of in person stuff happening post pandemic, which is really great to see? But, you know, I think it is it’s that having knowing who that person is? And so now when I get an email, I’m like, oh, okay. And that goes not kind of just in my normal emails, but it might go to the top of my list? Because I’ve met that person, I know who they are, and I can I can do that? I loved what you’re saying then about being visible through, showing that you’re an approach approachable person because I think sometimes and I was having to think about this earlier actually, that sometimes we assume that step if someone is at a senior position that they’re not approachable, that maybe they don’t want people coming to them. But I think if you’re working in a quite a positive culture? Then it should be no problem. If you wanted to get some get some of that one on one time from someone who is a bit more senior in the organization, that they should be approachable and it’s finding the way? Like, how are you going to strategically do that? I’m thinking about what is it that you are bringing, and what would you like to get from them as well? So it’s not just we’re showing up and we’re gonna have a chat, but it’s really thinking strategically, what are you bringing to the table? And if you’re having if you’re struggling with that, there’s so much.
Aoife O’Brien [00:29:57]:
Like, you can bring the kind of the feedback from the ground and, you know, what are the the core issues that clients have or what are the core issues internally that you’re having? The other thing I wanted to raise from what you were talking about, Faye, is this idea of visibility because that can be a huge blocker for people sometimes. And I know certainly it’s one of the triggers of imposter syndrome. So any kind of thoughts and maybe we can hash this out together, but any thoughts around people who are a bit afraid to be more visible? Because when you’re more visible, you have more eyes on you. There’s more judgment. There’s fear associated with that? Any any kind of thoughts on on combating that?
Fay Wallis [00:30:37]:
I think for any sort of advice around Confidence, which is what that, I guess, ultimately comes down to and and feeling a little bit afraid, is always to start with just thinking, what’s The teeny tiny little baby step I could take that’s going to help me with that? I often talk about this when we think about public speaking? I mean, gosh. You can’t be more visible than that, can you? And I used to be terrified of speaking in public. Properly, Properly terrified. I remember being called up on stage in an all hands by the MD of at an organization I was working for, and she didn’t know that I had this absolute fear. I think she felt awful afterwards. And she said, say, would you like to just tell everyone a few words about your plans for employee engagement? And I actually thought my legs gonna go from underneath me, and I would be lying on the floor in front of, like, all my colleagues. I was shaking so much. It was just awful.
Fay Wallis [00:31:40]:
And, she apologized afterwards. And I had lots of people come up to me saying, you know, don’t worry. It was okay. You did fine. Well done for managing to get some words out. And at that point, I thought, oh, man. I’m gonna have to do something about this. I can’t carry on my career thinking I’m gonna be just a puddle on the floor if this ever happens again.
Fay Wallis [00:31:58]:
So I actually had some voice coaching to try and help me. I saw a voice coach to try and help me get over this fear, and she was so helpful and gave me lots of tiny, tiny little tips, and she made me realize it really is about small steps. So to try and build up my confidence, I thought of ways that I could find ways to speak up at work when it’s not just on a one to 1 basis? Because I was okay if it was 1 to 1. So I asked the director of our department if I could maybe lead the next Internal meeting that we were having, if I could share the meeting so I’d have to say, thank you everyone for coming. You know, this is what we’re here for. And that felt like a you know? Oh, that might sound like a tiny little baby step, but at that time, that did feel like a big deal. But it felt like I was doing it in a safe, comfortable way? Because Yes. Of course.
Fay Wallis [00:32:50]:
Knew my colleagues, and they’re all really nice. And other things that I found were helpful for when I started trying to challenge myself and maybe going into bigger meetings or starting to present to to smaller groups is how I started off, is I would ask someone for their support? So someone who is in the room. I might even take someone with me from outside the team. But if there was someone in the team who I knew well, I would say, Just to let you know, this is the situation. I’m trying to get much better with my public speaking. If I completely freeze or panic or this or that, Could you just take over from me, or could you help me, or could you encourage me? And, you know, I never needed to ask any of them for help, but just knowing that they were there made All the difference. And so I gradually built it up and built it up and built it up. And now I think people would be so shocked if I, like, talk in front of lots of people now.
Fay Wallis [00:33:40]:
I get, you know, that’s that’s part of my, one of my services is to deliver workshops and talks, and I can’t really believe it if I look back To how scared I was. So it’s the same thing really for raising your visibility. Obviously, public speaking and presentations and talking up in meetings, that’s one way of raising your visibility, and I’ve just touched on the little techniques that work for me. But if it’s if it’s more than that and if it is the whole networking piece, Just thinking, what’s a tiny step I could take? Or who’s someone who feels the least intimidating that I could approach? Or I remember going to events for the 1st time and thinking, right, I need to try and do some networking. I dragged my poor sister along with see? You know, she doesn’t work in HR. She’s not a coach. She’d come to all these things with me. Go on learning.
Fay Wallis [00:34:29]:
She’s a web designer, Aoife. Like, I was Speaking to her to all of this stuff. But it it was brilliant because it just meant I had someone there as a bit of backup, and I didn’t feel I was completely on my own. If you’ve got a colleague you could take with you to an event, then, ask a colleague if they’ll go with you. So it’s just these teeny, teeny, tiny little steps. You don’t suddenly need to start becoming incredibly visible, sending out, like, a newsletter just about you every single week? You know, that’s gonna feel terrifying? Just try and retrace it and think, what’s the tiny thing I can do? Because when you’ve done that tiny thing and it works and it’s okay and it’s not a disaster, you you do build confidence, and you think, okay. I could push it a tiny bit more now. What’s the next little step I could take? Annie do it, and it feels okay.
Fay Wallis [00:35:17]:
You might have to do it a few times before it really feels comfortable, and then he can do the next one. And what works for all of us is quite individual, which is why I always think coaching is so powerful because it’s not prescriptive. It’s trying to figure out what’s right for that person. So for anyone listening thinking, oh, I just can’t do any of this, I would just really love to set you that challenge of what tiny, tiny little thing could you do that’s just gonna take you One step far 1 step further because once you’ve done loads and loads and loads and loads of those little steps, suddenly, you’ll realize it’s just not hard anymore, and you’re doing it on a much bigger level and to a point where you’re having a real impact?
Aoife O’Brien [00:35:56]:
Yeah. No. I love that. And and the small steps is something that I talk scope out as well in the, in the imposter to empowered program? It’s one of the steps is taking those small steps. And it’s about stretching your comfort zone, not stepping outside? So I feel like if you step outside, then you step back in again. But it’s about stretching it and getting better every time. And similar to yourself, they like, a kind of a, a core part of my career to date has been, I I say public speaking, not really public speaking delivering presentations to clients, but that was all about data. That was all about sharing insights.
Aoife O’Brien [00:36:35]:
And you kind of get better and better the more you do that? You you’ve done all of the analysis yourself until we had some offshoring, but that staff made it harder to present, actually, because you hadn’t done all of the the backup. But you’re presenting all of this stuff as your own, and you’ve done the analysis, and it’s great. You get more proficient at the analysis, you get more proficient at delivering presentations to clients, and really understanding what it is they’re looking for because they’ll ask questions, and they’ll say, what’s this? And you’re telling it not in a chronological way. You’re telling it as a story. However, when I started in business, what I found the scariest thing of all was I’m no longer presenting stories about data and insights. It’s it’s now sharing personal stories 2 illustrate what I’m talking about and the research that I’ve done and and things like that? So that, to me, has been a journey. That has been so scary. And if I think where I started is what you described? So presenting to a small room of people about what is my career journey, what is my story, why did I leave my job, all of these things, and then you just build up.
Aoife O’Brien [00:37:42]:
And now I can’t even remember what it was like doing that because part of what I offer to my clients is speaking in their organizations and sharing those very sometimes very personal stories of mine of, like, this is how I’ve applied what it is that I’m talking about here? So it is I think it’s it’s really powerful just to take those small steps it also when you take those small steps, it really helps you to see how far you’ve come when you sit down to consider where you were, say, this time last year versus sis where you are now? Another thing I think that’s kind of the overarching theme of networking, and I’ve heard Rob Cullen, who is, he’s quite a prominent networker here in Dublin, and he talks about it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. And I think see it can apply in so many different contexts. So one example is that, like, because I have the podcast, people know me. And when I when I go to through an event? Sometimes people come up to me, and I don’t know who they are because I haven’t seen their content, but they know who I am because they’ve listened to the podcast. That’s kind of one example. Obviously, there’s that example that I shared earlier where I emailed someone on the assumption that he knew who I was, but he didn’t. So and and kind of to re illustrate your your point as well from earlier, it’s about getting that visibility and making sure that you are the person who is known for being a certain way, for behaving in a certain way, and for doing a really great job, and that you’re visible within your organization if if that’s what you want or external to your organization, I think as well. That’s that’s something I probably didn’t do as well as I could have, like getting out to see really, senior people and clients, for example, when I when I was still working in corporate? Had I done that, that might have paid more dividends for me now when I’m, you know, when I was starting in business.
Aoife O’Brien [00:39:36]:
Although I became a little bit allergic to that entire industry, and say? And I took I took a sort of a steer away from that. But I think just for people who are listening today, it is thinking about step internal networking and being visible and who knows you internally, but then getting known within your industry as well, especially as you rise through the ranks? Any any kind of parting thoughts to to share around that?
Fay Wallis [00:40:01]:
Yes. I guess my parting thought is there’s just so much to talk about With networking, isn’t there? Yeah. And we’ve talked a little bit well, quite a lot about broadcasting and networking from A low touch, so where you’re you’re doing networking on a once in many basis or Yeah. You’re networking internally. I thought it might be Useful if I take pull myself back for a moment because I feel like I’ve just dived into it and Share a model that can be helpful to keep in mind if you do want to make networking something that you’re actively going to be working on to help you with your career? And that is that I think we have got 3 networks it’s useful to pay attention to. You’ve got your personal network. So you touched on that at the beginning. And your personal network is made up of all your family and friends, but it can also be those deep ties we were talking about to people who are more acquaintances.
Fay Wallis [00:41:03]:
Like, perhaps if you have a hobby or you play a sport regularly, perhaps you’re a runner and there are other people that you go running with in a thing each week, but you don’t really know them. You just see them when you turn off each week. That’s still people who are in your network. It could be your neighbors. It’s just people who are surrounded with not in a work context. Then you have got your internal work network that we’ve talked about, how important it is to be thinking about network as well? And then you’ve also got what I call your external professional network as well. So that might be made up of people who you used to work with or who you’ve met at events or who you really admire or perhaps you’re following them on LinkedIn? They’re Probably going to be a lit little bit more distant, but I guess not necessarily if they’re made up of people you used to work with as well. And, ideally, you want to be keeping an eye on all 3 of those networks because they can all help you in different ways.
Fay Wallis [00:42:01]:
And I’m always surprised by the number of people in friendship groups who don’t know what each other does? Because I think when we’re outside of work, unless we’re really, really, really interested in work, You don’t always necessarily talk about it all of the time. And what I’ve realized is that by talking about it, especially if you have a challenge at work, often Often it’s people in your personal network who are able to help, and you didn’t realize that beforehand. And, if I think, like, how much my neighbors have helped me with my career Might sound really funny. I found out that when I moved to this road, one of my neighbors mentioned they’re really good with Excel. And at that Exact moment in time, I was just starting a role. I had responsibility for recruitment, and there was no applicant tracking software in place in that organization. And I remember saying, oh, don’t worry. I can create a spreadsheet, and we’ll start tracking everyone in it.
Fay Wallis [00:42:55]:
And I honestly thought I could do it. And then when I sat down to do it, I thought, oh my gosh. This is actually beyond my limited Excel skills. And I hardly knew my neighbor at all at this point, but I knocked on his door with a bottle of wine and said, hello. You happen to mention in one of the few moments we’ve ever interacted that you’re brilliant at Excel. I sort of have a bit of a problem, and I didn’t know if you’d be able to help me. I mean, honestly, he was amazing. I can still picture him sitting at my dining table, kind of lifting his hands up, putting them on the keyboards, whizzing away for a bit and then just creating the most amazing homemade Excel applicant tracking software spreadsheet for us that we used for years? It was phenomenal.
Fay Wallis [00:43:40]:
And so that again is an example. Like, your network isn’t solicitor just gonna be helping you with getting a new job? They might help you succeed in the job that you have or just turn to support support and advice and resources? There are people all around us. They don’t even need to be doing the same career as us who are gonna be very happy to help you. And, of course, you’re going to want to help them as well because coming right back to what I said at the beginning with the definition, it’s about building relationships. And to build relationships? It’s give and take. It’s making sure that, yes, as long as you’re making sure everyone in the organization knows who you are and that, you know, you’re great at what you do. You also want to make sure you’re not just trying to take from your network all the time and that you are when I say nurturing it, I mean Helping people within your network and paying attention to them. And when you were talking about, you know, oh, gosh.
Fay Wallis [00:44:33]:
It can be Really scary to have to talk about yourself or present if it’s not data. If I think of, I totally agree with you, by the way. But if I think of 1 to 1 networking as well, which can feel terrifying if you’ve not done it before and you’ve just Had a meeting set up with someone and you don’t really know them. I think that tip that is from that book, How to Win Friends and Influence people buy? Is it Dale Carnegie? Yeah. He says always, ask the other person questions. It’s not all about you. Try and learn as much about them as you possibly can. And I just found that is so true.
Fay Wallis [00:45:13]:
It’s such brilliant advice. So as well as out there in the world thinking, okay. I need to make sure I’m paying attention to networking and that people know what I do and, know how they could potentially help me. Just also really be asking questions all the time. Show an interest in other people. Find out what’s important to them. And then it’s So much easier to nurture that relationship, and it feel much more natural because that’s what you would probably do normally anyway. And then if you do want to reach out to someone or you’re thinking of ways to nurture your network, it can be simple things like, oh, you mentioned that You’re really interested in this particular topic.
Fay Wallis [00:45:51]:
Did you spot this was on the news? Here’s the link. I thought you might like to see it. Just Tall, little, tiny touch points can can be built in if you do also want to do a bit more of that one to 1 networking as well. Yeah? I just threw everything at you, Aoife, that I thought, oh, I wanna make sure I’ve told you all these things as well.
Aoife O’Brien [00:46:09]:
But no. It’s it’s brilliant, and I’d love to just kinda reiterate what you were saying. And, like, your friends often don’t know what you do because it’s it’s hard to explain what you do in your career unless you can talk about a company that’s really well known? And even then, people probably don’t know what your job is on a day to day basis and what it entails and the challenges that you have. So really interesting point that you bring up there. I love this idea of asking for help. So sometimes people really struggle. I know I’m the kind of person who struggles with asking for help. Actually, lifting the phone or putting a call out there and say, can you help me with this? It it feels very daunting, and it’s it’s vulnerable and it’s it’s challenging to do? So, I love the idea that you can ask people within your network for that help.
Aoife O’Brien [00:46:54]:
And the then it’s, like, I’ve jotted down, it’s the idea of reciprocity. So it’s not just being a a taker all the time, and it’s about giving back to people and helping other people? Because I know certainly I’ve had those people in my life, and I’m sure people listening today can relate to that as well. You don’t want to associate with people who are takers all the time. And I I haven’t read Adam Grant’s book, Give and Take, but I think he addresses these issues on it, doesn’t he? This idea of being a giver, being a taker, or being more into the the idea of, reciprocity. I think he uses a different term, but the idea that nurturing is actually helping your network and being available to them and not just taking all the time. You’ve reminded me of the fact that one to ones can be scary because, of course, now I’m saying, oh, and I want to have more one more, I want to have more 1 to 1 conversations with people rather than the one to many and showing up in these groups where you don’t really get the opportunity to connect on a 1 to 1 basis? But if I think back to earlier in my career, having those 1 to 1 sessions students was a bit scarier and, like, just inviting people for that. I think it comes much more easily and naturally to me now, and it has resulted in some amazing collaborations and just really fruitful discussions. And like this, even this conversation here, I s I mean, we would have initially connected 1 to 1, but this is like a 1 to 1 conversation where we have, you know, more of a a guide as to what we’re talking about.
Aoife O’Brien [00:48:28]:
And I love this idea of asking questions. And something that I did recently, actually, I had, someone in my network connected me with someone else who was interested in doing the master’s program that I had? So we connected. We chatted. We had a brilliant chat actually, and he share? He had done a different masters, and he had just shared his, his dissertation with me. And it sort of fizzled out. I followed up once, maybe twice. I can’t remember. But it just sort of fizzled out, and we didn’t have a conversation again.
Aoife O’Brien [00:48:57]:
But I saw something in the news a couple of weeks ago, and I sent it over to him. And I said, I’m not sure if you’ve seen this send the news, but it reminded me of you and our conversation. And he wrote back and he said, I have I’m so embarrassed. I don’t know what happened. I must have been really busy the time, but I never got back to you? I’d so love to keep in touch. So it was just that little thing, that kind of brought the spark back into and we’re having a conversation next week actually. And then the other thing that I used to do way better than what I do now is just sending like, if I see an article, I’ll send it to someone and say, this reminded me of you, or I think that you might benefit from this? And again, with the podcast as well, sending specific episodes to specific people? I need to get back into that. So thank you for inspiring me today, Faye, to do that.
Fay Wallis [00:49:47]:
Oh, you’re very welcome. I’m really pleased it was helpful and a little bit inspirational. That’s wonderful to hear.
Aoife O’Brien [00:49:53]:
Absolutely. So Faye, the question I ask everyone who comes on the podcast, what does being happier at work mean to you?
Fay Wallis [00:50:02]:
Being happier at work, and what does it mean to me? I forgot you’re gonna ask me this. I have to think about it. Sorry. Give me one sec, Kiefer. Being happier at work, if I really think about that for a moment, I think For me, it’s about having a level of self awareness and understanding of what it is that you really want from work and then being proactive about trying to make it happen? Often when we’re feeling really unhappy, it’s because we’ve got a sense that We don’t really like where we are or what we’re doing, but we just don’t know what to do about it. So when you’ve got that real clarity on what is it that’s important to you? What is it that you want to be getting out of your career? And I mean going on a more granular level than just, I just wanna be successful or I I just wanna get promoted. Really, really thinking about that. And also how it fits into your whole life because we’re not going to be happy at work necessarily if we feel that stuff outside of work isn’t happening as well? So I think that’s probably how I’d describe happier at work for me.
Aoife O’Brien [00:51:11]:
Brilliant. Love it. And, Faye, if people want to reach out, if they want to connect with you, what’s the best way they can do that?
Fay Wallis [00:51:18]:
Unsurprisingly, given how much I’ve talked about LinkedIn, feel free to connect on LinkedIn. Sin? It would be lovely to see you on there. And if you want to send the connection request, it would be great to know that you are reaching out because you listened To this episode. So I’m on there as myself, Faye Wallis. I’m Faye without an e on the end, and Wallis is spelt with an I s on the end instead of a c Or you can come along to my website which is bright sky career coaching.co.uk.
Aoife O’Brien [00:51:47]:
Brilliant. And don’t forget to mention your own podcast because since people are listening to a podcast here, I always like to say, you know, give a shout out to your own podcast and also the HR planner as well.
Fay Wallis [00:52:00]:
Oh, thank you so much, Aoife. What a brilliant example of helping someone in your network. I really appreciate it. So I’ve talked about networking loads on my cast as well? So if you’d like to hear me, rambling on about networking on on there or you want to hear some other career related topics, Please do hop on and listen to HR Coffee Time. The HR planner, there is a free version and a hardback version. It is something to help you set your goals and stay on track with them for the whole year, and you can access both of those on my websites as well. Thank you so much, Aoife, for letting me mention those and encouraging me to mention system as well?
Aoife O’Brien [00:52:35]:
Absolutely. No problem. It was it’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you, Faye, today. You’ve inspired me now to, to think more strategically about networking as, as we enter 2024? I know my cogs are moving in my head, and I’m thinking, how can I use this a bit more effectively, a bit more strategically? As dimension? I want to do definitely more one to ones, but it’s that nurturing piece and it’s reaching out and saying, you know, I saw this and did you have you seen this link? And, like, I’m actually, as a slight aside, creating, creating a resource for people that has all of those links there already. But I know the huge difference that will be is if I can reach out to someone and say, the here’s an interesting article about remote working or here’s an interesting article about productivity, all of the kind of stuff that I’m interested in that I know that my clients can benefit from as well? So I really appreciate your time, and thank you for inspiring me.
Fay Wallis [00:53:33]:
Oh, I’m so pleased to hear that it was helpful. Thank you for having me. I’ve really enjoyed chatting.