The Mid-Career GPS Podcast

209: Best of 2023: Unlock the Power of Networking with Frank Agin

December 19, 2023 John Neral Season 3
The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
209: Best of 2023: Unlock the Power of Networking with Frank Agin
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever wondered how to shape your professional relationships into authentic connections? Let's join hands with Frank Agin, a networking maven who uncovers his unique approach to networking and relationship building. This episode is a goldmine for mid-career professionals seeking a fresh perspective on networking, emphasizing the importance of authenticity and genuineness in your interactions.

Navigating the networking realm, we spotlight the role of networking and volunteering in career progression. Dive into the discussion as we dissect the importance of not only creating connections but also giving back to your community and serving others. Get ready to discover a novel approach to networking by reaching out to hiring managers, offering them assistance in finding suitable candidates, and potentially paving the way to exciting job prospects.

Lastly, we invite you to explore networking for mid-career professionals and the priceless value of continually being open to forging new connections, even when you're content in your current job. We'll share practical networking tips like arranging lunch with colleagues from various departments and gaining insights into different areas of your business. Remember, the secret to effective networking lies in communicating how you can assist others, as it can lead to fruitful connections and opportunities. So, get ready to fine-tune your mid-career GPS with us, one step at a time.

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Speaker 1:

Hello, my friends, happy holidays. As we wrap up 2023, I'm taking this week and next week to share a couple of best of 2023 episodes with you. The episode I'm bringing you today is one from all the way back in January of this year, and this episode continues to be downloaded. Whenever we talk about networking on the Mid-Corridor GPS podcast, it always gets a lot of interest, but it was Frank Agan's approach and how he talked about building relationships when we're networking that seem to resonate so well with all of you. It makes perfect sense to replay this episode now as you think about what your networking strategy is going to be for 2024. I hope you enjoy this best of episode in my conversation with Frank Agan. Merry Christmas, happy holidays. Take time to make some memories with your loved ones. Here's the episode. Many Mid-Career professionals are concerned that they don't do enough networking or, when they do, they do it incorrectly. We know that networking is all about building relationships and I know that as long as you show up authentically and genuinely, you can't go wrong. But what is your networking strategy when you are organizationally loyal and are so wrapped up in your job that you can't find time to network or you haven't taken the time to grow your network outside of your organization because you're fearful that someone is going to think you are leaving or you aren't sure how to reach out to someone you've been wanting to talk to. In this episode, you will meet networking expert Frank Agan. You'll learn how to tweak, improve and overhaul your networking strategy, learn why networking will lift up your world, how to network internally and the one question you must ask at the end of every networking conversation. Welcome to episode 141 of the Mid-Career GPS Podcast. I'm your host, john Nerrell. I'm here to help you find a job you love, or love the job you have, by using my proven four-step formula. For many mid-career professionals, doing more networking is a common one. This is one of the many reasons why I asked Frank Agan to join me. Frank is a networking and relationship building expert and the president of Amspirit Business Connections, which empowers entrepreneurs, sales representatives and professionals to become successful through networking. He hosts the NetworkingRx podcast with insights and interviews about building better business relationships, and he is the author of several books, including Foundational Networking. Let's take some time to work on your networking strategy. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Frank Agan. My name is Frank Agan, I run an organization called Amspirit Business Connections and I dub myself a student of networking, of building relationships, professional relationships, Frank, this is one of the reasons why I wanted to have you on the podcast, because so many mid-career professionals struggle, as you know, with trying to build their network or even how to do it correctly. I promise you we're going to get there. I always love to have my guests share a little bit about themselves. First and foremost, what do you want to be when you're growing up?

Speaker 2:

You know it varied a police officer at one point, of football coach I know. When I was in college in the early 80s I had this idea of opening up a video store. Going back to my hometown which sounds really stupid now but at that point you could rent DCRs. You couldn't own them, you could rent them. That's right. This is the coolest thing in the world to have a job watching movies. When I was in high school senior in high school I decided I wanted to play college football. I love playing football, but I wasn't done in high school. I was going to play college football. John, I am 5'10", 185 pounds. Right, I'm not going anywhere. And so I sent out lots of letters to lots of places and got lots of no responses. And one day somebody called my father. My father went to a small liberal arts college in Bluette, wisconsin, and he played football there. And they just said you know what's your son going to do? And he said I don't know what he's going to do, I just know he wants to go play football. Well, the next day the football coach called this is a division three school, about a thousand students, and had a conversation with the coach and he's pretty much said hey, you know you can come play football here. You know we're not looking for kids who are big, 10 in size, which is big 10 in heart, and you're it. I said great. He said when do you want to come visit? I said you know, I don't need to visit, I'm going to play football. I'll be there. I'll see you in August, don't you have any questions, don't you know? Yeah, what are the team colors? What's the team name? That was pretty much it, john. So I went off to college and I just wanted to play football. Now, bluette College is a very good school, right? I mean it's I don't want to call it Ivy League, but it's a liberal arts college. It's probably, you know, top 50 liberal arts colleges in the country. And the night we went there for play football, the night before classes were to start, having a conversation outside of a bar with one of the one of my teammates who was an upperclassman and he just said it's tough here, they'll, they will flunk you out. And I just like I don't want to not play football, so I'm going to just study. And that next day I got, came home from practice first day of class, went to the library from seven o'clock to 11 o'clock and just did that every night. You know religiously, weekends it might be five to nine or you know whatever, but just religiously studied, not realizing that that wasn't natural, did very well in school and when they were asking me my junior year what it is I needed, wanted to do, I literally said I want to go back and open a video store in my hometown. And they kind of balked at that and they're like no, you, you need to go on and get a professional degree or go on to grad school, become, get a PhD. And so I ended up going to law school at the Ohio State University. I got a law degree, got an MBA. That led me to a career in public accounting. I was a tax consultant. It was a great job, it was a great pay. I needed to know you back then, john, because it just wasn't something I wanted to do for the rest of my life and I had no clue as to what my next step would be. But I was always very entrepreneurial and decided I was going to go into private practice. And a funny thing happened when I went into private practice and the funny thing was that nothing happened. I had no idea how to get clients. I struggled, I was afraid. I'm sure many of your audience can relate to this. It's like you know, I don't want to. I don't want to be on the ladder I'm on now but I don't know how to get to another ladder to climb. And somebody said you need to. You need to get into a tips club or a leads group and there was one here in town. I'll make a long story really short. I had an opportunity at one point, after several years of being in it, to buy it and that changed my whole trajectory from being this attorney very left brain to being very right brain and trying to understand why these relationship things work.

Speaker 1:

So Frank, leading up to our conversation, you had shared with me that you didn't even know networking was a thing.

Speaker 2:

No, no, no.

Speaker 1:

And so was it through this tips or this leads group that all of a sudden, you had to figure out pretty quickly how to network, or was it through something else?

Speaker 2:

No, it was. It was through this, because when I went to the first meeting, the way it was presented to me was that you can lift up your whole world by helping other people and that's a really easy thing to do. I can. I can go out of my way and talk you up. What a great guy, what a great podcast. You know and be very sincere about it. If I self promote for five minutes, I'm exhausted because we, we, we risk rejection in promoting ourselves, but we can't, we can't be rejected in promoting somebody else. I think John's great, I think he's an idiot. I don't care what you think. I think he's great. You know, we just have a difference of opinion, but to hear that somebody think that you know directly that you're an idiot is rejection. So I started to learn little bits and pieces along the way. When I ultimately bought the organization, I really did it as kind of an investment. This is really unique, but I realized I needed to start to really understand why it all worked or why it didn't work, and that you know there's a lot of psychology there, there's anthropology there's. You know, there's trial and error, there's all sorts of things, and I'm a student of it I'd love to learn about it. I'm not an expert.

Speaker 1:

It is your learner's mindset and your natural curiosity that I believe I can say without hesitation, has certainly served you well and helped you out a lot. For the people who are listening, one of the reasons why I am sure they have tuned into our conversation today is they don't even know where to start when it comes to networking. They have this fear that they're going to screw it up, they're going to offend somebody, they're not going to get the lead, they're not going to get the job offer, they're not going to get the connection. What can you share with them to help them essentially get out of their own way when it comes to networking?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I have some pretty consistent advice on this. What should I do? What I tell people is find something you're passionate about and volunteer. Get out there and just get in the community. Find ways to serve other people. It might be your kid's school, it might be coaching a team, it might be a homelessness charity, or maybe it's pets or whatever it is. Get out there and just network with other people and help the community. People will figure out what you're about. When you're doing those sorts of things, you're not doing them alone. You're doing them with other people who have similar passion. That's the first thing. The second thing is, when you're doing those things, other people are looking on and seeing wow, bob or Sally, they're really passionate about pet adoption. I don't really care about it, but I can't help but admire what they're doing. We're hardwired as humans and this gets into the anthropology. We're hardwired to help one another. We're hardwired to find the people who are willing to contribute to the greater community, because those are the people we want to surround ourselves with. People will find out what you're about. You're doing that. What do you do? I'm in transition. What do you want to do? I'm a tax consultant. It's not really where I want to be, but it's what I do now. I'm looking at other opportunities. From there, things start to happen. I think people get hung up in networking because they figure, okay, I'm going to get a resume or two out there, I'll have a couple interviews and, yeah, they're not all going to work out In short order I'm going to have a position. It's not that simple. This is not the Hallmark Channel. This is the real world. I think by being out there and just putting yourself out there and getting out and having interviews and talking to people and calling people up. When I started in the private practice of law, how I started to move things forward is I would call bankers and say, listen, I'm out there meeting with small business people. It's the type of attorney I am. They're going to need banking relationships. I need to know who I can refer them to. I'm going to be right away. Those people want to meet with me because I'm going to potentially help them. Certainly, for your listeners to just call people up and just say, yeah, I just wanted to learn about what it is you do in your position. Other opportunities out there how should I present myself? Just to let the world know hey, I'm out here, you're not putting yourself up for rejection, you're just saying I'm out here. My daughter did that when she, you know, she's a COVID graduate, 2020 graduate. It's exactly what she did. She started, she wanted to get into sports. She's loved soccer. She started a podcast. She started interviewing people on her podcast, started talking to people who were in sports and tell me about your job, tell me about you know different things. Somebody called one of the people she had talked to along the way and say, hey, we've got this new position, we're trying to fill it. Oh, logan Agan, you know, she's got a podcast, she does this, she does this, you know. And then they start talking to other people. Her name just keeps coming up and it's like you know, she got the interview right, got the second interview, got the job Kind of all you know and she never really applied for it. I mean, she did, but they really came to her and said, hey, we have a position, why don't you apply for it?

Speaker 1:

So that's really cool. That says so much about to your point, frank, about we just need to keep putting ourselves out there, but putting ourselves out there without being attached to the outcome, if we find a way to connect, help and serve. I use this example a lot with my clients when we're coaching on building a networking strategy. If they're in a relationship or they've been in a relationship, I'd always say to them did you walk up to your significant other? And on the very first time you walked up to them, said will you marry me, right? They're like oh my gosh, no, it would completely turn them off. I'm like then why would you lead with? Are you looking to hire somebody right off the bat? Yeah, they don't know you. There's this element of neediness and grasping-ness that can, in all fairness, somewhat come out when people are in transition. Sure, they're navigating, say, from a toxic work situation, or they've been unfortunately laid off, or they're just really miserable in their job and they want to try to find a way to get out. What advice would you give them in terms of simply slowing things down and building relationships or, to your point, being a connector that will serve them far better as they're growing and building their network?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's a similar story to when I talked to people in the small business world who are trying to find clients, find ways you can serve others. It might be as simple as reaching out to people who are hiring managers and just saying to them you know what? I'm out here, I'm out here in the field, I'm out here looking and I'm not really fitting what you're looking for. But I'm running into a lot of other people who are looking and I know it's hard to find good people. Tell me, I'd love five minutes on the phone to listen to what you're looking for, because if I come across that person, I would love to connect the dots for you. What's a hiring person going to do? They're going to take the call because they need the help and they're going to remember you. They're going to. Well, they're certainly going to turn the tables. Well, tell me what you're looking for. Thank you for offering to help me. What are you looking for? Because I run into people too and to just start having those sorts of conversations about how we can be helping one another. Everybody needs help, everybody's. You know every hiring manager, everybody who has a position to fill. They're not filling it for their health, they're filling it because they're overloaded. Correct, and if you can help them, they will remember you.

Speaker 1:

Hey, there, we'll get back to the episode in a moment, but I want to give you something game changing, a golden ticket. That is like having a roadmap to take you from career confusion to clarity in minutes, introducing the mid-career job seekers checklist. It is your secret weapon in your job search and if you feel like navigating your job search right now is like navigating a maze blindfolded, don't worry, my friend, I got your back. This checklist is a powerhouse of organization and preparation, crafted to make you say goodbye to feeling overwhelmed and hello to a career transition made easy. I want you to head on over to johnnarrellcom to snag your free copy of the mid-career job seekers checklist. It's not just a checklist, it is a career compass to help you find that job you're going to love. Now let's dive back into the episode. It's such great advice because there's a need out there and if you can help them fill that need in some way, be it by someone in your network or someone you know, or even, ultimately, if it is yourself, that's just a huge, huge win for everybody. And I appreciate so much your comment about they will remember you. Yeah, they will Right, you and I. You and I know that from so many examples we've had in our own lives and with the people we work with. But, frank, there's a piece about networking and admittedly I've been guilty of it when I've been in a job. I've been there a while, I get super comfortable and I turn off that networking piece because I'm good. And so for the people who are listening, that are happy in their jobs, they're organizationally loyal, they see a runway within their company, what tips do you have for them to help them network internally that they might not have considered already?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think that I think there's a lot to learn from other people out there. There's a there. I read this in a book and stick with me here. It goes somewhere in the UK In the turn of the 20th century, when they, when they in early 1900s, when they they delivered milk door to door and they would just literally put the milk on the front porch, right, there were no caps. The cream would float to the top and what would happen is the birds would get on these, on the milk, and they would eat the cream. Very well, it's gross, right, I mean, it's just gross. So they started to, they started to put aluminum caps on there, so aluminum foil caps, and there were two types of birds that took part in this the one with the Robbins and the titmice, and in time the titmice all figured out how to pull these aluminum caps off and get back at the cream. The Robins never did, and the reason for that is that Robins are territorial birds. One Robin will not let another Robin into territory, whereas titmice they work in flocks, you know, and so they're communicating with one another. Hey, joe, titmice, let me teach you something, young kid, let me show you how to take this aluminum foil cap off. And I tell that story because that's what you can do within your companies. You can learn about your company, you can see how it all fits together. And when I worked in public accounting I was, you know, I was always really good at doing what I do now and connecting people and I'd be out of my clients and they would be talking about I'd be talking about tax things and they would let reveal, yes, we're looking to build this. You know this huge addition, and I would like pump the brakes. You know I need to go back to the firm and I need to talk to the people who specialize in getting tax credits for these kinds of additions. These, you know, every state has them. It wasn't work I knew anything about, but I could pass that work on, but it was a function of me getting out and getting to know what was going on in the business and getting a bigger picture of what's going on in the business, because that just makes you more valuable. You know we think, yes, we need to be a specialist, but at some point we need to open up and be a generalist and know what the bigger picture is, and so I think it's always useful to earmark lunch a couple days a week with people outside of where you work in other parts of the company. Yeah, I'm a numbers person but this marketing thing really fascinates me, especially the data analytics which is numbers right. My wife, my wife I met her in the public accounting firm. She's a CPA. She started with a fortune 500 company in accounting and just through getting to know people, they're like you know, you really know the numbers and we can get another account any day of the week, but executive compensation. They don't have anybody who understands the numbers like you do. You know, and that's where she's been for the last 25 years, just kind of working from one side to the other. And so we, you know, we get stuck in these little, we think we get stuck in these little silos and we forget that in our skill set can be utilized in lots of other places. But we need to put ourselves out there so they know what we do.

Speaker 1:

Well, and that's the thing right. If we keep putting ourselves out there and we keep sharing a message about here's who I help and here's what I help them do specifically, people will want to listen Right, especially when we say I can help you. I remember working in an organization and this is this has the potential for being an HR nightmare, so I preface with that. But there was a guy in our, in our company, who had worked on a very special project in a different part of the of the team in the organization and he was someone whom I just wanted to know what it was he did, because it was going to help me understand his work and how I might be able to connect the team with and everything. Every single time I saw him, we were in the bathroom. So, as a networking tip, we don't start conversations in the bathroom, right? No, no, every time I walked by his office, the door was closed. So finally, one day, several weeks later, after really wanting to talk to this guy, I see him at the coffee machine and I walk up to. He doesn't know me. And I walk up to him and I go oh, thank God we're not in the bathroom. I've been meaning to talk to you. And he looks at me with, like his eyes got really big, like, oh, what the heck is this weirdo going to say? And I go I'm trying to understand something in your world, to help my team out, can I have five minutes of your time? Let me know when? And he looked at me and he goes I got like 15 minutes right now. Do you want to go have a talk? And we did. And it opened up this avenue where I knew if I had a question about this particular part of the organization, he was my go to. Yeah, I had a line to him that not a lot of people had, and that was all because I opened up a conversation and got out of my way to simply say, hey, you have some information that I think is going to help my team. Can we have a conversation? Thankfully, I was able to use a little bit of my humor to open up the door too. He was receptive to that. But that's the kind of thing where we can help a lot of people, and people want to help as well, and so there's a lot of avenues for us to pursue.

Speaker 2:

Well, one of the big things that is said in a lot of companies is I hear my wife saying it I don't know what the hell that person does. Yes, you know, I tell her I say, listen, the person would not be there if there wasn't something of value. Companies aren't stupid, you know. Yeah, there's the old wives tale about the guy who works at General Motors and picks up a bucket and walks three quarters a mile, sits on the bucket all day and then walks it back. Yeah, there's those stories. You know. Those are the rare, rare exceptions. People are honed in on every nickel and dime and so there's value to what people do. And if you don't understand why there are value, then you need to take the time to figure that out. You know.

Speaker 1:

Oh, so good, absolutely Well, frank, we're going to start wrapping up this conversation here, but what advice would you give to someone who's listening to help them build their mid-career GPS?

Speaker 2:

Well, I kind of alluded to it before is get involved in the community, and it might not be something outside of the community, might be within the company. A lot of larger companies have toastmasters organizations what a great way to get yourself networked. Or they have people who plan the holiday parties in another great way to get networked. You know, playing on the bowling team that could leave right in, you know, if they have it. Or soccer teams. I mean, I knew a lot of people in the firm I was at who participated in, you know, corporate challenge or athletic type things. Those are, you know. Those are the things you know. Don't sit in isolation. There's a saying out there it's not what you know, it's who you know, and there's a lot of truth to it and you can just hunker down and be stuck in the books and really understand what you're about. But you just need to kind of get out and find other people to network with people in other companies. I would keep a log of it If I had to do it all over again. Ok, who would have lunch with this week? You know I have a goal this year of having lunch with 100 people outside of who I work with on a day to day basis. You know so many have to be outside the company, so many can be within the company, but having lunch with the same two or three people every day, or at my desk with no one, you know that's got to get set a goal. Have a log. People you can reach out to and you'd be surprised with, that will generate in time.

Speaker 1:

That is some absolutely great advice, frank. That just proves to me even more why you and I needed to have this conversation today. You shared some things that we haven't talked before about on the podcast, specifically around networking, and I know you gave the listeners a lot of value and some things to consider as they continue to build and grow their network. So if anybody is looking to connect with you further or wants to learn a little bit more about what specifically you do the mic is yours, my friend you can tell them anything about where to find you and how to connect with you.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I have a. I have a website out there. It's kind of the central hub for all things. Frank Egan. Frank Egan dot com, f R A and K A G I N dot com is certainly one place I have a lot of. I have a lot of materials that I make available at networking dash hub dot com. I'm continuing to kind of build out that part of my website. I have an organization, amspirit dot com, amspirit Business Connections. It's really for the small business type person, but I'm, you know, I'm happy to help various people with whatever it might be. A lot of it's just messaging people. People get caught up in their messaging and they understand what they're saying. Other people don't, so happy to help. It goes around, comes around.

Speaker 1:

Well, thank you for that. I will make sure all of that is listed in the show notes. Frank Egan, thank you so much for spending time with me today on the mid career GPS podcast.

Speaker 2:

Thanks, for having me All right.

Speaker 1:

everyone. Hope you enjoyed today's conversation around networking, and my challenge for you is to create that networking log that Frank talked about. So get out of your own way. Find a way to connect be it an in person lunch or virtual coffee, whatever that may be with somebody who you haven't had an opportunity to connect with. Share how you can help, find why they're valuable. Find a way to connect, and I offer you to do that sooner than later. So until next time, my friends, remember this we build our mid career GPS One mile or one step at a time, and how we show up matters. Make it a great rest of your day. Thank you for listening to the mid career GPS podcast. Make sure to follow on your favorite listening platform and, if you have a moment, I'd love to hear your comments on Apple podcasts. Visit JohnNarrowcom for more information about how I can help you build your mid career GPS or how I can help you and your organization with your next workshop or public speaking event. Don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on social at JohnNarrowCoaching. I look forward to being back with you next week. Until then, take care and remember how we show up matters.

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