The Mid-Career GPS Podcast

228: Elevating Your Career Trajectory: Proactive Strategies for Employed Professionals with Matthew Rolnick

February 29, 2024 John Neral Season 4
The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
228: Elevating Your Career Trajectory: Proactive Strategies for Employed Professionals with Matthew Rolnick
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

What do you do when you are 50 years old and find yourself furloughed and out of a job? If this has happened to you, know you are not alone. 

While we know networking is a great way to find a new job, what can you do to warm up those professional relationships so they can become greater advocates for you and your career?

Discover how to make genuine connections on LinkedIn without sounding off alarms at your current workplace and why your online interactions should be as heartfelt as they are strategic.

Today, you’ll hear my conversation with Matthew Rolnick, the VP of Strategy and Innovation at Yaymaker, as well as a guy who proudly proclaims he is a super-connector. With over 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, and business development, Matthew has a passion for creating memorable and special moments that bring people together and foster collaboration, creativity, and learning.

In this episode, we talk about some simple and proven strategies to help you build those relationships, and Matthew answers a question many of you have asked about how to handle any fear your company may find out you are looking for a new job. 

Connect with Matthew
Website | LinkedIn 

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Speaker 1:

What do you do when you're 50 years old and find yourself furloughed and out of a job? If this has happened to you, no, you are not alone, and while we know networking is a great way to find a new job, what can you do to warm up your professional relationships so they can become greater advocates for you and your career? Today, you'll hear my conversation with Matthew Rolnick, the Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at YayMaker. As well as a guy who proudly proclaims he is a super connector, with over 20 years of experience in sales, marketing and business development, matthew has a passion for creating memorable and special moments that bring people together and foster collaboration, creativity and learning. In this episode, we talk about some simple and proven strategies to help you build those relationships, and Matthew answers a question many of you have asked, which is how to handle any fear your company may find out you're looking for a new job. Let's get started.

Speaker 1:

Hello, my friends, this is the Mid-Career GPS Podcast and I'm your host, john Nerrell. I help mid-career professionals find a job they love, or love the job they have, using my proven four-step formula. As mid-career professionals, you know you need to be networking more, but I get it if you're feeling a little bit nervous or don't feel as if you have great skills when it comes to building your network, and this is where my guest, matthew Rolnick, is going to help you. Matthew's experience helping companies and teams increase their engagement and culture is well recognized. He's done this through virtual, hybrid and in-person events, and he leverages his network to host events and topics that range from paint nights to DEI trainings, along with interviewing motivational and celebrity speakers. When you listen to my conversation with Matthew, I want you to think about how you can build your networking strategy one step at a time, and so it is my pleasure to introduce you to Matthew Rolnick. Matthew Rolnick, welcome to the Mid-Career GPS Podcast. It's great to have you here today.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for having me, john, excited to be talking to you.

Speaker 1:

Well, matthew, there's one common theme in this podcast is that everybody has a mid-career moment and, based on your history and what we've talked about previously, there was a big mid-career moment for you in the pandemic, where for you, like many other people, unfortunately, were furloughed, and I'm wondering if you can talk with us a little bit about what you've learned from that whole experience and where it's gotten you to today.

Speaker 2:

Well thanks. Yeah, I was furloughed. This is. I was 50 years old right in the beginning of the pandemic, but I learned a lot. I mean one is the power of relationships and the power of helping others and trying to find what's the right fit for you. So I was very fortunate. I was trying to help a friend of mine, dan Herman, who's an entrepreneur, started a company called Paint Night, also known as YayMakers, an umbrella brand. But I was trying to help him in the very beginning of the pandemic and just by staying in close contact and sharing ideas I was able to transition to a new job and opportunity and really spread my wings. So the biggest thing I learned is Don't get discouraged, keep trying to do what you can control, what you can nurture. Those relationships and other opportunities are out there.

Speaker 1:

We know that one of the most important things we can do, especially as mid-career professionals, is build these kinds of relationships, and so you've got a book for people. It is called Find your Yay, find your voice and grow your brand on social media, and one of the reasons why I wanted to have you on the podcast today is to help the job seekers or the people who are thinking about leveling up their career specifically right now. What's the one thing you believe that they miss when it comes to relationship building?

Speaker 2:

Well, I'd say I'm going to say two things. One is I think it's important to always nurture relationships throughout your career, even if you're feeling really good about your job. You just never know, and I feel like there's too many people that reach out to people once they're in a situation where they need help, and so I believe in nurturing. But if the other piece of advice is the power I love talking about LinkedIn, I think social media can be very powerful in starting new relationships, growing relationships, strengthening relationships, and I think job seekers miss. I think they're just push out. I need a job, I'm open to work, and I feel like there's so much more in the way that you can showcase yourself with thought leadership, with again expanding ideas of others. I think there's just a lot that LinkedIn is. There's over a billion users on it. It's the professional network and I know for me, professionally, linkedin has been one of my best friends.

Speaker 1:

Well, I agree with you there. It absolutely has been one of my best friends as well, and with the people I work with and I help Matthew. One of the biggest things I hear so often from them is I haven't used LinkedIn. I'm not very good on it or I haven't talked to so and so, in ages, what's a tip that you can offer them today in terms of warming up their existing network, but doing it in a way that's very authentic and genuine?

Speaker 2:

So I think one way is simply start following more people, liking their posts, engaging, commenting on posts Like yourself, I know so many people that say I'm not good at LinkedIn, I don't know what to post, they're nervous, is it going to be interpreted funny or things like that. But a first step can simply be people in your network, look at what they post and comment on it and try to do more than just saying nice job, john. Oh, great article, john. Do something. If they bring up something interesting, like the importance of professional growth or something like that, expand on it, maybe ask another question, maybe share an example of a course that you took that helped grow. I mean, if you expand that conversation, that person who posted it is going to appreciate you, remember you and you're going to warm up that relationship. So that's something, as I think, the first easy step for people.

Speaker 1:

Digging into that a little bit more. Do you suggest that? And mid-career professional active job seeker? Should they be engaging with posts of people at their level you know their peers, so to speak? Or should they be going after some of the larger people on LinkedIn, those influencers where they have tens or 100,000s of followers, and trying to chime in on some of their posts?

Speaker 2:

So I'm gonna put this in three buckets. One is their peers. I think that's always good because you never know a peer that you used to work with or somebody they might know of a job opportunity and help. So that happens a lot. And then I would say people that are hiring, so a level higher than the job you're looking for. So if you're looking for a VP role, you're commenting on C level. If you're looking for a management role on VP, if you're looking to be a sales role or whatever those managers, but I'd say commenting on those people as well.

Speaker 2:

And then I do think there's something to be said about commenting on influencers. So, for example, gary Vaynerchuk is very big. Gary Vee is very big on LinkedIn, tons of followers. I once commented on his post. Next thing, you know, is someone wrote like an article of their favorite comments on Gary Vee's stuff. It expanded my network and it's just I had all these new followers and people reaching out to me because of a comment I posted on his. So I do think you wanna, those three buckets I would say are all important and can all help you get more professionally visible and again initiate new conversations.

Speaker 1:

I like how you put those three buckets for everybody. So it's your peers, it's the people who are hiring and then it's the influencers. Yep, when you think about making that connection and to your point, you're going to be engaging and commenting and thoughtfully commenting on people's posts. What's your take on whether or not people should be connecting or following people on LinkedIn?

Speaker 2:

So, whether connecting or following, I would say in general, if it's a large influencer, if someone's got more than, let's say, 20,000 followers, you know it might make more sense to follow LinkedIn. By the way, I believe they cap the connections at 30,000. So I think that's as many connections as you have. So, by any 20, 30,000 or more, I'd say those are people you wanna follow. In general, I think, almost anyone else. If you can connect with them, that's probably the best.

Speaker 2:

So again, if there's somebody else in your industry, if there's a leader, a VP, a CEO or things like that, if you've engaged in a little bit of their comments or their posts and you've warmed up that relationship a lot, especially if you've commented it and that person likes it, then I think it's a little more welcoming to say hey, I've been following you on LinkedIn, I like your content, I thought this was really interesting. I'd love to connect with you on LinkedIn. I mean a thoughtful message. I mean the more you know about them, the more you can personalize it, the better. But in general, I love connecting with people. I think that's the best. But, as I said, as I said, if somebody's got a huge following, it might just be best to follow.

Speaker 1:

Matthew, let's imagine for a moment that we're talking to somebody who is actively trying to find a new job. They may be unhappy in their current role, they may be unemployed, but they're thinking to themselves okay, I need to find a job sooner rather than later. Yeah, walk us through the steps you would recommend to somebody in that situation about leveraging their network to help them find a new job. So, for example, how much should they be posting or engaging, who are they connecting with and, most importantly, how long is this probably going to take them on average, based on your experience?

Speaker 2:

All right. So it is obviously different on the person, the industry, the role, things like that. So, starting with your first question about reaching out to your network, I believe in individual messages to people where it's like hey Sally, hey Bob, I'm in a transition where I'm looking, these are the things I'm looking for. If you know of any opportunities can set up any introductions, any ideas, let me know. I appreciate it wishing but some personal message just letting individual people you know in your network and maybe it's you know you're sending 100 messages a day but ideally those first connections who know who you are, that may be able to help. So it's asking for help and you're not asking for a job, you're not asking for an interview, you're just letting them know your situation. I think that's one step. You know, when it comes to LinkedIn posting-wise, I think there's a nuanced way. I do think, in general, whatever industry you're interested in, I think sharing things that you see in the industry trends, you see, I think posting about it to let people know that you're a player in that industry, I think is a good idea. You're not necessarily saying you have a job, but then the people that are liking it or engaging in it. Those are people that you can follow up and connect with and later then you can later follow up and say, hey, I am exploring new opportunities within this industry. If you know anything, let me know. So I think that's another strategy. A third strategy can be how do you let your LinkedIn network know that you're exploring new opportunities without seeming too anxious, and that's not necessarily easy.

Speaker 2:

I do think everybody loves an underdog story, a comeback story, a Rocky, a Rudy or things like that, and I do think there are ways to do it. I actually there's a gentleman named Brian who reached out to me on LinkedIn. I did not know he followed my content, someone we mutually knew. He's applied to a ton of jobs and he actually shared. Here's been my journey, here's the experience that I've had.

Speaker 2:

Here's how many companies ghosted me, here's how many companies asked me to send additional information, here's how many I had first interviews and he shared his story and he shared in a story that people could connect with and he ended up getting like 10,000 views from it and a lot of organic conversations. So I think if there's a way, then just saying, hey, I need a job, but hey, let me share my journey, what I'm learning insights. I wanna help other people find I feel like you can connect with people better, but I don't have the perfect answer. I feel like everybody shares their story in their own way and I feel like there's, but there are ways to get a little bolder out. To say this has been my experience learning, but I've heard mixed results with that.

Speaker 1:

One of the things I like about what you just shared is that when people take some time to share their journey, it does make them more relatable. We know more and more, especially with social media in general, but especially when it gets to how job seekers network and they interview, there is tremendous power in the story. If you can tell a great story, you're gonna make much better connections.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes, I wanna share one concrete example too. There's a woman who I know in France with her name is Jenna Rogers, and she is very good at strategic communications and partnerships and she shares about, as a working mother, the challenges of juggling everything and looking for the next opportunity, but she and she also shares great insight, so she also helps people improve their communications. So she's got a nuanced way in the way she and she's bringing people into her journey, and so recently I've seen her making posts that I feel like people really connect with, and it's still she's in a position of strength and she's showcasing what she can do, and I feel like that's a great way of doing it.

Speaker 1:

When somebody is thinking about all of these suggestions you're giving them today right About how they can engage and they can be more of a thought leader. I often hear this from people I start working with, where they say I don't want my organization to worry or I don't want my organization to think I'm getting ready to leave. Should they be concerned that their employer might be looking at their LinkedIn and starting to think they changed their head shot? They changed their profile. Maybe they're going to leave. What's your take on that?

Speaker 2:

So I, you know, before I was at YayMaker I was more cautious what I'd post. I mean, I'm representing the company brand and the company had a lot of guardrails. They really just wanted employees to post what they were sharing. But you know, with YayMaker I was fortunate to have a CEO that's really encouraging people to be their authentic selves and express themselves. They look at it as free marketing. So I encourage companies to really embrace employees to post.

Speaker 2:

But you know, there is a reality there are some companies based on the culture that you may be a little uncomfortable. However, I do think there are very effective ways of sharing your ideas, promoting your company, promoting your industry, showcasing again your ideas and thoughts, which is only neutral to positive, and so I don't think I mean I don't think companies should be overly concerned with it. I don't think employees should be overly concerned of it. Again, if you're posting, I'm looking for new work, obviously, and you want to be careful that you're not posting anything that's controversial. So you should probably stay away from politics and religion and anything else hotly charged. But, as I said, if you're like, hey, I went to this conference and I found this really interesting and here's some new things I see in my industry, or if you're shouting out some of your partners or clients or employees, those are all things that resonate really well.

Speaker 2:

You know there is, I mean, I've seen people it's a little you know it's I don't know the right exactly term. You know brown nose or I don't know what the exact term is or what the term is, but I've seen people you know shout out their leaders or shout out you know the vision of the company, but those are, I mean again that's. I look at that as kind of low hanging front of engagement. It's not necessarily you want it to be authentic, but if you really do believe that your leadership is transparent and has a good initiative in sharing things, or you really do like your manager or boss, I mean that's a real important thing these days and to share that, that's all you're gonna strengthen. So I think there's lots of ways to utilize LinkedIn where it's not sending any red flags to your company or things like that.

Speaker 1:

Now that you're listening to the mid-career GPS podcast, are you subscribed to the mid-career GPS newsletter? This is my twice weekly newsletter to help you get the career clarity you need to find that new job or level up your leadership as you navigate toward whatever is next for you and your career. Be the first to hear about upcoming webinars and events, along with other things to help you build your mid-career GPS. It's a free newsletter and you can join by visiting my website at johnnarrellcom, check the show notes or my LinkedIn. Now back to the episode.

Speaker 1:

Well, and one of the things I help my clients with as well is just getting this thought belief in them that they're just building their network and they're being a better networker on LinkedIn and they're finding ways to engage and warm up their existing network. And as I was prepping for our conversation and I was on your LinkedIn profile looking around, there is something on your profile that absolutely delighted me. All right, let's go. Delighted me, right, and that is you have given twice as many recommendations on LinkedIn than you have received, and I'd like for you to spend a moment talking with us a little bit about why that's so important to you.

Speaker 2:

Wow, well, I appreciate that I do have requested and received lots of recommendations, but I do love giving them and I do believe it's more important to give than receive, and I do believe the more you give, the more you give back. And it has to do a little bit with the beginning what you said about nurturing and warming up relationships. I love to surprise people and give them a recommendation. If somebody I think does good work or I've really enjoyed working with them, I will randomly write them a recommendation and highlight them in the way that I think they would want to be seen and help professionally brand them in the way that I see. I mean, I'm always looking at how to brand myself and others, and so that's one of my strengths.

Speaker 2:

I've got a lot of weaknesses, but that's one of my strengths, so I like to, so I will do that, and what I find is when I do that, which is mostly selfless, I think as human beings we have our selfish, unselfish, all these things, but I like doing it.

Speaker 2:

But I do find that it does people appreciate it and it strengthens that relationship, and I have found people that I've written recommendations for. Whether it's short term or long term, there's often a karma that can help. But again, for the most part I like to do it because I like helping professionally brand people and, by the way, when you write that recommendation, you're branding yourself as well. You're getting yourself more exposure as well. So I'm just a believer in we live in a world with a lot of negativity and I feel like you know any positive that you can bring somebody and give them a little encouragement and showcase them in their best positive light professionally. I like helping people do that and people that I like working with and I think have done really good work. I love to showcase that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, Thank you. Thank you for that. I absolutely agree with you on that. It's one of the things I often find people miss. Such an easy win on LinkedIn is that when you know the quality of somebody's work and you can write them a very thoughtful, genuine, authentic recommendation it is an absolutely wonderful way to serve your network on LinkedIn, so I thank you for sharing that with us.

Speaker 1:

Well, great, well, thanks. So, matthew, we've talked a lot today, right? We've talked about how to be a better person on LinkedIn. We talked about the power of recommendations. We talked about establishing thought leadership and connecting and engaging, and I am willing to bet there is somebody listening to our conversation going oh my goodness, how long is this going to take out of my life right now? So, when you're thinking about building your brand on LinkedIn and growing your presence, how long do you think somebody who is gainfully employed and juggling all the things in their life, how much time would you recommend they should be spending on LinkedIn each week? That's going to give them some noticeable return on their investment in energy.

Speaker 2:

Well, again, I say, everybody's different. I'm a person who loves LinkedIn, so I'm on there every day and I post almost every day, or at least several times a week. Realistically, I think, if somebody posts once a month and if they carve out 30 minutes a day I mean 30 minutes a month I feel like that is realistically enough from a content part and that's to keep yourself professionally visible out there. So that is my recommended.

Speaker 2:

Not everybody wants to be a content creator and needs to post every week or every day, Once a month at least. In my opinion. That should be the low bar, in my opinion when it comes to, but I also think, at least once a week, go on for at least 20, 30 minutes to engage in other people's comments, look through your network like comment and things like that. I think that's important as well. So, in my opinion, if you spend a half hour a month to promote something yourself or your company or things like that and you spend a half hour a week engaging in other people's comments and posts, I think at least you're active. I don't know the percentages, but I'm going to guess that will put you in the top 10%.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely, and that 30 minute block everybody. You could chunk that up into three 10 minute blocks. I'm sure you could find 10 minutes somewhere. Maybe you're not scrolling through puppy and cat videos on Instagram and you take a little moment to come on over to LinkedIn and engage with your network there and make some new connection. So, matthew, thank you for putting that in a perspective for us. We're going to start wrapping up here, so I want to ask you what advice would you give someone to help them build their mid-career GPS? Specifically, though, in terms of helping them build their brand?

Speaker 2:

Wow. Well, I'll share you know what I mentioned. This and this is. I mean I actually I listened to your last podcast. You had three questions and I might be summarizing this, but you talked about the importance of knowing your purpose and what you're passionate about. You talked about networking and building relationships and then you talked about professional growth, and I feel like those are three good questions people should ask themselves and that can be a real good building block on what people should post. If you know what you like and your interests, that should be really important. And, by the way, even if it's not professional, if you love pickleball, knitting whiskey, it doesn't matter I actually believe you should incorporate that in some of your personality. Let people know your interests, because people are going to gravitate towards you and you don't know it Anyway.

Speaker 2:

So I'd say, your professional interests and personal interests, identify that, and I'm a believer in making a plan. You know what to say. All right, you know what I'm committed and for maybe you can pick whatever time frame. So the next month I'm going to do one or two posts, I'm going to respond to a few things, I'm going to get myself out there. You know, make some type of a plan and again, whether it's a 30-day, 60-day, 90-day plan, whatever it is, commit to something.

Speaker 2:

It might just be a baby step, it might be hey, next week I'm going to comment on three posts of people who I want to have a stronger relationship with.

Speaker 2:

That can be a step, but it's again just like anything, just like trying to save money, just like trying to work out whatever it helps when you have a goal and if you write it down. So again, I just think about, I would ask myself what do I want to be known for, how do I want others to perceive me and what type of content should I be posting? And I guess another step would be find five other people on LinkedIn that you admire their content, their page, your posts, and look at what they're doing and then use that as your roadmap. And again, you don't have to do everything, but there might be three or four things you like about it and one or two things you don't. But if you find four or five people on LinkedIn and you're like this is where I'd like to elevate or get to now you've got a path to be a little more like them professionally on LinkedIn.

Speaker 1:

Those are great tips and I want to thank you for those. Definitely have given everybody a lot of things to consider and think about today. So thank you again, matthew. If people want to connect with you, find you learn more about you, I'm going to turn the mic over to you. Please tell us all the great places where people can connect.

Speaker 2:

Great, best two ways LinkedIn, obviously I'm super active, so just find me. Look for Matthew or Matt Rolmick on LinkedIn. You'll find me there and I'm open to. I love connecting with all professionals, so open there. And then my email is mrolmick at yaymakercom, so M-R-O-L-N-I-C-K at Yaymaker. And again, I love talking about team building. Events is what our company does. But also I love talking about LinkedIn corporate culture. I mean. So I love forming new strategic partnerships and relationships.

Speaker 1:

Matthew. I will make those all available for everybody in the show notes. Thanks for your information today and for being a great guest on the mid-career GPS podcast. Appreciate it, john. It was an absolute pleasure. It was a ton of fun today, so thank you.

Speaker 1:

So, my friends, if there's one big takeaway from today's episode, what I want to reinforce for you is this whole idea about how you show up on LinkedIn and what your brand looks like, and one of the things Matthew drove home for us today were these things Connect intentionally, engage thoughtfully and serve your network in however way you feel is best for you to do it. But your network is one of the best assets for you in your career. Your network doesn't have to be tens of thousands of people. You can have a phenomenal network with just a few really close people that you're going to advocate for them and they're going to be there for you as well. And we've said it over and over again that building your network is a huge part of your mid-career GPS. So until next time, my friends, remember this You'll build your mid-career GPS one mile or one step at a time, and how you show up matters. Make it a great rest of your day.

Speaker 1:

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 in your organization with your next workshop or public speaking event, and 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.

Speaker 2:

Thank you.

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