“It now feels more human, more relaxing and more fun to approach it this way than to try to say, ‘What’s your thirty second elevator pitch?’ ‘And go!’ ” -Coach Gabriella Dennery MD
In this episode, Coaches Gabriella and Jill give us some wonderfully useful tips on how to do a better job to make networking easier. Jill and Gabriella tell us how to take the pressure out of networking and explain that none of us were born with a networking manual. It’s a muscle that we have to build. Knowing that makes it feel a lot less daunting and a lot more doable. Actually, instead of networking, Jill suggests we think of it as relationship building and connecting. Tune in to this episode to get some actionable tips you can use in your life and career today for building relationships and connecting with people in a meaningful way.
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Podcast produced by: Amanda Taran
Please enjoy the full transcript below
Gabriella: It now feels more human, more relaxing, and more fun to approach it this way, then to try to say what’s your 32nd elevator pitch, and go. [laughs]
Hi, my name is Gabriella Dennery, MD, Co-Lead Life Coach at DocWorking, and I’m here with my other co-lead coach, the wonderful, Jill Farmer. And today, we’re going to talk about something that frankly, for some people is very, very natural. It comes very easily, they have that kind of social interaction bug that’s already ingrained in them. But for other people, it is the toughest thing, and for me as well, how to network and how to make it count. Even the word, networking brings up a lot of heebie-jeebies [laughs] right there. It’s like, “Oh, my God, I have to go to this networking meeting, which I avoided like the plague for years,” simply because I just didn’t know what to do, or how to say it, how to approach people, and especially, as an introvert, it was not something that came naturally to me. So, Jill, I know you have some tips along the line of how to make networking easy, and is it really the word to think of? Is there some other way to think about it other than, “Oh, I have to go network?”
Jill: Yeah, I don’t like networking either, because I think we’ve all been to that creepy thing where networking was people handing each other business cards and then trying to sell us stuff. To me, I’ve always been surprised, because I have worked through the years in different sectors, financial services, and everything around the sun when it comes to corporate world. In healthcare, it comes up a lot with my physician clients to ask about networking as well, because they’re like, “Ah, I have to go to this networking event. We have to go meet with these–” It’s not something that anybody ever told them that they were going to have to do. So, it feels like I have to, it feels icky, and it feels inauthentic, because physicians aren’t used to doing things to try to schmooze or sell themselves used to try to do authentic work.
I don’t like the word networking. I think it is just relationship building and connecting. It’s a way to either warm up existing relationships, or to build new relationships, to look at the many benefits of creating new relationships and warming up relationships, whatever that is. New opportunities, new ways to collaborate, new ways to let other people know about what it is you’re doing, which are all positives. So, it’s not selling people stuff, it’s not impressing people, it’s just connecting. I’m not saying you have to love doing it. I’m just saying if you give yourself a little preparation ahead of time, you may discover that you hate it less, and that it can be more meaningful and effective.
If you’re an introvert, you’re never going to love it and that’s okay. Just like if you’re an extrovert, you’re never going to love probably, two whole days have nothing to do except for you by yourself. But those are muscles we have to strengthen because we live in a world where we sometimes we have to be alone, and sometimes we have to be with people. So, if you’re an introvert, you do need to give yourself sometime after you do any networking event to refill your energy tank, because it is going to feel a little draining.
Prep is the most important thing when it comes to networking. Just give yourself a little information about who’s going to be there, and what they’re going to be talking about, and then also practice. I don’t love elevator pitches, none of us do. People are talking at us. But I do like this little formula that I use with clients that hate networking for having an easy way to talk about what it is you do. You can write this down, and if you’re driving, you can’t listen now, you can come back and listen to it later, and they’ll take 30 seconds. but you just simply write down for yourself ahead of time. my job title is blank, which means I blank. Because even though you’re so used to whatever your discipline and field of work is a lot of other people in the world may not know exactly where that is, or where you’re doing it, or who the patient population you’re serving is. So, my job title is time and stress management coach and one of the lead coaches at docworking.com, which means I work with people around time and stress management issues to help them be more successful. Especially, physicians. It just was very easy, but if I just said I’m a coach, and we left it there, you wouldn’t know nearly as much about me.
Two more lines that I like to add to this little connecting intro are what I love about it is or if you’re having one of those periods of life where you don’t love it. What I like about it is, [laughs] what I find interesting is, and then if you really want a bonus one, and I feel lucky to the way to put that together. So, my job title is lead coach a docworking.com, which means that I get to coach and help develop programs to support doctors all over the place. What I love about it is working with physicians. They’re brilliant, they’re so intentional, and they are really coachable in my experience, and I feel so lucky to help support them in doing the work they do in the world. I wasn’t selling anything but you know a lot about what I’m doing just by having that little bit there. Gabrielle is somebody who doesn’t love networking. Do you think that would help you if you had a little kind of ahead of time and intro in your mind about how you would talk about what it is you do?
Gabriella: Oh, my goodness. Thank you so much, Jill, because I actually took notes and took down all the sentence stems simply, because, yeah, that whole thing about that 32nd elevator pitch, which is something I’ve heard for years, and been struggling with for a number of years, too. Well, what is my pitch? How would I “sell myself” or tell somebody in two sentences, what I’m about and what I’m here to do for them? I always found that was very intimidating. I think to this day, I still haven’t found it, and I’m still working on it. I think this formula. So, my job title is, I’m a co-lead coach at docworking.com, and as I’m writing down, I’m writing down ideas, which means that I love to catalyze personal professional changes in physicians to live the life that they want to live. What I love about it is a lot. So, I need to trim that down, and I’m going to work on it, and I feel lucky to be here, absolutely, because it’s an absolute privilege to support colleagues in their movement forward and to live the life that they desire. It’s very humbling experience, actually.
I’m going to fill in number three after we get off the podcast recording. But thank you so much. This is actually extremely helpful. What I find just listening to you, Jill, is that, that pressure of trying to come up with something has completely deflated. It now feels more human, more relaxing, and more fun to approach it this way, then to try to say, “What’s your 32nd elevator pitch? and go. [laughs] I would also say in terms of networking, one, it’s a muscle that I get to build. It’s not something that’s natural. I was not born with a networking manual, that’s for sure. So, it’s a muscle I get to build. And I get to ask questions, which I think is just a beautiful part of it. Whether somebody needs to know who I am or what I do is important, and at the same time, I get to find out more about them, and I get curious about their lives, and their interests, and what they envision for themselves.
Allowing people space, I think that’s a crucial part of networking. Allowing people space and creating that trusting environment where they can start talking on human terms and we get to talk to each other on human terms is very, very valuable. As you said, it’s not about selling, it’s not about leaving the meeting with thousand business cards, which would be great. But it really is about speaking a little bit and listening more, and asking just general inquiry questions, and getting curious about a person in their life, and people will remember that. People remember as Maya Angelou says, how you make them feel and to be of service would be the other last point.
In other words, “Hey, I know someone who might be able to help you with this.” So, I may not be able to help you, but I know someone who does. So, let me put you in touch with that person. Making those kinds of connections as well becomes really, really important. You’re there to make meaningful relationships, meaningful connections, not just directly one-on-one, but for other people as well, and that way, you are a service. Number three, you get to be curious about other people’s lives, and therefore, you expand your own territory. That’s what I find I’m learning through as I’m getting a little better at networking over time, and building that networking muscle is not about selling myself necessarily trying to get something out of someone, but to really say, how can I help, how can I be of service, and let’s see what we can find out about each other? That has been helpful to me. Jill, what do you think?
Jill: When you just use that formula, I got goosebumps twice. I think that’s a good sign that it’s really authentic. Your authenticity about the fact that it’s really holy, who you are and what you’re doing, it comes through. So, that was beautiful.
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Jill: You talked about the getting to ask questions. To me, that’s the second part that’s really important. That can be tricky. I know for physicians, which is maintaining the conversation like, “Okay, I did the intro.” How do I maintain the conversation? I use this silly formula called ‘FLOW,’ F-L-O-W, and the first one is just friendly job curiosity. These are just questions in each of these categories for keeping the conversation going. Again, you don’t have to memorize them, but they’re just things to have in your back pocket. Like, how long have you been, where you are and what brought you, what’s your journey getting to where you are? These are interesting questions where you get to hear about where they are now, but also what led to that. Again, you’re not trying to dive into anybody’s job stuff, but it’s just a nice warm place to start, because we’re already there talking about what it is we do.
The second letter in flow is L, which is low hanging fruit [laughs]. So, that’s ask a question, if you’re feeling like the conversation is stalling a bit. Tell me about your relationship to this organization, where ever this networking event is? What’s your connection to this charity? Anything like that, that’s like we’re here together. Let’s talk about what brought us here together. That’s low hanging fruit. The weather is low hanging fruit. It’s a very simple way to warm a conversation. O, F-L-O is on life. This is my favorite part of asking questions and getting to know people. What do you like to do outside of work? What’s the most interesting place you’ve traveled? Are you interested in music, sports? Do you have favorite restaurants are one of my favorite questions in the last year, what have you been watching on Netflix? Those are just like, on life. So, you’re getting to warm the relationship up, and then the O is world events.
I’m not suggesting you talk about politics when you’re just meeting somebody necessarily an organization like this. But how did COVID affect your particular life and practice, just getting to understand somebody else’s perspective, somebody else’s take on something that’s a shared event that’s happening in the world at large, and the community at large, can be an interesting way. So, those are just little things to think about. So, you have a few questions in your pocket, things are going to happen organically, and when you ask somebody a question, if they don’t ask you back, you can still answer it, so that you’re making connection, because maybe they’re a little awkward, and they forget to say, how about you? So, when they answer your question and they stop, you can just go ahead and say, and here’s my journey in my career. Yeah, here’s what I like to do outside of work.
Finally, I call ending the conversation, I like to say quick and clean is how we go. I really enjoyed getting to know you, and learn more about you, and then you throw in a quick compliment about something you heard. I’m definitely going to check out that Netflix show you mentioned. I think it’s really cool that you lived in three countries, whatever that is, I look forward to seeing you again soon, you can hand a business card if you want to, you don’t have to. And then here’s the graceful dismount. This is the part that everyone has trouble with. That is simply you can say, I’m going to go get a fresh drink or some more food, take care, I look forward to seeing you again goodbye, or you can say, that person I said I was going to connect you with, you’re putting in top of mind, I’ll follow up with an email after this, that’s a great graceful dismount, or there’s someone else I need to greet. So, I’m going to go say hi to them. Thanks again for taking the time I really enjoyed talking to you. It avoids that awkward, when do we end this, we seem to have said everything we need to say to each other, and it allows a nice finish up so then you can move on and practice your warm connection intro with someone else, [laughs] and get to know somebody else. So, final thoughts on those structures for networking?
Gabriella: A final thoughts, one, I vote for Bridgeton as far as Netflix series. [laughs] Total crazy romp. Absolutely amazing. Yeah, I think you summed it up beautifully in terms of one show up, and I would say, not just show up physically, but be present. Be present to what they’re talking about, what somebody is saying. I think, to me, what’s annoying in networking, if somebody’s looking at the door, looking at their watch, or looking at their cell phone, or their attention is elsewhere, or trying to send a text while I’m talking with them. That’s a bit of a turnoff. So, be mindful of those things. You want to pay attention and focus on the person who’s in front of you, and block out everything else as much as possible. Give them your full attention. People remember those things. They do.
Confidence, learning how to be confident in front of other people and not to impress somebody, but to be confident in who you are, what you know, what you bring to the table, your skills and talents, your strengths, etc. It’s not that you’re going to give them a personal litany of everything you’ve accomplished, but it is to be able to project that kind of enthusiasm, and energy, and pride in what you do and how you do it. People can sense that as well. Desperation is a turnoff. It truly is. So, you want make sure that if you need to do a little inventory before going in, up your strengths of what you bring to the table of what you think your skills are, what inspires you, what’s encouraging to you, etc. Before going in, just to have that in your mind and top of mind as you’re talking to someone.
Again, it’s not to show off. It’s simply to help build that muscle and build that self-confidence as you move into perhaps unknown territory. If networking is new, or awkward, or uncomfortable, I think your points about having an entrance, having a strategy during, and having an exit, I think is perfect. There’s so many ways to do that in a way that is encouraging, and uplifting, and it ends in a high note for everyone concerned.
Jill: Yeah, excellent points. I think just to encapsulate those together, this is a muscle we’re building. Number one tips takeaway for today. This is a muscle you build, it’s not natural to you, it’s a buildable muscle. So, don’t be absolute. I’m either a networker or I’m not. One of the ways that you strengthen that muscle is prepping ahead of time, so that you’re thinking about what you might say, who’s going to be there, how you can show up with confidence, and show up fully as yourself. We’re always at our best when we can be as fully ourselves and staying focused on the person you’re talking to instead of thinking about, what are they thinking about me, really listening, really connecting authentically, that’s going to make it more naturally uncomfortable for everybody else. All brilliant points, Gabriella made.
Tip number two. Use that intro formula we gave you. My job title is blank, which means I blank. What I love about it is blank, and I feel lucky to blank. You can totally reformulate that in your own words, but it’s a nice starting template. Same thing with the flow of conversation. Have a few questions in your pockets about friendly job curiosity, some low hanging through, what brings us all here together. Some ideas on life. What do you like to do outside of work, and maybe some larger worldview that can talk about, what it is you do every day fits into what’s happening in the world? And then finally, ending the conversation or tip number three is make it quick and clean. Let yourself have a graceful dismount with just solid eye contact, gratitude for the time you’ve spent together, and then let them know that you’re going to go on to greet somebody else. On behalf of DocWorking Lead Coach, Gabriella Dennery, I’m Jill Farmer. Thanks for joining us for this episode of DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast.
Amanda: Hello, and thank you for listening. This is Amanda Taran. I’m the producer of the DocWorking Podcast. If you enjoyed our podcast, please like and subscribe. We would also love it if you check out our website, which is docworking.com. You can also find us on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and on Instagram. On Instagram. We are @docworking1 and that is what the number one. When you check us out on social, please let us know what you would like to hear on the podcast. Your feedback really means a lot to us. And if you’re a physician with a story you’d like to tell, please reach out to me at [email protected] to apply to be on the podcast. Thank you, again, and we look forward to talking with you on the next episode of DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast.