Ellen teaches people at all levels of their careers effective strategies to build networks and nurture relationships for professional success. After graduating from the George Washington University Law School, she became the fourth woman in U.S. history to be chosen as CEO of a state bankers association and was named by the Phoenix Business Journal as one of its ten most influential people under 40. More recently, Poole spent almost 15 years as a multi-state government relations executive for Fortune 100 company USAA, where she built a professional network spanning the country.
In this episode, Ellen shares her favorite mistake story about the time she blew a job interview by giving a “smart-ass” answer. Was it a blessing in disguise because the organization might not have been a fit. Does the need to be authentic trump all else? What did she learn about being more customer focused, in interviewing and in general?
Questions and Topics:
- Was this mistake a blessing in disguise in terms of fit?
- What did you learn? “Don’t be a smartass in job interviews…”
- Being more customer focused?
- Did anyone ever bring up that interview again?
- What are some common mistakes people make in the name of networking?
- Tell us about the book — ‘Network’ is Not a Verb.
- There’s an implied mistake… to think network is a verb… tell us about that…
- LinkedIn as a networking tool?? Sales platform?
- “How to solve the problems of everyone you come into contact with…”
- Use discount code MARKGRABAN on her website
Scroll down to find:
- Video of the episode
- How to subscribe
- Full transcript
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Automated Transcript (Likely Contains Mistakes)
Mark Graban (0s):
Episode 211, Ellen Poole, author of the book Network is not a Verb.
Ellen Poole (6s):
I still get embarrassed even just thinking about this mistake. So it's a doozy.
Mark Graban (15s):
I'm Mark Gaban. This is my favorite mistake. In this podcast, you'll hear business leaders and other really interesting people talking about their favorite mistakes because we all make mistakes. But what matters is learning from our mistakes instead of repeating them over and over again. So this is the place for honest reflection and conversation, personal growth and professional success. Visit our website at myfavoritemistakepodcast.com. To learn more about Ellen, her book, and more look for links in the show notes. You're good to markgraban.com/mistake211. As always, thanks for taking time to listen. I hope you enjoy the episode.
Mark Graban (55s):
Well have everybody. Welcome to My Favorite Mistake. I'm Mark Graban. My guest today is Ellen Poole. She's the author of the new book Network is not a Verb, it's it's available now. Ellen teaches people at all levels of their careers, effective strategies to build networks and nurture relationships for professional success. So we'll have a chance to explore a lot of that here today. Ellen graduated from the George Washington University Law School. She became the fourth woman in US history to be chosen as C e O of a state Bankers Association in Arizona. And she was named by the Phoenix Business Journal as one of its 10 most influential people under 40. More recently, Ellen spent almost 15 years as a multi-state government relations executive for the Fortune 100 Company, USAA, where she built a professional network spanning the country.
Mark Graban (1m 44s):
So a lot of experiences to tap into here. Ellen, thank you for joining us. How are you?
Ellen Poole (1m 50s):
I am great. It's wonderful to be here, Mark,
Mark Graban (1m 53s):
I'm glad you could join us. Congratulations again on the book and I, I will just comment before asking about favorite mistakes. My gosh. March in Phoenix, March in Arizona. I'm jealous of your weather. I'm sure it's beautiful.
Ellen Poole (2m 6s):
Well, I would love to tell you that it was an increase your envy, but sadly, we are having almost the worst weather in March that I remember in the 30 years I've lived here. It's cold.
Mark Graban (2m 17s):
Ellen Poole (2m 20s):
Sorry. Normally it would be, the years I've lived here would've been dead on. I don't understand what's happening.
Mark Graban (2m 27s):
Phoenix spring training March, best time of year, but hopefully the summer then doesn't make up for it by being 120 every day this year.
Ellen Poole (2m 37s):
Let's keep our fingers crossed.
Mark Graban (2m 39s):
My mistake to even mention that. So let's get away from my most recent mistakes. Alan, I would love to hear from the things you've done in your career, you know, what would you say is your favorite mistake?
Ellen Poole (2m 52s):
Well, it's funny, mark, because in preparing for this podcast, I was thinking about it and I still get embarrassed even just thinking about this mistake. So it's a doozy. So as you mentioned, I went to law school and when I graduated from law school, I moved out to Arizona and got a job at a law firm here. And it was a great firm, great people, but I ended up doing the kind of law I wasn't really interested in. And for reasons that are too long to go into right now, there was no opportunity to change. And so after about a year of this, I decided to look for another job. And before I went to law school, after college, I had worked in politics and government relations, and I decided I wanted to go back into that field.
Ellen Poole (3m 35s):
So I didn't know very many people. I was new in Arizona, but I had met one guy who was very well thought of in the political arena and he said, you know, I've got a colleague at another company who is looking to hire someone to work with him in government relations, and I'm gonna call him up and tell him he needs to meet with you. So this guy did that for me and I went over to meet the hiring guy and we just hit it off. I wanted to work with him, it was a great job. The job did not require a law degree, so I was somewhat overqualified, but he was excited about the fact that I was coming to this with a law degree. So we had a great meeting and while 30 years later, I can't remember exactly what he said, but I gotta tell you, I left feeling like I was a sure thing.
Ellen Poole (4m 23s):
This was my job. But he did tell me that he was not the final decision maker and that there would be a committee of people who were doing interviews and I would have to have a committee interview, but it was almost a wink, wink, nudge, nudge, right? Like you've got nothing to worry about. So the day of the interview, I show up in my little Navy suit, which is what we all wore back then for job interviews. And I go in and it's set up almost like a congressional hearing. You know how we've seen those on tv? Yeah. They're the guys front and these nine people are up there, and I'm at the little table down front, you know, very formal. I'm a little bit nervous. And the committee starts off by throwing me a softball question.
Ellen Poole (5m 6s):
And they ask me, tell us about your good qualities. And before I could think better of it, I replied, how much time do we have?
Mark Graban (5m 18s):
Ellen Poole (5m 20s):
The whole thing went south from there. Yes.
Mark Graban (5m 22s):
They didn't laugh,
Ellen Poole (5m 23s):
They did not laugh. It threw them off the rest of the interview. They weren't hostile, they were too professional for that. But they clearly wrote me off after that first answer. And I did not get the job. This is not a mistake that you tell where there's some great outcome later. There was no great outcome. Later I did not get the job. And when I spoke with the hiring guy later, he said, honestly, the committee thought you were flip. And so that was a big mistake. Now I can laugh about it because honestly I think it was funny, but there was no place for funny in this situation. Yeah. And so, yeah, massive mistake.
Ellen Poole (6m 4s):
Did not get the job. Obviously every, everything turned out fine with my career later, but that was it.
Mark Graban (6m 11s):
Oh gosh. But I, and I don't mean to, well, you know, keep dragging you through that story, you know, I mean, I appreciate you, you know, telling the story, but since you know, I don't know you very well, I mean, was that, I mean, thing in terms of, you know, your personality to, was that sort of, you know, in, in your nature to respond and maybe like kind of an endearing, lighthearted way and it just didn't land,
Ellen Poole (6m 40s):
You know? Yes, I think it is a little bit. I tend to, to be a little sarcastic, throw in a few jokes. I also am very concerned about being appropriate. And in fact, there's a whole chapter on that in my book. So, you know, and it's interesting, you, we talk a lot today about authenticity being who you really are. And I think that can mislead people. I think it can be a mistake to assume that who you are is what's important for every occasion, and that your right or need to be authentic trumps every other need in this situation. So that is a little bit who I am, and as I've gotten obviously much further in my career and more confident, and I work with people who know me and my professional reputation precedes me, then joking around, I think people might enjoy, or it's lighthearted.
Ellen Poole (7m 28s):
It certainly hasn't gained me a negative reaction like then. But again, I'm much more judicious about the use of humor and is it appropriate to be lighthearted in a situation that clearly from the circumstance was not lighthearted, it was a very formal setting. Right,
Mark Graban (7m 43s):
Right. So as, I mean, with you being an attorney, you made me chuckle a little bit with your use of the word judicious. I mean,
Ellen Poole (7m 54s):
I can't help myself,
Mark Graban (7m 56s):
But I mean, I, I mean, I wonder though, I mean, I, I see what you're saying about that need or desire to be authentic shouldn't trump all out. And like there's different situations where you've already built relationships with people versus a first impression. Like I, I could see that side of it, but, you know, I'm just kind of curious, like, did you ever, did you, how much did you consider, like, well, if, if they didn't react well to that, how would they react to you? And, you know, was this a, was it somehow a blessing in disguise to, or, or, or was, or was it just a mistake?
Ellen Poole (8m 33s):
Oh, it was just a mistake. I got to know a lot of those people later because I did go to work in the government relations field in Arizona and in fact became very successful, possibly more successful than I would have been had that been my first job in the field. But maybe not, you know, one doesn't know, and I don't wanna rationalize, but no humor would be perfectly fine. I think the bigger problem, you know, and I've listened to a number of your podcasts and I know a huge part of what you talk about is what did you learn from the mistake? And you know, obviously the first takeaway that I think we can all believe in is don't be a smart ass in job interviews. But, but the, the bigger, I don't even wanna say lesson, I feel like it was an illustration of what people often do.
Ellen Poole (9m 19s):
And you know, I talked about authenticity a moment ago, but I think a bigger element is empathy. And I think in professional situations, people generally think only about themselves. What do I want from this situation? What do I need from this situation? What's good for me? What's good for my career? How do I get to go home at five? How do I get to do work I want without ever thinking about what other people need from the situation? The empathy for understanding where the other person or other people are coming from when you interact with them professionally. And it's so interesting because mostly people aren't jerks, right? They think about what their friends want.
Ellen Poole (9m 59s):
Nobody hangs out with a friend and insists on having it their way and doing what they want all the time. And yet, somehow we get into these professional situations where all of a sudden we have now programmed ourselves, or we are programmed to think only about our own needs. And honestly, my book is in fact based around building relationships. And while I don't think I even use the word empathy in the book, it really is about an empathetic approach. What does somebody else need out of this relationship? And how can you help both of you get what you need rather than being self-focused? And if I look back at that interview, I honestly didn't walk in there thinking for one second about what that committee needed from the applicants for this job, what they needed from the people doing the job.
Ellen Poole (10m 48s):
You know, it wasn't that they couldn't deal with humor, but what they needed was somebody they could count on to take the job seriously and do the job. And I didn't display those trades even though I had them. And so I think in building networks and building relationships, authenticity is important. Not always all the time in your face, but it is important. And the subtitle of my book is how to build relationships authentically. Yeah. But empathy is the most important thing. Yeah.
Mark Graban (11m 17s):
And, and that's, that's a great point, Ellen, and thank you for sharing. You, you, you read my mind or you knew Yeah, I was gonna ask about the lessons learned question. I appreciate you, you know, kind of walking us through that and what you said there. I mean, I, another way of framing maybe in a situation like that, some people would use the phrase, let's say customer focus. If that interview panel was your customer, like you were saying, think through what, what, I mean, I think this is a general business situation of thinking like, well, you know, here, here's what the customer needs versus here's what I want to do. If that's aligned, great, but it's often just not, not aligned. And so, yeah, I mean, I, I don't know if you've run across, is there a, another general lesson I'm stumbling through and attempted a question here?
Mark Graban (12m 4s):
Kinda that general lesson of thinking of, you know, situations where, where it benefited you to be more customer focused, even if it wasn't an interview.
Ellen Poole (12m 15s):
Oh, well, many. And that is in fact why I wrote the book because I ended up becoming professionally successful entirely due to my network. And you mentioned in your introduction of me that after law school I moved out to Arizona. I did not know anybody when I got here, other than the people at the law firm who had interviewed me and hired me, and then a few other random people that I had met. And yet, after living here for six years, I became the c e o of a major trade association. Or I'm sorry, that was after four years. And after six years, I got named one of the 10 most influential people under 40. So this all came from having built this network that then supported me and built me up and helped me succeed professionally.
Ellen Poole (12m 57s):
And so after observing for, you know, all of these years, and people want to have relationships, you know, you look at the best sellers out there on building networks, networking and how to do it, the Wall Street Journal just did a three part series on networking that you could sign up for and learn how to do it. I mean, it's clearly top of mind for people, and yet the same thread runs through it all. And now, as you were searching for a question, I'm searching for an answer because I rambled away from the question. No, it's
Mark Graban (13m 26s):
Ellen Poole (13m 27s):
But I think that that it, it, the, the lesson of empathy and, you know, you talk about customer focus, that's great in a sales scenario, but I mean, do you really think of your next door neighbor as your customer? And yet you have a relationship with that person and you still think about, you know, what does that person need or want? You know, you might go outside and my, my neighbor and I share a little stand with two mailboxes on it. She cleans her mailbox and then she cleans mine because we're neighbors and she's doing that for me. So I feel like a customer focus is almost too narrow. In my book, I talk about relationships, the relations, you relationships you have professionally can still have the same characteristics as the relationships you have personally.
Ellen Poole (14m 12s):
Yeah. And so it's almost cheating them to say customer focused.
Mark Graban (14m 16s):
Well, yeah. And you, I, I like the way you said that it's a subset of that, that broader need for, for empathy kind of, you know, fair exchange of help and benefit in a networking exchange. So I, I want come right back to that and we'll talk more about the book, but this is last final follow up question though, just because I'm curious, you mentioned, you know, from that interview running into people in professional or even social settings. Did anyone ever bring that up with you of like, remember the time?
Ellen Poole (14m 50s):
No, no one did. And I will tell you that although I ran into those people, and I, especially the guy who I had first met with, who I would've been working with, had I gotten that job and he was never especially warm to me. And as I matured and started having this bigger worldview where I understood that empathy underlay successful relationships, I thought, well, of course he's not warm to me. He probably went to those committee members and said, I've got the perfect candidate, found the right person for the job, she's a lawyer, she's this. And then I went in there and embarrassed him and instead of thinking about what he needed, because he was part of this professional, I didn't have any empathy for his need to not look bad by recommending someone who mouthed off the first chance she got.
Ellen Poole (15m 39s):
And so he was friendly, professional, courteous, but we did not have the relationship that we could have. And I think because of that, but no one ever did bring it back up again. Yeah.
Mark Graban (15m 50s):
Oh, okay. Well thank you. Thank you for sharing all of that and those reflections, Ellen. So let, let's talk more about networking and networking mistakes. And some of this might be other people's mistakes now that, that you've observed or help people avoid. And, and again, we're joined here by Ellen Pool. Her book is Network is Not a Verb. Oh, I was gonna say also real quick, if you thought you were making a mistake of wandering around from the question, I think I sort of asked, it's okay. Right? It's a, it's a conversation, it's not a deposition. How's that?
Ellen Poole (16m 22s):
Mark Graban (16m 23s):
Saying, this is an engineer myself, not an attorney. But so back to the, back to networking mistakes, you know, tell me more. I mean, there's this one where I, I think we've maybe all felt it and hopefully I've never been on the bad side of this, but like networking where somebody is only wanting something without offering or trying to at least find something in return. I'm not saying it always, it, I'm not trying to make it a quid pro quo, but just even that offer of like, oh thanks, you've been helpful. Is there anything I can do for you? That goes a long way. I think even if the answer is no, what, what do you say?
Ellen Poole (17m 3s):
Well, I think it does, but it's still transactional, you know, and it's sort of, I, I always analogize back to friendships. You know, hopefully you and your best friend, if you go out to lunch a couple times and you buy the third time, you're not sitting there going, he better buy this time. You know, you don't tend to think in terms of give and get in our personal relationships. Although sometimes if somebody takes, takes, takes, you may say, I don't wanna have a personal relationship with that person anymore. So it's not that we're completely unconscious of it, but it's like you said, it's definitely not a quid pro quo. On the other hand, if you are going into trying to build a relationship and thinking I need to give this person something since I'm getting something from them that's just as quid pro quo, you're just holding up your end of, of the quo.
Ellen Poole (17m 50s):
So it doesn't really change the character of it. You're just, you're still thinking about it in that fashion. And in my book I advocate, well I talk about there's a core principle underlying the building of professional relationships. And it's really human nature at work because think about the people that you would like to have in your network. There are people that you probably think would be of value to you to know. So when you think, oh, I'd like to build my network and have these people, so in my book, it's all about becoming someone of value that other people want to add to their networks.
Ellen Poole (18m 29s):
Because when they wanna add you to their network, they by definition are in yours. And so I don't why I say network is not a verb because I don't really believe in networking. That little activity where you go out and you contact people you don't know and you try to get to know them and you want something from them. And maybe if you're evolved on that scale, you try to offer something to them, it's still an artificial process. The process that I advocate is adding value for the people you come into contact with. And you don't even have to make deliberate steps to come into contact with them. It can just be people that you come into contact with at work every day.
Ellen Poole (19m 10s):
And when I talk about adding value, what I mean is being empathetic, understanding what they need, what the problems they have are, and then doing what you can to solve those problems. Because when you solve problems for other people, they put you in their mental network as a valuable person to know. But back to your question about mistakes people make, sometimes people hear me say that, but then they are only willing to give that value to someone they think is going to be important for them. Hmm. Let's see. You'd be a good member of my network, so I'm gonna follow her advice and offer value.
Ellen Poole (19m 50s):
But that to me is a big mistake, looking out for the important people. And in fact, I devote an entire chapter in my book to this because I feel like it's a huge mistake. First of all, one's own strategic and analytical abilities are not good enough to know who's gonna be helpful or beneficial to us next week or next year or 30 years from now. Good point. Your calculation is already inaccurate. It's what you're thinking today at this moment. And then second, you don't know enough about other people. You don't know where they've been, you don't know where they're going. You only know what they do right at this moment.
Ellen Poole (20m 30s):
Or maybe if you've researched them a little bit about them, I'm much more advocate showing value to everyone. It should be part of who you are in your persona because the people you come in contact with will want to help you and do things for you. I'll tell you a quick story. When I was working at the state legislature, which was the job I got by the way, instead of the one where I messed up the interview, I didn't make enough money. It was state government. And so I decided to do some pet sitting for people. And I found a couple, they were both lawyers, they had two dogs and they traveled a lot. And so I became their dog sitter. And I must tell you that I was a fabulous dog sitter.
Ellen Poole (21m 11s):
And 17 years later, after I had left U S A A and opened my own consulting business, the dog mom called me. She was, had her own law practice by this time and she had a client hire me and they became my largest client for two years. And it wasn't based on my fabulous dog sitting abilities, but it was based on my ability to solve problems for her. Because once you solve problems for people in one context, they think you are going to solve them for them in another. So this was this huge contract. Typically in the lobbying world, there are bids you have to do written proposals, none of that. We went to lunch, they hired me, they were my biggest client.
Ellen Poole (21m 54s):
And yet, 17 years earlier, when I took the dogs to the park every night, instead of sitting by their fantastic backyard pool, I wasn't thinking, hey, I'm adding these people to my network.
Mark Graban (22m 6s):
Right. Yeah, no, I, I mean I you, you make a really good point about, I guess, you know, you know, it'd be an admirable trait to be described as helpful. Ellen boy, she's helpful as opposed to, well in certain situations when it benefits her, Ellen's helpful. Cuz then like that's, that's a different word than helpful. So I appreciate you kind of emphasizing that, that that's what I hear you saying.
Ellen Poole (22m 34s):
It's true. And you know, and I think it also goes beyond helpful because some people are helpful, but the people who are really, that we really value figure out what we need from a situation sometimes without us even identifying it ourselves or having to ask. I had a home contractor that I hired, I bought a house that was built in the seventies and it had popcorn ceilings. I don't know if you know what those are. Yeah,
Mark Graban (22m 58s):
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Ellen Poole (22m 59s):
Oh, hideous, right? Yeah. So hired this guy to come into my house, he came highly recommended, come into my house and spend three days taking down the popcorn ceilings. And I went on a business trip while he did it. It's messy, ugly work. And I got back from the business trip and I was walking him to the front door, did a great job, wrote the check, and we were standing at my front door and I look up and there's the light fixture and I said, dog got it. I wish I had asked you to leave that down so I could clean it before it went back up there. And he said, I thought you'd want that. So I cleaned it before I put it back. Yeah, you cannot have his name and number.
Mark Graban (23m 36s):
Ellen Poole (23m 38s):
This is a person who anticipated this problem even though it wasn't technically in his job description. I certainly didn't say to him, you know, it'd be really nice if you would do this. I think the greatest value is added by people who solve your problems before you almost realize you have them. Yeah. Right. And it requires thought, right? It re it, it literally requires empathy because you have to put yourself into the person. Shoot, what would I want if I were, if I were hiring someone to take the popcorn off their ceiling? Yeah.
Mark Graban (24m 9s):
Yeah. Well I was gonna, you, you've alluded to it, I was gonna ask you about the book title Network is not a verb. There's, there's an implied mistake I think being alluded to and I think you've touched on it, that, you know, think about networking as a verb. I'm going to go network. Is, is, is is part of the point that we should think of a network, our network is a noun and focus on it that way.
Ellen Poole (24m 35s):
Yes, exactly. Perfectly. Because I feel like networking, the activity that we have come to think of that are encompassed by that phrase is an artificial activity. You know, did you say, I'm gonna go make friends today? Yeah. And then go to some reception or get on LinkedIn and say, will you be my friend? And my professional relationships are all people that I also think of as friends. Now they may not be my closest friends, none of them is going to be the godchild to my parent or to my child, a godparent to my child. But they're still people that I have a relationship with. And I feel like the activities that we think of as networking, they can be very useful professionally, but they're really sales.
Ellen Poole (25m 23s):
And if you're looking for a job, it's sales of yourself. You call people up, you get connections, you call them and it's really just trying to sell your product. And some people might wanna buy it if they are in need of your particular product at that time or they know someone who might need it, the better they think your product is, the more people they may help. You know, find out if they wanna buy it. Yeah. At the end of the day, if for most people, if they do networking and they get a job two years later, are they even in touch with the people they met through that process? It was a sales process, it wasn't a relationship building process. Right.
Mark Graban (25m 60s):
So you led directly into what I was going to ask next. And you mentioned artificial activity. I was gonna ask about LinkedIn and I, and I think they describe themselves as a networking site or some people describe it that way a lot of times, like you said, it feels like a sales platform. But Jay, do you have any advice for making the best use of LinkedIn in terms of your network?
Ellen Poole (26m 30s):
Well there, I think that LinkedIn is very useful for a real network in one way. So I'll back up again and say something that I think is a mistake that is advocated for by networking experts all the time, including in that Wall Street Journal series I told you about, and I love the Wall Street Journal, but I felt they were so misguided in this series. The idea that once you have people in your network, you're supposed to regularly keep in touch with them somehow. And you're supposed to categorize the people and then identify a timeline on which you will keep in touch quarterly or monthly. Or weekly. But again, empathetically, do you really want to hear from all these people you don't on a regular basis?
Ellen Poole (27m 12s):
Because what do you have to do then? You have to respond, you have to say something if they want to have coffee, I mean I bet you don't have enough time to do the things you already have to do. Sure. And so, and if you're on the receiving end and quote unquote important person that everybody wants to meet, you've got a number of people who are diligently following this networking rule and trying to set up copy with you so they can check off I did my name
Mark Graban (27m 38s):
Right, what they need.
Ellen Poole (27m 40s):
Right Ex it's exactly, it's back to what they need without thinking about what is the impact on you of yet another email or yet another coffee date. How many half hours in life do we have? So, but to your question about LinkedIn, while I don't feel that it's important to regularly keep up with people in your network, cuz the reality is you have added value for them. That's why you're in their network. That's why they're in yours. I haven't used the guy who did my ceiling in five years. He's still valuable to me If I needed help, he doesn't have to email me to make sure I'll hire him. So the important thing though is that your network members know what you're doing in the time that you're not in contact.
Ellen Poole (28m 27s):
And that's where I feel like LinkedIn can be helpful. It's information about what you're doing, what you're up to. It keeps people aware of the fact that you're continuing to succeed. And when you are that kind of confirms their good judgment and having you in their network in the first
Mark Graban (28m 43s):
Place. Yeah, yeah, I mean it seems like there's a couple different reasons and I'm trying to think through, I'm a pretty heavy LinkedIn user. There's, you know, this question of sharing, you know, different types of posts, sharing an update. I try to make sure a majority of what I'm posting is something I think might be of value to others. An article that they would also enjoy or something that is, is at least, you know, interesting in some way as opposed to, I mean, I'm sure we all know somebody, I'm certainly not gonna name names here, but you know, we all all know somebody where every single post is about my books, my books by my books. These are my books. My books are the best, blah, blah.
Mark Graban (29m 24s):
Like it's exhausting.
Ellen Poole (29m 26s):
Mark Graban (29m 27s):
I didn't mean to get off in a rant there, sorry. And you can tell I am, I am thinking of somebody very specific and I'm not going, but I will shut up now please.
Ellen Poole (29m 37s):
And no decel, how many posts have I put on my LinkedIn about my book, my book, my book? Because it's funny, I was never, I mean, I built this network, right? I haven't Mark, I haven't had to apply for a job since 1993 back in that full circumstance. Every job I've had has been people coming to me saying, please come work for us. And when I started my own business, I had left u s A and didn't know what I was going to do. And potential clients called me and said, would you go into business for yourself? Cause we really wanna hire you. So I have not had to go through that whole thing in years. And yet until I wrote a book and realized I needed to get it out there, I think I had less than a hundred LinkedIn connections.
Ellen Poole (30m 18s):
I just didn't bother with it. And then I became a salesperson trying to sell my book and trying to get speaking engagements and suddenly LinkedIn became more important to me. And so I have fallen into that category, but I promise you I will not do only my book, my book, my book. So number that's number one a mistake I'll not make.
Mark Graban (30m 40s):
Well, I I I I just wanna make sure I was not referring to you, I'm not policing your LinkedIn account. I shouldn't be policing anybody else's. And, and as somebody who has written books and has a new book coming out in a couple of months myself, I wanna, I'll, I'll check and make sure I'm not doing that myself. So yeah,
Ellen Poole (31m 0s):
We, we can have a mutual agreement, but I appreciate it's also a great way to find experts, you know? So it's sales, but it's more, for example, I'm a member of the Bar Association of course. And every year there's one Bar magazine, one month's Bar magazine devoted to people who have certifications in different areas of law. And I save that. So I feel like LinkedIn also serves the purpose. And so the more articles you post, the more knowledgeable you appear. Now is it going to make people do things for you? No. You know, they have to hire you or work with you and then they go, mark is amazing and they tell people you're amazing and you have relationships with them, but they may never have known to find you without the benefit of LinkedIn.
Ellen Poole (31m 45s):
So I'm not anti LinkedIn at all. I simply go back to the people in my life who have promoted me, who have called me for jobs, who have helped me win awards and honors are people that I have personal relationships with, not computer relationships. Yeah.
Mark Graban (32m 2s):
Yeah. Well, Ellen, I I wanna ask one other question because I'll my own personal, for my own personal benefit, and I know a lot of my listeners are also introverts, like I'm, it surprises people sometimes, but I am really heavily Myers-Briggs introvert and I know some people discount the Myers-Briggs thing, but I, but I think it, it's helpful in terms of yes, I'm, I'm an introvert. I, I can be outgoing, but it's tiring. I need to recharge. If we can agree on that definition. What specific tips, I know this is something you write and talk about specific networking tips. I'm using it as a verb. Sorry. What tips do you have? What tips do you have for an introvert about building and maintaining a network?
Ellen Poole (32m 47s):
Well, two, and I'm so glad you said that because I am too and people don't believe it because I seem outgoing and I've had a career where I have to talk to people. I don't know constantly. But it's exhausting. So I'm with you, I have to lie down at your workday because it's so exhausting to be that outgoing. And I don't know if you've read the book Quiet by Susan Kane where she talks about the definition of introverts versus extroverts. And it's basically what you just said, which is do you gain energy from talking to people or do you lose energy? And it sounds like you and I both lose energy, but no,
Mark Graban (33m 27s):
I'm not saying this conversation is exhausting. I hope it's not for you.
Ellen Poole (33m 33s):
Thank you. No, it, and you know, as you, as you do things, you get good at them, right? And anything you're good at is easier for you to do. So. I'm sure after hosting a lot of podcasts, you, it's not, doesn't exhaust you as much because you have gotten good at it. And I feel like that for me, I recently spoke at a university and took questions at the end and one of the students raised his hand and said, how can you talk for 45 minutes without looking at your notes? And I said, practice that is literally the only thing. So anything you do, a lot you get good at. So no, I won't take that. Personally. I think the two biggest things for introverts, my two biggest tips are more what they don't have to do rather than what they should do.
Ellen Poole (34m 15s):
Introverts, you do not have to ever call up another person you don't know and have coffee with them. You don't ever have to send another message on LinkedIn to somebody that you're gonna have to talk to. You don't have to do any of that stuff. You can just go to work and do your job. The difference is you need to do your job in the way I describe, you have got to change your orientation in your head as to how to solve the problems of everybody you come in contact with. Not just your boss, not just the CEO, but the person down the hall who comes in and says, I can't figure out this report.
Ellen Poole (34m 56s):
Or could you do so and so be empathetic, think about what problem they have. Even if you don't have a sparkly witty interaction, if you solve their problem, I redid this chart for you so that it's in the order that shows you by date rather than alphabetically. They will want you in their network. You are a can-do kind of person and you haven't had to have sparkling conversation. Now conversation helps like in any relationship, but you don't have to talk to new people. These are now people you've already worked with, you've already helped. But by virtue of having solved their problems, they're more predisposed to have a relationship with you and it's easier to chat.
Ellen Poole (35m 42s):
And I will offer a third tip that I think is true for everyone. There's a trend out there to say in the networking advice world to say it's back to the on authenticity thing, right? Be vulnerable, tell people what's happening with you because that will draw them closer and your relationship will be authentically based. And I suspect that's true, that if you do that you will deepen a relationship. But not everybody is comfortable, especially introverts disclosing deeply personal things about themselves. And some people may have had the experience of doing so and then having people question their ability to get their work done with all this horrible stuff going on in the background in their lives.
Ellen Poole (36m 27s):
The topics that I advocate for workplace conversation are around your interests and hobbies because you are stepping away from work. You are talking about things about yourself, but often they're not deeply personal. You love to go skiing, you fly around the country to see Cheap Trick in concert. Everywhere they play, you grow prize-winning orchids. And the beauty of that is people tend to remember that stuff. So the next time they see you they say, how are the orchids? Or did you go to the Cheap Trick concert in Las Vegas? I thought of you. And the beauty of it is for all of us, when we're talking about the things that interest us, we do tend to sparkle.
Ellen Poole (37m 8s):
We get excited, we like to tell people about these things. So it makes it an easier conversation. And if you're talking to another introvert, they're gonna be grateful to you for that part too. Yeah.
Mark Graban (37m 20s):
So did we learn today, Ellen, that you are a fan of Cheap Trick?
Ellen Poole (37m 24s):
No, we didn't. But I used to work with a guy at USAA who did do that and it's always stuck in my mind.
Mark Graban (37m 30s):
Well that was an oddly specific example. I mean, in a fun way.
Ellen Poole (37m 36s):
Mark Graban (37m 37s):
Ellen Poole (37m 38s):
Who Cheap Trick is,
Mark Graban (37m 40s):
I'm sorry I,
Ellen Poole (37m 41s):
I said at least we both know who Cheap Trick is.
Mark Graban (37m 43s):
Yeah, yeah. I mean I saw at least the current incarnation of Journey in Las Vegas probably about eight years ago and that was, that was a good time. So maybe follow them around some more. But our guest today has been Ellen Poole. Her book again is not work. Ah, network is not a verb. I don't know why I tried to turn that into Not Work Network is not a Verb and you can find it at Networkisnotaverb.com. And Ellen is kindly providing a discount code for my audience. If you want to order her book directly from her website, that code is MarkGraban my name just all spelled out.
Mark Graban (38m 24s):
So Ellen, thank you. Thank you for offering that. We'll make sure that's in the show notes and I won't mistype it the way I was mis saying it here. But Ellen Paul, thank you so much. This was, was a lot of fun. Thank you for sharing. You know so much with us and I, I think it's going to help your network. I know it's helped the audience today.
Ellen Poole (38m 44s):
Thank you so much, mark, it was a pleasure to be here.
Mark Graban (38m 46s):
Thanks again to Ellen for being our guest today. To learn more about her and her book, link to her website and social media pages and more, look for links on the show notes or go to mark raven.com/mistake two 11. As always, I want to thank you for listening. I hope this podcast inspires you to reflect on your own mistakes, how you can learn from them or turn them into a positive. I've had listeners tell me they started being more open and honest about mistakes in their work and they're trying to create a workplace culture where it's safe to speak up about problems because that leads to more improvement and better business results. If you have feedback or a story to share, you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Graban (39m 28s):
And again, our website is myfavoritemistakepodcast.com.