Erin Joy on Reciprocal Networking
CEO & Founder
Coffee Lunch Coffee
CEO & Founder
Erin Joy Companies / Erin Joy Talks Business
Erin Joy, Founder and CEO of Erin Joy Companies and Erin Joy Talks Business, joins host Alana Muller to explain her service-minded approach to networking and shares ways that it can be mutually beneficial. “When we give ourselves away, when we give value away, when we make a difference for someone else, when we contribute to them, they naturally want to then return the favor through the law of reciprocity.”
Alana Muller: Welcome to Enterprise.ing, a podcast from Enterprise Bank & Trust. That's empowering business leaders one conversation at a time. We'll hear from different business leaders about how they've found success in cultivating their professional networks and keeping them healthy and strong. I'm your host, Alana Muller, an entrepreneurial executive leader whose primary focus is to connect, inspire, and empower community. We at Enterprise Bank can Trust thank you for tuning in to another episode.
Well, hello again. Welcome back to Enterprise.ing podcast. I'm thrilled to welcome my guest today, Erin Joy of Erin Joy Companies and Erin Joy Talks Business. She is the founder and CEO of both, and I am so thrilled to welcome her. She leverages nearly three decades worth of experience in entrepreneurship, round table facilitation, business strategy, and executive coaching to help female business owners launch, propel, and grow their companies. Erin Joy, welcome to Enterprise.ing.
Erin Joy: Alana. Thank you so much for having me
Alana Muller: Well, I'm so happy to have you and I have to tell our listeners, you and I met at a St. Louis Business Journal women's conference in January of 2014, I believe. And so big shout out to my friend, Ellen Shoreberg, for always bringing women together and great women. And I have been a fan girl of yours ever since. So, so glad to have you here.
Erin Joy: The feeling is mutual. And I remember meeting you as you were talking about networking and your book that you had just written on the topic and here we are. And I think our being here on this podcast is even such a good example of how networks do tend to play out over time.
Alana Muller: 100%. In fact, I want you to share with our listeners a little bit more about how you and your work help to propel women to excel in their careers.
Erin Joy: Yeah, well, my focus is primarily on women entrepreneurs. Though I'm starting to expand to work with women in the C-suite considerably more than I have in the past. And with women entrepreneurs, I work at the intersection of business and psychology. So I am a PhD candidate studying business psychology. I specifically focus on wellbeing, success, and entrepreneurship. And so in my work with women entrepreneurs, I'm looking at everything about their business from strategy, operations, marketing management, leadership, human resources, you name it. And then intersecting that with psychology, both of the business owner herself, as well as the overall organization. So I bring all of those discipline areas to the table to help make clients reach their goals.
Alana Muller: I love that. Talk a little bit about how you manage your network, because it's an active one. I suspect that it's not limited to female business owners, but really a variety of people. Talk about how you actively manage it.
Erin Joy: Yeah, it definitely is a network that I've built very methodically for the last nearly 30 years now. And it's so interesting how my first career here in the St. Louis, Missouri area was in real estate and how that network spilled over. And I really stood on top of that network to build this company when I transitioned out of home building and into working with entrepreneurs. And so how do I manage my network? Well, I host a lot of gatherings for my network, primarily for women entrepreneurs and executives. I use networking events and large events that I host as one of the ways that I stay really active with my network. It's one of the things that I do also to stay top of mind. I think that's so important with our professional networks, that we are bringing value to our network. Maybe that's through an email newsletter that has valuable content. In my case, that might be that and event invitations.
And so I manage my network proactively through staying top of mind, through using events and delivering value digitally. And I'm about to hire a project manager. She starts on Monday, who will implement a new CRM and really help me take network management to a whole new level. And there's gold in our network. There's gold in my network. Those could be clients for my consulting and coaching practice. They could be sponsors for my show or for my events or who knows what the case may be, but there is gold in the network and I am investing in managing my network to the next level.
Alana Muller: Okay. So you're talking about not only the act of relationship building, of networking, of connecting with people, but then you also have kind of almost the back office approach. What are the tactical things, the tactical tools, resources, things that you need in order to appropriately, effectively, efficiently manage your network, manage your day, manage your businesses, which is all about relationship building and connecting with others. Is that right?
Erin Joy: I would agree. And I think it all comes back to technology. In 2022, which is the year or when we're recording this podcast, technology makes this so doable and possible to be able to have a network of thousands and thousands and thousands of people. That isn't very useful if the data isn't tagged in a way and segmented in a way that I can get really targeted. And I have a list. Alana, of course, you're in Kansas City. And to be able to say, these are my contacts in Kansas City and how can these folks open a door for me or what can I do for them when I'm going to be in town? Those are the kinds of things that I'm now getting even more strategic about. I've been able to keep a lot of that kind of information in my head. Oh, I know this person in KC, this person in Chicago, this person in Tampa. But as my business grows, I need to now start getting much more sophisticated in that process.
Alana Muller: It's so funny. I'm sort of giggling to myself. When I first began networking intentionally -- you've probably heard me talk about this before -- I used an Excel spreadsheet, right. And LinkedIn existed, but it was a little bit nascent or maybe it was just me. I didn't know exactly how to leverage it. And when you talk about technology, it's sort of all the technology. So you're talking about a full blown CRM system. But even for somebody that doesn't have the need for, or the resources to have a full CRM, there are CRM capabilities available, whether it's through LinkedIn, through a simple Outlook or a Google calendar or contact database. So I really like this notion that we should take full advantage of again, the resources and the tools that are available to us by embracing technology and recognizing that it really can be our friend.
Erin Joy: I think technology is part of how we scale up without requiring as many payroll dollars, as many payroll resources. And so I love using technology to support my business in any way I possibly can. And this is the next horizon for us. We have marketing automation software with a database that has thousands of people in it that we market to, but that's not quite as nimble. And that's not as valuable as being able to go through my network and think deeply about each person, not with thousands of people, of course, but selecting a top 10, top 15, top 20 and thinking deeply about those people and how we can support each other. What do they need? What do I need? What might we do together? How could I open a door for them? Who could they introduce me to? That's what I mean. There's gold in that network.
Alana Muller: Well, and that leads me really to the next topic I'd love to dig into with you. And that is, what are some ways that you make connections mutually beneficial? So, I know you give back. Talk about how you give back and how do you show that mutual appreciation? So it's, how can I be helpful to you? How can I serve as a resource to you? And you know that it's going to come back to you in spades.
Erin Joy: Indeed. That is the way it works. I think for me, the biggest thing that I'm focused on is opening doors and amplifying voices and sharing resources. So it's not uncommon for me to have a networking lunch or coffee or happy hour or whatever the case may be, and to leave with two or three introductions that I plan to make, because I know exactly who the person I'm networking with needs in order to advance their goals. And then I will make an ask if I have one, but typically folks that I'm meeting with will ask me then. When we give ourselves away, when we give value away, when we make a difference for someone else, when we contribute to them, they naturally want to then return the favor through the law of reciprocity.
Alana Muller: Exactly.
Erin Joy: Right. They want to do the same thing. And so I like to lead with being of service first, which creates an opening for folks to ask me, "Well, what can I do for you?" And it's just so easy for me to pick up my phone and share some contact information, or send an email to make an introduction. And there's nothing I love more than talking to two people who I introduced and now they are long lost business colleagues or best friends that have worked together forever now. And they remember meeting at an event that I hosted or the email introduction that I made for them. And that stuff pays off.
Alana Muller: 100%. Last week, even for me, I don't know, maybe six weeks ago I had been visiting with a long time contact of mine. She said she had a particular need to hire somebody. And I had just the week prior met exactly the person, and lo and behold, she's been hired. They're just in thick on this deal now. And it just feels good. So when you talk about reciprocity, when you talk about helping each other and how it comes back, and you talk about it being gold, that is exactly right, because not only are you helping them, but it makes you feel good. And you're building social capital that as I like to say, money cannot purchase. Right? You have to earn that and you're earning it in the way that you're describing that.
How about for your business? How has networking impacted your business? And for you, Erin, you are a natural collaborator and coach. You have created female executive round tables and leadership mentoring organizations. How have you leveraged your ability to convene people, to continue to amplify the power of relationships in this new hybrid world in which we find ourselves?
Erin Joy: Yeah. I mean, are we all trying to answer that question of how do we navigate online in person, everything in between? I'm really thinking deeply about what do the different segments of the audience want? There are folks who just want to meet live and in person. And so then of course, there's accommodating those. There are folks who really want to only meet virtually and then accommodating them as well. But when you ask how has networking impacted my business? I have built a community of advocates, believers, supporters through this model that we're talking about of contributing first and kind of going first and being of service first. And that has led to word of mouth and referral business that is real dollars in the bank. And I would say that networking even has brought me to Enterprise Bank & Trust first as a customer.
And now, I will loosely use the term - let me loosely use the term “strategic partner” - in that Enterprise Bank & Trust is focused on small businesses, just like I am. And so we love to collaborate and talk about who do you need? How can I open a door for you? And my relationship with Enterprise Bank & Trust was born out of networking. That's how I connected with my primary relationship at Enterprise Bank & Trust, which is Dan Iadevito in the St. Louis market. So the networking has impacted my business. When I think about your question about the hybrid environment, I realize that decades of relationship building offline supports the environment that we're in now when we're working both online and offline. And so that value in the network just transfers right over to the virtual environment. And I think there's just no reason to get hung up on how do we network in this world where we are now? Again, some folks want to be in person, some folks are going to want to be online, and that is going to be ebbing and flowing and changing for years to come.
And so if we can just embrace that and leverage the digital networking over in the in-person space and leverage our in-person relationships over in the digital space, that's the name of the game. I think it really comes down to just the idea of having this growth mindset, where we realize that we can change our mind. We can change our mindset, we can lean into the opportunities and the realities, and it's not all lost just because you're now perhaps more virtual than you were before. I think it's a huge opportunity.
Alana Muller: Yeah. And sticking with that thread, what would you say to someone who wanted to grow or cultivate their own professional network?
Erin Joy: Well, I think the first question comes down to who specifically do you need to know? And what I like to do is really think about not just the type of person, but literally very specifically, who do I need to know? I've got a hot list of five to 10 women right now, their names, not just categories, that I need to know, because once I know exactly who I need to know, now I can get strategic on figuring out how to get to them. And so, is it someone that's already in my network and they can open the door for me? Who are the power connectors in my world and what can I do for them to have them introduce me to the folks that I specifically need to know? I even think about who do I need to be seen with in order to elevate my brand, right?
If I want my brand to symbolize business performance and freedom and goal achievement and self expression and confidence, who are some of the other people that I need to be seen with? Do we need to be attending high profile events, being photographed so we can share that out on social? So that folks can really solidify that brand relationship. So those are some of the things that I would be doing first and foremost, or the advice that I would give to folks who want to grow or cultivate their professional network. Get very specific, use those power connectors to open doors for you, think about who you need to be around and that's how you're going to grow.
Alana Muller: Yeah. I love how strategic you are about it. And strategic, but then also the way you implement it. I just think it's super useful. So thank you for sharing that. I want to change direction just a little bit and get a little bit more personal with you and ask, tell us about an interaction with one person that resulted in a breakthrough for you either personally or professionally.
Erin Joy: Well, I think it's important to acknowledge that breakthroughs typically come at the heels of a breakdown. That's the way the cycle works. Breakdowns lead to breakthroughs. And so the first thing that we really want to be doing is celebrating our breakdowns because on the other side of the breakdown is the breakthrough.
Alana Muller: Love that. [crosstalk 00:16:19].
Erin Joy: About a year ago, I found myself one year into pandemic, in a breakdown about where I wanted to go with my business. And I had a conversation with an advisor friend of mine, a good girlfriend, who also from time to time serves as an advisor for me. And she is the one who said to me, "Erin, you've given so much to your network and for so long. And I think it's time for you to now leverage that and potentially cash in on this network that you have built." And that was what sparked the idea for me to move into radio and podcast and move into a multimedia platform with Erin Joy Talks Business. I do talk business and why not amplify these conversations using technology to spread the word because we now have... Every human being now has, every business professional, for sure now has access to the same technology that the biggest thought leaders, brands, individuals have available to them.
Alana Muller: We didn't think they were available before. Right.
Erin Joy: That's right.
Alana Muller: Exactly.
Erin Joy: We didn't think that was available before. So now anything is possible. The world has been democratized and we can do and create anything we want. And so I decided to kind of... This might sound more crude than I mean it to be, but I decided that it was time to cash in on these relationships that I've built by amplifying other voices and creating an opportunity for brands to sponsor my show, for example. And I know that through this mentality, this methodology of contributing and being of service, that I can open any door that I need to open and want to open now. And so it's time to leverage that. And that idea came out of a conversation with one person on the heels of a breakdown of what do I want to do now? What do I want to do? Everything's changed.
Alana Muller: So with that in mind, do you find that most of the networking or relationship interactions that you are engaged in, are they organic or unintentional, or are they more deliberate where you're proactively asking for business and referrals?
Erin Joy: Definitely both. So I, personally in terms of my outreach, is much more direct where I am asking for the introduction or asking for the networking meeting or asking for the business, asking for the referral. I think we have to ask for what we want. For me it's definitely been both. There's a lot of kind of organic or unintentional networking that happens. And I think that has to do with just being out in the world. And that's something that every successful business professional wants to do is be in the world and be in the places where our target audience is or where the connectors to our target audience is. And so for me, networking could look like sitting at the bar top at Brick Tops, my favorite restaurant in St. Louis, where I'm a regular and known for being on the patio, having lunch meetings. That's where I host my networking conversations. And it's not uncommon for me to strike up conversation with a server or with someone sitting around me. And that is my networking. I've picked up business there before. And so it's awesome. And I think it's a combination of both.
Alana Muller: Which makes perfect sense. It makes perfect sense. I mean, we really all should be doing that and I'll go all the way back to just sort of the strategic approach that you're taking to growing your business and being very intentional about it, but recognizing that there are other ways to incorporate that. And in fact, I just have to ask you, when we talk about asking for the business, like you, I do a lot of work with female entrepreneurs and I find that women often struggle with this. What advice are you giving to women specifically about asking for business and how they should go about doing that and how to instill that confidence that they need to do that?
Erin Joy: Well, typically, the question of confidence is very interesting. I find that folks who are concerned about asking for business, they typically are not going to over-correct where they're going to be so pushy and so dominating that they're going to embarrass themselves. And that's the first thing I have to help my women entrepreneur clients make peace with, is that if they're generally afraid to ask, the chances are, they're not going to over-correct and have their ask be so pushy that they're going to turn someone off. And they often, when we really talk it all through, they see that was a cognitive distortion that they had about themselves, about this situation. So if you're uncomfortable asking for the business and you really talk through and work through what it looks like to make that ask, and you see that it's safe, that you can language things in a way that still is consistent with you and your brand and who you are and how you want to operate and kind of represent yourself in the world.
Then the ask really comes down to the idea that action produces results. And so there is going to be no new business, no major network growth happening if you're not asking for the business. If you're not taking action. Because action produces results. I think on the confidence side, I find that it's so valuable for women to see other women or men to see other men, for people to see other people doing what they want to do. And so in my case, I think my clients... I have a very open relationship with my clients and a very transparent relationship. And I share about what I'm doing in my business so that my clients can kind of study my strategies, rip them off and apply them in their own business. I try to model for my clients what it looks like to ask for the business so that they can kind of borrow my confidence.
That's what we do. That is part of the value of having a professional network is that you can look around and you know people, and you say if Alana can do that, I can do that. Right? I've known Alana. And I see her hosting this podcast. I see her getting new business. And if she can do it, I can do it. So that is kind of a backdoor reason that we have to have these strong networks, which in addition to the confidence boost that we get by seeing our peers really advance and grow through our network.
We also, as entrepreneurs, there's research that supports the idea that entrepreneurs are required to have wide and deep networks. And that the access to the resources that lie within the networks are one of the success factors. And so I know I've gone from how do you ask for the business if you're not as comfortable doing so, and now I'm talking about the power of the network, but they're all connected. And at the end of the day, I think that being clear about why you do what you do. And so often it's rooted in being of service. And when you are clear about why you do what you do, then you'll get out of your own way to go make a difference for other people and getting out of your way might look like asking for the business. It might be asking for the networking coffee.
Alana Muller: Well, and seeing other people who you admire modeling the behavior that you want to emulate. I think your point is so well taken. Surround yourself with the people that you want to be like, that you admire. Because I think that is a gift that they can give to you as well. So great, great advice. So we're getting ready to wrap up. I have to ask you my question that I ask to all of my guests, which is one of my favorites. And it is, if you could meet with one person for a networking interaction, living, not living, fictional nonfictional, who would it be and why?
Erin Joy: Okay. I think this one might surprise you Alana. I don't know if it's really a networking meeting as much as it is an advisory meeting. Kanye West.
Alana Muller: Really? That does surprise me. I have to admit.
Erin Joy: It's a surprise. Well, you know what? So Kanye West just came out with a documentary that was filmed starting about 20 years ago. And what's so extraordinary to me is that when you watch the documentary, and I have a penchant for documentaries about icons and celebrities, and really studying their business strategies of how they break through all of the noise and the clutter in the world and all of the competition to become the best of the best of the best. And so I would right now, I would take a meeting with Kanye. Thank you very much. Because the things that he talked about 20 years ago, he made happen and they're big things in competitive environments. They're bold. They are very audacious. They're forward thinking. And he has been speaking that reality into existence for a long time. And although, there are likely some mental health challenges and some other things going on there, you cannot shake a stick at the talent, the vision, the strategy, the hustle, the execution. And so that's who I choose.
Alana Muller: Very impressive. I love your answer. Erin Joy, your name says it all. You are joyful. And I just love having you on the program. Tell our listeners where they can go to learn more about you and your companies.
Erin Joy: Erinjoy.com. Just launched a brand new website. Go check it out. And you can contact me through the forms that are on the site. I'd love to talk with anyone who wants to talk business.
Alana Muller: Well. That is fabulous. Erin Joy, thank you for being on Enterprise.ing podcast.
Erin Joy: Thank you so much for having me. I'm a huge fan of Enterprise Bank & Trust and love connecting with your audience.
Alana Muller: Thanks for joining us this week on Enterprise.ing. Be sure to visit our website enterprisebank.com/podcast to subscribe so you'll never miss an episode. If you found value in today's program, please consider leaving a review on Apple podcasts or telling a friend about us. Enterprise.ing, powering business leaders one conversation at a time.
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