OverviewJared Olsen is known for authenticity in his networking. Over the years he has started many creative networking events to help people make connections while being themselves. In this Interview with Michael Sayre, Jared shares his insights in establishing a professional network.
This is In Your Business with Michael Sayre - a production of CUI Wealth Management. In this episode, we went over some basic principles of establishing and maintaining a professional network with Jared Olson from Motivosity. I hope you enjoy.
Jared, go ahead and introduce yourself a little bit about yourself.
Yeah. First off, thank you so very much for allowing me to join you today. [I'm] excited to talk and get to share some of the ideas about networking. I have loved networking with time. I'm a Utah native. I met my wife when we were 14 years old, in junior high. We dated on and off throughout all of high school. We have three boys. I've got an eight-year-old, a four-year-old, and a 1.5-year-old. I've been working in the Human Resource field for about the last 15 years or so.
I just love getting out and creating some unique networking events and helping people be connected. And shine a spotlight on those awesome people in Utah throughout the business community that are doing some incredible things. So, [I'm] a Utah guy. [I] served a mission for my church in San Jose, California, went Spanish speaking. But I think I identify most as a husband and a father. That's really where I like to spend my time. When I'm not with them, I just like to create some unique opportunities to bring people together.
I know you guys have done some pretty cool things, like the Pickleball tournaments and stuff like that. I went to Tennessee. Spanish speaking.
Sweet. Stateside Spanish. That is the way to go.
Absolutely. What would you tell other professionals? How can they cultivate professional relationships?
Yeah, I absolutely love that question. I think that there's a couple of ground rules that most people need when they're going to go out of network. I think the 1st one is to just assume people are inherently good. When we look for the good in other people, it puts our guard down, when we come to network.
A lot of the time, we'll see a random person send us an invite on LinkedIn. We’re very quick to say, “I don’t know if they should be in my internal network and tribe.” My counter to that is, I bet that their just good people. I want to connect with them. I want to hear their story and you can definitely set those boundaries and a foundation of what you want to discuss and what you can do to help them. You can kind of get those salespeople not to be so pushy but can still genuinely get to know who the individual is.
So, I think you have to have good intent. And then I think you also have to just be creative if you're going to be facilitating and creating some network opportunities. One of things you mentioned that I've been able to put together, over the past year or two, is pickleball networking. That really originated just because I love to play Pickleball. I'm not super good at it, I’m relatively new, but I wanted to just get together with some people and play, and I thought, “Wouldn't it be cool to just network at the same time?” So, when we put on events, we typically get between 50 and 60 people that show up. And they are usually a new group of individuals. A lot of them are first time players. And the beauty of pickleball is you’re on a small court so you can have a conversation with everyone around you. If you are an introvert, you're still playing a sport. So, it makes you feel like you are engaged. Even if you are not talking. And if you really extroverted, then you're just having a blast. And so, it hits people with a lot of different desires and needs and what they're personality types are, they can generally be who they are.
I think when you get creative and look at something, you're passionate about, like Pickleball- we've also done ping pong, networking, virtual reality networking, and duringCOVID-19 we did cribs tours. We got tours of over 40 people’s cribs and where they live. And we got to see inside their fridges and what their kids are doing for homework. I think that, in order to create that connection with people, you have to be really vulnerable and informal. I don't like those events where you go, and you have to wear a suit and a tie or a dress and high heels and feel like you have your A game. You should be able to show up as you are in your environment and just be genuinely yourself. I think that's the secret to like really good networking opportunities.
Yeah, I love what you're doing with having people show their crib. You're really good at getting people to be themselves. I think you're absolutely right. I think sometimes as professionals, we think, “Hey, we need to give off a certain presence or else people aren't gonna take us seriously.” I mean, what are your thoughts on that?
I agree. I think a lot of people have that connotation. I think it's incorrect. I want to do business with people that I know and trust and like, and that are humans. Some of the people that I use as vendors, for example, are people that I've known for years and years. And it took years and years for them to get my business, right. Because I already had established relationships and then the timing worked out. So, I think when you're just authentic and vulnerable, then that's when people really let their guard down. And when real human connection takes place.
I have an Instagram account called Beyond the Resume. I feel like you have to go beyond somebody's resume, and you have to say what makes you tick and what are intrinsic motivators. I don't want to talk business; I want to talk about you. I want to learn about who you are and where you came from and what your thoughts [are] on family and religion and politics and all these things you shouldn't talk about at work. I want to hear your thoughts on it because I don't care about the position, I care about you is the individual. And when we have that mentality and we’re that vulnerable, then real connection takes place.
Great advice. So, what do you see as some of the biggest opportunities out there for business professionals as they're trying to develop their network. What are your thoughts?
I think, for some reason a lot of people really need approval in their minds. Like, "Is it OK if I go to this? Is it a good use of my time? Will my business be upset if I go do that?" And, I think we need to be less concerned about what others think. We just need to add value where value can be added. One tip that I definitely have for those that are trying to break into networking or build their own profession is to volunteer. Whatever profession or industry your a part of, there are definitely nonprofit groups and mastermind groups and think tanks that get together.
I started off earlier in my career, being in the HR Space, the world's largest group of HR practitioners, is a group called SHRM or the Society for Human Resource Management. And the first time I went to an event, I found out who the president of the chapter was. I went straight up to her and I said, “Hi, my name's Jared Olson and I want to help. What can I do? I want to volunteer.” And she said, “Well, we actually need someone to hand out like certification certificates at the door after the event.” I said, “Awesome. I'm going to crush that for you.” And every time I would go, I would volunteer. I got more and more involved to the point where I was invited to be on the board of directors. And this is while I was getting my undergraduate. While I was getting my undergraduate, they even asked me to be the president of the chapter. So, now 250 HR professionals are looking to me for leadership. I don't even know if HR is what I want to do with my career. And it's just because when you volunteer, you’re really able to connect with people and break down a lot of barriers.
So, if you are interested in growing your profession and your brand awareness in the space, you just got to go to events and say, “How can I help?” And by helping, you're not helping by talking about your product or your personal priorities or initiatives. You're there to add value to that group.
One thing I've learned through volunteering is that most people give about 10% of their effort because it's a volunteer thing. So, if you give it 25% effort, you look like a rock star. But what you're trying to do is to help that group or that community succeed. You're trying to build awareness and get more people there. Have better discussions and dialogues. And when you do that, magic results.
I see a lot of professionals that, when they start networking, they look at it from a different perspective. They see it like a sales opportunity or an opportunity for a promotion or an opportunity to get into a company for hire. And I think it's hard for people to see the long-term, just the importance of having good relationships that are just part of your community and the type of people that you're serving. Any thoughts on that?
Yeah, Michael, I love that. It makes me think about the difference between a job and a career. If you go to a networking event for your job, I think you go in with the wrong intentions, right? You're there to sell something or you're there to benefit yourself in some way. But if you look at it from a career perspective. I mean, average retention right now is about three years. So, you know you're on average going to stick in your job for three years and have a new job.
So, why you're going to networking events is primarily to help your career. It's to help your continuing education to establish you in the community as a thought leader and as a volunteer and someone who cares. You will, as a result, help improve your job. You will sell stuff, but you may not sell it for the job you're in right now. It may be a job that you have in 10 years down the road, after you've already established some really solid relationship.
So, don't have a short-term plan in mind. You really need to go with a long-term game of like, “Hey, here's how this is going to benefit, not just me but others throughout my career. And how we can advance our profession. What a cool way to go meet with like-minded individuals in the same industry. Instead of starting off saying, “Hey, I'm Jared with Motivosity.” Start off saying, “Hey, I've got some thoughts about how we can improve our industry. And here they are. What do you think?” And immediately people are going to say, “Wow, I've never considered that before. That's a really unique perspective. And I thought I was just here to be told what a new employment law was and not to really be challenged in my thought process.” But when we challenge each other, we help everybody win. And we need Utah to win. We need each other to win. And when everybody succeeds, it helps put our state on the map as a destination place for employers to come. It creates more job opportunities. It creates those promotion opportunities. It helps with those short-term needs that we have. But we have to enter that networking door with an eye on long term.
Jared, we're going to wrap up here, but do you mind giving us a few closing thoughts?
Yeah. Another one I have for you is, networking doesn't have to be formal, which we've kind of talked about. It's also not something that just two or three people should own. I have a big, hairy, audacious goal. In Utah, we've got the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit. It's probably the biggest networking event that happens. I would love, instead of that being at the Salt Palace every year, I would love for it to be lots of mini micro events that happened at K-1 Speed or Pickleball courts or different venues where there's an activity around it.
Maybe it's like Aaron Skynyrd's T K1 speed. If you want to go hear him and ride go carts with him, go check him out at this this time. We need people to get creative with the networking. One example that I really love is a buddy of mine, Justin Severson with Paylocity. He had this idea one day while he was driving down the road of, "What if I interviewed someone in my car and went beyond the resume? Ask them some funny questions while we had warheads, those sour warheads in their mouth." And he calls it sour chatter. Its unique. Yeah, he's the sales guy for a HR tool. But instead of saying "Hey, can I sell you this?" He says, "I'd love to hear your story and do it why we eat warheads. I'll record it cause it's kind of funny." And he develops real relationships with people.
So, mine's pickleball and interviewing people. I love to hear stories and kind of interview them and share that online. What's yours? What, as a listener, what is something that you're passionate about? Whatever you're passionate about, is there a way to invite other people to join you in that event or activity? And just to have real vulnerable conversation, and that's your foot in the door. That's the way you start to meet people. So, if you really want to meet a C level executive at a certain company you're not going to lead with, "I want to talk to you about my product." You're going to lead with, "Hey, I do this really kind of interesting networking thing, and I'm wondering if you would like to join me." You're going to get on one side with them and you're going to really make that meaningful connection with those people.
So, I think that's my departing thought. Get creative in your networking. Let that be your brand voice that's out in the thought leadership world.
That's awesome. That's great advice. Once again, Jared, Thanks for taking the time. I appreciate it. Great thoughts. Hopefully, we can have you again. I really appreciate it.
Thank you, Michael. Have a good one.
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