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Branding Room Only Interview with Kelly Hoey: Networking Your Ambition

Interview with Kelly Hoey
Interview with Kelly Hoey
Branding Room Only Interview with Kelly Hoey: Networking Your Ambition
Kelly Hoey is a prolific writer, speaker, advisor, and business coach. She helps anyone from young professionals to entrepreneurs connect in the social media age for greater success. Her book, Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships In A Hyper-Connected World, also details her unique approach to creating potent networks. She is also the host of the Build Your Dream Network podcast and a professional speaker through Penguin Random House. Kelly has co-founded a startup accelerator, held an interim CMO position, served as an angel investor, appeared on CNBC’s Power Pitch, and contributed to publications like The New York Times and

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Kelly Hoey defines personal branding
  • Creating a powerful and succinct elevator pitch
  • The power of uncertainty in a career
  • How to build and use your networks effectively
  • Why Kelly wrote her book and what it has to offer
  • Incredible mentors who helped her thrive
  • The one and only networking hack
  • Importance of listening internally and externally

In this episode:

Network building is essential for any executive or entrepreneur. However, everyone knows no single technique or hack can create a resourceful network. Developing a robust network requires a host of skills, time, and kindness. Fortunately, there are a few guidelines that can ease this process. Kelly Hoey, a speaker, writer, and coach, specializes in helping others build their dream network. Her approach to personal branding and connecting with others has tangibly boosted the careers of countless entrepreneurs and leaders. Kelly’s networking expertise comes from her transformative career journey, where she discovered the key to achieving professional milestones and unlocking opportunities despite starting with a law degree and business cards in hand. Now she takes the time to share them with you. In this episode of the Branding Room Only podcast, Paula Edgar speaks with Kelly Hoey about the best practices for building a better network. They go through how to give a good elevator pitch, how to use your networks, and the importance of proper listening. They also touch on the one and only hack for networking. 

Resources mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode

This episode is brought to you by PGE Consulting Group LLC.

PGE Consulting Group LLC is dedicated to providing a practical hybrid of professional development training and diversity solutions. From speaking to consulting to programming and more, all services and resources are carefully tailored for each partner. Paula Edgar’s distinct expertise helps engage attendees and create lasting change for her clients.

To learn more about Paula and her services, go to or contact her at [email protected], and follow Paula Edgar and the PGE Consulting Group LLC on LinkedIn.

Paula Edgar: Hi everyone. I’m Paula Edgar, the host of Branding Room Only, where I bring you industry leaders and influencers to talk about how they’re using their skills, talents, and experiences to create and amplify their personal brands. And today I have with me someone who is very special, we’re gonna probably talk about that, Kelly Hoey, and she is an author of Build Your Dream Network.

And so Kelly says, her brand is grounded in networks and making meaningful connections, which explains how her career has migrated from Canada to New York. BigLaw to entrepreneurship and numerous unexpected career opportunities, including publishing a book. Kelly, welcome to the Branding Room Only podcast.

Kelly Hoey: It is so wonderful to be here with you. I’m like, I’m anyone watching a video is gonna see us beaming ear to ear. This is like, ugh, the energy.

Paula Edgar: So energy, and what I expected and why I said to you that I was so happy to have this conversation is really a part of branding what you can expect from someone and what they sort of deliver. So tell me, what does personal brand mean to you?

How do you define it?

Kelly Hoey: Well, for me, for personal branding, I think you need to listen and observe and see what it is that your network sees in you because you know, you hate the expression, you know, put a lipstick on a pig kind of thing. But people can think, all right, I’ve changed the colors on my website.

I’ve done this, I’ve bought the right suit, but how we behave and engage. Like we, there’s stuff we control, but how other people react to it is our per, like, there’s where the rubber hits the robe with your personal brand. So for me, when I think about personal branding, I think about how do your everyday interactions, how are those, all those micro networking actions formulating a picture of who you are and is it the picture you want it to be.

And I think of that really ama, there’s a MAKERS’ video of Carla Harris and she talks about having to change the perception a.k.a, her personal brand. So she was tougher and it is classic and it is amazing. And you know, like what does your network see? You may think you’re one thing, you may think you’re portraying something else, but listen to your network.

What is it they see in you?

Paula Edgar: Carla Harris. So when I do presentations on branding, I use a quote that basically where she says that, you know, everything that happens in terms of your career trajectory happens when you’re not in the room. And so you need to make sure that people are talking about you in a way in which it aligns with what you want to be said about you. So I love that you brought up Carla Harris. Cause she was one of my favs.

Kelly Hoey: She’s like, she’s so amazing. Yeah. That people didn’t think she was tough enough. She got the feedback that she wasn’t tough enough, so she said, okay, how do I change this perception? So when people would come to her to give feedback on decks and things or they say, oh, wants to make an appointment with you to give feedback on something. She’s like, well, tell me about this person cuz you know, my feedback’s tough. So she started like dripping in this language. So it got to the point that people were like, we gotta have our act together because you know, Carla, she’s tough

So you may think you’re tough, but if they think you’re a marshmallow, you gotta change that perception.

Paula Edgar: Which is a really good sort of segue into the words you use about yourself and the things you say about yourself are important in terms of setting and aligning what your personal brand is. And so to that end, Kelly, what’s your elevator pitch?

Kelly Hoey: So I’ve got lots of thoughts on elevator pitch. Okay. Tell me. But at the moment and then, you know, one of the things, you know, you say, Hey, you know, what’s the elevator pitch? What’s your, you know, what’s what? You as a personal brand, you’re sharing with people. I’m like, I always say to people, how are you networking your ambitions to the world?

Because are you net your personal brand like what are you networking? Is it networking? Are you putting out to the world, the personal brand that you want to be found for? Because you and I know lots of people have multiple, like they do multiple things, right? And you’re like, well, what do you want? Do you want people to send you legal work or photography or like, what is the thing?

Right? So when you think about your personal brand, like what’s the, you know, bullseye, what’s the Mount Everest, what’s the North Star that you know that you want? So I’m in the, I’m in another one of these phases, Paula, that you know, my life is like, I’m kind of walking down that curvy path of career transformation reinvention again.

And there’s pieces I’m pulling together from Yes, I’m looking to author another book. Yes, I’m still doing public speaking. Did a coaching program last year and I gotta get my coaching certification, but I’m like, and I’m doing a lot of facilitation and I’m like, not sure what this is yet.

You know, maybe my start of my elevator pitch is, you know, I’m in, you know, another phase of reinvention, but when I think about elevator pitches and how I really do start them off, I start it off with like, what is it you really do? And what I really do is help other people succeed.

Paula Edgar: Ugh. I love that.

Kelly Hoey: And then someone says, well, how do you do that? Well, how I do that? I mean, when I think about my career, at one point I did that as a lawyer. I helped a lot of corporations succeed by taking, you know, their companies public or doing M&A deals or all that kind of stuff. And then I was in professional development.

And I helped attorneys succeed, and then I built a women’s initiative for a global law firm, so I helped their women succeed. So I sort of think of all the pieces and where is the thread between lawyer and author and all the multitude of crazy stuff in between helping other people succeed. But when I think about elevator pitches, like what’s the thing that starts a conversation?

Because a lot of times we rehearse an elevator pitch and I look at it as, you know, someone just kind of vomiting words on me, right? It kinda makes me wanna go. Okay, that’s nice. Anyway, turn and talk to somebody else. So tell me what you do. Like, you can have your 90 seconds, but have a pause, have some cadence, have something so I wanna say, tell me more. and I always think of a lawyer at a big firm and I said, what’s your elevator pitch? And she’s like, I’m a partner at blah, blah, blah in the litigation group, and I do intellectual property. And I’m like, oh, like, find me a sharp object to stab myself. So I finally said to her, what do you really do?

She said to me, I open new markets in the pharmaceutical industry. I said, say more, like, tell me more.

Paula Edgar: Like, that’s interesting. Yeah.

Kelly Hoey: She says, I’m a patent attorney and I find weak patents held by Big Pharma. So, and attack those weak patents so generic drugs can get on the market earlier. I said exactly, that was my face.

I’m like, I said, I have so many questions. What do you mean weak patents? What do you mean weak patents held by Big Pharma? What do you mean weak patents are being held by Big Pharma preventing me from getting low cost drugs. I’m like, I have so many questions. Applicable too. Yeah. And all of a sudden now, we’re having a conversation.

So even if she had this, what, hey, what’s your elevator? Hey, what do you do? I open new markets, you know, whatever, you know, whether she had or planned 90 seconds or three minutes. Yeah. That cadence to allow somebody else to engage. Cuz most times when we’re doing an elevator pitch, we’re doing it with another person as opposed to on stage or an introduction. So anyway, long answer to a short question.

Paula Edgar: No it’s perfect symmetry because again, when I teach about this, I always say you have to have it broken into five separate statements. Because that way it makes it easier to weave into what you’re saying as opposed to being ready to read your soliloquy.

Like, ah, when I was a young child, this thing happened to me. Right? It’s relationship wise, people are gonna wanna jump in and out, like it’s a double dutch of conversation that we do. And so that was, I mean, perfectly said in terms of having that pause and having that cadence. And I’m a big believer in the elevator pitch is a part of the way people talk about this in the industry, but the way it works in real life when it’s interesting is that people are going to jump in and jump out of it.

And so, I love that. But you said something that I gotta go back to because I love a mic droppable moment. You said you gotta network your ambition. And I just, I was like, I’m gonna put that on a t-shirt and I mean, that is, so it in a nutshell, because it’s really talking about like the mission, like what am I here for?

What am I doing this for, and what do I wanna get out of it? And again, it’s not transactional, right? It’s like, it gives you a North star like you were saying. Like it gives you something to work toward. And I love that. So I didn’t want the listener to let that go by without stopping at being like, did you hear what she just said?

We are definitely tweeting that. Okay. So, thank you for that. So to that end, when I talk to people about their brands, I also say to them, tell me how you describe yourself in three words or short phrases. I wanna hear what you say, what your thoughts are about that.

Kelly Hoey: Ooh, three words or short phrases.

I think I had sort of started, began to think about this, and then I’m like what was I thinking about? I mean, when I think about myself right now I’m a Canadian in New York. Now I’m you know, and that sort of screams to, oh, right, like, she’s got a different worldview, yet she needs to be in this diverse, vibrant environment.

Now that, that kind of piece of it. I wanna think about myself right now. You know, I’m in transformation and I’m someone who has been resistant to uncertainty, but whose career has thrived because of change and uncertainty.

Paula Edgar: All of that, all of that. If I can, I wanna just say what just came up for me and I thought to myself is you are, the first thing that came to mind was like, chameleon, but that’s not right.

I was like, it’s something about the transition piece, but that’s not chameleon. It’s more like metamorphosis. Yeah. What I, is, what I think about when I see you, because in the time that I’ve known you, you’ve been like five different people, right. And you know, in my therapy, my therapist says we’re a different person every day after having experienced COVID, like all of that.

But for some people, if I were to say that, it would seem scary to me. But for me it seems very much like a real core piece of who you are and whether that is like, sort of not right now, I’m just trying to figure it out. It still doesn’t feel inconsistent. Correct. With who you are, and so I love that.

Kelly Hoey: Yeah. A big thing for me over this time period over the last few years, you know, I think there was an upside to having to sit still and sit with yourself and not like really step out of the hustle culture, put aside the New York, but the kind of whole hustle culture and sort of say, like really, who am I?

When am I, what really rocks my world when I have I truly been successful? What has that been? And for me, I really have to trust my intuition. I need, I if I use a word to describe myself, like doing. Like I just doing things reveals to me what I should be doing. So if anyone’s like, okay, you live in New York?

I live in New York. Okay. The original sign of Central Park, there was no straight lines because the paths were all, you’re supposed to always be like, what’s around the corner? Right. And when you get to that around the corner, you can’t really, you sort of know where you’ve been, but it’s not like this looming thing.

Like there’s where I’ve come from, right. It was always supposed to be discovery and I need to remind myself because when I am in that state of engaging, of sharing what I’m capable of, showing what I can do, being, you know, expressing what I’m passionate about and just moving, that’s when opportunities reveal themselves as opposed to me having like, the action plan.

Paula Edgar: That analogy about, or the fact about Central Park was interesting to me because I am a Brooklyn girl. I like to stay in my borough unless I’m flying out. Yeah. But, each time I think about being at Central Park, I think about it as being lost. But what you just gave to me was this is number one intentional that you’re not supposed to kind of feel like you under.

I’m always like, where the heck am I just passed six different, you know, trees and I know that there’s a fountain, but I’m not sure where I am. And that actually makes me feel, even as a New Yorker, cause I always feel like I’m like cheating and not knowing what I’m supposed to be doing there. I feel a little bit calmer in it.

Kelly Hoey: Right, right. And also look at some of the old light stanchions. They do have, a lot of them do have a little plaque on it that will give you what the cross street is. So it’ll say 60 or it’ll say 73, and then you’re like, oh, if I go on a straight line, I will be at 73rd Street on the East or West.

But it is intentionally designed for that kind of wonder and discovery and reflection what’s around the corner? Yes. This reflection. Anyway.

Paula Edgar: No. Yeah. I mean, I have a lot of skills. I would say that I can do a lot of things. One of them is not read a map, one of them is not and not have directions.

So, but that is good to know because just in case okay. So I’m thinking about that and what you said about taking a pause. And I wonder if you have a, two, it’s a two part question. So one is, I like to ask people about, is there a quote or like a guiding kind of value that you have in your life that that helps you to kind of, you know, come back to the right the place in the road that whenever you feel like you are a little bit off I’ll start with that and then I’ll ask you the second question.

So, is there something that comes to mind?

Kelly Hoey: Oh, I mean, when I think quotes for me, you know, Oscar Wilde always comes to mind. You know, like, be yourself cuz everyone else is taken.

Paula Edgar: Speaking of personal brand. Yeah.

Kelly Hoey: You know what? Cause we can get so whipsawed in our hyper connected social media influenced world, we can get so, tramped down in our truth because of somebody else’s frustrations and ambitions and goals, what they wanted and therefore they foist their frustrations, you know, and you, so you get a lot of, you shoulds and all the rest of the kind of stuff. And so I come back to Oscar Wilde.

Paula Edgar: I love that. And I also think about the fact that comparison. Right when you have your own path and other people have it, it is never a good thing, right?

It’s just never something that you should do. And I often find when I talk to people, they will think about their brand in a sort of diminutive, like, oh, it’s not as good, because they are comparing themselves to someone else. And I’m like, let’s just stick to you and what your value proposition is, how you come to the table, and what you wanna shine with versus whoever else there is over there, right?

Like if that’s important, but it’s never as important as who, you know? To your point, when you started. You know what? What’s your ambition that you’re networking towards? I love that so much. Ok, so . . Okay, so, okay, we’ve got your quote. Then I always think if you’re like going into a room, or if you are sad and you wanna pick yourself up and it’s a two part, cuz sometimes the song is different.

So I love this theme of this way of saying you have a hype song. So I have a hype song whenever I’m going to speak. I play a song beforehand. Everybody, in case you wanna know, it’s Prince – Baby I’m a Star. But I also have songs that I play if I want to that pick myself up, even if I’m not gonna speak.

And it’s also Prince – Baby I’m a Star, but I have a whole soundtrack for that one. So do you have a song that kind of gets you into that space, whether it’s going into room, or just need to pick yourself up.

Kelly Hoey: So it was so funny, I had to like go because my, like I’m saying music and stuff changes. So I thought, let’s go look at what song I play a lot of like, so let’s go to, you know, Apple Music most played kind of stuff.

And I’m like, well that doesn’t surprise me. So it’s the song Rock with You, but it’s the Brandy Heavy D version on a Quincy Jones compilation and it just, it’s so good.

Paula Edgar: I know that compilation because I used to play it all the time, and I have not thought about that. Just that whole album comp in such a long time.

So now I gotta pull up, now that I’m gonna link it for there so that you’ll make sure that you have it. Oh I can’t wait. And you would not know this, but, Heavy D one of my faves. And because he was Jamaican and I’m half Jamaican and I was like, oh my God, he’s Jamaican when I was growing up, like he can be a celebrity and he’s Jamaican.

Small things. I’m so glad you brought that up. Okay, great. Okay, so now let’s jump into some more. So I know that you’re an author and I want you to talk to me about that as a platform and how you have built your personal brand and specifically with the book, but other networks that you have used to build your brand.

Kelly Hoey: So what’s interesting about the book is I had to listen to my network to tell me, A, this is my expertise, and B, that I should be writing a book. Okay. So if I dial it back, it was when I was in still law, in law, working in the law firm world, and I was in law firm management, my then boss said to me, you need to tell people what you do.

You need to explain to them this thing about building networks. You need to tell people and share this information. And I looked at him and told him he was an absolute idiot. This is the most stupid and boring thing I’ve ever heard. And part of that was like, I was sitting in my own head of like, doesn’t everyone do it this way?

And like, what are you talking about? Like, I just do this, right? And doesn’t everyone do this? This is, so, I think this is where it like comes to listening to your network. That thing you do so seamlessly, that thing that comes naturally to you that may be your secret sauce. Right? You might be like, but hold on a minute here.

Right? Like, so, anyway, so, so then there was that, and then paying attention to that when I was then approached by several other authors for me to give insights to them on their books on networking. I was like, can we just stop the press here? If I’m the expert’s expert, maybe I should write the book. So by the time, so part of this is by the time it came around for me to say, whoa, I’m gonna write a book.

So I’d listened to my network and started to pay attention. I had then, I wanna say done a lot of things that diversified my network and had been involved in roles and things and speaking about networks and networking. I’d already had it, so a lot of the platforms we think for our personal brand they led, they were already there. They were like, that was foundation. It was in place when this thing as opposed to, here’s my thing, now how do I build around it? The foundation was there, and now it was like, because when I reached out on my newsletter to say I was gonna write a book, the responses I got from my network were like, finally, waiting for this.

Right. And so that’s one of those things too. So sometimes you finally decide to switch gears, but I would say to people, you know, bring your network on your journey. I love that. And then you’re, know, you’re refining, you’re getting the evangelist, you’re getting all the stuff, as opposed to kind of showing up as a fully formed human being and complete and saying, hey, did anyone notice

I mean, that kinda sh that kinda awe and amazement that works well for haute couture fashion shows surprise and delight us, but the rest of us, it’s like bring people on this journey, get their feedback so that your, you know, your brand is really having the impact you want it to have.

Paula Edgar: And what you’re talking about is like an authentic process.

Right? It’s something where that, if you’re saying, I don’t have it in perfection, but I’m letting you know that it’s on its way and this is my goal. This is what I want, and I want you to be involved. That authenticity and that vulnerability and saying, ah, like, let’s figure this out. Right? Is it draws people closer to you and those are also key pieces in having a brand that is memorable right?

Kelly Hoey: Well, and when you’re really scared, right? When you’re uncertain. Like, I remember when I decided to write a book, Paula. There was a very quiet little voice when I wanted to tell people. Because I had never imagined, I know a lot of people imagined writing books. I never imagined writing a book.

Going back to that Canadian in New York thing. I grew up reading, you know, Margaret Atwood? Reading Margaret Atwood, for instance, when I was like 12 years old. So you know that you say that about my formative years. That is, so when I think of writing, I think of like Margaret Atwood. Like I can’t do that. I could never that’s like, oh, you know, whatever. I don’t, I couldn’t see myself doing that, therefore I shut that off.

So when that finally had this burning desire to do this thing, and not feeling confident in it. You know, and saying it in that quiet voice, having this network who could see the possibility in me. Who saw that oh no. Kelly, let’s pull off those fears and veneers that had been established by someone else.

No your brand is doing this kind of stuff. Your brand is sharing this information. This does align with your brand of helping others succeed. Please do this. That gave me the confidence to pursue it.

Paula Edgar: So I, what I love about that is sometimes talking about branding the dovetail goes into either talking about imposter syndrome or feeling that imposter piece, and also the ability to self promote and have self advocacy.

And so, and you, what you just said is that, other people could help you get there. Right? It doesn’t have to be only self, you know, self generated. And a lot of times people will think about this as like, if I don’t do it and I don’t that right, pull myself from my bootstraps and even though I have my own boots, whatever.

But then it’s not what it needs to be and we should be tapping into our networks for support too.

Kelly Hoey: Because you know, that hero’s journey of going it along, let’s just call it what it is: BS. Right. All of us have support. We all pop outta somebody’s womb. We all have like, you know, like, you know what I mean?

None of us just lands on this planet fully formed and able to achieve something, right? When someone says, oh, well I built this, what? You had no employees, right? Right. No one gave you feedback. No one bought your product. No one, we all get to succeed with the help of other people. So the more your brand is about helping people get where they go, so you can get where you go, the stronger your brand is gonna be.

Paula Edgar: Love it so much. I love it so much. So let so lemme go off. So tell me about this then. Who are some of the people who served as mentors and sort of those key stakeholders for you? What were, what was that support system like for you? Anybody come to mind that you’re like…?

Kelly Hoey: Oh my gosh. I mean, I’ve had some incredible mentors.

I’m gonna say I’ve had incredible people who were incredible mentors, who were horrible people who taught amazing lessons. You know, and I say that I think of one law firm partner I worked for, truly, ultimately a horrible human being, but his attitude when he was as this very senior, powerful partner.

His attitude towards the people who worked with him was, I trained my assassins. He wanted everyone around him to be better, stronger, more successful than him. He was like, he created more power by taking that attitude, because we were so beholden to him. Like, you gave us, as a junior person, gave us enough rope to hang ourselves, but never allowed, you know, we never could hang ourselves kind of thing.

And we got so much responsibility and such incredible learning that you would, you put up with a lot of really egregious behavior, because the rest of it was amazing and this is what helped this person be successful. I thought of another, you know, mentor around the same time period who every year would have dinner with some of the female associates.

Now that can in the Me Too era, woo, this is inappropriate. But this guy wanted to know how things were going and I wanna say the libations flowed, not cuz he was trying to do anything, but he wanted the truth you know, and sometimes a little alcohol is a really good truth serum. And we would have these dinners and it was like cone of silence.

And we would tell what was going on and the next day or the next couple days, all of a sudden all that friction and rift. So I think about when I’ve had been asked by particularly men, how can they support women? I said, go in there and tell the person, your peer who is being a problem.

Yeah. Tell ’em to get it right. Don’t tell the woman what to do. Don’t tell us that we should go in there and be tough and do this. No. Make your brand as the mentor, as the ally, make your brand, the one who goes in and calls BS on the behavior of your peers. Anyway. This is what this is what this guy did and it was amazing. All of a sudden it’s like, oh gee, all that problem I had with that partner, oh, that closing dinner I didn’t get invited to. Oh, all of a sudden I’ve got the prime seat. Like the things he did and used his power was just like, yeah.

Paula Edgar: That’s such a great example, right, because you’re talking about like impact and so much of what we hear particularly about, you know, law firms and a lot of other layered um, industry folks, is that it’s a lot of talk and not a lot of action, right? And so if you are gonna ask and say what it is that’s going on, and then you don’t do anything with it, then the trust is eroded, right? So, there’s brand building and being an impactful, inclusive leader by hearing and then also acting like, it’s not just the listening.

So many people are like, oh, my intent is great. I’m like, great, but your impact sucks.

Kelly Hoey: Or their action is telling someone else what to do, rather than saying, what is it within my, like, let me understand the power dynamic. What is within my power? So then when I really think about it, and I think about today, you know, like I, you know, people who guide and mentor me, they come in all shapes and sizes, all sorts of like the thing people I can learn from and engage with you know, there’s a Cassidy Williams, a young woman who is a developer who’s based out in, software developer based out in Chicago, and she’s like my mentor Kelly, and I’m like, yo, let’s just stop there.

Who’s mentoring who here?

Paula Edgar: That’s the great thing about being in relationship with people, right? Is that it’s not supposed to be one-sided. Not if you do it right, right. It’s supposed to be what are we learning from each other? And sometimes that’s just in how to interact with me better. I’m a big believer in asking my mentees, did you get that?

Like, is there another way that I could say this that will make it easier? Because I want feedback as well so I can do this better going forward. And so, right. I love that. So, so tell me this, you have done a lot and sort of made a lot of pivots and shifts. Number one, is there one pivot that was like your favorite?

Like the one that you’re like, oh, up till now? Cause obviously we’re gonna do more and it’ll be like whatever the next thing is, but is there one that, that, that shifted you, so, or that gave you agent whatever it is that is, was the most impactful for you?

Kelly Hoey: You know what I think it’s when I left the law firm world, and went and became the first president of Global Business Network for Women. And that was a really I did not know about doing that, cuz, and I think that’s something for a lot of people they may be, you know, a job or a role right now when they’re thinking, I just gotta keep my head down and do the good work or, you know, I really wanna do this other thing, but there’s so much uncertainty. And so there I was big law firm working in a management role, nice paycheck, all the benefits. Whatever. And here I was offered a role to be the first president of a global business network for women. And my compensation was going to be equity, period.

And I didn’t know what to do, and I talked to a friend who was a partner at the firm I was at, and she said to me, well, what’s the worst that can happen? If you take this role, and of course being a woman, I’m like, I’m gonna be living under a bridge somewhere, side Paula, that I was married at the time and like, you know, my husband could foot all the bills and like all that good stuff, but I’m like, I’m gonna be living in a cardboard box and uh, you know, we go to such a weird place, right?

Like our brain, that brain loves to go to weird places. Yes. And I’m looking at her like, what’s the worst that can happen, I’m like, where do you wanna start? And she says to me, the worst that can happen, you come back here and get your old job back. And I, it’s like, it was like the lightning bolt of, I have a network in this area. I have a reputation, I have a personal brand in management.

I have a personal, like I have built relationships that will survive a six month or a 12 month professional absence that, you know, what I can turn back to and as if the universe wants to remind me of that was really funny. It was when I was writing Build Your Dream Network, and I got an email from a head hunter looking to fill a professional development manager role.

And I’m like, thank you universe. Like four years. Like it was like sort of three years later kind of thing. Like you’re just wanting to give me that little nudge and I’m like, all right, I still have a brand here. I still have experience. Yeah. So when I think about you know, a pivotal career change and in something that I would, I’m so glad you asked that question.

It was really like, build your network. You know, and keep doing that and, you know, build your expertise so that you’re known for something and your network knows what to know you for, and let that be, you know, your kind of plan B, like your reputation. You know, your relationships, that’s your plan B if what you’re going for, falls apart.

Paula Edgar: I mean, it’s like plan A, B, and C. Right. It’s just how you exercise it, no matter. Right. It’s a no matter what. And that’s great. Right.

Kelly Hoey: Yeah. One of the best pieces of advice, you know, a mentor and friend gave to me when I was writing my book, he said, what’s, what are you working on?

He said, I said, I’m writing this book. There’s no plan B, and he said to me, there shouldn’t be a plan B. And this guy’s a startup investor, he said there shouldn’t be a plan B because if you’re thinking about plan B, you’re not executing Plan A. Wow. I know, right? Wow. So, so that’s why I think about your plan B is like your history of relationships, your history of, you know, are you consistent? Can people rely on you? Are you there for other people? Have you delivered in the past? That’s your plan B. Wow. Right. As opposed to being scattered on, well, if this doesn’t work, I’ll do this and that. And what does that say about you?

Paula Edgar: Right. And well, I know, but that’s such, that’s it’s, I mean, it really is. I have a magnet on my refrigerator that says something to the effect of that, that you can believe in yourself, like, you are the person that you can believe in. And I always think about this whenever I talk to anybody or I think about my own pivots, it’s that as long as it’s you, right.

You know? Right. That plan A, that plan B, whatever it is that you are gonna be the one that’s gonna identify how you’re going to put your effort into it or not. And you’re gonna be the one that’s gonna be able to access the networks that you have built and invested in and all of those things.

And that’s powerful that, I mean, that’s so powerful. When you were saying that, I thought to myself, is there a piece of advice that people ask you about the most from the book that, that you’re like, everybody needs to know this? Or anything that you’re thinking like, like one, one game changer, that, because everybody’s obviously gonna go buy the book, but is there something that you feel like you need to know this, like, this is important and I have a feeling I know what it is cause I read the book, but let me see.

Kelly Hoey: Oh no I wanna hear I, of course, after I give my answer, I wanna hear your answer. So, so what I, as soon as you start saying it, and I’m gonna, you know, this will be me coming on through you know, I’m often asked like, what’s the hack?

What’s the networking hack? Like, what’s the trick to networking? And I look at people and I say, don’t be a jerk, right?

You can’t hack human relationships. That’s, I mean, if your personal brand is hacking human relationships, and everyone’s gonna be like, talk to the hand, or you’re gonna get radio silence when you send out emails, or you’re gonna post something and no one, you know, like the little boy who cried wolf. No one is going to be there for you because you haven’t valued other human beings. And so, how do you show up every day that matters more than how you show up once.

So do not hack those relationships. So there’s my one piece of, if it’s one piece of advice, just don’t be a jerk. Don’t be a jerk.

Paula Edgar: I love it. So I thought you, I thought so. I love that because it’s good sound advice, across everything. It’s good advice. But it’s about not following up.

Kelly Hoey: Oh, yeah. Well, I mean that to me, like if there’s like. As a thing to do. Like if one, like, you’re like, Kelly, I’m not a jerk, you know, and I’m really considerate, but I’m like, here’s the one thing. Yeah, I think the single biggest mistake, people who are really trying to forge meaningful connections where they sometimes go wrong is they don’t follow up.

And it’s not the thank you, it’s the, Hey, you know, three months later I took your advice.

Or it’s the, by the way, you made that introduction. Here’s what happened. As opposed to just saying, well, I did follow up. I thanked them for the introduction. But did you tell them what happened?

You know, like little things like that when you leave people wondering, you know, and hanging around like, okay, did that person call you? Did you get the interview? What happened with the job?

Paula Edgar: Right. Right. Taking the time. Taking your time or your energy or your sphere of influence requires something of you and so you want at least wanna know that investment, you know?

Kelly Hoey: Yeah. That’s your networking generosity. Because people always ask what do I, you know, Hey, what’s my networking give? I’m, you know, I’m just starting out. What do I give someone else? You give consideration, respect, and generosity for somebody else’s relationships, reputation and time, and I’m so specific.

Relationships, reputation, and time. Those are our only three assets in life. Two of those are renewable. One is not. Right? Someone will give you reputation or relationships if you respect their time and value their time. Period. Full stop.

Paula Edgar: I’m like, literally writing out the graphics in my head, like, and then she said, and then after that she said this, like, I mean, those are like…

It’s so on one hand common sense, but also because we know this, people just don’t think about it. I get really frustrated because, when I think about the time piece, I think I can, even if I’m napping, it’s a better use of me wasting my time if you’re not going. Cause, cause I love napping.

You know what I mean?

Kelly Hoey: That is solid good use, daydreaming, imagining, disconnecting, letting your subconscious create things that is. You might come up with your best ideas, you might have absolute clarity on what’s next by doing that. Hustling around for someone else who’s being, you know, ultimately inconsiderate of your own time.

Paula Edgar: I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. Okay, so I’m gonna start closing our convo by asking you this. And maybe you just gave it, but what advice do you have for people trying to build their brands, but I’m gonna cross it with their networks and like using their networks. What’s your advice?

Kelly Hoey: Really listen. Listen. You know, and that is you may discover something about yourself that is your secret sauce you didn’t know. I think of my friend, Joyce Sullivan. She thought of herself as sort of operational Wall Street person. Then she, cuz of, you know, the crash in, you know, the Lehman Brothers and stuff, sort of 2007, 8, that era.

She found herself without a job for the first time since, you know, she was a teenager, and there she is doing the outplacement coaching and someone said, you’re a marketer. And she’s like, no, I’m not. And then like 19 other people in the room are like, yeah, you’re a marketer. And she’s like, whoa.

Okay. I gotta listen to this, right? So… I gotta pay attention. You don’t brush those things off. So listen to what your network says. And also I wanna think in terms of growing your branding network, listen. Like, listen to what you are feeling. The networking scenarios, the places to enhance your brand, grow your brand, develop your brand, they’re gonna come from where you feel authentic and genuine. Right? Where are the venues online and offline that you show up and you can be yourself as opposed to something someone else tells you “should” be doing where you feel awkward and uncomfortable. So there’s listening both ways, externally and internally.

Paula Edgar: I love that. Can I ask you a quick follow up on that? Yeah. Do you think in listening and hearing other people to what they’re saying about your brand and maybe your ambition, all of those things should you be asking?

Kelly Hoey: Yeah. Yeah. But that’s where I’d really get into like saying like wow, I never thought of that.

How do you see that in me? Or, oh, okay. I hear a lot of kind of shoulds and don’ts in what you’re saying. Where’s that coming from? Like, are they projecting their, you know, limiting beliefs? Are they projecting their fears? Are they, you know, maybe you are surrounded with a lot of people in your network who can’t envision your future, therefore you need to find new connections who can envision that future. And instead of saying, my dream or my ambition sucks, let me tamper it down. Maybe you’re saying, okay, I get it. They’re scared for me. They’re worried, they wanna make sure I’ve got a roof over my head and you know, like, like, or whatever it may be.

Right? Yeah. They can’t see that bypassing partnership or giving up on, you know, grabbing the brass ring is really gonna fulfill my heart. Let me find some people who can understand that. But that’s where I’m like, yes, absolutely. Follow up to find out what is the source of this. And when I think about my friend, Joyce.

I mean, what has come for her from listening to other people saying you’re a marketer versus just going, what are you talking about?

Paula Edgar: Okay, so we have two standing questions in Branding Room Only. And one of them is it’s your Stand By Your Brand moment. So what is the authentic aspect of your personal slash professional brand that you will never compromise on?

Kelly Hoey: Valuing my time.

Paula Edgar: Yes, mic drop. I love that.

Kelly Hoey: And that’s where probably where, you know, I say to people, no is a complete sentence.

Paula Edgar: Snaps. Snaps. Okay, so the next one is Branding Room Only. Tell me about your magic. What’s that skill unique thing about you? That gift, that grand proposition that a crowd is gonna gather to hear, see, or experience.

Kelly Hoey: You know what? For me, Paula, it is really stepping into and accepting that this thing called networking or network building, that activity that most people, like cringeworthy activity, that there’s a magical way I look at it and help people understand how they can unlock and tap into and build their networks and I resisted it. I’ve pushed against it. I’ve tried to like, but you know what? Everything in my life has come down because of interactions with other people, and it is so critically important that I just understand now like I need to sit in that space and just accept that is the chair I sit on.

Paula Edgar: I love that. And it would be terrible of me if I did not acknowledge that a space that brought us together is someplace that is very important and dear to me. And that is the New York City Bar Association. And when Kelly and I met all those years ago I was just kind of hanging out there. I was there, you know, at the City Bar and volunteering and doing stuff for committees, and now I’m an officer of the New York City Bar Association.

Kelly Hoey: That is so awesome. I wanna say the networks in that institution has been so important from when my career as a lawyer to when I made my career transition into management, when I, you know, became an author …I’m so glad you gave them a shout out.

Paula Edgar: Of course. Of course. And I wanna thank you, Kelly, for being my guest on Branding Room Only today, and I loved having this conversation and I am already asking you, I know you need to come back.

Kelly Hoey: How soon is what I wanna say? I am so glad. So glad you’re doing this. Thank you.