Kelly Hoey — investor, entrepreneur and networking guru — is a household name right now, but that hasn’t always been the case.
Before she became a successful investor and author behind “Build Dream Your Own Network” she worked as a lawyer. While she never had a “burning desire” to practice law she enjoyed it. Her ambition to continue working up the corporate ladder all changed after she met Janet Hanson — founder of 85 Broads, a global business network for women. The “visionary leader” inspired her to trade law for entrepreneurship and launch a brand new career.
Below the acclaimed business consultant dishes on how she’s managed to transform her career and how others can throughout their careers.
[This interview has been edited for clarity]
You’ve successfully reinvented your career over the years multiple times. How can others emulate your success?
Stay curious and stay connected to your networks. I’m a former corporate lawyer who has networked her career into becoming a published author. A professional milestone I never imagined adding to my resume. From my initial jobs as an attorney to my numerous career-changes (law firm management, president of a global network for women, consultant, director and co-founder of a startup accelerator) my career is only explained by my ability to network and build relationships.
You mention in your book that part of your professional growth and achievements is down to “marketing” and self-promotion. Why is this important?
Your career is your best investment. Be prepared to put the time and effort into that investment. Venture capitalist Jessica Peltz-Zatulove outlines how she “cold-emailed” her way into the Madison Avenue advertising industry in chapter three [of my book]. And, one of my favourite case studies is Joe Styler a manager in the aftermarket department at GoDaddy. He shares in the book how he networked from an entry-level position at the company to a recognized industry-expert in a coveted role.
Another career networking lesson: Don’t overlook the possibility you can pivot and advance your career within the same company!
What advice would you share with entrepreneurs who want to take their careers to the next level?
No one ever goes it alone. Our careers or projects or initiatives are propelled forward with the help of other people. Find mentors around you. Having mentors as well as being a good mentor is critical for learning how to master a new skill or navigate the dynamics of the business community.
Mentoring comes in a variety of forms – it can be one piece of advice, a blog post or a podcast. It does not have to be a 1:1 coffee date. It does not have to be a lifelong commitment. In reality, just as you don’t have time, that dream mentor may not have the time either for regular 1:1 coffee dates with you. Most people do have the time to answer a well thought-through email. Mentors are there to guide you through thorny work or professional challenges. If someone can help you sort out a work challenge by answering a question (once), well, why isn’t that considered mentoring?
STEM has received a lot criticism for its lack of diversity. What can insiders do to help change those statistics?
Again, be a mentor. Hire interns. Volunteer at hackathons at local libraries or community centers. Make it a career priority to expand your network and to share your interest in STEM with a more have a diverse group of people. [That means] industry, geography, tenure, experience, gender, education and whatever else you can think of.
A broad, diverse network is going to allow you to provide others with more opportunities (and you’ll get more ideas and feedback too). Keep in mind: the power of networking is not just the person you’ve just mentored or tutored or trained. [Networking] is all the people that person is connected to, too.
What books, tools or technologies would you recommend for people in the early stages of networking?
I always recommend Katharine Graham’s “Personal History”. Katharine led her family’s newspaper through Watergate.
Whether you want to be a fiction writer or not you should also read Stephen King’s “On Writing”. It is as much about how to dedicate yourself to your chosen craft as it is on understanding how you come up with new ideas and communicate them.
Watch Ray Anderson’s Ted Talk “The Business Logic Of Sustainability”. There’s also Phil Hansen’s novel called “Embrace The Shake,” too. Also, join the CreativeMornings breakfast lecture series community.
To hear more of Kelly Hoey’s advice, personal guidance or to ask her questions in person attend this upcoming event at the DMZ for free.