Updated: Mar 15
Welcome to episode 25 of the Enterprise Excellence Podcast. I am so pleased to have on the show today Kristan De Sousa. Kristan's passion is to partner with business through significant transformation and change. Kristan has dedicated her career to talent management, helping organisations obtain and retain talented employees. Kristan has developed approaches to building networks to achieve excellence in this area. We could say the world runs by networks as much now, as it always has.
Let's get into the episode.
A country girl, naive to the big wide world, Kristan grew up in Toowoomba on a family farm. She watched her Dad network to create positive outcomes for his family and community. Her Mum, a caregiver, was thrifty and genuinely wanted her family and community's best. She instilled a strong sense of purpose in her daughters. What a combination: networking with intention and purpose.
At 17, Kristan moved to Brisbane and began her university degree. Her first job was selling phone systems. Kristan enjoyed understanding the commercial side of the business but found selling the product boring. She knew that she wanted to work with people, and eventually landed in the recruitment and HR industry.
Kristan believes that you need to have a passion for curiosity, ongoing learning, and supporting others to succeed in the recruitment industry. She found the organisation Six Degrees had a similar cultural background to her, and Kristan thrived. She works in talent management and relies upon high-quality networks to help and support employees and organisations.
How does Kristan build a high-quality network?
1. Being curious about others is essential. To put yourself out there and engage other people, no matter where you are. And to focus on others, rather than on yourself. Look to understand them and find ways that you may be able to help.
2. Realise that it is a long game. If you go to market, in a personal (e.g., making friends) or professional sense, and are focusing on what you want in the short term, you will fail. It takes time to build quality connections.
3. It is hard work - sometimes pushing yourself to act in a moment to hold up your end of the deal. It takes effort to build and then sustain your network. Keep in touch with your network, helping real people, and offering high value.
Kristan believes that a high-quality network, rather than a superficial one, will help you most in life. A superficial connection with others, where you may not remember them, and they may not remember you, is not the type of network you can rely upon. She speaks about LinkedIn and how someone with thousands of connections may not know how each person is.
Fear is a significant inhibitor to being curious with others. The self-doubt that can plague your thoughts: will I be interesting enough? Will I be rejected? What value do I have to give? Time is also an inhibitor. Everyone is so busy; can you give up a moment to engage?
Kristan's advice to improve our networking skills is to seek help, find a coach or mentor to guide us and practise. No matter where you are; at a BBQ, an event, a virtual meeting, a wedding, take the time to walk around and start a conversation with someone you do not know. Focus on them and see where you can help.
Recently, Kristan connected with John Burgess and learned about building advocates in your life. She believes that advocacy is the next layer above effective networking. People in your network become your advocates when you have taken the time to connect with and help them over time. They will promote and vouch for you even if you have not seen or spoken to them for quite some time. Advocacy is an exciting level for Kristan to now consider in her professional role and is going to start teaching others about its significance.
2020 was a year where Kristan saw many people out of work, and who subsequently lost their connection and network. Kristan is preparing to develop a new online platform called 'Mindova' (think mind over matter) to improve people's lives in a really achievable way. It is based on traditional in-person networking approaches and aims to help people build connections through activities to improve their lives or keep their lives on track.
We can update you of when this is going live and will interview Kristan again at that time so that she can explain it all to us. Thank you for a great show, Kristan, on building quality networks. We wish you all the very best for the launch of your platform Mindova, and may it help to create a better future.
05:29min It's actually getting to know individuals, like who the person is, like what makes them tick as an individual, as a group, as a community, and then really trying to support in that sense.
09:59min you have to constantly remind yourself that it's not just about you. And so, therefore, how can you be curious about others? If you enter into every conversation, you have with a bit of curiosity and a focus on understanding what someone else might need. That would be the golden tip in terms of ensuring you build a quality network over time.
17:53min get up, walk to a table. Make it a mandate that every time you go to a party, a function, meet one person you don't know.
19:46min it's pretty remarkable how your world will open up if you could do 12 of those a year, you know, and one of those people then became someone that you knew and that you helped each other or supported each other through life. How much better would your life be?
21:51min so who am I really going to help when they need it? And they're likely going to be the people that, A, I understand how I can help them and B, I understand who they are. And I want to sacrifice my time, which is pretty precious, to then go and actually contribute to their life.
28:47min when you help others, without anything in it for yourself, you naturally create advocates.
Kristan's LinkedIn Profile: linkedin.com/in/kristan-de-sousa-5531a02
Website: sixdegreesexecutive.com.au (Six Degrees Executive)
Humans have grown thanks to connecting with others biologically and socially across the eternity of life on the planet. Let's do more than social media connection and go deeper and connect with people we don't know and build a better life.
My key takeaways from this episode are:
1. Care about others
2. Work hard for your network
3. Find a coach or mentor
Caring for others is a mindset that forces us out of our own bubble, this allows us to connect with others more effectively. Being curious about another person: entering a conversation positively by asking questions about the other person. Listening and responding to their needs and showing how you can help them. Real connection comes when they respond, and we can paraphase what we heard them say and understand they felt, showing we are lilstening and care.
Working hard for your network means structuring your time effectively, ensuring you have time set aside to communicate with others, make a phone call, or set a meeting. Taking a moment when someone does connect spontaneously, and striking up a conversation with them. Look at the value you can bring to someone, whether listening, sharing knowledge or a laugh. Take an abundant, approach and be present.
The final takeaway for me was to find a coach or mentor to help you develop your confidence with networking if this is an area you are looking to improve. Kristan mentioned the mentor who helped her develop networking skills early on in her career. A mentor or coach can help us bridge the knowing-doing gap. It is one thing to know something, listen to a podcast, read a book, or watch a video. It is another to put it into practice and develop new habits and skills. A good coach or mentor is like a personal trainer for fitness. They help keep you focussed on your goal, take small steps towards it and get through the tough times without giving up.