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Full Transcript

Sari 0:00
Welcome to your Food Business Success. This podcast is for early stage entrepreneurs in the packaged food industry ready to finally turn that delicious idea into reality. I'm your host Sari Kimbell. I have guided hundreds of food brand founders to success as an industry expert and business coach, and it's gotta be fun. In this podcast, I share with you mindset tools to become a true entrepreneur and run your business like a boss, interviews with industry experts to help you understand the business you are actually in, and food founder journey so you can learn what worked and didn't work and not feel so alone in your own journey. Now, let's jump in.

All right, everyone, welcome back to the podcast. I am so excited to welcome my guest today, my dear friend, Lee Koles, or for this podcast, Dr. Lee Koles.

Dr. Lee Koles 1:03
That's okay, you can call Lee. It's great to be here.

Sari 1:05
I never call you doctor. Let me introduce you and then we'll get to our conversation today all about making connections and how to network which is so important. So Dr. Lee Koles is an industrial organizational psychologist, career strategist and the founder of Career Sequel. She helps people leverage their strengths to plan meaningful work that fit their lives. Lee is also a public speaker, workshop facilitator and host of the Career Sequel podcast. And she's also like a LinkedIn Expert Pro. So bonus.

Dr. Lee Koles 1:45
I love my LinkedIn.

Sari 1:47
That's right. You're gonna help us with that today. So welcome. Thanks for being here.

Dr. Lee Koles 1:54
Thanks for having me, Sari.

Sari 1:56
Yeah, it's been so fun. You and I've been friends for a while. And we're both coaches and I've always been thinking about, like how can I bring Lee in on this conversation for the folks listening and people starting a packaged food business? And then I heard one of your podcasts the other day about networking, and I was like, this is it, I have to bring Lee in to talk to people about those.

Dr. Lee Koles 2:23
I weaseled my way in I love listening to your podcast. It is so inspirational. And love I love listening to it while eating your products and drinking the coffee. So all of you out there, I've sampled your goodies. I love it.

Sari 2:40
That's right, Lee is a buyer and lover, taste tester. She loves it. So let's just talk a little bit about community and, you know, both from your history working with people and helping them find more meaningful work and, but we're also coaches and we're in communities as well. So what do you see? What's the benefit of getting outside of your small circle of the day to day people you know?

Dr. Lee Koles 3:13
I think it feels so safe to just stay within our people. And especially when you have an idea that's pushing you outside of your comfort zone, whether it's starting a new career or it's an idea you have about food that you love, that you want to bring out into the public, wanting to get that out, it feels scary and risky maybe to talk to other people about it. So I think it is totally okay to begin talking to the people closest to you. But I gotta tell you like the walls start coming down when you get out of that inner circle because you don't know what you don't know. Like it's all the people who are closest to you, you run in the same circles, you read the same things, you have the same friends as soon as you push out and get, you know, start talking to people who maybe you don't hang out with a lot or people you know just peripherally, it is going to open up your world to so much more information, other groups of people that you don't come into contact with, and your opportunities are just going to open wide.

Sari 4:29
So good. At any rate, it is really scary. I know I even have people that are like I don't even want to tell anybody like I don't want to tell my friends or my family about this dream of mine but it is so important to start talking about it with them but then getting outside of your own little bubbles. So I mean, you know, the space like where do those opportunities come from? I mean, I think I've heard some stats about like where people find jobs, right? It's not with their smallest ties.

Dr. Lee Koles 5:03
Exactly so if you look at, you know, how people find jobs, first of all, in order to land a job, 80% of the people have some sort of connection to that organization. And so, and the connection doesn't have to be like your best friend, just anyone being put in touch with with anyone. So I like to think of it as in terms of like a spiral. So you have, if you are the center point and you take like, imagine you have a little dot, that's you. And if you take a pen on the dot, and put a little spiral around the dot, those are your your family, your closest friends. You all kind of know the same people, okay? When you take another spiral outside of that, those are the people like your second connections, the people who your family knows, your friends know, but maybe you don't know quite so well. And then the more you extend the spiral, the more year your network is going to widen because you will be connecting with people who know other people, who have have thoughts and experiences that you don't share. And that is when your world opens up.

Sari 6:22
Yeah. Yeah. I know, that's been the case for me in this last year even as I've connected with all these amazing coaches and gone on retreats and, and trusted that I belong there, right and opened up and the more I can give, and then, you know, be part of that group. And it really does like I feel like my world has exploded since last year.

Dr. Lee Koles 6:48
Right. Because, like I said, you don't know what you don't know.

Sari 6:53
Yeah, and tying in,you know, other people you just never know, like, somebody's like, oh, I know, so and so or I have this connection, or what about this. And so we extrapolate that down to starting a packaged food business, I think it's very, very similar. It's, you know, getting in my world where I know all these people and I know what you don't know and some of those things and getting around community and other people doing it, where you can have friendships and ties and mentor.

Dr. Lee Koles 7:28
Right. So someone who is not in your world right now, say you're listening to Sari's podcast but you're not connected to your world. Well, Sari, you're connected to so, you have so many people in your orbit right now that you work with all the time. So connecting to you then you bring, you get to be in your orbit sharing all those people who you know, it expands, expands your possibilities.

Sari 7:58
Yeah, so good. I love that. Because, yeah, and everything just multiplies and grows. And I have a philosophy of just being super generous with all of it. Right? Like get into my world.

Dr. Lee Koles 8:11

Sari 8:11
But even on other people's world, and then also offer and be willing to, you know, to give as well, which I'm sure we'll talk a little bit more about that.

Dr. Lee Koles 8:21
Yes, yes, that is key.

Sari 8:24
So if we're talking about in person, well, where do you want to go next? Did we talk enough about the circles and like, the why? Why it's so important to get out of your own little bubble?

Dr. Lee Koles 8:38
Yeah, I think. Well, I think one thing, just one thing is you touched on this earlier, it feels vulnerable when you have a new idea. And there's so much I mean, I know everyone listening right now, you've kind of plan so much in your head, you have these dreams in your head, and you've you see your future, and it's in your head. Step one is to just get it out of your head even if it's just to your best friend or your family member, just getting it out of your head into the air into someone else's ear is a huge first step. Like just tell somebody. You can say, you know, if you're eating, like your favorite food that everybody loves, that everybody's telling you, you got to put this out into the world. Next time someone says, oh my gosh, this is so good. This is so amazing. You could say, you know, I'm thinking about trying to actually get this on shelves and in the local store or I think I'm thinking about trying to get this into Whole Foods or beyond. Just saying that one sentence. Watch what that does. Watch what that does. People are going to take it and run with it and I think especially with food, people love to to talk about food, food is just, it's such a sensory experience. People, it makes people happy from the inside out, like it makes people happy, and people are going to want to talk about it, and you're going to be so surprised at how people are going to want to support you. And the positive feedback that you're gonna get.

Sari 10:19
Oh, that's such a good point. I think that we're so worried about people, you know, the judgment of people and criticism. And I've had clients do like Kiva loans or other crowdsourcing things. And they've had so nervous. I mean, they've started their business, they have things going, but then going and asking people for money or for support in more than just words maybe. But they have all been so pleasantly surprised at the the warm reception, and the feedback, and the outpouring of generosity. And I think sometimes we probably skew negative that we think everybody's going to have negative thoughts about us or ambivalent.

Dr. Lee Koles 11:08
Right, or that people are going to try to poke holes in your plan. And maybe, and I just, I want people to know that you don't have to have all the answers. You're not supposed to have all the answers at this stage. If someone says, gosh, that sounds like a great idea. How are you going to do it? You can absolutely say, I don't know. I'm trying to figure that out. Do you have any ideas? Like just be open and honest, this is a new adventure. And you're learning as you go. And so, just know that if people have questions, like open yourself up to those questions, and also just be open to saying, I have no idea like, do you know anyone who could help? Do you have any ideas? I like, if you have any ideas, I'd love to hear that. Like it is absolutely fine to not have it all planned out like this is, you're just starting off, and you're not supposed to have all the answers.

Sari 12:11
Yeah, and I love that you kind of brought in that who not how concept that we both love. Like who else should I talk to? And you're using your small network to try to expand it out just a little bit. And those are the people you know the best. So they would feel very comfortable connecting you and it's okay to ask people for help.

Dr. Lee Koles 12:34

Sari 12:35
Yeah. Oh, that's so good. I'm glad we went there and touched on that, because that's big. That's really big.

Dr. Lee Koles 12:42
Yeah. And one thing that you did mention, you talked about the concept of generosity. And I know, I've asked, I think, Sari, when I think of Sari, I think of generosity. And in fact, I asked you to become a guest on my podcast coming up to talk about generosity. I think if you go into networking with a spirit of generosity, that is, that's where you get the gold because the gold really is forming new relationships. I think like when you say the word networking, it just, it makes my skin crawl even, you know, when you say networking, it just sounds like you have a plan and you're trying to extract information from people and it doesn't feel good. And that I think is maybe what I like to think of as the old concept of networking. When I teach people about networking, it is not about an agenda. It is about getting to know people, forming relationships, being your authentic self and also being really curious about other people and what they've done and getting other people just to talk about themselves. I think that that is the key to networking. I want to I want to come up with a different name.

Sari 14:07
Relationship building.

Dr. Lee Koles 14:09
Yes, there you go. There you go, relationship building,

Sari 14:14
Not as catchy as networking but it is a better description because

Dr. Lee Koles 14:18
That's what it needs to be.

Sari 14:20
As this introvert, right? I see networking and I like oh, I want to run the other way but.

Dr. Lee Koles 14:27
Exactly, exactly.

Sari 14:29
But that's we're gonna talk about how to get over those when you hear the word networking or to reframe it as this is relationship building.

Dr. Lee Koles 14:37
Right, exactly.

Sari 14:39
And a relationship to me implies two ways, right? It's giving and receiving.

Dr. Lee Koles 14:44
Yes, it is not about what can you do for me. You know, tell me, tell me everything you know, thank you, I'm walking away from you. Like give me all your contacts, goodbye. It is it is about a reciprocal real relationship like really getting to know someone. And it feels good when you, when you make a new friend, it feels good. And I see networking or relationship building as a chance to make new friends and help each other out. Winning is contagious. So when you help other people win, you win too.

Sari 15:19
Yes, yes. Let's transition to in person first. Things are opening back up, obviously post pandemic or wherever we're at in this thing. And if you live in a place, there's lots of cities with in person networking groups specifically for packaged food, you can look at, like, the Naturally Network or see if there's some organizations in your area. But I think you could also extend that you don't have to be in an industry specific group, I think it's still important that you are building connections and like, there's still value and gold to be found in, out of your industry in person. So I think of in person and sometimes I like, in my brain, I'm just immediately like, no, it's a no. And then I think, wait, why is this important? Why should I do this? So how can we prepare ahead of time especially if you're an introvert like myself?

Dr. Lee Koles 16:22
Well, I know, I think your brain, when you hear networking event, your brain goes to, you're in a business suit, and you have your business card, your business cards and you have your uncomfortable but fashionable shoes on and you're walking around a ballroom. And I just think that that is something of that's largely of the past. And I think especially in the food business, there are so many other opportunities to connect with people in terms of the store that you want to be in or farmers markets. Also, I feel like and you tell me this Sari, are there opportunities just to share food in together? I don't know if there is.

Sari 17:16
Yeah, I mean, even trying to find, you know, could even create your own group of farmers market vendors or yeah, coming into, I think just even entrepreneurship groups, right? Like, it doesn't have to be the food industry. So what kind of things like how do you help people to be more comfortable whenever they walk into a room?

Dr. Lee Koles 17:39
I think the biggest thing is not to go in with an agenda. Like you're not going into, get to solve your problems, or like with a list of questions, just really go in with an open mind. And, and like we said before, just think about making new connections, building relationships, meeting some interesting people, and also finding out, find out about other people's stories. So I think that that is a huge thing is no one wants to be talked at. Everyone likes, people like to talk about themselves. So take advantage of that, be the person who ask questions of other people. And not how can you help me questions, but tell me about your story? Or if it is, you know, if there is a group of people who are putting their food out into the world? What's the story about your food? Or how did you get the idea to do that? Like I think, get people talking about themselves and you're going to learn so much. And psychological studies show this is so interesting that, that when people talk about themselves have a conversation, and when they do most of the converse most of the talking, they will actually they will actually rate the conversation as being more enjoyable. They'll still like give, they have higher levels of liking the person they've been talking with, so that people are gonna like you more, have more fun, say that it was a great conversation and even say that they learned more about you, when you, isn't that funny? When you get them to talk. And that's just and that's when you that's the start of building relationship, you know, just getting people to talk about themselves. And that's how you're going to learn. Learning about their stories will ultimately not only help you get to know them better, help you connect with them better. It's gonna, it's going to be able to forge the foundation of a better relationship.

Sari 19:56
Right. So some good questions I heard you say are like just tell me your story or tell me how, you know, the history of your food? Or what gave you the idea? Are there any other good questions that you found that kind of break the ice?

Dr. Lee Koles 20:16
Yeah. I mean, if you, I'm trying to, what do you have in your head right now? Like there's something that's really scaring you in your head when you're envisioning this, this networking opportunity? Tell me what is it that you see, Sari.

Sari 20:32
I just feel really awkward. Like, especially like, if you're kind of breaking into, you know, maybe a couple of people chatting. And, you know, you're kind of like, hi.

Dr. Lee Koles 20:46

Sari 20:47
I want to be able to say like the right question that feels like, comfortable and open, and not to grasp B or like, like, or just like, so what, what brings you here?

Dr. Lee Koles 21:02
Yeah, exactly, exactly. I think, if it's, if it's, if it's a networking event for entrepreneurs, you can say you can walk in and say, hi, I'm Sari, you know, and you can if you feel awkward, or if you're new, or it's the first one first networking that you've been doing, you can say, this is my first time, you know, how about you? Have you been here before? And then turn the conversation again to them, don't think, oh, my gosh, I've come to this place, I gotta get out my business cards. I need for everybody here to hear my story. Here's my story. Just be curious about them. So and that also gives you a chance to relax, like it isn't taking the pressure off yourself. Put it back on them, reflect it back on them. I also, I think, if you are talking to someone who is in the food business, as well, who was put there, you know, brought their food out and has it on shelves. If you're talking to that person, you can say, again, tell me about the story. How did you, what made you decide to do this? And when they talk to you about it, some great follow up questions are like, what were some of the biggest challenges that you had? And another question is, if you like, what do you wish that you knew ahead of time, like looking back? Like, if you could have had one piece of information that you wish that you'd had before, what would that be? And then before you say goodbye, if you're still talking you could say, gosh, is there anyone else you feel like would be good to talk to because this is assuming, this is skipping to the end of the conversation where, you know, maybe you've just you've talked about you as well, it's always good to see if there's another name, if there's another person, or even if there's a resource? Is there a group, a group or a podcast? Even that would be useful to listen to.

Sari 23:09
Right, what about asking somebody like, like you said, skipping ahead to like, okay, I've shared a little bit about what I'm doing and business I'm trying to create, and skipping, or at towards the end saying something like, you know, what is your biggest need right now? Or is there something I could do to help you? Does that kind open the door, back and forth conversation?

Dr. Lee Koles 23:34
And that's so scary, isn't it? So if that's the general, that's the generosity piece, you know, because sure, they've probably shared their story by now, or we hope they have, and everybody's story, they're still adventures ahead, and their stories, there's still challenges ahead. So I love saying that saying like, I want I want to help you to, what can I do to help? You know, is there something that I can do for you? I think that that is fantastic.

Sari 24:05
And I think when you're, you know, if I was just starting now, and I offered somebody that question, I think I'd be worried or nervous about them being like, oh, well, I need da da da and you're like, oh, I'm not even, like, I'm still figuring it out for myself. But if somebody's like further along than you, a lot of times, you know, sometimes they might even just say like, oh, we're just, you know, we just need awareness or, you know, go like our page or, you know, like tell your friends about us or something like that. Like it's usually something you can do. It's not going to be like, well, I need a co packer in California like XYZ, so, so don't be too worried about that question. And even if you don't know, you can say, oh, that, you know, let me think about that and maybe I know somebody, right? It's all about like the ties and maybe you do know somebody who could help.

Dr. Lee Koles 24:57
Exactly. And you know, you mentioned, you mentioned like, liking or on social media that could be if someone has, if someone has an Instagram or a LinkedIn, then that is a, that's great to know. Like, you can say, can I say like, is there? Do you have a LinkedIn account? Do you have an Instagram account? And then add them, follow them, connect with them and show show up for them. And they, and they will see you every day. I mean, people, if you are on Instagram, you know that it's an effort to put a post out. And when you put a post out, you're always wondering, oh, anyone see it. And so just having you show up and like it or comment on it, that will keep you in this person's mind. And it's just, it's a great way to just say, hey, I'm thinking of you, like, I'm cheering you on.

Sari 25:56
I love that. Because we're not about like, okay, let's exchange business cards, and I'm going to email you and like, start following them out, you know, friend them, or whatever on LinkedIn, or comment on their Instagram posts or whatever. But that's, like you said, you're keeping them, you're keeping yourself top of mind. They're like, oh, yeah, she just commented on my LinkedIn posts that I did, like, you know, he's like, that's cool. Like you're giving before you get and it's really a great strategy.

Dr. Lee Koles 26:28
Yeah. So you're gonna let me talk about LinkedIn now?

Sari 26:31
Yeah. So I was telling you before and just so people listening that I think a lot of food brands are like LinkedIn, what do I need that? And there's no question that when you're talking directly to your consumer, your customer, that you're gonna want to use Instagram and Tiktok, and all those kind of more social platforms. But LinkedIn in the food industry is really important as you grow your business and want to get on store shelves. That is where buyers are at, that's where store leadership is at. So that is a place that you will want to spend some time as a food brand especially if you start to pursue grocery any kind of like retail outlet. So I just want to preface it with that. So help us from that place with LinkedIn, whether we have an account or not.

Dr. Lee Koles 27:27
Yeah, okay, you guys have to get on LinkedIn. And it's for your consumers too, for the people who are going to enjoy your food too. I would argue that they they would love to see it on LinkedIn. So I love LinkedIn just because there's not as much noise on LinkedIn. Instagram, everyone is battling for attention. It is so noisy on Instagram. And yes, I understand that Instagram, you know, it's a great way to feature photographs of your food, but you can still do, you could still do that on LinkedIn, so on LinkedIn it is just easier for people to hear your voice. It's easier for people to connect. And it is easier to develop these, these relationships, because there's not as much noise. So what you do on LinkedIn, where do I begin? You know, you begin again with that inner spiral, like just people who you know, but then think about the people in the food industry who you want to get to know like, think about leadership at the production or the stores, and they are all on LinkedIn. So what you do is you send a connection request. So don't just do a generic request, a connection request, just three sentences or even two sentences, hi, so and so, I see that you are in charge. I see that you work in X industry or in this store. You know, I'm a food creator, or I'm a baker. I love what you do, or just one sentence just sort of explaining why you're connecting with them. And then say I'd appreciate having you in my network. And that's that's it. So it doesn't have to be rocket science. Just a personal message with one sentence saying why you're reaching out to them. And another sentence saying it would be great to have you in my network and then once once you are connected, see what they're posting, what are they posting? And when you hit like on LinkedIn when you hit like, your little face pops up so they get to see you, your name and face pops up. When you put a comment on their post, your little face with your name pops up so they will be seeing you and they will get to know you. And on LinkedIn, if if they post and you support their posts by liking it, or by commenting it, that helps push their post out into the LinkedIn universe. And so it really, it helps them. So it really helps them and they will, they will really appreciate that. So even if it's, if you're interested in, if someone created a food product that just got on the shelves that you love, and you would love to follow in this person's footsteps, and you wonder how they put their product out there, even reaching out to them on LinkedIn.

Sari 30:38
It's a great idea.

Dr. Lee Koles 30:39
Yeah, start with that person. Yes, start with that personalized connection request. Hi, so and so, I love your, I love your power bar so much. And I really admire what you've done being able to get it on shelves, I'd appreciate having you in my network. And then you can, you know, support them and reach out to them, even reach out and ask if they want to have a conversation.

Sari 30:39
Right. And that's the next level, which we'll talk about here in just a second. I did have a question that came up in our Food Business Success membership. We had a group coaching call and somebody asked, she's like, she has a contract job, right? She has a full time job or she's doing other work. So she has like a very professional LinkedIn profile. And then she was asking whether she should start a new one. For you know, entrepreneurship and for this business specifically, what do you think about that? Or how do you marry the two where you're actively doing work outside of your your business?

Dr. Lee Koles 31:40
So no, you should not have two profiles, you should have one profile. But really, LinkedIn is about who you are. And maybe you are, say you're a financial analyst. Okay. So you're a financial analyst but you're also a baker, or a chef or a food connoisseur, whatever you might want to say. You can be multi dimensional in LinkedIn, it is not your, this is not about you, marketing for your company. This is about you, like marketing for yourself really, like what do you want to be known for? Like you could be the financial guru who is also baking amazing cookies and putting them out into the marketplace. So even your LinkedIn, your LinkedIn headline, I think it's it adds a little more, I was just gonna say, that adds more flavor. And I did not like that pun was not intended. But I guess that works. No, you guys, you guys would be so sick of like food puns. But it does though, it just it people want to know who you are. So you could say you're a financial analyst, and you know, list off other things you do. And you know, food connoisseur or cookie inventor or whatever it happens to be. That is, that's who you are. And that's what you do. So put that out into the world. We're multi dimensional people like and it just and you're more interesting. I mean, I find I personally think a financial adviser who's a cookie inventor, I want to meet that person more than, you know, just the plain old financial advisor.

Sari 33:31
It makes it a lot more interesting.

Dr. Lee Koles 33:33
Or even the plain old cookie inventor, like she's a cookie inventor and a financial adviser? Cool.

Sari 33:41
And just as you know, sometimes people ask me about whether they should tell their work, you know, because a lot of times food businesses or side hustles to start with and I personally think, I don't think you need to like be out there and always talking about it or like going to HR and saying just to let you know, I'm starting a business, but like, I think it's really interesting to talk about and I think actually you can make a lot of good connections at work and at the very least, people tend to want to buy your product and support you.

Dr. Lee Koles 34:10
I was gonna say if you, again, I think especially even through the pandemic, people are realizing that we are multifaceted. That we have our, we may have a corporate job but there are, we have a life, I mean, the pandemic with Zoom, it brought people into each other's homes with their pets in there, the alarms going off or the lawn mowing outside the dogs, whatever, the kids and they know that you have other interests. So I say, if you're if you are that cookie inventor, bring the cookies into the office. Let people sample them say I love doing this too. You know, I I think people love to, you know, commune over food and so share that.

Sari 35:00
Right. And if there really is a concern, I mean, I think it's all how you word it too, right? If it's like, no, like, I'm just trying to get out of this stupid job that I hate and start my cookie business versus like, this is just something fun. I'm trying and doesn't take anything away from my work and what I'm doing.

Dr. Lee Koles 35:18
Exactly, do what you need to do in your job. Yeah, and then, and then, like, bake or cook some magic on the side.

Sari 35:29
Years ago, when I started using LinkedIn, I felt like the rules were, you don't connect with somebody or accept their request to be friends, connect professionally on LinkedIn unless you knew them in person, like you had met them at an event. So I'm curious, has that changed at all, especially with COVID? What are the new rules?

Dr. Lee Koles 35:54
Yeah, the rules are different on LinkedIn than they are like, on Facebook, for example, if you, if you get a Facebook request from someone you don't know, that's creepy. It's like, you don't do that on Facebook. I mean, Instagram, it's kind of whoever usually on Instagram. LinkedIn, just give some context, give a little bit of context. And people don't want to be, I mean, so many people connect on LinkedIn, and then just are trying to sell you something. And so, that is not something you want. You want to support people on LinkedIn. And you can absolutely have relationships with people, talk to people, but you want to be supporting them as well. It should be a two way street on LinkedIn. But that, but otherwise, people are, are usually very open to connecting with you on LinkedIn, if you just give them a little bit of context. And remember, it does not have to be Facebook level, like your friend is my neighbor, like, no, you don't need to do that. It's okay.

Sari 37:05
That's good, that's really helpful. And then, and then when you're on there is like the brand, the owner, I know, there's also an option that you can start like just your, you know, a company page as well, which I don't really see any downside to that. It's just one more thing you got to manage, but maybe post on, but I mean, I would recommend posting maybe not all the content that you would on Instagram, but you know, if there's, if you're launching a new flavor, or you just got into it a new farmers market, or you're reading an interesting article about, you know, you found a great resource or something like that, like it's okay to like, go and post and get people aware. I mean, everybody on LinkedIn eats so.

Dr. Lee Koles 37:54
Okay, so one thing that I love about LinkedIn is they have a feature called groups. Okay, so this is gonna be really helpful for people. So you can go to LinkedIn, click on Groups, and if you type in food business, all sorts of stuff is going to come up. And some things will be more relevant to you and less relevant to you. But then, like if you search for food business for example, and then click on that, you can join the group that usually, you know, maybe it takes a day or something for, there's always, there's usually some kind of period of time where they approve you. But you can leave, join as many groups as you want. And then once you're in the groups, you have access to all the names of the people who are in that group. And I would recommend connecting to, you can connect with 100 people a week, it used to be that you could connect with like it was like it was unlimited basically before, I forget what the number it was, but it was something crazy high. But then LinkedIn just started to rein it in a little bit as more people got on it. But that is a great way to get involved in a community. Get information on, you know, from a specific community that relates to what you're trying to do with your business.

Sari 39:18
Yeah. I love that. Yeah, I'm definitely in a couple of groups. Another good search term for people listening is like CPG or consumer packaged goods. So putting in those as well, it'd be helpful to find those groups. And then they're gonna offer resources and have conversations and again, contributing, and you know, keeping the conversation going, and then also think about what questions could you post and be a part of that group.

Dr. Lee Koles 39:46
Yeah, see, I mean, once you embed yourself into LinkedIn, and you get you know, you're connected to these groups, see what posts come up for you and what ones resonate with you. And I find that if you You have something to share or tips for other people that really is well received on LinkedIn.

Sari 40:07
Yeah. And I'll just do a little plug too for Facebook groups, because I have my own private Food Business Success Facebook group, but groups are only as good as the people participating in them, right? And so the more people who are asking questions and cheering each other on and participating, the, you know, the quality of the whole group raises. So we all have to do our part if you're in a group,

Dr. Lee Koles 40:32
And Sari, for example, for those of you if, say, for instance, you're not in Sari's Facebook Group, think about, you know, when I was talking about the spirals, okay, think about like, the levels of spirals out that are in, in your group, Sari, you know, that like, if people connect in your Facebook group, they're going to all of a sudden be connected to all sorts of people who they would have never ever met before. If people, people all around the world, people who know have so many connections that you would never be connected to. So that will be that's a goldmine, just getting to know those people, like you're just, you're going to expand yourself. And it's also just, just low, low risk. I mean, you're going to if you're in a Facebook group, with people who are going through the same thing that you're going through, you can be more vulnerable, you can share your problems. I mean, you can openly say, I don't know what's going on, how can you help me here, and people will be there to help you out.

Sari 41:40
Yes, 100%. And since we're on the topic of groups anyway, I just cannot believe that inside Food Business Success, we have our Fuel community, I cannot believe some of the connections that have come from that where people are having conversations offline, and they're having phone calls, and they're buying each other's products. And, I mean, there is a level of like, you know, sometimes LinkedIn can be very, I mean, it's, it's a deep, it's a wide pool, right? But we're not necessarily doing super deep with people. So having a mix, where you're also in groups where you can have those connections offline and a little more personal and, and you've, you know, we do our monthly calls. And so people get to know each other and, and you and I are in some groups as well, where we have that same thing. And it's so cool to be part of a group, but then also have like, your special buddies that you're like, oh, yeah, growing and expanding your worlds and really, you know, taking it to the next level. So that I cannot say enough about get in groups, get in some paid and go deeper with them. And before I make it a priority before, like, I don't know how much time I don't want any time for this. Make time.

Dr. Lee Koles 42:55
Right, you will wind up saving time, and saving money because of the relationships that you make.

Sari 43:04
Absolutely, I'm so much further along and so much better off. And I know that, for me participating in my groups, and then my people or in my groups are so much further along and I see it, it's the coolest.

Dr. Lee Koles 43:18
And I think you've talked on your podcast about engines. And those are the people around you who are supporting you and cheering you on. And those people help push help push you forward and help you achieve your goals reach your goals, and they they're helping you along. When you when you're slipping and falling. They're picking you up, or they're offering advice. So if you can expose yourself to more people who are like that more people who understand what you're going through, then then you're you're gonna get there faster, and it's going to be a more enjoyable ride.

Sari 44:00
I think one of my fears I had to kind of work through with our some of our groups, the retreats we've been on is like, my voice matters. And people want to hear from me. And so I just want to offer that but like, whatever group you're in, you might say like, oh, nobody wants to hear from me, I don't really have much to say. But again, the quality of the group is based on the quality of the conversations and the multitude of conversations. So I just want to say like to anybody listening to you, your voice matters. And you do belong in those rooms, and you have important things to say and people want to hear from you.

Dr. Lee Koles 44:37
Right, and people share your concerns, too. I mean, you may feel like you're, if you have challenges, that you're alone in that and I'm telling you as soon as you voice it, they're gonna be 10, not 10 people, like way more I'm sure who will say oh my gosh, I totally I totally hear what you're saying. Or I was exactly Wwere you were a month ago, and I did this and oh my gosh, I'm in such a better place. It's just, it's a way to share and to grow together.

Sari 45:08
Yeah, absolutely. And I see that in my groups where people will post a challenge that they're having, or just kind of share where they're at. And, you know, immediately there's like, you know, 10 people saying thank you so much for sharing that, I need to hear that, you can do it. And so being willing to put yourself out there is so important.

Dr. Lee Koles 45:27
So often, when you look on Instagram, or just generic Facebook, not Facebook Groups, but just people like to put the scrubbed, shiny, clean, pretty version of themselves out there. And I think when you get involved in groups, and really start having authentic conversations, you get to see it's, it feels good, because you know that it's not, it's not all pretty, and everybody's going through what you're going through. I find that it makes it easier to grow because you're not beating yourself up for not being perfect. You realize that that's not how it really is.

Sari 46:10
Yeah, and you're just not so isolated, and in your own space and your own drama. So I want to circle back to a question around LinkedIn. So let's say I get a conversation going or, you know, I connect with, let's say, a buyer. And we've connected now and I'm posting on, you know, commenting on their posts and liking them. What do I do next to maybe take that to a little, that next level with somebody like that?

Dr. Lee Koles 46:43
I call it. Well, one or two things, to kind of call it a listening tour. It's also like an informational interview where you and this is after you've supported them. And they kind of, you know, maybe you've gone back and forth, or you've made some comments. You can send them a message and say, I love what you're doing in, you know, be specific, because there are lots of generic, spammy. And I know when people really haven't studied what I do, they'll say something that's off, you know, they like next, you don't know me, you know. So say something, say something specific to what they've done. And say, I would love to hear about, I would love to talk to you about, like your story. Again, make it about them, not you. Not I want this, can you give me this? Just say, do you have? Do you have 20 minutes to have a virtual coffee or 20 minutes to meet online? Or over zoom or on the phone? And send that out to them. And so often they will, especially if you are, if you are genuinely curious, if they can tell that they know who you are, and that you know who they are. Like, they will say yes. And so that is when again, you reach out to them and then set up a conversation, you can have and and that is when you ask them some of the questions that we talked about, you know, what we would do in a in a face to face networking space. Tell me about your story. What challenges have you faced? If you could do this all over again like what would you do differently? And then end it with is there anyone who you feel like I should talk to? And if they say, oh, yes, you know, and again, I'm just I'm saying this, thinking that by this time, you will have shared a little bit about what you're doing. So ask them if there's anyone that they recommend you speak to? And if so, you can ask, would you mind connecting us? And that is kind of key because if they reach out to their friend and say, hey, can you talk to so and so, then their friend will be much more likely to talk to you. And then keep the cycle going, like reach out to that person, have another conversation. Ask that person if there's someone you can connect to and again, there's your network broadening. And there's the information that, you know, your knowledge level is broadening as well. And always follow up with these people, say thank you so much. It was so so good to talk to you. And I really appreciate it and continue to like and comment on their posts. Continue to be there to support them. Don't just drop them thinking.

Sari 49:44
I got what I want from you.

Dr. Lee Koles 49:47
Yeah, yeah, continue to show up for them.

Sari 49:50
Yeah. I love that. So I guess a couple things from that is keeping it short and brief and you or, like being very mindful of that time, like, people are busy and you need to be like don't say 20 minutes, and then you just keep talking or, you know, it keeps going. Like, even if you're having a great conversation, you might say, like, hey, you know, there's more I'd love to ask you but I want to be mindful of the time. Do you have a few extra minutes? Or maybe we could circle back or something like that, right? It's going really well. Just be extra mindful of, I mean, I think somebody like me, when somebody asked me for that, it's really important that we stick to the time.

Dr. Lee Koles 50:40
That is so true. Their, their time is valuable. And they are giving it to you. And you know, also, if you stick to the time, and we absolutely respect that then if you need to hop on with them again, they will know what they're in for, you know, they'll know, oh, I can talk to so and so. And it's, it's going to be 20 minutes, right on the dot, I can schedule this person right in here.

Sari 51:03
Yeah. I mean, it's trust, right, you're honoring your word, you're saying what you you know, and so that goes a long way, especially if you want them to connect you with other people, and that you're not the one that just, you know, turns a 20 minute conversation into a 45 minute one, really important. And, oh, having your elevator pitch really dialed in because that'll help with the brevity of it. I find early stage people like when I asked them about their who they are, what their business is, like there's a really long story, which is fine for me when I'm learning about you. But when you're trying to talk with somebody, you need it like a pretty punchy, quick, confident.

Dr. Lee Koles 51:44
Yeah, we're talking two sentences, like just two sentences about yourself. So decide what you want that to be. I've done you know, I help. Let's say I'm trying to think I'm trying to craft an elevator pitch on the fly.

Sari 52:00
The one that comes to mind is someone I'm working with. So let me give it a try. Hi, I'm Kayla, and I'm the co founder of Betty Jean Cuisine, and we make artisan aiolis with plant based and allergen friendly ingredients.

Dr. Lee Koles 52:17
Oh, my gosh, I want some now. Yeah, perfect. Yes. Leave them wanting more, let them answer. Let them ask the questions. They do not need to know your whole life story. Because here's the thing, if you get on a phone call with this person you've been trying to connect with, you have 20 minutes. If you spend those 20 minutes telling your entire life story, you get off and then what do you have? No, you you want them to be talking so that you, what could you learn from this person in 20 minutes?

Sari 52:50
Right. Three minutes could go by very fast.

Dr. Lee Koles 52:53
Absolutely. We'll have it dialed in for sure. Yeah.

Sari 52:56
Write out some of your questions ahead of time, have your elevator pitch ready to go. I love it. I love it. All right, that is some great tips. And anything else to add about LinkedIn or any of these other topics we just went over?

Dr. Lee Koles 53:13
I think the biggest thing is approach this whole process with authenticity and generosity, you cannot go wrong. If you do that, and it will feel good to. At the end and during the whole process, will feel so good and kind to yourself. If you are authentic, you're just who you are. And you're generous, you're you're giving to someone else. It just, it feels good to, like humans are designed to be generous and to be authentic. And that's how you're going to feel the most comfortable. And that's how you're gonna develop the best relationships.

Sari 53:58
Yeah, so good. I know the times when I when I left. I left Whole Foods, I did those informational interviews, and I'm so grateful to the people who gave me, you know, it was more like 30 minutes or 45 minute coffees in person at that time. But, but like, those things really helped jumpstart me to the next place that, you know, just and that was more like what do I do with my life? But just learning about what other people are doing, but it's so important. And I know every time I've taken those leaps where I'm putting myself out there and I'm giving and but I'm also asking for things. It just, it really kick starts the trajectory wherever I'm going. It's amazing.

Dr. Lee Koles 54:46
Right. And one thing that has happened since the pandemic is you don't have to live off to get in, get dressed up, get in our car, drive someplace, park the car, get out, walk around a boardroom to connect like you can just sit down in your home and boom, boom, boom, just get to the meat of it and do it that way.

Sari 55:08
Yeah, I think we all appreciate, I know I do. So rare that I will do in person coffee or something like that anymore. It's like no, I don't have the time to go, you know, get in my car go park, like.

Dr. Lee Koles 55:26
Yes, virtually coffees, teas, whatever, you know, while eating your amazing bar or being in your beautiful sauce.

Sari 55:37
That's right, I love it. Well, thank you, Lee, for coming on. This was so great. This is exactly what I wanted to kind of share with people is just these benefits of getting in groups and how to talk and expand your network. And really, yeah, add gasoline to the fire.

Dr. Lee Koles 55:58
Yes, definitely. I am excited. I am excited for all your listeners who are putting their food out into the world because I want to buy it. I want to eat the, I want to eat the chips and the cookies and the sauces, and like bring it. I want to go to Whole Foods and see your stuff.

Sari 56:20
Well, how about this? When this episode comes out everybody who's hearing those to put a link to their website in the comment. They will have a whole bunch of new goodies to choose from.

Dr. Lee Koles 56:33
I want you to, I can't wait.

Sari 56:37
I love it. Well, Lee tell us where people could go find you if they want to just hear you talk more about all these great tools and who knows, as they shift, maybe shifting into new careers.

Dr. Lee Koles 56:53
Yeah, so I have a podcast. It's the Career Sequel podcast and you can find it where you listen to podcasts. I'm on LinkedIn, could you guess that? Okay, I am on LinkedIn people. So connect with me, you can say, hey, I heard, this is what you say, send me a message or connect a message. You say Hi, Lee. I heard you on Sari's podcast, it'd be great to have you in my network. Boom, we're done. We're all connected. We're friends. And you can ask me. And if you need help with anything, just ask, I'm so happy to help you. You can also go to my website careersequel.com. I'm on Instagram as well. And like I said, I want to eat all your food. So connect with me and tell me what food product you're working on. And I'm just a happy food sampler. So bring it.

Sari 57:52
She is a very happy consumer eater. Love it. Alright, Lee, thanks so much for joining me today. This is a real pleasure.

Dr. Lee Koles 58:02
Thanks for having me. So fun, Sari.

Sari 58:05
Oh, my gosh, I adore Lee and I always learn so much from her especially around LinkedIn. So thank you to her. I just cannot stress and that's why I wanted to bring somebody else on who knows this as her industry. I cannot stress how important it is that you get outside of your little bubble, you start expanding your spiral, you grow that web, and you make new connections. The faster you want to go, the bigger your network needs to be. And my network has grown tremendously in the six years I've been doing this. And if you want the fastest way is to get inside Food Business Success and come join us inside Fuel, our monthly membership where you can get on calls with me and have access to everything and everyone I know, and this amazing group of other foodpreneurs. But there are lots of other groups out there we have the free private Facebook group for Food Business Success. And there are other CPG groups out there. And certainly, LinkedIn and Facebook are probably your best options. So please, please, if you don't do anything else to help your business move forward, start expanding your community, grow your networks. Go give before you get and just see how quickly and how far you can go. Until next time, have an amazing week.

The smartest thing you can do as an entrepreneur is to invest in a who to help you with the how, to speed up your journey and help you skip the line. When you are ready for more support and accountability to finally get this thing done, you can work with me in two ways. Get me all to yourself with one on one business coaching, or join Food Business Success which includes membership inside Fuel, our community of food business founders that includes monthly live group coaching calls and so much more. It's one of my favorite places to hang out and I would love to see you there. Go to foodbizsuccess.com to start your journey towards your own Food Business Success.



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