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Social Media links for Sapna!!
Podcast Manager Email:
Website: CanInnovate.io and SapnaMalhotra.io
Sapna’ s Podcast:
A free little gift
Sapna has put together a free cheatsheet of how to avoid common networking mistakes and maximize the benefits. Less work and more results! There are things that we can easily do and tweak, in order to optimize the impact. 10 simple hacks to optimize your time and efforts.
Below is the link to Sapna’s book “Connect the Dots: How to turn Strangers into Meaningful Network Relationships” and her free Connect the Dots companion workbook
Jason Cavness: Hello and welcome to the CavnessHR podcast. I'm your host Jason Cavness. Our guest today is Sapna Malhotra. Sapna are you ready to be great today?
Sapna M.: Absolutely.
Jason Cavness: She brings more than two decades of international management consultant experience in sales and business operations in the technology, financial services and telecommunication industries. She started her career at Accenture and became the global business change in organizational practice lead. She also teaches introduction of management consultancy at George Brown College in Toronto. She is also a globally recognized Certified Management Consultant and Charter Professor Accountant. She truly believes that education and awareness are instrumental in overcoming any obstacles and perception challenges, both globally and locally. She started the CanInnovate podcast, focused on Canadian innovators that have changed the game and hosting massive classes deepen our knowledge and skills. You can find her walking, hiking and exploring new areas and trying to win the Aunt of the year award and discovering new places to brunch and inventing her new recipes. Thank you very much for being here today, I really appreciate it.
Sapna M.: No, I really appreciate it. Jason, I'm a big fan of your podcast number one, I'm an active listener. You've got some pretty incredible people that have been here, like real trailblazers. Two, congratulations on the second podcast launch. Like I said one is a lot of work so doing two is amazing so congratulations, that's a huge milestone.
Jason Cavness: Thank you and thank for being our first repeat guest on the podcast, we appreciate it.
Sapna M.: It's an honor, true honor.
Jason Cavness: So you recently wrote a book, can you talk about that a little bit?
Sapna M.: I wrote a book called Connect the Dots. About turning strangers into meaningful network connections and relationships. It was actually inspired because I was teaching at one of the colleges here and in the past two semesters. The students have been asking, and again they're not young students, their ages are between ages of 25 to 50. It's a post grad college diploma. It's about consulting one on one and all that stuff and one of the things they really had a hard time doing is networking. Every class, the students would come in and go "Okay, I go to these events and I just kind of get business cards." It's like Oprah "You get one and you get one." Everybody just gets business cards. So they have a collection of business cards and they're like "Now what do I do?". Then I give them some tips and what kind of conversations did you have and so on. Then the next class they're like "Okay, I went to another event and honestly it was a waste of my time." Every class, it was just the reoccurring theme of it. They just connect with people to help them actually progress to where they wanted to go and they didn't know how to have those conversations. So over the semester the book wrote itself because every class, it kind of happened and I think one of the things that has happened is that we all have a sense of urgency. We meet somebody and we need something in our lives. Whether it's a job or a mentor inspiration or just a friend. I mean a lot of people are really lonely in life and one of the things that has been really challenging is that. When you meet somebody for the first time and then you ask them for something and I keep saying, "if you move to a new neighborhood and you meet your neighbor for the first time, would you ask them to babysit your kid?" You wouldn't do it. You wouldn't just ask for a favor just off the bat. You kind of have to build some time on the relationship, to get to know each other, like each other and then you could trust each other, right?
Sapna M.: Especially when it comes to job hunting. People want to refer people into their companies. But they're not going to refer somebody that they don't know because it's their reputation. So I actually put together really, about how to build relationships and how networking is really a start of a conversation and it builds into a relationship over time. But you have to add value to them first and then you'll get something in return. But not like a tennis match. I give you something and then you give me something in return. You know what I mean? It just seems to be something we've kind of expecting that everything is on demand. When I need something, there's going to be someone that's going to give it to you on demand and that's a big mistake. We should be networking all the time and it should be a basic life skill. But they don't teach it in schools, how to network. It's kind of really scary because I was doing some research for the book and one of the things I've found was there's a loneliness council that's been set up in the UK and it's not just because of the elderly being lonely. It's all generations being lonely. Then I found out about this friendship bench at grade schools. Where kids have no one to eat lunch with or play with. So they sit on this bench. People are having a hard time connecting with each other in multiple different demographics, age groups. You name it and it's harder these days to kind of meet someone that you want to kind of connect with. So that's kind of the premise of the book. It's really about hey, how do you kind of meet somebody and create that value and start to become a relationship. But also more practical, because you know me Jason, I'm all about being practical and tactical. People don't know how to do ice-breakers. When you first meet somebody, they will rhyme off their resume. That's where the problem starts. They ask you what do you do and they rhyme off their resume. We all roll our eyes and we have no idea what they said. I teach them about how to introduce yourself so you create curiosity and intrigue and you can actually connect in a different way. Ice-breaker questions that are fun, they're not cheesy. Like hey how's the weather, things that are actually meaningful and playful because it's not just about networking when you need it. It's about networking all the time and I think that's the thing we've kind of forgotten how to do even at work. Regardless if you're not looking for something. You should be learning how to talk and connect with other people constantly to learn and grow from them. Yes. I can't believe it; I've become an author. I love this book; it's just been inspired by so many different directions.
Jason Cavness: So did I hear you right, do you say it only took you one semester to write the book?
Sapna M.: It literally took me one semester for me to write, I didn't write the book, the book wrote itself. So when I sat down to start writing it, I thought it would take me not very long to write it. Are we talking about lessons learned? Book writing takes a long time. There's so many things I thought once you write it. You've got content but no, it's the title, the graphic art, the formatting, the layouts. It never stops. I definitely underestimated how long it would take to get the book out to the marketplace.
Jason Cavness: Any lessons learned from writing the book that you can share with us?
Sapna M.: Oh, totally. One, definitely just write, don't edit because we start to kind of edit and that's a big mistake. Because then you kind of go into this circle, of perfecting something, just get your first draft. Just do whatever, write so many hours in a day, and I used to say, "write just one hour a day, in the morning" sometimes it would be by candlelight because it would be so dark outside. I wasn't ready to get my eyes completely open. But, definitely write, but don't edit because once you start editing, as you're writing, it honestly will never get done. That was a big mistake that I did cause, I didn't like this, and I didn't like that, and we are critics of our own work really at the end of the day. Just write without thinking.
Jason Cavness: Did you find that different cultures work differently?
Sapna M.: Totally. Very, very, very, much so. Even terminology is so different. I had a student in my class, two students, and they spoke Spanish fluently. One happened to be from Brazil. One happened to be from Mexico. They're explaining a word like jaqita. In one country meant jacket, in another country it totally meant something terrible, it's a swear word. Even though the dialect is very different across regions. Yet we all think the language is the same. We got to really pay attention to that and on top of that, look at your body language. For example, some countries people are really close in proximity, and they stand really close and you're like I'm not comfortable. As a North American, I am not comfortable with someone who just met me and standing so close, right? Different cultural dynamics have that so I kind of listed some of those in the book as well. I will have to kind of go, "hey guys, just be aware of your surroundings. Not everyone is the same".
- Jason Cavness: When you go to network events, do you go there with I'm going to go to the networking event and connect with five people on Linkedin? Or do you just go there, go with the flow, whatever happens, happens?
Sapna M.: No, I have a very clear objective when I go to networking events. What I am looking for. That's another mistake. We go to these things, and we don't have an objective. One of the objectives could be that you just want to find somebody inspiring and that's okay. You are looking for inspiration so you can cultivate the conversation. But, other ones are looking for, a job, or for me I was looking for great podcasts guests. So when I go to these networking events. I research to see whether it is worth my time going to see how the events is going to be put on, what kind of people and caliber. Is it the right age group, right demographic experience and so on. Because a lot of the time we just pick a networking event. But it might not be the right caliber of people that you want to meet and see. Two, I kind of look at the list of whose there to see if that's somebody that I'm interested in and then I try and actually connect with them beforehand saying, "hey looks you and I are going to go. I was hoping to chat about x, y, and z". So, it is kind of like when I meet them it's not a cold introduction. It's warm. We kind of get familiar. I saw some of their blogs, I saw some of their tweets. So we are not cold when we meet each other. But, it's hard because not a lot of events don't produce a list so you can see who is going to attend, right? They just are getting people through the door and they don't allow you to actually create a proper networking experience and to really connect with people so you kind of stand there.
Jason Cavness: So, I think a lot of us are doing networking wrong. But I think even more of us fail at following up after networking. How can we improve following up after we meet somebody?
Sapna M.: This is such a good question because I spend time and I debrief. In any meeting, I take time to put some notes together about what it was that we discussed. I'd put some letters, and things, I'd promised. I may have promised them an article, or I may have promised them that I would connect them to something. Because I tend to want to provide value to people. So later on down the road when I need something then they will be able to help me. But, I always spend time to debrief. Sometimes even throughout a conference I'll just take a step back, grab myself a cup of coffee. Start putting things into my Evernote about x, y, and z. Or I write on the back of the business card. Hopefully it's not glossy, so I can actually put that information there and be like, "okay, this is what I need to remember about this person". I'd also write down things that are key things. For example, one gentleman I had met, he was talking about his daughter that was twelve years old. Totally into architecture. I wrote that down, that his daughter is interested in architecture. When I followed up, it was so great, I said, "here's a book that I think would be really interesting for your daughter" he just goes, "thanks for remembering such a small detail." But it's something that is important to him, right? His daughter is obviously very important to him. I always take the time to debrief and write down notes and think, what's my next steps? How am I going to continue the conversation? Where are we going to go? You've just got to think about it because it is a start of something.
Jason Cavness: From my opinion, when you go to networking events, you make good connections and bad connections. How can we improve on increasing the time that we spend with our good connections and decreasing our time spend with the bad connections?
Sapna M.: The best part about networking is, you're there to meet lots of people. So, let's say that you meet someone that is a terrible connection and you're like, okay. You don't need to invest in time. Now you don't run away, let the conversation go and then go, it was so nice to meet you. I see someone across the room I need to say hi to. Then exit and leave with a sense of decorum. Don't quickly dart out and cut the conversation. Because people remember how their experience was with you. People are testing and trying things out. You don't want to invest too much time, if you know it's not a good fit. You don't feel there is a good connection to things. You just kind of have to make that exit kind of happen.
Jason Cavness: Do you network by yourself, or do with a group of friends, or with a group of people?
Sapna M.: It's kind of one of those things where if you are going to network with a wing person that is totally cool. But don't stand in a group all day long because it makes you unapproachable. I see this all the time and I'm like, okay I see five people that are having a great time. They are standing at the bar, by the food, and you want to be part of that. But, it is kind of hard to kind of break into that kind of social circle. Yes, go with maybe one person, that's maybe your wing person. If you need that extra comfort, but make sure you kind of debrief your wing person. To kind of go, hey I am looking for x, y, and z. Sometimes you can leverage them to have them toot your horn a little differently. Can you highlight x, y, and z? If you need to help me stimulate the conversation. Because some of us are really shy and it is hard to make conversation with complete strangers. Not everyone is an extrovert.
Jason Cavness: Me personally, I go to a networking event and I see four or five people talking in a group, I never approach them. I just say, I don't even want to waste my time, I just leave it alone.
Sapna M.: I know. It is like a do not enter sign. They never understand why people do that because it is just so not welcoming.
Jason Cavness: Changing the subject just a little bit. Talk about your love for Monopoly.
Sapna M.: Oh my gosh. My addiction to Monopoly boards and games is ridiculous and I started when I was a young kid. I actually saw an article in the newspaper. Yes, that's how old I am. The newspaper's we used to get at the front door. There was this world wide Monopoly championship. I was like, that's such a thing? I would love to be part of it. But, is Monopoly really a game of strategy, or chance? I started to play it a lot more, but every country you went to had a different Monopoly board. For their streets that are popular there in that city and so on. I just fell in love with the dimension of that. Because I got the chance to kind of find some of the uniqueness of it and what kind of flavor of that culture, or country, or whatever it is. I ended up getting Monopoly boards, it must have been about fifty different Monopoly boards for different countries and they're hilarious. They're really, really, wonderful.
Jason Cavness: What is your strategy with Monopoly, you go after Park Place, Boardwalk, or do you go after the lower priced properties?
Sapna M.: I am a lower priced properties type of girl because the chance of probability of you landing on it, it's going to happen. But to be fair I still love Marvin Gardens. I think one of these days we will have to play it. I think there are virtual monopoly games you could play. But I can't do that because I'll end up being addicted to that.
Jason Cavness: What is your advice for people who are extroverts/introverts as far as networking. How should each of these demographics go about networking?
Sapna M.: You know what's really funny? Is two things. I just learned a new term called ambivert. It is in between an introvert and an extrovert. There is the middle and I think that is phenomenal. Now we always think extroverts have the upper hand, and the truth of the matter is they don't. The introverts do. You can be asking one or two questions to somebody and just be a deep, active, listener and barely say anything at all and the person will leave thinking. Wow I just had the best connection with this person. Because you were actively listening and engaged in letting them talk. I think honestly introverts have the upper hand because they see things differently. They hear things differently and honestly people feel more comfortable. People love talking about themselves. It is the comfortable sweet spot for them. You can ask one question and they'll go off. You can just stand there and barely say anything. But they will remember you as the best conversationalist and they have the best time with you and you said nothing.
Jason Cavness: I consider myself an introvert, so I do some of the same things like you said. The other things too I do if I go there and it's supposed to start at 7 pm and I get their at 7:15 pm or later. I'm just going to leave because I'm not going to talk to anyone. It's already started. So what I do is I usually arrive ten minutes early and meet people that come to the door and I try to talk to five people like that. It is just a trick I use.
Sapna M.: That's a great one. Another one I usually do is I get early to an actual event and I talk to the organizer, find the connector in that room and tell them what I'm looking for. They've sent people over to me, across the room, because I was there earlier. I might help them set up the chairs or whatever it is and they understand what it is that I'm looking for. I get a volume of people coming to me and helps that connection even faster.
Jason Cavness: Can you talk a little about how important it is for someone who even though they have a job right now, for them to continue to network?
Sapna M.: You know, it's funny because one of the things that's a big mistake is we only network when we need something. We should be networking all the time, in general. Now, whether you are looking for a new job or not, it's irrelevant. It's about what opportunities are out there and connecting with different types of people. So if you are at work, and this is what management consultants do. So one is that we never eat lunch alone. We are always sitting with different people. Doesn't matter what level. We are sitting with different people because we want ears on the ground. It's a great way to mitigate your risk. To get a plus on what's going on in your organization. To hear the water cooler talks. But really if you are working on a project and say you're in marketing. Why not sit with somebody in finance, somebody that you work with. Build that kind of relationship. It will make you a stronger team player and dynamic when you are on that project. Then they are going to refer you to other types of projects and it's going to grow your visibility inside the organization. Other departments are tooting your horn about how great you are to work with, how approachable you are, and how dynamic. Again, you don't have to go out for lunch. You can bring your brown bag and sit together, and they will introduce you to other people. So, networking shouldn't be just about when you need to job hunt. It should be that you are talking to different people. To always have the eyes in the back of your head and to see what else is kind of going on. It's amazing how much we don't leverage that as an opportunity.
Jason Cavness: How should someone approach networking on LinkedIn?
Sapna M.: LinkedIn is a funny tool. Just like any social media tool. I have networked with so many people and I will probably never meet them face to face. It's a great way to do it. One of the ways I always suggest if there is somebody you really want to meet. Start following them. I'm not saying to become a stalker. Do not become a stalker, that's the worst. But, start to like one or two of their posts here and there. People love that. Then share some of their posts every once in a while. People will always remember that you found something they did valuable, and you shared it. It's extending their brand. It's kind of tooting their horn. It's a subtle compliment, and they will go, who is this person? Then you can comment on posts. It doesn't necessarily have to be that you agree with them. You can say, hey that's an interesting point of view. Have you considered this angle about whatever. This banter will start and next thing you know, you're like hey private dm. Hey do you happen to be in Toronto, or you happen to be in Seattle. Want to meet up for coffee? You already have something that you're already common with.
Sapna M.: In fact, I have the best story. This guy, Jay, he did this exact same thing to me and I was like, oh my gosh, I had no clue. He had started off by liking a couple of my posts and then all of a sudden I got this message from the podcast. Saying I got another rating and review and it came from this guy, Jay, and I was like, wait a minute. Why does that name familiar to me? So, I go back, and I look. I'm like, oh. I message him and said, "hey, thanks so much for the review. I really appreciate it". He said, yes I really liked x, y, and z episodes and blah, blah, blah, "in fact I would love to introduce you to a couple of other people that should be on your podcast". I said, "that's great". Then I start looking into him and I'm like, wait a minute he's a CEO of another amazing fintech. Not once did he ask to be on the podcast. In fact, we just recorded this morning because I asked him. He got me curious to know who he is. He provided value to me first, got me curious enough and thankful enough that I approached him. That is what we need to remember is we got to keep providing value to people. Not just liking, commenting, but sharing somebody's post that they've taken so much time to write or put a comment on it. It means the world to a lot of people. It really does.
Jason Cavness: Let's suppose somewhere out there, someone is looking for a job, new opportunity. They've never networked before and they are like, you know I don't want to put myself out there. I'm too shy, all these excuses. How do you convince them, don't be scared, put yourself out there?
Sapna M.: You've got nothing to lose and if in fact in the book I actually put a section on how to have a better mindset and some actual activities about having a mindset for it. The truth of the matter is, no one is great at doing anything the first time. So, if you go into any kind of networking event your first time. Be okay to make the mistakes. But look at it from an experimental point of view. They're not going to remember you. You're probably never going to see them again. But you get to use it as a way to kind of test and try out what messages worked. Or how did they see that in their body language, and then keep refining it. Always use it as a way to experiment and to find tune it. It takes away a lot of pressure. The other thing is, go with the intent that I'm not going to get something from someone. I'm just there to meet interesting people. Again, it takes away so much of that pressure from you that you have to get something.You have to close something, you have to whatever. You're just there to meet some interesting people. Can you cultivate that kind of conversation? Just experiment. It's just trial and error. It has taken me kind of years to figure out how to come up with the perfect introductions and whatever it is to make people laugh.
Jason Cavness: Tell us one more time of the title of your book?
Sapna M.: It is called, "Connect the Dots, Turning Strangers into Meaningful Network Relationships".
Jason Cavness: It is available on Amazon, correct?
Sapna M.: Correct it is. That's right, and the book title is really funny because my nine year old niece who is a crazy, avid, book reader. Like, I literally call her Bell from Beauty and the Beast, because her nose is always stuck in a book. So, she has been very curious about me, writing this process. She asked me, "what's your book about?" So, I explained about creating connections and so on. And she said, "Oh, it's kind of like connect the dots." Hence the title was born.
Jason Cavness: That's a great story.
Sapna M.: Yeah, I like it too. Because I really am writing it for my nieces and my nephew because I am hoping that one day it will be there to teach them. Because if people are already having a hard time in this generation of connecting. What hope do my nieces and nephew have?
Jason Cavness: Can you share your social media links for yourself and your company?
Sapna M.: Yes, you can follow me on LinkedIn. I love connecting with people and smart people. So, Sapna Malhotra and I am on Instagram and Twitter. You can find me very active on Instagram, actually. You can do it under the podcast, CanInnovate. Or, my name. I'll send you all the show links.
Jason Cavness: Yes, and we will have the link to her book on Amazon, and all her social media links on our show notes. You can find the show notes at www.cavnessHRblog.com. Be sure to review and subscribe to the cavnessHR Podcast on ITunes and Amazon Alexa. So, we are coming to the end of our talk. Any last minute wisdom or advice for any subject you'd like to talk about?
Sapna M.: The truth of the matter is, my advice to everyone is don't be afraid to make mistakes. Every time I have put myself out there, I have had so many opportunities. I wouldn't have taught at the college. I wouldn't have written this book. It's amazing how many times. It wasn't that I was perfect at all this stuff. It happens to be that I put it out there. So, don't be afraid to try.
Jason Cavness: Thank you for that advice. Much appreciated. Thank you for your time today, we really appreciate it. Thank you for being our first, second time guest.
Sapna M.: Thank you so much, Jason. Really appreciate your time, I love your podcast.
Jason Cavness: Thank you. To our listeners, thank you for your time as well. Remember to be great, every day!