Welcome to The pAuDcast! In this first episode, Chris Cox Au.D., and Riley Bass Au.D., explore the topic of NETWORKING and why it’s vital to breaking into the Audiology industry. Chris and Riley also provide some actionable tips for making the most of your time when attending big industry events!
Read the transcript:
CHRIS COX: Networking.
RILEY BASS: Networking!
CHRIS COX: Networking!! What are we talking about today, Riley?
RILEY BASS: Are we talking about networking?
CHRIS COX: I think we are. Networking!!!!
RILEY BASS: Let’s talk about networking today.
CHRIS COX: Let’s do it. So, here’s the thing. Networking. What does it even mean? Is it an IT term?
RILEY BASS: Well, I guess it can be.
CHRIS COX: Is it a fun term?
RILEY BASS: Depends on how much you like talking to strangers.
CHRIS COX: Yeah, yeah. This is really deep conversation I feel coming on, Riley. Networking, a.k.a. hobnobbing, a.k.a. rubbing shoulders with strangers.
RILEY BASS: Pretty much.
CHRIS COX: Pretty much what it is. What’s the coolest thing about networking that you think, Riley?
RILEY BASS: Well, you get to meet a lot of new people, and they can have lots of different opportunities they can offer for you.
CHRIS COX: Yeah, for sure. Opportunities for you, opportunities for them as well.
RILEY BASS: Absolutely.
CHRIS COX: I think my favorite thing about networking is getting out there and learning about other people, and stories that people have of where they’ve come from and where they’re going.
RILEY BASS: Right, especially in a small industry like we have, there’s a good chance that somebody that you’re meeting knows somebody else that you’ve already met.
CHRIS COX: That’s right. We have a really small industry.
RILEY BASS: But we happen to have a really big event coming up pretty soon.
CHRIS COX: We always have big events coming up pretty soon. This happens to be in the spring, but we happen to have some others in the fall as well. The big one, I think, is the one sponsored by, or held by. The Academy of Audiology, called AudiologyNOW! No space in there, by the way. So, we look at this and we think, what can we do with shaking hands and increasing eye contact when we talk to people, and what’s that going to really ultimately do for us?
RILEY BASS: Why should we do it in the first place?
CHRIS COX: Right. Why should we do it in the first place? So Riley, I want to tell you a story.
RILEY BASS: I love stories.
CHRIS COX: It’s about networking, so it’s not going to be super exciting. But it at least gives you an idea of why I believe networking is super important. And I wouldn’t have this job right now if it wasn’t for networking. I did quite a lot of networking going into all these different industry events and so forth. And it allowed me the ability to set myself up to meet a wide variety of people from all across the country. And it all started in my third year, when we were talking in class– a professional issues class– about getting yourself out there and networking beyond the walls of your university.
And that’s where I actually applied to be on the national SAA board. And it was kind of a whim sort of thing. I said, hey, you know what? I’m going to try it out and see how it works. And got elected in, which is great and awesome. Very, very honored to be elected in.
RILEY BASS: You must have run a fabulous campaign.
CHRIS COX: It was a great campaign. You should have heard my speeches, they were awesome. We didn’t have any speeches or anything, I think it was just because they ran out of people.
RILEY BASS: You just ran unopposed.
CHRIS COX: That’s right. Anyway, so I got into this position as a national board member of SAA. And that year was pretty crazy because by the time I moved into it, it was my externship year then. So I was working as an extern and I was also part of the board. All that to say that that got me to a position where I got to meet a lot of people on the academy side of things, and therefore I got to go to a lot of the meetings and so forth that were occurring there and only invited students or the student board to come to.
So because of that, I was able to get into a position of shaking a lot of hands and being able to talk to many people. And that’s roundabout-ly– is that word, roundabout-ly?–
RILEY BASS: We’ll go with it.
CHRIS COX: Lets go with it. That’s when I met the bosses that I have now, the founder, and the CEO, and the president of Audigy, Brandon Dawson and Mason Walker. And that’s kind of where it all started. And soon after I graduated, I moved up here to the Northwest and started working here at Audigy group.
RILEY BASS: Conversely, I had a very different experience as a student. I didn’t do a whole lot of networking and I didn’t attend any conferences or anything extra outside of my curriculum. And I feel like, since I’ve graduated and gotten into the position that I am, I’ve had to make up for a lot of lost time. There were a lot of connections that you had, from knowing people as a student, that I didn’t get a chance to meet those people when I was a student. And now I’m sort of making up for that lost time. So, if I have any advice for students, it’s start now while you are a student and you have that opportunity, don’t wait until you already graduated and you’re already working to start networking.
CHRIS COX: Yeah, absolutely. With that, let’s go into some of the things that we can do. I mean, we know that networking is important. Hopefully we’ve been able to demonstrate that to the listeners out there. I really wanted to do something that’s going to be very helpful for our listeners, maybe get some tips on good networking strategies and all of that. Is it just about the eye contact?
RILEY BASS: Yeah. It’s maintain 100% eye contact at all times.
CHRIS COX: That’s super creepy.
RILEY BASS: Just kidding, don’t do that. We actually recommend about 60% to 70% eye contact, is what is recommended, as far as when you’re having a one-on-one conversation with somebody. You don’t have to stare them down, but looking away too often makes you seem uninterested. So, just a little fun tip, some sort of a happy medium between looking away and staring intently into their soul. About 70% eye contact is what we would recommend.
CHRIS COX: What if I have a smart watch and I’m just checking my text messages?
RILEY BASS: Probably shouldn’t be texting while you’re having conversations that are networking conversations, unless maybe it’s a friend that you’re meeting somewhere that is coming to the same event you’re at. But if you can put off looking at your phone or your smart watch while you are talking and having a conversation, I would definitely recommend that.
CHRIS COX: What’s another tip that we can talk about?
RILEY BASS: Let’s talk about having business cards.
CHRIS COX: Ooh, good one.
RILEY BASS: Did you have business cards as a student?
CHRIS COX: I did, like a nerd.
RILEY BASS: Well, I didn’t because I was a cool kid. Just kidding.
CHRIS COX: Wow.
RILEY BASS: The cool kids have business cards, and the nerds too.
CHRIS COX: We’re all nerds, come on. We’re in audiology.
RILEY BASS: Your business card is definitely a way to make an impression on somebody that you’re talking to at some sort of industry event. We all meet a lot of people, and there’s a lot of names and a lot of faces. And the excuse “I’m bad with names” just doesn’t cut it. It’s basically like telling someone, you’re not important enough for me to remember.
CHRIS COX: Right. Sometimes I look across at you and I’m like, what’s her name again?
RILEY BASS: Right. And we don’t want that to happen to any of you guys. So one of the best ways you can leave that lasting impression and help people remember your name is to give them a business card. They don’t have to be anything really fancy, but I think it’s definitely something that, as a student, it can set you apart from your peers. Having your title, Audiology Student Clinician, Audiology Graduate Student, Audiology Resident. Depending on where you are in your schooling, if you’re second, third, or fourth year that title may change a little bit.
But let us know what your graduation date is. Are you planning to graduate this year, next year, in three years? Whatever your expected graduation date is, put that on there, as well as your school. Let us know where you’re going to school. That’s important. And your contact information. Put your phone number, your email address, a way to get a hold of you. And not your personal email from when you were in sixth grade, but a professional email that’s pretty much your first and last name, or some combination of that.
CHRIS COX: And also, look at not using your school email. Use a personal email because I know some of us, be the school cuts off your email once you graduate. And so, if you’re looking for a job and you’re graduating in two months, and then somebody is trying to email you after you graduate, they can’t get a hold of you. So, I’d recommend setting up a professional-looking Gmail account, or something that that’s going to be something you can keep and you can control yourself.
RILEY BASS: Right, absolutely. Make sure you put all that contact information there too. If you have any social media you’d like to link, you are welcome to do that. I would probably discourage against maybe Facebook and Instagram. But your Twitter, and especially your LinkedIn, would be good things. Just make sure you clean that up a little bit before because you never know who’s looking at those hate tweets from eight years ago when you were mad at the winner of the bachelor or the bachelorette.
CHRIS COX: Yeah, I gotta go and delete those.
RILEY BASS: And last thing, unless you’re a florist, you probably don’t need flowers on your business card. Keep them streamlined and very professional looking, and you will definitely see success with those business cards.
CHRIS COX: Absolutely. And you know, you can get business cards pretty cheaply online at this point. And I know that students are like, well it costs a lot of money, I don’t have a lot of money. But you can go to Vistaprint and get you 250, I think, for under 10 bucks. Shipped, even. And that can go a long way. It’s a great investment, to be able to talk and connect with people, and eventually get a job.
RILEY BASS: Right, absolutely. I keep students’ business cards on my desk whenever they give them to me, and I see those names over and over again. And those are always the first names that come to my mind when I’m thinking about students and programs with students and stuff. So, it’s definitely something that people will look at over and over again. And it will definitely get your name out into the industry.
CHRIS COX: Yeah, absolutely.
RILEY BASS: Boom!
CHRIS COX: OK. So now you’ve got your business cards. You understand how to do the right amount of contact. You’re going to show up with all your friends at the next big meeting, and you’re going to go out a network, right?
RILEY BASS: Right. But you want to make sure you don’t stick too close to those friends.
CHRIS COX: That’s true. One of the things that we see, and that I saw as a student and now that I’m on the other side as a grown up, quote unquote, is that a lot of the times the students come through in their little pods of two, three, four, five, six people, all from the same university, or that they’ve met each other before. And it’s great. But they kind of tend to stick together. So, what’s difficult for them, they don’t really understand, is that they are kind of excluding any talk from somebody else that may want to talk to them about whatever they have to offer, whether it’s a job or whether it’s a product, or whether it’s a new great idea.
And so, my advice to those of you out there is to hang out with your friends, that’s totally great. But once you’re on the floor of the expo hall, or once you’re in a room, or you’re going in between classes, keep an eye out for opportunities to be able to go up to somebody and shake their hand. The cool thing that you can do is at, if you go to any of the business meetings for the various entities that we work with, either for the AAA or ADA, if you go to the business meetings, you can actually see the people that are on the board. Kind of the important people, so to speak. And if you ever see them in the hall, you can track them down, shake their hand, and tell them you are. Give them a business card, and strike up a conversation. It’s a lot harder to do that when you’re kind of glued to your little crew there. And it makes it a little bit less likely that you’re going to go shake someone’s hand. Because we all like being in our comfort zone, right?
RILEY BASS: Right, absolutely.
CHRIS COX: It’s super comfortable hanging out with our friends, but look at this event as an opportunity for you to go out and really shake as many people’s hands as you can and get to know as many people as you can.
RILEY BASS: Just make sure you have some hand sanitizer with you, shaking all those hands.
CHRIS COX: Yeah. It’ll be OK, I think, but you know, just keep that in mind. It’s a great opportunity for you to be able to get out there and meet some people, maybe even have a competition with your friends to see how many business cards you can get by the end of the weekend, or something like that. Because the more people you know, the more people you network with, the greater opportunities are going to be presented to you.
RILEY BASS: Absolutely. They may be the person that’s in charge of hiring the next audiologist for your dream job, or they may be best friends with the person that is. And if you are on their top of their short list of names that they recognize and they say, they made a really good impression on me at this conference, that would be a great person to look into, that’s going to get you a lot further than if you’re just standing in the corner, sipping some punch at the trade shows.
CHRIS COX: I completely agree with that. And it brings up another point that, I know that you and I have seen, personally, in some of these events, is that not only do you want to make a good impression, you also want to avoid making a bad impression. So a lot of the times big industry events include a lot of adult beverages, that tend to make people a little bit fun and crazy in the evenings. And that’s all fun and well, but when you’re considering that almost every single person that you are in contact with in that immediate area is somebody you’re probably going to see again–
RILEY BASS: Absolutely–
CHRIS COX: It’s a bit sobering, to use that word, to realize that any little bad impression that you leave with somebody could have lasting effects on your career. And we’ve seen that before. We’ve seen students not behave in a professional manner, and it’s come around to bite them–
RILEY BASS: Absolutely.
CHRIS COX: A few years later.
RILEY BASS: And it’s unfortunate, and we all like to have fun, and there is definitely a time and place for that. But these big networking events are probably not the best place to take full advantage of the open bar. Mix it up. Drink some water, drink some Coke. Something without any fire water.
CHRIS COX: Fire water? So yeah, absolutely. Watch what your alcohol intake, watch the behaviors, and just because everybody else is doing it doesn’t mean that it’s time for you to do it as well. When you consider some of these audiologists have been in the business for 20, 30 years. They have their own business. They’re pretty well seated, they don’t have to worry necessarily about their own image, as much as someone who’s out there doesn’t even have a job yet, and is trying to make their way in the world.
RILEY BASS: Right. And this counts for the hotel bar after hours, as well, not just on the trade show floor and during the actual industry events. But that entire weekend, you never know who is sitting where, and we’ve definitely seen the repercussions of this coming around. Unfortunately, it happens. But all you have to do is just be responsible, make good choices, you guys can all do that, I’m confident.
CHRIS COX: All right, mom, thanks.
RILEY BASS: Not to be mom or anything. But we’re trying to make this is as good of an experience for you guys as possible, and to help you get the most out of these networking events. So something to keep in mind.
All right, so we all just returned home from these big industry events and are wondering, what now? We went way out of our comfort zone and met all these new contacts and all these people and had these great conversations.
CHRIS COX: Wow.
RILEY BASS: Wow.
CHRIS COX: What a trip.
RILEY BASS: Do we just forget about it? Do we just shelve it until further notice? No, definitely not. I think one of the things that really helps you to stand out, as a student, is that followup piece. Sending an email to someone. If you said you were going to follow up next week, follow up. Don’t say that and then not follow through. And if somebody follows up with you and sends you an email, definitely respond and show that share that sentiment, you share that interest. Because there’s nothing worse than feeling like you had this really great connection with somebody, and then not hearing from them again. I think the word for that these days is called “ghosting”.
CHRIS COX: Is that what the kids call it these days?
RILEY BASS: That’s what the young pups are calling it these days.
CHRIS COX: The other thing is thank you notes. Hand written thank you notes. Everybody loves thank you notes. Anybody that gets snail mail these days, it’s either junk mail or bills. So when you get one of those cute little cards that are a lot smaller and have a handwritten piece on it, then you know that’s personal. And so we love to get that. I know we do here, and we always display the thank you notes that we get. And everybody loves thank you notes. So to set yourself apart, send a thank you note. A handwritten thank you note. Say something that was pertinent to the conversation that you might have had with that person, which, side note might help you out, is after you talk to the person at the event, you can take their business card and write on the back of it and write down that one thing you could maybe use to follow up with later.
So then you come back, and then you write the thank you note, and thank you for their time, and all that. And send it off, and do it through the old snail mail way. But people love that, and it really makes a difference. Throw a card in there, too.
RILEY BASS: Absolutely. And it’s definitely easy to find people’s address. If you look at their practice name website, it’s going to have the address of the practice. And you can always send them mail to their office.
CHRIS COX: And hopefully you’ve got a business card from them, and they have their address on their business card too.
RILEY BASS: Right.
CHRIS COX: Another great thing we can do is connect online, via LinkedIn. It’s like the professional Facebook, if no one’s ever heard of that before. Hopefully you guys have that set up, and I would definitely recommend getting it tuned in and dialed in. I know that Riley and I like to have people that we meet connect with us on LinkedIn, and it really does help us keep a name with the face and university and so forth. So that’s great.
The cool thing is that in the future, we’re actually going to record a podcast on personal branding and social media, and some strategies for that. So stay tuned, that’s coming up in the next couple weeks.
RILEY BASS: All right. Thank you guys so much for listening in today. It was great to talk to you a little bit about networking. There’s lots of networking events in our industry, and you definitely will see the same people every year. So making a good impression is something that’s very important as you are a student transitioning into an audiologist.
As always, we can be reached via social media on our Twitter, @coxchriscox and @rileyb659. Or you can always reach out to the Audigy university Twitter, which is @AudigyU. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions, concerns, or topics that you would like us to talk about. And we look forward to talking to you next time.
CHRIS COX: Yes, see you later.
RILEY BASS: Bye guys.