How to Build Confidence and a "Dream" Network - at the Same Time

I was scrolling through my LinkedIn feed  a few weeks ago when I saw a call for a studio audience at the CreativeLive studios in San Francisco by an author I follow, J. Kelly Hoey, who wrote Build Your Dream Network.

Kelly’s work has intrigued me for a while now… she’s a ‘professional connector' who approaches networking as an art and a study, fostering and nurturing connection and utilizing social media as a means of finding alignment and realizing goals. 

“Networking,” she says, “is a way to go about solving a problem.” 

a dream network.png

That 'problem' can be anything from needing a job, information, desiring a career change or an additional outlet to deter the isolation of the home office or shut door.

My Random Network

For me, networking has always just...happened. 

Organically. 

Haphazardly. 

And not particularly well. 

E.g. my LinkedIn is filled with hundreds of former colleagues. 

Not necessarily a bad thing, but also not representative of where I'm headed.

Because Kelly’s content is so engaging and interesting, learning to build my own network directly from her - authentically - intrigued me. 

So I booked my flight and used the trip to also spend long-overdue quality time with a college bestie. 

How CreativeLive is Freaking Fantastic

Heidi Lumpkin at the CreativeLive Studio

CreativeLive , with studios in SF and Seattle, is this completely genius and fun concept:  Host thought leaders/authors/established experts to give intensive courses on their areas of expertise in the studio, invite an audience, and film the whole shebang. 

And provide snacks.

Those not in studio can livestream the course (for free). 

Then package and resell that course at a very reasonable price with bonuses like books and worksheets for on-demand viewing while continually offering additional livestream (free) courses.

Courses are targeted to creatives, entrepreneurs, curiosity-seekers, business people and range in topic from 'Build Your Dream Network' to 'Build Your Wedding Attendant Bouquets.'  

Really, most anyone would find an engaging topic to learn and skills to develop here.

What does this all have to do with confidence at work?

Lots.  (Well, maybe not the wedding bouquets.)

Confidently Networking

Your “dream” network is the broad and diverse group you build and nurture before you need it, so that it’s ready and willing to jump in to support you when you DO need it.

Kelly sees the purpose of networking as shining a light on what ‘you want to be known for.’  

Just like changing perspective around anything having to do with building leadership skills (be it confidence, negative thoughts, self-doubt, gaining visibility at work, increasing executive presence skills), changing my own perspective around networking is a profound shift from before. 

The word 'networking' for me, as with most, has that used-car-salesman feel - that giving-just-to-get connotation. 

No wonder we avoid it.  

Whereas building a 'dream' network takes intentional planning, searching and deliberate connecting with another person who initially might be a stranger; looking for alignment, seeing what you can learn from them, offering support and sharing what you know. 

And doing THAT over and over again takes confidence.

The Build Your Dream Network approach suggest viewing networking as an opportunity in "every human interaction."

Dream Results

The results of #BYDN and shifting the perspective to 'every human interaction is a networking (read: connecting) opportunity are already quite evident.  Here’s what I’ve done so far and the results:

1.      Sent seven greeting cards out I’ve been putting off writing, two of which have been sitting on my desk FOR ALMOST A YEAR.  Instead of viewing writing these as a chore (what is it about having to handwrite something that makes me procrastinate?  Anyone else?) I changed my perspective to:  ‘This a chance to reconnect and support my network.’  Here’s the pic-or-it didn’t happen:

Heidi Lumpkin mailbox networking

Result? Reconnecting, engaging, supporting.  Good feelings for all.

2.     You know those Look-Who-Got-A-New-Job alerts on LinkedIn that have a ‘say congrats’ button?  I actually pushed that button and said ‘congrats’ in a DM to a former XFN colleague, whereas before I might have just checked where the connection was off to work next and not acknowledged it directly. 

Result?  The connection wants to catch up via phone so here's my opportunity to reengage. Wouldn’t have happened had I not reconnected.

3.     Paid much more intention (SWIDT?) to my fledgling Twitter account (follow me, darn it!), actively seeking those with whom I might have alignment, following them, and then acknowledging a follow back with #alignment. 

Result?  More relevant content in my feed that I’m more likely to engage with, a DM with a new follow who wants to know how we can support each other resulting in an offline business relationship. 

4.     One of Kelly’s guests during the filming of the course was another author, Maxie McCoy, who wrote You're Not Lost: An Inspired Action Plan for Finding Your Own Way – {preorder this beautiful book here for the most heartfelt and inspirational tough-love you've ever had}. 

Result?  A broadening of my network We will stay connected and I will interview her in a couple of months to see what else I can learn and continue to get the word out for this book I believe in and rec to my clients.

How could you not want to be connected to this person?

How could you not want to be connected to this person?

5.     Exploring coworking space…the IRL networking approach.  Instead of sequestering my ambivert self in my comfy solo home office I will deliberately and intentionally get out from behind the screen.  Kelly says, “Social versus IRL:  using one without the other doesn’t harness the whole.” 

Result?  Will let you know.  Right now it's an excuse to buy new pair of shoes for the 'office'.

7.     Partnered with a new connection on Twitter to interview and curate content.  This may or may not have happened without Kelly’s class…I don’t think I would have been as curious and supportive without it, though.

Result?  More tweet engagement, additional ideas.  True and new #alignment.

8.     When anyone I haven’t previously known who reaches out to me – now I take at least a minute to view their profile to look for commonalities, and then comment on those commonalities, be it in a tweet or a PM on LinkedIn.  If they’ve written original content, I’ll take a look at that too.  For me now, it’s about authentic connection. 

Result?  Organic network growth that isn't just a quick click of 'accept' or 'follow.'  These connections may still be digital, but they're real.


LinkedIn is changing it up to make the nurturing of your network easier.  I just got this new (to me) type of reminder in my Notifications feed this week:

Heidi Lumpkin LinkedIn

How about that.  

I loved my experiences with CreativeLive so much that I’ve partnered with them as an affiliate (which means I get to offer special discounts and get a small commission if you purchase anything at no additional cost to you – which helps me pay my Kindle bill) and I get to continue evangelizing their greatness. 

How can you not love a company who let’s you in the door by pressing this button:

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Check out CreativeLive’s free on-air classes here.

My Dream Network is Growing

This class changes things for me going forward, permanently. 

How do I know?  The perspective shift in building a dream network and what that will mean in my career, business and life has all my neurons firing. 

The intentional piece for me is calendaring - carving out time (a half hour per day) and devoting that to intentional, focused networking. 

“I’m building my dream network” is a mantra to lean on when scheduling out areas of intentional networking focus for the week/month/year. 

Scheduling time for forging connection helps me in my work threefold: 

1. Intentional (and therefore, likely more relevant) network growth

2. Broader curation sources for content to share with my people

3. And by stopping the mindless social media scroll by putting guardrails around the time.

What do you want to be found for?
— J. Kelly Hoey

Dream Networking Is...

Dream networking is exploring possible connection through the perspective of what can I give, not what can I get…paying it forward in this new world where there isn’t enough of that, even though digital makes it easier than ever. 

Dream networking is being truly interested in different perspectives while acknowledging where there is alignment, and not just from the big influencers and current thought leaders. 

Dream networking is acting on that interest by highlighting that alignment as a means of moving forward together, even if only for a moment right now.

What do you want to be found for?