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NetworkMe Podcast – Episode 2 – Siobhan Fitzpatrick The Networking Hub
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I am delighted to welcome Siobhan Fitzpatrick from The Networking Hub to the NetworkMe Podcast. Siobhan is a voracious networker. She has been and done and seen it all. So I thought she would be a fantastic guest to have on the podcast and to learn a little bit about her story, why she networks, why she feels networking is of value to people, and we’re gonna listen to a few of her tips on how to be a better networker. So Siobhan, you’re very welcome. Thank you, Jean.
Siobhan Fitzpatrick 0:53
It’s an honour to be here. I’m happy for you and your new podcast. Exciting.
Jean Evans 0:59
Thank you very much. So let’s get started. So Siobhan, you have networked a lot in your career, but what did that mean to you? And why did you start networking?
Siobhan Fitzpatrick 1:12
Good question. Um, for those of for those out there that maybe haven’t started, they mightn’t realise it started, but it can happen accidentally. And that’s what happened for me. I left Ireland in my 20s, early 20s. And I moved to America, on my own, I knew one person in the country. And what I had to do was actually to build a network and it didn’t…it wasn’t in my mind where I was thinking, Okay, I have got to build a network. What I was saying to myself was, if I want to stay here, and if I want to develop a life myself, be that, professionally and personally, I need to have people around me. I need to have connections that, and that I can, I enjoy their company, I, we have something in common. So I was really looking to build my social community. And from that, obviously, I was looking for work. So it evolved into my work. And it became pretty clear to me after the first year or so, when I had my eyes set on a particular role in a company that I knew nobody in the company. And I wanted to get in I was actually I happy to name company, MasterCard International. And so my my industry at the time, my career was in event management. And I had been working with the National Down syndrome society. So I was established for four years in New York, and had a great community of contacts. But I wanted this job. I wanted to work for this company. They were global reach, they were travelling around the world, they were delivering fantastic events. And I liked what they did. But how was I going to get in there? So I started conversations with my social network. You know…anybody know anybody in Mastercard that can just give me insight into the business and one of my connections, knew an employee in Mastercard. We had a coffee, she said, ‘Look, I’d be delighted to introduce you to the person in that department.’
And that started my journey to getting one of the best jobs of my career. So it proved to me that if you build your network, if you build your connections, even before you know what you need, so this friend that introduced me to this contact, I didn’t befriend them for that reason. But my point is, when you build your cohort of connections, there is value there. You may not know what that value is to start, but you’ve got to go out with the intention of building great people. And you be one of those great people in that in that circle of friends and connections and even in somebody’s career. So I moved into corporate, so to speak, it’s about building your brand, building your presence, building. awareness of what you know, let people know what you know, in a way where you’re helping them. It’s not going bravado, stick out your chest. This is what I know, this is what I can do. It’s letting people know what you do by helping them, by supporting them, by being there and available to help others on the way. I don’t know if that’s answered your question correctly or not.
Jean Evans 4:37
There’s no right answer. It’s your story and your journey. So you left New York then after a while. Where did you go then?
Siobhan Fitzpatrick 4:46
So I left New York and I moved to England. I moved to London. And and here’s the thing, so this is why I guess where I am today. It was something that was said to me in New York and in England. So when I moved to New York first, I was, [whisper] I didn’t have the green card! And I was looking for jobs that were
Jean Evans 5:10
We won’t tell anybody!!
Siobhan Fitzpatrick 5:11
No, don’t tell anybody. Well let’s just say it was within the restaurant industry. Everybody said to me, do you have Manhattan experience? Do you have Manhattan experience? I couldn’t understand what this meant. And then I moved to England, and I speak to people in the events industry. And there was a very, there was an organisation Meeting Professionals International, whom you know, Jean, and what the Chairperson at the time said to me, I had a great interview with her and she’s very revered lady. But she did say to me, oh, Siobhan, you know, you don’t have UK experience. And I was the absolutely about to bash my head off the wall. I said, No, I, I’ve worked in the UK, I’ve delivered many events here for my global clients. I have lots of experience and I have experience outside the UK. But also all of this is learnable. I have a fantastic network of people here in the UK because of my work. And because of the way I’ve built my network. Why would that matter? So it was really an eye opener for me that it was based on….that was the thing. What do you know, what do people know about you or what you know, and I went out, and I thought, Okay, I need to educate people on what I know. And that enabled me to, oh, my gosh, flourish. And every job I went to after that, or every job I applied to after that was through a connection, putting me up for the job. It wasn’t me applying actually. It was somebody saying, Siobhan can do that. That’s Siobhan’s expertise. You should have an interview or meeting with her. I really didn’t actually need to apply.
Jean Evans 6:50
And that’s, that’s amazing. And I think a lot of people, if they were listening to that, they’d go, Oh, my God, I don’t have to be in a rat race, trying to compete against hundreds 10s hundreds 1000s of people. There’s actually a different way of getting a job, getting a promotion, and raising your profile. So it’s super interesting. And I hope people harness that message and build on it. So if you were to say to somebody, why should people start networking? What would your response be to that?
Siobhan Fitzpatrick 7:22
Why should they start networking? My I’m a bit opposed to the word networking. And I know, you know, I own a business called The Networking Hub, you have that is called NetworkMe. And but I think that word can can really turn people off or make them fearful of what that means. Maybe what we would say is ‘why should you build your community of supporters and champions? And so that is the reason why you get out to network. You want to build up a cohort of people that admire you, that believe in you, the trust you that, and that really champion your value and what you bring to the world. Wherever and whatever you do more, it really doesn’t matter whether you’re employed or self employed, that doesn’t matter. It is about who, who are the people talking about you when you’re not in the room, and they’re saying bigging you up and saying, you absolutely have to connect to this person. Because that’s what you do. You go out there and tell people how amazing you are, by showing them, Not by telling them, by showing what you can do and how you can help and how you perform. And this also includes your personal brand. So think about how you’re showing up in your business. Think about how you’re showing up to the world.
Jean Evans 8:48
That’s that’s a fantastic way of putting it building your community of supporters, champions. And I think you’re right, networking does turn people off if they don’t understand its power and what it can do. But by reframing it as something that doesn’t seem as overwhelming and panic driving. And it’s building a community. I mean, you’re right. It’s all of your supporters. It’s your champions. It’s the people who want to see you succeed and will lift you up. And what that means is different to every person. And it’s different every day because we all need something different every day depending on where we’re are, what’s happening in life. So tell me, what top three tips would you give to somebody who’s starting out building their community?
Siobhan Fitzpatrick 9:39
What three tips would I…Okay that they’re just starting…
First one is to start basically. So there’s so many different starting points. So for somebody who’s not afraid to network. They can get out there and connect with people. So if you’re employed. There’s an industry sector, you know, meet with people in your industry sector. Connect with… if there’s internal networks or hubs of groups, meet with them, connect withthem, introduce yourself. Get to know people in the business,
Self employed people, for those in the world of self employment, and look towards your local networks to get, just to get started. What’s around, you get to know people in your area. I think the easy thing is we identify, not easy, but the starting point is why do you want to network? Understand why. I think this is for me, this is really important. Why are you networking? Is it to, now, for those that are in looking for business, it generally can be the first thing you’re saying, I need more clients or I want more business? I would dig deeper than that. I would absolutely think deeper than that. Why are you networking? And if you are looking for clients. Why should they, you know, invest in you? Are you networking to build your brand? Are you like, I think…
I moved back to Ireland in 2015, after 25 years away. So my reason to network was to understand the culture of Ireland, I haven’t lived here for a long time. I had a lot to learn. So my reason was my need to learn how business is done here. I need to learn who’s who, uh, who I need to know. I need to build my personal brand, and let people know what I do and how I can help them and how I can support. So getting to the crux of why. And then making a pathway towards how you achieve that and researching where you can actively network, to repeat what you want to achieve.
And another tip would be ‘think about how you can add value rather than what you’re looking to achieve to get from going to networks.’ So what can you bring? What are your and this is not about bringing the kitchen, or the the family silverware to the table This is about…You’re bringing a lifelong experience. You’re bringing lots of knowledge, and I can guarantee you, somebody in the room, doesn’t know what you know. And that’s really what you want to impart. It is letting people know what you know.
Now, that goes back to my earlier point about championing. When they know what you know, and they get to know you. And it’s about building relationships… networking is not a quick fix. So for anybody that goes to a network and says if they leave, and they leave the room, or they leave the environment, and they say, ‘Well, that was a waste of my time because I got nothing.’ I will ask you A) What did you do to introduce yourself and find out about others?
Jean Evans 13:00
And how did you prepare?
Siobhan Fitzpatrick 13:01
You know, how did you prepare? Absolutely prepare before you go in? What did you do to improve your experience? You know, and how can you do better? And if you are nervous about networking, and if you are shy, or if you know more introvert, talk to the organisers. That’s their job is to help you get, you know, ease you into this room and support you. Anybody who runs a networking event or an event that there’s networking taking place. They are always willing. It matters to them that you have a good experience.
Jean Evans 13:43
It does. And I think that’s something that’s underestimated. People think that if they go there on their own but, the event needs to be a success. And that is based on people’s experiences and how they interact and what have you. So that will take us into a whole other topic in itself. But you when you move back to Ireland, then you set up Women In Business Network and you galvanised a community of business women, SMEs and solopreneurs. And then you went on to your new chapter. So I’d like to talk about your new chapter, which you started in September 2020. So you have lots of machinations and changes because of COVID. And we have to use word pivot. Really not liking the pivot, but we did. So tell us a bit about The Networking Hub, who is it for and what’s it all about?
Siobhan Fitzpatrick 14:32
Thank you Jean for asking. And so yes, I did get the chance to pivot. And I’m grateful for that chance because while I was doing what I loved in the network with WIBN circumstances, Brexit, COVID, as you mentioned, it gave me the opportunity to step back and we always complain of never having enough time. I was gifted the gift of time to sit back and go. Okay Siobhan. What is it you really want to do and I looked at my life, I kind of stepped back and said. What can you bring to the table? But also what’s out there, what’s needed. And I really embrace the opportunities I had of travelling the world and getting to know people, in lots of different sectors and industries. And what I loved is people are so interesting, their stories are so interesting. And we are moving into a more technical, technically supported world. So we no longer have to be in the same space to network. And I thought, what, let’s do this, let’s reach out beyond our borders.
And for those whose businesses can expand and don’t have to be limited by borders, let’s get them connected. So I started The Networking Hub. With the wish to support those that struggle with networking, in making it work for them. So being more strategic, getting, utilising the resources and tools that we would use in networking, and educating them on how to do that. And that’s done through The Networking Academy, which is one of our portals, educational portal, in The Networking Hub. And then we have The Networking Summit, which was started well before the Hub. That was that’s my, an event, where I wanted to, again, start that educational piece. It’s once a year, but that’s going global. We are very excited. So reaching from one side of the world to the other, and really getting people to connect and talk about what is it like doing business where you’re doing business? And how can we help one another grow. So The Networking Hub, and it does have a membership base with the network. That’s what it’s called. The Network is the membership portal. And they are for SMEs, who can do business without borders, who want to connect and learn. Because all be if that were in a virtual world, and we can do business, virtually, there are still cultural differences, there are still differences in doing business, in various parts of the world. But let’s talk about them. Let’s connect and let’s help one another.
Jean Evans 17:18
Break down the barriers.
Siobhan Fitzpatrick 17:19
Break down those barriers.
Jean Evans 17:21
What you don’t know. will hurt you. But, if you start learning, and you get to know and you dive into people’s journeys and their knowledge, most people are willing to share and help you and I think that’s one of the huge benefits of networking those or whatever problem or question you have…If you’ve built up your network and your champions and your supporters, you’re going to have somebody who has that answer and has that knowledge that you need. But you need to have built up that relationship with them as you say and how you give and how you interact with them, how you engage, how you show up. And I think that that’s absolutely, absolutely key. So where can people find out more information about The Networking Hub?
Siobhan Fitzpatrick 18:03
Oh, as thenetworkinghub.ie is the website so they pretty much get everything there including my contact details. I’m also on Instagram, which is @_thenetworkinghub. And Linkedin, Siobhan Fitzpatrick, check me out. I’m always reachable. My belief is connection is where it starts. Saying hi, introduce yourself, connect with me on LinkedIn. And I will absolutely accept all connections and see how I can help.
Jean Evans 18:34
Super Okay, so what I’m going to say is, and that is fantastic do connect in with Siobhan. Have a look at her website, TheNetworkingHub.ie. Do connect in with her. But tell her that you listened to the podcast and you’re connecting with her as a result of listening to her story and her journey and get and build that relationship with Siobhan because she will be an ally and she will be one of your supporters and champions and in your corner. And we could all do with Siobhan Fitzpatrick in our corner. So I can testify to that. So do get in contact with her reach out, start building those connections of those relationships.
And from my perspective on the NetworkMe Podcast, delighted to have had you on Siobhan. It’s so good to hear your story. And we’ve known each other for years. And I know your journey. But even, every time you hear somebody’s journey and their story, one of the fascinating things is, there’s always a new nugget of information, something that you just didn’t say in another time. So I’ve learned new things about you today. And I think that’s fascinating, because we don’t know what we don’t know, as I say.
So guys, if you have liked this podcast, please give it a thumbs up and give us a five star rating. Tell somebody else about us that would like to learn a bit more about networking. And let’s get connected. So connect with me on Jean Evans, and I’m across all social channels @networkingjean, so please do connect in. Siobhan, thank you very much for your time.
Siobhan Fitzpatrick 20:00
Thank you Jean and well done. It’s amazing.
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