234: Use Your Courage - with Laura Nicolaisen

Meet Laura Nicolaisen

Laura has over 10 years of experience on the life coaching and career coaching side in the university setting and through my own business, and most recently at a start-up and in the outplacement industry. Her alma maters respectively for my bachelor's and master's are at the University of Nebraska and Concordia University Wisconsin. In my spare time, I love listening to podcasts, exercising, spending time with animals, reading, traveling, real estate investing, meeting new people and giving back to her community.

What is one rule of thumb that you live by?

You know the phrase treat others the way you want to be treated. I actually rephrase that to say treat others the way they want to be treated. So the way I kind of phrase that is really listen to who you're speaking with, understand what their needs and aspirations are, and treat them the way they want to be treated, as long as it's a way that you feel authentic for yourself and that it's okay with you. And the rule of thumb can easily be applied to networking as well.

Can you share with our listeners, one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?

In 2017 I attended an event for professional leaders and the United Way volunteer community. I was a guest I wasn't a participant at that point at the Emerging Leaders Program and that's for leaders who are in their 20s to 40s who are giving monetarily and through volunteering through the United Way. I went by myself to this event, and I stayed and luckily met a great lady named Jeriah Ebling. So at that time I met Jeriah, she was the major gifts officers for women's engagement. After the event we connected for coffee, she told me about all the amazing opportunities open at United Way. I didn't pursue anything until late in 2019. But at that time because I had heard about this through her, I decided to apply and be a part of project lead training. So that's really a training that allows participants from diverse backgrounds in the Milwaukee area to learn about the intricacies of becoming a nonprofit board member. It was seven weeks long and during the graduation event I saw Jeriah and thanked her. And currently, I'm looking for the next board to serve on or my next volunteer opportunity, as well as investigating women united. So that's where women in Milwaukee and Waukesha provide their talent, time and finances to give back to the local community. So without that introduction, I've would not have had all these opportunities I just described. That was an amazing networking experience for me.

How do you stay in front of or best nurture the relationships that you've created?

Whenever I find out about an event, if I see an article or information about business trends, I really think about who in my network may this benefit. And then I reach out to those people and I share the information I have. And I also like to keep a spreadsheet of all my networking connections and recording when I met them where and how, and reaching out after an initial connection to either have a meeting via zoom or in person. A good rule of thumb I use to reach out to my network connections every four months or so. My goal is just to always offer my support expertise or connections to other people. And I feel strongly that when someone changes their mindset and thinks about how they can give back rather than what they can receive from a connection, that is really when connections flourish and remain long lasting.

What advice would you offer to business professionals that are looking to grow their network?

Finding some networking, professional associations and volunteering at nonprofit groups that are of interest to you. So the way I would recommend someone starting is picking out three to five associations of interests and attending an event for each of those organizations. And then attendees can get a real feel for is this a group that I would love to be a part of? And as someone continues to attend meetings, they figure out okay, which of these one of these one or two associations would I want to be a part of, you start attending, becoming part of the community, you really get to know people organically and develop those connections within the group and then as time goes on, sharing your connections and sources with others and others doing the same with you is just a natural process so someone's open to taking on a leadership role as well within the organization. I think that's really when network connections can become even more prevalent.

Let's talk about digital networking versus traditional networking, which one do ultimately find more value in?

I thought about this, and I really think digital and traditional networking work in tandem. So if I meet someone in person at an event, I follow up with them with a personal message on LinkedIn and with potential time to get to know them further. And in the case of social distancing now that's definitely gotten to Zoom or other platforms. I'm a part of an all women real estate mastermind where we learn and build and understand a wide variety of different types of real estate investing. Once I began the mastermind, I was meeting with all my mastermind comrades via zoom, since we all live in different areas. So it's been really great to be a part of the community where we are because we're investing together, we're learning together, we're growing together. We have accountability groups, and we're sharing connections. And I've also met quite a few individuals through cold or warm connection requests on LinkedIn, and email requests for conversations.

If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of less of or differently with regards to your professional career?

I would really tell myself to consider the different potential career paths that I'm interested in and find at least three to five people who are doing each of these paths, and then having some conversations with these people and getting to know them. And I would tell myself to ask these questions. What drew you into this profession and what do you love about it? What are the challenges involved in what you do? And what would you do differently if you were to enter this profession again? Who else do you know that I can talk to? I found that that's really one of the most important questions to ask when speaking with anyone, because usually people will consider and think of at least one or two other people you can speak with. And then your one connection is just rolling into three to five connections. And another question I would ask these people is what is the one way that I can help you now or in the future? And I would also share that the initial conversation is the most important piece always it's figuring out how to stay in touch and keep in touch with these contacts and building relationships moving forward, that are long lasting.

We've all heard of the six degrees of separation, who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with? And do you think you can do it within the sixth degree?

As I said, I'm involved in real estate investing now and one person I'd love to connect with this Warren Buffett. And I think it's definitely doable. Because first I’m from Omaha, and Warren and I are both alumni of the University of Nebraska. And in addition, my mom will tie school with this current wife. My plan would simply to be put a written note in his mailbox and share with him my love for investing for the city of Omaha for Nebraska, and ask him through letter if he’d be open to a conversation. And another piece I'll share is I work with a lot of clients and students in reference to changing or creating their careers and I regularly touch base with them on the power of alumni connections, because I consider that to be a warm connection, even though I don't know them because who doesn't want to talk with someone who attended the same school you did. So I always suggest this research and show it but if you go to your school's web page on LinkedIn, you can find where alumni are working and living and you can even start search for specific companies and see which alumni are working at these companies that you have an interest in or seeking specific types of contacts. And that's a great way to reach out to people.

I'm always intrigued to hear what my guests are listening to on podcasts or reading books, what are you doing for your own self-improvement?

So the most recent book, I just picked up is the “1% Rule” by Tommy Baker. It's really how to reach success like the top 1% do and he actually narrates his own book on Audible. So that's been a great book. Another one I really like as well is called “Meet 100 People” by Pat Hedley. And it's an amazing book. It is definitely most of the examples in there are college students who are meeting people. But it applies to all of us.

Do you have any final words of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?

I really resonate with this, especially within the last two years of myself personally. But if you have an opportunity that comes in front of you, and that really excites you, but makes you nervous at the same time, I feel like this is really a signal to move forward to do that thing. And I would just say, use your courage to take part in the opportunity to or to meet a new person because you never know who you'll meet or what will transpire and the more you use your courage, the more doors that will open for you and the more we in general will build and grow to be the person we're meant to be. And this is a great quote. I'd like to share it's, “Courage doesn't mean you don't get afraid, courage means you don't let fear stop you.” And that's by Bethany Hamilton.

How to connect with Laura:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauranicolaisen/

*I would love people to connect with me on LinkedIn. And I would like to work with one person who's a mid-career professional that is looking for a change and I want to have a conversation with that person. So the first person who reaches out to me on LinkedIn and mentions this opportunity. I will meet with you to discuss that next professional move.