243: Start Building Your Bank - with Debbie Seeger

Meet Deb Seeger

Deb is the managing director at BDO Resource Solutions. Deb has been recognized as a female entrepreneur by receiving the woman of influence award in 2015. Prior to joining BDO Deb was a co-founder of Patina Solutions. She spent over a decade in professional services consulting. She's an innovator, keynote speaker and panelists in the field of employment trends, workforce of the future, agile talent solutions and building strong cultures.

How do you tie in the personal networking goals that you have to align the goals of that of your firm?

Networking is so important because it's really part of everything we do as we go out into the business world. I thought of it from early on is this idea of really building friendships, maybe more for a business reason, but friendships to me start with getting to know people. And understanding that we can go a lot farther in with a group of people and the resources that we all bring together than we can alone.

How does one appropriately tap their network when in that state when looking for a new job?

Having been through a transition for really first time in my career, and also having been coaching executives in transition for many years now, I believe going forward, I'm going to be a better coach. Because I've already talked about the idea of networking. But I saw a lot of executives in my career who worked really hard to kind of build a wall of separation around themselves so that other outsiders, and sometimes competitive firms or vendors, providers, salespeople, you know, couldn't get in, so to speak. But then when those folks were at a stage in their career, where they were in a transition, they really didn't have enough of a network that they could go out and engage with in order to help them in their career transition. So I think it's really important for people to understand that you may never need to ask somebody a favor. And it wasn't until recently when I was in transition that I realized it was really valuable to have such a vast network of people that I've done a ton of favors for over my career. And I think about it as like the bank of the universe. If you're putting out favors and doing favors for other people one day, when you need something, you're going to have a lot of people that you'll be able to consider to call on for help.

Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking stories that you have?

My son who graduated from college in 2008. And as he was really looking at the job market, one of the things he considered was going back to get his graduate degree, which he ended up doing. I said to my son, if you see anybody in my network that you want to go and just learn from, because you have a lot of learning to do about the kind of career you want. And maybe you'll see people who are in careers that you find interesting. But you got to go and just go talk to a lot of people. So I was really happy number one that he did in the two years while he was getting his graduate degree. He spoke to 100 people, either by phone or in person. And what I really appreciated about his experience was he came back to me towards the end of that experience, and he said, Mom, not one person said no to me. And that means I did a good job of doing favors for people who were happy and returned to do this favor for me.

How do you stay in front of and nurture your network?

I think the other thing about having a giving mindset or an abundance mindset is knowing that you have to intentionally and deliberately schedule time for it. Again, there's a person who wrote a book and in that book, the author talks about his internal personal discipline that every day he decides he's going to write X number of emails to reach out to people or make X number of phone calls, or how it reaches out but he's going to do it intentionally. To let them know that he either saw something they did and wanted to recognize reward a birthday, an award, a news article. And so it's part of the everyday routine. And I think that's a good best practice is to really make time to nurture your network so that you are not going to ever be seen as the person who's only in contact with somebody when you need something.

What advice would you offer the business professional who's looking to grow their network?

Growing the network to me is kind of two things that are the same. If you seek to learn from others then you seek out others from whom you want to learn. And so that's part of that daily discipline that could be added to nurturing your existing network every day, is also then looking out and seeing people who are out there who are leading an industry trend. People who've written articles that you found interesting, people that are solving problems that anything that you're coming across in your daily, either news cycle or work of interest or passion. And then again, make time to go out and seek those professionals that you want to learn from. Because when you start with this idea of being open and first seek to understand, again, it's been my experience that most people are willing then to open up and share.

Right now, the traditional networking is definitely at a standstill. But between the two digital and traditional networking, which one do you find more value in?

It is hard right now that we can see each other in person but the idea of meeting in person in a way really only restricts you to a geographic network. And so while it's important to have face to face conversations with people, especially when networking or things around those things where the stakes are high. There’s nothing like in person but of course now that we can do online virtual meetings. That's better than any other time in our history where we can expand our network. And then thank God for LinkedIn where we really can use the digital network game platform to go out and reach out to people that we may otherwise never have been introduced to or known about. So I think they're both important.

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

The first thing about my 20-year-old self is not necessarily about my professional career, but I was asked this at the women of influence award is what we can tell your 20-year-old self? And my answer was, don't eat that. When we get into more of the professional career advice that I would give my 20 year old self, and we didn't have some of the tools digitally when I was starting my career, but it would be don't be afraid, ask it maybe even a perfect stranger, because to network or to meet with you if you really are genuine and authentic and your desire to learn from them and hear their story. Because most of the time that invitation will be met with an acceptance and so I myself fell into that same kind of thing that I think younger people do is I don't have anything to offer. And I had to quickly realize that as long as I was seeking with a genuine, earnest desire to learn most people won't say no to that now. People are busy, they can't fill their calendars with stuff like that. And so you have to be judicious in it. But I think it's to go out there kind of fearlessly with the idea that you have the right intention. Start today and start building your bank because the power of compounding interest is the same those relationships grow and they develop into really rich relationships over your career.

Any final words or advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?

I would say, keep in mind that if you go out with the best of intentions, it's not it's not like it has to be a perfect science. It's not that you're going to break something and say yes, as much as you can. Because that’s kind of the pay it forward, giver abundance mentality that helps people build rich networks. And so I have been rewarded by people who did favors for me as much as I've been rewarded by knowing that I did some huge favors for some other people. And both of those things make us feel good. So what you're doing along the way is collecting these small gifts. And what that ends up is doing is building a strong foundation for yourself. So that if you are ever in a situation where you need to make a withdrawal from the bank, you're going to be able to do it.

How to connect with Deb:

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

Email: dseeger@bdo.com