PP 010: Get Out and Learn How to Network with Erica Castner

Have you ever stopped to think how heavy and difficult networking is? Me too, so, in this episode we’ll be talking about how crucial confidence is and how to network.

Erica Castner has been a wonderful friend and colleague since we began working together in 2015. Her knowledge and insight in the area of networking, how to network and create more meaningful relationships has been truly inspirational and motivating, and I hope you are inspired as much as I have been!

.@QueenofResults and @thekimsutton have a conversation about networking and how to create more meaningful relationships. https://thekimsutton.com/pp010/ #positiveproductivity #podcast #networkingClick To Tweet

Connect with Erica Castner

Welcome back to another episode of positive productivity. I am so thrilled today to have a great friend, Erica Castner here with us. Welcome Erica.​

Hey Kim, thanks for having me on the show. I’m super pumped.

Oh thank you so much for being here. Erica is a master certified business and breakthrough coach who is passionate about helping business owners and sales professionals bridge the gap between where they are now and the next level that they want to achieve. 

Erica Castner teaches you how to network

She’s also the host of the iHeartRadio podcast, Power Factor Biz Chat, which you can also find on iTunes, so I recommend that you check her out on whatever your preferred listening platform is.

Erica, again thank you so much for being here, and I would love it if you would give our audience just like a bigger, better idea of what you do, because I know it…

Yeah, you better know it’s sister. Hahaha.


We’ve worked together long enough to know I’m just totally kidding.

No, thank you again Kim for having me on the show. And I know this is going to be super fun today because, you know, we chat all the time about, you know, that positive productivity in the workspace, in our lives, how we can have it play out.

And so I guess in a nutshell for our fabulous listeners today… In a nutshell what I do is I really help professionals bridge that gap between where they’re at right now – which probably means that they’re not achieving their goals; they’re lacking confidence; they’re procrastinating; they’re dragging our feet – And I help them achieve what they absolutely desire, meaning that they’re accomplishing goals in a timely manner.

They’re actually succeeding in the areas of success that they want. They are not necessarily dragging their feet. They’re more confident and they’re getting on stages are doing things to be more visible in their business.

And I’m sure we’re going to be talking about some of those things today but…

Absolutely, we are!

Yeah, that’s what I hope people do. Get them from where they’re at today – which is probably not exactly where they want to be at the moment – to ultimately getting to that next level of success for them. And doing it smarter, more efficiently, and in a place where they’re not pulling their hair out. They’re actually feeling really good about the process.

I’m laughing because I can, like, sometimes they really do feel like pulling my hair out – like especially coming out of my past week with my kids being home three out of the five days.

The biggest hurdles of an entrepreneur: Learning how to network

My first question for you is, what would you say is one of the biggest hurdles that your clients have to get past – and maybe you even had to get past it too when you were starting your business but what’s hurdle – the biggest hurdle – that you see them having to get past to go to the next level.

That’s a really great question. I think that the biggest challenge is there are too many darn people pleasers out there.

So there’s too many people out there that are trying to please their co-workers, trying to please their clients, trying to please their kids, trying to please their partners. All these things, now.

Granted, I want everybody to keep in mind that you don’t want to irritate anybody. You don’t want to vote people off your island, but there’s so much emphasis on taking care of other people’s needs first, that we have a tendency to put our needs on the back burner.

So, when we’re out there really leading with taking care of everybody else and not slowing down enough should be mindful about what we’ve got to do next, it doesn’t lead to positivity, and it sure doesn’t necessarily lead to productive results. So we’ve got to really take the energy away from take care of everybody else’s needs, pleasing all of them, and really get down to brass tacks as far as what is going to really help serve us, as the business leader, as the sales professional, and then everybody else’s needs become secondary if we can take care of our needs first.

So stop being a Yes Man or a Yes Woman?

Oh my gosh, yeah. We could probably do a whole other show about that, Kim.

Oh yeah definitely. And I know that’s something that I’ve had to get over majorly. 

How to network without confidence? You can’t

So, and I know that we’ve talked about this before, but… I think another big point is also confidence. Like in what we’re charging, and in ourselves going after opportunities and just asking for them.

And one of the things I love about you is that you reach out to people just to say hi and see if there’s anything that you can do to support them. But even that takes some confidence. 

I want to sort of spark a little conversation here about a pretty awesome podcast interview that you had. You know which one I’m talking about, but I know that took a little bit of confidence to do what you did, so I’m going to let you take the ball now.

Yes so what Kim’s alluding to is… Kim and I have known each other for quite some time, so no doubt, she knows kind of the whole ins and outs of how I got to where I am today. And I’m going to spare you all that boring story, but a lot of what I did talk about Kim, as you know, and I’m sharing this today with your listeners for the first time, is that element of being of service first.

I know for a lot of leaders out there, we feel like that when we go into business, or we start a new adventure, like we want to share the news with everybody that we are the rock stars at this, this or this. You guys fill in the blank because you know your situation better than I do.

But part of that whole process of getting the word out there about what you do and how you do it is this element of humility. And let me know what you mean by that. So when I moved to the Southwest Florida market, back in 2005 – so as we’re recording this interview today it’s October 3rd of 2016 – I actually did not know a single soul when I moved to the Southwest Florida market.

I knew that in order for me to start getting to know some souls, I needed to get out there and actually shake hands, kiss babies, and surround myself with people that could potentially lead me into other introductions, and I could feel more familiar.

So with all that said, I think I really prided myself over these last 12 years or so, really just, like one foot in front of the other, reaching out to people, finding out where their areas of focus are, how can I support them, being a good interviewer, and a really kick-butt listener.

I mean that’s like… I think the biggest piece of advice I can drive home today – and this is why I now, like I get compliments on my Power Factor Biz Chat show, being a really good interviewer. Well, I’ve only been doing that really for like 12 years, and if I want to go back even further I’ve done that in my corporate America training world for, you know, the eight years before that. But I digress.

So the podcast interview that you’re talking about Kim, was actually with the founder of Ugg Boots, of all things, Brian Smith. I actually met him at a conference in April earlier this year and I was actually attending the Digital Footprint Conference, which I’m actually going to be speaking at here in a few weeks, and I’m very excited about that.

But, what was interesting was that I noticed all these like, super, like hyper, like crazy behavior, was as soon as he was done with this keynote – because he was one of the keynote presenters at this conference – and immediately after that keynote presentation, like everybody in the room was like swarming the stage.

Now, I know what that can feel like. Not because I’m as popular as a keynote speaker, you know, but like… But I know sometimes it can feel a little overwhelming to be in that space. And so I really just kind of distanced myself.

I thought, “You know what? If there’s going to be an opportunity where I’m going to connect with him, I will and it all work out. But I’m not going to take this opportunity to be like one of those you know 50 or 60 people that were rushing the stage.”

So the next day at the event I had an opportunity to chat with him over lunch, because at this particular conference they actually fed us food, and some don’t but this particular conference did and we actually had an opportunity to sit right next to each other at lunch.

So here I am, with this founder of this billion dollar brand. And if you guys want to go check out the podcast, head on over to pfbizchat.com and if you search Brian-Smith I believe you’ll be able to find it. But he tells us really great story about how he didn’t wake up one day and decide he was going to build a billion-dollar brand. He took daily steps, each and every day, lost his company a couple of times in the process. It was a really fascinating story about how Ugg Boots became the billion-dollar brand that it is today. 

Building your confidence

But… To tie this back to confidence, I think that the story with Brian and the story of me telling you about this particular chance meeting with the founder of Ugg Boots, and then having him be on my show, like, me getting to that place the confidence didn’t happen overnight.

It happened with me taking daily action steps to actually get to that place of feeling like I was even worthy to have lunch sitting next to this guy. I mean like you know even three years ago I didn’t feel like I was worthy to be in that spot, but because I was diligent, because I get out there, because I don’t live behind my computer screen, I actually get to practice being more confident. Therefore, because I practice that I’m more productive.

And of course that surely doesn’t hurt me in, you know, feeling better about where I’m heading, and feeling, you know, really positive about the direction that I’m going in and the people that I’m affecting. So I know that’s a really long winded story, Kim, but I hope there was some value nuggets in that story, and your audience could really find some good gems in that.

Oh there definitely is. I love the fact that you are even just talking about not swarming the stage, because if it’s… well, personally I don’t like big crowds. I’m one that would rather find a couple of people in a big room to chat with who are not part of the big crowd. And I’m sure for the speakers, too, it can be quite intimidating. 

I mean, no matter how long they’ve been speaking for on stage – and you’re going to be speaking on stage – I’m sure, you will, I know it’s exhausting to be up there. You’ve been prepping for how long. You get done, and a little bit of space may be nice instead of being swarmed. But I also know that being appreciated and having people rave about you is pretty awesome too.

Yes it is. Yes, you know, yes and no. I mean because you obviously get some of that, you know, that aspects, Kim.

How to network tip 1: Networking should feel like a pleasant conversation, and it’s hard to have a pleasant conversation among 50 people.

But I think, you know, the other thing that I would caution the listeners to be thinking about is, is if you’re out at events and you are in an opportunity to maybe meet some of these thought leaders or speakers, and you’re thinking, “Gosh it’d be nice to get that person on my podcast, or to write a guest blog” or to do all these things they might be thinking about, collaborating with this person on, is just to be mindful of this space.

You know, really being in a place of, you know… If you’re rushing the stage with 50 other people, are you really going to stand out? Is that really the most productive use of your time?

You know I would much rather find those quiet opportunities – and I can I don’t want to let opportunities pass me by – but at the same time I don’t think it’s productive… It makes me look really like… It makes me look like I’m playing in that scarcity mode. “That’s the only time I’m ever going to talk to this person. That’s the only time we’re ever going to connect.” And I guess, like in the power of my own confidence building over these past few years, is that I just don’t like play into that there’s a scarcity mindset around when I’m going to meet influencers.

I just say, “You know what? I’m going to… Like that opportunity is going to happen when it’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen organically. And it’s because I’ve built a relationship with somebody in a thoughtful way, not in a “Hey, what can I get from you outside of the, you know, 30 seconds that you just hopped off the stage.”

Does that makes sense?

Oh, that absolutely makes sense. Yeah. Look at you now, speaking there in just a couple weeks and I can’t even imagine who you’re going to be connecting with then.

Uh, yeah! I don’t know! It’s going to be exciting. I hope I can uh… I’ve got some pretty amazing shoes I’m… not filling in for because, you know, fortunately some of the speakers that have attended the past conferences are going to be there at this one, but yeah, I’m definitely amongst the team of amazing talent that’s there sharing and being of service. So I definitely hope I can live up to that level.

How to network when you’re just stepping in

So what would be your recommendation for somebody who, just like you, is new to an area and they’re getting out there and they’re going to groups.

Well I’m going to pretend it was me. I’m an introvert. What would you say would be a few steps that somebody could take just to becoming more comfortable when they’re getting out there and approaching people.

You know that’s a super good question, Kim. So, you know, I think what I love about most introverts, is that introverts by nature are very intentional. You know? They’re not necessarily like throwing caution to the wind, and they’re very intentional.

So I think first and foremost, anybody that’s new to networking or new to getting themselves out there… Be intentional about the purpose of you connecting.

So whether you’re going to a networking event or whether you’re pitching yourself to be on another podcast, or a guest blog opportunity, or that speaking opportunity on stage – if you’re intentional about being of service first, then you’re going to win more often than not. I mean this is actually a work in your favor.

Now your ROI, your return on investment isn’t as sexy as going in like a bull in a china shop. But your return on investment for the long haul is going to serve you well.

So number one, be intentional.

Number two. Align yourself with somebody that actually knows a little bit about maybe the organization. So like, for instance, if you’re going to go to a Chamber of Commerce event for the first time, take a few extra moments to actually – And again this doesn’t always work, you know, like flawlessly because we have to be mindful of other people’s schedules – but take some time to connect with the organizers of that event. Whether it’s a Chamber of Commerce event, a Rotary Club, you know another type of networking event, maybe take some extra time to hop on a quick phone call with that person and find out a little bit more about how you can plug yourself into the organization.

If they’ve organized the event, They usually have a temperature on what’s worked in the past, who typically shows up, you know, what would be good like best practices to network in that environment. So that might be a good thing to kind of do up front as well, is obviously connect with those conference organizers.

How to network at events

The other thing that I recommend came for introverts, or you know, anybody that’s actually listening to this today, is if you’re going to take the time to go to a networking event or any type of event, to drive awareness to your brand, remember to build in time to follow up.

I think so many of us are so busy about anticipating the pre-work that’s necessary to know what kind of networking events are going to be good for us. We go to the event, we spend all this time, but then we forget that we’ve got to actually do stuff, or connect with people outside the event.

The event is only the first stop. It’s not the, you know, “OK, I went to this event and then I never got anything out of it.” Well if you never got anything out of it, it’s because you probably didn’t spend any time after the fact building relationships or following through with that follow up piece.

So, those would be my three steps to get people started in the right direction, Kim. Does that help?

How to network tip 2: Like on a first date, you have to be very aware of the follow up. If the other person isn’t making any attempt to follow up… You shouldn’t either.

Oh that is so huge. And then I have a follow up question to that. And I have a feeling I know what you’re going to say.

Business cards – yay or nay?

Well, you know,here’s my thought process on it. I used to be a big proponent of having business cards. Now I am anti bring your flyers, bring your rack cards, bring your brochures to networking events, because quite frankly – and I’m going to be totally frank – when I get that stuff at events, I’m usually shoving it in. It’s getting all folded up. It’s not really being in the intent of what it was made for in the first place, because I’m trying to shove it into my little clutch. I’m probably going to toss it at the event if I’m going to be quite honest with you, because you weren’t responsible enough to think about you know handing that to somebody and being considerate of them. So that’s my soapbox on that for a moment.

Business cards… I think what trips people up about business cards is that they get into collecting a hundred of them at one event. If we could just stop that madness – of card collecting – and we really, again going back to intention, what’s your purpose of going to this event? Are you there to collect cards? If you are, you probably need to stay at home, because that should not be the focus of you going to an event.

Focus on building a relationship with two or three people at the event. And the reason why I say two to three people is because number one, you don’t have a stack of business cards that are 82 high that you have to follow up with. And you are not following up with 82 people. You know? Like, you are not having to do the busy work of following up with 82 people that might not being your ideal client to begin with.

Build relationships with two or three people. I think the better solution for business cards – and this is one that I implemented – I do not have business cards from here on out. I say, “Are you on LinkedIn?” And right then and there, on the spot, I’m connecting with that person on LinkedIn.

If you guys aren’t on LinkedIn and you have a business, you best be getting on it because it is a valuable tool to get so much information about your potential prospects, your potential referral partners. And not in a spammy way, but in a really thought-provoking way that’s transparent – unlike any other social media platform that’s out there today – you know, it’s a great way to also get some visibility on there too, because you can actually take your blogs and other pieces of content that you’re writing and publish those things right on to Pulse, which is a great tool.

I get so many interactions with that, and it’s a good way for me to continue the conversation with people that actually engage in my content. So business cards? You know it’s up to you. Don’t be bringing flyers or brochures or rack cards to a networking event. Keep those for, you know, maybe your promotional aspects for another time. 

We can, again, we could probably talk about where those are more appropriate for another show, but business cards, keep it simple. Focus on two or three – collecting two or three – but make sure you’re building a relationship. And, you know, if you want to go real crazy, ditch ’em all together and just connect on LinkedIn.

Don’t treat these events like speed dating.

Yeah it’s not a meat market, folks. I mean, this is an opportunity for you to start building relationships.

Get out the scarcity place

I mean, when I first started networking, yes I was doing all these crazy things that I’m telling you to avoid now, because I know that it got my you-know-what handed to me because I wasn’t thoughtful about it. I was actually just… You know, like “OK! There’s all these people, and I have to like collect all these cards and the only way I’m going to be able to get business out of one of them is if I stack my odds!”

And you know that’s such a scarcity place to be, and it’s just this tiring time suck. There’s no productivity and you having to follow up with 82 people at a networking event. Focus on the two or three and build a relationship with them.

Add value. Add service. And continue that process until you’ve built your network up to where mine is today or beyond. I don’t have the biggest, most influential network, but by golly I’m out there working on it every single day to improve the lives of the people that are in my network.

That so huge. I just had to interject with a quick story here, and I don’t think I’ve even ever told you this. But you and I were in a program earlier this year, I’m not going to name any names right now, but there was an event out in Vegas for it and neither of us went.

But, while the event was going on, I got a Facebook instant message from somebody who was there. And because there was a group for this program that we were in they thought maybe I was there and they invited me to have coffee.

Well I… Because I wasn’t there I thanked them for the invitation, and then I got an aha moment that maybe I should have virtual coffee. 

Oh, yeah!

We ended up having virtual coffee, and now we talk at least once or twice a week and we’re actually working on projects together.

But if you are still concentrating – and this isn’t directed to you Erica, but to the listeners – if you are still primarily using social media for your networking reach out. Offer virtual coffee and.

I also love this other story that I heard about introducing yourself to new people who enter a group. Yeah it can be a little bit spammy so I’d watch how you do that. But, introduce yourself, because then it’s sort of like you are noticing the new person to the party who doesn’t know anybody but the host. They’ll come to you and connect later.

Yeah. And you know you bring up an excellent point about watching how you introduce yourself, you know, in groups like that. You know, I think as long as you are, again going back to your intentions, setting up and truly being of service, it is totally ok to say, you know, “Hey Sally Sue. Welcome to the group.” and leave it at that.

Don’t worry about like throwing up… I actually… actually I just did this the other day… and this is part of me like maybe being more confident in my own voice. Because there are still areas in my own life, believe it or not, even though I was like talking at the beginning of this show you know about avoiding the people-pleasing aspect.

But you know, it’s still like, on some level feels a little like, “Oh I don’t want to offend them if I say this.” So I do preface a lot of my suggestions. You know? Especially when I’m getting them via email or via groups.

But, you know, somebody the other day was like, had just joined a Chamber organization, and had puked all of his stuff about his organization all over my inbox. I mean not like in a… Like, I mean, it was loaded with links. It was loaded with the history of the organization, and this is the very first time I met this person.

Now, where do you think that mail is going to go for most people? Now for me, I see it as an opportunity to potentially work with somebody, because this is what I do and help people smooth this out.

But for this person, all I had to reach out to him and say more… or worse people… there are going to be like, “You know what? Like I don’t have time for this.” Delete.

So this poor guy is going through, thinking that he’s doing the right thing by introducing himself, and spilling the beans about everything that he does so he makes himself look more attractive to the potential reader and perhaps we engage in some other conversations about you know working together or playing together whatever that looks like. But he is shooting himself in the foot at the same time.

So I just politely reached out to him and said, “You know what. I know that you are probably not intending to send this e-mail out like this, with this intention, but here’s the deal. Like this is going to potentially turn off a lot of people that you could build a really good relationship with. So you know I just want to give you a heads up that this isn’t the way to go about it.”

How to network tip 3: Most people say “They don’t care about your story, just the value” but some people do, just wait for the right opportunity.

You know, introduce yourselves, great. But give them two lines and then give them a reason for them to want to connect with you. Like, this question, “How can I support you?”

You know, that question, if more people got into the habit of asking that question, 10 times a day, “How can I support you? How can I help you fill in the gaps? How can I be of service?”

By default, folks, you’re going to be more productive in your business leads. You’re going to have more conversations about your business, because it’s going to lend itself to having those conversations.

You will not leave business opportunities on the table for being of service. You won’t. I mean, it has not happened to me at all in the last, you know, 10 years that I’ve… like 11 years, 12 years that I’ve tested this theory. It just doesn’t. It doesn’t lend itself to scarcity. It lends itself to abundance to try and be of service.

I feel like I just got a challenge, and a very noble one. I mean.

Da da da da!

Yea, I know. Like, I’m really going to be trying. 

LinkedIn, the best place to learn how to network

We are quickly approaching the end of commutable length – which is so sad because I really want to continue – I’m going to have you back again. But I have two last questions before we say goodbye for today.

What are the top tools that help you achieve positive productivity, or as close to it, in your business right now.

Well I mentioned one of them. That’s LinkedIn. And I’m like a LinkedIn ninja. Now for many years I didn’t necessarily use that tool to that potential, but… And again, I say LinkedIn ninja only because, like, I’m being kind of funny about it. I’m not a pro by any stretch of the imagination. I have people in my circle of influence that could really help you out with that. But I think LinkedIn is absolutely one of those critical tools to help you with that.

And I think just to be respectful of time, Kim, that’s the one I’ll want to stop with, is LinkedIn. From the social media aspect it’s going to be super helpful to get the skinny on what you need to connect, build confidence, and relationship building and so on.

I love that, because I do know – and this has been a shift in my business – I do realize that for myself a lot of my clients are on LinkedIn versus Facebook.

Most people are, but you know… They are, again, playing into the scarcity mindset that everybody is hanging out in Facebook. Well no, everybody’s wasting time in Facebook. So hop on over to a platform that is actually going to help you be more productive and start getting familiar with it, so you can use it to its fullest potential.

You just gave me a couple of tweetables right there, thank you.

How to network tip 4: You’ll get some amazing feedback and some horrible feedback no matter what you do. So, remember to toughen up your skin.

So I already mentioned your podcast, which you can find on I Heart Radio or YouTube. What about Stitcher?

Yep it’s on Stitcher as well. So it’s Stitcher, iTunes, iHeartRadio… The website, the direct website where you can get all the show notes, and links to all the tools that we and my guests share on there, is over at PFBizChat.com.

This will be in the show notes. 

Contact with Erica Castner, learn how to network and SO much more!

So where else – besides Linked-In because we know that that’s a big one – Where else can listeners connect with you Erica?

Oh thank you for that, Kim. So, yeah. I mean the center hub for everything that’s going on in my world is over at theQueenOfResults.com.

I have a special gift for your guests. If you go to TheQueenofResults.com/PositiveProductivity (Note from SEO: Link dead, sorry guys), that information will be in that box, or on that page, so you can actually go there and find all sorts of fun stuff, specifically for you guys, to help you… I’ll actually run down my productivity tools on there so you guys can actually take a look at that, especially when it comes to building better business relationships. So you’ll get a ton of tips around there that I’ll share on that page for you guys.

That is awesome. I love that. I think you’re the first guest to have done that. 


Well thank you so much again, Erica, for being here. This has been a blast, and I think, of I know, many of listeners will agree that we’re going to have to have you back soon.

Well, thanks again, Kim for being a rock star in my life, and doing this great thing, and I wish you much success in the podcast. You rock, my friend.

So do you. Thank you so much Erica.