The First Step to Connecting With Others Is to Embrace Yourself
Valerie J. Lyons Has Taken the Lessons She Has Learned Through Her Practices of Power Networking and Career Empowerment to Connect With Her Readers and Teach Them to Love Who They Are and What They Bring to the Table
Invisible Stories Season 2 Episode 10 with Valerie J. Lyons
Today’s podcast is with Valerie J. Lyons, a career empowerment coach, power networker, women’s empowerment facilitator, and the author of Power Networking from the Inside Out: Where Your Career and Your Well-Being Meet. In this podcast, Valerie and I discuss her work in networking, and how it translated to writing her book. She discusses:
- Staying true to yourself in your writing, and how to embrace yourself for who you are.
- Adjusting to changing situations in both your writing and your life, and how to adapt and overcome.
- Why there is no such thing as work-life balance.
Power Networking from the Inside Out by Valerie J. Lyons
- [00:01:17] Valerie: Having a powerful life is great, and that if you can create a life that you love, a wonderful career will show up inside of that. So I’m really about really talking, sharing and educating, and being of service to people who are interested in making connections with others.
- [00:02:26] Valerie: So this book came out in 2019 and I felt compelled to write about something that is near and dear to my heart. Something that was like a natural, I’ll say gift to me, you know, I’ve always been the person that people came to and easily connected with others. And then I just really loved the idea of providing support to people and, and like leads like job leads or making connections with people just purely on friendship. But I just had this natural way of connecting with people and learning about opportunities through connection. So I said, you know what, I’ve always talked about networks. Like, let me write a book. You know, that really kind of helps to destigmatize networking and take the salesy pitch piece out of it.
- [00:03:40] Valerie: I work with a coach, first of all, which I found amazing. I know Jenn, this is what you do. I recommend coaches to anyone who’s writing a book because it really helps you get out of your head. You can flesh ideas. It’s just a beautiful experience. So I really utilized the support of a coach and I also was really committed to infusing love in networking. It’s a loving act, it’s a gift, and it’s about generosity. So, I have always valued that and I put that inside of networking and it’s just made it come to life for me. And I wanted to encourage others to take that on.
- [00:04:49] Valerie: There’s no such thing as work life balance. All you have is your life and then you choose what’s most important. So that this whole thing about balance/work life, I just, no. And it’s also like for someone like myself, it has been fairly career driven. Most of my life and recently has been, has been life driven. I really started to see how even if you’re passionate about your career, it can take over. It can dominate your life. And so your relationships can suffer, your health, your wellbeing can suffer if you’re spending too much time focusing on your career and pushing yourself in that way. So I really got to see the importance of taking care of myself and really encouraging other people to do the same.
- [00:06:27] Valerie: And the other thing is, because this came out of COVID too, how can I be of service to others? How can I give to others who don’t have, you know? So that, for me, that’s been very clear and in talking to others that seems to be a common theme.
- [00:07:18] Valerie: So it’s getting past any fears or concerns you have about having these communications virtually. Because I know for many people that’s been a stretch, to embrace technology. So for those who are resisting or have resisted, this is it, this is the way of the world.
- [00:08:49] Valerie: I had a webinar, a free webinar that I offered last month and that was job seeking in a pandemic, being proactive in your job search. And that all gave me an opportunity to really support people in their career, being in a job they really love, as well as promoting my book.
- [00:12:26] Valerie: And again, it’s just about being a little bit more intentional, especially when we’re just stuck in these virtual environments. And it does tie back to books because we’re ultimately thinking about how we can lead with promoting ourselves, but in a subtle and non-sleazy sales any type of way, which I know is exactly what you teach people.
- [00:12:43] Valerie: It’s just like you said, subtle ways of sharing and that’s what I talk about in the work that I do in networking. Just sharing, just sharing, you know, and listening very much listening, listening to what people are committed to, listening for ways in which you can not only hear opportunities for yourself, but listening for opportunities that you can provide to talk with them. So I’m always listening for the opportunity to be of service.
- [00:13:35] Valerie: I have been working on a pitch. So my pitches I’ve pitched might be something like this: So many of us pretend that we don’t need each other. And what I’ve done as a power networker—I was going to raise my fist—what I’ve done as a power networker is infused love in the networking process. You know, I’d like to talk to you a little bit about my book which really speaks to how I have reframed networking. And that’s kind of how I do it.
- [00:14:36] Valerie: So first of all, I’m going to request you give up sleazy. A lot of it is really changing your mindset around it. If I look at networking, as an opportunity to share myself with others and listen for ways in which I can be of service for the person I’m talking to, and to listen for opportunities for myself and my community, it takes on a whole other way of being about it. In terms of being a token, you know, that’s been my, that’s been my thing, you know, of being the only one. It’s not always been comfortable, but I certainly have gotten used to it. So this is what I’ve done. If I just disappear the concept of stranger, so that I’ll be available to interact with anybody, anybody, because I really get that we’re connected. You know, if you have an issue with me as a woman of color, that’s your business. That has nothing to do with me. I am going to continue to be who I am and connect with you.
- [00:16:12] Valerie: Isn’t really productive for anybody. But if we just take a step back and we focus on who we are and what we do best, and we carry that through our writing, our communication, how we show up in events, it just makes everything more consistent, which makes for a better experience from our readers, our clients, people who are going to network with us, etc cetera.
- [00:20:06] Valerie: I have to tell you, one of the things I’m most proud of about myself is that I am who I am in any given situation. Listen, I’m getting too old to adjust, anyway, I don’t have the energy to pretend or put on. I never was that person in any way, but I’m okay with me. I am really okay with my style and my approach. And that’s what I hope for everyone. That people embrace themselves, who they are and who they’re not, and just be comfortable in their own skin. That’s part of what connects people, too.
- [00:27:50] Valerie: You may start out with one idea, but as you write, something else shows up. So just be open to the process, because you don’t know what’s really going to unfold as you go through the process, and don’t be rigid in your thinking. And that’s kind of what I got from my coach, and it sort of opens the process of allowing whatever it is to show up to show up, and see how it lands.