Leadership Networking: Equipping Yourself for Success in the New Era:
Interview with Networking Expert Terilee Harrison

Terilee Harrison

Terilee Harrison

Terilee Harrison is a Virtual and Face-to-Face Networking Expert/Trainer, an Entrepreneur, and an International Speaker/Author. She connects business owners, coaches, and consultants through an online global referral community at TEAM Referral Network Virtual Chapters.

An expert in business networking and relationship marketing for 15 years, Terilee has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs at TEAM Referral Network in Southern California.

After an international move from the US to Singapore in 2017, she began networking virtually in 2018 and went full force into this emerging trend. Today, she works with professionals with borderless boundary businesses from all of North America, the UK, Australia, and beyond.

As a professional speaker, Terilee’s ability to both inspire and challenge audiences to action and change can be attributed to her consistently authentic presentation regarding who she is, where she’s been, and what she’s learned along the way.

Today, Terilee resides in Houston, TX with her husband, Terry. Together, they have 4 children.


Read the Interview Transcript

Hugh Ballou: Greetings. This is Hugh Ballou. Welcome back to The Nonprofit Exchange: Leadership Tools and Strategies. Leadership skills development is for everyone. My special guest today is a dear friend who lives in Texas and works globally, Terilee Harrison. Terilee, tell us a little bit about your background and this networking thing you’re an expert in. What’s your passion for doing this?

Terilee Harrison: Hugh, I came to networking 15 years ago, or a little more. When I did, I didn’t know anything about what I was supposed to be doing. I was working in financial services at the time. You know what I quickly learned? I love the networking part of what I did more than what I was doing.

You’ll appreciate this story, as you have been a leader at networking organizations. Someone sought me out and said, “Would you start a group for us?” I didn’t realize that’s something that is done in networking. I thought I was special. I started a group, and things kept rolling ever since. I thought I would start a group or two. I learned through the school of hard knocks how to network. I never dreamed back then that I would serve thousands of business owners over the last 15 years to help them create steady streams of referrals and to be able to learn the nuances of how important networking is and how to do it. I come with some bumps and bruises, but I have learned a ton along the way and love to share it with people.

Hugh: I have been participants in a couple of your groups. They are high-performing groups. You set the format and the culture, so people know what to expect. It’s networking in a very different way. We use this word a lot, “networking.” Interpret that word. What’s it really about?

Terilee: A lot of times, I think people that think networking, I go to a networking event and meet someone and exchange cards. These days, you might get their information on a Zoom chat if you are meeting them online. We think that’s networking. But there is so much more. Talk about the iceberg and the tip of the iceberg.

What networking really is about is building deep, meaningful relationships, where we focus on collaborations. I can go to a Zoom. Hugh, thank you for inviting me to an amazing networking Zoom late last week. I got to meet a bunch of neat people. What do you do with that? You might meet people live or on screens. Pick the people that you resonate with. Pick people that you think you can collaborate with. Begin to build relationships with them. Not all of them will.

Hugh, what did you say at the top of the podcast? “Dear friend.” Not all of them will become a dear friend. We can’t be a dear friend with thousands of people. Looking to get past the surface connection and go deep with our relationships, where we know people well, we know how to help them, and we want to come alongside them and do big things together. That’s networking to me.

Hugh: Everybody wins.

Terilee: And everyone wins. Even the people you meet once that you connect with, we want to have that exchange be super meaningful. Maybe you won’t speak with them again. Yet we want to leave everyone that we touch better because we had a conversation with them or a bunch of conversations.

Hugh: What you’ve helped me with is changing the framework for networking. There is some reciprocity in giving. We want to provide value. My Rotary club, it’s service above self, and we serve others. In our faith journeys, it’s about servant leadership. People who don’t like networking say, “I don’t want to brag about myself. I don’t want to sell myself.” That’s the wrong idea, isn’t it?

Terilee: It is. One thing that I teach is the concept of what I call “the big ask.” Whether you are in a networking group where you are going to go back repeatedly, or maybe you only have one chance to meet people, it’s always great if you throw out something sticky to the people.

Quick story, and you might have heard me say this one: I had an Italian friend who taught me how he could tell when he was making pasta when it was done. He would throw it to the wall and see if it sticks. If it sticks, it’s done. Do you cook pasta that way?

Hugh: No.

Terilee: I wouldn’t want to clean the wall after. Anyway, you want your pitch, your commercial, your introduction to be sticky like that. Otherwise, if it’s just, “Hey, I’m Hugh Ballou. I’m with SynerVision,” and there is nothing there to catch my attention, then I go on to the next person. If you can get us to stop for just a second, when Hugh says he is looking for guests for his podcast, give us something that sticks, and they will write it down and want to see what they can do to help you.

It’s okay to say that you’re all that and a bag of chips. We want to know that you’re fantastic because we want to get to know interesting people. Hook us in with what you’re looking for. It could be that you’re hosting an event, and you’d like help with that or them to attend or them to help you get the word out. Hook us in.

What I call this secret sauce is not just looking for one client at a time, but the big ASK ask. How can you take whatever you’re asking for and make it bigger? One example might be instead of to be on a business podcast, how about to be introduced to a coach who works with a bunch of podcasters? That’s what she does. She helps people launch and manage podcasts, so she knows a ton of podcasters. That’s who’s in her network.

Do you see the difference? I know you do. For the people listening, it’s huge when you can begin showing up, and it’s okay to ask. It’s okay to be proud. Ask big because that’s when you’re going to get the referrals you’re looking for.

Hugh: Coming from the nonprofit/church/synagogue world, we need to get our message out. We have been taught leadership wrong. We will tell people about a workshop we’re doing soon. If you’re listening to this much later, then you can get it on replay. Teaching people the leadership piece of networking.

We prejudge people. We look at people and say, “No, they’re not my candidate.” In the nonprofit world, we’re looking for donors, board members, and we prejudge them rather than thinking, “Okay, let’s talk about the synergies between-“ If someone is going to be on your board or a donor, you need to know what they’re interested in. What ignites their passion? What do they want to see happen? We always make the triple ask: time, talent, and money. Then we’re thinking that it’s the person we’re talking to that is the end game. That’s not true either. It’s their rolodex and their minds. Talk about how that expands the possibilities.

Terilee: Whenever you will get that specific and get sticky and put it out there what you’re looking for, we begin looking in our head. First of all, it’s going to be, “I’m interested in that,” or “I want to tell my husband,” or, “Who do I know?” We begin searching. We will look for anything that’s a match. Having the ask and going all the way with it, with the gift, time, talent, whatever it is that you’re looking for, is really key.

May I pop in real quick for the nonprofit leaders? There is nothing more important than being active in your community if you’re a local nonprofit. If you’re clergy, being active in your community. Sitting behind your desk all week long isn’t going to serve you. Being known, knowing others is absolutely huge. We might not think networking is important. “No, that’s for the businesspeople,” but that’s not true at all.

Hugh: You are so right. That is spot on. We get behind our desk behind whatever nonprofit we lead, and we say, “I’m too busy for that.” What’s your answer to that objection?

Terilee: I don’t think that you have any choice but to make time. I’m going not to rat him out, but I’d love to share if that’s all right. My husband is a missionary right now. We live in Houston, but the work he does, he is serving ministry leaders in East Africa. He is in there right now. We believe in doing volunteer, no matter what’s going on. He’s sat in there filling out an application to be a sheriff’s chaplain here in the area. We believe in serving, doing what you enjoy. He loves that stuff. He did it when we were living in California a bit ago.

How do you show up? Maybe you will go network with other clergy of different faiths in the area. Maybe you’re going to serve on a board at a local food bank. Whatever it is, showing up and doing it will only enhance all that you’re doing. It will only enhance what’s happening for your organization, your ministry, and it will enhance your life. You will in turn benefit other people. You will be shocked what will happen if you get out from behind your desk.

Hugh: I want to get back to relationship. Leadership has its basis in relationship. Communication has its base in relationship. People aren’t going to fund you if you don’t have a relationship with them. Talk more about building the relationship. You don’t go right into saying, “Hey, I’m Hugh, and I’m raising money.” There is a relationship piece first, right?

Terilee: There is. One of the most important things about relationship is to be all about the person. It can be easy in networking initially with a whiff of “What’s in it for me?” Eventually, things will come down to that. If we can stop and say things like, “Hugh, what’s the latest with you?” This is what led to us doing the event we’re going to be doing and us being here today. What is the latest, and how could I help you? What could we do together that would help us help more people? Having that conversation with people of “What is the latest with you? How could I best support you in that?” Isn’t that what we all want to hear? It will all come back to you if you put your focus on the other person first.

Hugh: Absolutely. There is a reciprocity in giving. We let the cat out of the bag.

Terilee: We did.

Hugh: Whoops! No, no. We want people to know about this, but we wanted to give some hard content about networking. This is not a webinar where we are going to sell you something. This is a free workshop. You came to me with the idea. What was the idea behind this?

Terilee: The idea was I wanted to elaborate on networking and knowing your expertise and experience with leadership, we wanted to marry the two for a 55-minute conversation. I’m talking about how you can maximize your leadership skills and build your network in this new era. We have a lot of change happening in the world. How can we show up to the best and highest for our organization, our family, our people, and for you, as someone who is a leader? This is what came from it. We would both love to come and share some of our best strategies, top practices. Our hope would be to benefit you all in some way that will make a shift and a difference for you moving forward.

Hugh: There is a lot of moving parts to this. She said 55 minutes. We are going to lay down the tracks for how to build your leadership skills so that you have the right message and can deliver it. We are leaders. Even if you are talking to one person, you’re presenting. We present to influence. We have a great product or service. We impact people’s lives. You don’t want to talk to people. You don’t want to share it. Get over it. It’s time to tell people because it’s important. The work that we do is important. In the nonprofit world, we have this V thing, the volunteer thing. There are a lot of people who have a lot of passion who can step up to work together.

There is an A, B part of this workshop. I’m going to do the leadership upgrades. Teri will do specifically how to purpose this and how to become more effective at creating this win/win situation when you network, and how to create the relationships that keep on developing. Any more you want to share with people before we get back to our topic at hand?

Terilee: Maybe I will already go in this direction, but it’s okay to show up as you, as who you are in your leadership and your networking. I don’t have to go be you, Hugh, to be successful. It’s okay to be me. We are going to encourage that as well.

Hugh: People want to show up. I have to wear this suit, look this way, be this kind of persona. I teach transformational leadership. You have to be authentic. Who are you? How do you show up? Then how do you maximize that? Leadership is influence. We influence people. This authenticity, how does that show up in networking?

Terilee: A key is to be you. When you can do your work, and when you can show up and be confident. You are good enough. It’s not that I’m not good enough to do this. No, you are good enough to do this. Just show up and be you. Talk about what is important to you. Those who you are supposed to meet and do things with, they will want to talk to you.

Letting fun things seep out about you. I always say, “I have a Supergirl cape, and I’m not afraid to wear it.” Sometimes you will see those pictures on my social media. Or you may see them behind me at my desk. It’s okay. Some people will be like, “That is fantastic.” Women are excited about it. Men probably don’t care.

No matter what, just be you. Especially when we have an organization we’re serving, we want people to say, “That’s what I’ve been looking for.” It is key. We do business with those we know, like, and trust. If you are shifting around and not letting them see the real you, they don’t know that it’s okay to trust you. Show up as you all the time.

Hugh: Part of what I’m going to talk about is creating your position of influence. Who do people say you are? It’s sort of like your branding statement for who you are. Like this podcast we are doing. When we started this eight years ago, this is #305, with 150,000+ downloads. People know about it. In the beginning, we were soliciting guests, convincing people. Now, people come to me, “I want to be on your podcast.” We’re booked out for months. It was clearly defining the value of what we offer. We help leaders tell their story, which brings value to many other people, which brings emphasis to the brand that you represent.

There is a win-win or no deal in my world to show up and build this collaborative sense. We’re not in a world where people understand intuitively how to collaborate. Networking is a little bit about collaborating. You talk about joint ventures as the highest level of networking. Can you talk about that?

Terilee: Collaboration, leverage, and whether you want to, we will call it power partners, people who share your clients, and it’s not competition. Our focus there would be referrals back and forth. There is another level of networking. That is when we’re going to collaborate, and I’m going to promote you if you promote me. It’s not about one referral of a client; it’s about I’m going to introduce my people to you.

If you look at this, this is a sample. Hugh and I are modeling the sample of what a joint venture can be. A joint venture would say: Let’s team up. I’m going to bring my expertise and my audience. I’m going to bring my expertise and my audience. We are going to widen the scope. We are going to serve more people together. Maybe create a new twist on a message we have never done before because I have never done an event with someone with Hugh’s gift at this moment. How do you know if one day we might do another one? We don’t know today.

It’s a higher level of networking. It goes beyond that one referral to who knows what introductions we can make and how we can serve people in a different way. This is truly when you’re taking your relationships to the highest level when you say, “I know you. I trust you. I’m going to introduce you to all of my people.” It’s not just one introduction. It is putting it all out. If organizations can find a way to team up in a big way like this, where lists can grow, we can serve more people, but it takes you being willing to trust. It takes work on both sides, but it is so worth it.

Hugh: I would echo that it’s so worth it. We try to do too much ourselves. For the last 13 years, I have studied the leadership work of psychiatrist Murray Bowen, the Bowen Family System, and learning about self. One of the concepts that Bowen talks about is not overfunctioning. We tend to do too much; we do things other people can do.

In terms of volunteers in the nonprofit, when the leader does it, it’s too much trouble for them to do it, we’re robbing them of an opportunity to step up in their service and fulfill their passion for excellence. We don’t realize that part of it. We’re creating a negative dynamic.

Burnout rate is highest in history now. It’s not just the anxiety. We’re not going to bother people; we’re going to do it ourselves, and therefore we are going to get buried so bad that Murray Bowen even called overfunctioning irresponsible responsibility. There is a toxic part of it.

Getting people to understand where you’re going. It starts with why, Simon Sinek. Why we impact people’s lives. There is a need here. Here is how we accomplish that need. There is a context for what we do. People ask us.

I’m going to talk about the position of influence. It’s really your branding statement. What’s the value proposition you offer? Whether you’re in business- Churches aren’t all alike. Neither are synagogues or nonprofits. What’s different about what you offer? What’s compelling for people to want to come and serve with you or donate? The networking is pretty much the same if you’re recruiting a board member or an advisor or a volunteer or talking to a donor. It’s still the same pattern, isn’t it?

Terilee: Absolutely. It will follow the same “I want to connect and build a relationship” and go from there. Some people are your people, and they will stick. Some people, it may be that one-time conversation. That is exactly where it starts. It just repeats and repeats and repeats.

Hugh: It’s LeadershipWorkshop.org. That will take you to the page where you can register for this workshop. Even if you miss it live, you can still watch the replay. It’s still relevant. We’re dealing with the heightened anxiety today and coming out of the lockdowns. It’s more important than ever to connect with people and talk about the value of what we offer. We’re going to give you some really strong tips and some what to do/what not to do.

We’re coming to the end of this really helpful interview. Let’s talk about what people do wrong and how they can correct it. What are some of the worst things people do when they go to a networking event? How can they fix it?

Terilee: One of the biggest things is they go to the event, and they assume that because you feel like you did something positive, because you took the time to go to the event and met somebody that you want to connect with, here is where the disconnect is: You don’t follow up, so you don’t make that connection. If there is anything that I could speak into now, it’s that.

One thing to rectify that would be now we have- That’s how long I’ve been networking. We didn’t always have our calendars in our phone. If I am meeting Hugh at an event, let’s pull out that calendar and set that time to chat again. “Could you stay for a few minutes right now? Could we chat for a moment? Could we meet before the next meeting?” Get the appointment done. “I’d love to set a time to chat with you. Here’s my calendar link.” Zoom it over to them. There’s nothing better than leaving a Zoom meeting and going into your email with an appointment booked. You don’t have to chase anybody down. If leaders can get past that, and begin following up and taking action and executing, that’s when the good things will start. It’s all in the one-on-one conversations where good things happen.

Hugh: And owning the follow-up. I can’t tell you how many times people network, and they give out a card. People say, “I’m interested,” and they don’t have that person’s contact info. They’re so sure the person will contact them that they leave. What if they lose your card? What if you forget? We need to own it. Make the appointment right there, or if they are leaving and there is no time to talk privately, the famous saying, “Oh, let’s have coffee some time.” People don’t mean it. “Can we have coffee on Tuesday? Does 2pm work, or is 3pm better?” Honing in on it.

The best target for a salesman is another salesman. If people are specific that they are busy, and you say, “Let’s just settle this right now,” they will respect you. A good leader respects you when you step up as a good leader. Own that contact. Let’s have the next conversation. If it works out, fine. If not, they will say, “I’m not the candidate, but here is somebody you need to know” if you have built that trust.

Terilee: Yes.

Hugh: Follow-up. I can’t tell you how many people I start a conversation with and do the next step, and they don’t follow up. There was such good synergy. We don’t want to chase them, but we certainly want to ping them from time to time. “Hey, are you ready to have that conversation?” Don’t give up.

Terilee: Don’t give up.

Hugh: Some people follow up right away. Some people take more time. Some people are really laidback and think, “That lady Terilee, I need to talk to her.” Keep your active list active. Some people might want to talk to you a year later.

Terilee: It’s true. I’ve recently had some things that came through, and it’s because I stayed on it over a two-year time. Do not give up. Some of the best things take a bit of time.

Hugh: Yes. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth sticking with it and making it happen. We’re not being pesty. We’re valuing people’s time by closing the gap. You don’t want to devalue what you offer.

I’m going to talk about how to create that value proposition, how to define it, and how to prep yourself for having those conversations. We sit around, and we think, “I wish we could get so-and-so. I wish this person will respond.” They will if you step out. We have to go out of our comfort zone. That is the growth place. As a leader, when we step out of our comfort zones, that is where we will grow and be able to do more. Any more things we need to fix? Some best practices before we end this really helpful interview?

Terilee: I think one last tip in the follow-up arena would be when you get someone amazing on that first call, say to them, “Hey, let’s schedule a follow-up call in two weeks at the same time. What do you think?” One way to keep it going.

Hugh: So many people say, “Oh, they liked it. I will check with them later.” No, do it now.

Terilee: Do it now.

Hugh: When they remember. In 24 hours, send a reminder, “We are going to talk about this.” They have probably slept since then, and they may have forgotten what you were talking about. I forget, so if I make a note on my phone calendar that we are going to talk about this, then I can remember since I have slept since then.

LeadershipWorkshop.org is our website. Why should they care to register? It’s free by the way. Did I say that it’s free? Why should they come?

Terilee: If you are resonating with the networking conversation, with the leadership conversation, the position of value conversation, it makes sense to invest 55 minutes in you so that you can move forward in your cause and calling and business. There has to be something we are going to say. If you like some of the tidbits we threw down, there is going to be way more. We would love to have you come and be part of it.

Hugh: You just might get some free stuff that you can-

Terilee: I’m thinking you will.

Hugh: That’s right. There is value in putting aside time. The best leaders continually work on themselves, building their skills and their systems. Thank you for being on the podcast, Terilee. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom today with our listeners.

Terilee: Thank you, Hugh. Great to be here.

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