Michelle Tillis Lederman: Creating Connection, How to Build Strong Relationships in the Networking Age | E235

Michelle Tillis Lederman: Creating Connection, How to Build Strong Relationships in the Networking Age | E235

Michelle Tillis Lederman: Creating Connection, How to Build Strong Relationships in the Networking Age | E235

Michelle Tillis Lederman rose quickly in the corporate world in her early 20s, but her roles in M&A and finance left her feeling empty and unfulfilled. When she was laid off from her consulting firm in 2001, she found a new job in three days and discovered her true calling. She realized that it wasn’t luck that helped her land on her feet and change course, it was her relationships. It was this change that led her to found an executive training company to help empower others to excel professionally. In today’s episode, Michelle will share the seven mindsets that “connectors” share, and talk about why connections are critical to our results, success, and happiness.


Michelle Tillis Lederman is a people expert who inspires organizations and individuals to build real relationships and get real results. Michelle is an accomplished speaker, trainer, coach, and author of four books including The Connector’s Advantage, The 11 Laws of Likability, Heroes Get Hired, and Nail The Interview – Land The Job.


In this episode, Hala and Michelle will discuss:

– How being a connector resembles being lucky

– Why connection is more important than ever

– Why relationships are your greatest asset

– How AI will transform our relationships

– The different types of connectors

– How we can improve our emotional intelligence

– How to be intentional about making asks of others

– The seven mindsets of connectors

– And other topics…


Michelle Tillis Lederman is a people expert who inspires organizations and individuals to build real relationships and get real results. Named by Forbes as one of the 25 Professional Networking Experts and one of the Top 30 Communications Professionals by Global Gurus, she is also a former NYU professor, financial executive, and recovering CPA.


Michelle’s clients range from government to academia to non-profit to Fortune 500 companies including; Madison Square Garden, Citi, Johnson & Johnson, Ernst & Young, Deutsche Bank, Michigan State University, Columbia Business School, Target, Sony, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, and The Museum of Modern Art.


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[00:00:00] Hala Taha: Welcome to Young and Profiting podcast. Michelle,

[00:01:45] Michelle Lederman: I'm so happy to be back. Holla.

[00:01:47] Hala Taha: I am happy to have you back. Yap. Bam. Today we are joined by the connector creator herself, Michelle Letterman. Michelle is a people expert who inspires organizations and individuals to build real relationships. She's a motivational speaker and the c e o and founder of Executive Essentials, a firm that runs communication and leadership programs for businesses and professionals alike.

Her company has worked with brands like Deloitte Johnson Johnson and JP Morgan. She's also the author of numerous bestselling books centered around likability, communication, and networking. Last time Michelle was on the show, we covered the contents of her book, the Laws of Likability. And in this episode we're gonna dive deeper into her book The Connector's Advantage and what it means to be a connector.

And Michelle will share the seven mindsets that connectors share, and we'll talk about why connections are critical to our results, success and happiness. So Michelle, to recap what you mentioned at the end of my last episode, you're obviously a super successful business owner, speaker, and thought leader, and people often say that you're lucky.

They call you lucky, but you say you're actually a connector and that's what actually makes you lucky. So talk to us about how being a connector resembles being lucky. 

[00:02:59] Michelle Lederman: I love that you brought that up because I actually find it really frustrating. We're like, oh, you have all the luck. I'm like, no, no, no, no.

This isn't luck. That things serendipitously happened and, and I tell the story at the opening of the connector's advantage around how I got laid off back in 2001. And was literally working my next job with, I had the offer I think within three days of my notice, and it wasn't luck, it was relationships, it was connections.

And I really explained that when you have those relationships and you are willing to be clear about what you want and ask for it. That things happen and they happen faster, easier, and often with a much better result. And that's what I define the connector's advantage as Faster, easier, better results. 

[00:03:46] Hala Taha: I love that.

And I know that connection and building these connections is more important than ever because we are in the networking age. So it was the industrial age, the technology age. Now we're in this new networking age. So tell us about why connection is more important than ever. 

[00:04:03] Michelle Lederman: I always say that your relationships and the people in your life are your greatest asset, and that's for organizations as well.

They'd say, oh yes, our assets are our people, but they don't always treat the people that way. And so for me, I wanna be out there helping organizations create connected cultures because 

and I'm taking this now from an organizational standpoint, if you want retention and loyalty and engagement and productivity and happiness and high morale and all those things, organizations want out of their team. You need to be a connected leader and create a connected culture.

And that's pretty simple. I mean, I know it sounds really hard but if you just think about two things. One, ensure that your people know that you care about them as people. I mean, that's kind of basic. And two is show your people you care about the things that they care about. And that takes a lot more, right.

Listening and adapting and flexing and all of those things. 

[00:04:52] Hala Taha: Yeah. And I have to imagine, and I know your book was written before this AI revolution that basically started six months ago. How do you think AI is gonna transform the way that we need to think about relationships and connections, especially in the workplace?

[00:05:08] Michelle Lederman: Oh, aI is kind of, Exciting and scary all at the same time, and I think there's great things. AI can be a collaboration spark, but I wouldn't want you to lose the connection to the collaboration partners that you have internally. You can almost think about AI as one more person on the team, but not to replace anyone on the team, right?

They're a contributor, just as we are all contributors. And to use the skills that they bring to the table and make sure you're still leveraging all the skills that everyone else around you brings to the table.

[00:05:39] Hala Taha: And just to add to that, I think AI is really gonna help people with technical skills, right?

And these hard skills that we once used to need to go to school for and train for and memorize. We no longer are gonna need to do that because AI is gonna handle the hard skills for us. But what it can't do is the soft skills, and that's what makes connectors so special, right? And so I think being a connector is gonna be actually more valuable and a skill that more hiring managers and people are gonna desire as time goes on.

And as AI starts to take more precedent in the workplace, I think being a connector is gonna even be more valuable.

[00:06:14] Michelle Lederman: I do worry about AI kind of removing the authenticity from our communications, because one of the things AI does for us is it helps us draft communications really quickly. And then we might edit, but we might be sending things without really putting ourselves into them.

And that's where that authenticity and that connection can get lost. So use it for what it does, which is speed us up, but make sure that you bookend it with the essence of you. 

[00:06:43] Hala Taha: Mm. I love that. I think that's great advice. So let's talk about the spectrum of connectors to sort of get a foundation for everyone.

So you say there's a difference between the levels of connectors, it's based on two spectrums, the breadth and depth of the connections, and then their tendency to initiate or respond to others. So can you walk us through these spectrums and the type of people you find on either end? 

[00:07:05] Michelle Lederman: You got it. Okay. So I don't think we find too many people all the way on the non connector spectrum.

These are people that don't even. Think relations are valuable, and I've actually had a coaching client once that said, I don't value relationships, and I'm thinking, why did you hire me? It was really, really fascinating. But there are people who just don't see the value in relationships. Those are few and far between.

Most people are at least what we call emerging connectors and emerging connectors. Somebody who at least sees the value in it, but doesn't yet have the confidence or knowledge in their skills of how to do it. And so as we start to move from an emerging to a responsive connector, we're starting to think about that first lever that you mentioned, which is, do we initiate or respond to those requests for connection to those requests for assistance?

And a responsive connector is responding. They're like, you need something, I got you. And they're taking action, but they're not initiating the action. They're not identifying and offering what they think that they could do within the relationship. So as we. Initiate more and not just respond. We're moving all the way to the acting connector.

And you can simply do that based on frequency and balancing the initiation and the responsiveness. So non connector, responsive connector, acting connector. And honestly, if all of your audience gets to an acting connector stage, I'm a really happy girl because we are prioritizing relationships. That's what a connector does in everything that they do.

And they're embodying the seven mindsets, which we'll get to in a minute. Now if you wanna take it up to level, if you really want to embrace and access the connector's advantage of faster, easier, better results, we're gonna pull the other lever. And that's the depth and breadth. so my sister knows everybody in New Jersey real estate law and know she is not a New Jersey real estate lawyer, but she knows everybody in that niche.

That is a niche connector. It could be a geographic niche, it could be a industry niche, it could be a functional niche. But they know they are the no you know of. If you need to know somebody in that field, go check with my sister. If we go wide now, we are going across function, across industry, across geography, across demography, across countries, borders.

We go from super connector all the way to global super connector. So you can be a global niche connector and you can be a global super connector. And that's pulling those other levers, and those are the people that they have somebody everywhere. I once realized that I was a global super connector when I was talking to somebody and they were in London or something, and I'm like, oh, do you know so-and-so?

And I made a connection across the country for two people in the same location. So that is the ability to build those connections and create those, or I should say, connect those dots anywhere and with anyone. 

[00:09:49] Hala Taha: Something that I think is interesting is that you say that not everyone's goal is the same.

Not everybody should be a super connector or a global super connector. Why is that? 

[00:10:00] Michelle Lederman: You don't necessarily need to. I mean, it's great. The higher up the spectrum you get the, you know, more value you can add to somebody else. The more connections you can make, the faster, the easier, the better. Right? You get more.

But taking my sisters again, as an example, her industry, her function, her work. Is all US-based. She doesn't necessarily need to access that global area. It is so specific and so narrow and so niche that all the sheriff's officers in almost every courthouse in New Jersey knows her, all the lawyers. So she is well known in her niche, and so I would call her a super connector, a super niche connector.

[00:10:42] Hala Taha: This is so interesting cuz it's also the same way that I think about social media when I'm working with my clients. I'll always ask them, do you want a broad audience? Do you want a niche audience? And usually if they want a niche audience, they have some high ticket offer. They only care about attracting this certain type of person in their network online that can afford their services.

And it makes them a thought leader in their industry and whatever it is. And then there's people who have a low ticket offer who wants to attract a broad audience. So it's just interesting to think that the same type of logic crosses over in real life and online. So let's move on to the seven mindsets of a connector.

I know one of the most important ones is to be open, right? Open and accepting. Why is openness such a foundation as a connector? 

[00:11:27] Michelle Lederman: That's actually the first one I talk about because it is foundational, as you said, to be open and accepting. And oftentimes we define open as open to somebody else and accepting of somebody else.

But I actually, when I think about being a connector, it is bidirectional. Yes, absolutely. We wanna be open to other people. We wanna be open to other ideas. We wanna be accepting of our differences. But at the same time, we need to be open and accepting of ourselves. And what I talk about our, our unique charms, right?

So to be open is to access the law of authenticity that we talked about on the last podcast, right? That's the foundation of likability, is to be the real you. Except when people go, you know, but I'm a jerk. That's the real, me Being authentic does not give you permission to be a jerk. But being open and accepting has us understand when we have attributes that might not be working for us and when and how to flex them.

So a unique charm is that quality about ourselves that is core to who we are, right? For me, I talk a lot. I fill in all the silence, all the gaps. I go, go, go, go, go, and can be a little intense at times. So I'm told So I know it's who I am, and I also know that it's not always working for me and to understand how to flex it.

Another example of a unique charm is my husband. I love his sense of humor. I married him for a sense of humor. He still makes me laugh after nearly 20 years, but sometimes he goes for the joke. Not at the right time. Hmm. And that's one of his unique charms and understanding when it works for him and when it works against him.

So to be accepting of ourselves is to embrace ourselves, not be judging and criticizing and beating ourselves up and saying, I'm not worthy. I'm not worthy. Wayne's world reference, if you got that one, tell us. I did not.But we need to be open and accepting of ourselves so that we can also give that same grace to everyone else and enable that connection to form.

So when we think about being open, I also want you to think about being open to being wrong. There's so much meat in this one idea, right? Because it's inward, but it's also about our assumptions. One of the big terms out there is unconscious bias, and we all have it. And one of the ways to understand unconscious bias is to make it conscious.

And I'm not saying that we wanna embrace our bias, but when we are aware of our bias, you can make a choice about how you act with that awareness of how that bias might be leading you in a wrong direction. Because we make decisions really quickly. We take in little bits of information, and then we decide whatever we're gonna decide.

And then we look in more information to confirm that bias. So that's confirmation bias. What I want you to do is be open to being wrong. I want you to check your assumptions. I want you to climb back down that ladder. There's four questions I put in the chapter to help people really tactically do that of slow their thinking down so that I can stay open to you, your ideas and open to being wrong.

[00:14:20] Hala Taha: And I have the questions right here. So what don't I know? How else could I interpret it? What if I'm wrong? Do I want to be right? 

[00:14:27] Michelle Lederman: Am I trying to be right? And that's the one that I added. Cause I was just like, ah. You know, sometimes I just, I'm just going for the win. Yeah. And sometimes we're not separating the person from the problem and I'm like, I just don't like you and therefore I'm not gonna let you in, even though I know you're right.

Right. So just being aware of some of our tendencies there. 

[00:14:54] Hala Taha: Okay. And so this openness part, I really wanna make sure that people understand it cuz it is tricky. And like you said, there's like multiple parts. So you talk about this Johari window in your book, it's a visual grid. So I don't think we're gonna do a great job explaining a visual grid on an audio podcast, but I would love for you to explain why this tool helps and what we need to understand about this tool.

[00:15:15] Michelle Lederman: We actually, it's a really simple grid, so I will verbally describe it because it's simply a box with four quadrants, right? We can all imagine the four quadrants. And at the top of the box we're going to have what is known to me. And on the other side is what is known to others. And so if we cross those boxes, what is known to me and to others, box one is my openness.

That is where I'm showing who I am to the world. If we have what is known to me but is hidden to others, that is what I'm hiding. That is, you know, that part of me that I'm not sharing with the world. If it is unknown to me, but it's known to others, that's my blind spot. I'm like, I just didn't realize that's how I'm coming off.

Like that's how I felt when I realized that I was intense and intimidating. I'm like, really? I don't see myself that way at all, but yet I was getting tons of feedback around that, and so the blind spots that we can start to decrease through feedback and self-awareness and taking in information. And then unknown to mean and unknown to others.

That is simply the unknown, right? It is yet to be discovered. And so our goal is really to expand box one, being more open. And we do that by self-disclosure, right? So we're gonna reduce what I'm hiding away by sharing a little bit more of ourselves, being a little bit more vulnerable, cuz vulnerability leads to credibility.

It's one of those pillars of trust that we talk about at a further chapter down the book. And. We are going to seek information to reduce our blind spots. 

[00:16:46] Hala Taha: Got it. And so this idea of unique charms, essentially just to sort of tie it together, is whatever you come across in yourself after you get to really be open to yourself, that may seem negative, but it's not necessarily something that you're gonna let go of.

Like, so for example, you're really talkative. For me, my confidence can sometimes come off as arrogance or that like, I don't wanna be friendly or something, but really it's just, I'm just really confident and like keep it moving. You know what I mean? So, It's like, I don't wanna change that about me because that's why I'm successful, but maybe I need to make that a unique charm.

Call it out, joke around about it, make it known so that I share my weakness and be open about it without necessarily stopping the behavior altogether if I don't wanna stop the behavior. Is that right? 

[00:17:31] Michelle Lederman: Okay. I love everything you said, but one tweak. Okay. It is not a weakness. Mm. A unique charm is not a weakness.

Your confidence is your strength, right? This is a quality about yourself that you really do love about yourself, and at the same time, it is not always working in your, in interactions with other people. And so what I want people to think about is how do I flex in that moment? So, To your point of sometimes coming on too strong or people feeling into, I'm not getting rid of that.

That's why I've written four books. That's why I'm successful too. You do don't need to get rid of it, but what you can do, and so here's an example of something cuz I had that same one as well. We can have more than one unique charm. I was recently collaborating with somebody on my team. We were designing and co-creating a program, and I said to her off the bat, I said, Please disagree with me, please push back on me.

I said, sometimes when I speak I come off as if my answer is the right answer and there's no room for anybody else. I said, do not take me that way. So I let them know off the bat not to interpret the way that I know my tendency is to be interpreted and she's like, that was so great. Thank you. I will push back.

And she does, and it's wonderful. 

[00:18:38] Hala Taha: That's such great advice. I think this is something that's like, it's not obvious. It's definitely a tool that we can use to be more open with others. And it's genius in my opinion, because it's just calling out the elephant in the room. Let me just call it out so it's not awkward anymore.

And so that we can get along as well as possible. 

[00:18:56] Michelle Lederman: It's matching intent with impact, and so when we have some of these unique charms, when we have some of these blind spots, we have a certain intent, but it's not the impact that we're having. And so in order to. Have those things and bridge that gap. Giving some information about how to interpret me or how to receive something I do, or how to even keep me in line.

Sometimes I'm like, sometimes I get excited and I interrupt. Don't let me, and so I talk to a lot of my coaching clients about teaching their employees and their assistants and things like that, how to manage them, how to manage up. And it is a amazing tool to create more collaborative, more cohesive, and more productive working relationships when you tell somebody, here's how to keep me in line.

[00:19:39] Hala Taha: This is really, really smart for any leaders or managers tuning in because especially as the leaders, people get afraid to sort of. Tell you anything otherwise or counteract or opinion or whatever it is. So I can imagine that that could really help foster relationships in a business.Okay. So let's talk about emotional intelligence.

So I know that it's pretty obvious to think that connectors are gonna have higher emotional intelligence than non connectors. Can you talk to us about the five levels of emotional intelligence and how we can improve our emotional intelligence? 

[00:20:14] Michelle Lederman: It's so funny, I was starting to listen to the 10th anniversary of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman this morning on my my morning walk.

So that's actually, 

[00:20:22] Hala Taha: oh, I interviewed him. 

[00:20:24] Michelle Lederman: Fresh in my mind. And there's a lot of different models of emotional intelligence, and I don't remember who I credit this model too, but I think of it in two parts. Self-mastery and social mastery. So the first three levels of emotional intelligence about self-mastery.

So that has to start with self-awareness, which we've already been talking about, right? Understanding my triggers and understanding the good and the bad, and then it's self-regulation. So how do I not be reactive and be more responsive in those moments of trigger and self-motivation? So how do I act in the face of obstacles?

How do I keep, as you said, let's go, go, go. When some roadblock or something doesn't go our way, how do we rebound and recover and regroup? So that's the self mastery. Social mastery is about taking this outside of yourself. So it's picking up on those social cues. Social awareness, right? The awareness of others and listening.

I always say with your eyes as well as your ears, so what am I getting? And then taking responsibility and checking that assumption. Like, I'm feeling this, what's going on there? Or checking in because we don't wanna just assume we're right. And then being able to act and make decisions collaboratively, that's at the pinnacle, right?

When I can collaborate, co-create, and make decisions with others, now I have really mastered the emotional intelligence where they feel empowered and appreciated and engaged. 

[00:21:53] Hala Taha: Yeah, and it's so interesting to think, you know, I think of my business partner, Kate and myself, we're so different. We're both masters at emotional intelligence, but in our own ways.

And it's just so interesting to think how you could be really strong in one aspect of emotional intelligence and not so strong on other aspects. What's the best way to gauge where we are and what are some resources we can use to learn more about ei?

[00:22:17] Michelle Lederman: Well, there's tons of assessments out there and you know, I am a fan of them, but you can do free ones online.

There are paid ones where you get a robust report, but if you do the paid ones, Do it with a coach because it has expertise in that one tool because that will help you figure out what to do with it. So we might get a result and say, okay, great. You know what your triggers are, but you let them trigger you, and so you really need to work on self-regulation and to get to a more responsive place versus a reactive place.

Then they can help you put an action plan into place to do that. It could be you just don't have an awareness of others is you know, you're not even looking up from your work. You're so focused down here that your eyes aren't up here to pick up on those cues that other people are giving you. So your social awareness might be lacking.

So feedback, whether it is self collected through an assessment, that's the best way you're gonna get information. That's how we start to reduce our blind spots. 

[00:23:10] Hala Taha: And then daniel Goleman, I think has a bunch of books on emotional, he's like, really The Godfather. We also have a whole episode on Yap about that.

So I'll mention it in the outro so you guys can check it out. Okay, so let's talk about agency over our lives and having a clear vision for our future. Why is that so important for connectors? 

[00:23:31] Michelle Lederman: I was kind of hoping you'd go to this one. For those who haven't read the book yet, the seven mindsets, we're going a little bit in order.

I'm gonna list them out just so you heard them once cuz we're probably not gonna get through all of them. But connectors are open, accepting, they have a clear vision, they trust, they come from a place of abundance. They're social and curious, conscientious and have a generous spirit. And one of the reasons I put have a clear vision really upfront.

And by the way, these are non-linear. It's not like I have to do one, then do the next and do the next. They actually enable each other. It's really hard to be conscientious if you don't trust and have a generous spirit if you don't come from a place of abundance. So they really do enable and support each other, but to have a clear vision is the only way you are really going to access the connector's advantage.

Because if you don't know what you want, you can't get it. So you can't get faster, easier, better results if you don't know what result you're looking for. But I've always hated the question, what do you wanna do? You know, 10 years from now, where do you see yourself? Five years down the road? I'm like, I don't know.

I don't wanna know. Now I want it to be a surprise. I want the exploration. I don't want predestined. If you have that good on you. I've just never been that person. But it doesn't mean I don't have a clear vision for something. I actually have right here, always in my drawer, my sticky notes. And you'll see there's lots of sticky notes over the years.

Each year I write a sticky note of what's my vision for the year. And it doesn't have to be the far out plan. It could be the three month, six month, nine month, one year plan. And I don't usually go beyond that. And what that does for us is it has us understand when somebody is embodying the mindset of a connector with that spirit of generosity and they say, what are you working on?

And how can I help? Which is something I would say. Everybody listening should be doing all the time in all those conversations before you get off. You know, what are you working on? How could I help? Who do you wanna know? What would be valuable for you? It's a fabulous question to ask. It's also a really important question to have an answer to, and that's what having a clear vision does for you.

So when somebody says, I'm here offering you help, you can say, okay, here's the kind of help I'm looking for. 

[00:25:41] Hala Taha: so is this clear vision? Just related to networking or are you saying have a clear vision for your goals? And then once you know what your goals are, think about what networking you need to do to support that.

Give us some rigor around what you want us to do. 

[00:25:57] Michelle Lederman: Exactly. Okay. So the first question is, this is not about networking. This is about you, your life, your goals. So having a clear vision about whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish in your life, whether it is. A personal goal of changing careers or getting healthier or running a marathon, or if it's a professional goal of landing a client, becoming partner, getting a new job, whatever it is, right?

You have something you're working on. One time when my second book came out, the Heroes Get Hired book. My goal was to connect with Michelle Obama and I put it out there. I put it out there. So much so that I got a phone call with her chief of staff. I never spoke to her directly, but that's pretty close, and I got my book in front of her.

And that was the goal. when my last book came out, my goal was very simple. I wanted to get to a hundred reviews on Amazon. And so they can be small goals, they can be big goals. Right.

And I just gave you two examples of ones that I've had over time, and they can be different goals based on the person you're talking to. So first thing is, that's what the goal is about. The second thing is, and I, I kind of squirmed to my seat a little bit when you're like, do we do this first? Do we do that first?

And you wanted rigor and I was like, you know what? I've always been a little organic when it comes to connection, and the truth is that I've had to be a little more intentional about that post covid. I will say that it still makes me squirm a little bit to be too strategic and too like tactical when it comes to building relationships, but I actually just designed a course called Intentional Connection in a hybrid world and have been delivering, I just delivered it in to Procter and Gamble women last month and.

They were so hungry for it because all of a sudden we don't have a water cooler moment. We're only in the office one or two days a week, and the people that we wanna connect with might not be there the same two days. And there's fewer live events, although they are coming back. And we don't feel as connected to our organizations or to our coworkers or our friends because we're just not in their space anymore.

And so, yes, I do think we need to be intentional about going out and building those relationships and having virtual coffees. And we can talk a little bit more about how to be tactical around that. And as I say that, I also just want you to build the relationships that you wanna build because that's where the true relationship and connection forms deeply and strongly, and it lasts.

And you don't know who they went to camp with, and you don't know who they went to school with, and you don't know who their neighbor is, and you don't know who they're married to. And those strong ties can lead to the weak ties and the introductions that you might need.

[00:28:31] Hala Taha: Totally understand.

 let'stalk about the.

Ways that we can achieve what we want, and that means asking for what we want. So let's do quick fire right now. I'm gonna rattle off a type of ask that you mentioned in your book, and you can tell us what we need to know about it, how we can use this approach, when we should use it, why it works. So the first one is an opt out ask.

[00:28:55] Michelle Lederman: Perfect. And I was hoping you were gonna take us to the ask, because that's the other part of having a clear vision. You can't just have the clear vision. You have to be willing to ask for what you want. And I always say, if you don't ask, the answer is no. If you ask, you immediately increase your odds. And I'm like drilling this into my kids every time I'm like, ask, ask.

And I'm like, see, you wouldn't have gotten if you didn't ask. I'm very annoying. The opt out ask is actually one of my favorite asks. It is the easiest one to access. And the reason I love it is because you are giving the person the reason to say no, and you wanna make it as easy for them to say no as it is for them to say yes.

Because yes is easy and no is hard. And if I have to say no to you or I want to say no to you, now I'm uncomfortable. And that puts the relationship at risk. And my goal in teaching you how to ask is to make sure that you don't put a relationship at risk. It is not necessarily always to get the yes, but to increase your chances of getting a yes, either now or later.

And that is by putting the relationship at first. So an opt out ask might be if your company allows it. I would really appreciate a recommendation on LinkedIn if your company allows it, is the opt out? Or if you have time, I would really appreciate a review on Amazon. If you have time. Is the opt out? I'm really busy right now.

Totally get it. Don't even think twice. They feel like it's totally okay and you are not annoyed with them, and now they don't feel like they need to avoid you. Mm. 

[00:30:20] Hala Taha: I love that because if you don't give them an opt out and they say no, then they just feel like, well, I can never talk to this person again.

Now it makes it less awkward. Okay. How about make it easy? Ask. 

[00:30:30] Michelle Lederman: So, make it easy has actually a lot of ways to make it easy. And what we wanna do is make it easy for them to say yes. And if it's not yet easy, we're gonna find different ways to make it easy. So there is the alternate ask. And all of these are forms of making it easy.

The alternate ask is, do you wanna try this or do you wanna try that? And they can choose cuz they're of equal value to you and they can feel like, well that one feels more comfortable, I'll do that one. So you're giving them options, the alternatives. If you wanna make it smaller, you can do the shrinking ask.

And so, Hey, can I take you out for lunch? And they were thinking, mm, or maybe just a coffee. Mm-hmm. Or you know, perhaps we can just jump on a Zoom or a phone call. Mm. Or you know, if this is your busy season, I totally get it. Is there somebody else in the organization that you might connect me to that that might have some time, you know, in the next few months?

So we're gonna make the ask smaller and smaller and smaller until there's something that they can say yes to, because people do want to say yes. Right? So instead of them having to figure out the alternative to what you asked for, you can give them smaller and smaller options in ways that you can be supported.

And there's also the convenient ask. Which is really making it easy.typically when somebody is at a higher rank or brings more to the relationship and, and we kind of know when we're in those positions, we might say, do you want me to come to your office, or do you have a favorite coffee shop?

What time is best for you? And just really make it as easy and you jump through all the hoops to get to that. Yes,

[00:31:59] Hala Taha: I love that. A note on that is if you're talking to somebody busier than you, Definitely don't send them a Calendly link. Definitely don't say, my assistant will send you times like you bring the times, you bring the options.

Like just make it as easy as possible. This is something I see a lot of people screw up. How about the with it ask. 

[00:32:19] Michelle Lederman: So with it, for those who haven't heard this phrase, it's what's in it for them. And this is actually one of the most powerful asks because it is putting the benefit forward to create an impetus for action.

But it's also one you need to be careful with because sometimes it is really not a benefit to them. And if it is not, don't pretend that it is. And I can't tell you how many times I've gotten email LinkedIn things saying, I think it'd be mutually beneficial for us to connect and da da da da. And I'm thinking, Hmm, where's the benefit?

You know, if you're a student and you're going to a ceo, don't say it'll be mutually beneficial. Say, you know, I know that you're really keen on mentorship and I'm trying to learn this and might you or somebody in your organization, you can combine asks, right? So we're being deferential. We're not saying what's in it for them and we're giving also shrinking.

We're giving options we're we're throwing it all in there, but what's in it for them was also there. Cuz I said, I know you're really big on mentorship, right? So I'm saying this is something you've said you value. I. And here's a way for you to execute on one of your values. So there's a wfi there. When you are going to your organization and you wanna go to this conference and it costs a lot of money, and you're trying to convince your organization to pay for it, that's a great time to use a wfi.

What's in it for the organization for me to go to this? What information can I bring back? How will I bring it back? How will I create value for the organization if I go? 

[00:33:46] Hala Taha: These are really good. I feel like this is my favorite part of the interview so far, because I feel like it's so actionable. Like we can just use this immediately.

Okay. How about the non ask? 

[00:33:56] Michelle Lederman: So this is my newest favorite. I was all about the opt out, and now I have really kind of incorporated in the non ask and the non ask is when you're not asking for anything specific. Instead you're sharing a little bit about your goal or your vision without the ask. But here's the trick.

When you bring your energy and when you bring your passion and your enthusiasm, your excitement, and you're sharing, here's what I'm working on, like. You know, Hey, I wanna make my book a bestseller, or Hey, I wanna meet Michelle Obama, whatever that crazy thing is that excitement, that exuberant. It's contagious, and people are wanting to help.

And if they don't come up with an idea themselves, then you simply followed up with any advice or any ideas for me. And that's not asking them for anything specific, but that's tapping into their brain and their desire to be valuable, to add value, to tap into their generous spirit, their connector mindset.

And think about who can I connect them to, what information can I give them? How could I be helpful? What ideas? And this happens to me all the time. I have a mentor, he is a C E O of multiple companies that have gone public and I've known him since I was pregnant with my first child who is now 17. And we are still in touch and we get together once a year in Covid, maybe not so much, but we've stayed in touch.

And I shared with him about my latest book and. While I was still writing. And he goes, well, here's an idea and here's, and I didn't even ask him for ideas. And his ideas were phenomenal. And it's because of him that I have 30 experts in my book giving me and everyone who's reading it, even more advice and guidance.

And it was because he said, well, let's get a millennial angle here. And it's those moments of brilliance that is just because I'm sharing, here's what I'm working on, here's what I'm excited about. That's the non ask. 

[00:35:44] Hala Taha: I think that works really, really well. So I know that we're not gonna have time to cover all these mindsets, but I do want you to cover them at a high level.

So let's talk about abundance, trust, being curious. Just walk us through at a high level some of these mindsets that we didn't talk about yet. 

[00:35:58] Michelle Lederman: I'll think about, like when I'm doing my keynote, I give you a like a two sentence thing on each one. Trust for me is the foundation of relationship, and I talk about four pillars of trust, authenticity, which we talked a little bit about vulnerability, transparency, and consistency.

And I will say you have to give trust to get trust, but don't be afraid of vulnerability. It is not weakness, it is openness. The next one is abundance. This is the hardest one for people. And then it's also the hardest one for me because I grew up with scarcity and whatever scarcity looks like to you, there's not enough money.

There's not enough time, there's not enough clients, there's not enough room at the top for women. There's not enough something, and. A shift from scarcity to abundance. It's not, everything's fine and everything's gonna be great, and there's no, no. It is the belief and the possibility and not, not even the possibility, the probability that things can be exponentially better than they are, that it doesn't have to be a linear progression and that there's enough to go around and that I am enough.

And it doesn't mean that we're not jealous at times, but it means that we can put that aside. And then, so here's an example. Friend of mine landed this amazing client. I was super, super jealous. It was in the sports field. I'm like, oh my God, can I work for you? You know, do you need help? I'm like, how did you land them?

And I was really like, Ugh, for a little bit, and that's okay. Feel it. Let it go, release it. And then I went back and I'm just like, okay, teach me. How did you land that one?

[00:37:26] Hala Taha: This is something I wanna stick on for a moment, because for me, I consider myself a super connector and I think one of my. Big things is that I never look at anybody as competition.

You could be in my field, you could be also like LinkedIn Queen podcast or whatever. I'm just gonna figure out how you can help me and how we can help each other and how we can work together and collaborate. So I always say collaboration over competition, and if you don't have this abundant mindset, you will never work with your competitors.

And this is one of the most important things you can do to get ahead, is to actually be friends with. And work with people who are your competitors or in your same field. And a lot of people get tripped up on this. They, they don't wanna help anyone. They don't wanna give away any sort of secrets and like, that's definitely not how you grow, uh, within your niche.

[00:38:14] Michelle Lederman: It's like we're of the same mind. I'm like, I knew when we met the first time that we connected because we think alike. Something I always say is, I have no competition. I only have potential strategic alliances. People are like, well, who's your biggest competitor? I'm like, I don't have competitors. I don't need to be in competition.

There is enough, and I have collaboration partners and I have strategic partners and alliances and friends and colleagues, and that's how I view everyone and anyone. 

[00:38:41] Hala Taha: Okay, so take us to the next one. 

[00:38:43] Michelle Lederman: So we are up to social and curious, and I'm always very careful with this one because a lot of the introverts out there are like, I don't like this one, but let me be clear, there's a section in this called the Introvert's Edge.

Because being social and curious is not a social butterfly. It's not the life of the party. It is simply putting yourself in a position to be social and curious about one other individual. And introverts are actually really uniquely skilled and naturally good at this. So that's really why social and curious go together, because they need to go together if you wanna build connection and relationships.

[00:39:17] Hala Taha: Mm-hmm. Let me stick on this for a second. So I know that introverts are great listeners, so. That's a great skill as a networker. Talk to us about the different formats that they can leverage to ensure that they'll be successful. 

[00:39:31] Michelle Lederman: So that's a really important thing. And I say find your format right?

Whether you wanna be on this platform, that platform, face-to-face, big conferences, small round tables, whatever format or channel of communication for you to connect and be social and curious on is, is your choice. At the same time, I want everyone out there listening to think about their stretch. I don't want you to be stretching all the time, but if we're always stretching just a little, we're often stretching just a little.

Then the next time, it's not as big a stretch. So find your format, be comfortable, and work in the environments in which you thrive, and always think about a stretch. 

[00:40:10] Hala Taha: I really appreciate that advice because I know a lot of people that are introverts and they'll say like, well, I really only do one-on-one.

But when you're friends with extroverts, We don't wanna be one-on-one. And so you might just get left out of opportunities that are not one-on-one. Right? And so you wanna make sure you're open to different opportunities. I know it's harder for people who are introverts, but like you said, to stretch is important.

Okay. So what else is down the line? 

[00:40:37] Michelle Lederman: Conscientious. And I wish we had more time because this is one that I think everyone needs. And it's the idea that connectors do what they say they're gonna do. They follow up and they follow through. And if they're able to do that, they need to learn how to say yes, and they need to learn how to say no.

And so it's about setting up boundaries. It's about being generous with yourself, right? So we said these enable each other, right? I can't be conscientious. I also have to be generous spirit, not just to others, but generous spirit to myself. So creating boundaries and recognizing that yes and no are not one word answers and we won't go into it.

But in that chapter, I give you lots of ways to frame a yes and a no. Again, not to be off-putting in the relationship. 

[00:41:16] Hala Taha: And then generosity. Is that the last one? 

[00:41:18] Michelle Lederman: That's the last one. You can't be a connector if you do not want to add value, if you do not want to, and show that interest in something else, because that's what a connector's mindset is, is thinking about not just me and not just you, but the interaction between us and how we can create value for all.

[00:41:37] Hala Taha: Okay, so I love this, and let's transition into like our tactical best advice. Give us exercises, activity, portion of the interview. So like I mentioned, I consider networking to be one of my top skills, right? I feel like the reason why I'm very successful and dominated my niche is because I've had these networking skills.

And so one of the things that I like to do, speaking of generosity, is I always think of ways to add value. And my favorite way to do this is to actually introduce two people together in my network. So when I first meet somebody, one of the first things I think about is who in my network can solve their problem?

So I try to understand what their problem is, even if I have nothing to do with it, if I have zero expertise. I interview so many people on my podcast. I meet so many people, so I sort of know an expert in everything. And then I try to introduce them to somebody who I already know. And so what I'm doing is basically giving value to a cold connection and then warming up an existing connection and putting them together.

And I learned from Jordan Harbinger to do this in the best way, I have to do a double often intro. So I'll ask the first person, Hey, I've got somebody who I think is gonna solve your problem. Are you okay with me introducing you guys on email? Then I ask the other person, Hey, are you. I think I have a potential client for you.

Are you okay? Do you have bandwidth? Can I introduce you over email? You get both yeses and then you introduce them. What you don't wanna do is introduce people without asking them first, especially if one of them is like a celebrity or an influencer. You don't wanna give away somebody's email if they're not really a celebrity or influencer.

You have less risk there, but I would definitely do a double opt-in intro. Any other suggestions in terms of how we can bring value to other people when networking?

[00:43:16] Michelle Lederman: So I have so much to add on the intros that I'm just gonna like, yes, go tell me. Tell me that. I think you will build a reputation with people that when the intro is equal, you won't necessarily have to do the permissions all the time when they're unequal.

You wanna make sure you're at least doing the permission at the higher level. Agree with that fully. So, introductions, love, that's one of the greatest ways to add value information, invitations, appreciation, recognition. Engagement. Right? So on the social media, a great way to value is a, like a comment to share.

There's lots of light touches that we can do to show that we are wanting to stay in somebody's orbit and be in their mind, have our name pop up, but not get in their face. And you know, one of the things that you said was something really tactical. And when you asked me that, the first thing that came to my mind is a lot of times introverts and extroverts will have somebody pop into their mind and then it'll float right back out.

I want you to hold onto it. When somebody pops into your mind, write their name down, write into your calendar, your outlook, your whatever, and then when it pops back up, send 'em a note, send 'em a tweet, send 'em a text, send them a something, and just say, Hey, I was just thinking about you. What's up? I've been just doing something on social media lately of just anybody who all of a sudden if I see them pop up and I'm like, Ugh.

And I have that moment of curiosity, they're gonna get a little note on LinkedIn of saying, you just popped up on my feed, checking in what's going on? Here's what's going on with me. It's really quick. And so those light touches where you're not really requiring or requesting or asking for anything, but just keeping it fresh.

And then if we think about tactics for if it's already kind of feels a little stale and it's gone a little stale. My favorite subject line of an email is, it's been too long. Just acknowledge, as we said all along, we acknowledge the elephant in the room. I used to have this graveyard, I called it my graveyard of business cards, which I threw out over the pandemic.

But like you'd collect them and then they'd just pile up and sometimes you'd like go through and clean them up and I'd be like, I forgot about this person. And I'd send a note saying, I just found your business card on my desk. And that would be another subject line. And usually I'd written something on it so I could reference.

But those are two little quick things that anybody can do right now. 

[00:45:28] Hala Taha: Yeah, and you can take this business card idea and you can use your text messages or your email. Scroll all the way to the bottom, see like who haven't I talked to in a while, and just sort of refresh those connections. Okay. Last question before you go.

Hybrid work environment, we teased it out before. What are some things that we should consider when connecting in a hybrid work environment? 

[00:45:47] Michelle Lederman: Oh, there's so much. Okay. So I really talk about being intentional about what you do at work when you're with people, and being intentional about what you decide to do in a virtual environment.

But one of the things you have to be intentional about is building into the agenda, those moments of water cooler, right? So we get on and everyone's on a little bit early. The meeting always has a five minute grace, and that five minutes is the chitchat that happens as we're coming into the room. Be inclusive.

Everyone's listening to your chit chat. So as people come into the room, invite them into that conversation. So you're broadening the conversation and we have it. You can have rotating icebreakers and they're not necessarily icebreakers anymore. I'll call them connection activities. It could be, Hey, let's gimme a tour of your office.

It could be hold up something on your desk that makes you smile every day, or turn your camera around so we can see what you're looking at. I mean, I have a list of them, like I have so many that I could share around little things, but rotate who's running it. So it's not just the boss every time saying, okay, today's thing is this.

It's all right. We're going in alphabetical order, and next week it's gonna be you. And you get to come up with what we're going to talk about for the first five or 15 minutes. And not every meeting, but build some of those things in. 

[00:46:57] Hala Taha: Well, I know you have to run, so we're not gonna do your actionable advice cuz you already did that.

What is your secret to profiting in life? Michelle? 

[00:47:04] Michelle Lederman: Relationships, of course, 

it's network. Not for need or for now, but build a relationship that you want to, that you get to that will sustain you all the way through. 

[00:47:17] Hala Taha: And where can our listeners learn more about you and everything you do? 

[00:47:20] Michelle Lederman: I love hearing from listeners and tell me that you heard me on this podcast.

And best place to start is my website, which is Michelle, with two Ls Tillis, T I L L I s, Letterman, l e d e r m a n.com. From there, you're gonna find my blog, my YouTube channel, my LinkedIn newsletter. LinkedIn is my favorite place to be, so connect me there. I'm also on Insta. You'll find all the places from there.

[00:47:42] Hala Taha: Perfect. And we'll stick all those links in the show notes to make it super easy. Michelle, thank you. It's always a pleasure. 

[00:47:48] Michelle Lederman: Likewise.




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