Building the Right Network for Business Growth with Cara Steinmann
Building the Right Network for Business Growth with Cara Steinmann

Building the Right Network for Business Growth with Cara Steinmann

Building relationships in business is an ongoing process. It never ends, if growth is something you value. But finding the right way to connect is important. Especially with the oversaturation of content and people in the online space.

Content marketing as a standalone does not work. Business owners must connect and build relationships to complement the static content they’re sharing. And this week on the podcast, I’m talking with Cara Steinmann who has done both. She started in the content marketing space and transitioned into helping business owners into developing the relationships and networks they need to take their business to the next level.

Listen in as we chat about our own histories with relationship building, and what not to do when connecting with others online.

Mentioned in This Episode Podcast

About Cara Steinmann

Cara is a business development strategist who helps women service entrepreneurs leverage the power of connection to build relationships that lead to easy leads, regular referrals, and ideal clients. She uses her background in psycholinguistics and behavioral science to help women communicate more effectively so they can easily build authentic connections online without the stress and overwhelm.


Abby Herman 0:08
Hey there, and welcome to episode 215 of the content experiment podcast, a podcast for service driven business owners who know that content is important. But there’s also so much more to marketing and business growth. Here we talk about showing up for your audience in a way that they want to hear. And in a way that’s sustainable for you. This might mean publishing a weekly podcast or blog. But it also means paying attention to your email list, leveraging other people’s audiences, building relationships, and getting over the limiting mindsets that we often hit when we’re reaching for the next level in our business. I’m Abby Herman, former teacher and current podcast manager and content strategist for business owners who want to make their marketing feel easier and more streamlined, so that they can get back to serving their clients and making those sales. I’ll show you how or do it for you while you do business in a way that works for you. I can help by supporting you through building a content and marketing strategy, taking care of the podcast management for you or giving you the tools and resources to take this on yourself.

Abby Herman 1:15
One of the things that I ruminated about over the last two or so months of 2022 was how small my own business network had become. I spent a lot of last year being pretty involved in some personal stuff, and I struggled to find the time to do the client work each week, it’s no wonder that I didn’t see the growth that I wanted last year, because I honestly did not build the relationships that I needed to and I only have myself to blame. But this is a new year. And after the conversation that I had with Cara Steinmann this meet this week’s guest, I’m so excited to connect and build relationships with other like minded business owners. Cara is a business development strategist who helps women service business entrepreneurs leverage the power of connection to build relationships that lead to easy leads regular referrals and ideal clients. She uses her background in psycholinguistics and behavioral science to help women communicate more effectively. So they can easily build authentic connections online without the stress and overwhelm. I just know that you’re going to love this conversation. And finally, I’m living up to my promise to bring back guests. There will be more listening. Hi, Kara, I am so excited to chat. Thank you for joining me. And thank you for being the first guest here in a really long time. So thank you.

Cara Steinmann 2:46
You are so welcome. I’m so excited to be here. And that you’re you’re as nervous as I am. So this is perfect.

Abby Herman 2:51
Yes, yes. Before we dig into what I want to talk about today, can you share with listeners what you do and who you do it for? In your own words?

Cara Steinmann 3:01
Yeah, absolutely. I help women entrepreneurs, build strategic networks that send referrals and provide more opportunities for visibility, so they can build their business without getting overwhelmed.

Abby Herman 3:14
I think that that is so necessary right now. And I know it’s something that I personally want to want me to do a little bit more of. So I’m excited to talk. Can you share about like, what it looks like to work with you and how that helps you to live the lifestyle that you want how you’ve structured your business?

Cara Steinmann 3:32
Yeah, sure, I structured my business as a service based business because I really love connecting with people. And that fills a need for me. But then I also offer my services in a way that gives me freedom. I don’t have like a lot of back and forth client interaction or like a VA job would not be great for me, because I like to have my freedom. And I have a family. I have a son who’s 16 now but you know, he still calls me in need stuff. You know, I forgot my water bottle or whatever. So I like to be available. And so it’s mostly deliverables. Oh, and I do a lot of networking so that I don’t have to do a lot of marketing traditionally, because it’s really time consuming.

Abby Herman 4:08
Yeah, I totally agree. And so many clients, outsource through marketing, so many clients that I work with, outsource their marketing, and I’ve been doing podcast management, I’ve done blogging for clients and all of that. I think that where the where I have seen a lot of breakdown, and this is something that I personally know that I need to work on as well, is the things that need to happen outside of the traditional marketing. So the traditional marketing works if you’re doing the other things. So I would really love to talk about what are the things that we should be doing and you’ve already touched on it. And you know what, it hasn’t been just a couple of minutes. You’ve already touched on it. What are the things that we should be doing outside of the traditional marketing like, why did you make that shift? And start doing this networking and supporting women in building businesses through networking and relationships. Can you talk a little bit on that? That was a really broad question. So

Cara Steinmann 5:05
I’m with you is something that that I’m with you I know exactly where to go with this, because nobody’s ever asked me this. And it really does kind of get to the heart of why I’m doing what I’m doing now. I was in content marketing and strategy for 15 years for a very long time. And over the years, I never even had a website like it was it was always referral based, but I didn’t really realize that until the law changed in California, and I couldn’t work with my ideal referral partners anymore, which were agencies.

Abby Herman 5:37
Why is that suddenly, out of curiosity

Cara Steinmann 5:39
that AB five law passed where it was supposed to protect, like gig economy workers, but it really screwed journalists and conflict freelance writers, because we weren’t allowed to write for company weren’t allowed to do anything for a company that did it in house, or we’d have to be considered an employee. So suddenly, I couldn’t work with agencies anymore, because they were outsourcing a lot of their content to me and their strategy and stuff. But they also do it in house, right. But so I started started having to work with like, Mom and Pop companies, small businesses and stuff like that. And that required a lot more marketing. Because I didn’t have like, a plan in place for networking, like I had to pivot really quickly. And it kind of worked. But I always felt like such a fraud, because marketing was so much work for me. So I relied really heavily on networking, and referrals. But I was here I was providing content strategy and telling everybody else how to market. So it wasn’t until I heard Natalie Eccles podcasts on the budget, the best tricks podcast where she talked about relationship marketing, where I was like, Oh, my God, that’s, that’s why I’ve been feeling like a fraud. Because my business, I don’t need to do all that stuff necessarily, for my business in that way. Because that’s not how my business needs to be marketed. Like, if I had an E commerce business where I sold something really low, low cost or low value, I would need a completely different strategy. So it just, it highlighted, for me understanding that highlighted for me how much misinformation there is out there about how we’re supposed to market there’s a lot of shoulds, right? Like, you should be blogging twice a week, you should be on all the platforms like barf, no, please don’t. Like, I just that drives me crazy, because it’s such a waste of time and energy. And like, yeah, pick your platform, go hard on it. But don’t spread yourself so thin that you’re not enjoying yourself, and you don’t have time for your family.

Abby Herman 7:33
Yes, yeah, I agree. And I talk, I talk a lot about consistency and your content and showing up and all of that. And that’s how I support clients is through them doing so they don’t want to do the blogging, they don’t want to do the back end podcasting stuff. So I do that for them. However, it’s not going to make a difference in your business, if that is all you’re doing. Because like you said, like you have to like the networking piece is what brings people to you. And then the content, the marketing piece that you’re putting out there is what is going to nurture them once they have once they’ve found you. So that’s kind of like the mindset that I have. But what does that look like? Like? So talk about building relationships and creating opportunities for yourself out there in the world? What did that look like for you? I guess when you when you first started doing it were or when you first came to the realization that that’s what you were had been doing all along? And then and then what does that look like now that you’re, you know, fully in and teaching people how to do this for themselves?

Cara Steinmann 8:40
That’s such a great question. And I had to kind of ask myself that, because I created this little micro community, just because I really needed to keep like all these people that I was talking to in one place, and it’s built. It’s called the ravel collective. And it’s a community I built on circle. And so I’ve got all these women in there who are who are practicing relationship marketing, and that’s what we’re trying to do, right, we’re getting to know each other so we can be we can refer one another, and, you know, save ourselves time. And one of the gals was like, I need to understand how this works. Like how does the relationship marketing work, though, but how does it work? And I was like, God, I don’t even know. So I sat down and tried to like reverse engineer how it works. And what I came up with was was this, you have to be niched and specialized. Right? You have to be referral, somebody has to know what you do really well. And like, who you do it for enough to where they would like that thought would trigger when someone mentions they have a problem. And the second thing is like you have to connect with the right people. I’m not out there trying to make friends with just anybody. I’m looking for centers centers of influence who have influence over my ideal customers. I’m looking for complementary service providers who do something different than what I do but for my audience, and then shoulder Nish peers who do something similar to what I do For maybe sort of the same audience, but we’re different enough that I can refer to them if it’s not an ideal client for me. So like, those are the three people I’m I’m not out there looking for leads, even when I’m on LinkedIn, I’m looking for people who will benefit from knowing me just as much as all benefit from knowing them. And you don’t need a huge network when you do it that way. Because you just it has to be deep, you have to know people really, really well. So you invest the time in relationships.

Abby Herman 10:27
Yes, and I love that you have identified multiple different people that you are trying to connect with. So peers is one with which I think is huge. And I don’t think that we do this enough as business owners, because there’s such such a fear of competition. And but the reality is that the space is so wide open, and even like now 2022 2023. There are so many people in the online world, there’s space for everybody.

Cara Steinmann 10:59
Oh, my God, yes, thank you for bringing up the competition thing, because that drives me crazy. Like you’re sitting there at home, and you’re looking at all these people, say on LinkedIn, or on Instagram, or wherever you are, and it looks like everybody’s doing better than you are, because they’re only posting what they want, right. But the truth is, like, we’re all we’re all working on getting connected and finding clients, and we can help each other if we don’t see each other as as a threat. And we’re also different, and we do things in different ways, like you could do exactly what I do, but have a different personality that I have. So your ideal client is probably going to be different than mine. I have never had anybody say No, when I reach out on LinkedIn and say, Hey, I see you do what I do. But we have different clients, different ideal clients, probably like I’ve niched, I’d love to get to know you so that I can send people to to you, if they’re not a good fit for me. Nobody says no to that. Right. It’s such a missed opportunity.

Abby Herman 11:54
And we all have a finite amount of time, you know, in our lives in the world. You know, I mean, we in this world, we, you know, I mean, I don’t want to work 24/7 I don’t want to I don’t Heck, I don’t even want to work 40 hours a week, but I do. You know, I don’t want to do that all the time, especially now that I have some freedom in my life with, you know, being an empty nester and all of that. It’s like, I want to be able to have time for myself, and I want to be able to send, I want to help other people and send to clients to other people. So yes, I’d love that. And well, not paying attention. Not worrying about competition is probably number one and being able to do that.

Cara Steinmann 12:34
Totally, absolutely. And like one thing, I think people get wrong about networking, and I kind of hate the term networking anyway, I, it needs to like, we need to rethink the way that we like think about it, because that word kind of has negative connotations, right? But we’re just building a network, we’re building like a web of people. And the more the better we know those people, the fewer we need to know, like one of my biz besties called me up not that long ago and said, I just did some math, do you realize that 80% of my revenue in the past 10 years has come from people you’ve introduced me to. And that blew my mind. But I know her so well that I can build I can send her like recommendations and referrals, even when she’s not advertising what she does on her website, because I know she does it and that she wants to do that. And we’re invested when you build like deep relationships with the right people. You’re invested in each other’s success. So you’re top of mind you’re thinking about it, you’re willing to go out of your way to send that email to make an introduction personally and stuff. And it’s just, it’s so much better than spreading yourself thin and trying to have all the connections and know all the people just like you don’t need that many. They just have to be good.

Abby Herman 13:47
Yes. So when you think about or when you think about for yourself or or the clients you work with developing and growing a business. So let’s say someone who is kind of mid business, they’re not brand new. They’re not a seven, eight figure business are kind of like in that middle space where I feel like there’s not as many resources available. I feel like I and I’m in that middle space where I feel like, you know, I’m kind of in flux. How do you work? Where’s the first place to look like? Where did you find these people who you were talking about? LinkedIn? Yes. But like, how do you approach them? How do you know that they’re the right people? How do you do the research? How do you get started and growing and getting to that next level?

Cara Steinmann 14:33
I think the first step is to have kind of a loose strategy and then experiment. Like you need to figure out who your ideal complementary service providers and centers of influence are, and then find them and connect with them. But I don’t start on LinkedIn, because it’s too confusing, and I don’t really trust their algorithm to tell me what I want because they have an interest too. Okay, so I already start so I start with like, I start with what I’m interested didn’t and knowing myself my personality and the things that I care about around my job and being an entrepreneur, I listened to a lot of podcasts. And I connect with a lot of like, if there’s a podcast episode that I really love, and I feel like the guest maybe, or the host, it doesn’t matter, but it’s usually easier to reach the guests. If the guest is, you know, shares my core values or says something really smart that I agree with, I get really excited, like, I reach out to them. And I say, Hey, I just heard this podcast episode with you. It was brilliant. I loved it. Like it’s genuine. And people like to know that their stuff mattered. Like people, I don’t think people realize that. Not everybody’s reaching out saying your content is amazing. Good job. And so people love to hear that. And they usually connect, and they say, Oh, my God, that means so much. Thank you so much. And then you can then you have a dialogue started. And it doesn’t always go somewhere. But if you if you feel like so I take it to LinkedIn after I’ve usually found somebody somewhere else, an author of a book, somebody wrote a pod podcast, or did a podcast wrote an article, I don’t know anywhere. And then start I start building reciprocity, reciprocity, by making introductions also, because you’re that’s like, you have to work smarter, not harder. Like if you have a podcast and you connect with somebody who has a podcast, you’re doing a podcast swap. I mean, that’s, that’s a connection and visibility. Yeah, so I think just like thinking strategically about who you’re connecting with,

Abby Herman 16:28
I love that you said that you reach out to podcast guests, because I don’t I don’t do that. And I should like, Oh, I just use the S word, didn’t I? Yeah, I don’t like to start, I would like to start doing that. How about that? I feel like that’s something that would be really important to my own business growth habit, that’s a better way to put it. You know, I mean, and I have, I’ve had a few people. So I’ve been a guest on many podcasts. And I’ve had a few people reach out to me, just to thank me for, you know, being real and for being vulnerable. And all of that I’ve had some who’ve reached out and have they’ve been become clients. But I think that that is a real missed opportunity, because I listen to a ton of podcasts too. And I hear really great information. And I don’t follow up on it. I don’t like that is such a great easy connection to make. To find podcasts, guests. And I have to plug something to I have a I have a podcast episode on how to be a great podcast guest and how to be a great podcast host. And part of that is the host should be sharing. It should be sharing about the guests and should be sharing graphics, so that the and links and all of that ahead of time so that the guests can then promote it. And that’s a great opportunity for the guest. And just to get more visibility on the episode all the way around. So yeah, I love that you do that.

Cara Steinmann 17:56
I listened to that episode that you’re talking about. And you may think you mentioned in that episode, maybe it was a different one. You can share those later, too. Like, how often does someone give you a platform to share your opinions? I mean, like, I wish I could share my opinion more often like this, like why wouldn’t I share this in a couple of months, and then in a couple months, like anytime it’s relevant to something. So like, we just have to kind of like repurpose what we’ve got to and not always be creating more and more new and new. That’s how we got into content saturation in the first place. Back to your point on like having to get into that habit of doing that. It’s probably a matter of figuring out how you operate. I’m really impulsive. So I’ll stop the podcast. And I’ll get on LinkedIn on my phone. And I’ll do it right then because I just have to say hi. And that’s just how I operate. But if you make if you want to make a list or do something and then bike, tackle it later, if you’re more organized than I am, like figuring out how you operate to make it easy on yourself so that it’s natural.

Abby Herman 18:55
Yeah, I tend to go to Instagram first. So I tend to like yeah, go into the show notes. And I see if there’s an Instagram link or I do a lot of as they’re talking, if they talk about a freebie or something, I’ll go in and just enter my email address and do it right away. Just so that because I know I’m gonna forget, because I’m usually, you know, driving and I do pull over in order to do that. But I’m driving or walking the dogs or whatever. And so I know I’m gonna freak out later and I don’t use my the notes feature at my phone. So but yeah, like, figure out a way to make it a routine or just a system behind doing something like that I love.

Cara Steinmann 19:39
Yeah. So good point about Instagram because it’s not just LinkedIn like LinkedIn is really easy because so many people are thinking about business on LinkedIn. So it’s easy to make that leap but I’ve connected with like Didi Seymour is she has the F that podcast and I she’s not really on LinkedIn much but she’s all over Instagram so that That’s where we connected. And now we’re Voxer buddies. And, you know, that’s the other thing is like to build your relationship, you can’t just leave it on LinkedIn, LinkedIn is a container, or Instagram, it’s a container that you can design, however, you want to keep your stay top of mind, like it’s, it’s an easy place to stay top of mind. But it’s never gonna get very deep. And like to the point where you’re invested in someone else’s success, unless you take it off, get it get on a zoom call, decide if you like each other, like, get on Voxer. Like some of the some of the most meaningful fun relationships that have ended up resulting in referrals for me, are ones that I’ve ended up in a text thread where we’re texting funny memes to each other complaining about clients or something like that, like not that we do that. But but people are funny. And sometimes you want to share that with somebody who understands and like entrepreneurs, if you don’t have entrepreneurial friends, it’s lonely. So we like as women especially like my husband doesn’t, I don’t think he knows what I do for a living. Honestly, he probably couldn’t tell you. And my son always says like something with computers. So it’s nice to have people around who understand you. So like, we should be taking it deeper?

Abby Herman 21:14
Yes, yes. All right. So you mentioned entrepreneurial friends, and I want to kind of play on that for a minute. Because just like when we’re kids, I mean, you have a son who’s a teenager, I have a daughter, who’s conscious 20. And like I have seen her, I’ve seen like we see our kids change, and their friendships change over time, because they change as people so and you know, the same thing happened when we were kids. And as business owners, the same thing happens, as much as maybe we don’t want to admit it, that people who we surrounded ourselves early in business are different than the people who surround themselves or who we surround ourselves with now, or maybe they’re the same, but they maybe could be different. Maybe we need to make more of an effort to, you know, to develop and change and grow as business owners and our relationships, have our relationships develop and grow. So this episodes coming out in very early 2023. This is my 10 year anniversary of being full time in my business this year, which is that and that’s I can’t believe that sounds amazing. What does that look like like that, that shift in our business relationships and our professional networks? How do we make sure that our business relationships grow and change as we grow and change as business owners?

Cara Steinmann 22:42
That’s a good question. Because you don’t like we don’t have all the time in the world to I hear suggestions like set yourself a reminder and make six connections every night connect with this many people. And I, I can see how that would work for some people. To me, that’s like a numbers game. It’s no fun. And this is shouldn’t be a numbers game, this should be a very personal connection oriented game. So like, I tend to lean on the universe, if you will, to like, bring people to my attention if I need to connect with them. Or to remind myself, Oh, I should call that person something reminded me of them or whatever. But I think it’s smart to keep all of your network like keep keep in good graces with your network, if you can write because that’s an opportunity I ended up I used to be, I used to have a really, like well known reputation in the fitness industry for content writing and strategy and stuff. And one of my good friends still works in that industry, I end up getting the opportunity to send her a lot of business because people reach out to me knowing that I’ll know who to send them to, because I know how that works. And so I and that builds reciprocity. So when they find somebody that needs something, they’re willing to reach out and connect us which I appreciate that you do probably get two points in your it’s like a season in your career where maybe you pivot or something changes. And I just went through that. And my network was really confused. So here I am talking like about how awesome referrals are and hardly getting any, because cuz my networks like what do you do now? And so you have to kind of like re educate them, which takes time. Yeah. But also, that’s a great opportunity to build your network to like, expand it, and find people who are going to be really valuable as referral partners and relationships in the future. Like you kind of are always making little adjustments to who your ideal network is, right?

Abby Herman 24:31
Yeah. Yeah, I feel like Yeah, everybody, and everybody grows and changes at a different rate, too. So I think that having, you know, making an intentional effort to make connections I think is really important. And I don’t know if I mentioned this already in this conversation, but that is not something that I have done in 20 that I didn’t 2022 And it’s something that I’m committed to doing and 2023 is building more relationships. and finding more connections because I feel like I’ve really not done that as well as I would have liked.

Cara Steinmann 25:08
I know it’s hard, it’s hard to feel like you want to reach out when and build new relationships when it feels like a chore. Yeah. So I tend to, I tend to do that, because I’m looking, I’m looking to connect with people who care about the same things I care about. Like, it doesn’t feel like a chore. When say you have a purpose in your business. Like say you want to smash the patriarchy, and you want other allies with you to do that. So I’m looking for women who comment about certain types of posts on LinkedIn, or, you know, if somebody says anything about like feminism and a podcast, I’m like, My people, yes, we’re connecting. Like, when you care about something bigger like that it kind of bonds you together off the bat. And it’s not a chore. It’s it’s fun.

Abby Herman 25:49
Yes, I always say, so you talked about Natalie Ekdahl. So being on the biz chicks podcast was like a bucket list item for me. And I’ve been on there. Two times, I might have been on there three times. But I’m for sure two times. But I originally, I found a point of connection. So she has a daughter who’s about the same age as my daughter. Both of our daughters are very studious, they’re very serious about education. They are both a little quirky in their own ways. And so she would post about her daughter on Instagram. And I found that as a point of connection that I was like, hey, my daughter does the same thing. It was something there was something with posters where she had all these posts lined up in this perfect sequence on the wall. And I was like, Oh, my God, that’s totally something my daughter would do, too. And so we connected that way.

Cara Steinmann 26:40
Yeah. And that’s usually where it comes from the like, the great connections come from something that has nothing to do with business. When I talked, I talked a little bit not that long ago, I was I was being really vocal about ADHD, like being neurodivergent on on LinkedIn, like it’s no secret. And people came out of the woodwork to be like, Hey, me, too. Me too. I’m in business. And I am, too, you know, and I know this is I’m actually getting ready to publish like a 5000 word blog post that I just obsessed over for a couple of days. Because I was on a rampage about how LinkedIn needs to be more fun, because we bond when we’re having fun. So one of the things that that I’m harping on is being authentic and letting yourself be a little imperfect. Like I know the rule, quote, unquote, is that you’re supposed to have this perfect little headshot, but I don’t really care because my dog is like, I’m obsessed with my dog. And so she’s in my picture with me. But I’ve also had people just reach out to tell me that they love Frenchies, too, or that I’ve connected with people because their dogs in their picture, too. And it bonds you in a way that’s like it just kickstarts things really nicely.

Abby Herman 27:45
Because I mean, you must have a personality then right? God forbid. Yeah. So obviously, you know this, but listeners don’t know this. You and I connected because you were talking so you posted about being nerve nerve divergent. And I’m guessing that that might be how you got connected with Amber Holly, who you were on her podcast. And so I looked you up on LinkedIn. And I think you must have seen that I looked up looked you up or something. And so then you connected with me on LinkedIn. And then that’s how you’re here.

Cara Steinmann 28:22
Yeah, ironically. Yeah, I stalked Amber Holly. Sorry, Amber. I stopped her for a while because she was ADHD. And she was funny. And I thought that was really cool. And she ignored me for a long time until we ended up in the sales Maven, society coaching group together. And then like I was familiar enough, there’s this mere exposure effect where people like are willing to connect with you, if they see you enough. They like I like this person. Now. It’s safe here. And so we finally connected and yeah, we just had the best. We had a two hour it was a two hour zoom call. And then she was like, you have to be on my podcast. And I’m like, awesome. Yes. loved you. But yeah, you were recommended to me. Somebody told me to follow your podcast like six months ago, because Oh, interesting. I forget what I was talking about. But they were like, oh, you know, who probably you should follow. So and so’s podcast, because it’s really great. And she talks about that a lot. And so I have been following your podcast for a while without reaching out. But then yeah, then, you know, that was a great opportunity to do to do it.

Abby Herman 29:17
Yeah. Oh, funny. Yeah. It’s so funny how interconnected everything. Really? Yes, I love it. So I mentioned before that I spent a ton of time on this early on. So I would reach out to people and I actually it was in Facebook groups. So 910 years ago, Facebook groups were the place that you would go to meet people. And so I would find, I would answer questions in groups. I would reach out to people and ask to have coffee dates. There was one year that I had, I don’t know like 50 or 60 coffee chats with people virtually just to try to get to know people. Yeah, it was exhausting because I am not extraversion It was super exhaust. say so but I have not been intentional in 2022. And I think that a lot of people starting the new year is like, they’re like, Okay, this is the year that I’m going to reach out, I’m going to have I’m going to network, I’m where I’m going to create these networking opportunities and build relationships. So what are some key strategies? Or maybe maybe like faux pas that people, you know, are? Yeah, like, what are some things we should not do?

Cara Steinmann 30:27
That might be easier to identify, but I will tell you one, one really cool thing you can do when you have a really close knit group of like referral partners, is you can ask them for help. One of the biggest contracts I had last year was with I was doing some SEO consulting still, and I, there was a big fitness company, and one of their representatives was in a totally random Facebook group, asking if anybody knew it was like a writer’s group asking if anybody knew any, any good SEO consultants who are familiar with the fitness industry. And I was like, Oh, my God, like that is me. 100%. So I piped up and I said, Here’s my, here’s my credentials, love to help, like, no pressure didn’t offer to DM or anything like that, because I hate that. But then I text my, my bestie, who knows me really well. And I said, here’s a link to a Facebook group. Come, come tell them that I’m the best they’re gonna find. And I would never ask that if it wasn’t true in this scenario, but she was like, hell yeah. So she stops what she’s doing. This is the power of being invested in someone else’s success.

Cara Steinmann 30:27
And the reciprocity thing, if she stops what she’s doing, she goes in there. And she did exactly that. And I ended up getting the contract because she was like, you’ve got to talk to Cara Steinmann. And like, Do you know how much reciprocity that builds? I sent her? It’s just, it’s so incredible. And this is i i hate referral fees. I, this is not something that’s really popular idea. And I’ve had mostly men argue with me about this, they’ll, they’ll have to say, I’d like to challenge you on this. And I don’t really care, because I’ve seen it not work. It when you when you expect referral fees, or you accept referral fees, it closes that reciprocity circle so that they’re not they don’t owe you anything anymore. Yeah. But like giving first Adam grants book, give and take talks a lot about this. And it’s like, the givers, the people who give without expecting something in return, will always end up getting it back tenfold if they’re coming from the right place. So I think that’s there. There’s one faux PA, I think expecting, so So expecting a referral fee doesn’t work. It just doesn’t work. And I know, I know that some people signed contracts, and it’s just it’s really complicated. And I don’t like it.

Abby Herman 32:44
I feel like it muddies the waters. And it adds a layer of complication that is so not necessary. I mean, I because I’ve had the same thing where somebody wants to I send a referral to someone and they want to send me a referral fee of some sort. And I say, No, just if you hear somebody who needs XYZ send them my way. You know, I mean, yeah, I’m so smart. I don’t I don’t need another layer of paperwork of right sending payments of expectations. No, I don’t mean that and I don’t want it in you.

Cara Steinmann 33:21
Like the referral fee. Okay, first of all women we don’t like we don’t like to put business in our friendships anyway. Yeah. So it’s so it kind of like doesn’t feel right to me anyway. But like, one of my friends who keeps like we send business back and forth to each other. She got a lead that has worked out to be like $15,000 in the last couple of months for her. Oh, wow. That would be a great referral fee. Right? But what’s the value of of the other potential friends that she might send my way, which she might not do if she’s not thinking, Man, I sure appreciate what you did or whatever. Like, I’m the only way to put it. And I was dabbling. I was dabbling in like making, like making introductions for people because there’s so much power. And that’s why people love love referrals and like, especially personal introductions made via email, because you’re telling someone like you’re vouching for them. You’re kind of sharing that know, like, and trust, like transferring it, right. And it’s great, and it totally works. But it also like taking that on as a retainer. For me. I think I would have rather rather had the reciprocity built. So I mean, right, we I think we underestimate reciprocity. That’s another thing that we do that we should be really careful about because it’s super, super powerful. And let’s see what else trying to sell in the DMS. That sucks. Don’t do it.

Abby Herman 34:42
That’s not dirty and slimy at all.

Cara Steinmann 34:46
No, like people need to be more curious. They just like we really genuinely need to give give a crap about other people and be interested in how we might be able to help them or what they’re all about.

Abby Herman 34:58
Yeah, I was trying to operate From my perspective of if you like just be of service just be as especially if you’re a service provider. And I know that a lot of people listening here are service providers in some way, shape or form, either they perfect provide a direct service, or they support people in a coaching or consulting role. And if we just approach anything, like with a desire to help, and that’s your goal in answering that question, or in or publishing that blog post or that podcast episode, I mean, we’re not getting paid to do that, you know, yeah, just to be of service be of help, and it will come back to you.

Cara Steinmann 35:40
And I think another thing that people could do better at home not trying to be critical, because I know how hard it is, but is being authentic, like admitting that we’re not perfect. I’ve struggled with a lot of depression in my adult life. And when I get into like, the dark place, I tend to ghost my network, which is not a good thing. But if I’m willing to admit that I’m human, then I don’t have to act like I’m not like, I’m okay. When I’m not okay, I can still text people and say, Yeah, I’m not coming out, I’m in the dark place. You know, like, and then you’re not ghosting them, you’re, you’re still showing up, and you’re showing up as a more authentic version of yourself. And guess what? People don’t people know that they’re not perfect. And so when someone else seems perfect, it like doesn’t make sense. We we can’t bond with that. Because we know that we’re not perfect. And yeah, it’s like, well, I can’t, I can’t relate to that person. And that’s what it’s all about is relating, so we have to be human, we have to stop. Like, especially in business, we have to stop pretending like, like we turn on our business and shut off our personalities and things.

Abby Herman 36:46
Yeah, when people present themselves as perfect. First of all, I think liar because of my head, and then the second thing that crosses my mind is oh, God, but what if it really is like that? Like, what if their life really is that perfect? I’m so intimidated. Like, it’s very intimidating. So yeah, be real. And yeah, show up as your, your real true self. And I, I probably don’t do that as much as I would on social media and emails, and on the podcast and all that I have a couple of Voxer besties, who just tell me that, like, they think that some of the things that I share, or maybe like not appropriate to share with you. But it’s real, like, that’s really me. I mean, there’s like, there’s a limit, you know, like, right, so like,

Cara Steinmann 37:38
there’s definitely a limit of what you could or should share. Yeah. And like, we’re not always gonna get it. Right. Right. And like, but at the same time, if somebody doesn’t like it, maybe they’re not our people. Right. And, and the other thing is perfection, like back to this whole idea that we need to feel perfect all the time. That’s not memorable. No, like, think of the most memorable times in your life. They’re usually when something went very wrong. Like, I don’t remember all the perfect, like slam dunks, but I sure do you remember when I’ve screwed it up or like, i That’s why I love the idea of experimenting in business, like experiment with an offer experiment with like, a way of doing your marketing without investing too much. And if it doesn’t work, you haven’t lost that much. And you can come back and say, Hey, that didn’t work. Oops, let’s try this instead. And look how much you’ve learned.

Abby Herman 38:28
Yeah, exactly. I love it. I love it. All right. Well, I want to be aware of of our time here. And I do want to ask you one final question that I asked everyone at the end. So if listeners could only take away two things that we talked about relating to relationships, networking, and building your own professional network, what are the two things you would want them to take away from this and so that they could continue to grow? Just to? Yeah, okay. No, you can you can have more than two.

Cara Steinmann 39:02
Okay, so the first one would be this is not a numbers game. We’re going deep in a strategic way, that we’re not like, throwing crap at the wall and hoping it sticks. We’re looking at personalities and core values and making really strategic decisions about a smaller number of people. So this is not a numbers game. And the second thing would be there is no competition, niche specialize the better you know yourself, which is a lifelong journey, obviously. But the better you know yourself, what’s your Myers Brigg? What’s your strengths finders, you will be able to find where you belong and where you can really shine so that let let others shine where they need to shine. You can refer them they can refer you like we’re the first thing I do when I see somebody who looks like they do something similar to what I do is I start looking at differences. How are we different How can we refer each other because I want that person on my side? They’re talking to my clients, potentially, yes. So no competition. Stop looking at each other as competition.

Abby Herman 40:03
I love that. Awesome. Oh, Cara, this has been so much fun. I’m so glad that we connected. I’m so glad that you were stalking me. I was talking to you. Mutual. Perfect. Yes. How can people find out more about you and what you do? Where can they find you online?

Cara Steinmann 40:21
LinkedIn, I’m on LinkedIn. Come find me and say hi. And we’ll figure out a strategy for you. So you can build your network.

Abby Herman 40:28
Awesome. And I there will be a link to Cara’s LinkedIn in the show notes for everybody who wants to connect with her. So thank you so much for being here.

Cara Steinmann 40:37
This was fun. I appreciate it.

Abby Herman 40:39
Cara truly knows what she’s talking about. And I have just loved watching her in action in the time that she and I have been connected. And that 5000 word blog post she mentioned, you will find a link to it in the show notes. It’s a must read. She and I are so aligned on the idea of competition. I’ve been saying for so many years that there truly is room for everyone. And that still holds true today. If you found value in what you’ve learned here on this episode, be sure to share it on social media. Take a screenshot of the episode on your phone and share it over on Instagram stories or connect with me and Kara on LinkedIn. And let us know your biggest takeaway from this episode. The more you share, the more we can get this podcast into the earbuds of more business owners just like you who need to hear the message that they are not alone. Until next time, take care.

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