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In this episode, Rachel Schmidt is back to share more networking superpowers that you can apply straight into your business to help you grow.

Today, we talk about how to make collaborations, how to know who to collaborate with, and the compounding effect of staying invested in long-term business relationships.

Let’s jump straight in!

Show Highlights:

  • Rachel’s non-negotiable activity for supercharged productivity (1:50)
  • How to successfully network when you have no time to network (4:50)
  • Turning a Starbucks breakfast into a networking opportunity (7:20)
  • Time-management tips for better networking (9:00)
  • Rachel’s honest thoughts on relationship building through social media (12:00)
  • Advice to get beyond the ‘chit chat’ when networking (15:45)
  • The most valuable form of marketing for your business (17:20)
  • Fundamentals of effective collaborations (17:45)

To get in touch and find out more about Rachel’s work, click here.

If you want to recession-proof your business and thrive in any area of life, go to www.uncommonlifepodcast.com and grab your free report today. I share with you the 5 key principles that have transformed and elevated my life – and they can do the same for you too if consistently applied.

Read Full Transcript

You're listening to the Uncommon Life Podcast. Whether you're a startup or you've been in business for 10 years, this show is for you. Each week, you'll get mentored by business leaders who deliver valuable strategies, tactics and tips on how you can pursue your passion without compromise. We’ll show you how to achieve balance while sticking to your core values, so you can have an uncommon life.

Now, here's your host, Jimmy Fullerton.

Jimmy Fullerton: Welcome to the Uncommon Life Podcast, and this is Part 2 of my interview with Rachel Schmidt. I think you will enjoy it every bit as much as Part 1, so sit back and enjoy.
Rachel Schmidt: The skill that all people in entrepreneurships have to have is networking, right?

Jimmy: Yeah.

Rachel: They have to develop that ability to do themselves, be themselves, but get the heck out there.

Jimmy: Yeah, that's a big deal. And that would be a good segue into your superpower.

Rachel: Yay.

Jimmy: That's one of them, I know.

Rachel: Yes, for sure.

Jimmy: Because I see you out there networking all the time.

Rachel: All the time. All the time.

Jimmy: So, let's talk a little bit about that. Some people call it networking. I like to call it relationship building.

Rachel: Sure.

Jimmy: Because it sounds more natural for me. Do you have a specific methodology or strategy you use in networking or do you just throw yourself out there everywhere and see what sticks?

Rachel: Yes, and yes.

Jimmy: Okay.

Rachel: So, I'm an intentional person. I was raised Methodist, right? So, we're pretty methodical about things. I think that religion fit with my family on purpose, because we do a lot of calendaring in my company and we always have.

For example, Fridays, there is a recurring calendar appointment on Fridays between, I don't know, it's like 10-ish to 11:30 before lunch, after I've worked out in the morning, where I sit down—because I hate to sit down. I hate to be still, but I make myself sit down—flip out my laptop. I usually do it at a coffee shop. And I just go through the chamber calendar of events. I open up the publications here, Columbus and the Valley and The Local, and all the things that are going on in Columbus.

And I don't wait around for stuff to just come to me or stuff to just come to my mind. I just pore over the lists and calendars of events, and I intentionally put those, not only on my calendar, but on my husband's calendar, my best friend, Kat Cannella’s calendar. I’m going to send you stuff that I think would be good for you to be at. I’m going to send George Woodruff something. I might send my mom something. I'm going to send my kids something. Because, as I'm intentionally putting these things on my calendar, they're not all work-related. Some of them are fall festivals. Some of them are places where I just think I'll probably be at [03:00] my best period, and if I’m at my best period because I enjoy that thing, because it's an authentic choice.

Jimmy: Right.

Rachel: And I bring folks with me that I genuinely like, like you or my mom or my kids or whoever. Odds are, if anybody is in that room who could do me well for personal or business purposes, they're going to like me. It’s going to work out, because I'm already there, and present and ready to go. So, that's how we do it.

Jimmy: So, you do that every day, go through your calendar every day?

Rachel: Friday.

Jimmy: Oh, every Friday.

Rachel: That’s the Friday, just standing appointment that I sit down and do it.

Jimmy: Sit down with yourself. You block out that time. And how long do you spend doing that?

Rachel: The first time I did it, it took, like, an hour and a half, because I just got crazy, because I had a stack. You know how you just teetotal on some things, you just get addicted. So, I got addicted to calendaring. But I think it all depends on if you're going to collect those magazines and have everything ready at one time. It may take a while, but it's certainly the kind of thing that another person might divide out and do a little bit every day.

Jimmy: So, you collect magazines or you just do it online, or how do you do it?

Rachel: Columbus and the Valley. I like The Local, which is a brand new publication around here that's really paying attention. They've got their ear to the ground. They're awarding people cute little awards, best realtor, best this, best that, and they've all got lists of events.

And I don't care if it's just a new restaurant opened up or if it's a fall festival at a school where I know some people who have kids there. If it's a place that I can see myself having a good time or having a genuine interest, or a place that I already support with my dollars, either public or private, like the Paws Humane. If the Paws Humane has a gala event, I'm probably going to go because I have supported the Paws Humane over the years with my donation dollars, and so, why wouldn't I just be a part of it?

Jimmy: Yeah. So, how much time would you say you spend per month, if you can break it down that way, since you are a calendarer? How much time would you say you spend per month in going to these networking type events?

Rachel: Oh, gosh, yeah. So, they're yellow. They're color-coded on my calendar. Green means go, right? Green is go time, so if I'm in front of you and we're making money right now and we're transacting, that's green. Yellow is a networking. And red is stop; that's when I'm training. So, I can easily look at my calendar and see how much yellow time is being used.

Jimmy: If you had to guess?

Rachel: I would say, it's every day and five days a week. For sure, there is something on there and it's probably just depending on the type of event. It's two to five hours a day, probably.

Jimmy: Wow. What would you recommend to people that don't have that kind of time? You, obviously, have built up a situation or scaled your business to the degree where you're able to free yourself up and do that -

Rachel: Right.

Jimmy: - and focus on what you're strong at, which is relationship building, and you have the staff to support you, [06:00] that can help you when you're gone. So, that's the way you grow your business. For people, though, that don't have that infrastructure you have built up, what would you say is most important? What would you recommend to them, like you were talking to one of these entrepreneurs at CO.STARTERS?

Rachel: Yeah, especially when it's your side hustle. Like I've had a day job and run a business, and I've even since I started this business as my primary, it has gotten me contracts that work to me all day long. So, I still felt like those people. I felt like a person who had a day job and a side hustle, even though it was my primary job.

The challenge there becomes you have to be strategic and you have to be intentional. You have to do double duty, right? For example—here's how you do it—this morning, I go to Starbucks on my way here to see you. You called me while I was there. I was already all set. I had my little outfit on. I was in the zone, right? I knew I was coming to see you. And we had some technical difficulties. We thought we might not do it, but it worked out.

Bottom line was I was already seated at a Starbucks, dressed to impress. I already had my laptop in my bag. You see it right there. Had my phone. Everything's charged. Got data. Got everything ready. Logged into the Wi-Fi. So, if you and I had canceled at that point, I'm already in position to network.
And I pick up the receipt when I go through the checkout at Starbucks every time and here's why—because I could turn breakfast into a networking opportunity if I try. But if I don't, if I really need a minute to myself and I don't want to talk to nobody, and I'm not going to network right now intentionally, I can sit down and just pay for my coffee myself. But the reason I take the receipt is, it's a constant reminder of are you going to make this into a networking opportunity or are you just going to sit here?

And that's a choice we make, and so, that's what I mean. If you're doing a side hustle and you're working a day job, and you're wearing yourself slap out, it's not going to work. But if you have the energy to go into certain areas like the Suite on a Saturday night, it’s a networking opportunity for me. I'm a Latin dance instructor. I can get all kinds of business in a bar on a Saturday night, because people in there are trying to dance salsa and they don't know how yet. So, it just depends on your intention, but you have to put yourself in a position to be delightful, to be ready, to be open, and if you're too tired all the time, you can't do it.

Jimmy: Yeah. What you're kind of saying is use some of the time that you would naturally spend doing something like maybe, I know me and my wife went through a phase where we were heavily involved in the tennis community here. I met a lot of people. I got a lot of real estate deals through that as well.

Rachel: Absolutely.

Jimmy: You develop relationships naturally, organically through shared interests, and it kind of progresses from there. But, also, something else I do is, I mean, I'll schedule lunches like maybe… It depends. I try to do once a week with people that maybe I find [09:00] interesting. Maybe I want to get to know them. Maybe they've reached out to me about something. So, it kind of gives me…

I'm always going to go to lunch. Rarely ever do I miss a lunch. So, if I'm going to be eating, I can be eating with somebody else and try to get to know them a little bit and try to figure out if I can help them in some way I can do that and not ask for anything in return.
That's kind of how I approach, I think, what you're saying. Yeah, I get what you're saying. You use your natural times, like if you're going to go get coffee, see if you can schedule with somebody else or people.

Rachel: Right, or go inside. It’s that choice, right? Like we say in workouts, could I run instead of walking? Could I stand instead of sitting? Could I? You could always ask yourself, Could I be doing a little bit more to amp up?

Jimmy: Is this the best use of my time?

Rachel: Exactly.

Jimmy: And constantly be thinking about that, yeah.

Rachel: right. So, when we go to Starbucks, can we park and go inside instead of going through the drive-through because the drive-through yields you nothing. You don't run in anybody in the drive-through.

Jimmy: Plus, I’ve got to fix my coffee and I always go inside. Not to network, though. Just to get my coffee, fix it, and then be on my way.

Rachel: But just the fact that you're that guy makes you somebody that somebody else will relate to, because there's another guy and girl who are doing the same thing that you are and maybe they're your next client.

Jimmy: Yeah, I think I definitely think relationship building is something people don't think about. A lot of people get caught up in coming up with this great idea and figuring out how to implement it. Really, some of the best success that I have had, and me and Jessica have had has been through relationships that we’ve built, not even knowing back in the past what it would lead to. So, you’ve got to invest your time in that and you can be strategic. I think you have to be, especially if you're challenged with time, but sometimes you just don't know where something is going to lead, and so, you can't just rely on being strategic either.

Rachel: Yeah.

Jimmy: What are some of the advantages you see? I know a lot of people take advantage of social media and use that as their networking, and you’ve got to use social media. I get it. But what are some of the advantages you have seen in face-to-face networking?

Rachel: Yeah. I was a known conscientious objector to social media when it was in its infancy. I mean, all my friends, almost it was laughable. They were like, Oh, my God, really, Rachel, could you just get a Facebook already? And I never did. I never once got a personal account on Facebook or Snapchat, etc., etc. But I've always had a LinkedIn account.

I eventually reluctantly got a Facebook account for my business, because, like you said, you’ve got to be present. You can't just pretend like the party is not happening just because you didn't get invited, right? You’ve got to be part of the network of the community that you serve. And my community partially lives online, right? But, over the years, I did make some strategic and conscious choices about that.

There are things you can't do online that can only happen in person. You can't really get a referral to someone from someone you really know, online. You can't have met one guy online and get a referral [12:00] to another guy online, and feel like you know either of those people, right?

Jimmy: Right.

Rachel: Because the referrals in life that matter are personal referral. When the whole online dating community thing came out, I mean, I attempted that. I dabbled in that world because I was single at the time, but I realized quickly and shortly that it was the same type of hurdle I was trying to overcome in business—if you don't see a person, shake their hand, know another guy who knows them, sense them fully, because there's touch and feel and smell and all these things that really give you information about a person, and not just smell in the general sense, but that notion of -

Jimmy: Sense, you mean?

Rachel: - do they mean me harm? Do I sense something from this person that they are genuine or they're not? Or they're nefarious or they're benevolent? Right? You can't sense all that via the web.

And so, for those reasons, I've been a conscientious objector, but, eventually, I started posting online, and my first video post on Facebook, I did it live. I didn't know what I was doing. I had total technical difficulties and didn't even know it, because I looked golden and shiny, and my voice didn't match up with the video feed, but it got shared 454 times or something, my first video, because I had been so outspoken about it.

And when I decided that, because my friend, Kat Cannella, encouraged me to just go for it, like, You know what? Don’t stand on the sidelines and be a dissenter. Jumped in the middle and say what you need to say about it. And so, I did.

And it did change some things, right? It changed a perspective. It changed options for us in the business. And so, I also had to get over my own fear of starts, right? My own hurdle of, okay, I don't like everything this stands for, but that doesn't mean I can't make it work for who I am and still be authentic in that space.

Jimmy: Right? I do know, yeah, I think it's got its place. For us, at Launch, Facebook, Instagram, they're gold for us.

Rachel: Sure.

Jimmy: It's a great way to advertise and get your name out there, but you can't really… You can build, you can form a community to a certain extent, and it definitely benefited us and I see the benefits for people that don't have the money to spend on the traditional advertising. It can definitely cut your marketing costs down quite a bit. Yet, Facebook has been wonderful for us as a business, but as far as building actual relationships. You just can't do that through social media. I could not agree more. So, you don't have a personal Facebook account?

Rachel: Never have.

Jimmy: Good for you.

Rachel: I don't exist. You can't tag me.

Jimmy: I’ll make a note of that.

Rachel: Yeah.

Jimmy: That’s definitely uncommon, and I’m going to say that, especially in this day and age.

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Jimmy: So, people—there are some people out there, I'm one of these, that when I go to networking events, I don't like to chit-chat. I can do it if I have to.

Rachel: Yeah, you’ve told me that.

Jimmy: I sell real estate. I can chit-chat. I don't like to. There are people out there that are kind of repulsed by the idea of having to do that and chit-chat. How would you advise them to get beyond that? Is there a tip you can give?

Rachel: Yeah, I would say, okay, like I said, when I sit down and I strategically plan what I'm going to go, do, I make sure I plan to go to things that I would enjoy, because I do like to chit-chat, so I'm okay there. But I also plan to have a running buddy. I plan to cut that room up in an hour, and I love a cold room because I don't mind going in there and having to talk to people who probably are just as nervous or more nervous than I am about meeting new people. And so, I guess I let that fuel me.

But, I would say, for the person who really can't get over that hurdle, plan for your buddy to be on the other side of the room and work your way together. Or work your way around together and introduce your friend you brought with you to the event, to each person that you meet, because once you run into somebody that one or both of you knows, that's a really cool moment, and then you kind of break off from there. Right?

Jimmy: Right.

Rachel: But, until you can kind of work the room on your own, just bring somebody with you, because it breaks up the monotony of saying the same thing over and over.

And, while one of you is talking, one of you is listening. If you both know what you're there for, like, let's say, you're in real estate and he's in I don't know, what, he's a home builder—he's just a separate but related kind of subject—he can edify what you're saying. He can say, Oh, yeah, Jimmy is the best at such and such and such. And then, when he says something, you can kind of pair that back for him or give him your referral.

And so, that's the most natural way that we really do get to know and trust people. It’s on referral. Not only you say it, but I have someone else here that I also probably trust saying that that’s true.

Jimmy: That's good advice. I do want to talk for a minute about collaboration because I'm a big believer in that as well. Is this something that's hard to…? It's not necessarily something that comes naturally to a lot of people, but what are some ways you've seen collaboration benefit you and your business? A specific example, do you have one?

Rachel: Yeah. I would say, students who [18:00] come to me who come to pay money, to learn a class, English, French, Spanish, whatever, and then stay on as an intern, that always has been a huge vote of confidence for not only our process, but the fact that we can not only do something for pay for you that takes you to the next level, but also you believe in our process enough that you want to kind of turn around and give back to it.

Jimmy: Right.

Rachel: When we started Baby Belle’s Room, our first business, and then we started that consortium that was all about collaboration, it was like how many different businesses could we find that are in that same sector that we are, that if we joined and put our money in the middle, could be greater than the sum of its parts? That was the entire intention of that.

Jimmy: That's the key. When you collaborate, you bring people together, the sum of those minds together is greater than the individual themselves.

Rachel: That’s right.

Jimmy: Yeah, and collaboration, especially when its face to face or you're in groups together, you can pick up conversations and bits and pieces of information, and connect them, and a lot of stuff can happen that way that would not happen otherwise. I've seen it happen with us. So, what else would you say about collaboration having benefited you?

Rachel: The key to that is staying in touch with your natural network, right?

Jimmy: Yes.

Rachel: So, like we said, we've been working all this time to build this network. It's not transactional. It's not that we just need to see you today, get your 50 bucks and move on. It's that we stay invested in your life because, hey, we just like you period. I don't invest my life in people I don't believe in or I think are ethically questionable.

So, I've chosen you strategically, and then I stay invested in your life. I keep going to lunch with Kat Cannella. I keep going to lunch with Jimmy. I keep going to lunch with my mom, right, because even my mom has been a great maven for my business. She's always looking and thinking. She’s out at the shopping mall at Macy's, talking to the girl behind the counter about, Oh, you come from another country. You speak another language. Maybe my daughter would like to meet. So, you stay invested in those, the lives of those people you've collaborated with, because you also need to be looking for their next customer.

And that's how it all works. Collaboration, by its nature, says that what's good for me is also going to be good for you because we're going to keep giving it reciprocally.

Jimmy: Yeah, I think that's important for me. It’s something that a lot came off for me about that, about being service-oriented, when you're building relationships and not wanting anything in return, because it will naturally be reciprocated at some point. But, yeah, having a service-oriented mindset, so when you're meeting with somebody, you're listening for ways like, How can I help them get what they want? How can I help them? Besides being rewarding naturally, it's just a good way to naturally build relationships, and you authentically enjoy it, not [21:00] just for what you can get out of it.
So, was it you who was telling me a story about, I think, Columbus High or somewhere they did something about it and they initiated some kind of thing about collaborating? So, you were talking? What happened?

Rachel: It was me, yeah.

Jimmy: Tell me about that. That was impressive.

Rachel: I had the great fortune to go to Columbus High as a kid, back in the day, when it had just become a magnet, and then, two years ago, I became a teacher there. The single and only determining factor of our success for professional development in that one year that I was there was collaboration, and I thought that was so powerful when we went to this big meeting at the beginning of the year.

All these different schools have all these different Item 1, Item 2, Item 3, Item 4, all of this stuff to focus on. And, at Columbus High, the finest institution of high school learning we have in our state—one of the top two or three every year is in our city—and, for a school like that to have that kind of a hyper-focus, that just tunnel vision about collaboration, is it, I thought, Man, these people are smart, and I was so proud.

Jimmy: That hyper-focus -

Rachel: Yes.

Jimmy: - breaks it down and makes it simple. Just collaborate. A lot of people don't naturally think about getting rewarded collaborating, but one way to drill that into your company or wherever you are is to reward people for collaboration.

Rachel: Right, and to do it yourself. You’ve got to lead by example. And so, I did. I was only a part-time employee there because they just needed me for three hours a day, three Spanish classes they had to fill, which is perfect for my company, because we can come in and we're agile.

But, man, I was all over that school because I would get out early. I would only have three hours a day, and so, some days I wouldn't have a lunch appointment. I would stay on campus and I would visit the best, and I asked the kids, and that's what you’ve got to do, too. You’ve got to ask the source, the end user, who is it that's worth collaborating with? Who do I really need to see what's going on in their room?

And I asked my children because they knew I loved them and they were my people. And so, whoever they told me to go, see, I went to go, see.
I spent probably half the term on Romeo and Juliet in this one English teacher’s classroom because the kids were just so fired up about it, and I thought, Why? What is it that he's got going on that's working so well? Not because I'm jealous. Not because I don't have something. But because it's English. It's one step removed from Spanish. We could probably do the same kinds of things and make it work.

And so, toward the end of the year, what we did was we created a cross-curricular collaboration between my Spanish class and another Spanish class, and that English class, and we created an end-of-the-year dream project, and they had eight weeks to complete it. And the beauty of it was, when they were finished, because of all the technology and the way that the world is, they could present it in any of our classrooms and get their full credit in whichever class they needed the grade. So, if my kid wanted to collaborate, ha ha, you see what I'm doing?

Jimmy: Yeah.

Rachel: I'm collaborating with him. I'm also allowing the kids to follow. The kids could go [24:00] out in the hallway. They could go, collaborate down the hall with somebody in a science room. They could use materials from the library from anywhere. I mean, of course, they had to ask my permission and tell me where they were going. But, at the end of the day, the product was absolutely greater than the sum of its parts because I didn't have all those resources in my classroom.

And just, I mean, everybody can picture that in your mind. Imagine the difference between using the entire school and every resource in it versus just using one teacher’s room, and using every kid in the building. Any kid you had access to, any kid you could hire for your project could be your film man, could be your audio guy, could be whatever. Even if they weren't in our classes, if they wanted to collaborate, we said go, do it. Bring it back. Bring back something better than you thought you could create. And they did.

Jimmy: You have to have a certain mindset to be a good collaborator. You have to have a certain element of humility in realizing that I don't have all the answers; I value other people's opinion. And you have to also be willing to accept the fact that your answer might not be the best or your solution might not be the best. So, you’ve got to have the right mindset and see value in other people to make that work.

Rachel: Mhm.

Jimmy: I think we need to probably wrap this up. But, Rachel, how can people find you if they want to find your company or your business?

Rachel: Yeah, while we're not huge on social media, we're on there. So, you can find us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and if you just type in the word “Target Language near me” if you're in our area, that's for sure going to come up on Google Maps and that'll take you straight to our adorable home office learning studio. We have a dance studio in the back. We have a couple of learning spaces dedicated in kind of a home office. And so, it's really comfortable, accessible. We're here for you.

Jimmy: I might come, take a tour that at some point.

Rachel: You should. It’s adorable.

Jimmy: I might do a podcast from there at some point.

Rachel: Yes, you're welcome.

Jimmy: Thank you again for coming. I really appreciate it.

Rachel: Thank you.

Jimmy: I knew I would enjoy it. So, thank you.

Rachel: All right.

Jimmy: Okay. So, that concludes Part 2 of my interview with Rachel Schmidt. There is just so much good information in there, just pearls of wisdom. So, I really do appreciate Rachel taking time out to spend time with us. And thank you also for listening and taking time out of your busy day to spend some time listening to this podcast.
Remember, our mission is to seek out and interview uncommon people to help you grow, both your business and your life. God bless and see you on the next episode.

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