Guided Goals Podcast #38: Networking with Cheryl Tan

Cheryl TanCheryl Tan joins us on the Guided Goals Podcast, and we’re going to talk about networking. Cheryl is the founder and CEO of Tan Media LLC, a media strategy company that shows entrepreneurs how to get the attention they want.

Cheryl talks about how networking is more than just going to events and handing out business cards. She offers tips on how to really connect and follow up.

Sign up for Cheryl’s free 2-week Become a Media Magnet course and get her “5 reasons the media isn’t calling you (and what you can do instead)” PDF.


Until two about years ago, Cheryl had no idea what traditional networking was. Cheryl’s first job out of college was as a TV news reporter in Macon, Georgia. From then until 2014, she was a TV news reporter and anchor. She knew how to tell stories, dig up stories, and talk to people, but traditional networking was not in her vocabulary.

That changed when she ventured out on  her own. What most people call networking, Cheryl calls relationship building. No matter what we call it, it’s about creating real relationships with people.

A photographer said to Cheryl, if you have a camera, that creates a relationship with someone. If you have a camera and a microphone, that creates a relationship. You have validity and something to talk about automatically. I add how it’s like if you have a blog or podcast, you always have an intro to talk to strangers.

Meeting New People

Cheryl doesn’t like traditional networking meetings, because she would meet someone and they would introduce themselves and say “buy my stuff.” She thought it was the only way to expand her network, so kept going to them.

More effective, she believes, is keeping your current relationships going, as she did in her TV news days. If you are in a career, you have the opportunity to meet people who could potentially become clients for you one day. Since Cheryl stayed in touch with the people she met over the years, after she left her job, it was still natural for her to reach out to them.

Even though Cheryl didn’t like networking events, she decided to give it a chance and become a regular.

While someone’s first inclination may be to say, “Hi, Buy my stuff,” when you see them a second or third time, they can’t keep saying them. That’s when you can get into conversations and learn more about their passions.

Although she still doesn’t love networking, if she thinks about it as a chance to get to know others, it could really turn into something lucrative.

Questions to get to know Others

After the initial who you are, what do you do, I want to know how someone got their start. “Were you an entrepreneur from a young age? Or were you in a career doing something awesome and decided you wanted to do something on your own?” Whatever it is, that story has legs, Cheryl says. That’s what she wants to dig into. Usually in the start-up story is where a real conversation can happen.

After that, you can talk about the meeting itself. Ask others what they have gotten out of it.

Plus. people tend to be in tuned to other meetings in town. So ask about other opportunities in the area to expand your network.

Other Opportunities for Networking

Cheryl gets a lot from speaking. She talks about her career switch. She loved her career, but wanted to do something more, and it’s an entry point for further conversations.

If you are not ready to speak, volunteer, I add. In those situations you have a reason to talk to anyone who walks in the door.

Following Up

People don’t realize this, but if they’ve gone to three networking events, and they probably genuinely met three or four people at each one, that’s nine or twelve new people for relationship development. Stay in touch.

You can always suggest coffee, although not everyone likes that, she says.

Regardless, follow up and share resources that would be valuable to the people you meet.

We think we need more to get people in our network, but there is more value in nurturing the ones we have.

To stay in touch, take a note from people who work with non-profit organizations. They are constantly introducing themselves to others and keep that relationships going.

It’s also a good reason to have a newsletter. If you have a newsletter you have a reason to reach out to your connections every month.

When you have content you already created, you have the opportunity to get your voice out there. Create it using your method of choice, so you can be seen out there before you reach out at networking events.

Work-Life Balance

Before she left TV, Cheryl would wake up at 2am to work a morning show and be home by 1pm. As they got older, the schedule stopped making sense. Now that she’s an entrepreneur, Cheryl works when they are in school. They do dinner and family time together in the evening, and she tries to protect that time as much as she can.

Final Thoughts

It’s absolutely worth it.

Cheryl wouldn’t call herself an extrovert. She’s an introvert who calls herself an extrovert. It’s worth it when you find the people you are meant to talk to, but you won’t know that until you start talking to them.

Personal Goal of the Week: Establish boundaries. Map out certain times that is just for your family and just for you.

Professional Goal of the Week 1: Find a networking group, and go a few times.

Professional Goal of the Week 2: Ask people about themselves.

Bonus Goal of the Week: Create follow up content, if you are not already doing so.

Want to learn more about networking? Listen to the entire interview on iTunes, Stitcheror Google Play.

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About Debra: A project catalyst, Debra Eckerling works with individuals and small businesses to create a strategy, set goals and manage their projects. Follow Debra @GuidedGoals, Like Guided Goals on Facebook, Subscribe to YouTube.