Founder, Networking To Win
Robyn Henderson is indeed one of a kind. She's a remarkable individual who just happens to cover all three characteristics of The Law of the Few concept described in Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. She's an incredible connector, a wealth of knowledge and a natural motivator. I caught up with her recently and walked away thinking, this blog is all about her.
Robyn, you've achieved incredible milestones in your career as a professional speaker. But take us back to the early days. What was it like setting up your own business? | In 1992 I took a leap of faith and left my sales manager’s job and launched my speaking business. At the time, my speaking skills were below average. A mentor suggested that I if I wanted to be a speaker, I needed to make sure that I was passionate about whatever I spoke about. At the time I was running a women’s business network in Sydney and realised that a lot of people attended and sat with their mates – without networking. So I wrote my first networking book, launched a speaking business and created lots of complimentary speaking engagements.
When community groups are not paying the speaker, their expectation is lower. However, the more you speak professionally , the better you get and eventually you do get paid.
I believe when you are genuinely interested in people, the communication skills take care of themselves.
So public speaking, persuasion and interpersonal skills - these were skills that you worked and developed on? | Precisely. In the beginning I did not have public speaking skills. I joined Toastmasters International in around 1990 to gain confidence in my sales role. From there I took an interest in professional speaking and as for the interpersonal skills, I believe when you are genuinely interested in people, the communication skills take care of themselves.
Has your business changed much from when it started? What's your business overview these days? | I have reinvented myself a number of times in the last 22 years to match the market needs. I expanded my topics to include generating referrals, building strategic alliances and networking your way to a job or career move. 12 years ago I also started running courses showing people how to write and self publish non fiction books. More recently I have also included project managing book production for first time authors as well as ghost writing books for busy people. Basically your clients and prospects tell you what you they want and these days I try to find a way to accommodate most requests.
There is a wonderful African proverb, “To go fast go alone, to go far go together”.
So Networking To Win has come a long way. Would you care to letting us in on your secret to success in small business? | Networking certainly helps any career or business. There is a wonderful African proverb, “To go fast go alone, to go far go together”. When you network with master networkers you are always connecting people who might be able to help each other and expanding your own networks.
What would you say sets you apart from your competition out there? | I co-author books with my competition and really don’t worry too much about who else does the work I do, as we all put our own slant on things. When it comes to networking, in the bigger picture, hopefully when the whole world networks with integrity we will all do ourselves out of a job – and that will be worth celebrating.
I'm sure you've networked with hundreds and thousands. Has there been one encounter that stands out? | In the late ‘90s I spoke to 900 Arabs in Bahrain at the Arabian Society of Human Resources Management conference. There were 885 men (most of them in their traditional robes and head gear and only 15 women. It was very daunting. there were only 2-3 women on the program and my presentation was very well received. I was invited back the next year and made some great connections. The opportunity was given to me after a presentation I gave in Wagga Wagga (population 60,000 on the NSW/Victorian border)
What's the message you often find yourself driving home to your clients? | Be friendly to everyone, you never know who they know, who they can connect you with, what you can learn from them and vice versa.
Is there anything exciting coming up for Networking To Win in the next few months? | Once I finish two current writing projects and some work in Karratha and Darwin, I have a great book on strategic alliances and another one on networking your way to your next job or promotion that are in my head and just need to be put in writing. As well as creating some online programs on networking and book writing. And hopefully do well progressing my Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Policy Making that I am completing externally with Charles Darwin University.
Thanks for your time today Robyn. | It was a pleasure, Marvin. Thanks again for the opportunity.