Networking Pros: Linda Cohen

September 18, 2019

Linda is an amazing networker, and a friend of Cinder. As a Kindness Catalyst, she champions the profound benefits of kindness through her work as an author, professional speaker, and consultant. She lives in Oregon with her husband of 26 years, and they have two spirited young adult children and two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Ginger and Remy. 

Linda, can you tell us about your book?

I took on a project to do 1,000 acts of kindness in memory of my dad who passed away in 2006. I wanted to do something to honor him, so that was my 1,000 Mitzvah’s project – a mitzvah is a Jewish word for good deed or act of kindness – and that project became my book – 1,000 Mitzvah’s, How Small Acts of Kindness Heal, Inspire, and Change Your Life.

What do you focus on in your speaking business?

The name of my keynote is “The Economy of Kindness – How Kindness Transforms Your Bottom Line.” We discuss why this soft skill is so important in the workplace for retention, recruitment, reputation, and management possibilities. My workshop is highly interactive, and we have a lot of fun; we highlight kindness and what happens when you don’t have it in your company culture.

Are these concepts new to the business environment?

It’s not a new subject, I just think that it’s gotten heightened with the ongoing political climate and the tone of what’s happening in the world. When I first began speaking about kindness, 10 years ago, I’d have professional speakers tell me, “You’re never going to get paid to talk about kindness. What audience is going to hire and pay you?”

Now, several professional speakers I know have added kindness to their messages. I speak with businesses like hospitals and government agencies as well as dozens of healthcare and professional associations. Last year, I was even invited to go to a symposium in San Francisco with 75 other experts on kindness – that was pretty cool!

How does kindness play a role in what you do?

It plays a role in everything. One of the most amazing things about the work I do is that I get to take one or two stories from every audience I speak to and share that with future audiences, or share it on social media, or just put it out there. There’s so much good happening out there!

What are some of your best networking tips?

One of my best tips when meeting somebody is to remember something about them. Even if you aren’t great with names, perhaps you can remember something else they told you. This is huge, whatever it is, because people feel like they were listened to. Really listen, really be present, and when you meet them again, hopefully you’ll remember what they shared. Even if I have forgotten their name, they seem happy to know that I remembered something else they said to me.

I would also say follow up in terms of business networking. If I said I would send somebody something, or make an introduction, I really try to be thorough about following up on that.

Following up can be challenging  in terms of staying organized. How do you keep track of your network?

I use Pipedrive. It’s pretty easy and simple. I know there are a lot of CRM programs out there, and I think it’s just a matter of knowing what elements you really want for it to be a powerful tool.

One of the big things that holds people back is the fear and anxiety surrounding networking. Do you have any advice about that?

I would say the biggest thing is to assume that anybody, when they are speaking at some group or some audience, is out of their comfort zone, and that’s how they’re continuing to grow themselves and their businesses. I would also say treat anybody you meet as a potential friend. I have found over the years that people really are willing – at whatever level they are at in their speaking career or other professional businesses – to share incredible amounts of knowledge and skill and help you grow your business.

Do you have any examples of when your network or knowledge has been helpful to other people?

When I was first starting my workshop, a friend of mine put me in touch with Al Jubitz, who is a huge Rotarian and philanthropist in Portland (Jubitz Family Foundation). He and I ended up working on a project to plant 200 peace poles throughout the Pacific Northwest. Al Jubitz is really an amazing man; his heart is in the right place, and I learned a lot from that. I did this neat project with him, I got to speak at dozens of Rotary clubs and meet a ton of Rotarians, and I even got to speak at one of their district conferences, which was exciting. In the years since, I’ve introduced Al to a few of my colleagues or people that I thought would be interesting for him to meet.

If you could boil it down, what is your core argument for the economy of kindness?

I talk about the three Rs, which are reputation, recruitment, and retention, in terms of a company and the likelihood that you’re going to be successful at those three things.

In one of the sessions I do in my workshop, I ask people about a company they love to go to or about a business they support and why that is. It was funny to me, because when I started these workshops I had never even heard of Les Schwab, but their customers were passionate! It’s been fun for me to be able to go to different companies, hear these stories, share them, and encourage companies that have great programs to learn from each other.

I’ve learned that if you have a culture of kindness in the workplace, it will improve team performance, the morale of your employees is going to be better, relationships are going to be stronger, and you’ll attract like-minded clients and help build stronger strategic alliances.

We couldn’t agree more! Thank you for your time Linda, it’s been great learning about the importance of kindness and the role it can play in networking.

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