From Fear to Friendly. Becoming a Networking All-Star |

Networking is a bogeyman for so many people. They diligently avoid it based upon discomfort and fear. My guest, Tom Broxham, is someone who faced down a huge justifiable fear to become a networking all-star. Listen to his journey and apply it for yourself.

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This is an automated transcript that contains errors.

so my guest today is

tom broxham tom has over 14 years of

experience working in different types of

office environments

across canada and now new zealand my

first new zealander on the show

he’s got a great personality and built


and positive networks of people

and this all despite having had

some really justifiable reasons for

some lifelong fears in his life that

i’m sure was going to translate very

well into our talking about

networking and fear of networking tom

damn how are you today oh i’m absolutely

horrible it’s just

don’t want to do this no thanks very

much for inviting me on the show it’s

it’s great really appreciate the time to

be able to talk about

networking and it’s a it’s a beautiful

saturday morning here

and it’s a friday late afternoon here

and uh i see you’re on your morning

coffee good for you

tom what happened what what happened to


that brought this fear so dramatically

into your life well one of the worst

fears that i had was

a fear of water when i was three years

old i drowned

my dad had to jump into the water and as

soon as he got into the water

i was already dead and thankfully he had

cpr training

because he was an x-ray tech he started

restating me

when i was in the water still brought me


into the shore and finished it off and i

was able to come back

but from there when i was eight years


people who didn’t like me very much

pushed me into the deep end of the pool

and i nearly drowned that should have

been traumatic enough as it is

one of them should have been bad enough

then when i was 13 years old

people came from behind me they pushed


into the water and i nearly drowned


after that i didn’t go into the water

very much and when you have experiences

like that as it as a kid

your self-confidence just is shot

you become very insecure and you become

a lot more

introverted that and you definitely

don’t want to go into the water after


it wasn’t until i was in my 30s that i

said enough’s enough and i learned how

to swim but it took a lot

to be able to get to that point

and when i was a kid alone i was just

picked on a lot

how did that fear wind up ruling you and

inhibiting you

in your relationships with others

trust you know like when

i couldn’t even go into the water more

than waist deep and just always afraid

not just drowning but like in general i

don’t like people being behind me now

and i know at times if i’m walking down

the street i might be walking very fast

and i just don’t like having people too

close to me

which can be quite hard with networking

because someone’s always

around and you have to be closer to

people but at times

i might be in a restaurant i might be

just that’s usually just because i’m

really hungry


thank you and thank you for opening up

about that

um you know i had my own episode with

almost drowning

my father and my

uh and uncle they decided to teach me

how to swim

so there was the classic uncle taking me


and going save yourself

and i couldn’t i didn’t know what to do

and that became the freeze moment now

uh obviously my version of it is

different than yours but fears like this


i know for me it was very paralyzing for

a long time

and caused me to be pretty quiet around

other people

because i too had a trust issue folks if

you’ve been with me for any length of


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i know this is new information for you

and it’s not normally the way i present

there are ways to overcome this and this

is really what we’re talking about today

is we’ve each talked in times to me is

he has multiple episodes of this

of you know bullying intimidation an

accident being the first one where

he’s in the water and almost drowns and


how do you begin this process of

overcoming the fear

and this fear permeates the rest of your

life and

we’re talking about how do you do this

and start

networking with people especially when

you know you know you it’s hard for you

to trust folks because

they’ve hurt you so badly over time

well i’ll talk about just how i learned

how to swim

in general i started traveling around

and i realized i was missing out on

opportunities when i was in places like


dominican republic jamaica i couldn’t

really go in the water and

i missed out on so many opportunities

and if someone came back from a

snorkeling chair

telling me about all the different

things they saw i’m like oh

well i can’t do that then i saw a

picture of someone snorkeling with a

whale shark

i thought that’s an experience that i

want it’s still an experience i want

but if i can’t even get into the water

how am i going to get into the water

with something

of that size and i decided enough’s


i’m going to learn how to do this small


that was the key for it like i decided

that’s it i want to do it i’m going to

do it and then i signed up for lessons

that’s how i started everything the

lessons that i learned that night

i take with me for so many other aspects

and this is why it’s really important

for me to talk about the drowning

and how it relates to the networking for

me so

when i went into the pool that night and

it was three feet deep

i thought i’m gonna drown i can’t even

do this

and one of the things we had to do was

submerge ourselves completely

i sat there for a minute just breathing

and trying to catch the right breath and

anything that was negative in my head i

had to

put that to the side and then i just had


sit there and catch that one right

breath once i caught it

i submerged myself i came up and thought

this isn’t so bad

those same skills i take into me when i

go to a networking event

and no there’s no chances of of me dying

at the networking event

but it’s it’s fear and it’s the same

aspects it’s the same steps that happen


before i go into the networking event

catch that one right breath

start small if you go into networking

event to 300 people

and you walk right back out maybe you

want to start smaller and go to a

networking event where there’s

10 or 15 people and try that out first

one right breath in the 300 event

uh moment you know hi it’s my first time

networking i’m terrified of being with


i’m going to the 300 person event first

of all

don’t but but let’s say you decide


it you know like stopping smoking you’re

going to go in and

dive in and try it

with ice you know focusing in on one


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be a way that someone could manage that

that is and one of the important things

with networking two

is if you just talk to one person you

still are networking

and what people won’t realize is what

we’re doing right now

we actually are networking and some

people think that you just have to go to

those big events

you don’t have to there’s nothing wrong

with going to them

but if you’re going to go to them and

walk right back out we need to look at

it a little bit differently for you

and there is nothing wrong with just

having coffee one-on-one with somebody

and what i like to do is go to events

that i know are going to be best for me

so i like to spend time in the outdoors

go to an outdoor club

go to one of their events something i’m

passionate about too is public speaking

so i go to toastmasters there’s 10 15

people in the room

that’s the way to do it and

my background’s in accounting so i might

not want to go to a networking event

that’s full of

lawyers it’s just not going to go over

very well

and sometimes you need to think about

that like

where are you going and like why are you

going to that event

don’t just go there because it’s a

networking event go there because it’s

the right event for you

and these days and we’re recording this

while kovit is still rampant around the


i think in terms of okay we’re now in

zoom calls and networking that way

and one suggestion i might make to folks

is okay you’ve got the tic-tac-toe board

up on your screen

with all those faces pick one

message them through private chat

yeah yeah you know he said something


i was wondering if we might talk

afterwards at what number can i reach

you or could we set up something at a

different time

for us to have that conversation so that

this way

you can take those 90 people on the


and break it down to one or two people

that you

reach out to and judging by those head


you like that idea it is

i remember being on a zoom call not too

long ago

and then all of a sudden i had a message

pop up and like oh

all right and so we were chatting off to

the side

because the person heard i was from new

zealand and she wanted to come over here

i’m like oh this is perfect and we

didn’t want to cut across everybody else

that was chatting so we just

had the little conversation to the side


if you do like it’s it’s interesting

some of the aspects that i’ve found out

about introverts in the last little


and i’m actually introverted myself

some different aspects how they’re even

coming on to linkedin and they’re coming

into here

and some people they might be in that

group of

10 15 people on a zoom call and they sit

there quiet because they don’t know how

to do it

but if you can focus on that one person

that could help

that could really help and if you decide

that i don’t know how to cut in here

being able to go and do it into that


might be your way in and that might be


best way for you because then at least

you don’t have to talk you’re only

typing it instead

and that might make all the difference


and it’s i’m so glad we’re having this

conversation because i hadn’t really

thought about this

in the context of what we’re all dealing

with during the pandemic

and how do you network at a time where

you can’t just simply say let’s meet for


or let’s meet for 20 minutes

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how do you do that and meet new people

when everyone’s kind of

walled off so

it it can be a little bit more of a


but this is a prime example right here

no you can’t meet for coffee but i’ve

got my coffee right here anyways

and all you do is just

you set up a call with somebody instead

and it doesn’t have to be a zoom call


it can be an actual phone call what is


that’s like an antique zoom i know it’s

it’s really i love what people actually

call me and i’m like oh

i’m excited i’m getting a call and

because quite often we just text now and

it’s it’s rare that we actually talk on

the phone but

you can do these calls and one really

important aspect

of networking is linkedin and this is

actually how we connected

on linkedin and sometimes it’s as you’re

engaging with other people’s posts

as you’re posting as you’re commenting

that’s networking it’s a different kind

of networking but there’s nothing wrong

with it

at the end of the day you’re still

building relationships up

and that’s what we’re going to always

need it doesn’t matter how the medium

is we’re always going to need to connect

in one way or another

now linkedin i was number 7653 on


of the almost 700 million people on the


and i’ve got a brand name the big game


it’s like contact this person contact


yeah yeah it’s a very profound brand

and you know i have 26 000 first level

connections which isn’t the big deal

until you realize i rarely accept

connection requests

i didn’t do it for the longest time i

never accepted connection requests from


until recently because i saw them as my

competition for my time doing head


uh so 26 000 at this point i think is

you know i could easily be you know 50

or 60 if i accepted

recruiter requests because they all go

after my network globally

but you know on linkedin how do people

start to make that

contact that allows them to start

building relationships what would you


one thing that i find interesting is the


now i thought a lot of introverts were

doing quite well on linkedin

but some of them have just told me well

i don’t even know how to

okay well jeff made a great post but i i

i don’t want to engage with it i thought

why not

really because i’m i’m introverted i


i thought that just had to do more with

just talking not actually hey

jeff that’s a great post i think you

made some uh valuable comments on there

but they don’t know how to do that so

one thing

you can do if one of your friends is an

introvert or one of your connections

tag them in a post especially if

let’s say one of your friends is a

recruiter but they’re a little on the

introverted side

and you happen to have a post that has


valuable information that could really

help them

tag them in them and ask them a question

about it or comment about it

what do you think about this see if that

will help them

some people that are on linkedin and

like this is something you you

just mentioned that you didn’t add very

many people before and a lot of people

that are on linkedin they’re like

have i met you no then i’m not going to

add you

or why would i talk to this person oh me

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i’ve got a lot of different connections

that some of them i’ve never met before

and some of them it was

i met them through this person through

this person through this person

and so on and so forth and those are

some of my best opportunities that came


if the only people you talk to are the

people that you have met

on linkedin there’s so many

other opportunities that you’re missing

out on and

something that i’ve seen recently

it was jim rohns who said this you

become the average

of the five people you spend the most

time with

now if you think you better than you’re

a job seeker

and you’re hanging out with five other

job seekers

it’s going to be that much more

difficult to get ahead now think about


if you are that job seeker now if i

start talking to

a recruiter somebody who works in the

field that i want to

somebody who works in branding another

person in marketing

another person in hr now also you have


different people you’ve been talking to

different points of view

they can give you different tips that

you didn’t think about before

compared to those five people before

that are all

just looking for work too they just have

the same

information they might be able to give

you a little bit more details

but unlike the other five where they’re

not in your network

and they might be able to say to you hey

jeff there’s something

on your linkedin that let’s change this

or hey i noticed that this would be

great for you or

here’s a small tip recently i had a


send me a message and said your message

is good

but i couldn’t really hear you and your


it needs a lot of work oh

well okay and that was a huge help for


it was problems i didn’t even know i had

what you want to do is just start to

reach out to people that

that could help you whether it’s

someone in recruitment or it’s in a

company that you want to work for

or in uh just a different company and if


unsure of how to approach some of these


see if one of your connections is

connected to them

so for example if if i want to work for

let’s say some if i want to reach up to

somebody recruiting and i didn’t know


but jeff knows them i might send jeff a

message and say hey

can you introduce me to this person

he’ll send the message

introduce me and that just made it that

much easier

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you know the person who gets ahead isn’t

always the smartest

they don’t always work the hardest those

are great qualities to have

people get ahead by being alert to


sometimes they’re internals of their

organization more often than not they’re


now with the external ones

folks you could be applying to things

that were blue in the face but the

statistics i

see are pretty damning about

the number of positions that get filled


job postings or by recruiters

and the old statistics which i still

quote are no more than 30 percent of

positions get filled that way

linkedin claims it’s now down to 15.

they’ve got a vested interest in talking

about networking

so i don’t know if their data is

accurate or not

i’ll just simply say if you believe it’s

30 7 out of 10 positions are filled

as a result of the introductions uh to

the people

they’re filled as a result of networking

by the way

of the 70 percent 70

of them or 49 come as a result of

introductions to people that your

network knows

who you don’t so this notion that we’re

talking about of overcoming your fear

by taking small steps not big

sweeping things unless you want to

excuse the metaphor dive into the pool

yep which most of us don’t want to do

because we’re afraid if we

if it was easy we would have done it by

now so

overcoming our fear with small steps

goes a long way toward moving ourselves


so we get what we said we want in life

i’ll give you two examples of when i was

looking for work

one of them i sent out over 120 resumes

i received three calls that was it

so hours of redoing their resume

going to another company page filling

out all the information again that’s

already on the resume and doing this


setting up another username and password

three calls out of over 120 resumes

when i came to new zealand at first i i

didn’t even have a working visa so i

couldn’t work

and i spent all my time going for coffee

doing networking

talking to recruiters three months later

on i got a call

from a recruiter saying hey do you want

to go do an interview

but i i don’t have a visa yet he said

well just just go for the interview

and see what happens did the interview

and the company’s like we want him for a

short-term contract

and i called the recruiter and he goes

well when’s your visa come in

i’ve got i

went turned around called my uh

immigration advisor oh it was approved


call the recruiter back i’ll take the


day one of having my visa i had an

interview secured

and i was able to get a short-term


that’s because of networking and that’s

the power of networking

now one other example i can think of i

was looking to get out of accounting

and i was talking to some of the

different managers and she said

why don’t you go talk to lorraine one of

the other internal managers

and just see what’s going on because she

had difficulties getting internal


so i i met up with her and then she’s

like oh you want you want to

you want to talk about yeah okay great

she told me about three jobs that were

coming up in her department

and then one of the jobs i looked at i

said that sounds perfect

but i don’t have this particular aspect

she went to the

job description deleted that part don’t

worry about it

it’s not even there now and then she

said hey

do you want to do some cross training

and i talked to some other people within

the company

so by the time the interview came around

i was already cross-trained

on that particular desk i had a working


with the manager and her team lead and

the person that i was going to be taking

over from was like yeah we want tom to

do that job

so anybody else external that’s what you

had to compete against

so when you see those job postings

chances are they already have someone

in mind for those jobs

it’s interesting you know when i coach

people about interviewing

you know everyone tends to see a job

description or a job ad

that has this enormous list of skills

required and

preferred skills and

you know let’s work with the assumption

that this 15 item

list of requirements they really don’t

need all 15.

unless it’s a depression in which case

they go well

settle for someone with 14

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yeah but once you get to the interview

as you discovered with this manager

they’re willing to overlook certain


if they like the person if they connect

with you

and i always talk in terms of when firms


competence is only one variable they

look for self-confidence

character chemistry maybe a little bit

of charisma because ultimately they want

to trust the person that they hire

and i want to work with the person i

want to like them yeah

usually some of them don’t care that


but i want to bring us back to

networking yeah because

there’s just so many wonderful tangents

that you’re very capable of taking me

off on

so how did your personality open up was

on the basis of having some of the


doing these small steps how did you

pivot that part

in your journey some of it was the small

steps and just

doing one-on-one coffee or just meeting

people with one-on-one

and that made all the difference in the

world it just

it builds your confidence and then some

of it as i met people that were

more extroverted and i started taking on

some of their personalities

or also i’m sitting with one of them and

there’s 15 of them

but because i’m comfortable and i’m

knowing them on a one-on-one basis

i’m now comfortable with talking with

all 15

at that table and just recently i was at

a networking event

it was very it was a different

networking event that i’m used to

but not only that i thought about it


and one of the things that i learned

when you go into formal networking


is looking for gaps in the room and what

i mean by that is

if you see two people that are face to


there’s no gap there like you you you

just can’t squeeze in

now let’s say we had opened up a bit and

we weren’t

face to face we were more like this

there’s now a gap there

and when i’ve been at these networking

events and i’ve talked to people about

this gap i’m like hey let’s try it out

also we’ll go from a tight group of

three open it up

almost on cue someone will come in and

now we’ve had

someone else come in they’re like oh

that really does work

so when i go to networking events the

first thing i do is i look for gaps if i

can’t find one

is there an individual person by

themselves so

i’ll we’ll go and find those individual


and body language can make all the


if you go into one of these events and

the person’s by themselves but

that’s not a person you want to go talk

to or if they just have this

i do not want to go talk to them and

what i’ve seen some people is

that nice big beautiful smile

oh i’m gonna go talk to them or

sometimes they just happen to look over

and they’re like

yes come talk to me come talk to me and

and that can make all the difference in

it in the world too is

sometimes it’s finding these small

little tips that help but it’s about

knowing yourself and being comfortable

and and knowing what’s going to work for

you best

and by the way folks the first pause

that you heard tom do

he was staring at his phone and this

and that’s for when we do this as a

podcast and the second one

um i don’t know what that was but

there was a pause in there as well i’ll

go back and listen to it and

put it on the show notes but it’s

interesting because from toastmasters

that you mentioned earlier

which i’m a huge fan of i’ve i had

someone from toastmasters on earlier

this year who was a terrific guest

and you know you talk about the face to


and for the experienced person you know

that’s still two gaps in there

because although they may be talking if

you do the

walk over and occupy one of the two gaps

of the face to face

eventually they open up a little bit and

if they do that’s really rude

Preparing for the Next One

but yeah yeah well your clothing has a

room about it

but normally they’ll open up to you but

what she’s talked about in

in the dyad where it’s open and they’re

waiting for the other person to fill out

the triangle

that one’s the easy one you kind of

angle your way in there

and just listen to the conversation flow

and then ask a question along the way

and you know take the small steps in the


to kind of get yourself ingrained in


and when you end that conversation

this is the the tricky part for a lot of

folks how do you

end it in a way that opens up the

possibility of continuing it

outside the room

so you don’t see it as often now but a

lot of people still do have business


but one thing that i i just learned

recently on linkedin

when you’re on the app there’s a small

part like in

the search corner and you can scan

somebody else’s linkedin

and so what it’ll do is it’ll act like

you can add the person from there that

way you don’t have the awkwardness of

how do you spell your name again for the

fourth or fifth time that i’ve asked


but like what’s really important is is

getting a business card or getting the

linkedin connection in

and saying look let’s connect over

coffee or

let’s have a zoom call let’s do


but actually follow up with them too

don’t just

collect the business card yeah i’ll give

you a call or i’ll

i’ll send you a message and then don’t

do it because that’ll be a missed

opportunity if you have a great

connection with them

over that small networking aspect there

wait until you can actually

have that proper conversation but do

follow up with them

because a lot of people will get that

card never follow up with it

and it’s a wasted opportunity horrible

and one thing i do

these days i’m not face to face with

anyone but when i was doing face to face

i would hand them my phone and have them


their contact information so that in

this way

i’m not going through the awkwardness of

tom could you spell your last name for


yeah and was that uh what area code was

that or

country code um we’re not going through

that nonsense

it just makes it easy you know your


i think you can fill it out and if you

fill it out incorrectly there’s a

message in that

that you ought to know about but um

no matter the idea is small steps

help you overcome the fear and

those steps build on one another

yes and help help you make progress by

the way

what happened i asked you about so far

that we really should talk about

geez that is a good question because

sometimes you end up

talking about so many different aspects

and you’re like i know there’s something

else in there

but i i don’t know what it is now one

thing that is important to talk about is

when it comes to networking it’s not a


and if you go into a networking event

think well i just got to get clients or

i i need to get a job

it’s one of the worst things to do so

when someone sends me a message on


and the first thing they do is say oh

this is my background and uh do you have

any jobs

no now the whole entire conversation is

just done

and it just and if you’re at the

networking event like in person and

someone asked that

now this is just awkward and i don’t

even know if i want to talk to you

because it it just

it just feels awkward and the important

thing with networking is

it’s about building relationships now

think about one of your really close

friends you may

have not even talked to them for a few

weeks maybe a few months

but if you talk to them tomorrow it’ll

be like nothing ever changed

one of my close friends it’s probably

been a couple years since i’ve seen him

but i can guarantee you if i called him


and it would be like nothing ever

changed that’s what you want with


building relationships up like that what

happens quite often is people like

okay i’ve got to find a job so i’m gonna

network network network

you’re spending all your time doing this

and then all of a sudden you get that


and you completely stop with everything

if you do that to people again and again

they will remember that

and it’ll be oh i don’t know if i want

to connect with you anymore

or help you out and the truth is folks

that’s the mistake every job hunter

makes you know it’s

i need i want give me

and the problem is you know we all have

that behavior and we’re sending very

clear messages to folks

when at the end of the search we don’t

tell them folks that we found the job

we don’t tell and we don’t stay in touch

with people

and help them you know they send a

message to you

and your reaction is what do they want

so i i hate to be that grotesque about

it but this is behavior now that’s too


ingrained in the linkedin system now one

thing i’ll mention about linkedin

because it’s dirty little secret is

most people are only on the platform

when they’re looking for work

so of those almost 700 million people on

the platform

if you send them a message to connect or

that you want to

have an informational conversation they

may not respond so quickly

so you have to demonstrate persistence

which i know for someone who’s feeling

fearful may be hard to do

but it’s not personal they don’t know

you to reject you

it’s you know it’s they just don’t check

in on linkedin

all that often to get your message

so don’t sweat it just keep doing

and the thing i also want to mention

is it takes courage to take that first


and most things that are new start with


and if you if you act in a transactional

kind of way that’s not courageous that’s

just spamming


and people get that message you know a

quick story with me

at this point i only have my linkedin

set up to

follow rather than connect because i was

just getting too much garbage

and there’s still people who will follow

me and they’ll message

and these days every coach i know is

getting bombarded by people who want to

coach coaches

and often the first message is

hey have you thought about writing a


yeah i’ve got nine i’m working

i’m working on my tenth i i see how much

that you spam people do

something personalized for the

you’ve looked at my

profile but this is all transactional

for you

individual that you reach out to

rather than commoditize the connection


to monetize the first conversation

remember it’s about building a


How To Keep Top-Performing Employees Satisfied And Engaged

not hey i’ve got 26 000 people in my

network you know

and most of these people don’t really

know me even though they reached out to


it’s an amazing thing what i’ve found

can be really helpful

instead of sending the first message

let’s say they have a post and you can

add value to that post

comment on that post now you’ve got a

warm introduction

and i don’t know how many times i

haven’t sent a message to somebody

saw their post engaged with it or they

engage with one of my posts

and then we started chatting from there

and that made it

just that much easier to be able to go

and do and sometimes it wasn’t even


um work or clients or anything i’d seen


post a message about country music and

then i said to them have you ever been

to calgary for the calgary stampede

like no but that sounds awesome and

that’s how we started our conversation


it had nothing to do with clients or or

customers or

anything like that it was just actually

being personal

fabulous from fear to friendly that’s

what we’re talking about today

tom how can people find out more about

you and the work that you do

there’s a few different ways you can go

on to my facebook page

which is the brockton network so that

for them please

x h a m dash

n-e-t-w-o-r-k you could also find me

on linkedin tom brockson


and then i also do have a linkedin


a linkedin page as well too i don’t use

that as often

then i do have a webpage and it is the

broxah network


r www.broxham-n-e-t-w-o-r-k dot com

fabulous tom thanks for making time

today and folks

we’ll be back soon with more i’m jeff

open the big game hunter i hope you

enjoyed today’s show

if you did and you’re watching on

youtube click the like button

subscribe to the channel do something

that lets people know it was helpful

and i also want to mention visit my


there’s a lot there that can help you in

the blog if you’re interested in

one-on-one coaching or have a question

for me

there are ways that you can schedule

time for a free discovery call if you

want to do coaching

or if you just have a question i offer

two options for how to get

the question answered and last thing

i’ll mention is

i’ve got a great class on udemy called

the ultimate job interview framework

and you can get to that and order it

very inexpensively like

i listed at 25 but udemy discounts it

for first time users on the platform to

like 12

so i’ll just simply say to get to the

class most easily

go to the big game hunter dot u s

forward slash

interviews and it’ll take you directly

to the class

which by the way that same title is also


as an amazon book or for kindle

hope you have a great day and best of

all and most importantly

be great take care

Interested in a Job with the US Government? You’ll Need a Federal Resume


Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2200 episodes.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Schedule a discovery call at my website,

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