May 11, 2016

Influencer Interview: Dorie Clark


Hailed as a 'branding expert' by big names such as Inc. and the Associated Press, we're lucky enough to have Dorie Clark as one of our Contactually influencers and friends. Even luckier? That we scored an exclusive interview with her, chock-full of helpful tips on networking and engaging with your contacts.

Dorie puts her expertise into practice as an adjunct business administration professor at Duke University, and has worked as a marketing consultant for recognizable brands such as Google, Microsoft, Yale University, Fidelity, the U.S. State Department, and the World Bank.

Dorie is also the author of several successful books, and Stand Out was named the #1 Leadership Book of 2015 by Inc. Magazine. And just in case you need one more point to convince you of her expertise on the subject, the New York Times recently described her as an "expert at self-reinvention and helping others make changes in their lives."

Contactually Influencer Interview: Dorie Clark

Contactually: It seems like you have a busy event calendar, how do you make sure you keep up regularly with people from these networking events?

Dorie Clark: When I get people's business cards, I make sure to write down where and when I met them, so I don't get confused. It doesn't have to be extensive: "4/16 Deloitte University" or "3/16 Columbia talk" work just fine. I take photos of the cards and have my virtual assistant input the details into Contactually. It's especially handy that Contactually connects with Gmail and scrapes the email address of people that I've already been corresponding with, so the data entry burden is very light. With Contactually's 'buckets', which enable to you identify at the outset how often you want to be sure to be in touch with someone, and reminders from the service, it's very easy to shoot someone a note to say hello or follow up on a previous conversation you've had.

Contactually: What role has networking and building relationships played in the building of your career and success?

Dorie Clark: Nothing in my career would have been possible without the relationships I've built. When I launched my business 10 years ago, the first people who hired me weren't strangers who saw an ad or people who read an article I wrote; they were former colleagues who trusted me and wanted to work with me again. Similarly, I just booked a paid keynote talk last week as a result of meeting a guy nearly five years ago at a conference; we kept in touch, so I was top of mind for the engagement.

Contactually: You've got an impressive amount of followers and engagement on social media, specifically Twitter. How have you leveraged your account for your business? What advice would you give to other professionals looking to utilize Twitter for their professional growth?

Dorie Clark: Sadly, I'm more bearish about Twitter than I used to be. For years, it's been a great way to get direct access to thought leaders and executives -- sans gatekeepers -- and build real relationships. But Twitter's continuing inability to grow their user base is a problem. The same opinion leaders who used to like Twitter still do, but it's hard to tell how long that will last since Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and other services are growing so robustly, in contrast.

Contactually: How do you continue to maintain your relationships at such a large scale?

Dorie Clark: A while back, I interviewed a consultant named Michael Katz for my Forbes blog. He had a great system for keeping in touch with people, which I think is worth emulating. At a very broad level, he sent out a biweekly newsletter so that he could stay top of mind with a large number of followers. (I've also emphasized building my email list in recent years, and created a free 42-page Stand Out self-assessment workbook as an incentive for people to join.) Next, he identifies his top 350 contacts and emails a few each day, so that he's touching base with a personal note about every quarter. He then uses a service to send handsome, personalized notecards in the mail to his top 100 contacts. And every week, he tries to meet face-to-face with at least one person. That combination allows you to make new connections and keep in good touch with your existing ones.

Contactually: How do you personalize your own brand within your network?

Dorie Clark: I'm gotten very deliberate about networking with people in the ways I enjoy, and in which I feel most comfortable. For instance, I try to avoid large, noisy events, and instead focus on throwing more intimate dinner gatherings.

Contactually: Any tips or tricks on email communications that almost always get responses?

Dorie Clark: If you don't know the person well, you'll want to be brief and explain - quickly and upfront - what you're asking and what's in it for them. That may sound clinical and transactional, but no one interesting or successful is going to come to your dinner party (or be interviewed on your podcast or write the preface to your book) if they don't know you; you need to make it clear why it will be an enjoyable investment of their time.

Contactually: What's the best follow-up that you've ever received and sent?

Dorie Clark: This isn't necessarily one "best," but I'm always grateful when people follow what author James Altucher calls 'permission networking' -- meaning that they get a double opt-in before they make an introduction. Sometimes, I'm traveling for a month and am just too busy to connect with new people at that point, and it can become burdensome when well-meaning contacts try to introduce me to someone when I'm working nonstop 12 time zones away.

Contactually: Any additional advice for someone building up their own brand and network?

Dorie Clark: Start creating content; that's the best way to demonstrate your expertise to the world, and it draws people to you, so you don't always have to be the one knocking on other people's doors.

Looking for more?

The Dorie Clark advice doesn't stop here! Be sure to check out her website, chock-full of resources and videos you'll find useful, and then go ahead and give her a follow on Twitter or Facebook. Plus, you can check her out in a blog post from early 2016 where we gathered advice from our influencers on how they'll be getting referrals this year.