#008: Networking Like a Boss with Jennifer Valencia of Unleaded Communications

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Jennifer Valencia of Unleaded Communications joins us to discuss how to build your oil and gas network into an army of advocates. We also take a quick detour into sales strategies and cover ways to bride your online and offline networking gaps.

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Tribe Tweetables

Sooey! – @JamesHahnII (tweet this)

Fostering and nurturing relationships takes time, and you have to be patient. – @JenValencia (tweet this)

In the end, you’re selling to a person. That person wants to be talked to as somebody you know. – @JenValencia (tweet this)

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Links Mentioned

Unleaded Communications
Follow Jennifer Valencia of Twitter
Connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn
Taxi Mike from Jay Baer’s Best-Selling Book Youtility
Jeffrey Gitomer, “People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy!”
Mark Schaefer of Businesses Grow
Free 90 Minutes Digital Coaching Session
The Top 5 Marketing Mistakes Oil & Gas Operators Make – And How to Avoid Them

Transcript

Unleaded Communications Logo
James Hahn II: Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another episode of the Oil and Gas Digital Marketing Podcast. I am your host James Hahn II of triberocket.com, and this is the podcast for marketers in oil and gas and B2B marketers across the globe. Episode number 8, I’m dedicating in honor of the Great 8 Alexander Ovechkin. And that’s a special dedication for Brittany Thomas of Cabot Oil and Gas. That’s an inside joke. She’s a Pittsburg Penguins fan. I’ll tell you that much.

Moving on, we’re not going to get into SportsCenter as much as I want to. We have a great show lined up for you today, Jennifer Valencia from Unleaded Communications. This woman is a networking superstar, and she is here to share some networking wisdom with us.

Before we do that, we got to get into Pay Zone, but before we do that, let’s give a shout out to Patrick Harris, @psharrisYM on Twitter, if you want to hit him up. He has had some great things to say about last week’s episode. So as we did last week, let’s give him a shout out. Thank you very much, Patrick. This is ridiculous but I have fun with it, so hopefully you’re having as much fun as I am.

Let’s go ahead. Let’s transition over to another Pay Zone Power Move. Let’s get into it.

Pay Zone Power Move

All right, if this is your first time joining the tribe for the podcast, the Pay Zone Power Move is a digital marketing technique, tactic or strategy designed to help you move the needle online in your business. But since we’re talking networking with Jennifer Valencia this week, we’re going to go ahead and go back offline. If you remember, last time we went offline, I gave you the advice to when you go to a conference not network with the attendees, network with the speakers.

Now, just to clarify, of course, there are people there that you are going to need to meet. You should just use your intuition and figure out where your time best spent.

But this is the power move. Your time is not best spent in the line after a speaker gives a speech.

Now, I don’t want to come off — I’m not judging anyone or hating on anyone. There’s no hatin’ going on here, all right? No hatin’. But the point is that because there are a lot of people that are genuine fans and that’s all they want to do is shake the person’s hand, “I love your work; you’ve helped me so much,” and move on, and that’s all they’re there for. But you see so many people that are actually using this or trying to what they see as an opportunity to essentially pitch, flip business cards and move on. They are hoping in those shining glimmering moments that they’re going to actually accomplish something.

But here’s the thing. Speakers who are at the top of their industry, they get hundreds and hundreds of business cards all of the time. So if you’re standing there thinking that you’re going to be able to exchange business cards and really make an impact, you are just mistaking. Because, okay, think about it this way. When was the last time you went to any other form of networking event and pitched someone in 30 seconds and gave them a business card and then all of the sudden that person wanted to grow and prosper a long loving relationship with you? Probably never, right? Because the person that wants to pitch and give a business card in 30 seconds is usually the person you want to punch in the face, right? So you don’t want to be that guy.

Now, obviously, you’re not going to be that guy if you’ve been doing this, that you don’t feel bad about yourself, it’s just the way people think about these things, typically. So we’re just going to flip it around and say, “Okay. Well, yeah, they’re on a stage and yeah, they have a lot of followers, but they’re people.” That’s something to keep in mind. No matter what our industry is, whether tech for Steve Jobs; for us it’s T. Boone Pickens; and other big giants like that, we put these people on such huge pedestals that we forget that they’re just people. They’re just people.

So if they’re just people and you’re at a conference, what do people do? Well, people just hang out, right? They just hang out. Well, where do speakers hang out? The answer to that question is at the back of the room. Because a lot of the time, let’s say for instance at Social Media Marketing World, we had a main room where the main keynotes happen and then all of the breakout rooms.

[0:05:10]

And so you would see, and it’s because I do hang around the perimeter, I do hang on out back, you can look around and you can see that that’s where the speakers are. Why? Because they have a room to get to. They can’t go into the front row and sit down and listen to the speech because they have their own speech to give. So that’s one place.

Just as an example of how this works or how this has worked for me and worked there, I was in a session, standing at the back of the room as I always do, and then all of the sudden Mark Schaefer from Businesses Grow walked in and he stood right next to me. He watched the whole presentation, and I just struck up a casual conversation with him afterwards and we ended up having lunch together. He gave me some of the best business advice I’ve ever been given in that lunch.

So that’s where your time is best invested is just to remember that the A players, the top people at the top of their game in your industry. If that’s oil and gas, if that’s services or if you’re just a marketer tuning in, whoever you are, just remember that these people are people. And how do people operate? They just hang out and they just attend conferences the same way that you do. They just hang in different places. So you got to put yourselves; it’s kind of like what Wayne Gretsky said. You got to go where the puck is before the puck. I don’t know. I’m a big enough hockey fan where I should be able to quote that. I’m a little ashamed.

So that’s this week’s Pay Zone Power Move. Hopefully that’s helpful to you. If it is, hit me with an email james@triberocket.com. Hit me with a tweet or a five-star review on iTunes for instance. But anyway, that’s enough of the power move. Let’s go ahead and transition over to this phenomenal interview with the always phenomenal Jennifer Valencia.

Jennifer Valencia of Unleaded Communications

Joining the tribe this week is Jennifer Valencia. As a 16-year veteran of Houston’s B2B scene, she is no stranger to the energy industry. I work in this industry I should be able to say that.

She joined the Unleaded team seven years ago as their sole business development professional. With a passion for building and nurturing client relationships, she currently serves not only as their director of client relations but also as the agency’s power networker, which is where I met her. Whether it’s NAPE, DUG or OTC, she rarely misses an industry event. Her philosophy is “Never sell, always service,” which is perfect because I think I recently put out a blog post called “Helping is the best selling you can do.”

So welcome, welcome to the program, Jennifer, thank you for coming on.

Jennifer Valencia: Thank you, James. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

James Hahn II: Yeah. I see you everywhere, literally. I said she joined the Unleaded team. Well, let’s cover that first. What is the Unleaded team and what do you all do?

Jennifer Valencia: Sure. Well, Unleaded Communications, we’re a full-service marketing partner. What that means is that we’re an agency type. We try to stay away from the typical traditional advertising firm, design firm. We’re certainly not that. But we are a marketing partner. We probably have about 50 employees all ranging from your researchers to your creative teams to your programmers. We’re basically a one-stop-shop for any marketing department. We like to say that we work as an extension of companies’ marketing departments.

James Hahn II: I’m always seeing pictures of booths you all developed. You all do booths and what kind of campaigns do you run?

Jennifer Valencia: We help companies with their brand. We help companies differentiate themselves from the pack. Whether that message is going to be relayed via a tradeshow or via an ad or a social media campaign, whatever that is, we like to say that we’re message packers.

[0:10:00]

So we really help define the brand, help them figure out how to speak to their customers, and get that message out with the different mediums.

James Hahn II: You just hit on the word “brand,” and I guess what we wanted to talk about today is it falls in the category of maybe personal branding; but also, it’s a big part of everyone’s toolkit in bringing new business in the door, whether you are an oil and gas service company, whether you’re marketers like us, or just anybody who owns a business is networking and you are one of the best. So where did you get this talent of yours?

Jennifer Valencia: Well, my passion stems from Unleaded. I can’t say that I would be doing this if it wasn’t for the great organization that I work for. Unleaded gave me the shot at being their first business developer. I went from working as a marketing professional for 12 years to going into a sales role in an industry that I really was very unfamiliar with.

So there was no roadmap. Nobody told me how you need to go, how to get business. It was just like, “Let me see what you can do.” Well, what I can do best is I like to bang my drum pretty loud; and in doing so, when I first started at Unleaded, there was no Twitter, there was no social media. My social media was my email address and my email contacts.

So I realized that we had a really good organization and nobody was talking about it. We weren’t really marketing ourselves. Nobody was out there promoting Unleaded. I really had a great connection with the owner of Unleaded that I felt the need to go out there and just tell it to the world. I wanted to yell it from the top of our building, “We’re incredible! Please look at us!”

So the first thing that I started to do was look into all the organizations that oil and gas professionals were involved in, where marketing professionals were involved in, and became a part of those organizations, either became members or I attended networking events, afterhours, happy hours or luncheons.

I realized very quickly that attending these things and having that face-to-face connection with these people was key into having more people know who you were. So I just basically booked my calendar with every single luncheon and every happy hour that you could think of, and I started shaking hands.

Then, once Twitter came out, that was really what helped us tremendously because I then had this vehicle that I could tweet where I would tell the people and show the people where I was. If I wasn’t talking about it, no one was really going to know what we were doing.

So I didn’t realize at the time why more people weren’t using this tool, and I really think that it came three or four years later that people started getting on the Twitter bandwagon and realizing what kind of a support tool that this was for networking, because even though I was out there shaking hands and meeting new people, I was still not capturing the whole audience. The World Wide Web was something that was so easy to do. Once you were able to post a message on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn, it really changed the world and it really changed the way that I started networking.

James Hahn II: So tell us a little bit, maybe give us some tips on making the successful transition from “Hey, we’re Twitter pals” to “Hey, we’re business partners and good friends.”

Jennifer Valencia: Well, you always want to make sure that you support your connections on social media. They’re there for a reason. They want to be recognized. They want to be talked to in that social media space. But they also want to be recognized as a person. So if you’re trying to build a long-term relationship with someone, I think it’s crucial to follow up on face-to-face meetings. Perhaps, “Hey, so and so, are you going to be at this event? We’d love to connect and meet you in person there.”

I think some people may not use all the tools that are available to them when connecting that circle of networking, and I think it’s very important to not only have that social media connection but have that face-to-face connection, because once they get to know you face to face, they realize their personality is right on. They are who they say they are on these social sites.

[0:15:14]

Otherwise, you could still be just a Twitter handle to them. Having that personal connection will always be what makes you stand out from anybody, and I think that has helped me tremendously because I like to follow up and I like to make sure that whoever I’m engaged with social media, if there’s an opportunity that we can meet face to face, like you and I did, James, when we first met at our first NAPE show.

James Hahn II: Absolutely.

Jennifer Valencia: I wanted to make sure that I found you. You were with Drillinginfo at the time. I wanted to make sure I went to that booth to see you so that we can have that connection. Now it’s been probably two years since that first meeting and we’re still going strong.

James Hahn II: This is such a great point because this is something that I do very strategically with connecting. I often tell and I think I might have even said in the last podcast that I believe Twitter is the most powerful networking tool that’s ever been created because it gives you access to people in your space because nobody is really – it’s funny. Within oil and gas, there are the oil and gas famous people. There are the social media famous people. There are all these people. None of us, especially me, have any real fame, but I wanted to cultivate with the real A players in content marketing and I really look up to Jay Baer and Marcus Sheridan as two people that I really aspire to attain their level of success and really model their businesses.

So I cultivated a relationship with both of them over the course of maybe a year, a year and a half. Send a tweet there; send a tweet here, a link that makes them laugh. Jay came to speak at the Dallas Social Media Club and he’s a huge, huge barbecue enthusiast, so I put together a list of ten great barbecue spots in Dallas and sent it to him. He said, “Oh, my gosh, this is amazing.”

It’s funny because people ask me, “How did you get that quote from Jay Baer at the top of your…? He’s in New York Times Bestseller?” Well, it took about two years, and now I think I’m comfortable enough to say that we’re friend.

But a lot of people will come up to the wrong — they’re trying to engage at the wrong level at the wrong time where they are coming up and standing in line to meet someone and giving them a business card and thinking that’s a connection. I know that that’s sort of been a struggle of yours. Tell us how once you get that face to face and what those phases of networking look like as far as advancing the professional relationship to the next step?

Jennifer Valencia: Sure. Well, I’m a firm believer that you have to be genuine in everything that you do. You’re not genuine when you’re walking up to a person and you’re handing them a business card without them knowing who you are and immediately try to sell them something. I think that’s a first event to anyone. I don’t think that that’s something that anyone would welcome.

I don’t go up to people and sell. I go up to people and introduce myself as a person to get to know them so that they can get to know me and get to know my personality, my values; and nine times out of ten, we click right away. You have to listen to people and listen to when it’s the right time to insert your pitch or your reason for talking to them.

But nine times out of ten, I can tell you, James, that some of these people, they don’t know what I do until three or four conversations. They just think that I’m just a good person and wow. You’ve got so much energy. They compliment you for you being as a person and not you being as a salesperson. That is so crucial in building these relationships because nobody wants to be sold to. Everybody wants to make sure that you — for the kinds of relationships that I build and from the kind of work that we do, I sell people; I sell our agency.

[0:20:00]

I have to make sure that these people know that I’m a reputable person, that I’m putting my name behind this company and behind these people that I’m representing. But I don’t want to throw it down their throat, jam it down their throat that “We’re the best agency in town and you have to use us,” because that’s not my personal way of selling. That could be somebody else’s way of selling and they may be successful, but I would be shocked to hear that that’s a successful tool.

I first make sure that I gain their trust, I gain their comfort, and then I do touch points. I make sure that if they can go to lunch or if they can do an after-work drink or if we can remain somehow friends on the social media sites and have that connection, it starts to build that trust even more. That’s why I think it’s so crucial to be able to use all the tools that are available to you so that they all work in your favor. You have to make sure you put your best foot forward in person, but make sure you also put it forward in an email or in a post or a reply to them.

James Hahn II: That’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, and I think I’m going to write a blog post, something along the lines of how to sell anything to anyone in the oil and gas industry with content. I think that’s one thing that a lot of people, especially sales guys out there in our industry, they haven’t really understood yet the power of content and the ability that it has to create relationships with your prospects. So their typical follow-up email might sound like, “Hey, Bob. I haven’t heard from you in a week. When can we talk again?” instead of saying, “Hey, I remember you’re a New Orleans Saints fan. This site is hilarious. Check it out.” And having nothing to do with a sales call but still cultivating that relationship.

Jennifer Valencia: Exactly. That is correct. That is correct. Fostering these relationships, nurturing these relationships takes time, and you have to be patient. I think patience is one of the biggest attributes to a good salesperson.

Again, if you’re selling a widget, you may have to use a different technique. But again, I’m selling people, and that takes a lot longer to build trust. Even though our expertise is up to part with the best agencies in the world, we do produce award-winning creatives, we do have the best talent at our firm; but if they don’t believe the salesperson, if the salesperson who is representing that firm is coming across cocky or egotistical or just overly confident, that’s going to turn them away from even looking at your portfolio.

So being on the front lines of things, you really have to make sure that you read the person, you’re listening to the person, and you’re not overly pushing something to them when they’re completely shut off from the conversation already. In the end, you’re selling to a person. That person wants to be talked to as somebody you know.

James Hahn II: Yeah. You mentioned about if you’re selling widgets, it may be different. It really is never different because people are people.

Jennifer Valencia: Correct.

James Hahn II: Jeffrey Gitomer says it all the time, who if you’re not familiar listeners out there, he is a really phenomenal sales trainer.

Jennifer Valencia: He is amazing.

James Hahn II: He is amazing. All the time he says, “People buy from who they like.”

Jennifer Valencia: Yeah, that is exactly correct.

James Hahn II: And that’s what it comes down to. So we’ve taken a dive off the road here into sales, which has been a blast. But I wanted to hit on — because we’ve talked about sort of the individual networker approach, how you build those relationships and the fact that yeah, I can take four or five or six different times before you’re actually telling them what you do because you’re building that relationship.

But let’s talk about — because I know that you’re good at this too. As far as getting advocates on your site and sort of building your network or team, if you will, what are your strategies for that?

Jennifer Valencia: I’ve been blessed with having a wonderful, wonderful network here in the Houston area.

[0:25:00]

I think once you treat people with respect and you’re able to pay it forward when you need to pay it forward, that really brings so many advocates out in your favor. So it’s about making sure that all these people that are also trying to make a name for themselves, it’s all right. It’s in your favor to do something nice for them.

For example, there may be a networker or somebody that’s going to a networking event who is shy or somebody that’s looking for a job and has never been to, for example, an AMA event or a BMA event, and they need some kind of guidance. I’m a firm believer that you should pay it forward. It’s like having good karma. Once you send out good karma, you’re going to receive good things.

Of course, you do it without expecting anything back, but it really is something great to see when you’re able to even help somebody by saying, “I’ll meet you at that networking event and I’ll introduce you to a few people.” It makes a difference in the world of that person. It helps them in the rest of their careers. If you need to pass somebody’s resume off to another person, feel free to do that. That’s something that’s easy enough to do. It doesn’t take much time.

But my advocates are the people that paid it forward for me when I was first starting out and the ones that follow me on all my sites and the ones that I’m able to see from time and time again at these networking events. You never change. If you’re genuine, they’re going to understand that. They’re going to see that you’re not disguising yourself and changing your personality a million times. If you continue to be a genuine person, you’re going to have the followers or advocates, I should say, that are genuine themselves. So definitely surrounding yourself with real people and not phonies is what has helped me with my career.

James Hahn II: Yeah, authenticity and transparency is the name of the game.

Jennifer Valencia: Absolutely.

James Hahn II: Also, I think not only at the networking events but keeping your eye out in trying to — you know what you specialize in, right?

Jennifer Valencia: Correct.

James Hahn II: And I know what I specialize in. I specialize in digital marketing. I’m a digital marketer. But if you want someone that’s going to help you productize something, that’s going to work at that really “Hey, we’re a startup and we’re trying to figure out even what we’re going to be selling,” I’m going to send you over to my friend Andrew Szabo or other people that I know that that’s their specialty. If you can keep referring people like that, then, like you said, there’s a reciprocity there that just naturally happens. Not sort of in the back of your mind saying, “Once I send him this, I hope he’ll send me that.” But just keeping an open mind or an open eye for ways that you can help your friends and your people in your network with their business, it always comes back.

Jennifer Valencia: It always comes back. You’re 100% correct.

James Hahn II: So wrapping things up here, actually, okay, I know we’re running low on time because you got to run.

Jennifer Valencia: Yeah, no worries. I’ve got some time, so go ahead.

James Hahn II: What would you say are some mistakes to avoid?

Jennifer Valencia: I would say one of the key things I think that may offend any power networker out there or anybody that seems to have a high level of connections, whether that’s on their LinkedIn or whether those are personal connections or whatever it is, if you’re new to an industry or if you’re new to selling or networking as a whole, it’s probably not a good thing to just go up to that person and ask them for their contacts, for their contact list. That’s a bit of a personal thing. People are going to want to help you if you perhaps phrase it in a different way. Perhaps say, “I’m looking for some mentoring. I’m wondering if maybe you can assist me with pointing me in the right direction as to where I should go.”

[0:29:57]

But I think it’s always extremely offensive when I get asked, “Can you give me your contacts?” Well, I don’t know about you, James, but it took me seven years to build my contact base, and I value those names. They’re very close to my heart, very close to my chest I should say. I protect them. It’s not something that you should ever request from someone. You should definitely phrase it into a more “Can you assist me with a couple of things?” “Can you maybe coach me?” or like I said, mentor. But stay away from just trying to get these people’s contacts list.

James Hahn II: To that point, I think one mistake when you said about mentoring, I think the best way to go about that situation is, again, we’re back to building that relationship. Once you build that relationship and they see you as a talented person and they see the potential that you have, but they also see maybe the little things, that 5% that’s going to make all the difference to take you to the next level, those relationships just happen. You don’t even have to ask them to mentor you. They just start doing it because you’ve taken that time.

So this has been an awesome, awesome conversation. Thank you so much for joining us, Jennifer.

Jennifer Valencia: You’re so welcome, James.

James Hahn II: Yeah. If someone wants to find out more about you and Unleaded Communications, where can they go?

Jennifer Valencia: Sure. They can go to our website at www.ulcomm.com. So that’s Unleaded Communications, www.ulcomm.com. Or they can certainly find me on Twitter. My Twitter handle is @jenvalencia. I’m also of course on LinkedIn, and to some you can see me on Facebook as well. But I really prefer Twitter and LinkedIn as my go-to networking places.

James Hahn II: Well, that’s awesome. Everybody out there, go follow Jenn @jenvalencia because if not you’re putting useful information out there, you’re just putting a ton of great energy out into the world all the time.

Jennifer Valencia: I appreciate that, James.

James Hahn II: It is very contagious. Thanks again for joining us, Jennifer, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Jennifer Valencia: Awesome. Thank you. Take care, James.

James Hahn II: Well, this brings us to the end of yet another Oil and Gas Digital Marketing Podcast. I have been your host, James Hahn II of triberocket.com.

Before we get out of here, I got to say that was a fantastic interview. I love what Jennifer had to say. She is so spot on. It’s about helping. It’s about serving. I just came up with this one. It’s about making friends, not sales.

If you want to learn more about Tribe Rocket, you can go over to triberocket.com. If you’re into downloading free e-books, go to triberocket.com/ebook, and you can download The Top 5 Marketing Mistakes Oil & Gas Operators Make: And How to Avoid Them. We’ll also give you a free 90-minute digital coaching session where we will give you as much free advice as humanly possible within the 90, 60 or 30 minutes, however long you have. You got up to 90 though, then that’s when the clock starts ticking.

Don’t forget, if you want to, you can go to triberocket.com/review and that will take you straight to iTunes to give us a five-star review.

Many thanks to Jennifer Valencia for joining us today. Thank you so much for tuning in. I have you have a fantastic, extraordinary, phenomenal, wonderful, exciting, every exciting big, big word that I can of think week this week.

And I hope you — in honor of J. Paul Getty — I hope you do it this week! I hope you go out there, rise early, work hard and strike oil.

Folks, we will talk to you all next week!

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