lisa henderson

A No-Sweat Approach to Networking by Julie Schumacher

We describe Forth as an everything-but-networking experience. Are connections made? Sure as heck they are. But it's not the start or end goal. For many working in the arts or creative fields, networking is not always something we're super comy with and may just actively avoid. It's why we turned to Lisa Henderson of Hatch to help us understand just how to network when networking is on tap. Here are her no-sweat networking tips. How do I know they're awesome? That's me below learning the secrets of the master.

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When you are going to network, make the most of it. Read on for Lisa's tips.

Truth: I used to get really anxious about “networking opportunities”. Truth: I sweat a lot when I get nervous. Seriously, I have a gray blazer that may never recover. Lie: I never over-share with people I just met.

Two years ago, I decided to leave my corporate job to start my own consulting company focused on helping people launch their own start-up. I loved defining my own path. I loved working closely with my clients. I loved the work we created together. I loved everything…everything except networking.

You see, I thought the only approach to networking was attending some large conference in a hotel banquet room with 200 people all wearing black suits and everyone force feeding their elevator pitch.

Every time I came home from one of these events I was:

  • completely drained
  • overwhelmed by the amount of work I would have to do to convert my leads into clients
  • annoyed that I had to take more sweaty business clothes to the dry cleaners

One day, I thought to myself “If I just did this work for free it would be so much easier to get clients." So I started doing that – offering my knowledge for free:

  • I was a guest speaker for graduating seniors at Illinois Institute for Art
  • I was a coach at Chicago Start-up Weekend
  • I taught free marketing classes at the Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship
  • I did pro-bono projects for entrepreneurs at Illinois Institute of Art

A couple amazing things happened: I was extremely happy AND I ended up finding a lot of people who wanted to pay me for my services


All of this happened because I changed my perspective; instead of pushing my services, I needed to provide value. This translated into a few tactics that have made networking no sweat for me.

One-on-One Networking

Focus on helping the other person as much as possible. Ask lots of genuine questions. Find out who that person is professionally and personally.  Be a connector (open up your network to them, tell them about events that may be helpful for them).  At the end of the conversation two things will happen:

1)   They will ask you about yourself and you will get the chance to tell them about your profession in detail.

2)   They will not ask anything about you, but you can throw in a quick pitch based on a specific need they spoke about.

One-to-Many Networking

Remember that no one wants to listen to a panel speaker who is speaking in generals. Tell lots of stories. Provide details in your answers. Give away lessons you have learned. Share valuable insights. If you provide value for free, people will come back for paying for more.

20140220_FORTH-36Alright, now you have no more excuses. Brush off those business cards and get out there. Lisa is my no-nonsense, no-sweat networking mentor and her unconventional approach is just what the unconventional workforce of today needs. If you want to learn more about Hatch, head here. If you want to read more about Lisa's favorite things, head to her 4xForth

4xForth: Lisa Henderson by Natalie Pavela

4xForth-Chicago-Lisa-Henderson Each Friday we're highlighting one of the lovely women in our community by learning about her favorite Chicago places and restaurants, hearing what websites she's all jazzed about, and gaining some inspiration from destinations she's dreaming of traveling to next.

It's 4 x Forth Friday and today we're talking to Lisa Henderson! Lisa's Picks:

Places I frequent in Chicago: 

1. Stitch: A little gem in Wicker Park. They have amazing furniture, art, jewelry and accessories. Both my couch and favorite necklace came from here.

2. Magnificent Milestones: A “Paperie with a Chicago Accent”. If you like modern, feminine cards, pillows and wall art that celebrate our zip codes, public art, skyline, and el schedule then you will be in heaven here.

3. Open Books: My neighborhood bookstore is awesome. For the kids, it has story time, lots of music and craft events, and the kid area is designed for kids to be loud and make a mess. For the Adults, super wide range of books and I always end up finding something totally random and amazing. Plus, Open Books is nonprofit and promotes literacy so you can donate books, volunteer and expect low-priced books.

4. My Massage: You often don’t hear raving reviews about “cheap massages”, but I have found the hidden gem. You can get a 60-minute massage for $60 and they are open until 9pm on weeknights. When you arrive, don’t be scared off by the curb appeal - garden level business with neon sign flashing “$1 per minute massages”. My husband and I go weekly and it is very professional. Plus it is right next to Whole Foods so you can get some grocery shopping done too!

Places I’ll go someday:

1. Live Taping of Saturday Night Live: I love to laugh. I love to see comedians in person. I am curious about the behind-the-scenes-world of TV.

2. Luxury Tree House Resort: India + Tree House + Luxury Resort…what’s not to love right?

3. Amsterdam: I am obsessed with mid century modern furniture and Amsterdam is the one of the best shopping destinations. I am going to treasure hunt the heck out of the city and then ship an entire container full back to my perfectly designed pre-fab house (pipedream!)

4. Grand Canyon: Preferably in an RV with my husband and kids.

Best bites in Chicago:

1. Bang Bang Pie Shop: BEST PIE EVER…Oh and they also sell the pie crust scraps for the obsessed like me.

2. La Fournette: Cute, approachable, authentic French bakery in Old Town. I dream about the mushroom soup on a weekly basis.

3. Saigon Sisters: Modern Vietnamese sandwiches and rice bowls. I have eaten everything on the menu and I have never been disappointed. The Porky sandwich is my favorite.

4. Farmhouse: Midwestern Craft Tavern. Locally sourced food like burgers and fish, plus craft beer from all over the Midwest. They even have Five Star, which is a beer from this tiny brewery in my hometown Wausau, Wisconsin

Sites I lurve:

1. Story Corp: NPR produced interviews between friends/family members/enemies. Just listen to the interview between a father and daughter about the father’s scariest moment as a child. It will make you want to interview everyone in your family!

2. Make It For Us: If you are an avid Etsy or Pinterest shopper you are going to love this concept. This is a new company in Chicago that I am following where they bring together people who can make things and connect them with people who want something custom made.

3. Creative Good: Mark Hurst focuses on how companies do a good/bad job connecting with their customers and how they make a meaningful relationship. He also produces the GEL Conference – a must see if you like Service Design and meeting cool people.

4. Creative Commons: Instead of goggling for cool images, please go here instead! Free stock images from artists and designers that will blow your mind.

Thanks Lisa! Make it For Us is such a fun concept, I'll definitely be checking it out soon and that tree house resort is bananas.

Lisa's the leading lady at Hatch Valley Co, follow them on Twitter!