This week’s episode features my conversation with speaker, author, and college professor Betsy Hays about how Betsy plans her busy days and how she successfully connects with others through virtual networking.
Virtual networking – prioritizing relationships in today’s virtual world
Betsy Hays is a keynote speaker, author, and workshop presenter who specializes in communication and productivity topics. She is also the lead Public Relations Professor for the Department of Media, Communications and Journalism (MCJ) at Fresno State, a post she has held since 1999. In this role Betsy teaches how to help organizations use communication to accomplish their goals. She also teaches advertising, which is a sister discipline of public relations.
Betsy has always felt that education would be the right field for her. Little did she know that working with “big kids” would be where her heart was. In fall 2018, Betsy took over as Chair of the MCJ Department. Betsy loves to see her students flourish and likes to stay in touch with them over the years.
She and her husband are now empty-nesters, as their two daughters are off at college and grad school. Betsy has always loved reading, walking, cooking, and baking and is newly obsessed with yoga. She is the co-author of three books, including Win & Wow: Public Relations Secrets for Everyday Success.
A typical day
Betsy’s typical day now is very different from when her children were younger. She likes to think of her life in seasons, and this is definitely a new season for her.
Betsy wakes up at around 5:30 a.m. and starts her morning routine, which is very important to her. This routine includes meditation, reading and journaling, exercise, and a lot of coffee.
Once her workday starts, she tries to leave her mornings free from meetings because this is when she has her focused work time. She tries to not look at her email until she has done one or two hours of what she calls her MITs–her most important things.
At lunchtime, since she’s working from home now, she tries to eat outside for some fresh air. In the afternoon, she alternates between checking her email, completing more MITs, teaching her classes, or hosting meetings.
She takes another outdoor “sunshine break” around 3:30. Betsy also tries to take as many calls as she can outside, just to stretch her legs and have a nice change of pace.
Before ending her day at about 6 p.m., she will focus on what she wants to complete the next day.
In the evenings, she makes dinner, spends time with her husband, and maybe Facetimes with one of her daughters. She may also read or watch TV. She is then in bed by 9:00 or 9:30 since she has to get up so early.
Biggest productivity challenges
One of Betsy’s biggest productivity challenges is implementing her own plans. She has a well-thought-out schedule that she puts a lot of time into, but she doesn’t always follow it, which leads to everything suffering as a result.
She deals with this by reflecting on how she feels when she is doing her evening re-set. If she’s feeling overwhelmed or disheveled, she knows it’s because she hasn’t followed her plans. She will then recommit to doing better the next day.
On the weekends, she tries to be purposeful when taking her walks, using the time to reflect on the different components of her life, such as her nutrition, exercise, her family, her schedule, etc. She will give herself kudos for things that went well but will also consider how things could have gone better. There are times when she has to let things go because there is no way she can follow a set schedule, but she will give herself grace during these times.
Resources and tools Betsy recommends
Betsy has a couple of systems that work well for her.
One of those systems is that she gives each workday a theme. That way, everything that needs her attention gets it and on a specific day. For example, on Monday she focuses on doing her course preparation. On Tuesday she works on department events. On Wednesday and Thursday she works on department business and course curriculum. And on Friday she works on regrouping and setting up for the next week. On Friday afternoon she creates a detailed two-week schedule so she can see future challenges and adjust accordingly. She will also confirm upcoming appointments to make sure everything stays on track.
Betsy loves to use Evernote to store her to-do lists, schedules, and anything else that is on her mind. She can add and adjust her notes throughout the week and the changes sync to all of her devices. Her schedule is set up in Evernote as a list form with the date and a descending list of things that will happen on that day. She has another Evernote that lists her MITs by day, with checkboxes next to each item.
When it comes to deciding what her MITs will be for a particular day, she thinks about her priorities and keeps notes for all the things she wants to do. She goes through these notes and chooses what she wants to accomplish for the week and what will be realistic for her to do and what she has the energy for.
Betsy also likes using Google Calendar to store all of her appointments and schedules for each day. She puts her exercise time on the calendar, as well as dedicated time to connect with her daughters and take her weekend walks.
How to make virtual networking work for you
The world has changed a lot over the last year and that includes how we connect with others on a professional level. When it comes to networking, Betsy believes we need to be either creating or maintaining small, medium, and large relationships. When we have a multitude of different types of relationships, we have a broader network. These established relationships can come in handy when we need some help. If our primary focus is building relationships and our secondary focus is getting what we want, that tends to work out best for everyone. This not only applies in the business world but in our personal lives as well.
Networking in person versus virtually has the same goals. However, networking virtually also gives us access to more people, more tools, and more technology. Virtually, we have opportunities to connect with people we would normally never encounter in real life.
When it comes to networking virtually, such as in a Zoom meeting, the most important thing is to make sure others know you are in the meeting. Turn your camera on so people can see your facial expressions and smile (which may be awkward for some of us but it’s so important to show your face.)
One way to be comfortable having your camera on is to hide your Self View so you aren’t just looking at yourself the whole time.
Betsy also encourages us to remember that at these meetings, others are more concerned about themselves than they are about you and aren’t noticing you and your appearance as much as you think they are.
Finally, you can decide to have your camera on just for the meeting leader, out of kindness and respect to them. Leading meetings is hard and participating fully means a lot.
Betsy also encourages us to use the chat feature. This allows you to introduce yourself and hopefully start a side dialog during the meeting. The reaction emojis are fun to use too.
When you are finished with the meeting, connect with anyone you may have met on their social media platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) or send them a nice thank-you note.
How Betsy uses virtual networking
One wonderful networking tool is email, which makes it very easy to connect with others, but there are other ways to network as well. For example, Betsy’s campus has a newsletter that comes out weekly that she reads from front to back. Whenever she sees an article that features someone she knows, she sends the article to them in an email with a short note. This allows her to stay in touch with people, most of whom she hasn’t seen in person in over a year. She’s always looking for articles or other things she can send to people to let them know she’s thinking of them. This also makes her feel less disconnected.
Betsy has also become more involved in one of the professional associations she’s been in for several years. She attended one of their virtual workshops and implemented her networking strategies during the calls–having her camera on, commenting in the chat bar, and following up with those she met on social media. Now those people are solidly in her network.
How Betsy makes time to network with her other responsibilities
Networking, whether in person or virtually, takes a lot of work. Betsy makes it a priority by being intentional about connecting with others and by doing it in little chunks of time here and there. For example, she knows that every Monday, she will spend time going through her campus newsletter and sending emails out to her colleagues.
She also knows that when she is scheduled to have a Zoom call, she will spend extra time connecting and following up with those she met on the call.
She also takes time throughout the day to engage on social media and send out texts to her friends and colleagues. Little things here and there add up to quality networking.
What do you do to get back on track on a day when everything gets away from you?
When Betsy is feeling stressed or overwhelmed, she will immediately look over her schedule and see what thing she can move to a different day or how she can rearrange her schedule to give herself some relief. Once she has off-loaded some things, she begins to feel better.
Betsy’s last words for the listener
When you are going about your busy day, consider whether there is someone you could lift up. Maybe a friend or family member needs a little extra love and encouragement. Send them a note or give them a call. Let’s start a wave of happiness by thinking about others who may need some extra love. This will help them, and you too.
What do you think? Questions? Comments?
Connect with Betsy
Resources and Links
- Evernote.com (for to-do lists and ideas and info she needs to reference)
- Google Calendar
- Google Drive (to collaborate)
- Google Spreadsheets (to keep everything organized)
- Notes app on my phone
- Calm app (for meditation)
- Kindle app (so she can read & not do as much mindless scrolling on social media)
- Layout app (to make photo collages)
- Done app (habit tracking)
- WOOP app (wish-fulfillment/habit builder app)
Books Betsy recommends
- All books by Laura Vanderkam and Gretchin Rubin and Chris Guillebeau
- Finish by Jon Acuff
- Life Coaching for Successful Women by Valorie Burton
- I Really Needed This Today by Hoda Kotb (lovely part of my morning routine)
- Essentialism by Greg McKeown
- The One Thing by Gary Keller
Podcasts Betsy recommends
- The Productive Woman (of course)
- Before Breakfast (Laura Vanderkam)
- Happier with Gretchen Rubin
- The Happiness Lab
- The One Thing
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