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  • Writer's pictureSusan Tatum

Connections, Connectors, and the REAL Value in Networking (Part I)

Updated: Apr 8

Is networking all about business and sales? Casey Jenkins from Eight Twenty-Eight Consulting says it's more than that. We discuss her unique synergy, from corporate experience to services and solutions, and her high volume networking approach.

Notes from the Show

Casey Jenkins (CJ) is the founder of Eight Twenty-Eight Consulting. She went full time in the consulting space last year as a Supply Chain Consultant and has a unique synergy of corporate experience with the solutions and services she offers her clients.

Along with Casey’s “Execution Style Consulting” and her encouragement to others on the entrance into consulting even as a side hustle, our conversation focus on this episode turns to Casey’s style of high volume networking. She talks about her staggering 250 connections in less than two months, what that looks like for her, and if she has seen business from these connections.

For Casey, networking and making connections are just that. The real value is beyond transactional and yields tips, advice, an industry community, and genuine friends from around the world. Stay tuned for Casey’s return to Stop The Noise when we discuss her LinkedIn process.

What's Inside:

  • Can and should consulting be a side hustle?

  • What is Execution Style Consulting, and what sets it apart?

  • High Volume Networking and its yield of business opportunities and connections.

  • The value of networking beyond business.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Transcribed by AI Susan Tatum 0:36

Welcome back, everybody. I'm Susan Tatum. And today, my guest is CJ Jenkins. You can also call her Casey Jenkins. And she is the owner of Eight Twenty-Eight Consulting, which is supply chain consultant. Welcome CJ.

Casey Jenkins 0:51

Yeah, thank you so much for having me.

Susan Tatum 0:52

It's really good to have you here. I know, I reached out to you a few months ago, because you have such good synergy between your corporate experience and the solutions and services that you're offering to your clients. And I find that to just such an important thing and helping to build a client base. So that's, that's what we reached out to talk about. And then you were you have some really cool things that you're doing. In terms of client acquisition that you were kind enough this to say that you'd share with us. So here we are talking again. And for those of us who don't know you yet, give us just a little bit about you know, what your background is and what it is that Eight Twenty-Eight Consulting does. And I'll start off with a question for you. Because I noticed on your LinkedIn headline, it says that it's you do execution style, you're an execution style supply chain, professional consultant. What does that mean?

Casey Jenkins 1:51

Yeah, so I learned very quickly that within I guess, supply chain and other realms, that the term consultant can actually be just someone who connects people and who doesn't actually dive into the details of the work. And so I wanted to kind of make myself stand out as a consultant who is not just a connector, I'm not just, you know, making introductions to let people, you know, run with business and make a profit off of that. Like, I'm someone who actually likes to go in, get into the details, identify gaps and initiatives, and then make some improvements and drive change within organisations.

Susan Tatum 2:29

That makes sense. So how did you come about starting your company?

Casey Jenkins 2:33

Yeah,so actually, I got laid off from my job last November. And everyone had said that I should go into consulting. And I was like, that's like, the decline of my career, right? Like, you know, I had this mentality that I was supposed to climb the ranks, and then I would go off into consulting, as you know, just the freelance thing on the backside of my career, right, and didn't really think I had the experience. But I was like, you know, why? Why don't we give this a shot? We'll start it as a side hustle. And, you know, see what happens as I navigate the job market. I had people reaching out there were wanting to use me for some contract type stuff. So I was like, Sure, why not? Let's give it a chance and see what happens. Well, I ended up going full time into it back in March, and I've just been kind of running with it ever since. So, but because I'm someone who likes to kind of educate with how I approached my job. I've always been someone who's like, strives to make sure that my clients or customers, or the people I work with are, you know, well aware of why we're doing what we're doing consulting kind of fit, so that I now see looking back where it like, definitely fits me my personality, who I am what I like to do. So. It's It's been fun. It's been fun.

Susan Tatum 3:50

So but you you mentioned, I think you said earlier in this conversation that you didn't feel like you had enough experience. But you've got you've spent some time in this area. And you've got Don't you have a degree of Korea?

Casey Jenkins 4:05

Yeah. So it's funny because yeah, so I've been in supply chain for 10 years, various roles, I've kind of dabbled in a bunch of different roles more on an entire supply chain basis. And I did that on purpose. So I could get experience in various areas, and then connect the dots on how it's all connected. But I do have a master's degree in supply chain management, master's in project management, and I'm a black belt in Lean Six Sigma, which is a process improvement methodology. And you know, but I think being in corporate America, I was kind of conditioned to think that because I wasn't of a certain title, that I wasn't qualified enough to go this route. And I think through this experience, I've actually learned that you know, while experience is necessary, you know, education is necessary. When you really stop to think about this for me, this stuff isn't rocket science, that So I'm able to quickly identify your problems or issues or connect the dots. And that's something that part of the reason I never really found a good fit within an organisation and why I went this route was because I thought on a very different level and found, okay, this is where I'm meant to be I do I have the experience, I do have the skill set, and the knowledge to be able to run with this. And I'm not saying that I ever want to stop learning, either I do plan to get a third master's degree.

Susan Tatum 5:31

Everybody needs...

Casey Jenkins 5:35

But, you know, I'm someone who loves learning. And so like, that's why for me, you know, even if I didn't have the experience, I knew that I would be able to push myself to go find ways to learn things that I didn't know, even if I didn't have, you know, 10 years of experience in it, I'm going to be able to go spend, you know, a couple hours a week, being able to navigate a topic and learn it and teach myself. So it was something that I just didn't realise that I had the capability of doing until I was actually in it. And so it's something that I now try to challenge others and motivate others with, like, you may not have the experience, but like, don't stop yourself from going to learn it and bringing yourself like to a different level by just teaching yourself and learning it kind of as you go. Because we're all capable, you know, we all can do it. And so I don't want anyone to ever think like, just because you don't think you have the years of experience doesn't mean that you can't still go do it and achieve great things.

Susan Tatum 6:35

Yeah. you know, and I think you used the word side hustle earlier where you said, you saw that, after you had this opportunity to do consulting that you thought you would just do it as a side hustle, would you recommend to folks that are still in the corporate world that they dabble in trial, a bit of consulting on the side?

Casey Jenkins 6:54

You know, honestly, it's not a bad thing. One of the things that I see is, it's a great way to utilise skills that you may not be getting in your job. And that's one of the reasons I wanted it as a side hustle was because I always knew about myself and I'm cognizant of no job is ever going to be exactly what I want it to be right like, and I think we all can kind of rationalise that and go, there's going to be downsides to every job, or you're not using using every single skill that you have, right? So I think being able to go the route of some freelance or contract or, you know, like consulting experience on the side, is useful for being able to tap into those skills that you may not be able to use, but then you kind of get a holistic fulfilment, I guess.

Susan Tatum 7:42

Yeah, and you get it. And you also get a taste of what it's like for consulting because I say, some you it was a good fit for you. It sounds like yeah, for some people may it just may not be because it's very different from the corporate world.

Casey Jenkins 7:56

It is, it is. Yeah. And you know, honestly, though, it's, it's become a, it's so interesting, because it's like, you almost set yourself up to kind of be like a mult, like a double edged like weapon kind of right. Like, if you set something up on the side, where you have this side hustle, and you end up going to look for another job. You know, because I did this. And this was one of the topics I think we kind of want to talk about was, you know, like, when I was applying for jobs, I had the consulting kind of already up and going. So like, I would pitch that, as you know, or people would ask me what we're currently doing. And I would say this is what I'm currently doing. But like I had contracts for where I'd apply for a job, I would realise it wasn't the right fit, they would realise it wasn't the right fit. But hey, I am doing consulting, if you need someone and I had contracts that came out of it, so it kind of does give you a little bit of a leg up, I would say in that you go to companies trying to work for them in either capacity. And it's just it's just an extra skill, I guess, or a tool in the tool belt that can actually turn into something greater.

Susan Tatum 9:05

I think the beauty of that approach is that you're identifying companies that have a need, they're looking to hire, and you get a conversation with them. And you can when you can you turn it into an opportunity for consulting, so that's awesome. Right? Yeah, that was that. Yeah, it was one of the things that it was like, Oh, I never thought of that.

Casey Jenkins 9:26

Well, and you know, I will say like, obviously, like I don't recommend for the sake of recruiters and talent acquisition people to just only be applying for jobs to get those conversation. Right. You know, like, if you you know, I've had some people, independents that I've spoken to, and they've said the same thing, they would go apply to a job and or find an opportunity that they thought would be a great job for them. And it turned into contracts as well. So it's not something that's just specific to me. I know quite a few people where that has happened. And I think in this kind of shifting market, you know, there's a lot of companies that are looking to make changes in organisations, they need kind of someone temporary until they figure things out, or, you know, they're looking at starting new ways of doing things and they need someone temporary, I mean, it's a great way to get your foot in the door consulting wise, that could then turn into a full time gig, or, you know, you become fractional, to go long term or, you know, whatever the case may be, but it just is, I think, if you have a job, and you want to start dabbling in it, I would challenge everyone to do so. And if you, you know, are looking to jump into it as a full time thing. I mean, go for it, because again, you never know what can turn out of it.

Susan Tatum 10:43

So you got into networking in a big way. Yes. So let's talk about that a bit. How did you do that? How did you go about doing that?

Casey Jenkins 10:53

So I've always been told the importance of networking, and I understood it. But until I got involved with some of these big networking connectors, I never realized how bad I was at it. And so honestly, I started with kind of just adding people on LinkedIn, to be honest, you know, I would start with, okay, who's in my industry, who's not in my industry, I mean, I was adding all sorts of people, it's just a way to like, make connections. And I ended up getting connected with a pretty big connector of mine. And he is just fantastic. He loves connecting people. And it wasn't until I spoke to him that I realised how bad at networking I was. But you know, in talking to him, we ended up she ended up sending me a bunch of people to, like, connect with and I was like, Who is this guy? How does he know all these people. And finally, I started learning just through having like, meet and greets, that the level of connectivity is so important. And then I started to realise just again, through people giving advice on how to do it, you want to network within your industry, outside of your industry, people who work in your industry, but aren't like our competitors. Like I started learning all these tips and tricks that I just never had known until I started talking to people and just meet and greet with them.

Susan Tatum 12:16

So what is the goal? Would you say have that kind of networking, that that high end, high level? high quantity networking?

Casey Jenkins 12:24

Yeah, I mean, I was, I'll tell you, I was meeting was like, I probably met 250 people in like two months. Like, it was insane. It was insane. I do not recommend that. But, you know, I would say that the goal of that is to be able to get, you know, connect with other connectors. But also to get a list of people. I mean, I keep a list now, of all sorts of jobs that I never knew existed. I've met so many unique individuals, I've met so many industries that I didn't even realise existed. But now I've got those people and it and you start to actually kind of look at your network and you go, wait a second, that person could use that person, like you don't ever connect the dots really until you start to meet these people and learn about the different industries and jobs that are out there. So I would say like with high volume networking, you're looking to just meet people, and you're looking to get, you know, a group of folks that you can leverage for either other network synergies, I wouldn't say that's the best route to go for business purposes, because there's no strategy around that you're just trying to meet people. But one thing that's worked for me is, once I met all of those people, and I started to figure out who my power connectors were, a lot of people now have like, weekly, or weekly, monthly, bi weekly, all sorts of like cadences of group sessions. And I've started to join these group sessions where you can get a little more strategic with who you're making connections with at that point. And that's proven very, very useful for me too, especially with saving time.

Susan Tatum 14:04

So these are great. These are networking groups. These are groups that are online networking groups for this. You go there to meet other people.

Casey Jenkins 14:13

Yep, yeah, yep. And I was actually on one this morning. And you know, each person who sets these up, they do them differently. Some will group by industry, some will just have, you know, 15 to 20 different, you know, people across all sorts of industries, but you go to them, and they're virtual, you can do in person networking events, too. But virtual ones, and then from there even kind of identify, oh, that's someone that I'd probably want to connect with, or that person is not in my field, but I know five people that might be able to use them, right? And it's just learning, you know, how like, who to connect with, who to make connections to, and who in your group are like your power connectors. And that's something that's proven really useful for me.

Susan Tatum 14:57

So you talk about power connectors, and connectors in general and just for the, for the listeners here, we're talking about I mean, there are people that are professional networkers. I mean, that's all they do is meet people, and then introduce them around to people. Is that who you're talking about?

Casey Jenkins 15:15

I've met some of those. And I've met just some known connectors, I will say, it's so funny, because most of the ones that I've connected with have like full time day jobs, but they just love connecting people, or they also have like another, you know, I guess, side hustle or Group with that they do networking on the side is like an actual thing like a profession. But you know, it's funny, because I started to kind of realise that, when I was being connected, it would always go back to the same like five power connectors of mine. And so I was like, okay, I need to start like diversifying my group to be able to get out of like my same circle, and kind of now I'll make my circle bigger. So that's one thing that I've been trying to work on and challenge myself with, is even just cold reaching out to people on LinkedIn now being like, Hey, I'd like to connect, you know, just looking to connect to network, right. So that's something that I would say, I didn't have the confidence of doing before I got into this whole networking scene. But now I feel a lot more comfortable with being able to do that. So

Susan Tatum 16:25

so what what is this done for your business in terms of client acquisition?

Casey Jenkins 16:32

Yeah. So that's one thing that I'm glad you asked. Because I would say for me personally, and this isn't the case with with everyone. But for me, personally, I haven't gotten any business from networking. And so I say that though, because I've found all of my business, either by people finding me or like I said, like Phil jobs, or I've been able to generate business directly. Now, I don't want to say that there's not power and connectivity, because I have had a lot of my, you know, people that I've networked with, make introductions to where I'm engaging in conversations and actively, you know, pursuing, but none of that has turned into actual business yet, all of the business that's been more quick has been my own seeking and finding. So I don't want to say that there's no value in it. I'm still trying to navigate what the return on the investment is, in terms of time and energy. But I would say that, from my perspective, and this could just be specifically with what I do, if you're looking for like quick business, I wouldn't say that the networking scene is it unless you're targeting very specific people, and going in with a purpose of I'm going in for business and not just networking?

Susan Tatum 17:51

Well, I think you could do both. I think you could sit? Well, I mean, for me, with my consulting, particularly high ticket consulting, it's high risk, and there's a huge amount of trust that goes in that and that's in building a relationship. And I, my belief is that we should always enter conversations with people we don't know as a networking opportunity, right? Our goal of that may be that I think this person could be an ideal client. And let's, let's see if that if it evolves into that, but if going into a conversation, if you're if like, if you were to do the outreach to people that you're talking about, and it's all about me, let me tell you what I do.

Casey Jenkins 18:34

Right, right.

Susan Tatum 18:35

So will turn a lot of people off that way wouldn't you?

Casey Jenkins 18:39

Yeah, and I would say that, like I said, it's kind of a perspective thing, right? Like some of these calls, I went in knowing this is just networking, I'm just looking to connect and make introductions. And if something comes from it, fantastic, but like, that's not what I'm going into it for. There are some where I've gone into it where someone else made an introduction, and they have a need that I can fulfil, right? but it's still going into it with this is just sort of, you know, introduction make, you know, chat type call right now, like going in with I'm gonna pitch you and sell you at the first the first call. Yeah, I have had that I've had people do that to me with as many peoples I've spoken to. I've had a lot of people do that to me. But you know, again, it's it's a perspective thing right? And it depends on where you know, these connections are coming from like I would never cold outreach someone for like specifically business purposes, that's just me because I I feel like I need to build a relationship before I can get to that point where if someone makes an introduction for me for a business purpose, or they say they've got a need, you could fill that need. Then I can go in with a little different have a mindset but I just kind of gauge the situation accordingly. But I will say that like in these like group calls and stuff, it's not about like, going in for like a How much business can I get from the call? It's about making connections and knowing people, I

Susan Tatum 20:05

have a good former client friend that he runs. He called them networking groups. At first, most of them are on the East Coast. And they're their business people, he found that he's really like, he's a genuinely nice person. His name is Jonathan Rosen, and he really wants to help people. And he doesn't go at it as a, as you know, what kind of sell you. And he found that, in looking back over, he did a review of the past year of people that were in his groups. And he found that the ones that, that approach the group transactionally, like, I'm gonna go into this group and see what I can sell and how I can get clients out of it didn't do well, the people that went into it to build these relationships are the ones that ended up getting business out of it. So

Casey Jenkins 20:56

it's yeah, yeah, fine. So that's why I say like, for me, it's not like, it hasn't produced business yet. I say, because, again, this like, I won't say the sales cycle, but for lack of a better term, the sales cycles longer because I do take that approach of wanting to know, and build a relationship and know the person and feel comfortable that we are friends, regardless of if business comes from it or not. Right, right. You know, and like, that's the thing is, you know, if, again, if someone came to me as like, I've got a business need, we think you can solve the need. And we connect Yeah, sure, absolutely. That's, that's few and far between now, right, you know, so but like, when I go into like these networking calls, you know, like you said, I've met so many unique people. And that's one thing that I found enjoyment out of, is just getting to know, all the types of people that are out there, the types of jobs that they do, the businesses they own. I mean, I've got people now I've got monthly touch bases with that we met through just random networking calls, and we're like friends, and it's in that's great, too, because you want to build people who are around you, even in your industry external, it's a great way to bounce ideas off of each other, even if no business comes from it, there's still a lot of value in it

Susan Tatum 22:15

know that and that's a such an important. That's such an important message, CJ, because, I mean, you and I are at different extremes in our current and our, our careers, you know, you're you're getting started, you know, you've got some stuff going on, I'm more like, okay, how can I back out of this now, and, you know, I'm that person is going to be the consultant at the end of the day when a consultant for a long time now, but But yeah, now it's now it's like, I'm only going to work with people that I want to work with, and that kind of thing. But it is one thing that I didn't have one advantage that folks have now that I didn't have, when I was coming along was the ability to build these networks. Yeah, digitally, so that you can have these people around the world and from all different walks of life, that I'm frankly, would run the danger of being so interested in talking to these people who wouldn't get anything else done.

Casey Jenkins 23:10

Yeah, yeah. And I've I found that too, you know, like, I'll get to the end of a 30 minute call. And I'm like, we didn't talk about anything about what we did we have just a conversation. And I'm like, but you know, what, if the conversation flows in that way, it's like, let's talk like, let's put 30 minutes on and a couple of weeks and chat again. And then we can go from there. Or let's talk next week, you know, if we find that there's a more urgent need to talk and I mean, that's the thing. Like I said, I've got a couple people now where I do these monthly recurring meetings, where we just, Hey, how's it going? How are you? Like, what are you up to like, and it's honestly something I start to look forward to, because you know, as an individual, or solopreneur, or as someone who's doing this on their own, you know, it can be challenging to sit all day and do your own thing. And so it's also a great way to be able to connect with others doing things on their own, or others who are even within their own jobs or the business clients for you. But you can still like just chat about what's going on, or you know, how's life and like, get a community of people that it isn't just business but it's also like personal and friendships too. I mean, I've got people have one I spoke to earlier today. He's out in Houston, Texas, we just talked about supply chain together, we nerd out together for an hour. I've got another one. She lives up in Virginia. I talked to her yesterday and you know, we just chat about you know what she's up to and you know, she's starting school or what I'm doing and like, not even work related things but like I said, you know, being able to just connect with people. And again, you never know when you might need someone so you don't know that person could become a business opportunity down the road or connection or whatever the case may be, but But it's I've enjoyed it to be honest. I mean, I get a little challenging. Yeah. Do I recommend meeting with that many people? Probably not.

Susan Tatum 25:10

So, the question that comes to my mind then is though, how do you manage that? So how do you get you met 250 people in a month? Or whatever it was? How do you do you do like, make lists of who you really want to keep up with?

Casey Jenkins 25:24

Yeah. So the way I have like kind of buckets that I placed my my connections in, usually, I've got like a list of people where I don't have a contact in my network who does what they do. And so they're like, on a list of oh, this is my like, Excel guy, or this is my chemical, or pharma consultant, and I, so they are people, individuals, or even small boutiques, who do things that are what I do, but can solve a need for if I come across a client or someone in my network who needs it, I can just refer them to these people's way. I then have a bucket of folks who are like, you know, touch base with, you know, once a month, they're on my calendar. So like, I know, and I'm meeting with them, and they're on my calendar, so I don't even have to like, worry about that. And then I've got a bucket of people where I just keep a list of what they do. There's a lot of like multiples of those, though. So they're more of just like, Oh, I've got you know, if I have a client or someone in my network, who needs something, I toss them, oh, here's five names that I would recommend. And you can go navigate that. So I try to keep people kind of just in buckets. And that's my way of keeping up with it. If it's someone where we've talked business or where I could be in need. They're in their own separate category.

Susan Tatum 26:49

Yeah. Yes, that's the A list. Yeah. The right now list.

Casey Jenkins 26:54

Yeah. Right not that the rest of y'all aren't A list. To any of you my connections....

Susan Tatum 27:02

I use the wrong word. Yes. It's don't let those get cold list.

Casey Jenkins 27:05

Yes, yes.

Susan Tatum 27:09

Well, you know, this has been, I can still ask you questions about your networking strategy. I know we intended to talk about you are you also prolific poster on LinkedIn, and you've got some great stuff there. We are running out of time for this episode. So I'm just going to have to ask you to come back and talk about this. Alright, so for now, the people that are listening, and I think this there are a number of consultants or budding consultants that would like to follow you, you know, maybe network with you to find out, you know, a little bit more about what you're doing and what's going on. And then maybe there's some any supply chain people out there listening that Casey's got the experience. So tell us how to find you.

Casey Jenkins 27:54

Yeah, so you guys connect with me on LinkedIn, that's probably the easiest way to find me. And yeah, you could toss me a message, just send me a connection request, whatever you want to do. And then usually from there, I try to set up a one on one type call just to make introductions. But LinkedIn is probably the easiest way to get a hold of me.

Susan Tatum 28:12

All right. Well, thank you so much for sharing that stuff with us. Casey CJ, and we will talk again, I hope.

Casey Jenkins 28:18

Yeah, sounds good. Thank you. All right.


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