A native of Israel, Joanna Schneier, CEO of Cognotion, Inc., has been developing cutting-edge learning applications since 1999. With her Cognotion colleagues, she built the two leading digital language learning products in the U.S. foreign language K-12. Ms. Schneier has focused on fostering strong collaborative relationships in both educational and corporate settings. Follow her @cognotion.
We spoke with Joanna about her experiences networking, and her advice for others aspiring to improve their own experience:
One thing I struggled with when I was starting out was feeling that I had a place at the table, that I was allowed to build a network. I felt like certain people were off-limits because they were more accomplished or more something. I think this can especially be true for female entrepreneurs, and it was for me. The most practical tip I can give you is that you deserve to reach out to people and to build your network because you are the one there. Don’t wait until you get a seat at the table because you are already at the table. Reach out to the people you think are above you or more important than you and don’t be surprised if they are willing to talk.
Be Willing to Hear Others Out
About a decade ago, I was running a video production company. I was at a birthday party about eight years ago and met a lovely young woman who shared a secret passion of mine for illustrated children’s books. About a month later we decided to go out for coffee. It turned out that she worked for a large publishing house. By the end of the day, we put together a whole new business unit for my company to create ads for publishers that focused on children. It was profitable from day one and happened only because of being willing to take a chance on what felt like a random encounter.
Give as Much as You Get
From my perspective, the most successful networkers give as much as they get. They are willing to go the extra mile for the people they meet and it builds trust in the people around them and that goes a long way in developing deep connections.
Use Available Resources
One app I use for networking that I find to be incredibly helpful is Conspire. Conspire scans email data and tells you the shortest path to reaching the person or company you are trying to get in contact with. Sort of, who knows someone, that knows someone, that knows the person you are trying to reach, and how well do they know them? It is incredibly helpful.