266: Reciprocal Networking and Building Genuine Connections

266: Reciprocal Networking and Building Genuine Connections

This episode addresses the concept of reciprocal networking and the importance of building genuine, mutually beneficial connections. Drawing from my 14 years of professional experience empowering first-gen BIPOC students, I share the increasingly extractive nature of people reaching out asking to “pick my brain” and emphasize the value of reciprocity in professional relationships. I also share some personal anecdotes, practical tips on how to engage in reciprocity, and encourage you to lead with humility, add value to others, and think of networking as a form of community building.

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266: Reciprocal Networking and Building Genuine Connections


Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: [00:00:00] Welcome to the top global ranked and award nominated grad school femtoring podcast. The place for first gen BIPOCs to listen in on conversations about grad school, and growth. In this podcast, you'll learn about all things higher education, personal development, and sustainable productivity. This is Dr.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yvette Martinez Vu, and I will be serving as your femtor, providing you with tips and tricks and everything else you need to know to successfully navigate grad school. For over 14 years, I've been empowering first gen students of color along their personal and professional journeys, and I'm really excited to support you too.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I would love to pick your brain to find out more about how you made that [00:01:00] transition from higher ed to entrepreneurship. I'd love to pick your brain to learn more about how you build your podcast. I'd love to pick your brain to learn more about how to publish a book. These are just a couple of examples of the dozens of requests that I've received this year to quote unquote pick my brain which has left me feeling

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I don't even know what the word is. It's left me feeling like it's more of an extractive relationship and that folks are taking, taking, taking and not as much giving. And this is why I wanted to talk about today's topic, which is all about reciprocity. So reciprocal networking and building genuine connections is today's podcast episode [00:02:00] topic.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: If you're new here, my name is Dr. Yvette. I'm a first gen Chicana. , grad school, productivity, coach, consultant, author, speaker. And this year I, , I reached a couple of milestones that I'm pretty proud of. The first is that I have arrived at a point in my entrepreneurship journey where I have my signature offers, where I feel much better and more confident in what it is that I do and who it is that I do it for.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I also got to publish my first book. is grad school for me. It's a grad admissions book tailored for first gen BIPOCs who want to ask themselves whether or not they should apply to grad school, whether or not it makes sense for them. And also if they do want to go ahead and do that, all the things to consider to successfully apply.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And this year I also, , I'm decided to join a podcasting network and that's been great because it means [00:03:00] receiving support through becoming part of a greater podcasting community. And, , this means that pretty soon you may start to see sponsorships or ads on my podcast. And I want to give a caveat here because I want to say this.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So, you know, when I started podcasting, I told myself I didn't want to have ads or sponsors that were misaligned. I wanted to make sure that I had full control of my podcast. At the same time, I dedicate a lot of time and energy to this podcast. I, this year, have been releasing two episodes a week. Each episode takes roughly three to six hours to get done.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: From idea, to recording, to editing, producing. Publishing, sharing about it. It's a lot of time and energy per episode. And you do the math. I'm publishing two a week and I'm not getting paid for it. And so one of the things that I'm thinking about right now is [00:04:00] how to find a way to monetize it so that at least the podcast pays for itself.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Because not only am I spending a lot of time and energy that I could be using and getting paid to do other things. to provide this free offering to you, but I'm also having to pay money to maintain it because it costs money for the software I use to edit this podcast. It costs money. to host the website where I publish my podcast episodes.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: It costs a lot of money just to keep and maintain a podcast. So with that in mind, you may start to see some ads. , and I'm going to test out some new options where I get to choose the types of ads that I don't get to choose. Witch ads come on my show. So, I'm gonna keep an eye out. If anything looks fishy, questionable, sketchy, I will turn it off and consider other options.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: But for now, I'm gonna test out turning on [00:05:00] some ads. Seeing if that can hopefully sustain. my podcast financially so that I can keep running it over time because I do need to find a way to make it worthwhile. I have witnessed in the last year so many amazing incredible podcasters put a pause or completely altogether let go of their podcast and it's because it's a lot of hidden unpaid undervalued labor.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: You all show up and I'm grateful that you show up and that your loyal audience. But, , we don't know. I mean, we see the metrics. We don't know who you are. We don't necessarily get paid for it. And for a lot of people, it's just not worth it. It suddenly becomes this thing that takes up a lot of time and that doesn't give back.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: It feels very extractive. And so, just a heads up about that, that you may see that. If the ads don't make sense for you, go ahead and ignore it. Go ahead and fast [00:06:00] forward. That's what I do with some of my favorite podcasters. I know they have ads. I know I definitely don't want to purchase anything from those ads.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And I just fast forward because I get it. I get that they have to find a way to make ends meet, to keep doing what they're doing. And that's why they've been podcasting for so long. So yeah, that's just something that I wanted to mention today, , about the extractive nature that sometimes comes with developing relationships with putting yourself out there.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And it has meant that I've had to not put up some walls, but definitely reinforce and strengthen some of my boundaries because it's a lot of giving, giving, giving and not enough of me receiving that in return. So let's talk about reciprocity. Let's talk about, , building real Genuine connections. So, let's start with the problem of why I can't [00:07:00] stand the phrase, Pick your brain.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I don't understand where this phrase came from. So many people use it, and I cringe every time someone says it to me out loud. I don't think other people realize. the implications of that term when they use it. And I don't think that anybody who has told me, Hey, I want to pick your brain has bad intentions either.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: But keep in mind that a lot of times when folks are asking for this, they're not thinking of what they're providing in return. And it takes a lot of time and energy to gain the knowledge and skillset that you gained. And for you to just, you know, Give it away like that, give away your time like that for free.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Cause that's one thing I'm happy to share resources. I'm happy to share what I've learned. I do this on the podcast all the time. And that I do it on my own time and on my own terms. For someone to then ask for 30 minutes to an hour of my time that is unpaid, and I already do so much unpaid labor, [00:08:00] that's when it can get tricky.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And that's when I take issue with it. So keep in mind that if you ever reach out to someone and you're asking to pick their brain, know that on the other side of things, they're probably thinking, well, what What am I getting out of it? And not in a transactional way, but really in a reciprocal way. Like, do I want to invest time and energy in this relationship, in this human?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: You want to give them an opportunity to consider that. Even if that person is ahead of you in their career or reaching the goals that you want to reach, there's still something that you can contribute and you can still be conscientious of their time when you're asking to meet with them. Now, let's, thinking through the reciprocity as a concept or as a principle.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: For me, reciprocity means a mutual exchange. It's a mutually beneficial relationship. It means that you are [00:09:00] coming from a place of giving, not just from a place of taking. And I've noticed that the relationships for me that have felt the most loving and generative are the ones where they are reciprocal.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: It's not the ones where someone shows up and wants to talk to me and every time they're talking to me it's just to ask me a bunch of questions about how I do X, Y, and Z. It's where folks genuinely care about me as a human. Want to know how I'm doing. If I express, you know, any obstacles or hurdles in my life, they offer to share resources and exchange as well.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I've even had some pretty amazing, , bartering relationships where someone's like, you know what? I really feel like I could gain a lot of support from your coaching services. I have this other skillset wondering if you would be open to some sort of barter or exchange. I've done that twice this year [00:10:00] and both times it has felt really good of folks offering.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: their services or their knowledge or their skillset in exchange for what I can offer them. That's also something to consider. I'm thinking of even potentially creating a bartering application form so that if folks want to work with me and maybe they just can't afford it financially, but they have another skill set to propose something, I'm open to those types of exchanges.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Again, when it feels like it's this mutual exchange, that's when it feels good. Now, , the other thing I wanted to talk about is not just why I take issue with the concept of picking your brain and why I think it's important to think about reciprocity in our relationships. But how do you actually do this?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Because I sometimes struggle with networking as well. Even though I know better, even though I know it's good for [00:11:00] me, I have this issue and it's definitely a mindset thing where I always feel like I'm bothering people. when I reach out to them, especially if they are a couple of steps or multiple steps ahead of me.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I am so conscientious of not being extractive that I don't reach out enough, but I have developed relationships despite this mindset issue that comes up for me. I try to get out of my comfort zone and I do try to reach out to people. Every now and then. And the relationships for me that again, that have felt the best are when we are both in the exchange with each other.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: a sense of curiosity. Like, we're not just there, okay, I'm here to get my agenda done, but really it's like, okay, this is what I'm hearing. There's a lot of, like, active and deep listening and support for one another. , it's where you can [00:12:00] sense that someone is trying to provide, , value and not just, again, taking your advice and, and leaving.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: In fact, I recently had someone who attended one of my panels. I was on a panel. on a book talk panel. And this person reached out to me in my DMs and said, I really resonated with what you shared. Would you be open to, I can't remember the exact language, would you be open to developing or nurturing, would you be open to nurturing a relationship?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And I said, you know, I'm always open to developing connections. Here's my link to sign up for a call with me. It's a link to sign up for a half hour call. Of course, the call was half hour. It was much too short. I had another meeting to get to. But I got that sense of this person is not here to be extractive.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: This person is here to develop a relationship. This person [00:13:00] actually values my time and energy. And guess what? This person is giving back. Not only did I share. my experiences that I share, my knowledge, but she gave back. She even followed up with me and sent me a couple of articles. I'm like, come on now, that's wonderful.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: It is, it feels so good when it feels like a mutual exchange. This is someone I've never met before in my life, brand new person, complete stranger to me, and suddenly, in just two short meetings, I get the sense that, wow, this is someone I might develop. a longer term relationship or femtorship with. Who knows?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So, make sure that you're adding value. Make sure that you are also sharing opportunities with them. Make sure that you're also connecting them to others. Make sure that you continue to to be there from a place of mindfulness, conscientiousness, gratitude, and make sure that you're actually talking to this person because you genuinely want to [00:14:00] develop a relationship with them and not just because you want to learn something from them and then never talk to them again.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: On the other side of things, let me tell you something that also happened to me that was a big no no for me, is someone reached out and asked if I'd be willing to chat with them to talk more about how I decided to choose the press that I went with for my book, and if I didn't mind sharing with this person what the names of my editors were, this person too was trying to publish their own book.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And I don't remember how I responded back, but it was something along the lines of like, I was trying to get a sense of what this exchange was. I don't remember. I'm, I'm struggling to remember, but somewhere, somehow. I hinted at like, is this going to be a reciprocal exchange?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And then that person ghosted me. So I got the sense like, oh, you were really only here to get information from me. And that was it. And that did [00:15:00] not leave a good taste in my mouth. So please don't do that. Please don't just go reaching out to random strangers. just to ask them questions and not because you're genuinely interested in talking to them.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Just to extract, extract, extract, give me all the info of how to do something and then I'm gonna leave and never talk to you again. , and I also get that sometimes you are trying to develop relationships and you have no idea if you're going to develop a good rapport with them. Even if it's only a one time meeting, you can still come from a place of.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Gratitude, conscientiousness, humility, and mutual exchange. Even if you know, we're probably not going to meet again. Ooh, I have another example. This was an example of someone who reached out in my DMs who told me that they found the title of my book to be really, , Intriguing to them because they too were considering going to graduate school, especially going back to [00:16:00] get a doctoral degree.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And it's something they've, been considering. And I took a look at their LinkedIn profile, really kind of resonated with what they were sharing on their LinkedIn and just had this feeling that I'm like, Oh, this is someone I actually want to meet. So I shared with them, I'd be happy to get on a half hour call with you to tell you more about my book.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: We got on the call. I got to learn more about their background. I got to learn more about their experience as someone also underrepresented in higher ed. And it just felt like such a It was a beautiful mutual exchange. At the end of the call, this person even told me, Oh my goodness, I can't believe, like, how generous you were with your time.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Is there any way that I can pay you or compensate you for your time? Just that ask. Of course, I said, you know, don't even worry about it. I received just as much as you [00:17:00] did in this exchange. I really loved getting to know you and, you know, feel free to stay in touch. We may never again meet. I don't know.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: But the fact that this person was conscientious, was to some extent humble, did not expect me to spend more than the time allotted, gave as much as they received. That, even if it's a one time exchange, that felt really, really good. So, remember that. Remember to lead with humility, to add value. to make sure that you are paying it forward in some way, shape, or form, and that you're not just there to take, take, take.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Lastly, the reason why I have struggled with networking, aside from being an introvert, , is that it has always felt icky and it has felt icky because it has always felt Superficial and extractive. [00:18:00] And that changed when I started to reframe networking as a form of community building. And with that in mind, if you think that you could pursue networking as a means of community building, then you have to think about reciprocity.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: You have to commit to doing it with reciprocity in mind. So , make sure that you are doing your best to offer as much as you're taking. Make sure that you stop using that phrase, pick your brain. Make sure that it feels good, that that energetic exchange between you and the other person feels good.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Think about no matter where you are, no matter how far ahead the other person is from you, there's always something that you can offer. And even if you come in, Not knowing exactly what you can offer, but you come in with that perspective of, I don't want to be extractive. You [00:19:00] thinking about that will be helpful.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And I've heard this from my own colleagues and friends who I've said, Hey, I'm kind of nervous to reach out to so and so because so and so is so much more ahead than me in their career and in their business. But I really would love to reach out because I could gain a thing or two from chatting with them.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And you know, this friend told me, you know what, knowing you even knowing how you are, I don't think that this person will get that impression of you because they also see you, they see how you show up. And, , Yeah, don't don't worry about that.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: You thinking about it means you shouldn't worry, , that it'll come off that way because you, your actions will reflect, , your thoughts and the considerations that you're taking before reaching out to people. So that's today's episode. Today's episode, I really just wanted you to think about this concept of reciprocity.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I wanted you to think about networking as not just this [00:20:00] extractive, icky thing, but rather as a way to build community, as a way to develop genuine connections. And for me, it has meant, yes, icky, , requests from people, from random strangers, and at the same time, I've also had some pretty amazing meetings from some pretty incredible human beings, and I'm so, so grateful to be in this shared space with them.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So yes, I've had to strengthen my boundaries and get a little bit more clear about. the types of meetings I open myself up to, the types of folks I'm willing to talk to, and really, um, start to use my little pick your brain detector a little bit more, so that way I can make space for those genuine connections and make sure that I'm, uh, detracting or that I am pushing away the ones that aren't generative, the ones that aren't mutual, the ones that aren't really trying to get to know me and they're just [00:21:00] trying to take from me.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I hope that you found today's episode helpful. As always, let me know if you're enjoying these episodes. I don't hear from my audience enough. I want to hear from you. So you already heard from me how long it takes me to, , record, produce, edit, put it all together for you. So let me know and you know what the biggest thing that you can do and you probably get annoyed because every podcaster says this is leave.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: a review. Please, please, please leave a review if you can. , it means a lot to folks. Sometimes I do get discouraged. Sometimes I wonder how long am I going to keep this up, this podcast, by myself. I don't know how long I'm going to keep it up. I can't, I've been saying I'm only going to do it for as long as it keeps feeling good.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: It continues to feel good, thankfully, but Who knows, I might have it for another six months, I might have it for another six years, but I need y'all to express your gratitude and to give back a little bit more [00:22:00] if you can, if you have the time, energy, spoons, capacity for it. So thank you once again, and I will talk to you all next time.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Thanks so much for joining me in the Grad School Femtoring Podcast. If you like what you heard, here are four ways you can support the show. The first is to make sure you're subscribed and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. If you email me a screenshot, I'll send you a surprise freebie. The second way is to get your copy of my free Grad School Femtoring Resource Kit.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: which includes essential information to prepare for and navigate grad school. You can access it at the link in today's show notes. The third way to support my show is to follow me on social media. You can find me on Instagram with the handle at grad school, femtoring and on LinkedIn by searching my name.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: The last way to show your love is to order a copy of is grad school for me. My [00:23:00] graduate school admissions book for first gen BIPOCs. Thanks again for listening and until next time.

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