February 23, 2021

Networking and volunteering success with Sandy Spady

Getting AheadShot Cover art
Getting AheadShot
Networking and volunteering success with Sandy Spady

Show Notes

Sandy Spady gives tips on networking and volunteering. Through these efforts, you can grow your business, meet incredible people, and get a sense of fulfillment.

To find Sandy, go to:

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Announcer 0:02
Welcome to Getting AheadShot. a show for anybody wanting to get ahead in life join conversations between international award winning photographer Lane Hickenbottom and his clients who while Getting AheadShot offer relatable tips and strategies on a variety of topics, and now here’s lane.

Lane Hickenbottom 0:26
Hello everybody. Today’s guest is one of those people who is adored by pretty much everybody fortunate enough to make her acquaintance. She’s an avid volunteer, Ambassador, networker. She was an actual cheerleader in high school, but today, it’s a role that she’s refused to let go. Instead of using pom poms and rooting for first downs. Nowadays, she reads for small business owners and she uses her deep connections, her community to community chambers, networking and just to help advance the lives of those around her. Shortly after I photographed her headshots. I can’t tell you how many people approached me saying Hey, aren’t you the guy who photographed Sandy Spady? Sandy, if ever? I’m feeling down, all I have to do is drop you a line. And you build right back up. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Sandy Spady 1:18
Oh, lane. Thank you. You’re a cool cat. You literally make everyone feel comfortable around you. That is just easy.

Lane Hickenbottom 1:25
Oh, thank you so much. You know, being around people like you, you’re you’re a really great person to, to to learn from because I think that you do the exact same thing. Oh, thanks. Yeah, so. So you are a self proclaimed cheerleader. You tell me a little bit more about about that.

Sandy Spady 1:46
Well, basically, I landed here in Omaha three years ago. And I took off 12 years and I raise kids and I did a lot of community, different things with the community because I have to be around people. But I knew to get back in the world of meeting people that I had to volunteer. And so literally, the second day I was in Omaha, I went and I visit every chamber, every group, the Millard Association, Senators, like someone said, Senators for what’s that? Okay, let’s do it. I did not say no to anybody if they wanted me there. I was there because I knew anytime I ever moved before, when I started a new job or anything, you had a volunteer. And that’s how you really get out there. You have to get out there and say yes to people, because until you do that, you could just be stuck home thinking I wish I would have done that.

Lane Hickenbottom 2:40
Yeah, absolutely. And so, you know, Sandy, right before the show, and I were talking about you know, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve googled a business that I was interested in doing business with, and I’m there the Google My Business Page, they might have a ribbon cutting or something. And, and they Sandy, she’s just, she’s, she is everywhere and knows just about everyone. So one of the things that that she really prides herself in is Connecting, Connecting the Dots connecting people. If, if there’s somebody that that is missing from your equation to help you get better, Sandy’s just fantastic about saying, hey, I want I’m going to introduce you today to to Bill like, Bill’s amazing, and he’s gonna he’s just the person to help you out. Have you always been that way?

Sandy Spady 3:35
You know, it’s funny. I mean, I literally you could say, I’ve been in sales my entire life. But I just giggled to myself, because I’m like, I never really considered it sales. I just want to meet people, like every chance I get. I’m like, Okay, let’s talk about this. This is what I sell. This is what I do. Now, tell me about you. What do you do? What’s your life? What’s your desires? What’s your dreams? Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? And then as they speak, it’s like my little brain, just as popping off the charts going, oh, let’s get involved in this group. Let me meet you with so and so. What about this? Okay, where do you live? You need to join this group. Where do you want to do? What’s your activities? Where’s your heart? Where’s your nonprofit, like, everyone has their desires and their dreams, and I just I want to make their chapters in their book just happen. And so as I learn more, and I’m curious, I’m sincerely listening. And that’s what I think so many people don’t realize is that when you’re talking to someone, and you have this opportunity, it’s their story. And so I just take it in. And I think as they’re talking, I’m going to help you I want to be your cheerleader. Let’s make this pep rally happen. And it’s just it’s just so much fun for me, I just love You know, when you make other people successful, that’s what makes you successful. And it’s just like, you’re a proud parent.

Lane Hickenbottom 4:54
Yeah. Yeah, just like a proud parent. You know, one, one of the things that you told me the Want to talk about was volunteering. And that’s definitely one of those ways that you could help other people or other organizations become successful. So talk to me about what’s maybe later in the conversation, we’ll talk about ways to get involved. But right now, talk to me a little bit about the benefits of volunteering

Sandy Spady 5:24
completely. I always tell people, you know, everyone’s trying to meet the decision maker, I want to meet the decision maker. And I’m like, the best way to meet a decision maker is volunteering. Every time I moved in, I would be an ambassador for the chamber, I would join the Rotary Club, I would join camp counselor, cheer coach, I did that for a couple towns. I mean, I just jumped into the community. And I just, I’m just a part of it, because I want to meet people. And the best way to meet people and those decision makers is being yourself leaving your binder in the car, and you get to meet them, and you get to build dreams with them on a project on a golf tournament on a whiskey festival. I mean, there’s so many avenues, that when you meet weekly, and you get to know them, and then you’re building a dream together to make something happen, you become friends. And that’s when you really build relationships. And sometimes people want to get in circles, like, ooh, I wish I could get into that circle. I’m like, great. They’re having a festival, let’s get your T shirt on, roll up your socks, and let’s go volunteer, it’s the best thing to do.

Lane Hickenbottom 6:38
That sounds great. You know, the last few years I’ve, I’ve read a little bit about personal development and just trying to become a better version of myself. And one thing in the personal development world that’s recommended over and over and over again, is to surround yourselves with with good people. And, and in somewhere I was reading about strategies for for doing exactly that, how to get around good people. And really, if you’re in a volunteer situation, that’s those are the good people, aren’t they?

Sandy Spady 7:21
Yeah, it’s golden. I don’t know why I have to fight for volunteer some time. Because I don’t miss anything fun. I always say if there’s something fun happening, I want to be a part of it. And I’ll be in charge of the volunteers. Because there’s no other way you can get involved in these areas in these groups in these little circles. Unless you volunteer and it’s just people yet you might have to put some work into it. Give up a Saturday might have to work past five. But I’m telling you the outcome is that you just get into the right faces of the right people that make decisions. And they get to know you as a person. And not a product.

Lane Hickenbottom 8:01
Yeah, a person not a product like that. You guys listening to this podcast? I don’t think it takes you very long. Just see how much energy and how much heart that Sandy has. So so if you’re there at home, and you’re like, yeah, yeah, this sounds really good. You know, what were some ways to to get involved in any of the community or events or charities, I know that you’re, you’re involved in a lot of benefit type type events.

Sandy Spady 8:38
You really need to pick where your interest and where your desires are. Because when you pick things that you enjoy, it doesn’t seem like work. So for instance, I belong to the Farnham festival with a Blackstone district. And three years ago, they were planning something for families to bring down to the district. And I’m like pets, who doesn’t love pets. I’m like, let me do the pet parade, pet show. And it’s just fun. Everyone loves pets. So I tell people, what do you love? What do you desire? And then I love to bring in a nonprofit because there’s nothing better and I love nonprofits. They all have such a passion and they change lives. So when I talk to my business owners, or I talk to someone that’s throwing a function or festival, I’m like, Great. Now, where’s your heart? Like, what? What do you want to do that we could bring in a nonprofit that you support that represents you, your business yourself? And let’s bring them in and let’s make things happen for them too. It’s great for community awareness for you and for them. And they need all the help they can get their nonprofit.

Lane Hickenbottom 9:45
Yeah, absolutely. So what you know, if you don’t know where to look, so let’s say that you know what you’re interested in. Maybe you’re interested in family Whereas maybe you’re interested in children. But you’re just you’re not in touch with with that world. You have some recommendations for what a first step might be, once you do kind of realize, okay, this is, this is the type of organization I might like to be in the movie, you don’t know anybody in that organization.

Sandy Spady 10:23
I mean, basically, with the world of technology, it’s so easy just to Google something and find it. But every time I’ve ever moved in, I literally volunteered at the chamber, because the chamber is part of the community. And so you really get involved and you get to know what’s happening in your community, with the chamber. And from there, that’s where you learn, all different kinds of things are going on. And then in the olden days, we had their local newspaper. I’m dating myself, but now you have Facebook, you have the internet, there’s just, I just tell people, what do you want to do? And usually I’m like, I can find it. What do you do? I love it, I’ll find it for you. But you just your church, your you know, your kids, his high school. Like I said, I was a cheer coach for two different high schools. I met the whole town. I mean, it’s just, you just got to pick and choose. But no matter what you do, you just, you put your 110% into it, you just don’t say I’m gonna volunteer. And then you really don’t make things happen. Because that’s not good for you or for them. The whole purpose is it to make things happen, and then meet people. And so wherever you’re comfortable, comfort level is where you begin. So I began in churches, I was a church counselor, I would do youth groups. I was a cheer coach. And then I found out more about nonprofits. And so I would get on boards. I was on the United Way board pasta, the ark Youth for Christ, like I just kept going, because each group has different faces and different people.

Lane Hickenbottom 11:54
So yeah, amongst these groups and networking, for the sake of this conversation, I realized that we’re in a pandemic, and there’s not a lot of, of live events happening. But for the sake of this conversation, let’s pretend like we’re we’re past that are all vaccinated perhaps or just for, you know, basically, the numbers are way down. And things are back to networking as usual. What What, what would you recommend to somebody who just kind of shows up to one of those events maybe doesn’t know anybody. And, and there they are, there’s a big room, and maybe there’s little circles here, and they’re gathered around, and it looks like good friends all having their drinks.

Sandy Spady 12:42
That’s so funny, because I’m that person that loves that kind of stuff. Like give me a room at 200 people and like game on, but this is what you do. You just take little steps. You know, you see someone getting coffee, you go get coffee, oh, it’s a great day and you start making a small conversation. But the nice thing about volunteering is that they have districts and they always have associations. So then I want it to you know, learn I came to Omaha and I I love Blackstone, they’re cool cats, they they’re just like, amazing. So I found out that association, they found out they had a Farnham festival. And that’s how I started. I started the Vernon festival, the Orpheum Theatre Association. You know, I believe in associations, because each little nugget, each little nook has an association. So for me a couple $100 to belong to Association, to like, meet people and hear what they’re doing, being a part of the community. That was worth it to me. And so no matter what I’ve always just joined, where I could join because sometimes they have guidelines, but those associations for these little nooks in the town and even in a small town, they have those. You know, in Crofton, it was 800 people and I the crafting community club, you know, each little town each each bigger town, they have associations, just get in there and volunteer. And so that’s why you do because when you do go to these big gatherings and there’s 200 people, you already know people because you volunteered with them. So that’s another bonus.

Lane Hickenbottom 14:10
Yeah. So knowing so many people. One thing that that is always been difficult for me is as somebody who’s new to newish to networking, I would say a couple years is keeping people straight in my head every time I’ve seen you Sandy. Ever since the very first time you looked at me that hi lane and you knew exactly who I was. You. You’re very amazing at setting me to ease or just making me feel good that Oh, like I know Sandy here at least. Yeah. How How do you do that? How do you keep tabs on all these people? You know so many people.

Sandy Spady 14:54
That’s very funny. Because in sales I used to have to put people’s names on my palm And hence I’m stinking names. But you know, I’ve taken a lot of courses like Dale Carnegie, I’ve always tried to enhance my skills because you’re never 100% good at what you do. I’m great with people, but I don’t say I’m bad with names because that’s makes a bad stigma on you. But you just have to really, listen, I’m learning to really listen to people. And like the old saying is, okay, you hear a name. And then there’s something that reminds you of that person. So I introduce myself, like, I’m Sandy from grease, lightning, you know, and, and people are like, Oh, yeah, that’s that funny girl that does that Greased Lightning thing. That’s Sandy grease lightning. So you know, I really constantly like I think, what does that person you know, I met someone from meatball and he reminded me my eighth grade boyfriend, Mike young Mike, Mike, Mike. Yeah, it’s just this funny little things that you tell yourself. That helps you remember, because I’m not that great. But I just really tried to listen and focus and repeat. Like, don’t be embarrassed if you don’t forget their name. Because you get involved in a conversation. You’re like, oh, my goodness, I forgot their name, what’s her name or something? It’s okay to say, I’m sorry. I was really listening. But what was your first name again? And it’s better to do that than to walk away and go, Oh, what was their name? It just be honest, you know, we’re so real. And we’re just all human, that you just try to make it fun. I’m a firm believer in fun. And then, if you honestly don’t remember, just ask again. And then go back to your car, make a note. Note Taker, I just, you know, when I’m when I’m sitting down in someone doing a one to one. I, I literally just write down everything. I’m like, okay, your kids, what’s your kids names? How old are they? What do they do? Because a lot of times you may forget their name. But then like you remember, our kids go to the same school. And then it helps you remember their name. So it’s just those little fun things that are just very simple. That I just have improved on I’m not that great yet. And I still mess up on names, but we’re human and and you just ask again, it’s just ask.

Lane Hickenbottom 17:10
Yeah, just ask, that’s early. The you’re not that person that perhaps is going on a sixth date with somebody. It’s like, Oh, I need to find her name.

Sandy Spady 17:20

Lane Hickenbottom 17:20
she’s fun.

Sandy Spady 17:22
Yes, no, it’s no one’s great at names unless you’re literally a professional speaker.

Lane Hickenbottom 17:30
Um, so back to the subject of volunteering. Since you are involved in volunteering a lot. Are there other organizations that that you’ve witnessed that maybe are hungry for volunteers more than others that would just really benefit? Having somebody who hears this conversation? It might light up an idea, okay, I want to fill a void. That’s, that’s really a need.

Sandy Spady 18:02
Omaha’s known for their nonprofits, we have so many nonprofits and that’s what I love. I sincerely just loving making things happen for nonprofits. And they all need help because they don’t have any money. But all of them have a gala, or they have a fundraiser, or they have a walkathon. Or they have you know, all timers has the you know, walk Walk to Remember, I mean, everyone has something that they’re trying to do to raise money. And you just go volunteer, you’re a grater, I always say I’m the I’m the greeter let me great. I’m really good at greeting. But we need to know some people don’t like to create. So they do check in. Some people want to, you know, be in charge of deserts or be in charge of getting volunteers and reaching out to other volunteers and other nonprofits. Anytime I have a festival and I help with one, I’m like, Where’s your heart? Okay, great dogs. Okay, let’s reach out to pets in Omaha and have them wear their t shirts with their logo and volunteer. Because that is a chance for all these volunteers for an from a nonprofit to get their name out there. You know, I’m an old advertising queen. So vision picture’s worth 1000 words. volunteer at any of these, you know, fundraisers that you just adore, and you want to help them and then wear your T shirt, wear your name tag. Any chance you have. Where your logo, your name tag. It’s so funny. I take a lot of young execs and they like I want to network and like great. Get your socks on let’s go. And I’m like, Okay, do you have a name tag, they’re like, like, get it really great name tag, really great name tag, cuz that’s the first thing you want to do. And so when you’re falling, tearing, make sure you have your name tag on. And if you’re from a nonprofit, make sure you have your T shirt on. It’s a visual Top of Mind awareness is the best thing you can do.

Lane Hickenbottom 19:53
Good advice. So I keep I’m going back and forth between volunteering and networking. Two things you are an ace at, you know, maybe in a perfect podcast, I’d reorder this conversation. So is volunteering, volunteering, volunteering, networking, networking, networking. But so back in the, the networking sphere, I just talked myself out of what my question was. And because of that, I’m going to help you, I’m going to ask you to bail me out and fill in the void. What are some other networking tips that you that you might have that? That for people, like you mentioned, shop, where we’re name tag? Absolutely.

Sandy Spady 20:41
First thing, name tag. And the second thing is, when you go to, you know, a gathering, and you might not know anyone, but you’re gonna maybe know someone. So you’re always more comfortable if you just find that one person that you kind of know or want to know. Because me, I like, I’d rather go to the strangers like to circle my cane, excuse me, Hey, hey, but not everyone’s like, man, like 8%. So if you’re more, you know, laid back and you’re like, Oh, I hate doing this, but I got to do it for my company. That’s okay, you just go. And you find that one person that you kind of know, or you do know, and you start with them, and then you start to relax, then you might go get a cup of coffee. And then you kind of, you know, when you’re talking to one person, you kind of scout the room out. And you’re like, Oh, I really wanted to talk to that person over there. And so you’re kind of, you know, going to get a cup of coffee. And then you’re going to kind of think before you when you get coffee, like what am I going to say to them? How do I approach them? And the best thing is just to walk up and say hi, I’m Sandy. I’m with so and so. Tell me what what do you do? What do you what, what do you do? Tell me? Tell me about yourself? easy.

Lane Hickenbottom 21:50
You don’t just start with a sales pitch?

Sandy Spady 21:52
No, Hey, I got this for sale. You know, I’m like, tell me about you tell me I love stories. Tell me about yourself. And people literally, if you ask, they like to talk about themselves, because they’re proud of what they do. And they’re proud of what they represent. So basic thing I can say is don’t get overwhelmed. No one’s perfect. And you just really pick that one person scout out the room. And then you just literally just walk up, they could be, you know, with one or two people and just say, you know, Hi, I’m Sandy. I’m with so and so. So what do you guys do? What are you doing here? You know, it’s, it’s, it’s just that simple, open ended question that helps them to talk.

Lane Hickenbottom 22:30
Yeah. Very good. So what are some questions I should be asking you on this topic that we’re getting to that’s always gets people thinking.

Sandy Spady 22:43
That like, when I know when you want to meet new people, if you want to do new groups, or

Lane Hickenbottom 22:48
anything that comes to mind, anything that you think that that people ought to know.

Sandy Spady 22:54
Yeah, and the main thing is, you have to smile, you know, faces relief tells it all. And you may be nervous, but just force a grin on your face, and just really be open. Because people sense you, you know, they’re kind of like dogs, they can sense when you’re upset. And so just really try to relax, take a deep breath, maybe eat a doughnut first or a cup of coffee, and then hit the circle or do this. But the main thing is a smile. When you smile, a smile back, and then it’s more comfortable, and you feel like you’re kind of accepted, and then just just go from there. But that’s all and you know, with networking, it’s all about meeting those people taking the second initiative. I love when you have a network group or spotlight it spotlight a member, you go somewhere and you have a number of group of people. And what’s kind of funny now with virtual is I tell people, you don’t have to scout the room and get the business cards, you get the email, but you get the email like you used to get the business card, you can either put it in your pocket, or do something with it. So I used to have this, these my little bowl bowls, and I used to have Monday networking Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and I put the business cards in there for each day. So I knew that day. Because I would not by the end of the week, or I tried to go by the end of the day, not reach out to that person. Because you can get a sack like a ton of stack of business cards and never do anything with it. So I used to always just like Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, put the business cards in for there. And then I’d like my date book and like, Oh yeah, that was senator spear. Oh, yeah, that was that b2b business group. And I reached out I tell everyone every day, take the second step. You have the card, you have the email, but now let’s do something with that. Let’s let’s make that second initiative and just meet them. And I loved it. When I moved to Omaha. It makes me giggle. Everyone, every coffee shop, every restaurant you walk in, you see all these people talking, I just moved back from a really small town. I’m like, gosh, what’s everyone doing? And I’m like, what their one to one. It’s like old school, new school. That’s what we did. Like you met people, you didn’t just like, blast out what you sold, you actually got to know him. And I was like, This is great. These young people are getting it, just get to know each other and, and then you talk and then you help each other. And the thing is, you can meet as many people as you want, get as many business cards as you want. But don’t make that initiative to reach out to them. You just lost all that hard work right out the window.

Lane Hickenbottom 25:42
That’s great advice

Sandy Spady 25:43
I try to by the end of the day, reach back to them. Definitely by Friday, I locked myself out by three on Fridays, and like, three to four, three to five. I literally make sure I touch base with anyone I met that week, after week gone by, you know, they forgot you.

Lane Hickenbottom 25:57
What does that follow up look like for you?

Sandy Spady 26:00
So you just have to take that second initiative and just do it.

Lane Hickenbottom 26:03
Yeah. What does that second? or What does that follow up? email or, or phone call look like for you?

Sandy Spady 26:10
You know, I hate details. They’re just not fun for me. I’m very simple. I literally say Hi, this is Sandy I’m with so and so let’s do a one to one. Let’s do coffee. What do you like coffee or lunch? You pick Monday or Tuesday? And I I tried to get like a day in there right away. Monday, Tuesday. You pick and then just go from there. I don’t go into this is what I do. I get all this here. It’s like boring. Just let’s, let’s meet. Let’s have coffee. Let’s go out for lunch cocktail. I don’t care you pick. And it’s just I’m very simple. I’m just I just let’s just meet talk some more. I got more and more questions for you.

Lane Hickenbottom 26:53
Yeah, very good. Sandy, you just so one last question for you. I want to hear about one of the things that you’re just so good at, again, is being a cheerleader for other people. Can you talk about your strategy to do that? Or maybe there’s no strategy for you. Maybe it’s just something you do. But, but maybe talk then about the benefits of building up other people.

Sandy Spady 27:22
That’s so funny. I tell people every day I was born a cheerleader. If I can’t do something for you and pump you up and make things happen for you, I’m not doing my job. So I tried to connect, like, what circle Do you want to get into? Who do you want to meet? Okay, you want to meet that person? Okay, well, you should probably join that association. Or let me just do an introduction email. Or I tell people all the time, okay, I post on social networking, I sold advertising. I didn’t, I didn’t post advertising. I may not spell something, right. And it’s gonna be goofy. But you know what I’m giving it from the heart. And it’s my small town girl that shines through, but I’m loving on you, I’m going to love on you. I’m going to share every chance I get a connection that I think would help you. And if I feel like I’m helping with something within a festival or an organization or Association, I think of you. I’m gonna think so and so wanted to get into this group. I call them up and I’m like, Hey, what are you doing this summer? I got a golf tournament. You got to do it. You’re trying to get to so and so. He’s running the golf tournament, you got to do it. Just Just say yes, it’s Believe me, just trust me, you’re gonna be great at it. And I just constantly just have all these little seeds in my head. That when I meet the right person, I hear the right story, or the right thing going on that I just I pick up the phone I try to make a little bit things happen for him. Is that’s what’s fun. It’s just big pep rally. I always say it’s a big pep rally. Let’s just go have fun. Anything. Fun is fun. You got to make life fun. Life is so serious. And especially now it’s like so during dingy and I’m like, let’s just wake up. Let’s have fun. Let’s meet people because everyone has a story and they’re great stories. And let’s just make things happen for each other. That’s it.

Lane Hickenbottom 29:13
That’s wonderful. To my audience out there. If you’re wanting to help make things happen for other people if you’re wanting to help build people up and start volunteering, or networking. Sandy is a fantastic connector. You could reach her by emailing at That’s connect the number four y o u n o w We’ll put that in the show notes as we always do. Sandy, thank you just so very much for coming and joining me and for Getting AheadShot

Sandy Spady 29:49
Lane I get so many compliments on my headshot. You are worth a million bucks. Thank you so always fun. I love having fun with you.

Lane Hickenbottom 29:59
Thank you so much.

Announcer 30:07
Thanks for listening to the Getting AheadShot podcast, recorded inside the Omaha headshot company studio to support the podcast, share it with others post about it on social media or leave a five star review to learn more go to Getting We look forward to seeing you next time.

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