March 16, 2021

Is Online Networking a Waste of Your Time? with Liyani Rodriguez

Is Online Networking a Waste of Your Time? with Liyani Rodriguez

In a world post-COVID, people are scrambling to create virtual networking environments online through Facebook communities, Clubhouse rooms, and other means. 

But are these virtual networking platforms as effective for building business relationships as the in-person networking events of old? That depends.

Today’s guest on the show, Liyani Rodriguez of Raddle, is here to show you a new way to network online — one that gives you the chance to build business relationships that last so you can get the most return for your time invested.

BY THE TIME YOU FINISH LISTENING, YOU’LL LEARN:

  • Whether virtual networking is a good use of your time

  • Where to go to get the help you need to overcome any entrepreneurial hurdle you face

  • What it means to Raddle, and why your business needs it

  • PLUS, you’ll hear about Liyani’s $35,000 mistake that prompted her to pivot and create what’s now one of the fastest-growing virtual networking platforms for entrepreneurs to date

If this episode inspires you in some way, leave us a review and let us know your biggest takeaway from this episode on virtual networking and business relationships.

And while you've got your phone out, make sure to follow us on Instagram @theeffortlesslife.co for more daily tips on how to simplify your workflows so you can spend more time in your zone of genius. 

 

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Transcript

You’re Listening to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast! Episode #61 which is all about business relationships, virtual networking, and an awesome new company called Raddle! In the old days, pre-COVID, networking events were one of the top ways to get outside of your bubble, meet new people, and form new business relationships. But in a world post-COVID, people are scrambling to recreate these virtual networking environments online through Facebook communities, Clubhouse rooms, and other means. Are they as effective? That depends. Today’s guest is here to show you a new way to network — one that gives you the most return for your time invested. That’s coming up next, so stay tuned!

[INTRO TRACK]

Today on the podcast, you’re going to hear from a very special guest who is here to show you the benefits of Raddling. You might be wondering, ‘what the heck is a Raddle?’ and don’t worry, that is exactly what Liyani Rodriguez, the co-founder of Raddle and getraddle.com is here today to share with you. 

Liyani and I met each other through a mutual friend at the tail end of last year, and we instantly hit it off. We had so much fun recording this episode for you, and as you'll quickly learn by the time you finish listening, Liyani is not only gifted at bringing people together, she is a whiz when it comes to business relationships and relationship building through community. After a $35,000 mistake, Liyani pivoted and created what is now known as Raddle: a platform for entrepreneurs to connect, brainstorm ideas, and get instant feedback and insight on a path forward no matter what they are working on. 

What she’s created is pure genius, because as entrepreneurs, we’re known for problem-solving — that is, until it’s your own problem that you get stuck on and can’t seem to figure out how to solve. If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you know exactly what I’m talking about. 

So why not create a space to virtually brainstorm with (un)-minded problem solvers, to get your problems solved faster and in less time than it would take you to figure out on your own? 

That’s the exact question Liyani started asking herself, which led to the creation of what’s now known as the new entrepreneurial brainstorming and virtual networking platform called Raddle.

Liyani believes, and I agree, that leaning on others is the smart way to move forward. We all have something to teach AND learn from each other, and the simple philosophy that Raddle is built on is that WE are smarter than ME. It’s easier to succeed when you have others to build with, and since most of us out there are working primarily as solopreneurs with no real team to speak of, it’s hard to know where to go to get answers and support when you need it. And with the way the world has changed in the last year or so, with more entrepreneurs working online now than ever before, this unique platform couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. 

Courtney Elmer: [00:00:00] Liyani, welcome to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast! Girl, I am so excited that you are here today and I can't wait for everything that we have to talk about.

Liyani Rodriguez: [00:00:09] Thank you so much for having me, Courtney. I'm so excited to jump in! I love the podcast and the whole concept of The EffortLESS Life®. I think it's so needed, especially in today's world. So thank you.

Courtney Elmer: [00:00:23] Oh, thank you. And you know what, for those listening who maybe haven't heard of you, Liyani is the founder of Raddle. You heard me share a little bit about that in the intro, and I would love to hear Liyani for those that haven't heard of Raddle before.

What is it and what inspired you to create it?

Liyani Rodriguez: [00:00:46] Yeah, absolutely. So Raddle is a platform we’re building that hosts 20-minute conversations for entrepreneurs to brainstorm and work through entrepreneurial hurdles. So you have people to brainstorm, talk ideas out with, which is something many entrepreneurs don’t have, especially if you don’t have a team. Soon we're expanding so you can get your website reviewed, get feedback on your pitches, and more.

What inspired me to start? This was a hurdle that I had faced myself. Sometimes it's the best place to start. You encounter something on your own and you say, “Hey, how would I have solved that problem?” or “What should have existed that would’ve prevented me from making that mistake?” 

I had a nearly 10 year career in professional services. I left my career late 2018 because I wanted to make that leap to being an entrepreneur. 

I made the leap, quit my job. And when I made that leap, I fell, really hard. I had sunk all my life savings from working into my start-up to the tune of about $35,000. I’d signed the contract and started building a foundation. 

The problem was I didn't talk to enough people. I did talk it out, but only to some friends and family. People were cheering me on, but I didn’t get all the business insights that I should’ve gotten. So I signed this contract, and without getting into all the details, it was a major mistake.

That specific company never even saw the light of day. I’d been reading and I’d heard, “you just have to go all in.” And that’s what I did, but that was my mistake. I started to think about what would’ve prevented me from doing that. Where could I have gone to get the help I needed? 

Who are the people I should’ve talked to in order to prevent me from signing that contract? In my consulting career, that’s what we did. We’d talk all the time, whether in person or by virtual networking! We’d jump into a conference room, brainstorm, and punt ideas back and forth. In corporate I always had a team to talk it out with. But as an entrepreneur, especially as a new entrepreneur, you don’t have that. 

So I started out with testing this concept of brainstorming with the objective in my mind to bring people together in the entrepreneurial space and create a space where they could talk through all the small entrepreneurial decisions that lead to really big ones. That’s why we started Raddle: to create a space where entrepreneurs can book a short session, 20 minutes, to brainstorm and work through whatever it is they’re working on. 

Courtney Elmer: [00:04:03] What an incredible concept. I remember when we were first connected by our mutual friend, Kristin, and she told me about Raddle. Then of course I  jumped on Google and started looking you guys up. I thought, Wow, where has this been all my entrepreneurial life? You’re right, many of us as entrepreneurs start out on our own, by ourselves without access to virtual networking.

We get into what I call the curse of knowledge. We’re experts at what we do, but we’re often too close to our work to get a real perspective that someone from the outside looking in could offer.  I mean, imagine if you could pick the brain of a 7 or 8 figure entrepreneur And I mean that, because I do feel as entrepreneurs,  you said, a lot of us start out on our own, may all of us start out on our own by ourselves.

And sometimes we can get it's the curse of knowledge I call it. We're so good at what we do. And we're so close to what we do that sometimes we don't have the perspective that someone else might be able to offer us to help guide us and steer us in a direction. And so. I love that Raddle provides that.

And what I think is fascinating too, and I would love to hear you elaborate on this. You guys encourage entrepreneurs to come together, but those that are from different backgrounds and different industries, to even further that perspective. Tell us more about this.

Liyani Rodriguez: [00:05:07] Yeah, absolutely. We spent a good six months to a year testing and trying to figure out where the most innovative ideas come from. And the answer is: unknown places. 

So we started to build our algorithms around what we call the “magic of randomness.” The diversity of opinion! There is so much magic in there. There’s also all kinds of helpful tips when you get together with like-minded people, but what happens when you get together with unlike minds is a whole different level of innovation, especially in a small group.  

In a Raddle, you have five to six people helping you brainstorm and bounce ideas off one another. Those people might be a mix of like and unlike minds so you get both perspectives that you may not encounter if you spend all your time in niche communities that we’re so accustomed to in these safe spaces.

So, our challenge was, “how do we create a safe space to share while still honoring different perspectives like virtual networking?” and that’s what we focused on creating with Raddle. 

Courtney Elmer: [00:06:37] that's beautiful. Okay, so walk me through as if I were to sit down and jump into a Raddle. It’s a 20-minute brainstorming session, right?  I would sit down for those 20 minutes. Is it one-on-one or is it a group of people?

Liyani Rodriguez: [00:06:51] Yes. One of the things we've learned so far is that entrepreneurs are really short on time. So we geared it to you, as the busy entrepreneur. You’re facing a hurdle, let’s say you aren’t clear on how to hone your messaging to reach a wider audience. This is a common problem that we see. Let’s say you book a Raddle - e.g., next Thursday at 1:00pm. So you book your Raddle. Now our job is to curate the community for your Raddle. When you book, you tell us what you’re looking for feedback or help on. Then we go and match you with three to five of six people — we call them your brainstormers — to join that Raddle and also sign up at that specific time. 

Then you have a Raddle facilitator, a third party who also joins the Raddle. So you’ve booked your session. You join the virtual Raddle room on Thursday at 1:00pm. Your facilitator leads the conversation, and your brainstormers are there to ideate. You’re there to sit back, listen, and take notes, and ask any clarifying questions you need. 

So we’ve created this safe space, ideas are flowing, and you’re getting out of your own head to see beyond the problem you’re experiencing and find the opportunities. All eyes are on you, with your brainstormers there saying, have you thought about this? What about this? What if you changed that? And asking questions to guide the conversation and help you find the answers you need to keep making forward progress. And the facilitator is there to guide that conversation, so you don’t have to: you simply soak it all in and ask all the clarifying questions you need. When you come with an open mind, imagine how much perspective and insight you could take away from a 20-minute conversation like this!  It’s a great virtual networking opportunity to build business relationships. 

Courtney Elmer: [00:09:18] Yes! Imagine the clarity that you would walk away with after a session like that. Like you said, the ideas are flowing. I don’t know about you, but I find that it’s those ideas that feed us as entrepreneurs. The ideas are what lights my fire. When those new ideas come in, it’s an energy that courses through your body. You get excited, and reignited, and reinspired, and you can get over the hump and get back to work.

When we're working by ourselves, at least this is true for me, it’s easy to get stuck in your head. “I don’t know the best decision to make.” “I’ve been doing it this way for so long but not getting the results I want, but I don’t know what to do differently.”  And what’s so cool is that a Raddle is a session all for you.

You get to sit there and brainstorm the heck out of whatever it is you're needing help and clarity on. The image that's coming to my mind, which you mentioned earlier, it’s like sitting in a virtual conference room. Imagine you and your leadership team at a big corporation, and you’re the CEO of that big corporation. You guys would be brainstorming it out in the conference room. Now as an entrepreneur, Raddle provides you the opportunity to do that as well as use it as a virtual networking platform.

Liyani Rodriguez: [00:10:36] Oh my gosh, 100%. That's what I've missed so much from my career: “How do I not have this?” I was surprised to see that this wasn’t something that was easily accessible for entrepreneurs, especially starting out. We, at Raddle, like to think of these brainstorms as an access point to momentum. The ideas flow, and then you feel this momentum, because all these people are helping you and bringing new perspectives--a virtual networking opportunity to build business relationships. 

Momentum is what breeds success. Momentum is what keeps you moving forward. Ultimately that's our goal, is that you can continue moving forward. Now whether you take a lot of those ideas and put them into action, or just one of those ideas and put it to action, or maybe even none of them, the philosophy is that you’re getting clarity, virtual networking, building business relationships, overcoming obstacles, and you can keep moving forward. 

What’s really cool in these Raddles is that your brainstormers get invested in your company and your success. And what did Courtney do next? People will start coming back to your Raddles.

They're learning your company and so that they could become more informed as the Raddle goes on. 

Courtney Elmer: [00:12:20] Awesome. My brain works in frameworks and I’m seeing a clear circular process: an upward cycle of success. This idea that clarity breeds energy, energy breeds momentum, momentum breeds success, and the cycle repeats. This is what we need as entrepreneurs, and I feel you are providing a way for entrepreneurs to experience this via these Raddles. With the way the landscape has shifted to virtual and online, gone are the days of networking events where you would show up for a wine and cheese mixer at some random hotel lobby.

It’s these virtual networking communities that are being built and that are coming to the forefront now. I see you guys leading that, and I love that. So kudos for that. I'm really curious too. Talk to me about the name: Raddle. What the heck does Raddle even mean?

Liyani Rodriguez: [00:13:31] It's funny, the name Raddle came out of many nights with a dictionary and thesaurus, exploring who we are through words. Raddle means to intertwine, and we're using it to intertwine ideas.

At first I started looking at Rattle with two t’s, like to rattle off ideas. Then, I discovered that when you look at Raddle with two d’s, it means to intertwine. This is even more magical because this is what our company stands for: we are intertwining ideas from different perspectives to help have this one beautiful, cohesive, successful company for the entrepreneurs we serve.

That’s what happens in a Raddle. People have asked us why we do this synchronously, or live, where everyone comes together on video at the same time. It’s because ideas are bouncing off one another and they're intertwining with each other to create solutions for this entrepreneur.

That's why it's important to come together at one time, rather than people contributing ideas asynchronously. 

Courtney Elmer: [00:14:53] Wow. How cool! I never made that distinction. I'm so glad you shared this about the two t’s and two d’s and how that takes it to the next level. It is so magical. I'm really curious to hear too, because you come from that corporate background, you've been very successful in your career.

I think most people listening will relate to this: our backgrounds may not necessarily mirror what we're currently doing. In fact, it might be completely different, but at the same time there are always pieces in our background that have prepared us for what we’re doing now. 

So how would you say your background has prepared you for what you have created here with Raddle?

Liyani Rodriguez: [00:15:40] In so many ways, Courtney, in so many ways, I would say that I never even knew what prepared me. I learned how to be a professional first, and that laid the groundwork for me. In moving on, I continued my career in professional services.

So understanding how to work with clients, understanding what it means to be an advice giver, is a skill I learned along the way. What Raddle is now is essentially, what I like to think of as the future of professional services, individuals giving advice to build business relationships. But it doesn’t have to be from an expert, extremely expensive consulting perspective. 

So many pieces of what I had experienced in my career, whether that's soft skills or more technical skills are coming to light in Raddle. For anyone listening, I think what's really special is sometimes you don't know all the things that you've picked up along your life and how that could be helpful for someone else.

You have so many unique experiences. You've changed jobs, maybe every two to three years. And all of these different unique experiences play into what we end up doing, including every decision we make and every idea that we contribute. 

So for me, when I’m contributing ideas, I come from this corporate lens advising high-growth tech companies. And I’ve taken that knowledge of how to problem-solve and combined that with teams and how you work together, and I think is where a lot of special energy comes from with Raddle.

Courtney Elmer: [00:17:50] It so beautifully informs what you're doing right now, being that advisor, and also the companion on the journey in a sense. I know something else that's really important to you is the community aspect of Raddle. This idea of not only teaching, but also learning from each other. One of the things I admire about you so much Liyani are the core values that you have embraced both for yourself and within your company. This needs to be talked about, because they're atypical core values that most entrepreneurs would shy away from, especially in this fast-paced, highly polished world of social media. Talk to us about these values. What are they, and what is it about them that’s meaningful to you?

Liyani Rodriguez: [00:18:52] Oh 100%. I could go on and on about the world and social media that we live in. I love that you brought that up. I love that you brought up community because when my co-founder and I first started, we started by testing the concept of brainstorming together.

The first thing that was evident is we need community. SoI went out and met someone who was the best community builder, I think I could have ever met. She became my co-founder. When we started, we sat down and asked ourselves, “What is going to bring our community even closer together? What do we need in terms of values? What do we want to represent as a company?”

Three things bubbled up to the surface. The first is that vulnerability is the norm. If you're facing a hurdle, if you want real help, you have to get vulnerable. To get real momentum, you first have to get real vulnerable. So vulnerability is our first core value. At Raddle, vulnerability is the norm. You share a hurdle with a group of strangers. Sometimes you don't know who's in your Raddle. You get vulnerable right off the bat, and it’s the safest possible space to do so. Vulnerability simply means admitting you need help. And at Raddle, we’re here to help. As a norm, we talk about hurdles. We're open. We're honest. It's what we do at Raddle.

The next one is that diverse perspectives, and brave, innovative ideas. This is where true innovation comes from: we create a safe space with unlike minds and diverse perspectives and different experiences. 

Our third core value is that every voice is heard. To your point, especially around social media, we saw that there's so many spaces where you have to speak so loud or you have to post every single day, or have to always be tweeting or always have content coming out.

To have your voice heard there it could be months or even years of building an audience. But on a Raddle, every voice is heard. This is one of the reasons why there's a limit to people in your session. If you join a Raddle, the facilitator will say, “Hey Courtney, do you have anything to add? It’s perfect for virtual networking.”

Whether you're the person who's feeling stuck that booked a Raddle, or the person joining. or you're the facilitator, your voice is heard. That’s so important in today's world where as an entrepreneur, you sometimes need help. It's important to hear everyone's voice and we all have something meaningful to say.

For us, it's those relationships that we focus on. When you think about relationships, you think that it's about having a voice being heard and really being seen.

Courtney Elmer: [00:22:35] Yeah. Gosh, the thing that every entrepreneur wants, and the thing that's the hardest to ask for too, is to ask for help and to admit that you need it because our ego gets in the way. And when your ego gets in the way it can hold you back from the success that you deserve. So this idea of taking it from a big scale where you have to  shout to the void, down to a small scale where it's a small group of people, who've got your back is brilliant. 

The word that came up for me as I was listening to you was this idea of micro-influence.  Everybody wants to be an influencer. Everybody wants the recognition and the credibility and the attention, and to be the authority in their space. Everyone wants to be virtually networking. But it starts with micro-influence. It starts with the community you have.

Even if you feel you don't have a community, you've got one now because that's what Raddle is here to do. Ok I want to book a session, tell us how to book a session, because I know for those listening, they're going to want to know how can I find out more about this? This is the thing that has been missing from my entrepreneurial journey. And why has it been missing for so long?

Liyani Rodriguez: [00:23:43] Yes, I would love to have more Rattles and talking about all the entrepreneurial hurdles. First you go to GetRaddle.com. Click request, because we do verify every person. It's a way for us to make sure to keep a safe space and be community driven. Then, you’ll be invited onto our platform where you can book a Raddle. We curate your brainstorming team, and then you show up for your Raddle at the scheduled time. I join as many Raddles as I can. I can’t tell you how much I love brainstorming, even if it’s like hey, let’s go over my website copy. I even book them myself when I’m feeling I need that extra boost of ideas or perspectives. 

Once you sign up, you’ll be able to book your first session free, and if you want more, it’s simply an easy paid subscription thereafter. Raddle is also a great way to build business relationships.

Courtney Elmer: [00:25:05] That is awesome. So first session free. How much is the subscription? 

Liyani Rodriguez: [00:25:08] It’s either $240 a year on the annual plan, or just $30 bucks a month to month. We wanted it to be accessible and affordable compared to other masterminds or project communities out there. Typically we see people booking about one Raddle a week to keep them moving on their path. 

If they’re going through a decision cycle, sometimes they book more. Sometimes less, if they’re at a point where they’re needing to work through the ideas they got at their last Raddle. Our job is to be there when you need us. Raddle is also a great form of virtual networking to build business relationships. 

Courtney Elmer: [00:25:47] My first thought was, Holy cow, you can't even find a coach for that. Most masterminds start around five figures. You have made this so accessible. This is a total, no brainer. And I love what you've created. I'm so glad you came on the show today, Liyani. I’m so happy we discussed Raddle, business relationships, and virtual networking.

Before we end, I've got a question for you. I don't prepare our guests for this question, and it’s something I ask every guest who comes on the show. The reason is because I want to hear whatever is the first thought that pops into your mind, because that's your intuition speaking. It’s really important that we tune in and listen to that. 

So Liyani, I'm really curious to hear, what does it mean to you to live an EffortLESS Life®? 

Liyani Rodriguez: [00:26:32] Oh, I love this question, Courtney. What does it mean to me? I love the whole name effortless, but it, to me, effortless means balance, it means I'm in a flow and I'm reaching balance in every part of my life. Here's time for my fiance. Here's time for my family. It's in a state of flow. It's something I'm constantly working on and constantly trying to achieve, but having that balance and in that state of flow would be an effortless life for me.

Courtney Elmer: [00:27:19] I love that. Having that flow in all areas too — how you made that distinction is so, so key. I know that our listeners are going to want to connect with you personally and find you online. So where can they do that?

Liyani Rodriguez: [00:27:33] Please do I'm on Instagram. My personal profile is @liyanikrystle and our Raddle page is @getraddle. I hope to stay connected.

Courtney Elmer: [00:27:51] Awesome. Liyani, thank you for your time. We love what you’ve created and can't wait to see what you guys do next. Thank you so much for sharing your Raddle story.

Liyani Rodriguez: [00:27:59] Thank you so much for having me, Courtney. I love what you're building and thank you for letting me be a part of it.

This had to be one of my favorite episodes to record. It was so much fun to riff with Liyani on this idea of collaboration, connection, and community and how those can benefit each of us as the entrepreneurs that we are. I hope you enjoyed listening as much as we enjoyed recording this for you, and if you want to find out more about Raddle and how to book a session for yourself, make sure you check out the show notes where you can find links to hop on over to the platform and learn more. 

And speaking of getting clarity and solving problems in your business, if you’re struggling with feeling overwhelmed and overworked right now or need a little virtual networking help, because you’re working the max number of hours you can every week but still aren’t seeing the growth you want to be seeing in your business, chances are you’re missing one of the key four pillars that every Visionary Leader needs to have in place in their business in order to be successful. I’m going to be hosting a live virtual workshop soon to help you get the structure and systems in place in your business that you need to get out of overwhelm and step away from that back-end busy-work so you can experience more freedom, and finally feel  you know what you’re doing and be seen as the go-to authority in your space. I’d love to have you join me live for this workshop. It’ll be by invite-only, so you’ll need to add yourself to the waitlist so you can get notified via email as soon as my team puts together the dates and times for the training. You can do that right now at theeffortlesslife.co.

And! If you’ve ever got a question you’d  to ask us about simplifying your workflows, hiring a team, starting a podcast, virtual networking, building business relationships, or getting the right systems and support in place in your business so you can spend more time in your zone of genius, follow us on Instagram @theeffortlesslife.co for daily tips on how to simplify your workflows and spend more time in your zone of genius

Coming up next week on the show, I’m sharing the 7 Things You Need to Know Before You Start Outsourcing. Most entrepreneurs make the mistake of waiting too long to get the support in place they need to grow their company beyond their current limits, so don’t be  most entrepreneurs. I’m going to give you the shortlist of the 7 common pitfalls to avoid when it comes to outsourcing, and how to get started if you’re ready to take some things off your plate and free up more of your time to do the work you actually enjoy doing. That’s coming up next week, so make sure you’re subscribed to get notified as soon as the new episode drops. Until then, go live your EffortLESS Life®. I’ll see you next week right here on the Systems Made Simple™ podcast! 






Liyani Rodriguez

Underdog Champion

Co-Founder/CEO of Raddle, Small Business Owner, Underdog champion