Community building can be one of the most powerful marketing tools in any business. Not just that – having a strong community also lets a company collaborate with more people and potentially get more clients. In this episode, Natalie Benamou of HerCsuite™ Radio joins Tracy Hazzard in the show. Natalie talks about the origin story of HerCsuite™ Radio, its mission, and how it has become a platform for high-performing women in the C-suite to share their success stories and best practices. Tune in and learn more about the value of building a good community in the podcasting space, no matter your niche.
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Empowering Community Building For Women Through Dynamic Leadership And Action With Natalie Benamou Of HerCsuite™ Radio
I got a female podcaster who has accelerated the community building for women in the C-Suite, specifically. She has narrowed in deeply on the leaders she wants to talk to and wants to be her listeners. She made them one and the same, which is part of her key here. Let me introduce you to Natalie Benamou.
She and I met at a women’s pitch event. She was brought in to talk about podcasting, and I was brought in to pitch. I was one of a select few companies that were allowed to pitch the event. It is interesting. We got to meet each other that way. I have been on her show already, HerCsuite Radio, which we will bring to you.
Let me do a little introduction to Natalie. She has accelerated her career in two leadership positions in both the marketing industry and nonprofits. She is a rainmaker, achieving a high level of client success and generating over $110 million in sales revenue. She is a leadership expert in the host of the HerCsuite Radio Podcast.
She is a sought speaker for events and conferences, including the Healthcare Business Women’s Association, the HBA National Conference, HCEA Connect, and podcasts like Conscious Millionaire, Brave Women at Work, Go find Out What Your Ask, and Lioness Magazine featured articles. She is incredible in her care for her community. You are going to read what comes through in this interview.
Natalie, thanks for joining me. I’m glad to be following up. It was fun being on your show. It has been a while since we were together. I’m excited to catch up on your show, HerCsuite Radio.
Thank you for letting me be here with you. It is good to see you again. We were catching up a little bit before. I’m glad to see you. It is wonderful.
This is my favorite part about podcasting. We get to catch up on what each other’s doing, and we are doing some business for our businesses while we are doing it.
It is winning all the way around.
You are about to hit 100 episodes as we are doing this. How does it feel?
I had a podcast before this one called Rock Your Trade Show. It ended in the hundreds. I’m looking past 100 on this one.
You are going to go right past that milestone.
This little thing called the Pandemic was like, “No more podcasts.” I’m excited about this one because it is a milestone, and I have recorded my 100th.
Did you make any decisions about that 100th episode that you were going to do something different?
Yes, I had the person I launched the podcast with. Her name is Roz Usheroff. She did my first podcast episode, and she interviewed me. We did it again at the 100th. I had the chance to have a conversation with her. She is such a wonderful interviewer. She is got her podcast. I’m going to be on that.
That is a great model for all of you readers out there to think about us, like having this book ending, where you start your first, and you end with your 100th. It creates a new intro episode and milestone episode. People don’t want to go all the way back to the beginning and read every episode. At least it gives them a good point that pushes them into going back to at least that one and read. It helps to recap that. It helps to say, “How has this changed in a few years?”
It is about the future and trying to look forward. Some of us are like, “We look back.” “Do we want to think about the last few years? Not so much.
Looking forward, you made some changes to your show. What changes are you going to make in the next 100?
I’m experimenting with a few things. I’m trying to change out the intros and how I’m doing them. The flow is the same 5 to 6 questions, but testing out the waters, and I might change the music that is something fun.
Natalie’s intro has done where there is a comment from the guest and some statement they make. She does an intro that talks about what the show is about and transitions into the guest. There is a little music that ties everything through. It is nicely done. It is a great format, and lots of people like to do it, but it is also a little bit more complex. She and I talked about that. It takes more time because you do have to plan it, and you have to pick the clip. Sometimes it is not necessary. Your audience doesn’t necessarily need that. It may be a choice of easing things up on you. That is what you are testing out. It is a little bit more of letting them do an intro.
My creative director, Megan, has started doing little video clips from the interview. Instead of having an audiogram, we are doing a video. That is a new thing like side by side.
You are not publishing the video for the whole episode.
Not the whole episode yet, although you did recommend that on our podcast. I have not forgotten that. I do have a YouTube channel now, thanks to you.
You can start it in a YouTube Shorts playlist.
That is where we got them.
I’m shocked at how they do for people.
I learned that from you. It is a true story. Thank you.
I’m glad that was useful.
Take action. That is what you got to do when you read these tips.
Let’s talk a little bit about how you started. You had a podcast before, and you shifted to HerCsuite Radio. It was a slight audience elevation on the audience shift of where you were going. You were focusing. Why did you decide that you were going to continue podcasting in that shift of your business?
I love podcasting. I’m a curious person, and like you, I love hearing stories. I could not do it. I stopped for a couple of weeks one time, even on the HerCsuite Radio, and I missed it. I was like, “What am I doing? I got to get back to this. This is crazy.” It is one of my favorite things to do. I love meeting people. It opens doors to new opportunities both for the person and for me. I’m a super-connector. I love connecting with people. It has been a joy. I’m glad I decided to do it.
What I want to talk about is you are nurturing this community of people. They are all interested in elevating their executive levels. How is that working for you? What efforts do you put into finding the right guests and doing all of these things to try to make that engagement piece and the community happen?
When I started my podcast, like my business, I started asking my friends like, “Who is interesting that I know? You got to be on the show.” A lot of the people, at the beginning of HerCsuite Radio, if anyone does go back to the beginning in the first 25, people that were on Rock Your Trade Show that were friends before. I recycled them and had them again. Things had changed. It had been several years. It was nice to have them come on.
It is about listening to where they are stuck and what they are struggling with. We started HerCsuite with the idea that we surround ourselves with the people we want to make our board of advisors. That was the inspiration for HerCsuite Radio. It is broadened out for every career phase. I think about that listener as you do too. You think about who is that one person that I’m speaking to. It transcends may be out.
I try to have content that is relevant to her in the different phases of her career. I might have something inspirational. I had many book authors on the show, which was fun. I’m getting more laser-focused on the business, which is, how can I help with that? I know that is one of your questions later. I don’t want to take it away yet.
Let’s segue into that because I do want to talk about that. As you get these guests and as you continue to move forward, you are being laser-focused on what the audience wants. The guests need to be the right fit for that. Have you gotten more selective as you have gone through the process?
I have, and several podcasting agencies have reached out to me. I’m sure you get a lot of those inquiries. I have been saying no a lot more because they are not aligned, whether it is the topic or it is always the same type of person. I want to give variety to our listeners and make them curious about what we are going to talk about. If it is always the same topic, it is not going to be interesting. I have been much more selective, and I’m grateful for people continuing to reach out to me. There has been a change a little bit in the last several months. I have been more focused on looking forward to 2023.
I hear that from a lot of podcasters as they look back on their prior year and start to focus on the next year. All that selectiveness and curation have been the themes that are going on in a heavier way. That is smart for you. Surround yourself with the right board of directors and the right people. It is not going to accelerate you. An essential component of the community is access to these great guests. You are bringing in the stories, information, and process. How are you growing the community itself? Increasing listeners and leading them into the community, what do you do on that side of things?
It is funny you asked this because I know this is a question, and I know the answer that a lot of people give. I find that when I’m on someone else’s podcast, I instantly get people that want to join HerCsuite. I’m not saying this because I’m expecting anyone to join HerCsuite reading this. Interesting to me when you don’t meet that person because HerCsuite has been a high-touch experience where I would talk to the person, tell them about it, and they would join. It is the same with the business. I was on a podcast, and someone joined HerCsuite. I was like, “I don’t know her.”
How did that happen? You are growing fast. She knows you because she has been listening to you.
She said, “I heard you not on your podcast but on a different podcast.” I was like, “What? I have no idea.”
That is a topic we are going to do coming up on one of our coaching calls. The idea of podcast swapping is underappreciated because this is much easier. My audience is all readers. They are reading. The media type is matched. What important is you are more likely to get an audience from this guesting on somebody else’s show than you are going on their video or going on. It is not a direct correlation between the media type they like to consume and the way they like to learn. Good for you that you like it. Do more of that.
I have a member in HerCsuite. Brave Women at Work is her podcast, Jen Pestikas. We have swapped a couple of times. She wrote a book, and I was like, “You got to come back.” I do give priority to people that are in HerCsuite. You asked about guests. I look for people I can elevate inside the community first, whether they are speakers for us or on the podcast, but I get people outside as well.
I was talking to the host of Elevate, which is a different podcast but also an organization for women. We came up with a suggestion. It hasn’t aired yet. You wouldn’t have heard it, but we came up with the suggestion that I bet you if you looked at some of those women you had on your show over the last years and checked the statistics on the topics, you might find some theme.
They make better panelists. As you already know enough about them, it makes it easier to run a panel with them. You can go back and check your podcast stats and see who is resonating with your audience. It is an easy choice. Let’s talk about that business side of things. You are monetizing your community, the growth of that, and HerCsuite, in general. Let’s talk about what that looks like for you and how the flow through from the podcast, and how the podcast reinforces that.
I did this on her Rock Your Trade Show, and it worked well. I have started to implement it as we were talking about the targeting of guests. I’m finding a guest at a company that I would love to be partnering with or serve their community. It gives you the opening. It is like a soft intro. You are like, “I love what you are doing.” Usually, I find a woman on LinkedIn, and we connect. I’m like, “I would be honored to have you on the show.” You have that opportunity at the end to say, “Whom do you know that I could speak to at your organization that is responsible for this?” That opened the door to my biggest client, the corporate client from that.Find a podcast guest at a company you would love to partner with or at a community you would love to serve. Click To Tweet
Being able to soft network and appreciate that opportunity, but not being overly like I’m not taking it for granted that she might give me that person. There is no pressure about it. It is not on air. It is off-air. It is a nice way to meet people that I can serve. If the opportunity is there, I see it as a door opener to connect with someone else further and deeper into the organization.
That is an underappreciated view of podcasting. The connections that I have made with my guests, those that become network partners, high referral partners, joint ventures, or affiliates. I have more of those than I have the ones that became clients or members. It is a much more direct path to partnership. It feels more at a different level when you are guesting with someone.
In podcasting, you are hearing their story. You are connecting on a meaningful level. They feel comfortable with you. They know you a little bit more. It is not this, “Hey.” We get a lot of those on the business network. I’m out of left field asking you for stuff, and you are like, “You do not need to look at my name.”
I’m a little tired of the questions for virtual coffee. I’m like, “Why do you want to have virtual coffee with me? What is in it for me?” It is the question.
It is always the leads. What is funny is the LinkedIn leads when people say to me, “Are you looking for LinkedIn leads?” I look at their profile, and they have 200 connections. I’m like, “Do you know how to get leads on LinkedIn?”
We are inundated with that. When something is more care about me, we respond better to that.
Serve first is my mentality. I want to serve that person first in whatever I can do to help her. Hopefully, there will be a next conversation. That is all I’m looking for in that instance.
We are planning to air this on International Women’s Day in 2023. I’m excited you are running a panel. Tell us a little bit about the panel. It will probably already have happened, but I’m sure there is going to be an episode somewhere that they could find. I also want to know what is that mission you are trying to accomplish for bringing women together.
International Women’s Day is March 8th, 2023. It happens during Women’s History Month. I interviewed an amazing author who said, “I like the day when we don’t need Women’s History Month. Every day should be Women’s Day. We don’t need these months to recognize this.” For now, this is where we are. It is Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. For those reading, there is always a theme. It is InternationalWomensDay.org. In 2023, it is Embrace Equity.
Equity is more than fairness. It is much broader and deeper in a woman’s life and career. I picked panelists that I knew would be able to speak to four areas that touch a woman in terms of equity, health, wealth, access, and impact. Those four categories are going to talk about on the panel. I’m excited about it because one is a medical doctor for the health portion and health equity, which is my passion. It is going to be a great opportunity to share their stories and also to help women see what is possible in terms of equity. It is beyond equity. It is not just equity. It is not fairness, but it is broader than that.
There is this misconception, and this is where I see your binge factor. I’m going to do that. Shout-out to what that is here. By planting the idea that this is her C-Suite, that equity doesn’t mean the same. Equity means that we equalize things, but it doesn’t mean that it is the same. Our C-Suite doesn’t have to look like the old boy’s C-Suite. It doesn’t have to look like that to be equitable in the future. It has to have the right outcome.
It was the stats that I saw in the summer of 2020 when someone was celebrating. She was like, “Isn’t it great? There are three women in the Fortune 500.” The stats were bad. They were like, “There is progress. One more person as a woman. Now it is ten people.” I was like, “What is going on?” I talked with someone that is the head of a big organization of high-level women. She said, “Maybe they don’t want us at the table.” I said, “We need our seat, table, equity, story, and all the things.” I agree with you.
This is the perspective of HerCsuite Radio. The way Natalie runs this, and the way the podcast goes, is it sets this idea and the premise of it that it doesn’t have to be what we have been told it should be. We have the opportunity to reframe that. That mindset set for your podcast is brilliant. It sets a different tone of listening. I’m listening to this idea that things could be different. Here is a story of someone who did something different and still got a great outcome. That is a huge ongoing impact. That is what I think is brilliant about HerCsuite Radio.
When this airs, the episode that I have coming out will have already aired, but it was a story that touched my heart. If anyone is reading, go back to February 1st, 2023, to read the story by an archeologist about women, our DNA, and where it comes from. Knowing the names of women on our history line of, like, “Who past your grandmother? Can you say your great-grandmother’s name?” Thinking differently and always trying to bring those topics that are interesting and that touch the person’s heart. I hope that will. I had to do a shout-out to that because I was moved. I couldn’t stop thinking about it all day after I interviewed her.
I said this because something came up, and it reminded me of my nan. She passed away quite a few years ago. It came out of my mouth, and I was like, “That is something my nan would have said.” It felt like such a nice thing that has carried on in me. It felt wonderful. We don’t do that enough. We don’t carry that forward enough.
There is this tiny bit of DNA in us from our grandmothers and great-grandmothers. It is true. When you said that, you were carrying her through in that tiny piece of DNA.
That even makes me feel even better because I always feel her. I can’t wait to listen to that episode. Let’s talk a little bit about the C-Suite. There are a lot of businesses like mine. We are at this stage where you are starting to build a board of directors. I’m sitting here thinking, “I don’t want to.” I know that sounds weird, but I don’t want to.
Something I have been pushed at by some of the investment groups that I’m working with is to expand this board of directors. I don’t want to do it because I don’t want it to be done in this way of, like, “You need to add this person so you have credibility with this group.” I was like, “No, I would like people who take action and add real value. Until you can show me they are going to add real value beyond a name or use my company as a name for themselves,” and I’m not so sure. I do think that the C-Suite model needs to be flipped on its head.
When I started HerCsuite, we had two groups of eleven women. We all thought we wanted to be in the C-Suite. Do you know what happened? Some retired, and some declined the C-Suite. We have women that decline those opportunities because they don’t want that. There are women that do want that, and we cater to both. We have women on the superhighway to success, but there are also women that don’t want that. I understand what you are saying because I self-funded my startup. I don’t have anyone to answer to myself. It is scary sometimes. I relate to what you are saying because I don’t want those people giving me advice. I picked my advisors, and they are awesome.
When you have your directors, VPs, and all of that level of everything, they need to be able to be a part of that board of directors level and the C-Suite in which they are working because it has a different model and place to it. My creative director is a male, but he and I have been friends since college. We have known each other for a long time. He is at a creative director level now. Part of it is because he is still a professor teaching. He is not ready to commit more than that.
He put out an email to me saying that he wanted to be a more significant part of our company moving forward and wanted to earn that position in our circle of making decisions. I thought, “He is a friend I have known for many years.” He could have picked up a phone, called, and say, “I want to earn it this year.” I thought, “That is brilliant. He sees we are doing something he wanted to be a part of.” This is great because also we are a little female-heavy. It is nice to have someone in there. We are a little female-heavy in our leadership team. I could use a few more good men there because I want to be well-balanced.
I think this is time. Shows like yours and what you are doing with HerCsuite, in general, as a community, are necessary to start to delve into. If they are not interested in the opportunity, maybe it is because the opportunity is flawed. What does that new C-Suite or new company look like? How can we make this something everyone wants to be a part of? When they contribute, it is beautiful. You get beautiful results.
The big thing is engagement. Everybody is always looking for engagement. The Binge Factor is an amazing platform for consuming content and learning things. That is what people are craving. People want to know information. They want to connect in an important way. What you are doing is amazing. I had admired it since before we did our podcast and I still admire it. Thank you for that.People want to know information, and they want to connect in an important way. Click To Tweet
Thank you, Natalie. I appreciate that. What you are saying is that it is something that is in the prevalent mindset, which is the fact that there is too much thought followership, that there is too much of the same going on, and that is only going to get worse. The more AI we use, the more we conform to this model of it.
Those who are out there saying the C-Suite doesn’t have to be like this. The podcasting business doesn’t have to be like this. We are going out and marching to our drum and model of business. This needs a platform. You created that. That is valuable. I hope that the takeaway here from our readers is that your voice and viewpoint on your community are valuable to set the tone for many others to be able to find their voice.
You have probably noticed this with online events, and that is one of the facets of what we do. I used to stress a lot about, like, “I have to have 1,200 people to come to my event.” If you get a room with the right people, that is what matters because they are able to connect in a way that is meaningful and personal. That is the most important thing. That connection piece matters more. It is not only about broadening, but it is about understanding what the other person is looking for and how you can be of service to them.What matters most is getting a room with the right people because they're able to connect in a super meaningful and personal way. Click To Tweet
I have done way more than 50 people in under events and gotten a lot more value on it, not in the outcome of people buying from us or other things, but in value for what I got from the event and the connections that I made and the things that I learned. I like that smaller intimate event. It is why I have been saying yes in 2023 has a difference. We turned down all sponsorship opportunities and larger events and shifted to a smaller model.
You are going to resonate with people in a way that they are your right target audience. I didn’t even realize this, but she was in an event and she said, “That was your interview. You nailed it.” I was like, “What?”
You didn’t know you were being screened.
I was like, “I thought you were great. I invited you to this event.” She was like, “That was your interview. You nailed it.” It was a small group, not super small, but the size we are talking about. She was like, “I felt comfortable. I felt like I was home.” What better thing could you hear?
Something that comes across from the way that you operate and the way that I like to operate is this intimacy level that you are creating all the time that comes across on the radio, podcast, and an event. You like to know every single person that comes through into your group. You want to get to know them. It is hard when we get bigger, the size of the number of clients where I don’t know them all. I don’t anymore. It is impossible for me too, because we are in the thousands now. It is hard, but I wish I did. I keep trying to find ways to make sure that people circulate in front of me. I’m finding ways to do that. It is hard to keep that intimacy level as you grow, but it is something we are striving for.
When you are doing these interviews, and you are doing your show, they hear you, and they know you in ways that you don’t expect.
Before we go, I want to give you a chance to tell everyone a little bit about how we can find HerCsuite Radio and what you are going to offer them in terms of what kinds of programs and other things like the panel you have coming up, which we will have already aired when this airs. I’m sure you will have more in the future. Give a little bit of advice for those that are permanent potential who haven’t gotten off and started their podcast yet.
In terms of HerCsuite Radio, we are on all the platforms where you can find the show and our website, HerCsuite.com. I love to have anyone come and visit there. They will find your episode there and a blog post about it. On our YouTube channel, they will have a mini of you. I might go back, enhance that a little bit, and send it to you.
Check out her YouTube shorts. This is great that you are doing that now.
You said, “SEO.” I’m like, “I better do something.”
For those TikTok influencers and those using and sharing other people’s videos, this is the place. Find them on YouTube shorts and share them out.
What you are doing is valuable. When I started podcasting in 2016, and I took a course, I told you that when we talked a long time ago with John Lee Dumas, it was a lot harder to learn how to podcast, and there was a whole system. Now it is much more accessible to what you can do. You can get a great mic, and it is not a big investment compared to what it was back in the day. It is much more accessible. What is important is knowing what is in your heart and the message you want. Think of it like this. You deny the world something they want to know by not doing it. Don’t shine your light out. It is important.
I’m glad you said that. Thank you for shining your light and bringing HerCsuite Radio and HerCsuite community to the world.
Thank you so much. It was great to be here with you.
Natalie not only shines her light in her podcast and is encouraging you to do that. It is powerful to create this net worth and network of many amazing women together. Getting them mixing, engaging, highlighting, promoting them, introducing them, and creating power partners. That is the high value of a podcast. That is HerCsuite Radio. What Natalie Benamou has built is evident in everything that she does. You are going to want to go check out HerCsuite and see how you might be able to benefit from this amazing network. Listen to the podcast so that you can understand better the quality of women and voices that Natalie makes it a point to shine a light on.
If you are looking for other great women whom you might want to listen to. Now is International Women’s Day. We are airing this episode on International Women’s Day in 2023 because Natalie is running an amazing panel. We are also going to be highlighting some great women who have been on our show in 2022, not just Natalie. We are going to be highlighting some other great women and great female podcasters that you ought to pay attention to.
International Women’s Day, celebrate it by supporting your favorite women podcasters, and start by sharing out this episode with someone you care about and someone who could benefit from the beautiful network, and the heart-centered community of top-level C-Suite women that Natalie has created.
Thanks, everyone, for reading. I’m honored that you shared my show. I want to make sure to pay it forward. Make sure you tell me if you find some other great podcasters, women or not. It doesn’t matter. I’m looking for all kinds. I want to hear all kinds of original voices who are having an impact on you. Make sure you share them with me, and I will highlight them here on a new episode of the show. Thanks, everyone, for reading. I will be back next time. I can’t wait to hear from you.
- Natalie Benamou – LinkedIn
- HerCsuite Radio
- Rock Your Trade Show
- YouTube – HerCsuite Radio
- Brave Women at Work
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