Spark & Hustle with Tory Johnson

May 26, 2010

The Fordyce Letter recently chatted with Tory Johnson about her Spark & Hustle conference, scheduled for July 29-31 in Atlanta.

As the CEO of Women For Hire and Workplace Contributor on ABC’s Good Morning America, she has a significant following among career management professionals. She is offering Fordyce Letter readers who may need help turning their ideas into cash a discount to attend (use code FORDYCE to save $200; leave a note that you’ve registered so she can flag it for her staff and she can include you in the after-hours get-togethers).

Tell me more about the agenda and “inner circle” of experts. Also, is this designed mostly for female business owners?

While the contents of the three-day conference would apply equally to men and women, our market is primarily women. Don’t get me wrong, we love men — and they’re welcome to register to attend — but truthfully it’s largely a women’s event by default!

The core focus of the agenda is turning passion and potential into PROFIT. The current and aspiring small business owners and solopreneurs I meet are generally really good at what they do. Where they fall short is how to SELL their services. How to PROMOTE their businesses. How to EXPAND their platforms. This isn’t an event to come discover your passion. Our attendees will arrive knowing exactly what their passion is—that is their SPARK. And they’ll leave having gained the tools and tactics for turning that passion to profit—that’s the HUSTLE part! It’s all about making money right now.

Readers of The Fordyce Letter are motivated by becoming or maintaining their status as “Big Billers”; along those lines, what tactics do you teach at these events to MAKE MONEY NOW?

That’s my kind of crowd!

In no particular order, attendees will learn how to build their digital identities, how to overcome sales objections, how to write compelling copy that sells without being sleazy, how to generate media coverage that’s for profit not just for vanity, how to form complementary alliances, how to generate multiple revenue streams to enhance the core business, and so much more. All of these things can be put to work Monday morning after the event.

Without being stereotypical, it seems that women are better multi-taskers – but does multi-tasking also equate to increased earnings? Or do you advise women to become single-taskers for financial success? How?

Being all over the map doesn’t usually equate to financial success. Sometimes when we focus on too many things, we don’t give the required depth and attention to the one or two things that can make us the most money.

Pause every so often and go deep. Get rid of the stuff that’s sucking your time and not generating any money. Long TO-DO lists never get done. Having 12 priorities means you really have no priorities. Focus on the top 1 or 2 or even 3 — and give those your all.

How is it that in this economy, you have found a way to expand business and serve people who have been victims of this economy and job market?

We’re having record growth in our business because we’re adaptable and nimble to change. That’s the benefit of small business, but you have to act — you can’t hide your head in fear.

Recent government stats show that Americans are starting more than 500,000 small businesses a month. Even though I’ve spent 11 years focused on employees, in the last year I’ve been bombarded by women asking for advice on how to start and grow a small business. I turned $5,000 into a multimillion-dollar venture — and many women come to me for advice on how to do just that. Or even how to turn $5,000 into $50,000 or $500,000. So we developed a series of programs to help them do just that. We have a high-level series that’s a significant financial investment for attendees who want customized intensive help, and then there’s this Spark & Hustle conference that’s highly affordable no matter what stage or income level for that business owner.

When Women For Hire launched in 1999, you didn’t know you would become a millionaire success story. Would you say that anyone – including brand-new recruiters in this otherwise dismal jobs market – can map their own successful career blueprint?

Yes, yes, yes! There’s nothing special in my background that differentiates me from everyone else. I dropped out of college to accept a job offer. I was fired from a job I loved—one I really thought I’d have forever. I married for love, not money. I’m not a beauty queen. My family has no connections in my industry. I had no advantage over anyone else. If I could do this — through sheer determination and a whole lot of hustle — anyone can.

Do you think it’s critical for the owner of a small recruiting firm to build an online identity? What tips do you have for recruiters who may be hesitant to jump into the open atmosphere inherent in social media?

Of course. You can’t be serious about recruiting today — or frankly any business — if you’re not willing to embrace social media. The key is to just start — and to recognize that it’s really quite simple.

With hundreds of millions of people on the biggest sites — Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter — you know there’s a place for you. There are so many free online tutorials. Or invest in some training. Or get your kids to do some reverse mentoring to get you going. Just start — just dive in. You’ll see the results quickly and you’ll be hooked in no time.

Many recruiters would argue their success stems directly from cold-calling. You obviously know what cold calling is about and how to use it effectively to get people to talk to you! But recruiting is different than an interview on deadline – how do you ensure quality results over quantity, and what advice do you have for recruiters who are ready to give up?

It takes a lot of NOs to get that YES. Assume that most calls won’t produce results. Be realistic about the odds. You can’t brush off cold-calling or say it simply doesn’t work because several calls have gone unanswered. It works — so keep at it.

Don’t leave tons of messages. Alter your methods of connecting — phone, email, Tweeting, LinkedIn. Call at various times of day. Befriend assistants.

Have your pitch down cold. So many times I get sales cold calls, and the person is stunned when I pick it. It’s their golden chance to pitch/sell. Instead they get tongue-tied because they’re so accustomed to leaving messages.

Be ready for your moment since you don’t know when it will come.

Client and candidate development matter in recruiting…tell us your “sourcing” secrets for finding good people and clients. How do you manage these relationships to build a healthy long-term business?

Referrals are still the best method for me. I have a big database of 250,000 women, so if the person I need isn’t in that database, someone in that database will know someone to get me where I need to be. I also have a robust group on LinkedIn with 20,000 active participants.

I use Twitter ( and Facebook (, and it’s rare that from all of those sources I can’t find exactly who I need — usually within hours!

The key to getting those people to help me with sourcing is by maintaining a healthy, active dialogue even when I don’t need anything.

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