Gutsy women with ambition grab my attention, and that’s exactly what happened when I met Suzie Jiang.
When I heard that she walked up to Arianna Huffington at an event, introduced herself, and ended up landing a coveted guest post slot on Huffington’s site, Thrive Global, I knew I needed to hear this gal’s story. And when I saw how passionate she is about building relationships (she literally built her business on it), I knew I had to share her story with YOU!
Suzie is the founder of Spirit Spritz, a company focused on providing entrepreneurs in the creative industry with inspiration and wisdom through interviews with successful business owners. Spirit Spritz aims to shine a light on the business-building path while being a supportive hub of inspiration.
Let’s dive right into my chat with Suzie – I know you’re gonna love it!
Suzie, your business concept is fascinating. Tell us a bit about why/how you started Spirit Spritz and your passion behind it!
I have always wanted to become an entrepreneur but never had a good idea in mind. I knew I wanted to do something in the creative industry and combine my passion and work experience in art, fashion, media, hospitality, and more.
At the same time, I’m a natural networker and connector. I love reaching out to people and building relationships. In the past few years, I’ve met some of the most inspiring and amazing people whose stories motivated me, and I wanted to do something with them. This idea gradually became Spirit Spritz, which initially just featured my interviews with entrepreneurs.
This June, I started organizing panel discussions because I want to bring people together, plus it’s a great way for people to learn from successful entrepreneurs in person. Spirit Spritz is also a platform for me to experiment and learn more about running a business, because the best way to learn about entrepreneurship is really just doing it!
Can you share why you believe building strong, genuine relationships is so important?
No matter what you do, the key to success is not just working hard and having the required skills. Your relationships could lead you to opportunities, deals, or provide you with the help and resources you need, but they don’t just happen after you meet someone for the first time. You need to cultivate the relationships and earn trust over time.
Successful people are used to being approached by those who only want to use them and pretend to like them, so it is essential to be genuine. Even though you meet people who are not successful now, you never know who they know and whom they will become in the future.
What role does relationship-building play in growing your own business?
Spirit Spritz is essentially built on relationships!
All of my initial interviews are conducted with people whom I already know. For example, I worked for Alexandra Senes, founder of Kilometre Paris, in Paris in 2015 before she even launched Kilometre. I kept in touch with her ever since and always asked how I could help her. When I told her about my idea of Spirit Spritz, she immediately said yes and introduced me to more people to interview.
Later on, after I started doing events, I made sure to talk to all the attendees and actually help them talk to each other. When I did my second event, three attendees who went to my first event actually came again!
That’s so inspiring! Events, while valuable, can be daunting for many people. Do you have (or have you had in the past) any struggles, obstacles or fears you’ve had to overcome when it comes to meeting and talking with new people?
Well, first of all, not everyone is nice. There are definitely tough people who are hard to talk to or simply don’t want to talk to me. It’s also much harder to start a conversation when I go to an event, and everyone knows and is talking to everyone.
Making a good impression on famous people, such as CEOs and celebrities, is another situation that I find challenging, because everyone wants to know them, and they don’t really give out contact information.
For many women, starting conversations with new faces is scary and intimidating. I’d love for you to share some advice for gals who struggle with that!
Absolutely. If you are shy and are scared to talk to other people first, you should at least make yourself appear approachable. Look other people in the eyes and smile, and they might just come up to you first.
A lot of times I find people intimidating because they look stern or they’re on their phones. Also, practice makes perfect. The first time is always scary, but the more you put yourself out there and the more people you initiate a conversation with, the easier it gets, and you will gradually learn your networking style.
I couldn’t agree more. What are some of your favorite ways to strike up a conversation with someone new?
A cliché but effective way to start a conversation is to make a comment (“I love your dress”) or ask a question (“do you know where the bathroom is”). If you are at an event, you can always start with “what do you think of this event” or “how did you hear about this event”. It’s also easier to approach someone who is alone. Really just say hi and introduce yourself! They are probably as nervous as you are.
Any other wisdom you’ve learned along the way that you’d like to share?
I think a lot of times people focus too much on simply starting a conversation with someone, but what leads to a strong and genuine relationship is what you do after you talk to that person.
It’s always great to ask for their contact information and send a message or email afterwards, telling them it was great to meet them. If it’s someone you want to establish a relationship with, don’t just stop there. Make sure to follow up periodically. Invite them for coffee/drinks or to events they might be interested in. However, don’t just contact them to make small talk or for no reason, especially if they are a professional connection in a senior position. Send them information that they find useful, such as an update to a topic you two have previous discussed.
More about Suzie Jiang
Suzie Jiang is originally from Beijing. She has lived in the United States for over 9 years, where she went to boarding school and graduated cum laude from Boston University Questrom School of Business. She currently lives in the Soho neighborhood in New York. When she’s not working, she enjoys group fitness classes, traveling, and sipping Spritz (duh!) on a really good night out.
Spirit Spritz is a business platform for entrepreneurs in the creative industry. It features interviews, organizes events, and offers consulting services. The mission behind Spirit Spritz is to help and empower entrepreneurs with actual useful resources. The industries covered are art and culture, beauty and wellness, fashion and retail, food and beverages, hospitality and events, and media and production.
As a special gift to Leading Lady readers, Suzie is offering 20% off to a Spirit Spritz event with the code LEADINGLADY.