How many times have you heard other Entrepreneurs talk about networking? It could be an event they attended last night, last week, online, offline…..it’s exhausting just listening to others discuss the topic, let alone doing it for your own Business! When it comes to marketing your Business, there is no one magical key that will make it work, you have to do a little bit of everything, including networking.
Everyone networks and sometimes, they don’t even know it. What exactly is networking, well there are tons of definitions and most of them are customized to sell someone’s product or service as it relates to networking.
But the plain definition is the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or Business according to Webster’s Dictionary.
The keyword in that definition is productive, meaning it's working for both parties. That’s what this column will cover over the next few months. Some items you need to have in check before you start networking are:
What are your goals for networking, other than gaining more customers? Think about the other things you need in your Business, strategic partners, other services you need, when you have a need, you become a referral for someone else. How often do you want to network and how much time do you have. Like anything else worthwhile, this process takes time.
What do you want others to know about your Business? When you are asking for referrals, your needs will change as your Business progresses, so painting a picture for others to see is crucial to getting quality referrals. Keeping it fun and fresh.
How You Plan to Build Relationships
Networking in a sense is helping others so listening is key to networking. Asking questions is the key to the networking kingdom, the more questions you ask of others, the better you will be able to help them and vice versa.
Where You Plan to Network
Chamber events, trade shows, women-only, most cities you can find events to attend for breakfast, lunch and after hours. Keep your networking efforts under control and yield the best results by creating a networking calendar.
"The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work." -- Robert Kiyosaki
Integrating Networking Into Your Daily Life
Becoming a master connector will not only help others you do Business with but it will help you. Again, your needs are a referral for someone else, just like someone else’s need may be a referral for you.
Like any other marketing activity, you need to monitor your results. Make changes if necessary and always look to improve your results.
Eboni K. Williams and Cheslie Kryst have a lot in common, as Iman Oubou Founder & CEO of SWAAY as well as host of the Women Who Swaay podcast puts it, "They're both badass attorneys, they're both from North Carolina and they've both competed in the Miss North Carolina USA pageants." And they also both took over our podcast on the most recent episode, straight from the headquarters of the Miss Universe Organization!
Cheslie is a successful licensed attorney who also happens to be the reigning Miss USA 2019, with plans to represent our country in the upcoming Miss Universe competition. Not only is she at the height of her pageant power, but she is using the notoriety to create positive change for all of the women in her life, much like her role model Eboni K. Williams. Williams is a journalist, author, attorney and speaker; from her long history as a pageant queen she has risen through the ranks of male dominated industries from law-firms to Fox News. All throughout her journey she has persevered with intelligence, tenacity and poise. Lucky enough for us, she has kindly put her reporting skills to use and got candid with Ms. Kryst about supporting their fellow women, the current state of race in America and their history together as pageant compatriots. All of these topics are incredibly close to their hearts as powerful black women using their influence to create a better future for all women in America.
Oh and, as previously stated, both are complete and utter badasses.
During their podcast takeover they talked about it all, from pageants to politics. It's clear that both of these women are motivated by an altruistic spirit and are strong supporters of #womensupportingwomen. Eboni even read a passage from her book, Pretty Powerful: Appearance, Substance, and Success, in which she outlines how her own career trajectory was so positively affected by the incredible women who mentored her in different stages of her life. She completely shuts down the idea of the "woman on woman teardown," calling it a "pitiful dynamic" tied to the "long and very hurtful history of women." This idea that in order to compete for a spot in the old boy's club, women must first fight off their own gender is not only reductive but it also supports an outdated social structure that was built to greatly favor male success. Throughout history women have been encouraged to look at one another as competition, one more obstacle to pass by. However, all that has managed to do is to pit us against each other, fighting for the few meager seats at the table allowed for women while we ignore the real problem. The problem isn't about the lack of seats allotted for women; the problem is that men are still the ones making the seating arrangements, and it's time for that to change, something that both Cheslie and Eboni understand well.
Race is another topic that is incredibly important to both of these women, and they have quite the in-depth discussion on it during this podcast. Cheslie, who is biracial and self-identifies as black, laid out her point of view on race. She voiced her frustrations for never feeling like she had her own box to tick, being stuck to decide between "black, white, or other" in standardized situations like the SATs. Existing as someone stuck between two cultures has been incredibly challenging, and though she found some solace in the black community, she felt less welcomed by her white peers. Self-identifying as black is something that has allowed her more agency in regards to her own identity, and though she still faces difficulties she realizes how important it is to be a confident black woman in the esteemed position she is currently in. Both Cheslie and Eboni seem to bond over the idea that no matter the successes, they both revel in the victories of their fellow women of color. Each of them is motivated to see more women of color in powerful, visible positions to inspire future generations. It's not about their own success; it's about respect and renown for any and all women of color.
I may have just provided the highlight reel, but the full conversation shared between Cheslie and Eboni on the Women Who Swaay podcast is a must listen. These two women managed to make me laugh while restoring hope for a better America all within a half hour of listening time! Seriously, go get those headphones, right now. You will not regret it.