Technology has been a game changer when it comes to helping us get what we want, when we want – we can have it arrive at our doorstep, our fingertips, or in front of us for coffee, or a happy hour drink. The days of attending after-work networking events, where people stick on a name tag, shake a slew of strangers' hands, collect enough business cards to fill up their pockets, are becoming obsolete, even when we want to connect with industry professionals and investors.
Whether we're looking for a new job, new hires, or new investors to back a company that we've put a ton of our own sweat equity into over the years, it can all be done on a mobile phone, in your pajamas, drinking wine coolers on the couch.
However, with this new ease of making fast online connections, also comes new playing rules. How many emails are too many to send a person you're eager to meet for coffee? Is it okay to friend a potential investor on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and follow them on Instagram?
At the expense of looking too desperate, unprofessional, or on the border of receiving an online restraining order, here are five rules to follow when going online to network.
1. Three Emails Max
You may be determined to get a yes or no response from someone you're reaching out to via email, but keep your cool. Send two follow-up emails max and make sure they are spread out over 7 days. People are busy and email is something that begins to pile up. Eventually, people sort through their email and respond to the requests they are interested in. If you're eager to find out if someone opened your email or it went directly to their spam folder, you can install an email tracking plugin (such as: Mail Tracker) to your inbox.
2. One Social Message
Think about it. How many times do you check your DMs on Twitter and Instagram? You may just skip checking it altogether if you have a history of getting spam messages non-stop.
3. Follow on Your Favorite Social Media Platform
You may think you'll get on a person's radar if you follow them on every single place they are "social" on. You may come off as a stalker if you hit the follow button on all social media platforms at once, so instead do it gradually. Start by following the person on your favorite social media platform and then every week, follow them on one more place.
4. Get an Intro If You Can
Since it's easy to grab the contact information of anyone you want to chat with in the world (sometimes even celebrities) the best way to get noticed or get a response from a person is by introduction. Use LinkedIn to find out who you know is connected with that person and ask them to make an introduction for you.
5. Keep a Distance
If by chance you do notice that the person you want to meet is attending an event that you are also planning on attending, be sure to say hello in person. But be careful of rubbing them the wrong way by saying you knew they were going to be there thanks to their post on their private Facebook page.
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.