How to Work The People of Color Career Fair Well
Today, I want to talk to you about the importance of networking, but not in the usual way you’ve heard about before…
I’m talking about the good ol’ fashion, face-to-face networking that happens over a cup of coffee.
Sure, in today’s high-tech, internet-driven society, platforms like LinkedIn are an important piece of your networking strategy. But, I want you to do more. I want you to get out there and actual sit down with the business leaders and savvy female entrepreneurs in your community.
By now you know that I am all about helping women succeed and close the pay equity gap. And the only way for us, as female entrepreneurs and small business owners, to do that is to . . .
- Know what’s going on in our business community
- Get to know and work with others like us
- Make personal contacts with people inside corporations
- Actively build relationships with those contacts
So, what is it that I love about coffee so much? Or, rather having coffee? (And, yes, there is a difference . . . I’m not just talking about drinking it.)
Having coffee with a colleague gives us a chance to get to know each other and build relationships in a more casual environment than, say, scheduling an appointment to talk to them at work. It’s a chance for both parties to step outside the workplace and relax enough to get past the stiff formalities.
While I want you to engage in a friendly personal manner during your coffee dates, by no means are these meant to be idle chit-chat sessions. You are there for a reason. Know what that reason is?
You are there to learn about opportunities for Partnerships within the corporation, and opportunities to build strategic alliances with other female entrepreneurs. You are there to:
- Tell the person what it is you want to do
- Ask them what opportunities they think would fit
- Ask them for the next point of contact to move the process along
- And, most importantly, you are there to LISTEN
When we sit down to a casual cup of coffee, we explain our goals and then sit back and listen to all the gold that person is willing to share. Most people want to help, and most want to take advantage of bringing new value to their place of employment.
This is not “digging for information.” They want to talk to us, and the information they have to share is invaluable when it comes to putting together strategies for pitching Partnership ideas to our Ideal Corporate Partners™. Remember, we want to know everything we can about our ICPs, right? We want to go in armed with knowing their objectives, successes, and pain points so that we can speak their language. Right?
So, I want you to look at your appointment book. How many coffee dates do you have scheduled this week? This month? If you aren’t having coffee with someone in your network at least twice a week, you are missing out on huge opportunities to stay connected, and possibly, get those irreplaceable insider invitations to projects. And I know you don’t want to be the one leaving those kind of opportunities—and money—on the table.
Watch as Lisa Furey from AT&T and I discuss the benefits of this networking strategy…
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If you don’t know anyone inside your Ideal Corporate Partner™, that’s okay. Start with people you do know. Ask for referrals. Don’t be shy! Then, call that next person, introduce yourself as a friend of the one who gave you their name and number, and ask them to coffee. Rinse and repeat, and before long, you will have built a huge network of people who look forward to talking to you, meeting with you, and sharing coffee with you. It’s all about building relational capital.
Don’t be just a profile picture. Go out and make personal connections. I promise the results will change your business!
Next week, I’ll share some insights I learned long ago when working with Prince about the art of Flawless Execution. It really does matter!