I have to start with this. OPRAH. Did you see her Golden Globes speech?! OMG. She gave me #ALLthefeels, a sense of empowerment, and honestly inspired me to write this blog particularly because as I watched her speak about women taking a stand, no longer having to say #metoo, and announced that #timesup when it comes to being treated with inequality just because I am a woman, she lit my soul on fire. Not only did she bring tears to my eyes, but I also noticed how many people in the room gave her their undivided attention, gazed at her with admiration, and listened to her with a completely open heart. I was reminded about the power of sharing your story, making a positive impact in the lives of others, and knowing how many people will stand by your side when you selflessly GIVE from your heart. What could you give more of this year? Let's start with you.
When is the last time you touched base with your professional contacts, acquaintances, or even some of your friends outside of social media? I can honestly say that for me, it has been a while. I've slowly started to get better about checking in on people. I absolutely LOVE when my friends do that, but I'm never the one to do it. Well, times are changing over here! I always said, "if someone wants to talk, they can reach out to me. I don't need to do it... and I keep up with them on social media" #pettyAF and quite stupid in hindsight. For those in biz, we all know that it's important to keep social media engagement high: comment, like, and stay relevant in this digital age, but I feel like "human interactions" are becoming too digital and I personally plan to work on this beginning NOW. We can't replace all of that with digital interactions. We need to get back to more personal conversations and stronger relationships. I've fallen victim to the group messages approach and have lost connections over the past couple of years because ... life (and excuses). It will always be busy, but that isn't an excuse to try automating relationships. Especially when it comes to your career and getting paid.
Last year, I began saying yes to more opportunities to grow my personal brand and truly network. So, I put together a wine tasting event with my beautiful #winebosses. At the event, I met a gentleman who happened to own a clothing company who asked me to become a brand ambassador for his clothing line, Anthony Michaels, which then led me to meeting some amazing people, and in turn was able to gain additional exposure for my personal brand/business and make some awesome new friends. Oh, the power of networking! At the end of the day, I think we just need to be a bit more personal to stay in touch, or even meet new people.
Here are 3 simple ways to organically expand your network and get back in the game.
1. Connect with your existing network.
When you get a personal text, email, or phone call from someone that you know is specifically for YOU, doesn't that make you smile? I'm all about putting smiles on faces and it's an easy way to organically expand your network while maintaining healthy relationships with those in your existing network. Start going through those connections, reaching out, saying hi and simply wishing them a wonderful year ahead. It's easy to be anti-social these days with all of the scrolling, swiping, and liking that we do. It's time that you truly connect. If you add me, you better say hey! Get out there. NETWORK! For the purpose of this blog, let's take a look at your LinkedIn profile. How many connections do you have? Now, how many of them do you personally know? Have you ever introduced yourself to ALL of them? I would be willing to bet that there's some room for improvement there. Draft up a simple, short message saying hello and asking your contacts how they are doing and what you may be able to help support them with this year. This can also be done with other social media outlets and is highly encouraged. You will be surprised at how powerful such a simple message can be and how many smiles you can put on people's faces by taking time to reach out to them personally. You will be #shooketh.
2. Join a women's network.
Where my ladies at?! I recommend that you consider joining a women's network simply for the fact that it's been a HUGE part of my growth (when I use the tools) because the network is filled with women who all have common growth goals and it's an instant support system with additional perks like exclusive events, webinars, and articles. The Ellevate Women's Network is a great place to start for these perks because it's a global network with chapters in cities all across the world. Many organizations and universities/alumni associations also have a local women's network that you can join and many of the networks are also beginning to offer mentor programs. Not only will you have the opportunity to expand your professional network, but you will create deeper relationships with women who have common goals and a shared desire to improving not only at work, but in their personal, everyday life.
3. Attend local networking events.
This used to make me cringe because I'm in introvert and talking to a bunch of strangers gave me anxiety! What do I talk about? What do I ask? Take a step back and think about what you bring to the table. Who are you? What is your story? Why do you do what you do? Being comfortable with your past, sharing your story and being #straightup with people will get you far. Networking is all about making connections. What better way to connect with people than sharing with them more about WHY you do what you do, versus handing out your generic business card and rattling off the shit you're responsible for each day? That is boring AF and no one will care to remember that. I recommend going with a friend so you can at least know one familiar face, peep the scene, decide who you're interested in getting to know, and work the room. I always make it a point to go talk to the person who seems to attract everyone in the room to them, that I tend to be most intimidated by. 9 times out of 10, the person I would have assumed to be "too good to talk to me" or "looks like a total bitch" is actually the complete opposite and we have good conversation.
Be patient with yourself and embrace the daily opportunities you have to practice. If I can help you at all, reach out to me and let's talk!
Now get out there and WERK! You got this, girl.
Brittanni Below, MBA is a coach, speaker, and trainer based in Houston, TX that provides services to help fierce and self-driven women to live a more balanced, healthy, and more fulfilling life. By fully understanding your unique talents and gifts and what is distracting you from being successful, Brittanni helps you transform fear, lack of confidence, and life challenges, into lessons that push you to crush the goals that you've set for yourself. If you're interested in personal coaching, book a session with Brittanni here.