I decided on a career in journalism when I was in junior high school but, of course at that time I didn’t really know what it was it just had the word “journal” in it and I loved journaling. By the time I got to college it was pretty much set in stone that I was going to major in journalism because I just wanted to write. I learned early on that it was my superpower. As I began my studies I learned about the different types of journalism: print, broadcast radio and television, being terrified of talking to people, I decided on print because I thought it was more behind the scenes. Little did I know journalism required a whole lot of talking and networking.

The idea of walking up to random strangers for quotes and commentary for an articles scared the crap out of me and when I took an advanced journalism class that required us to complete this semester long project interviewing sources and people on the street I knew that I had to put on my big girl panties and woman up! I remember I had gotten an assignment investigating taxi accidents in NYC which required me to get quotes from taxi drivers, pedestrians and traffic cops and I remember I would walk for hours looking for someone “approachable” and less intimidating. I would see a person and circle the block trying to figure out what I would say to them and if I should just start with a simple “hey my name is…” Yeah I was that scared and awkward to the point where I would make up different personas about how I’m not from around here or how I’m the new girl as a media company just so people would talk to me.

How does this relate to networking?

For an awkward girl like me, networking can be the most intimidating thing ever just as it was approaching those people. Since then I have approached a thousand more people and I have gotten more and more comfortable with it. Networking doesn’t have to be so bad when you remember these simple things:

Small talk makes a BIG difference

Sometimes you need a little small talk to segway into a good conversation. If you’re nervous and have no idea what to say start with asking about a TV show, or something related to the networking event. I attended a networking happy hour hosted by Cosmopolitan in March and there were a hundred girls there looking to build connections, but only about five people who worked for Cosmopolitan there to network. They were probably used to hearing the same questions all night and asking for advice on getting themselves a job there, but I decided to take the small talk route and ask them questions about current events and things happening in pop culture which in turn opened up the floor to do some small pitching and possible article ideas with them.

Social Media isn’t just for personal rantings

Majority of the connections I’ve made this year have been via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter while marketing my blog and brand. I’ve joined several networking groups and have even made friends with some of these media folks. If you’re not comfortable meeting in person social media is definitely more than just a place to share your personal life. It’s great for networking.

You both have #SquadGoals on your mind

The purpose of networking is to build your connections and assemble a squad of individuals who would be beneficial to your mission. Networking is about give and take so if you can be of service to them, I’m sure they could be of service to you as well. I think Taylor Swift started a movement with her Squad.

Remember

If you are a job seeker, don’t be in such a rush to ask for a job right then and there. It’ll definitely make for an awkward situation. Don’t oversell yourself, be cool and remember to have an action plan before going to the networking event if you are attending one.

book 1

For the month of July I decided that I would launch a Brunch and Books Series for women who can’t seem to find time for leisure reading outside of work and school. Myself being one of them. I wanted to create a way for us to share something and I believe that reading books for and by women can bring us a little more closer and help us gain a better understanding of ourselves and each other. We are currently in week two of reading and the first meet up isn’t scheduled to take place until the end of July, details will be posted within the week along with discussion questions to reflect on with your reading.

If you are interested in reading along with us you can subscribe here.

IMG_8148

On Monday, hundreds of beautiful brown women and men gathered at the Seed Gallery in Newark, New Jersey for the Pose ‘N Post Symposium hosted by Rich Hipster beauty and flower child Chrisette Michele. The ambiance of the gallery was filled with shades of pink, flowers, and diamonds creating a glamorous yet relaxing setting as we were served moscato by Voga and Cupcakes.

IMG_8137

Chrisette opened up the event with an acoustic performance that felt like home. She performed Charades and Couple of Forevers that left everyone in dazed. It was like sitting in a really warm living room with your girls. The event was panel style, with very intimate conversations. On the panel were Fash from Lover4fashion.com, Courtney Adeleye of Mane Choice hair and beauty product owner, and Ambrosia Malbrough from Brosiaa. Each women were very opened about sharing their tips on branding and social media marketing. Being that it was a social marketing event, Michele opened up the itinerary for the night with an Instagram icebreaker where each participant had to pair up with other attendees they did not know, take an “usie” create a hashtag, follow each other on Instagram and voila adding more followers to your network.

The event was filled with women who owned their own boutiques, blogs, YouTube channels, or women simply looking to increase their following on social media. IMG_8119

Chrisette began the Q&A style interview by asking the lovely ladies a series of questions and they shared their tips on branding and social media marketing. Participants were able to openly share their fears and concerns when building their brands. I took away several gems from the symposium that I would love to share with you all. They definitely helped me put building a brand into a different perspective. I will be completely honest when I say it is hard and takes up all of our time, but when done organically it makes the process that much more meaningful. Chrisette shared the beautiful gem, “When it means something to you, it means something to others.” This is how we should build our brands with this same attitude. Here are some of the other gems I took from the evening:

IMG_8106

Branding Tips:

  • Timing is important! When building a following, using apps such as Google Analytic, Twitter Analytic, Facebook Analytic and other tracking sites that allow you to see how many people are viewing your content, what time it is most viewed and how readers are responding allows them brand developers to cater their content to their audience and generate more attention. If you see that people are online more in the afternoons, then posting your content at the time will get more attraction. Chrisette suggested spacing posts so that you don’t bombard
  • Consistency is key! Whether you have a YouTube channel, online boutique or blog your readers will be expecting new content and updates to keep them active. If you decide to post daily then create a plan such as an editorial calendar to help you stick to that. If you post weekly make sure you have a post ready weekly for your followers otherwise you might start to lose your following. It attracts more followers and keeps your subscribers interested. If you are overwhelmed and burnt out with posting, Michele points out that it is quality NOT quantity that attracts reader attention.
  • Read and Respond! Always read and respond to reader comments. Many times readers will have suggestions or tell you what they like and didn’t like and it is important for you to take that into consideration. It also creates a friendly and personal environment. Courtney suggest having a separate “assist” page strictly for FAQs and comments. Ask.fm is a good platform to use that’s specifically for questions and comments.
  • Hashtagging is Important! It allows readers to find the content they are looking for. For example if they go to your site or channel and want to see only videos or posts that talk about natural hair, they can search your page for “natural hair” and see all your posts on that subject. Ambrosia pointed out to keep the hashtags to a minimum, but make sure they’re relevant. It makes no sense to have an entire paragraph of hashtags under your posts or Instagram captions.
  • Balance is important! Courtney is a business owner in a multi-million dollar hair industry, a full time mother, and wife so she spoke about the importance of juggling things. “Sometimes we’re not prepared, but naturally we embrace the change” Courtney spoke about learning to separate things in her life by being more organized. As a mother and wife she had to learn to turn off work when she was with her family. As a brand developer, sometimes we need to learn how to turn it off sometimes just for sanity. Rest is important. Courtney also suggested learning how to delegate tasks to others. Friends come with many different resources and will support you.

IMG_8124

The floor was opened up for a Q&A and one question that stood out to me was “How do you make your business or brand stand out in an industry that’s already heavily saturated?”

Chrisette shared that what allows women to stand out from each other is simply talking about what they know. Finding their niche and sticking with it. Fash is known her her OTTW videos on YouTube, Ambrosia is known for her blog Brosiaa and minimalistic lifestyle, and Courtney is known for her hair line. They all found their place and stuck with it. “When it means something to you, it means something to others.”

IMG_8126

We ended the night with more selfies and mingling as we snacked on cupcakes and listened to good music. I had a blast and I hope the gems that I shared are gems to you too.

IMG_8139