Networking 101: Real-Life Tips on How to Upgrade Your Circle’s Value

Make connections to build your brand.

Make connections to build your brand

The age-old saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” still rings true for many opportunities for your prospective career. Clear goals and strategy can both be smart ways to make your network work in your favor especially at a time when the world is so connected by social media and the Internet.

Frances Harris-Burke, Ph.D., is the regional director of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction which provides leadership and organizational support for school districts in the North Carolina’s Triad area. Dr. Harris-Burke partners with district superintendents to solve problems that face the faculty and students. And Nandi Shareef who is the founder of the Shareef Group, which is a boutique learning and development consultancy that provides talent and career development solutions in times of change. In addition, Shareef works with individuals to improve their performance in their chosen careers. caught up with Harris-Burke and Shareef, who share advice on vital face-to-face encounters, simple business etiquette and your online personas. A lot of people, especially young professionals, don’t want to be labeled as “thirsty” or “pressed,” both of which are negative terms engrained in the current millennial culture. How do they manage their networking relationships without being too pushy?

Harris-Burke: As a young, motivated career seeker, I think the best way to maintain a positive networking relationship is to …

Read more at Black Enterprise



How One Black Entrepreneur ‘Powers’ Obama’s Africa Strategy

Jessica Matthews, co-founder and CEO of Uncharted Play Inc.

Jessica Matthews, co-founder and CEO of Uncharted Play Inc.

President Obama just ended his whirlwind multi-country tour of Africa. Traveling to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania over six days, his first major trip to the continent included moments both powerful and poignant: The First Family’s tour of the famous slave trade memorial, Maison Des Esclaves (House of Slaves) at Goree Island where millions of enslaved Africans passed through the “Door of No Return”; a trip to Robben Island, the former prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years of incarceration for defiance of apartheid; and Obama’s visit to comfort the Mandela family as the revered leader fought for his life in a Pretoria hospital. The historic meeting between the first black president of the United States, the son of a Kenyan, and the first black president of South Africa would not take place though.
As expected, Obama’s trip was chock full of meetings with dignitaries and business leaders as well as speeches designed to deepen US-Africa relations. But his visit, along with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, to the Ubungo Power Plant holds special relevance to entrepreneurs. It was at that facility — a public-private partnership between the Tanzanian government and General Electric Africa — that Obama witnessed a demonstration of the Soccket ball, a soccer ball that harnesses the kinetic energy generated during play to provide a source of renewable, off-grid power. In fact, a single bulb LED lamp can be plugged into the ball to provide hours of light. This revolutionary portable generator was invented by 25-year-old Jessica Matthews…

For the rest of this interesting piece, go to Black Enterprise

The Young Professional’s Guide to Surviving a Terrible Week

The day started so well. Sunny skies. Light traffic on my morning commute. The debut, during a lovely luncheon, of a nonprofit video I’d written. My mood soared as I arrived back home that evening.

Then, like falling dominoes, one piece of bad news after another crashed down on my perfect little day.

Affixed to the door of my newly rented townhouse was a notice informing me the previous tenants hadn’t paid the mortgage. The home had been bought in a foreclosure auction. Not good.

Before I could fully grasp the implications of that, my husband arrived home with news of his own: he had lost his job. Really not good.

Later that night, I learned about family members facing major troubles—loved ones falling ill and friends deciding to divorce.

Image: Thinkstock

It’s going to get better. Follow these simple steps.

It felt like some sort of cosmic joke. Surely so much could not go wrong in such a short period of time. I spent a sleepless night full of so many worries I barely knew which stress to focus on.

I was a wreck the next day. How could I possibly work while it felt like the world was crashing around me? Exhaustion and stress consumed me, but I couldn’t miss the day.

If you have to face a catastrophic week, here’s how to work through it:

Read the rest at Black Enterprise

What Makes Someone An Entrepreneur?

Variations on a theme are easier to create than the theme itself.  (That’s our fancy way of saying it is easy to improve an existing idea than to start one from scratch.)  But what makes an entrepreneur go out and create those variations?

It is no idle question.  There are literally tens of thousands of people who have ideas for what could be worthwhile companies, and yet they have done virtually nothing to develop what could very well be viable concepts.

What separates those that pull the trigger from those that don’t?

A Venn diagram comprising the attributes that makes the best entrepreneurs.

Consider these three entrepreneurs:

  • Bernard A. Goldhirsh started a sailing magazine because he thought the existing ones too snooty. “They were all filled with Somebody the Third meeting up with Somebody Else the Fourth at some fancy yacht club.” But in the process of starting Sail, Goldhirsh realized he knew nothing about starting or building a business. In talking to other fledgling entrepreneurs he learned they were in the same boat.
  • Arthur A. Jones always had a secret obsession. An eighth grade drop out, he worked as everything from an animal importer to television producer and even hosted the syndicated show Wild Cargo. But through it all he kept a secret.  Jones was fascinated with bodybuilding.  Through conventional weightlifting techniques he had created an impressive physique, “but I wasn’t satisfied.”
  • Perry Mendel was a successful real estate developer in the South whose kids were grown, so there was no reason for him to be overly interested in child care back in 1968. Yet almost every day there was another  story about women entering the workforce and how divorce was increasing and he got to wondering “who was taking care of the children.”

In each case, Goldhirsh, Jones and Mendel identified a need in the marketplace that resonanted with them. Goldhirsh wanted to find a way to help people like himself learn more about business. Jones was searching for a more efficient bodybuilding technique and Mendel was looking for a better form of child care.

Read more at Forbes

How Social Media Can Take Your Business Higher

I know many people would like to see their profits double this year or have more customers get on board with their services. Well you can do this by using social media to benefit your business and ultimately, make more money. Social media will allow you to interact, inform, and create incentives for your customers to have them return to your goods and services. This will allow you to have a better sense of who your customers are and allow you to reach a wider range of possible customers.

What exactly is social media? Social media is a social instrument of communication on the Internet. It is a way for people to express thoughts, events, news, and basically anything else. There are thousands of social media outlets that exist, but to save time and avoid a headache, we will only focus on the three most popular social media outlets: Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Wait, but who cares? Why even use social media? Well for starters, you can educate your customers on what exactly you’re trying to sell them INSTANTLY! Whether it be a good or service, it doesn’t matter! Social media gives you the opportunity to connect with your customers within seconds; therefore, they are always updated on what you have to offer them. You can network with other businesses, check up on competitors, and most importantly, you can reach a wider range of potential customers who can potentially take your business to higher levels. Get this, 71% of people will only buy from companies who use social media sites and 91% of people use Facebook to look for local businesses.

Back to the two common social media sites that can help advance your business – Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Twitter allows you to interact with your customers and people world wide within nanoseconds! You can interact by answering questions customers may have about services, wish customers a good day or even ask for their opinions on certain topics. Be creative! Let them know you care for their needs. Inform your customers on new services or policies constantly, so they can always be updated. People want to know you care, so show them!  Tweet incentives such as special offers on certain products or services. In return, this will give a person a reason to follow you and be a loyal customer. The more people re-tweet and favorite your tweets, the more their networks have a chance to interact with you and begin learning about your company.

Facebook is a way for your company to show its true personality to your customers. It is important to create a fan page that allows your customers to contact you including a phone number, short summary of services, and an address. Connect with your customers by showing pictures of events, products and employees. Incentives can be a powerful tool to increase customer engagement and encourage customers to showcase their loyalty to other individuals in their network.

Once you’ve started your social media efforts, stay personal and engaged with your customers and users. Regardless of the platform you use, consistency and responsive are key to maintaining that relationship with your customers and encouraging user interaction. Social media is an excellent tool to increase consumer trust and show the softer side of a company. With a strong plan and consistent engagement, you can use social media to take your business to the next level.

Creator and owner of Unique28

Creator and owner of Unique28

Compliments of Dammy Oshodi, Creative Officer and Founder of Unique28 Designs

How To Brag At Work (Without Sounding Like A Jerk)

When it comes to having a successful career, there is no substitute for hard work. But on the other hand, hard work won’t do you any good if your accomplishments are going unnoticed.

If you’re anything like me, you probably believe your work should speak for itself, and that the idea of tooting your own horn sounds, well, obnoxious. But waiting around hoping your good work will catch the boss’s eye could be preventing you from getting the recognition—and possibly the promotions—you deserve at work.

But how do you let people know about your good work without sounding like a jerk? Here are a few techniques I’ve found successful.

Track Your Successes Two women shaking hands

If someone were to ask you, “What did you do this month at work that you are most proud of?” would you be able to answer? Maybe not—it’s very easy to get stuck in the day-to-day grind of work and forget to take note of all the great things you do for the company.

So, make a plan for how you’re going to stay on top of them. While this won’t necessarily get your successes noticed, it will help you be more aware of them so you can know what to share with other people.

Find out how to do this at Forbes

Gayle King On Success: Grow Up And Figure It Out

With aspirations of becoming a child psychologist, Gayle King, a self-described “nosy kid,” found her true passion thanks to a local TV newsroom job during college. “I was hooked from day one,” she recalls. Since then, King has established herself as a power player in the notoriously fickle world of media. Today, she co-anchors the “CBS This Morning” show along with Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell, while also serving as editor-at-large for O, The Oprah Magazine.

When I recently sat down with King to discuss her personal and professional journey, it became clear that a no-nonsense approach to life’s challenges has been instrumental to her success. Here are a few of the powerful life lessons she’s learned along the way which we can all take note from.

Grow Up and Figure It Out

After landing her first on-air job in Kansas City, King immediately encountered some logistical snags, including lost luggage and an unavailable apartment.  She recalls being stunned when her mentor at the time, Bruce Johnson, abruptly hung up the phone on her when she called to complain.  It was clearly an “Aha” moment for King, “You’re given this opportunity and it’s up to you to make the most of it,” she says.  From that moment on, King’s motto has been figure it out,” an approach she admits still applies to “every single problem I have.”

Read the rest at Forbes