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.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Harris-Burke and Shareef, who share advice on vital face-to-face encounters, simple business etiquette and your online personas.
BlackEnterprise.com: 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
Folorunsho Alakija, has received a large amount of press this week when it was revealed that she is the richest black woman in the world. With a career spanning finance, fashion, and oil, she has built an illustrious career of hard work and determination.
Keep your passions close to you.
Mrs. Alakija became a company secretary because of her fathers wishes but she always knew she wanted a career in business. She excelled as an executive secretary and eventually rose to become the first director of corporate affairs for Nigeria’s International Merchant Bank. While this was not her original career choice, she utilized her formative career experience to propel her into other career fields. If you are currently in a position or a company that is not your dream job, do not let that keep you from learning as much as you can from that role. You never know who you may meet or what kind of skills you can develop from that position.
Pay attention to trends and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.
Alakija entered the Nigerian fashion industry at a time when things were beginning to grow and expand. “It was a time when Nigerians were starting to look inwards and fashion was beginning to pick up in Nigeria and people were being very proud of wearing African fashion, Nigerian clothing,” says Alakija. If you’re interested in starting your own business someday you should read industry journals, attend events, and talk to people who are doing what you are currently interested in. If you find a niche that is not currently being addressed, you should jump right into it before the opportunity passes you by.
You can make a positive impact on your community regardless of your career position.
In 2008 Mrs. Alakija founded the Rose of Sharon Foundation, a non-governmental organization that supports widows and orphan children through programs and educational grants. She aims to grow the foundation to eventually open schools in rural villages to enable mothers to work and send their children to local schools. Even before she became a philanthropist, Alakija was involved in community programs and shared her expertise with others through speaking engagements and attending volunteer events. She wrote a book in which she “told as much of [her] life as [she] could to encourage people, to encourage others to get to where they should be, where they want to be.” Even if you are just starting your career, there is wisdom and guidance you can share with those looking for a mentor.
Folorunsho Alakija, is a great example of a woman taking the opportunities presented to her and building upon those to reach greater heights. Hopefully her story can inspire and encourage other young women looking to build successful careers and give back to their countries.
We know that many of you have questions about jobs and career and nowhere to go and no one to talk to so we’re happy to have a new segment called “Ask Afua” in which I will answer your most pressing questions about career, life, and style!
I’ve been blessed to work in some amazing places over my career including top political offices, exciting startups, and even in First Lady Michelle Obama’s office and I’m happy to help share my insight and expertise with the entire Savvy Madam community. So please send me your questions and once a week I will give you my expert advice.
I am really looking forward to helping you all succeed in your careers and fulfill your life passions. Fill out the form below to submit your question and as always, make sure you’ve signed up for the Stay Savvy newsletter for weekly tips and advice.
Ask Afua: Your Personal Guide For Career Advice