High-Level Networking 101: How to Spark a Conversation that can Lead to Long Term Impact

Everyone knows that high-level networking is a critical part of building a successful business, project, or brand.

Decision-makers at all levels want to feel confident in the person they are hiring or bringing on board for their projects, and in many cases, all it takes is one chance meeting to seal the deal.

It is also common knowledge that high-level networking is awkward. That uncomfortable feeling of scanning a room and deciding who to walk up to, what to say, and how to present yourself.

High-Level Networking is a true art form, that requires both practice, and trial and error in order to find your own secret sauce.

I attend lots of events, so I am always on the giving and receiving end of that first greeting.

Here are some high-level networking tips that can help you break the ice, keep a good conversation flowing, and ensure a rapid follow up -@lizgrossman87 Click To Tweet

Dress your best, be unique and spark confidence:

Simply put, when you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, your confidence shines through.

Need I say more? I also recommend wearing something unique that grabs the attention of others.

In my case, I typically wear one of my custom made African pieces because it’s both flattering, and also always acts as a conversation starter allowing me to share a bit about myself right off the bat.

You may have an article of clothing or accessory that always gets complimented, wear that and it will almost always serve as an icebreaker.

Do your homework

Make sure you find out as much about the event as you can before going. Who is organizing it, who is attending and what opportunities are you looking for?

Prepare different pitches you can potentially deliver to attendees, bring the appropriate materials (brochures, pens, business cards, etc), and focus on your goals.

Knowing what you want to say and showing up prepared will increase your confidence, showcase your level of seriousness and leave little room for frivolity.

Be natural, not transactional and pushy

People like to joke, smile, converse and mingle without feeling pressure, and the most impactful connections start like that. 

You want people to be attracted to your personality, and not feel hounded by business right from the get-go. The key is to place an emphasis on relationship building.

Earlier this year at a crowded event, I ended up sitting next to a lovely woman, sharing a few laughs over coffee while the event carried on.

Later, I learned that she is a very high ranking official at the UN, but our relationship had already been solidified in a friendly, convivial tone. When you get to the event, go get yourself a drink or a snack, relax.

Don’t focalize on the VIPs. 

Please, you do not want to be the first one to bumrush the speakers after they immediately after they finish their presentation- they will not remember you.

I have watched attendees wait fifteen-thirty minutes for their chance to simply say hello or offer their praises to my clients, wasting an opportunity to make more meaningful connections in the room. 

Networking Tip: Meet the people sitting next to you, because those are usually the ones who will be on the stage at the next event – @lizgrossman87 Click To Tweet

If you would like to introduce yourself to one of the heavy hitters, patiently wait your turn. Know what you want to say, find a reason to follow up, and find the best method to get in touch.

Have an appropriate business card etiquette.

Effective networking is not about collecting or distributing a million cards, so the first thing you do should never be to hand out or ask for a business card.

After you have established a connection and potential for collaboration, that is a good time to hand them your card. If they do not have one, but you wish to follow up, ask them for their email address or phone number on the spot.

If that does not happen, connect immediately following the event on social media with a follow-up message.

Follow up within 24 hours

Most people forget that networking does not stop at the event, it requires diligent and thoughtful follow up.  Jot down notes during the event about the people you have met, and write them the next day to recap your conversation and propose a next action point.

This could be as simple as staying in touch, suggesting a meeting, or a direct ask about something which was discussed.

Since people are busy and attend many functions, it needs to be done within 24 hours to ensure they remember you and your conversation. 

Finally…

Always remember to stay calm and cool. Chances are slim that you will land your dream job or sign a big investment deal at a high-level networking event, but they are great places to plant the seeds that can grow into your next opportunity. 

Always remember your value, make friends, and have some fun. It may turn out that people start lining up to hand you their business cards!


Missed our Facebook Live on August 22nd on how to drive social change through your business/ Career? Click here to watch.

Holly Irasubiza: The young Rwandan mentoring the next generation of Young African Leaders

Holly Irasubiza is an activist, researcher, and mentor committed to building a stronger, more equitable Rwanda. She served as a 2017-2018 Global Health Corps fellow at Partners in Health.

Born and raised in Kigali, she blossomed into a vocal leader during her time as a student at Bugema University, where she headed multiple student organizations and worked as a teaching assistant and instructor.

After graduating, Holly mentored other female students to encourage them to dream big and work towards a brighter future. Passionate about the power of leadership to transform societies, Holly authored a piece titled “Why Care and Compassion Are Core Leadership Competencies.”

In this article, Holly talks about the powerful impact of mentorship, both for mentees and mentors.


As a mentee, I grew significantly both personally and professionally - Holly Irasubiza Click To Tweet

What inspired you to become a mentor?

I have a passion for people development, and being a mentor is a way to share my knowledge and experiences to impact another’s success. It is fulfilling and keeps my motivation high, knowing that I am touching a life by giving back.

My life has been shaped by the mentors I have met throughout my journey, and I hope to support the younger generation to go beyond their limits and change the world.

Why should mentorship be important to young African leaders?

The African continent has struggled under bad leadership, and some of the consequences are still faced by the African population.

But it has also experienced some of the most brilliant and visionary leaders, which have shed the light, banished the darkness, and brought hope for today and the future of Africa. To maintain and develop great future leaders of Africa, we need to be proactive, starting with the empowerment of our youth.

By some estimates, up to 60% of the African population is the youth, and they need to be empowered and encouraged to explore their potential and use available resources to their advantage. This will not only provide us with great leaders in the future but will also speed up the continent’s development now.

With mentorship, young leaders can learn from past experiences and success stories, and stand on the shoulders of giants to go further.

What makes a good mentor/mentee relationship?

I sum this up as the 4 C’s:

Commitment: The mentee must identify the right person for mentorship, including past experiences and areas of expertise, to ensure that the mentor is in a position to help them to achieve their goals.

Communication: The mentee should have clear goals and communicate the agenda they want to be mentored on, how often they would like to check-in, and a preferred communication line (email, Skype calls, or face-to-face meetings). This will help both mentor and mentee to schedule their regular meetings and track their progress.

Compassion: It is the responsibility of the mentor to create a positive and friendly environment for the mentee to share openly their opinions and challenges. They should check if they are meeting the set goals, and maintain objectivity throughout the course.

Care: The mentor should take ownership of the program, make sure that they listen clearly to the mentee’s needs, and use their best abilities to support their growth. The mentee should respect the mentor’s willingness to share their time, wisdom, knowledge, and experiences to support and guide them towards achieving their life goals.

Read how this @ghcorps fellow - Holly Irasubiza is mentoring the next generation of African leaders Click To Tweet

What do you hope for the next generation of African leaders? How can mentorship help achieve that future?

I am very optimistic about the next generation of African leaders. Having worked in multicultural settings, I have had the opportunity to interact with amazing, bright young women and men across the continent.

My peers are very ambitious and innovative, with brilliant ideas. Their aspirations for African development are incredible, and they have already made a remarkable impact in their respective communities.

I have no doubt about the great future leaders they are.

The youth are eager to learn from leaders’ experience and take up their wisdom. Mentorship will guide them and show them how to apply this knowledge to make them better future leaders.

How has your career in global health impacted your mentorship skills – and vice versa?

Global Health Corps provided me with great opportunities to interact with leaders and experts in different areas. So many willingly shared their experiences and wisdom, and they are still great resources for my success as an alumna of the program.

I am provided with guidance, encouragement, and support to achieve my goals. This experience has strengthened my passion to give back.

How have you benefited from mentorship—both as a mentor and a mentee?

Being a mentor has improved my leadership skills; my mentee looks up to me, so I have to set a good example and be the type of leader I want to see.

It has also boosted my communication skills and keeps me engaged by offering me fulfillment, seeing the impact it makes. Mentorship has broadened my network and offered me opportunities to learn from my mentees as well.

As a mentee, I grew significantly both personally and professionally. Learning from the best offered me different opportunities and extended my professional network. The leader that I am today is the result of these relationships.


What are you doing to gain a global perspective? We want to share your story! Click here to share.

How to deal with that job you don’t like

So you managed to get through school. You aced that interview! The excitement of finally being part of the workforce and getting that paycheck is giving you a rush.

But as you slide into your work routine you start to realize something awful,  you hate your job. As the initial excitement of winning the job search fades you may realize things aren’t what you expected or you are overwhelmed.

How do you survive such a situation? 


 

Breathe

Becoming an adult is quite a daunting task, with so many things to balance and learn. When you add a job to this mix, it can feel overwhelming.

The first thing you need to do it take a deep breath. Try to wrap your head around what’s happening it your life.

Focus on the positive

It’s easy to have a bad day when you’re only focused on the bad things. I hate to sound like your mother, but you need to begin counting your blessings one by one.

What are the perks of your job? What do you enjoy? When you look at it this way, you will discover that perhaps your job is not all bad.

Be Realistic

There’s a long list of reasons why you might hate your job. Some common reasons are the salary, the hours and superiors. But sometimes, you really have to be realistic about your job.

You can start by finding out what salaries are in your field. This will help you understand that you can’t expect to be earning top manager salary on your first day.

Secondly, you may also feel as though your boss is out there to get you. But ask yourself, is he really up to that? Is there something that you perhaps need to do better?

Consider other factors

If you’re staying up late every night to catch up on daytime soaps or not eating properly, you’ll probably be constantly exhausted. Make sure you’re taking care of your body, your mind, and emotions.

Feelings can heavily affect your system. If logistics is a problem try carpooling or taking alternative transport, or leaving home a bit earlier to avoid traffic.

Wait it out

They say time fixes all problems. Sometimes the best solution is to wait it out. Maybe you just need more time to adjust.

On the hand, sometimes it may be time to move on from that job. While waiting it out, you can begin searching for other opportunities or perhaps even start that business you’ve been thinking of.

Whatever you decide, you need to make concrete plans that will guide your next steps. This will ensure that you don’t end up in the same situation again.

Communicate

If something else is really bothering you, maybe it’s time to speak to whoever is in charge. Try explaining to them what the issues are without whining, be clear and concise. Be cautious about how much information you share though.

Learn from it

If you do decide to move on, make sure you take everything as a learning experience. Understand why things didn’t go so well. Know what you want from your next job. How would you negotiate your hours and pay?

Finally, don’t let your current situation weigh you down. In order to grow, we need to go through rough patches that will help us fully grow.

This article was written by Love AkinkunleLove is an African writer, content creator and victim of wanderlust. She works in PR, event management, and tour management when there’s writer’s block.


If you’d like to get featured on our Facebook page, click here to share your story with us.

4 simple steps for developing a marketing strategy for your Small Business

It’s common to see many small business owners unintentionally ignore marketing, as in this digital age, a lot of SME’s interchange ‘marketing’ with ‘social media’ and ‘advertising’.

This article aims to get small business owners to think about marketing holistically and systematically. Marketing is definitely not a few social media posts with a few Instagram ads here and there. You need to put in WORK!

Running a small business without a strategy in place leads to confusing your customers with mixed messages, and worst of all, confusing yourself with a lack of direction.

We’ve put together for you, some simple steps to developing a marketing strategy as a small business owner.

Step 1: Take a step back

Look at your entire business as it relates to your marketing strategy, plans, and campaigns as well as your competitors, your customers and your industry as a whole.

Take the time to write (or type) things down, getting your thoughts out of your head allows you to see the bigger picture.

Step 2: Plan ahead

Lucky for you, here is a FREE template you can use ( because who doesn’t like freebies?) to develop your marketing strategy, which you can download and work through. Make sure you are as thorough as you can so you don’t get overwhelmed later on when it is time to execute your plans.

When you answer these questions, it is time to think about how they will affect your marketing communication.

Step 3: Communicate appropriately

Your communication depends on your strategy (which you should have created using the template above). For example, if you provide a home service or you offer delivery services, your communication should play upon the element of convenience.

If you do not have a permanent location and offer a nomadic experience, then your communication should play up the element of mystery.

If your target customer does not have a car and uses public transportation, your location is key as it needs somewhere that is close to where your customer works/lives or you can consider a delivery service and cut down on your overheads.

Your product, customer base, and price point will determine your tone of voice in your communication for example, if you are selling luxury high-end handbags to women over 40 years old, it is not advisable to use slang such as ‘slay’, ‘beat’ or extensively refer to popular culture as your customers are unlikely to relate.

If you are selling a luxury product/service, your communication should be minimal, professional, impersonal and aesthetically pleasing. Make sure you are not partnering with brands that might dilute the luxury i.e. lower end brands or brands that cater to a completely different market in the same industry.

If you are selling a product/service that is complementary to another e.g. if you are a makeup artist, your service complements or relies on makeup products and tools. Therefore, your communication can involve displaying makeup products or you can possibly collaborate with brands that offer the complementary product/service.

Step 4: Stick to your plans

Defining your USP (Unique Selling Point) and communicating effectively will allow you to play up your strengths and allow you to stay consistent and relevant in your consumers’ minds. You will be able to let your customers know exactly what problem your product/service solves and what gap it fills.

Without actually writing down these points, you may be communicating something that you think is a strength but is actually your weakness in comparison to your competitors.

Once your marketing strategy is in place, it becomes easier to develop your marketing plan for different instances, e.g. your launch, new product releases, and your seasonal campaigns.

Go forth and strategize!

The Aspire story: Showcasing the beauty of mentorship and power women in Sierra Leone

Africa has a growing population of girls who need constant support in terms of guidance and counseling. They need to be handed on the blueprint for leadership, confidence and self -esteem mostly through role modeling.

Our societies need to share our stories of our successes and failures so that our girls would be challenged to lead better lives. We are looking at changing the narrative to create a scene were girls will seek to accomplish their goals and aspire to be like the leading women in Africa, this can only be achieved through mentorship.

The Aspire story showcases the beauty of mentorship and inspires women around the world to work together. Click To Tweet

In 2016/2017 a powerful collaboration between Power Women 232 and Girls Empowerment Sierra Leone was established.

Power Women 232 is a network for women professionals in Sierra Leone. The network aims to bring professional women and entrepreneurs together to promote career advancement and development in all fields, through networking, leadership development, social events and community service 

On the other hand Girls Empowerment Sierra Leone nurtures and enhances the leadership skills of young girls to become effective advocates and social change agents in their communities.

In August 2016, they launched ‘ASPIRE’ to mentor secondary school girls from various schools in Freetown.

The program was in the form of large group workshops, small group mentorship and experiential field trips focusing on 3 C’s – Communication, Community Development, and Career Exploration.

The aim was to directly impact the lives of 30 young Sierra Leonean girls by providing them with the skills, resources, and networks to become leaders and change agents in their communities.

All 14 Power Women mentors were assigned to 3-4 girls each; they were matched by specialized questionnaires in hope to create best-fit relationships; each power woman played a big sister role spanning a yearlong of camaraderie.

Field trips to tourist monuments, spending the day at office and centers that were their career of choice. Trips to the bank, the airport, hairdressing saloon and early learning centers.

The girls had an opportunity to catch a glimpse of their real-life sheroes in their most vulnerable states behind closed doors, in the comfort of their homes and the rigidity of their corner offices.

The women shared their daily life struggles such as multi-tasking, fighting to succeed in male-dominated careers, handling a full day’s job when on their period. The discussions ranged from discussing boys, dancing, cooking, to books and music.

Most importantly the program allowed them the chance to learn new skills, ranging from topics such as:

  • Utilizing journaling and writing as a means of telling our stories
  • Utilizing resources to effect and change our future
  • Budgeting & Fundraising
  • Savings and investing for our future
  • Conflict Resolution and effective communication  
  • Building and maintaining peer positive relationships

The focus on teambuilding, communication, and self-esteem helped develop positive behavior within the group of girls that were mentored. Mentor mentee relationships encouraged some of the girls to aspire to remain dedicated to their academics as well as seek further mentor relationships due to some of the strong relationships that were cultivated.

The partnership between Power Women232 and GESSL is a reminder of how powerful women are when they work together. This relationship has garnered more interest in girls and Power Women 232 has taken on education, health and empowerment for young girls as their community service project for 2017/2018.

The project was launched with a donation of 200 power hygiene packs and hygiene information booklets to adolescent girls at The Beheshti Islamic Secondary School in Freetown.

Their aim is to provide 500 more packs to young girls across Sierra Leone and introduce sustainable hygiene practices.

The group did their first fundraiser hosted by Ms. Anita Erskine on  Saturday 18th November 2017 during their 2nd Annual Networth Ball an event that attracted the movers and shakers in Sierra Leone’s business environment with a  good media coverage which includes been featured on Bella Naija.

One cannot deny that the Aspire story showcases the beauty of mentorship and inspire women around the world to work together.

 


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

How To Create A Holiday Season Strategy

Want to take full advantage of the holiday season for your business?

There will always be holiday seasons throughout the year and smart Motherland Moguls know those are the best times to promote your business.  Many businesses make their biggest gains during the holiday season. See why you need to create a strategy?

You need to fine tune your marketing strategies to cater to the holidays. Holidays bring so many amazing opportunities and you need to be ready to take full advantage of it and this guide will help you do that.

Topics this guide will cover:

  • When and how often to come up with the strategies,
  • Using your business as a problem solver,
  • Ways to promote your holiday season offers,
  • Ideas on what your business can offer.

You go Motherland Mogul! It is the season for your business to shine!

nene-leakes-snapsComplete with ideas and tips on how to create great strategies for the holiday season.


Getting access to this guide is easy: just fill out the form below to join our community and get access to this guide, as well as AWESOME weekly content.


Fields marked with an * are required








7 C’s To Great Communication

Want some simple tips be a great communicator?

Great communication is key in our daily lives and it’s even more important in our businesses and workplaces. There is nothing worse than sharing your ideas and thoughts but no one understands. That is why as a business savvy woman, you should strive to be not just a communicator but a great one.

The are many books that can teach you how to be a great communicator. However, we understand that it is very hard to find time to read and let’s be real, some of these books make things too complicated. So we made things easy and simple with this guide to great communication.

Topics this guide will cover:

  • How to make your points clear,
  • Using tones and gestures to communicate,
  • The importance of communicating with confidence.

You want people listening to you like

um-no

This guide breaks things down so all you need to become a great communicator are these 7 C’s!


Getting access to this guide is easy: just fill out the form below to join our community and get access to this guide, as well as AWESOME weekly content.