Meeting With A VIP In Your Industry? Here’s How To Maximize Your Results

Landing a meeting with a VIP in your field is always a win to celebrate.

When a person managing a multimillion dollar company, a government leader, a celebrity, or any other person you admire agrees to spend 30 minutes of their precious time with you, it presents an opportunity to accelerate your business growth or alter your career trajectory in major ways.

It goes without saying that meeting a busy, important person requires careful planning and strategic thinking.

You want to make sure that person feels like you can contribute to their own interests, whether it be their desire to publicize a certain initiative they are working on, mentor someone, learn something new, or even just to get an ego boost from a fan.

At the same time, you need to show them that you are valuable, and work to get the most out of their time to affect your bottom line. You should have clear goals in mind, and come up with a few intended meeting outcomes to measure your success.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to maximize the opportunity handed to you — and ensure that VIP remains open to continuing to collaborate.

1. Do: Ask smart questions and actively listen

While you probably want to show how amazing you are and what talents you have to offer this person, you must first find out more about who they are, what they need, and how they view business.

Jot down notes and react to their answers with insightful follow up questions to ensure you understand those needs.

Don’t: Ask dumb questions.

I usually say no question is dumb, but you should never ask a question that Google/social media can answer for you.

But also, you do not want to come off as too eager a stalker, so avoid questions that can be too personal, like their 2010 Facebook photo album of their family vacation.

2. Do: Prepare a list of speaking points

and three main messages you want to convey in your meeting. You should go into the meeting with well-researched, fleshed out ideas that will help you achieve your goals.

Prepare for different scenarios that may arise based on the questions you will ask.

Don’t: Be too rigid and don’t prepare a full speech.

You want the conversation to feel natural and you don’t want to appear completely rehearsed.

3. Do: Decide action points to follow up on and future communication norms.

Based on the interaction, you should push for some concrete actions you can take to further the relationship. Maybe it is to send or receive an interesting article or to share a relevant opportunity.

Maybe it is to follow up with a fleshed out business proposal. Either way, make sure you have action points that you can personally take the lead on, and establish how that person prefers you follow up.

In my experience, some people prefer WhatsApp/text to email, while others may always want you to correspond through an assistant.

Don’t: Immediately ask the VIP for a time-consuming or high-level service.

Just because you spent 30 minutes speaking to a former president doesn’t mean you deserve her recommendation for an ambassador position, nor should you ask a busy professor to review your 50-page honors thesis.  

Make it easy and low-risk for them to help you.

4. Do: Follow up and highlight how you will complete your action points

After a day or so, follow up with an email thanking them for their time, summarizing the conversation, and stating clearly how you will act upon the agreed next steps.

Don’t: Immediately ask for something out of the scope of the conversation

or become a nuisance to them. Do not immediately reach out via text to tell them to check their email, or ask them to buy a product you are selling which you did not discuss.

5. Do: Stay in touch and remain relevant

Occasionally share interesting news or opportunities with the person that are of mutual interests. Share ideas that you have that may support their work, and show your value to them.

Don’t: Bombard them with nonsense

Don’t send them Buzzfeed quizzes about which cheese they are, or animated GIFs of puppies (unless somehow that came up as a mutual interest in the conversation).

You don’t want to end up on their blocked list.

Building relationships take time, so use the opportunity of your meeting to place foundational blocks which will set you up to take the relationship to the next level.

Set your intentions, and have an eye on the short term — and another on the long-term path you are taking.


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How Hobbies Can Help You Connect With Employers

Sometimes a hobby is more than a hobby

Do you like long walks on the beach and kittens? Yes, of course, you do. But what does that have to do with getting a job?

Sharing your interests on a resume is a way to build a connection and show off your personality. The tricky part is knowing what hobbies to put on your resume to give off a good impression and let the hiring manager know that you will be a good fit for their company.

When to list hobbies on your resume?

Listing hobbies on your resume is a much-contested matter. To some, a Hobbies and Interests section is a relic of the nineties — something generation X started doing to prove they aren’t just corporate drones, but actual people.

Nowadays, many hiring managers hate it when employees waste valuable space on their resumes to talk about their love of books and socializing.

But work culture is increasingly changing. Many companies are refocusing on personality-based hiring and finding employees that would be a good fit for their work culture.

Adding a hobbies section might just do the trick!

Work culture is changing. Many companies are refocusing on personality-based hiring Click To Tweet

How to match the company’s work culture?

Trying to figure out whether you should put a Hobbies and Interests section on your resume?

First off, you need to understand the company’s work culture:

    • Go to their website and have a look around. Read up on the company values and what        perks they provide their employees with. What events they organize.
    • Then, have a look at employee profiles to see if they mention hobbies.
    • Next, check employee profiles on platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook. Employees are        more likely to put some hobbies on a LinkedIn profile than elsewhere.
    • Finish up with any general press to get a feel for how others perceive the company’s            work culture.
  • If you know who is responsible for hiring new talent, look them up, too. Interests are          great way to break the ice and create rapport with the interviewer.

What hobbies should you put on your resume?

Let’s say you want to work for a professional wedding planner. You did your online research. You checked out the company site and browsed employee LinkedIn profiles.

Perhaps you found out the company is looking for outgoing, playful, yet business-savvy employees with a basic understanding of social media.

You noticed the recruitment page even points to some specific hobbies that their employees engage in, such as, say, dance, cooking, and mixology (all these evidence from their Instagram profiles!)

How are you going to show those dream wedding planners that you’re playful yet business-savvy?

That’s right. You add your hobbies that mirror the general vibe you’re getting from that company.

Pro Tip: Don’t lie about your hobbies and interests. Assuming that adding them does the trick and you get a face-to-face with the recruiter, you’ll want to be able to leverage your hobbies and not stutter and stammer once you get asked about them.

 Don’t lie about your hobbies and interests Click To Tweet

How to fit in hobbies on your Resume

Once you’ve pinpointed a company’s work culture, there are a couple of ways you can flesh out your hobbies section.

Leverage your hobbies to signal cultural fit:

According to research on what employers look for on a resume, cultural fit comes in a close second right after work experience. And that makes perfect sense. According to this comprehensive study, good cultural fit makes for happier, more motivated employees who stay longer on the team.

If you think using hobbies as evidence of your value as an employee this is what you should do:

    • Choose a hobby that requires you to use a skill set that would compliment the skills               you need for the position you are seeking.
    • For example, if you’re applying for a creative job, go for a couple of creative hobbies.            Want to become a journalist? Photography might come in handy.
  • Another approach is to add hobbies that require the use of a skill set that the hiring              manager may have a hard time finding in other candidates because of a skill gap in the        market. Want to work for a travel agency and you happen to run a travel blog?                      Mention this hobby as proof of your interest as well as niche grasp of skills such as              wordpress and basic HTML.

Pro Tip: The hobbies section might be better for recent graduates rather than professionals with years of experience.

Now, coming back to signaling cultural fit.

Say you want to work for a travel agent specializing in crazy adventure vacations. Your love of whitewater rafting might just come in handy! Want to be a server at a restaurant and you have a knack for cooking?

Go ahead and list that on your resume. It’s relevant, plus, who knows, the employer might need a competent backup for the kitchen, too!

What hobbies should you avoid on your resume?

Are there any hobbies you should not mention on your resume?

Those include any hobbies that are of a religious, political, or sexual persuasion. You also might want to avoid hobbies that others might consider strange or awkward (taxidermy anyone?)

Or, if they are too general to make sense — like reading books and watching movies. C’mon, it’s like saying you are special because you breathe air!

Remember that the whole point of sharing your interests is a way for a hiring manager to get a fuller image of you, to connect with you. And, perhaps, to see what skill sets you have apart from those you developed in a work environment.

Sometimes a Hobby Is More Than a Hobby

If you’ve taken part in conferences, expos, and industry events, you might want to create a separate section like Conferences. Especially, if you were a speaker. Did you volunteer at an NGO? You might want to move that to a Volunteer Work section.

Although it’s not typical work experience, it does imply you can navigate the work environment.

And finally, command of foreign languages warrants a mention in the skills section. Don’t hide it among semi-relevant hobbies. You’re a superstar, show that off!

Will adding hobbies to your CV help you beat the applicant tracking system? Not really, but... Click To Tweet

Key Takeaways

Adding a hobbies and interests section is the fun part of resume writing. You get to write about things that interest you. Plus, you can show off your sparkling personality.

Just remember to research the prospective employer. You want to match their expectations and make sure they are a good fit for you, too.

Will adding hobbies help you beat the applicant tracking system? Not really. But that isn’t the goal here. You want to show your human side and prove to the employer that you get them.


P.S. There are many more ways to come up with the perfect resume for the job. You can read up on everything you need to know online.

Then again, if you want to save time, you might as well just use a resume builder. Here’s a handy list of the best online resume builders. Just make sure the creator you choose will provide you with expert guidance and tips!


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Twitter Chat with Evelyn Namara: Why we need women in tech

women in tech evelyn namara

Missed this event? Make sure you don’t miss the next one by joining our community today.

There is no reason for all of this emphasis on women in tech. If women aren’t good at math then they should study ‘easy’ subjects. 

If you’ve ever heard any of these disparaging statements and thought “that simply isn’t true,” then you don’t want to miss our upcoming twitter chat on Thursday Oct. 6th. We’ll be discussing ways to support young women in tech, looking past stereotypes and how to prepare for a career in tech. Technology isn’t just for men so let’s make sure women have access to the industry as well.

Join us Thursday Oct. 6th for a twitter chat with Ugandan entrepreneur, Evelyn Namara, who is the founder and CTO of !nnovate Uganda. !nnovate Uganda uses technology to solve social problems and makes it easier to get development projects done.

If you are a woman interested in the tech industry, then you don’t want to miss this chat. If you think the tech industry isn’t for women, then you DEFINITELY shouldn’t miss this chat. We need to set you straight.

Follow She Leads Africa on twitter and use the hashtag #SLAChats to ask your questions and participate in the discussion.

Topics that we’ll cover:

  • What the tech industry is like for women in Africa
  • Why the tech industry needs more women
  • What you can do to support African women in technology
  • How to prepare for a career in technology
  • The steps you should take to start your technology business

Twitter chat details

  • Date: Thursday Oct. 6, 2016
  • Time: 12pm NYC // 5pm Lagos // 7pm Kampala
  • Location: Follow She Leads Africa on twitter and use the hashtag #SLAChats

Women in tech Evelyn Namara

About Evelyn Namara

Evelyn is the Founder and CTO of !nnovate Uganda, a technology start-up that is implementing technology interventions for social and humanitarian programs. Their flagship product, an electronic voucher system has been used by over fifteen thousand small holder farmers to redeem seed crops under a USAID program implemented by MercyCorps. She’s also the vice chair of the ICT Association of Uganda.

Evelyn has previously worked as Regional Manager – East Africa for Beyonic Limited that offers a SaaS platform for organizations to help them move beyond cash to using electronic payments. She’s also held a role of Country Director for Solar Sister, a social enterprise that empowers women with economic opportunity using the breakthrough potential of solar technology. Evelyn is passionate about tech innovations, entrepreneurship and women in technology.

Kalinè: You don’t need the ideal situation before you do something with your talent

Kaline Official - 1

Singer, pianist, composer and producer – Kalinè is an artist of many talents. The Berklee College of Music graduate inspires her fans through her genuine and unique lyrical style while navigating the Nigerian musical industry as an independent artist. After getting her start in the industry ten years ago, she has remained a self-managed artist who believes that the beauty of not being on a label or represented has given her the power to make decisions about her musical career—what she wants to do and how she wants to do it—all of which have molded her as the artist that she is today.

She Leads Africa spoke with Kalinè about her journey as an artist and entrepreneur and why honesty is her favorite form of inspiration.


You published a piece on your blog Self-Managed- 9 Reasons why you should be your biggest cheerleader. Why did you decide to self-manage as opposed to hiring someone to do it for you?

The ideal situation would be to have a support system in a formal way, or to have a team. However, I got to a point where I was looking for people, as opposed to being found. It is a lot better to be found by a manager as opposed to looking for one or paying for one. This is because they are coming on board knowing exactly what you want to do and they have a passion for what you are doing.

I’ve learned to be discerning about who I want on my team as well. I have come into my own, and embraced the challenge that a self managed artist has and I try to use that to encourage others by saying, you don’t have to have the ideal situation before you do something with your career or talent. That is how the self-mantra was formed; by embracing it and seeing the beauty in it—until the right person approaches me.

We all know that building a brand is filled with everyday challenges, some big and some small and aggravating. What’s your favorite challenge that you have tackled and what did you learn from this experience?

Patience is the biggest thing for me. In this industry it used to be so difficult for me to see other people making a success of their talents and passions. I’ve learned that patience is the most important thing.

Everyone has their own journey, their own timelines and trajectories. There is no use being anxious or worried about what is going to happen. I strongly believe that I will get to where I want to go. I must be patient about with the recourses I do have.

Since you self-manage, this must also mean that you manage your own social media sites? If so, how have you built an online community around your brand? What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs around building passionate fans and active online communities?

Be true to yourself. Be authentic and genuine, whether on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter or Soundcloud. I try to give valuable advice or useful and relevant information to my followers and supporters, while constantly remembering to be myself as I do so.

It is also good to have goals for each platform. Your Instagram followers are very different from your Facebook followers, likewise your LinkedIn followers. Figure out, what exactly do followers want to gain from the different platforms? It is a learning process, and a trial and error.

From your social media pages, I can see that you’re inspiring your followers in everything that you do—whether it’s singing or blogging. How do other activities that you partake in, inspire your work?

Photography, reading, social messages, conversations, and social issues inspire my blogging and songwriting. At Berklee School of Music I studied film and music scoring.

I’ve written music for commercials, and teach piano to little kids. Being an artist is a full time job. Everyday there is something to do—from social media, to practicing for a show, to styling, and to rehearsing.

What female artists do you gain inspiration and or empowerment from?

Adele, her honesty inspires me. Lianne Lahava, Laura Mvula—to name a few—teach me to stay true to myself and to write from an honest place.

How do you define yourself and your music, in terms of today’s climate?

If you come to one of my shows, you will hear reggae, highlife, pop, R&B and classical elements. The common thread that runs through all of my songs are honesty and elements of truth and authenticity through my repertoire. I am influenced by too many things to really put myself in the box.

I think that is where the world is headed—no longer really saying. Everyone is going into various genres; as the Internet and social media become more accessible around the world, we are all going to make music that we love and we know we will communicate to our followers and our fans.

What tips do you have on negotiating how much you get paid, how do you determine doing a free show or not?

It all depends on the type of gig, and how many minutes they want you to perform; how many songs they want and the number of instruments needed. All are determining factors and more—styling, makeup, and hair—help me to determine how much to charge.

However, creativity is relative. Some people have a budget. When you get to a point where you are trying to negotiate then other things come in, such as whether it is for a good cause or if it will be really good exposure for you or performing in front of an audience that you do not get to perform in front to often; or even someone saying, I will cover your costs but not pay your labor fees.

There’s also the situation where you have the opportunity to leverage off the people who ask you to perform—if they can open some doors for you, or introduce you to certain people and not pay you as much as you would like, that is a good reason to do a free or low fee gig.

How do you determine a good opportunity?

A good opportunity is one that won’t ever come around again and that you can be proud of. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

For example, when I performed the national anthem at the President of Nigeria’s first official visit to America in Washington, D.C. An opportunity like that may not ever come around again. Another example is of the time that I opened up for Chaka Khan and Angelique Kidjo; it was something I knew I had to do.

Kaline Official - 2A good opportunity can also be for charity, a good cause, to leverage off some contacts, to experiment, or even to rehearse. Open Mic Night, no one pays you for that, but that is in itself a gig; use it as an opportunity to try out a new song or play in front of an audience that you’ve never played in front of.

What do you see yourself achieving as a musician and as a representation of African women, whether in the near future or the far future? What advice would you have for women trying to navigate the industry?

There is so much importance in understanding that we all need to be true to ourselves in order to reach our fullest potential. Patience is key for achieving your goals. Patience does not mean sitting around and waiting for something to happen. It means going out and doing what you can with the resources—limited or not—and pushing ahead with clear goals.

I want to be well represented and seen as someone who stuck to this idea of authenticity and genuity. I want to encourage people to do the same; to be as unique as possible.

Want your business to break out? Create a whole new market

Uber Woman Driver

As entrepreneurs already know, finding clients can be a long, frustrating and expensive process. When you have little or no brand recognition, you have to work so much harder to get noticed in the market. I recently read in Entrepreneur Magazine, that “it is so important to prioritize future-minded strategy over short term opportunism”, and I completely agree with this.

So what does this mean for a young woman who wants to set her business apart? To me it means that this is the time to look for new business opportunities which typically haven’t been as welcome or open to women. While we may be more familiar with industries like beauty and fashion which are easier to start from home, developing a future-minded strategy requires us to look at opportunities beyond ourselves such as construction and heavy industries. It is with such opportunities that we must understand that the only limitations we now have, are those we hold on as truth in our own minds.

Being in the industrial sphere does not even always mean that you would have to get dirt under your fingernails; the takeover of technology in almost every business sector has opened up so many doors that the line to what is possible, and impossible has become almost invisible. Many entrepreneurs and CEO’s know that competing head-to-head with other entities can become daunting and cutthroat, more so when markets are slow and quite flat. All leaders in any business would agree that if there’s an easier alternative to get out of the head-to-head competing, and instead find a clear opportunity that has not yet been tapped; they would opt for that direction. In a world with hundreds of thousands of different products & services, innovation has become central to the survival of any new of mature business.

Creating new markets for your entity requires just that, INNOVATION’.

An article published by Harvard Business Review titled ‘Creating new markets’ stated that,

‘Most companies focus on matching and beating their rivals, and as a result their strategies tend to converge along the same basic dimensions of competition. Such companies share an implicit set of beliefs about “how we compete in our industry or in our strategic group.” They share a conventional wisdom about who their customers are and what they value, and about the scope of products and services their industry should be offering. The more that companies share this conventional wisdom about how they compete, the greater the competitive convergence. As rivals try to outdo one another, they end up competing solely on the basis of incremental improvements in cost or quality or both.’

So, the first thing to understand about creating new markets is that it requires a different pattern of strategic thinking. Instead of looking within the accepted boundaries that define how we compete, entrepreneurs should look systematically across them. By doing so, you can find unoccupied territory that represents a real breakthrough in value.

Let’s have a look at UBER, a company that, instead of buying a fleet of cabs and competing head-to-head with other cab companies, decided to do something completely different. The founders of UBER could have innovated and stopped at how they could get hybrid cars as part of their strategy or maybe even offer more comfortable vehicles with WIFI connection and well-trained drivers. Instead, the founders looked at how to make the process easier for customers and developed a tech friendly solution that provides lower costs through accurate monitoring of the distance travelled and drivers trained to a standard level of service. 

By looking at the problem and the industry from another angle, they have created an entire market for themselves and disrupted an entrenched industry that had little innovation over the past 50 years. I doubt any of the UBER founders had ever driven a cab for a living or dreamt of being a cab driver. However they were able to capitalize on this opportunity because those who had been in that industry were very comfortable with the same old way that they had been operating for years. They couldn’t see the way technology could disrupt the industry and they missed the opportunity. 

When thinking about creating a new market the popular question “What are my competitors doing?” should immediately be followed by the question “What should my competitors be doing?” Or more bluntly, how can I bring those who could be my head-to-head competitors to my mercy?

If you already have a product line, maybe look into a second generation product to help the financial standpoint of the company by creating a new market altogether. Finding secondary marketing can be as easy as adjusting packaging. Look at Coca-Cola or Kellogg’s, these companies have an array of products which aren’t worlds apart where taste or ingredients are concerned. Exhibit A would be the much loved amongst women market, the Special K cereal. Special K promises health benefits & sells fitness indirectly to us and what woman doesn’t want to be fit or at least healthy? Then have a look at Coco Pops, same company, different branding, a bit more sugar and even a cartoon character to attract the kids market. 

All these have proven to me that as an entrepreneur, your perspective seldom matters above that of the market. You may as the entrepreneur see things ‘Ok as they are’, but one thing you should always bare in mind is that you’re not selling these to yourself, so get into the mind of the market. Think the unthinkable.

Now here’s the challengeGo back to your businesses. Identify your ‘old ways of doing things’ and see how you could catapult yourself to being an industry leader by offering an entirely new way of doing business. Don’t lose sight of your original product or service but explore ways that you could make a similar product that’s targeted at a whole new market.

A new market demographic could be a simple as age group, gender or even race. Start innovating. Research how you could infuse technology into your new or existing business. Technology is on the rise, you may just be a tech pioneer in the industry you’re in; simply by understanding the challenges faced by your sector counterparts.

Remember that in order to adjust your perspective, you must see through the eyes of the consumer. Seek to address a problem and people will pay you for solving their problems.