Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Wyndham Championship Golf Tournament

Network Growth

Sergio Garcia wins 2012 Wyndham Championship
in Greensboro, NC (Sedgefield Country Club)
While the golf pros battled the rainy weather during the Wyndham Championship this weekend, I was fortunate enough to find myself in a suite on the 17th hole, networking with people from all backgrounds and professions. The common theme was GOLF and I know close to nothing about that!

I do know that Sergio Garcia won the tournament, but instead of pretending to know all about the sport, I allowed myself to use my lack of knowledge as a conversation starter. With so many golf enthusiast attending the tournament, it was a great way to start a conversation.
Ballybunion Golf Course, Ireland

One gentlemen I met during the rain delay, shared how passionate he is about golf and the trip to Ireland he took to play eight courses in nine days. He promised to pass my contact information on to anyone he thought might help in my internship search.

I made two other connections that afternoon. One was a connection that would help me in my personal life and the other was an Alumnus of the MBA program I am currently in. Adding Alumni to my network is one of the most important things I believe I can do because they have been in the same position I am in now and have been successful in their lives after graduation.

I am excited to use sports events as networking opportunities, especially once I found out that the Giants vs. Panthers game on September 20th will also be an opportunity to meet UNCG Alumni. I was going to be in attendance anyway! Let's go Gmen!

If I could change one thing to make the experience better, I would have made sure I attended the event with business cards in hand. I was asked for a business card multiple times and once I realized that I was unprepared, I ordered them right away. I am all set now. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know


In all aspects of life, who you know will put you in the positions you find yourself in. Anyone can benefit from networking when the right effort is exerted. The key to networking is to associate yourself with people who are in positions or have the lifestyle that you would like for yourself. 

When the importance of networking was first stressed to me, it was displayed as a web or social graph.
 This social graph shows one person being the center of connection for everyone touched by the social graph, that is their network. The more people you know, the larger your network will grow because for every person you add to your network, you gain their network as well. This is vital in the quest to broaden, begin or change a career.

After the social graph was shown, the "elevator speech" was next on the agenda. Here is one that I used to use:

"Hello, my name is Cherisse. I am currently a student at Spelman College pursuing my undergraduate degree in Economics. After graduation I would love to return to New York, where I am originally from, to pursue a career in Investment Banking as a Research Analyst."

It is a quick (thirty second) summary of what you're doing now and what your goals are that can be said to someone while riding in an elevator with them from one floor to the next. Now, the elevator speech can be translated to a Summary on your resume or your LinkedIn page or a Bio on Twitter. 

Here are a few things that I feel are very important to how you approach building your network:

1. Make sure all of your marketing materials are up to date, without typos and have a clean & concise format.
(Resume, cover letter, business cards, reference list, social media pages, blogs and voicemail messages)

2. Always appear clean and well put together, not only when you are attending events, but all the time - you never know who you will run into at the grocery store.

3. Practice your "elevator speech" in front of the mirror until you feel that you are delivering it effectively.

4. Take advantage of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to market yourself in a positive way. Even if you cannot expand your network with a face to face opportunity, you can use your friends and mentors to expand your network through social media. 

5. Join professional organizations that coincide with the career you are pursuing. You will be exposed to people who have done exactly what you are doing and who can be a mentor to you.

More exposure will lead to more people knowing how valuable you are as a person, an employee and an entrepreneur. Networking puts you in position to let others know that you can be a benefit to their organization and for you to learn the tricks of the trade. I have learned from workshops and experiences that there are different levels of networking and each day brings a new opportunity to attend an event or take advantage of a casual meeting. 

Here are my top networking opportunities:
  • Conferences
  • Professional Organizations
  • Gym/Fitness Classes
  • Interviews
  • Introduction through Mutual Friends
  • Seminars
  • Social Networks
  • Sporting Events
Please read the article below for more on the value of networking:

Please leave comments and questions! I will be happy to help anyone develop their networking skills!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

One Shot At Success

The Start-Up of You

No matter what it is you are trying to do with your life or who you are, everyone needs a personal marketing package (PMP). Our PMP shows others how much we value ourselves and that we know that we have that special something that will positively add to the common goals we share with the other party. We all have one chance to make a great first impression on a potential employer, school admissions officer, a potential client or even our potential in-laws. This entry is going to outline what you should have in your PMP and how each entity will add to your self-value.

In an article from the New York Times by Thomas Freidman, "The Start-Up of You," Freidman poses the questions (employers) are asking about you:
  1. Can this person add value every hour, every day - more than a worker in India or a robot computer?
  2. Can he or she help my company adapt by not only doing the job today but reinventing the job for tomorrow?
  3. Can he or she adapt with all the change, so my company can adapt and export into fastest-growing global markets?
Today, job seekers are constantly having to reinvent themselves, their images and their knowledge base. Being a job seeker, I am in the midst of doing the same thing. During my Master of Business Administration program, I will be tailoring my own PMP and sharing my process with you so you can develop your own.

Look for article and book reviews, networking skills (social media networking too), interview questions and stories, resume and cover letter tips, features on key individuals, as well as style and etiquette tips. I will be reading the book "The Start-Up of You" by LinkedIn's founder, Reid Garrett Hoffman and co-authored by Ben Casnocha and doing a review soon, so look forward to that and read it with me!