Updated: Jun 15, 2018
In Part I of this networking discussion series, we talked about the importance of active networking. The single biggest takeaway from that post should have been the charge to engage one’s self in intentional relationship building. While we provided a number of starter suggestions with respect to the “how,” the expectation was for you as the reader to find what works for you, overcome reluctance, and practice this most important skill. If you were able to implement a routine for being intentional in relationship building after reading the last blog, there is no doubt that you have become intentional (knowingly or not) in other aspects of your daily lives. This brings us to our next point: networking with like-minded black people and other POC.
How is #blacknetworking different and why is it partitioned from overall networking?
Networking while black only differs from overall networking in an environment with other black folks. The fact of the matter is that there has been an invisible layer of relaxed, I don’t have to prove myself, we are all the same, they understand me and should be on board, type of attitude that has existed for a long time within these environments… or at least that has been the perception. We, at BCC, beg to differ with this notion and have been on a journey to study this interaction, employ specific strategies, and fully utilize social media to test our theories.
The idea behind networking within black communities, concerns placing a premium on continuous engagement and support. In other networking spaces, people tend to focus on moment to moment interaction. In other words, what can we do for each other right now that will provide mutual value for either of us later? In black networking spaces, we not only think about exploring the same value propositions, we must also consider the impact to the culture. The current trend is to do things for #TheCulture! This is amazing in that it is both a tool and a #Movement. A group of people coming together for the culture fundamentally provides the catalyst necessary for engagement. It is the common denominator! It is the opportunity to move as the culture moves! It is your shot at being heard, building through collaboration, and transforming the current (and future) narrative!
Ok…. how should I start to identify my black network and how do I demonstrate my value to others?
If you haven’t considered the power of social media via the technology at your fingertips, you are behind the curve. There are vast opportunities in the activities that most of us do daily. Based on our research and trials, support is the best way to build your network. This strategy not only takes patience, it takes selflessness. I recall an instance late last year just before New Year’s Eve, when Facebook told me that I had given out ~3000 or so “likes” and ~800 “loves.” This got me to thinking about how much I interact with people and how I wield my influence. I am by no means an influencer on the scale of some celebrities (with 1M followers etc.), but my likes and loves do provide validation and show connection to photos, quotes, articles, achievements etc. I have undoubtedly upped those numbers in 2018.
#iSupport has become our slogan and we have been intentional about it. Our network continues to grow and our brand is being shared in a consistent and steady manner. We have considered our value as we network inside and outside of our community. One way in which we demonstrate our value is to “Repost for #TheCulture” to show the awesome things going on around us and drive inclusivity rather than competition in a space that is big enough for all of us. We also aim to develop our financial freedom tools/guidelines for #TheCulture over time - at little to no cost for our communities.
Your value is what you make it. It is the gap being filled and the currency by which you build your network. The days of focusing on your own needs when networking are all but gone. The time is now for you to leverage your abilities, work through the intricacies of relationship/people management, and build through support. It is paramount, as an engagement factor, that you practice continuity. As we continue to test our strategies and engagement model, we will document and share results in Part III: Networking through contacts and influencers. Coming soon… until then, be intentional!