8 Things I Learned From Networking While Pretty

Boss Lady Networking Tips

Or the tales of a lady chasing dreams not boys

Plus a few networking gems for the next rodeo

Here’s what happened. I set an intention to meet a massive celebrity and ask him for a job. It took me hours of internal debating to finally go. When the time came and I was at the beat-face-point-of-no-return I mustered every ounce of confidence and made it to the venue. Hours later I had climbed over bouncer obstacles, snuck into roped sections, dodged missing accreditations questions, polished networking skills and completely let go of self-doubts. I made it all the way to VIP with said intention and didn’t spend a dime. This adventure had reminded me that if I believed in myself enough I could design my future and manifest fate.

I’m two feet away from the big deal celebrity and nerves begin setting in, but I had come too far to back down. The same amount of confidence I could have in others I afforded it to myself.

And then it happens. His posse treats me like a low hanging fruit groupie and his security gently nudges me to the side. “I’m looking for an opportunity with the team,” did not work. “I’d like to work with his group,” also did not work. “I’ve come too far now,” you guessed it.

These are the hardships of networking as a pretty woman. Men in power automatically believe that when I approach them, I’m looking to bone. God forbid I have goals and dreams that go beyond being a successful man’s piece. I’ve finally reached a place in my career where in order to get to the next level I have to partner with the right people. And let’s face it, the amount of men in executive positions vs women is disproportionate.

J Cole waited for Jay-Z outside of the DefJam office. Big Sean intercepted Kanye during his stint at a radio station. They brought value and equity to J & Ye’s empire and were probably recognized for their bold determination. I have that same value and determination the only difference is I’m a pretty woman and I don’t have a mixtape. I have smarts, creativity, resolve, resourcefulness, a sense of humor and a work ethic that is very strong. I’m still talent. And it only took their gaze to strip me of that. His father even tried to go in for a kiss and was offended when I curbed him. Yeah, HE was offended and proceeded to say: “I could still get you pregnant.”

If I had any doubts about how these people saw me as little more than a POA, that interaction made it crystal clear.

By the way Pops, your feelings are not more important than mine.

Because I’m a young woman it becomes more challenging to be seen as a potential colleague. Feeling like my years of work experience mean less than my sexual availability is embarrassing no matter how untrue it is. I’ve worked too hard to establish my career and collect my accolades to end up being reduced to that level of existence. My being is not at the mercy of your narrow perspective.

It’s 4:00AM, and the club lights turn on. I leave. I don’t wait for another opportunity. I sit quietly in my JUNO reliving the adventure. It only cost me a dose of faith, a dash of humility and $37 to make it that far and I felt so proud.

Here are a few networking gems for the next time:

1. You have nothing lose. The worst happened, I was told no and it gave me all of these learnings for the next time. I would have never experienced any of this had I not taken a chance. Remember being afraid of hearing no doesn’t pay the bills.

2. If shooting for the star doesn’t go as planned go for the people close to him/her and make your way up from there.

3. Let your personality shine. I was so focused on the goal, I forgot that relationships, even business relationships, start with friendly rapport. Next time I’m also focusing on fun.

4. Go to networking events solo. It isn’t that scary and you can always rely on your ability to do what it takes. Plus you’re more open to meeting others.

5. Get your elevator pitch in order. I actually didn’t have anything beyond: “I’d like to work with you” prepared for this encounter. I need to come up with something that sets me a part and presents me as an indispensable asset.

6. Don’t come from a place of need. Come from a place of value. As soon as I got nervous I thought of all the reasons I needed this job, not the reasons for why they needed me.

7. Believe in yourself, even when you don’t feel like it. Had I not had faith in me I would have never made it out of the house and look how far it got me.

8. Go hard or go home. Bold people are always in the front seat and if you really want something you have to be willing to go all the way.

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