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Starting my own business in my early twenties with a laptop, communal Wi-Fi, and student loans, I quickly learned that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know (and I didn’t know anybody).
With limited funds and even less finesse, I struggled to connect with other professionals in my industry. I felt subconscious about my company’s early stage status and was almost convinced no one would ever hire me to market their brand. I knew networking was really important (I mean, it’s in all the business books), but armed with just with a well-worn Target suit, a couple dozen self-printed business cards, and an almost maxed out credit card, I wasn’t exactly positioned to network with the pros, or so I thought.
Throughout the majority of my life, I’ve lived with an extreme level of social anxiety – like projectile-vomit-all-over-Brooks-Brother’s-suits-at-an-industry-networking-event level of anxiety.
I love meeting new people in small settings and learning about other’s life stories, but a tech conference filled with abrupt, in-yo-face “Let’s connect!”, “What’s your valuation?”, “Who’s on your client list?” makes me want to ditch the whole event agenda, hole up in my hotel room, and Wikipedia local historical sites.
It’s that bad.
I began my entrepreneurial journey in the era of boom or bust tech-based startups. The markets had crashed, national employment was in the crapper, and this thing called the internet was exploding almost overnight.
The popular business gurus hailed as the poster boys of success were the extremely extroverted, snake oil salesmen peddling “success” to all of us nearly-bankrupt professionals like a crack dealer cruising Beale Street.
All my besties were made at work or school.
Maybe it’s because that’s where I spent all my time; maybe it’s because I’m just lazy on the friend-making arena and never wanted to venture out.
Or maybe I’m one of those people – the kind that prefers all socialization to be task oriented. I seem to recall a name for that from my undergrad psychology classes…
Anyway, I’m quite limited on the friend making means, something that forced an abrupt realization when I left my job and grad school to work for myself – alone, as a “solopreneur”.
While not having to deal with annoying coworkers, overbearing bosses, and other workplace antics beautifully illustrated on almost any episode of The Office, was nice, I did miss my work friends. While these friendships were rarely close, they were convenient and predictable. Continue Reading…
I joined my first Facebook group way back in 2013.
I can’t remember what it was called, but know it had something to do with business.
The digital space was just picking up steam as an entrepreneurial hub, and many of the widespread social courtesies we experience today weren’t really “widespread”, yet.
Needless to say, that well-intended business-focused Facebook group quickly became overrun with a steady stream of shameless self-promo leading to a feeding frenzy of tabloid-like social spats and virtual pissing contests.
Bottom-line: it wasn’t helpful. Continue Reading…
With over 470 million users, LinkedIn has emerged as the digital hub for professionals across the globe.
Replacing the old school resume with a nifty customizable profile url, and outdating the rolodex in favor of Connections, LinkedIn is where today’s business professionals connect.
A 2014 Jobvite survey indicated that 94 percent of recruiters search for job candidates via LinkedIn, while only 36 percentof job seekers have a LinkedIn presence.
For entrepreneurs, the impact of maintaining a standout LinkedIn profile can extremely influential, as prospective clients and investors often vet companies and founders through social platforms.
LinkedIn offers the ideal platform features to showcase one’s professional expertise and network influence in ways other social apps are lacking. Continue Reading…
Cultivating supportive mentoring relationships has been a total game changer for my career.
Benefiting from my mentor’s insightful input into all my major professional decisions – both employed and entrepreneurial – has provided much needed encouragement and guidance as I navigate my professional journey.
Finding an experienced mentor that’s a good match can present quite the challenge, especially if you’re a young professional just now building your own network.
Good news: there’s several mentor-matching websites available to millennial professionals for FREE!
If you’re currently seeking a mentor to help guide you along your entrepreneurial career, consider these five mentor matching sites: Continue Reading…
It was love at first sight – Twitter and me.
From the first day that I landed my handle, @MotivatedGenY, Twitter has been a major influence in both my personal and professional lives.
Empowering me to connect with millennials across the globe, I can’t even begin to count the number of times I “met” someone on Twitter and our digital interactions led to significant working relationships. Taking the conversation offline to conferences, panel discussions, and skype collabs are just a few examples of how a few tweets can springboard strategic connections.
Whether I’m tweeting to connect, promote, or research, Twitter has emerged as my favorite go-to social platform (minus a few weeks there when America’s “Tweeter-in-Chief” attempted to initiate World War 3 in 140 characters or less). Continue Reading…
Starting a business for the first time can be scary, stressful, and all other terrifying adjectives.
Even with all the right “things” in place – supportive team, business education, adequate financing, etc. – first time entrepreneurs can be swept away with the hundreds and hundreds of critical decisions that rewired within those first few months.
As with any new venture, entrepreneurship is trial and error – sometimes you make good decisions, other times, those decisions prove to not be so good.
Reflecting over my years of serial entrepreneurship – some which were profitable, others not so much – I’m reminded of some major mistakes I made my first year in business. It’s my hope that by sharing these new entrepreneur “oops!” you can be saved some unnecessary headache as you chart your own entrepreneurial journey. Continue Reading…
Job hunting is the worst.
Rejection after rejection after rejection has become the norm for even the most talented of professionals.
Having your entire career scrutinized by people that don’t know you, don’t care about you, and are probably driven by their many subconscious biases regarding “people like you” isn’t fun.
In fact, recent studies indicate unemployment is a little more than nauseating – it can have disastrous effects on your health and relationships (not to mention finances).
As a job seeker, it’s hard to keep your chin up when you feel like putting your best foot forward simply results in being knocked to your knees – over and over and over. Continue Reading…
Today’s modern business scene conjures images of international exposure, World Wide Web maestros, and Just in Time shipping from the Orient with limited, if any, personal contact with the customer, suppliers, or actual community with which the business person spends their time.
However, even in this digital, efficient, and fast-paced impersonal business culture, there are those among us who run service operations or brick-and-mortar businesses based on personal interaction.
While it is important and perhaps vital to be digitally astute even in this arena, the art of personal contact, especially in small town USA, is essential for success and growth.
Here are some tips on how to make the most of your personal interactions and grow your professional network within a small town: Continue Reading…