Earlier this week, Tasha Youngblood Brown sat down with our WomenSurge group to offer tips and perspective on networking, in a session titled “How to Amplify Your Network”. Tasha is currently a Managing Director with EY focused on the firm’s Government and Public Sector (GPS). Through this role, she works directly with universities, colleges, and organizations dedicated to higher education to help them achieve institutional goals and to further their mission.
As the founder of IC’s WomenSurge, I am proud to share that we have grown from 3 members in 2017 to 18 today, plus several “manbassadors” who actively participate in our events and support our efforts. The group recently cemented a new mission statement:
WomenSurge is a community of IC women and allies coming together to support each other through life transitions, personal & professional development, and career challenges in a place and space that is safe for all members. By leveraging business resources and each other, this learning and support outlet serves to nurture the voices shaping IC and our community.
Together we will:
– Mentor and support each other, challenge and provide accountability for goals & growth
– Prioritize our whole selves with outlets for fun, laughter, and lasting relationships
– Learn how to lead from where we are, with what we have
We were thrilled to welcome Tasha to the discussion as our first speaker, as she’s a champion for women, and believes in raising other women up while moving up the company ladder.
She kicked off the discussion with a focus on the importance of finding our voice. For Tasha, she was never shy to share her point, but made it clear that it took some time for her to find her voice and gain the confidence to learn how to exercise it at the right time, when it was important.
Through her experiential storytelling, and accompanied by plenty of laughs, we dove deeper into Tasha’s networking advice. Here are some of our biggest takeaways:
Every Connection Is Important
Whether we recognize it or not, each and every connection we make is valuable, so it’s important to “Lead with a level of kindness. I don’t care if it’s the person in Wegmans, because they might be the next CEO/CFO, you never know.” Each relationship will likely offer one of three things:
Strategy: Align Who You Want to Know Based on Your Goals
Understand your purpose for meeting with someone. Tasha looks for those one-on-one moments (like in the elevator on the way down), and when she has a particular goal in mind, she will ask “Well, who else do you suggest that I connect with?”
Be mindful and respectful of their time. People often love to talk about themselves, so Tasha will ask for a 15 or 30-minute coffee or a 45-minute lunch; an hour can feel intrusive.
Always go with something to discuss.
If they’re consistently not available, then move on. Don’t judge them – they might need you one day.
On Being Prepared and Managing Emotions:
Whether you are naturally extroverted or more of an introverted type, get used to the fact that “you are always on” and representing yourself, and people are paying attention to that.
If you’re not a butterfly-in-the-room type of person, then you need to be laser-focused on who you want to talk to. If you find yourself drained and stressed from that “always-on” mentality, it’s usually a good indication to withdraw from wherever you are for just a minute and take a break. Scheduling time for yourself and prioritizing that time is so important.
Tasha says, “The greatest gift someone can give me is to see me as I see myself.”
The way we see ourselves in a mirror can be much different than the way other people see us. And the day those two marry up, it’s beautiful. Once we find our voices and show up with confidence we can then focus on communicating effectively, because no one knows you better than yourself. Show up prepared and have a game plan.
Connect on an authentic level. Talk about things you like or are interested in, and stay connected to your purpose for meeting with them. Remember: align who you want to know with your goals.
Check-in with yourself, and validate externally with someone you trust to give you an honest gut check. Focus on showing up. Focus on creating that space where you are comfortable and confident.
How to Target Who you Want to Meet:
Be a beast on LinkedIn. It’s the first and foremost tool we have from a professional networking standpoint. It’s the place to go to learn more about someone as well. Look for people at the companies you want to connect with that you identify with the most.
Ask, “What can I do to help you in your role?”
At larger networking events or conferences, people are so drained. The beauty is in the follow up. It’s all about the follow-up and having enough of a meaningful conversation that you are remembered later.
Tasha shared many tips and inspirational stories with us related to networking, effective communication, and personal and professional growth. We are so grateful to have had Tasha with us to share her perspective. The discussion was empowering, insightful, and fun. We ended with a focus on the importance of getting out of our own way.
“At some point, you have to figure out your reason for stepping up or stepping forward, right?” Tasha Youngblood Brown