Do you think of yourself as “bad” at networking as I sometimes do? I avoid these social events because the follow-up required, of all those shiny Lights who are blazing trails, is quite daunting and I know this is not my strong point (because my plate is already full).
I prefer to stay closer to home and bask in the Lights already gracing my life. Follow-up is a constant called “staying in touch.”
Thursday night (10/15/16) at the Mercato Tomato Pie restaurant in Newark NJ was an exception. I felt I needed to go because “Heal A Woman, Heal A Nation” resonated and this was the second time I was exposed to the group.
The first time was in Baltimore (cannot recall event details). I remember HWHN’s impressive vendor table and thinking, How very great. Just up my alley. Their name defines my life!
So, a decade or more later, since my sistar Zakiyyah Zaimah of Jambalaya Stew fame suggested we attend and network, I decided to check it out.
I realized immediately after entering — I am in a different category than these women; I am their mother or grandmother.
Their format and engagement with attendees reminded me of events for audiences that have to be practically coerced to interact with one another. The group has been working with young girls and the founders announced the launch of a new mentoring initiative for girls.
I smiled when I realized several women, of course of indeterminate age, wore expressions of being “over-qualified,” meaning we didn’t need prodding to interact and meet-and-greet.
The crown of the occasion was the outcome. The two-minute speed dating format allowed me to meet a makeup artist and judicial administrator, and to be referred to a webmaster.
I had just gotten my “hair did,” and needed attention for my intransigent eyebrows. Meeting a makeup artist who kindly rejected my effacing comments about them was delightful.
I asked the judicial sister for guidance on how to do research on property in the county, and she directed me aright, with ease.
The eye-contact exercise allowed me to meet my “younger self” in the form of a lovely woman who is director of development at a charter school. In 2011, I retired from that exact title at a college in NYC. I felt our meeting could be a possible mentoring association.
HWHN founders Mothyna James-Brightful and Monokia Tyson Nance pointed out several times how asking for information, referrals, and help is something many dislike that is critical to success.
The message that women support one another and create strong bonds of sisterhood was not lost on me and I’m glad to be a part of their network to help it grow. We lift up and we expand much farther when we do it together. (Ask and Receive, universal principles 6 and 7).
Learn more about Heal A Woman, Heal A Nation and their 2017 conference and tour.