It’s been 10 years since you have seen your high school classmates. It seems like another lifetime ago. You may find yourself curious every now and again about ex-boyfriends and the “popular” crowd, but is that enough to motivate you to revisit the high school days? Plus, the five social networks you actively use have made it impossible to lose touch with anyone since 2004. I admit, I am a bit torn about attending my own high school reunion. So I did what any other 28-year-old professional woman would do and made a list:
One of the main arguments I’ve heard for not attending these reunions is that you can already catch up with those you care about (and some you don’t) via Facebook. The pictures, status updates and timelines already clue us in as to whether or not our ex is fat and lonely and if the “it” couple ever got married. And when you are looking on Facebook, it saves you the awkwardness of those face to face encounters (you know you don’t remember the names of half your graduating class).
While social media does allow us to connect and share, the experiences we have connecting in the real world far outweigh that virtual high. While most of the people I do want to be reunited with are my Facebook friends, I still would like to see them in person, give them a hug and meet their spouses. I would like to hear about their travels firsthand rather than just browse a photo album. Plus, Facebook is a great tool for warming up for a reunion. If you are looking to make business connections or are struggling to remember a face, use “the book” to look it up pre-event and save yourself time and potential embarrassment.
We all think of Romy and Michelle pretending to invent Post-Its and we laugh, but the truth is, we can relate. The thing about these reunions is that they can drive us to examine ourselves under a harsh microscope. We can begin to compare ourselves to other people who we feel have accomplished more. It also forces us to be harder on ourselves in terms of getting our butts into gear for starting that business, leaving that job, or writing that book. Not being where you thought you’d be professionally is a lot more depressing when you find out that the guy voted least likely to succeed is making $100k a year.
While it is always tempting to compare ourselves to others, we should definitely refrain. Use this gathering as an opportunity to be proud of what you have done in the 10 years since you donned that cap and gown. I guarantee that when you compare yourself to how you were at 18 you will definitely feel like you have come a long way. This can also be an excellent eye-opening experience. Maybe a conversation will inspire you to move forward. This reunion might be the extra motivation you need, and you may find that your high school buddies are still some of your biggest cheerleaders. Remember, success is defined differently by everyone. You may have all been competing for the same guy, top spot in the class or prom queen, but you all know now that life is about so much more than all that.
You don’t want to drudge up past drama. Let’s admit it: high school is full of as many feuds, fails and awkward moments as it is fun times. There will always be those people you just don’t want to see and those things you just don’t want to remember... like your sophomore yearbook picture.
True, there will always be that time you fell and ate it bad outside of French class (true story) or the girl who made fun of you for what you wore, but are these things worth missing one of life’s milestones? No matter how hard it is to be the bigger person or come back from an absolute embarrassment, it is always worse to not show up at all. Besides, everyone probably forgot about your fall (here’s hoping), and that girl who made your life miserable may want to apologize. Let’s all remember, there have been way more trying times since high school (college, anyone?), and those are great equalizers.
Reunions can be costly. I’ve heard of some that seem like prom (formal dress, exotic venue) 10 years later.
If money is a factor for you, and you truly can’t justify a steep cost (especially if you have to travel to get back to your hometown) then don’t go. However, if you have advance notice and can find some other classmates who are willing to go with you and maybe carpool (think those who rode in and helped pay for the prom limo) then try and make it work. A great way to find out how much this will cost you and offer suggestions for savings would be to track down members of the organizing committee on Facebook and inquire. Ask them if they’ve planned yet and what they are thinking about doing so you can get an idea.
OK, I’m just gonna say it. A really great reason to go to your reunion is to flaunt what you’ve got. I was never the valedictorian or the homecoming queen or a star athlete, but at least I have some great clothes, a great job and a wonderful man to take as my date. I am really looking forward to showing all that off at the reunion. I don’t mean that to be snobby, I really want my high school mates to meet my guy and for everyone to know that if you work your ass off, you can have everything you want. That’s a message I love sharing with everyone. If you have three kids, go to your reunion with their pictures to show off proudly. If you have a blog, go with business cards ready to show off your space. Brag about those things that make you, you. And of course, network galore.
The last reason I have for going back to school is one of pure hope. There is always that one person who has gotten away. They don’t seem to be on Facebook and no one has heard from them. Sure, there is always a chance they won’t show, but if they were truly your friend years ago, you go in hopes that they do.
You don’t have to take my advice on all this. I am considering this as someone who has never been to a reunion before and still keeps in touch with a lot of the people I was friends with back then (case in point, Made Woman Editor-in-Chief, Serena Watson). Do I need a reunion with everyone? No, not necessarily. I could just as easily set up coffee dates and lunches via Facebook or send emails. But if my school is going to go through the trouble, I figure, why not? While we can’t go back and change the past, we can stare it in the face with new found confidence and relive those moments that made us the person we are today. The decision is yours, but whatever it is, make sure you are making it based on who you are today and not who you think you were then. Bring someone you know you will have a good time with and devote your evening to speaking with those who you truly miss or would like to reconnect with.
Someone says, “The office Christmas party is next week!” You think, “Bring on the booze!”…and we have a problem. I really don’t know the origin of this idea that the office Holiday/Christmas party should be a near-orgy, booze fest but I’m pretty sure the cast of Mad Men is to blame. Be that as it may, we don’t all have to succumb to the tequila and free-for-all thinking. In fact, if you play your cards right, this year’s Holiday/Christmas/Kwanzaa party could be a strategic success story for you and your career. I’m here to help you navigate your way through this
minefield party. Watch and learn.
What to Wear
Yes, the hottie from the mail room will be in attendance at the party. But no (please God, no) this does not mean you should wear your hoochie-fied Vegas outfit to get his attention. Keep in mind the other 200 or so guests, some of whom may have the clout to get you a better, higher paying job. That is if you don’t blind them with your cleavage in that itty bitty dress first....
Here are some cute looks suitable for a Holiday/Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah party:
Bebe, $69 Bebe, $139
Urban Outfitters, $199 Forever 21, $22.80
How to Drink
So, they have turned the copy room into a wet bar and the free alcohol is flowing…everywhere. You are itching to do a round of shots with Phillip from accounting just ‘cause he dared you to. But before you do that, do me a favor. Close your eyes and envision all the pictures your co-workers are gonna take of you going "Gangnam style" on your boss’s desk once you get blitzed. Envision the embarrassment you are going to feel when HR calls you the next day and asks you to explain the photo copies of your butt, signed by you, and left all over the lunch room. Then think about how you will feel when people tell you that you got on the mic and demanded a raise from your idiot boss. In those words. Now, open your eyes and just say no. Keep it classy with one or two glasses of wine.
How to Dance
Things are getting loose now. The marketing department has taken over the dance floor and are attempting dance moves they saw in a Lady Gaga video. My advice to you is to proceed to the dance floor with caution. If you are a bad dancer your lame gyrations will only make people realize that you are…well, lame. If you are a good dancer but did not heed my warnings above (see “how to drink) you may end up doing a dirty dance with the maintenance guy which will be the talk of the office for weeks. When in doubt, just fall back on the faithful two-step...or go play poker.
How to Network
Now everyone is having a good time. The higher ups are letting their hair down, ties come off, and everyone seems a bit more approachable. Warning: this is all an illusion. No matter how many drinks your boss has had if you guys were not best friends before the Holiday/Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah/Ramadan office party, now is not the time to force the issue. Do not tell embarrassing or overly personal stories. Don’t follow him or her around subtly (or not so subtly) asking for a promotion. Instead, use this time to network among your entire company, meeting new people or talking with those you work with but never had the time to get to know. Introduce yourself to someone you think may be a good mentor. And if you do get some one-on-one time with your boss or someone you think could be beneficial to your career, have your one minute “elevator speech” ready. An elevator speech is a concise, pre-prepared -- but casual -- speech about yourself and what you do that will make you memorable to someone. And as always…have your business cards ready!
Yes, parties for Holiday/Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah/Ramadan (or whatever you kids celebrate these days) should be fun and are great way to make friends with your co-workers. But never forget that you are still in a work environment. What you do can and will be used against you come Monday morning. If you make the right moves, however, this will not only be a great party…it could shape up to be a great opportunity.
We’ve all heard the saying, “it takes a village.” While that old saying is usually directed towards child rearing, you can also apply it to your own professional and personal goals. Building a strong community is key to achieving your objectives. As a Made Woman, you’ve probably already heard the benefits of creating a powerful network. But what does “networking” entail, exactly? Are you picturing lame events and rapid-fire business card exchanges? And what do you do with this lovely new network once you’ve assembled it? Don’t worry; it doesn’t have to be a confusing ordeal. Here are 5 tips for building and managing a powerful network:
Get Clear on Your Why
First things first, reframe the way you think about networking. Move beyond the image of just shaking hands and doling out cards and begin thinking of networking as building quality, sustainable relationships. Next, make sure you’re clear on why you’re building your network. Are you a professional mamacita who is looking to build solid professional contacts in your industry? Are you a savvy entrepreneur who wants to create a community of fellow business owners? Maybe you’re a newly graduated scholar who is ready to begin climbing the corporate ladder. The clearer you are on your purpose, the easier it will be to build a powerful network.
Start with Who You Know
You may have 1200 Facebook friends but the truth is the average person can successfully manage about 150 active relationships. That’s 150 people who already know, like and trust you. You want to make sure you are maximizing the potential of those friendships by actively cultivating the relationships you already have. Begin working through your contact list and update your current network on what you’ve been up to and the types of opportunities you’re looking for. Craft an email that you can tailor to each specific person. This is not the time for a blanket email bcc’d to your entire email list. Cultivating these relationships takes time and the personalized touches you add will go a long way.
Meet New People
Networking presents an excellent opportunity to bring new awesome people into your circle. Identify groups and organizations that match your mission and whose members line up with your purpose. Set a goal for yourself to attend one new mixer or event each month (or each week if you’re a turbo-charged networker). Once there, be friendly, confident and strike up conversations. Most importantly, just be yourself! Allow the people you’re speaking with ample time to talk about themselves; you’ll have plenty of time to follow-up with them later and showcase your talents.
Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up
Networking is worthless if you don’t follow-up. Make sure you contact each person you’ve met within 48 hours. Depending on the situation, you can call, email or send a physical card. All you need to do is let them know you enjoyed speaking with them. If you spoke about something in particular, now is a great time to send that additional information along. You can invite them out to lunch or coffee to continue to nurture the new relationship. Lastly, ask them if there is anything you can help them out with.
Make Yourself Useful
Remember, building your network is all about relationships, and relationships are all about give and take. When it comes down to it, make sure you are offering your network what they need. A simple email with a link to a relevant article can go a long way in keeping yourself at the forefront of your network’s mind and showcasing your value. I make a general rule to end all conversations and coffee date meetings asking the simple question, “What can I do for you?”
Building a strong network is an important aspect of reaching your professional and personal goals. If you take a good look at successful people, one thing they share is a powerful network that they’ve cultivated over the years. With these steps, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a Made Woman with a strong community behind her.
July 19, 2012
Strength, style, business acumen, creativity, awareness…. these are just a few of the traits that a Made Woman possesses. When creating our "I Am a Made Woman" video with director/producer Trescher Chambers, we set out to showcase a handful of real women who, in their own respective elements, personify these attributes and many more.
We took a look at our immediate networks and were astounded by the successful women we’ve been fortunate to come in contact with over the years—five of whom became a part of bringing our vision to life:
Dawn Richard: this platinum-selling singer and former member of Danity Kane and Diddy Dirty Money recently launched her solo music career and is the first voice you hear in the video. A passionate musician with an eclectic, soulful sound, you can find out more about her recent solo project here: http://bit.ly/Hw2xZP
Eve Torres: WWE Diva, philanthropist, spokeswoman & instructor for the Gracie Women Empowered Self-defense program and former industrial and systems engineering major at USC (a.k.a. one smart cookie). Our current Made Woman of the Month, you can read more about what Eve is up to here: http://bit.ly/LTaMEe
Allison Torneros: this visual and graphic artist and entrepreneur has turned her artistic talents and passion into a lucrative career, recently showcasing her work at her first solo art show. Read our feature on her here: http://bit.ly/Mcg8Xe
Jaisy Geans: this former USC graduate is the manager of Nine Zero One Salon in West Hollywood and is pulling double duty by also embarking on a career in broadcasting. Jaisy knows how to juggle it all! She manages over 14 employees in a bustling West Hollywood salon, and does it with style.
Rachel Butler-Green: a professional dancer who splits her time between performing on stages around the world and teaching a community dance class, proves what is important to her when she says “I know giving back to the community makes me better.”
These 5 women, in addition to a host of others, helped us to bring to life our vision of what a Made Woman truly is. By forgoing the use of actors—and instead paying tribute to real, hard-working women pursuing their dreams—we upheld the core mission of Made Woman Magazine. We hope that it entertains in addition to painting a clear picture of Made Woman Magazine is headed.
If you would like to support the mission of Made Woman Mag please visit our Indiegogo page for more info!
In today’s world, the speed of connection has never been faster.
Our desires for human attention and self-expression have limitless opportunities with the Internet. From hobbies to dating to personal and professional networking, we have the bases covered.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Pinterest, Myspace (yes, it still exists), FourSquare, Yelp, Couchsurf, Bing, Google+, Instagram, Google Hangouts, BranchOut and Meet-Up are just a small sampling of what’s out there allowing us to over share and connect to our hearts' content.
Besides finding a new place to post a profile pic, the internet has so much to offer. There are thousands of sites all just a Google search away, including ones that could help us get to the next level in our careers.
So, What Do You Do?
Taking it a step past LinkedIn, many industry-specific social media sites exist to help people in various professions. Are you in Human Resources? Well then there’s a site for you! Check out www.hr.com. Are you in Business and Finance? Check out www.meettheboss.tv. Are you in Academia or Research? You’re good as well! Visit www.academia.edu. It’s like made to order career advice.
There are countless sites out there, but here are a few, listed by industry, which may be useful to you. And while this sampling by no means represents all that’s available, it should get you thinking about researching others like it and pondering the increased benefits it could bring:
A Few Other Helpful Sites for Business Purposes
The list goes on and on.
These social media sites provide an opportunity to reach niche communities you might want to be more involved with for your job. It’s a way for you to connect with like-minded people, share thoughts and trends in your industry, and view content targeted directly to you and your interests.
It’s easy to see how a person can further develop personal passions just by going online and joining some virtual communities. More than ever before, people are coming together to build spaces for collaboration, and it is in our best interest to take advantage of these opportunities and join the party.
What are your favorite career sites? Share your favorites in the comments below!
You walk into a room filled with strangers. You panic. Your heart beats rapidly. Your palms begin to sweat. You don’t know where to begin or who to meet. So you quickly turn to the stranger to your immediate left and introduce yourself. After a brief, chatty five-minute conversation…it’s silence. Dead, awkward silence. You clear your throat and nervously smile. What now, you wonder?
Here are some basic yet important tips to networking effectively so that you’re not the person people run to escape from:
Remember these useful tidbits the next time you’re out on the scene, and you’ll be a savvy networker indeed! Don’t forget to read the Networking Guide: How To Network Like a Pro article for more beneficial information on networking!
Networking. Seems like it’s impossible to avoid these days. It’s happening in bars, in restaurants, at special monthly meet-ups. It’s going on with friends, with potential business partners, with strangers. It can happen in group settings or in one-on-one sessions, and there doesn’t seem to be a particular age restriction for who’s doing it. Everyone’s networking, all the time and it’s happening everywhere.
But really, what is networking, and how can you truly network efficiently?
While networking takes place in many shapes and forms – from structured networking functions to informal talks over drinks – the core essence of networking is continuously building a web of personal and professional contacts around you. Not to mindlessly frequent events hoping to meet execs so that you can collect business cards and then call them incessantly begging for jobs. That is never okay.
“Networking is developing relationships and connecting people and resources that support one another," says Heather Hale, Writer/Director/Producer/PowerNetworker/Speaker and founder of Heather Hale Productions. “Yes, networking is all about forging new and cultivating existing relationships, but it’s also about connecting the dots: who needs what, where, when and how? You should always be thinking: ‘How can I help? Who in my database or sphere of influence can I support with this information?’” This is a two way street and paying it forward will make you memorable.
How to Do It Effectively
In order to engage in effective networking, it’s crucial to first understand what it is that makes you a valuable professional and also how you want to use that value to connect with others. It’s about understanding where you currently are in your professional career, where you want to take your career and how your particular skill set and career goals can benefit others. Having a clear concept and idea of your strengths and interests will help you plan out who you want to meet, what types of networking events to attend and how to be prepared to effortlessly network on the fly.
Making It All Worthwhile
“I would recommend first identifying your own personal brand objectives before beginning a search for networking events,” says Taj Tashombe, founder of the|sui|generis|group and creator of successful The Lifestyle Loft networking series. “Once you have a clear idea on what type of networking you are after, you can then start to narrow the search criteria. Critical elements that I look out for include target demographic, target industry, location of the event, organizations involved, event theme and also inquiring with individuals in my immediate circle who may have experience with the event or organization hosting the function in consideration.”
When seeking out new relationships through networking, it’s also important to meet with as many different people as possible. If you’re a caterer, don’t just attend networking functions with other caterers. Attend networking functions where those who are likely to hire caterers – such as events where event planners, restaurant owners or corporate office managers – would be. Build strategic, diversified relationships for your web of connections. If you do meet someone you think will be an asset, engage in a great conversation but don’t hover. Following them around for the rest of the night like a lost puppy may erase all of the positives of your first impression.
“Know what type of event you are attending so you can be prepared with accurate talking points,” advises Dr. Arameh Anvarizadeh, OTD, OTR/L, who hosts networking functions. “If someone does several activities, such as business and therapy, like me, know what their purpose of attending the event is so you have the right role and benefits to discuss.”
Additionally, always be prepared, carrying extra business cards (personal or professional) and be ready to share your background. While there are certainly specific moments – like at networking events – where you are more likely to get leads, you never know when an unplanned meeting with someone is the catalyst for your next big business venture. Have an opener – know how to talk with anyone and come equipped with a friendly yet professional demeanor.
“We all need to network,” says Hale. “Stay-at-home moms need to be tapped in to their local communities, ex-convicts or returning military need re-assimilation support, even scientists who work alone around the clock need to come up for air for grant funding and experiment resources. We all need to network. We are social creatures. No one lives in a void.” So you see, everyone should be networking these days. Just make sure that you’re doing it as efficiently and strategically as possible in order to get the most rewarding outcomes!