Thursday, June 13, 2024

Black Professionals Must Network in order to be Successful…

August 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Money/Business, News, Weekly Columns

( When I was younger, I remember hearing cliches like, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Of course I didn’t believe any of that stuff. I didn’t do very well in high school, but in college, I was a study machine. I just knew that pushing hard to be the best and making the best grades I could would open a plethora of doors for my career. In fact, my counter phrase to the cliché was, “I spend my time working, not networking.”

Sure, some doors were opened by my hard work (laziness always catches up to you anyway). But while I got some pretty good opportunities, I noticed that some of the things that seemed most difficult for me were a breeze for people with fewer qualifications. I learned that being disconnected from the world wouldn’t help me get things done in the most efficient way. After a few years of serious frustration, I decided to change my strategy.

The National Professionals Network is an organization that helps black folks network in a way that few of us understand. The group is run by Dr. William Tedford, a guy who seems to “get it” when it comes to bringing black folks together. Tedford and NPN do, among other things, a series of cruises around the world which allow people of color to party together, learn together and work together. I went on one of their cruises and found myself educated, connected and inspired by the experience. The gatherings are also life changing because you get the chance to find out about all of the amazing things that black people are doing with their lives. An expanded business network is critical for African Americans to engage in the very important act of institution building, which is of the utmost urgency when it comes to sustaining our community.

The person with whom I was most impressed on the trip was Susan Taylor, the global icon from Essence Magazine. Susan possesses an incredibly positive spirit, one that I am consistently pushing on my kids. Additionally, she reminds us hoity-toity, money-having black people that it’s important to give back to our community through charity work and mentoring. I talked to Susan and introduced her to my daughter. After giving my little girl a great big bear hug, Susan went on to emit the loving energy for which she is greatly appreciated. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Susan, and this goes far beyond her professional achievements.

Here’s the bottom line: When we are connected to one another, we maximize our ability to grow and to support each other. When we are divided, we are ultimately diluted. I recommend that anyone wanting to build their career (which is almost everyone) to spend time proactively networking: Say hello to new people, keep their contact info in a spreadsheet, email and call every once in a while. If you do those things today, you’ll find that opportunities will come knocking at your door, and you’ll be protected and supported by a web of influence that can help shape your personal and professional life. The National Professionals Network is one of the groups that reminds us to do just that.

Written By Dr. Boyce Watkins

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