Networking: the key is getting out there, meeting everyone, and networking your ass off…but first:
know thy self.
Damien Robinson, a college colleague, co-Californian, and all out cool cat, is putting work into his community. He works at the Independent Living Skills Program in San Francisco, Ca where he has the opportunity to mentor a small group of Black and Hispanic foster youth. Damien wants to one day rewrite special education curriculums in public schools; he is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in effort to bring this goal into fruition.
Damien asked me to come and speak with his group about networking, being a professional, and manhood in general.
The world of networking is about having both internet savvy and personal connections, knowing how to decode body language and read eyes, and balancing on that dental floss- thin line between name dropping and citing references…
These are just three broad concepts, out of a plethora of ideas that are tied into networking. My task: exemplify what networking is, show how it relates to these young men, and help then perfect the art of networking.
Inside the classroom we discussed how networking itself can be as deep as a mathematical equations that shows each individual’s degree of separation. And on the other hand, networking can be as simple as asking your friend where he gets his hair cut…. most importantly: when you meet a woman on the street, you are networking.
Our conversation brewed and we covered everything from firm handshakes to follow-up emails. And in the end, we did practice elevator pitches in effort to show these young men how to approach future contacts in a respectable manner.
I left out of the two-hour discussion thinking, all forms of networking: face to face networking, online networking, or even approaching a young lady in the street; all call for you to be clear about who you are and what you want.
Before anyone else can be confident to identify with you, or your business… you have to be confident in you.
…And that is manhood… or rather, that is adulthood… And it’s an amazing lesson to teach teenage boys in the hood.