Monday, October 26, 2015

Tips for Networking

Hellos Doves! BrandBuilder Lesson 2: When Networking Isn't Your Strong Suit

Hello Lovebugs! As you can see, I am branching out and expanding the Miss Elisa K. brand. I have learned so much on my own through trial and error about branding. I don't want to be selfish with this information and I don't want others to make the same mistakes. I want your brands, blogs, & businesses to boom! These lessons are based on my opinions and experiences. Hopefully, my BrandBuilder Lessons will provide the information and encouragement that you need.

I've never been good at networking. Engaging strangers in conversation to learn more about them but to also sell myself is frightening and overwhelming. However, when given advice on how to get that great job or how to expand your business, the suggestion always includes networking and getting to know the right people. While I tried to avoid networking in college, it became inevitable when I moved from North Carolina to Philadelphia. I had a large network in North Carolina because I grew up there and I went to college there (networking heaven). Starting over in Philadelphia has been difficult because not really knowing the right people or any for that matter has made it more difficult to garner support for my businesses (yes, even after 3 years). So I had to quickly grasp the networking skills I learned but never used. Below are 4 things I learned when I started networking and putting myself out there. I had a total of 7 Tips. If you want the rest, please comment and share this post.

1. Go to the event anyway. I prefer to be alone. I don't like to talk or be around many people at certain times. During many of those certain times, someone is hosting a networking mixer in which I have been invited. I don't make it out all the time; I've always tried to honor every event invite and now I know my limits. However, I occasionally make myself go to these events. I push myself. I don't think I've ever regretted going to an event in the last three years that I made myself attend. My board member and mentor insisted that I attend a networking mixer over the summer. And on the day of the event, it was raining cats and dogs. I didn't really want to go at first but I pushed myself to go anyway. In the end, I met some awesome young ladies from Au'loni Magazine and they featured Girls Like Me, Inc. a few months ago. This may be bad to say, but my low morale and low expectations to actually make connections made it easy for me to go to the event and talk to people when I didn't feel like being there. I wasn't expecting to get a job, a business partner, a customer, a man (lol that's why some of y'all go though), or anything else. I was just going because it was the antithesis of my original thought process. And you can't grow and get better unless you change your thought process, do things differently, and think outside the box. Push yourself out of your mental box and go to the next networking event in your area with no expectations.

2. Be yourself. This should be a given but we are very interesting people. We tend to change due to our environment like chameleons. I know in certain settings, it is best to conduct yourself accordingly. However, conduct has nothing to do with personality. Don't change yourself to fit in or to mesh with certain people. Even if you all connect, it won't last. Honestly, how long can you go on being fake and lying to yourself. It's easier to be yourself and let the right people come into your life. Find kindred spirits, as Susan Cain would say.

3. Don't be too personal. I struggle with this and I have had a few embarrassing moments. Not being too personal is difficult for me because I am really honest. Most times, I just want feedback or confirmation. However, I have learned where to take my cares. I have also realized that while you may feel connected to someone after first meeting them or in a casual work setting, they don't know you like that yet. Don't talk about sex, religion, money, parenting, politics, race, or anything that could make people uncomfortable. You may be thinking, "Umm, Elisa... anything can make people uncomfortable." And you are exactly right my friend. So just use your best judgement and know that there is no fool proof way to save yourself from a faux pas moment. Try to recover by changing the subject once you realize it. Just don't beat yourself up about it or let it dampen your confidence. People are temperamental and effective networking is a learning process.

4. Strategically Random. Lately, I've been going out and just living my normal life without the intent and pressure of networking. I've run into people I have met once before or people who I don't know at all who want to hold conversations or just say hello. I am proud of myself because I have learned to be real and sociable while managing to turn the focus back to my business during these conversations. For instance, I recognized a lady I took a homeowners class with at the dentist with her daughter. I wasn't feeling great and my mouth was hurting. Yet, I felt like I shouldn't waste a moment to be kind and connect with someone. I just spoke to her, said hello, and told her where I remember her from. While asking her about her home buying journey after the class, I realized she had a daughter. She asked me about my home buying journey. I told her I have been focusing on building my business, Girls Like Me, Inc. and told her about the services I provide. I gave her a card and I saw her talking to her daughter about it. I don't know what will come of it but at least one more person knows about Girls Like Me, Inc. Don't let even the smallest opportunities to talk to someone pass you by. You never know what you have to offer or what someone has to offer you. So many times I let my appearance or my mood stop me from taking opportunities to connect with people. Sometimes, you should take heed of those things as they can put people off. However, most times we are being overly critical of ourselves. If you have an opportunity to meet someone new or further connect, take it.

If you would like for me to share more information about this topic, please comment and share this post on your social media networks. Hey, I'm Building a Brand Here, too! SMOOCHES XOXO

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I Don't Know Everything... And It's Okay

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive. (Jeremiah 29:11-14 KJV)

Hello Sugar Muffins! The Lord is really pulling back many layers of my life and exposing the areas where I have to improve in order to get to the next level of my life. This is not the phase where the Lord is changing my everything and saving me from my own destruction. This is the phase where I've been saved for awhile and I've been obedient. The Lord opened many doors just to show me what He can do and that He is very real. Now, the Lord is showing me how to lead, how to take risks, and how to trust Him even when I don't see Him opening the doors. The Lord is refining me for something great. In my heart, this is what I know to be true. However, I don't have any hard proof or evidence that this is true or that it will even happen. So, if we base wisdom on facts, I don't know why anything in my life is happening as it is in this particular moment. And it's okay.

I know you are thinking, "Elisa, it is not okay! You are writing these posts, you are a mentor to young girls, and you say you hear God's voice. How can you say you don't know?!" Again, I have no answer for you. Does my not knowing and not being sure discredit all of the wisdom, advice, and life experiences I have shared with people? The hardest things about becoming an adult are realizing you can't do everything by yourself and that you don't know everything. For a long time, I fought this. I tried to learn as much as I could. I tried to gain knowledge and experience. I've tried to convince myself that I am mostly right most of the time. I've tried to think that I can do it all by myself (even if given a choice). But I can't and I don't. 

The only reassuring peace about this confusing and very scary point in my life is that I actually know what I want to do with the rest of my life. I know my purpose. I know what I've been called to do. The uneasy part of knowing what is not knowing how in the world it is going to come to pass. I literally don't have all the know-how or manpower to do everything the Lord has called me to do.

Yet, as I ramble about me and what I don't know, the Lord quietly reminds me of His word. God knows the plans He has for me. We have to realize we are here to do the Lord's work. We are His vessels. He really doesn't have to tell us anything about His plans at all. He could use us to do what He purposed us to do without our meddling and "journeying to find ourselves." But because our God is good, fair, just, and our Father, He will tell us what we want and need to know (as much as we can handle) if we seek Him or need Him to intervene. The Lord has already shared so much with me about my purpose early on in my life. It took me nearly a decade to live it after wavering in my faith and wondering if it was actually true or not. Through it all, He has proven Himself real time and time again. Does not knowing How take away from knowing What? Does knowing the big picture but not the details discredit all the Lord has done for you, shown you, and called you to do?

The answer again is not finite. The answer is found in how much you trust God with your life. If not knowing discredits all that God has done for you, you don't trust Him. The premise of any relationship is trust. So if you don't have trust, how can you even believe in Him and love Him if you've never seen Him. Only trust does that. If you trust the Lord and you are okay only knowing the big picture and not the details, good for you. Now rest.

The best part about trusting the details to the Lord is that you don't have to worry yourself to make it all happen. You don't have to try to figure out how to do it all. The Lord will lead you to the information when the time is right. He will give you wisdom and knowledge that no amount of studying or schooling could provide. The Lord will open the doors or give you the keys to open them yourself. But you have to trust Him first. You really have to be cool floating in the unknown. I am surely preaching to myself ;) I am able to say, "I don't know everything and it is okay" only because I trust the Lord. Can you honestly say to yourself, "I don't know everything and it is okay." I hope I get to walk through the unknown while trusting the Lord soon. Ironically, I've heard it is one of the most peaceful places to be. But I don't have any facts to back that up. So I don't know for sure... and it's okay. SMOOCHES XOXO

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Promote Your Brand

Hey Lovelies! BrandBuilder Lesson 1: Promote Your Brand.

Hello Lovebugs! As you can see, I am branching out and expanding the Miss Elisa K. brand. I have learned so much on my own through trial and error about branding. I don't want to be selfish with this information and I don't want others to make the same mistakes. I want your brands, blogs, & businesses to boom! These lessons are based on my opinions and experiences. Hopefully, my BrandBuilder Lessons will provide the information and encouragement that you need.

Today's Lesson is Promote Your Brand. This may sound simple but this was a very hard concept for me to grasp. In every project I've started, I wanted to constantly promote whatever my current project was but I was hesitant. I didn't want to annoy and exhaust people. I felt as if my networks were small. I also didn't know how to do so effectively. I didn't know which images and designs to use, or even what to say. The thought of promoting my projects was overwhelming. I came to the crazy conclusion that my brand would promote itself. I mean this is a dope project! Everyone is going to love it! No need to push it, right? Crazy and Wrong. No one can follow, buy, listen to, or read something they don't know exists.

Since my last major project fail in 2014 (not ashamed to admit it), I've started to promote my brands differently. I've done a complete overhaul in promotion and branding. Honestly, I am only sharing because the changes I've made are yielding results in less than a year (ex. Girls Like Me, Inc.). I just wish I would've adopted this new way of thinking about my brands sooner! I've learned so much about promoting but I am just going to share a few in this lesson. These are my first 4 Tips for Promoting Your Brand:

1. Utilize Social Media. People like to tell me in a snark tone, "You are always posting stuff on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram" to let me know they saw it even though they don't like, comment, repost, or share. Knowing this, don't be smart and respond, "Well, unfollow me then if it bothers you!" Honestly, this is my initial thought. Early on, I've decided not to follow my gangsta side. I always say things like, "Really?! Did you like it?! Are you coming?! I'm so glad it's reaching so many people! I didn't think anyone saw it. Thank you for following!" Oh, this really confuses them and you. This tactic gets them thinking about your brand some more and most likely going back to your page. This tactic also helps you to stay passionate and humble about your brand and not sidetracked by negativity. Don't let anything stop you from using FREE PROMOTION! Not even haters/admirers. You may feel like your social media networks are small but they will grow if you use them for what they were made to do: spread information quickly.

2. No Ads Unless They are Your Brand's Ads. If you are sponsored by a company and you are getting good money/goods/services to promote their brand with an ad and link on your page, this advice isn't for you. You're currently doing better than me ;) This is for my people with small blogs and small followings. Which isn't always a bad thing; Influence is Influence. I know you think you need Google Ads on your blog to make money because that's what I thought for years. However, I have yet to make a dime and no one can unless you are getting millions of views. Instead, I would use the space on your blog that was once used to promote that one time you contributed to another blog or that one company that sent you a free sample size last year to promote your own products, goods, and services. Every time someone clicks on anything on my blog, I want them to be led to another branch of my brand. Until you are consistently getting a check from Google Ads, an ad is sitting on your website for free. They are getting free advertisement when you can be promoting your new business, product, and/or blog series. Give yourself free promotion on your platform. You may not have millions of views but you get enough. You want those views focused on your stuff. I may add Google Ads back to my page when my views increase. Then, it will be a viable bonus stream of income. Until then, I don't want to my readers to be distracted. On my blog, I want my readers to be familiar with my products and services.

3. If You're Affiliated, It's Your Brand. I was about to call this lesson "Promote Your Own Brand." However, I've realized that you may be heavily connected and have helped to build someone else's brand. Many people are direct sellers or work for entrepreneurs and businesses they wholeheartedly believe in. If that's what you know the Lord has for you, there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone is not meant to be an entrepreneur; sometimes you are called to build other people's brands. My brother Shaun Wiah is a talented Hip Hop artist. His brand is not mine but I promote him and help manage his career. I believe in his brand. The brand is just as much me as it is him. His friends and supporters feel the same way. My name doesn't have to be in the video or on his album to feel proud and to keep working. I just do it because that's what the Lord called me to do. I am okay with that. He shuts my ideas down often. We disagree. We may get angry. More so, I get upset if I feel disrespected, misunderstood, or unheard. But I don't get mad if he doesn't simply like the idea. It's his brand. He makes the decisions, and I help to create the opportunities for him to shine. I feel accomplished when the Shaun Wiah brand flourishes. If you are okay with building someone's brand and your investments will match your return, then do it with a kind and willing spirit. No hidden agendas or sneaky motives.

4. Show Love to Other Brands. This was hard for me at first. Many times, people didn't return the love. But many times, people are appreciative and have been reciprocal. You shouldn't promote other brands just for the shout outs to be reciprocated. You should do it because you believe in the brand or the person behind the brand. Honestly, sharing quality information and showing love makes you look like you are not a hater and you support others. People like people who are not haters and support others. You want people to like you, go to your online store, and buy your t-shirt. If it makes you uneasy promoting other brands while you're building yours, only promote brands that don't present a conflict of interest with your own. However, once you are secure in your own brand and God-given abilities, sharing someone else's brand won't make you feel threatened. On the Girls Like Me, Inc. website and social media outlets, I often promote other nonprofits who support girls like my Soror Khalia Braswell. As far as blogging, I always mention my girls Mara and Jessica. It doesn't dim our shine recognizing that others shine brightly as well.

If you would like for me to share more information about this topic, please comment and share this post on your social media networks. Hey, I'm Building a Brand Here, too! SMOOCHES XOXO

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