Still high off the motivational vibes from last Saturday’s Avanti Women’s Career and Networking Expo, I gained much more than I had bargained for with what I’ve coined my triple-threat advantage : the priceless opportunity to receive coaching from, and ask questions to, three influential and fascinating female professionals, each successful in her own right, on her own terms.
Avanti Women identifies itself as an organization that “gives forward,” due to its numerous charitable initiatives and, more importantly, its mission to move women forward professionally and personally.
It wouldn’t be the Avanti Women way (nor would it be very thoughtful of me) to hoard my newly-attained leadership knowledge for myself. So in the spirit of giving forward, I’m sharing the top three insights I gained from my experience at Avanti Women’s annual event.
1. We create our reality through our perception. Karen Elkin, certified leadership coach and workshop facilitator at Karen Elkin Leadership, hosted a workshop about energy leadership for career development. She taught us that we can affect positive change in ourselves and others through self awareness and mindfulness.
“If you look at people through the eyes of compassion versus judgment, you will see them differently,” she explained. “Similarly, they will feel your shift in energy and respond accordingly.”
2. When it comes to personal branding, a “mullet” is never in style. Cher Jones, social media trainer at Socially Active, gave the ladies a lesson in online personal-brand management. She strongly advised us to Google our names to see what information the public can view, and then audit our social media pages to control the message.
This isn’t to say that we can’t show off our fun and fabulous personalities, Cher assured us. In fact, she noted, displaying a healthy mix of our professional and personal lives makes us appear more trustworthy in the eyes of employers and clients—but we must find the right balance.
Having an uber-professional LinkedIn page simultaneously online with a Girls Gone Wild-esque Facebook profile is “the mullet of personal branding: all business on the top, and a party in the back!” she joked. “You can show that you’re a real person with an exciting life, but professionalism must ring throughout.”
3. Make sure your personal brand is in line with your values. Marketing and communications leader Lissette Edward facilitated a personal branding Goddess Lean-In Circle. Through guided discussions, she assisted a small group of women in determining our unique personal brands. She also shared her own journey in crafting her brand.
“If you’re not confident in your personal brand, you will start doubting yourself,” she warned. “You must be able to say to yourself, ‘this is my brand essence, and it will guide all of my professional interactions.’”
…So back to that dreaded N word (a reality check from last week’s post)
The good news is that, by attending Avanti Women’s annual event, I developed a diverse range of solid, applicable leadership skills from three inspirational women that I will practice in my career going forward.
Not so impressive is that, including the friend who accompanied me to the expo (and a couple volunteers I asked for directions), I probably “networked” with about six other women, only two with whom I exchanged business cards.
But I’m starting to understand that that’s not the point…
I get the feeling if I keep showing up—which, in fact, proved to be the hardest part of the Avanti Women event—and showing a genuine interest in professional development and intriguing people, networking will get easier and more natural, and conversations and connections will occur organically with like-minded professionals.
Fortunately, with my triple-threat advantage, I’m armed with new knowledge and a little more courage to face networking situations with confidence and grace.