Last week I spoke at the Bay Path College Women’s Leadership Conference in Springfield, MA. Their conference theme was “Lead with Compassion” and they had three heavy hitting keynote speakers: Sister Helen Prejean (author of Dead Man Walking), Majora Carter (my new hero in urban planning for social justice) and actress and humanitarian, Ashley Judd. Normally, you might get one great keynote speaker at a conference. This outstanding conference presented three remarkable, compassionate and persuasive thought-leaders. My head is still spinning with the incredible insights that each woman shared from the podium.
- I just affirmed the Charter for Compassion along with 86,000 other people and counting. Take a look at the charter and see if you can agree to live by its principles: http://charterforcompassion.org/
Dr. Carol Leary is President of Bay Path College. She gave me the idea for this week’s networking tip when she called upon the audience to be Bold Women and Bold Men. She proclaimed that the world needs bold leaders. She challenged us to be “bold in thought and bold in action.” She urged us to take risks and to speak our mind; to invest in ourselves and each other. Dr. Leary invited each of us invest in women of promise. She announced the Bold Woman Challenge, a special scholarship program that would help more young women finish college. Did you know that 65% of Bay Path College graduates are the first in their families to earn a college degree. I think that figure is amazing and needs to be encouraged. Mahatma Ghandi is often quoted with this saying: “Educate a man and you educate one person; educate a woman and you educate a whole nation.”
What does BOLD look like to you?
I really like the word “bold.” In fact, I think it is much more empowering and has less baggage than words like “assertive” or “aggressive.” It is the kind of word that allows men and women to put themselves out there with courage and grace. It is a motivating kick in the pants to help you take some risks in your career, business and life. It gives you personal permission to share your goals and dreams and to enroll others to join you. Yes, bold is a bold word. It is an adjective that acts more like a verb. A word of action.
- I found this image at http://www.spreadshirt.com/be-bold-C3376A6971778. I’m tempted to purchase this T shirt for myself. A real confidence booster.
Here is the definition of the word “bold” according to Dictionary.com
adjective1. not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring: a bold hero.2.not hesitating to break the rules of propriety; forward; impudent: He apologized for being so bold as to speak to the emperor.3. necessitating courage and daring; challenging: a bold adventure.4. beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action; imaginative: Einstein was a bold mathematician. a difficult problem needing a bold answer.5. striking or conspicuous to the eye; flashy; showy: a bold pattern.
Are you BOLD networker?
I think networking requires a level of boldness. You must set aside your fears and social reluctance in order to connect with other people. It takes boldness to reach out and introduce yourself to people of greater power and influence than yourself – people that might be able to help you accomplish your career and business goals. Heck, I think it takes a certain amount of boldness to talk to strangers. And that is just what you need to do at large conferences.
In the afternoon of the Bay Path Women’s Leadership Conference I gave a 15 minute talk called “Networking Tune Up” – a few helpful tips to empower the attendees to get more value at the conference. I made the decision that I wasn’t going to prepare in the normal fashion, with my talking points outlined and practiced. Instead I was going to do what speaker Ashley Judd did and be in the moment knowing that I would share what I needed to say and what they needed to hear.
Dr. Leary’s presentation just moments before my program gave me my hook – I would encourage these women to be BOLDER in their networking at the conference. What I had observed throughout the morning was women doing the safe thing: hanging out with people that they already knew, not exchanging business cards and not getting too close or involved with any vendors (they might try to sell you something!). The food was the safest part of the conference (and it was good food!).
When I spoke to my group, I tasked them to connect with at least 4 new people in the afternoon. They were to offer to exchange business cards with these new connections, after having a brief conversation. I told them to write down three things on the business cards that they collected: 1) today’s date; 2) name of the conference; 3) one trigger word or keyword from their specific conversation.
The next bold thing that they must do was to follow-up with each of these contacts. I encouraged them to send a Linkedin invitation, ensuring that they write a short personal message, referencing the trigger word/idea – some reference to the event and conversation. I also encouraged them to reach out and extend an invitation to meet in person or to network over the telephone. I could see the light of hope start to shine in these women’s eyes as they prepared themselves to meet the challenge of the bold networker.
And I did the same.
Up until then I had only connected and exchanged business cards with one women at the conference (out of 1,200 attendees!). I became more focused and made it a point to talk to more strangers and to be bolder in asking for and offering to exchange business cards. I came home from the conference with five business cards of women whom I intend to follow up with. I have already sent them Linkedin invitations and some of them I have mailed motivating cards to several of them. I am boldly committed to making the effort to stay in touch so that we can help each other achieve our business goals and dreams come true.
Your Networking Goal for this Week
Be bolder. Reach out and introduce yourself to someone new this week. If you are at a conference or attending a networking meeting, set a goal to connect with 4-5 new people. Initiate the request to exchange business cards. Take the lead on follow up. Be the first one to offer some sort of value (advice, feedback, link to a resource, connection to someone else who would be useful to this new person). Set aside any shyness this week and boldly put yourself out there. Know that you have value to bring to the table. Boldly share it!
About the writer: Kathy McAfee is known as America’s Marketing Motivator and is author of the book Networking Ahead for Business. In her role as Executive Presentation Coach and Professional Speaker, Kathy helps her clients to become the recognized leaders in their fields by mastering the art of high engagement presentations, more effective networking and personal marketing. To learn more about Kathy, visit her web site MarketingMotivator.net. If you like this tip and want to receive free networking tips on a weekly basis, please sign up at NetworkingAhead.com