We just wrapped the 2012 ESSENCE Music Festival. From July 5-8, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world descended upon New Orleans to inspire, educate and empower participants about everything from saving our boys to saving our money. As an ESSENCE editor, I always enjoy partaking in the daily ESSENCE Empowerment Seminars, where we get to motivate, educate and inspire participants to reach for the stars. I partnered with representatives from Verizon, Wal-mart, New Orleans Multicultural Tourism and Time Warner Diversity to discuss how to get hired now, branding yourself in the competitive workplace and setting yourself up for small business success. Here are a few of the lessons learned that you may want to put to use:
Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. This little gem came directly from a Verizon hiring manager that I interviewed over the weekend. Going for a promotion is as much about your performance as it how you present yourself. Don’t wait until you get the new gig to start looking the part. Add a few new staples to your wardrobe each paycheck, accessorize your outfits, invest in good shoes and keep your nails and hair tight. They seem like small things, but there is a mental shift that occurs within you and on the part of your colleagues and bosses when they see you have your look together.
Add networking to your to-do list. Often I hear Black women say “I’m not trying to hang out with Bill and Becky” or “I don’t have time to be bothered.” Well, as a person who has received many opportunities because I decided to go to an event, have coffee or support a colleague at his or her nonprofit, I’m here to tell that networking is a critical piece of your career success.
Be a subject matter expert. When employers want to know what you are up to, the first thing they do is Google you. In this day and age of the 24-hour media cycle, it us up to you to shape how you are being perceived or branded. Let people know that you have an opinion about the latest happenings in your industry or the things you are passionate about. Get on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like to let the world know that you are an expert who can offer valuable insight, information and commentary on late-breaking news.
One thing I did learn during this weekend is that you have to take your own career in your own hands. During the interview process, if you want the job ask for it. Always follow-up and follow-through, whether it’s a conversation with your boss or a conversation with the company president, develop a one minute elevator pitch that says who you are, what you do and what you can offer the company. And by all means, know what’s going on in the companies that interest you. If you don’t, you will be left behind. Okay, that’s more than one thing, but you get my drift.
Those are just a few of the lessons learned from this year’s ESSENCE Fest. As the weeks go by, I will continue to reflect of those lessons to help you achieve the career success you seek.