“So, either you’re willing to do the work, or you’re not. And most people will not admit that they really are not willing to do the work. And for those who are willing to do the work, it’s about the relationships. And frankly, it’s also about whether you want to change with the world. In a way that helps you, and your organization, continue to grow,” said Juliette Mayers, Author, Podcast Host and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategist.
Widening our professional circles expands our options. It’s estimated 70% to 80% of career opportunities aren’t advertised but introduced, by people you know. But broadening our networks benefits more than our livelihoods. Communities have a profound impact on social change, and the shifts can start small. Countless studies cite diverse teams outperform homogenous ones. So, how might we strengthen our professional and social impact, with more inclusive connections?
Begin With Your ‘Why’
Most organizations have diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) teams and investments. Yet women and people of color remain underrepresented in leadership and continue to face obstacles, from micro-aggressions to lower compensation. And for women of color, the stats are abysmal. But equity can begin with you and your circles of influence.
Juliette said, “Start to understand your own privilege, identity groups, and why you want to build an inclusive network. And ask yourself, if you’re really committed to it. Because if you are, that’s a very different conversation from people who make the statement and are not willing to do the work.”
Usher in an Enlightened Future
Whether it’s career change, fundraising, or building your empire, your network can help you achieve those goals faster. Juliette distills her expertise in career development and DEI, into her latest book. Strategic Networking 2.0: Harness the Power of Connection and Inclusion for Business Success is an action plan. One you can adapt to improve your outcomes, while applying an equity lens.
Even if you’re not in mission-oriented work, most people want to spend their time, energy, and money, in ways that improve society. She explains “We’re at a different inflection point. Young people don’t want to work for companies who are not inclusive. And it’s not just young people of color I’m talking about. Young people across the spectrum don’t want to see significant inequities in the world and they’re trying to do their part. They want to work for organizations that have those values.”
And Start Doing the Work
It’s not a surprise to anyone that the most influential professional networks and events remain pretty exclusive. Most leaders share similar backgrounds and alma matter. Which makes it challenging for anyone without that same shorthand to break in.
Juliette advises organizations on how to advance diversity initiatives. And she’s seen the power of networking accelerate career development and impact. Especially to create more seats at the leadership table. “A lot of people say they want to build a diverse network but often, they’re not willing to do the work. All of us like to be in our comfort zones and sit across the table from people who look like us, talk like us and have the same values. It’s human nature. However, cross cultural relationship building is the definition of change. It is going to be different.”
Create Your Strategic Plan
Juliette explained, “It’s all about the relationships, starting with one relationship at a time. And the strategic networking part, is really about having a plan, vision, and creating the solution to get you there.” The diversification and growth of your network, like any other new endeavor, will mean learning some new things. “When there are situations, you’re not clear about, you probably conduct research until you know more about it. This is no different. However, quite frankly, there can be intellectual laziness when it comes to this topic. Because people want to shortcut the process and go to others to provide them with their education.”
Invest in Your Own Education
“Pick up a book or a couple of books, listen to podcast or do some research using Google®. There’s so much out there if you are serious about being educated. I encourage you to reach out to people in your circle, to help you better understand, but the first step is for you to do the work.” Amen!
She added, “You need to ground that research in conversations with people who have the lived experience. And when you educate yourself, with that basic understanding, you can then ask intelligent questions. And build relationships in a way that’s not going to offend others. Whether it’s someone from another race, ethnicity or from the LGBTQ community.”
Hold Yourself Accountable to Change
Do you consider relationship building important to your career? It’s often essential just within your own organization to get your work done. And even if external networking isn’t required for your role, it’s a catalyst for growth, career management and even friendship. It can feel awkward, and especially for Moms it’s difficult to add something new to our calendars. But you don’t have to focus on networking events with strangers.
Juliette shares that intention is more important than logistics. And progressive action, is more important than perfection. “You have to have the mindset of, ‘I want to change, I want to learn and I’m going to do the work. Even when it’s hard.’ Because any change, whether it’s organizational or personal, takes sustained effort. Change management people debate whether it’s 21 days, or longer, to have meaningful sustained change. But it’s the sustained part that’s important.”
And Go Where the Energy Is
As you build your new, more inclusive network, Juliette suggests you begin with people you know in the identity groups you plan to learn more about. “We only have so much energy and so, take a look at your relationships. How are you managing those relationships? And how will you be strategic about your time, in ways that are aligned with your strategy?” In the book, she outlines her methodology in detail, through the lens of inclusion.
Prioritize Your Time
Juliette said, “The three tiers that I outline in my book are: your inner circle contacts, high value contacts and moderate value contacts. And I define those and so you can sort them according to the degree of trust and a number of other dimensions. You can look at your relationships through this prism and develop strategies for each of them. So, that you are being laser like in how you are valuing and managing your time.”
She wrote the book to, “…Expand readers’ thinking beyond transactional networking. To the cultivation of healthy, inclusive and productive relationships.”
And Start to Change the World
Whether it’s solving the childcare, eldercare, climate, or economic crisis, we won’t get there without different thinking. Or, powerful networks. Juliette said, “The only way to breakthrough is to do something different. So, if you’re finding that socializing with the same people, is not yielding you results then, put yourself in a situation where you’re going to learn and socialize with other people who are different.”
Many thanks to the talented Juliette Mayers!
Check out her amazing new book, Strategic Networking 2.0: Harness the Power of Connection and Inclusion for Business Success. And follow Juliette’s great adventure on her website, LinkedIn and Twitter.
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Juliette Mayers is host of Entering the Inspiration Zone, a podcast for business
professionals seeking positive connection and professional development, and has been
featured in Forbes, Advertising Age, the Boston Globe, and Boston Business Journal
and on numerous TV stations. She motivates and inspires audiences through her
keynotes and workshops on strategic networking, effective cross-cultural collaboration,
unconscious bias, inclusive leadership, personal branding, and women’s leadership. A
member of the Forbes Coaches Council and a fellow at Simmons Institute for Inclusive
Leadership, Mayers is a distinguished alumna of Simmons Graduate School of
Management, where she earned her MBA, and Northeastern University, where she
earned her BS in marketing.