One on one with Debra Langford:
Debra Langford’s Power Networking Workshop was an amazing hit. One attendee, Loretta Champion Johnson, of Script Tees, a company that makes scripture-based apparel for babies and toddlers, gave out 100 business cards during the event! Another woman gave out all her cards and was off to Kinko’s to get new ones made.
Langford, who identifies diversity candidates from the vice president level and higher for all units of Time Warner Inc., is a networking queen.
Even with all the social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, Langford says people still “need to be able to know how to connect with someone face-to-face.” She added that “the real strength of networking is in the “power of personal connections.”
For too long there has been more value in where you work than who you are. A concept that Langford says is flawed, especially in light of the massive layoffs that are sweeping the country. Instead, you should say who you are first and then where you work when making introductions. That puts more value on you.
During her session yesterday, Langford sought to “destroy comfort zones” by making friends and acquaintances split up and having people form groups based on their commonalities. I can identify with that because I have to force myself to talk to network. (See my earlier blog on my networking issues.)
In her tutorial on effective networking, Langford also taught attendees how to do a 30-second elevator pitch using a stopwatch to drive home the point that 30 seconds can be more than enough time to sell yourself. In the pitch you should say who you are and why you are drawn to the event/situation you’re participating in.
Of course, the key to any successful networking strategy is following up. Your efforts will go nowhere if you don’t maintain the connection.
Langford’s Two Takeaways:
— You are not what you do
— You should be able to tell who you are in 30 seconds. Start your story, and make it interesting so that the person who hears it will want to know how it ends.
Deborah Creighton Skinner is the editorial director at BlackEnterprise.com.