Happy New Year!!! It’s a new year and time to shed the past and look towards creating a new future. With the economy not really making any progress and the unemployment rate still scary (double digits), it’s time for people to stop waiting on a savior (or the government) to come rescue them.  Many of the jobs of the past won’t be returning. So it’s time to dig deep and figure out what you need to do to move on with your life. The past is buried. No need to stay in mourning over something you can’t bring back.

As I peruse the various news sites and blogs, I see a fast growing sentiment of anger and despair from a whole lot of angry people. People have a right to be angry, I don’t take that away from them, but you cannot wallow in anger indefinitely, blaming Republicans & Democrats.  It is so much deeper than that. At what point do you pull yourself together and start seeking other options? Who’s to blame for you not learning new skills or exploring other career options? To find that answer, you need to look in the mirror. Hey I tell it like it is. We are all responsible for our own lives. Your life is what you make it to be and no government or corporation has an obligation to help you figure it out.

Everyone needs to understand that in this age of change and ever growing technology, you have to gain additional skills. It’s mandatory and this is nothing new. Look at what happened to the steel industry, auto industry, manufacturing, airlines, and on and on. Every year or so, another industry takes a big hit.  It’s inevitable. Before I understood that, I felt a deep sympathy for people who were ousted from their jobs. I would think, “wow, who’s going to hire all those people and save them?”. But as I got older, I realized myself that you have to stay versatile. It’s great to have that one special skill set that is bankable. But you always have to be mindful that skills (and people) become outdated or replaceable.  I’m not being mean or uncaring, I’m stating the facts. We can no longer rest on one or two skills. You are responsible for securing your future.

So what do I propose? Well for starters, make sure you educate yourself. Sometimes education doesn’t have to come from a college or university. A whole new industry and set of jobs were created by social media.  People didn’t go to school to learn how to maximize social media. They used their current skills and learned social media as they went along.  With the onset of new gadgets (iPhones, iPads, Blackberry, Android, etc) a whole segment of jobs opened up in App development. Take an inventory of the different things you like, what you’re good at, and what you would like to do. Then you need to figure out how you can gain the skills that will pave the way for you to do what you love.

There are tons of websites and books out there to help you learn just about anything. But let’s look beyond that. In the early 1900’s there were no gadgets or technology. It was survival of the fittest. If you had an idea, you could start a business or hire yourself out to proprietors. People had survival skills. So today, with all the luxuries of technology, there is no reason why people can’t switch into survival mode like our ancestors and find new things to do.  Not everyone is meant to be a business owner, but you can take your skills and market them to companies who are willing to pay top dollar for your knowledge. Look to continuing education and certification programs. If you’re currently employed at a company where they will reimburse for professional training or in a state where the local Department of Labor is able to pay part of all of the expense, take advantage of it. Also look into scholarship or waiver opportunities to help with the expense.

In addition to continuing your education, you should be networking with people who are where you want to be. Tap into your human resources to help you gain the knowledge you seek. People are more likely willing to share with you if you show a real interest. Be respectful of their time and don’t push them too much for knowledge. Many people won’t share everything, but will share as much as they can. How you approach them and how you ask will determine how much they will share. Also look for a few mentors. A lot of people will limit themselves to one mentor. But no one person can be all things to you. Diversify a bit. And also ask to shadow for a day or two so you an get the hang of the day to day aspects of their job. You pick up a lot by observing someone in their professional environment.

Stop looking for a JOB. Or rather, stop giving off the vibe that you’ll apply for every and anything just to get work. I think many people fall short here because it becomes a matter of survival and hiring managers can sense that. A person in a desperate spot exudes just that. Hiring Managers spook easily and will think “will this person leave my position if something better comes along?”. Nobody wants their company to be a stepping stone. I agree, we are not obligated to one position or career in a lifetime. But in a scary economy, you have to do your best to assure employers that you are legitimately interested, even if it is your intention to seek greener pastures.  If you approach your job search as a strategy in advancing your career as opposed to looking for a pay check, you will find yourself in the driver’s seat in interviews.  This is your career. You, not your circumstances, should set the tone and the course.

What am I saying? STRATEGIZE! All positions you apply for must fit into your master career plan. Don’t just apply for a job because it’s posted, or you like the company. Make sure you can actually do the job (and have a proven track record of accomplishments) before you apply. As it is, many resumes submitted through company websites and job boards are ignored. So if you don’t have the skills or experience, not only will you be ignored, but you’ll probably be deleted. Take time to read the different job postings and get an understanding of what they are looking for. Then review your resume and cover letter to see if you address those specific needs. Then research the company. We have the power of Google, Linked In and the like to get all the information you need about your potential employer. They research you so why can’t you research them? Plus you’ll get some extra points for knowing about them before you walk in the door. Finally, tap into your network to see who knows who in your target company. Ask for introductions to key people who may have influence over who gets hired. But don’t abuse the opportunity!

And finally, sit down and map out what you want. Where do you want to go with your career? How do you plan to get there? Who will you need to connect with to be successful?  What tools and resources do you need?  What skills do you need and how will you get those skills? And what are you willing to do to create your brand and market yourself to be seen and noticed? The ball is in your court. You get what you put in. Don’t let the unemployment numbers or ratio of applicants to jobs scare you. If you do what needs to be done, you will be a survivor. But sit on your hands waiting to be rescued, and you find yourself up a creek…literally.

Til Next Time,

Adrienne Graham

Professional development is your responsibility. Any woman serious about career advancement always has it on her mind and in her sight. The biggest misconception is that it is costly to continue professional development. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Money is the number one reason why a lot of people bypass professional development and end up stunting their career growth. But blaming cost is a cop out.

There are several low cost things you can do to invest in your professional development.

  • Get biblical with it and “tithe”. OK for those of you who attend church faithfully, you understand the concept of tithing. It’s where you give 10% of your earnings to the Lord. Well I content that you can tithe to yourself as well as the Lord. I always tithe in thirds. 10% to church, 10% to build my savings and 10% dedicated to my professional development. Set yourself up a Professional Development Fund. It can be a separate savings account at your local bank or credit union, or even using the envelope system. Each month count up your contributions and decide whether to invest in a course or certification or if you want to continue to build the account up to invest in a conference or something bigger. But no matter what, don’t touch that money for any other purpose. You’ll be surprised at how much money you accumulate.
  • Remember that Reading is Fundamental. I am a voracious reader. I have been since I was a child. Don’t over look your local library. Granted some area libraries are better than others, but take an afternoon and stroll through. My local library has a book sale the first Saturday of each month. I always find great books (it could be because I live in an area where a lot of prominent business people live). I’ve paid anywhere between 50 cents and $5 for quality books. I’ve gotten books by Jack Welch, Seth Godin and many more prominent thought & business leaders. You never know what gems you’ll find. Also, sign up for member cards at book chains like Barnes & Noble and Borders. You get special discounts and sales. I love the clearance table! And of course there are online book sites such as Amazon.com, Half.com and Alibris. Reading books keep you up to date in your industry and social trends.
  • Trade with your friends. If you hang with an intelligent crowd, which I’m sure you do, you can always trade books, CDs, and programs. My friends love coming to my house because I have an actual library in my home. Yes, a separate room that is a dedicated library with all my books, CDs, Magazines and DVDs. Rather than lending stuff out, I make trades. That way I know I will get my things back! You’ve heard of cookie swap parties and even clothing swap parties. Each month, make it a point to have a Knowledge Swap Party. Everyone invited should make a list of what they have (books, CDs, DVDs, etc) so there is no overlap. Then have everyone bring the items to the party and trade. You are educating yourself and helping your friends educate themselves at the same time. Trust me it’s fun and saves lots of money.
  • Enlist your boss in your professional development plan. I know times are tight, but some companies are still willing to invest in their top talent. If you are a valuable employee and you stay on the cutting edge of your field (and that in turns brings value to your company’s bottom line), your company may pay for you to attend conferences, training and/or certification courses. It’s up to you to write a compelling proposal and presentation that convinces them why you are the person to attend, what benefits you’ll gain, and how it fits into the company’s success. The burden of proof is on you so make it a good case. Request a meeting with your boss and explain to him or her where you’d like to see your career go. Then ask for his or her help in achieving your goals. Inquire about tuition assistance or tuition reimbursement programs.
  • Learn a new language. You can access tons of free and low cost websites, buy CD and DVD programs, instructional books or get a tutor. Local community colleges offer courses for continuing education credits. Visit their websites and find out what language classes they offer and what levels you can take. Being bilingual (or multilingual) can dramatically increase your earning potential. While some people still fight embracing additional languages (Spanish in particular) the smart people are immersing themselves in new languages. Learn a new language.
  • Can’t afford to return to college, look into continuing education courses. The beauty of continuing education is that you can often get credit that can be applied towards certain certifications and job promotions. There are certificate, diploma and certification programs in everything from Office Management to Project Management to Bookkeeping & Accounting. These courses prepare you to sit for certification exams.
  • Get a team of mentors. Yes, a team. No one mentor can fulfill all of your needs. Also, no one person is meant to be your mentor forever. It’s a great professional move to find multiple mentors from varying backgrounds and experience. Draw from the collective experience. Make sure you set up regular appointments with them on a rotating basis. Take plenty of notes and challenge yourself to learn more in between your meetings. Remember to give back in return. After all, your mentors are being gracious with their time. Even if they don’t ask for or require anything in return, it is still proper etiquette to establish a give and take relationship.
  • There’s always the internet! When all else fails, you can find a wealth of information on the web. There are resource websites available on every imaginable topic. Exercise your Google skills to find new and up to date information. While some would caution you to stay away from opinion blogs, I say read them, but be objective. It’s always good to get other people’s point of view on different issues. Set up Google Alerts so that you are notified every time an article, blog post or event pops up on the internet.

Don’t let lack of money keep you from advancing your career. In this economy, you must be creative and resourceful. It is your responsibility to cultivate your career. Over time, you will find that you’ll be able to afford more sophisticated professional development. Until then, try the suggestions above.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

Hello, hello! As you can probably imagine I am just giddy about my new website launch. After much blood, sweat, tears, prayer, false starts, hard work, and yes sometimes cussing, the official website for the Fearless Woman Magazine is now live! I have waited so long for this and have encountered so many obstacles along the way. I even considered quitting….yes, the “Q” word because I had a few people tell me I would not be able to get it done. But I’m here to tell you that not only am I still standing, I have a real live functional website to show for it.

Now I know a few sour heads are going to say “hey the site is up but what about the magazine itself?”. It’s a great question…and I have a great answer. As you may already know, Empower Me! is hosting the Fearless Woman Summit at the Georgia International Convention Center June 16-17 right here in Atlanta. Originally, I was planning to do a simple launch party to announce the magazine to the world. But my team has taken over and transformed this event into the must attend professional development event of the year, in addition to a kick ass launch party! So the soft launch or unofficial launch of the physical magazine will be June 16 and it will be revealed to the attendees of the Summit and Empower Me! members (they of course get their subscriptions for free with their membership). Everyone who attends the event will get an advanced copy and will be able to help us celebrate the launch. I am so excited I can barely contain myself. For the rest of the world, the official launch is July 1st.

Our first issue is focused on Diversity from Her Perspective and we have a stellar line up of articles that make you think, reflect, and take action. The magazine will motivate you to live your best professional life…fearlessly! From Dr. Ella Edmondson Bell to Barbara Corcoran to Audrey Lee, to Sarah Evans, to Aliza Sherman, we have some phenomenal ladies who share the distinction of being in our debut issue. I can’t wait for you to read it! Trust me, the website has NOTHING on the actual issue!

In the mean time, we want you to feel like the magazine’s website is your community. We have a top notch roster of Contributing Bloggers who will share their wisdom, encouragement and expertise each week. You can catch snippets of our videos, listen to Views From the Top Radio Show, join our Facebook Fan Page, and even follow us on Twitter. You will even be able to catch previews of our shows in the brand new EmpoweredWoman.tv. Soon, you will have the capability to translate the site into your chosen language!

Be sure you bookmark and share the website with all your friends, family and co-workers. If you’re a man, be sure to send your wife, girlfriend, sister, mother, female colleagues over to the website. I guarantee it’ll be the best thing they can do for themselves in the name of professional development.

Please stop by and let me know what you think.
Til Next Time.

Adrienne Graham
PUBLISHER
Fearless Woman Magazine (an Empower Me! Corporation publication)

People are good at making goals, New Year’s resolutions, dream lists and plans. But there’s a fundamental problem with them. They leave room for interpretation, revision and even delay. Where’s the accountability? So I gave it some thought, and I’ve decided never to make “goals” again. OK don’t be alarmed. I know I’ve told you in the past that goal setting is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your success. But I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to do that any more.

You see, people set out to achieve their goals and genuinely have good intentions. But often life, work, circumstances, family, health, and a host of other things often get in the way. Goals are flexible in people’s minds and we’re often inclined to postpone them or disregard them altogether. We’ll say “well I couldn’t do that today, so I’ll get to it tomorrow”. Or “my money is short this week, let me put this training/course/coaching/conference off until next month, or maybe next year when I’m ready”. The intentions are there, but some times the execution and implementation are off. And we rationalize why we couldn’t meet the goal to try to excuse ourselves or make us feel better when we don’t meet them.

Here’s what I propose. Instead of making goals or resolutions, we should make promises. Yes, make a series of promises to yourself. You see when we make promises, we are held accountable. When you make a promise to your child, you move heaven and earth to make it happen so he or she isn’t disappointed in you. When you promise to get a task done on time at work, you do what needs to be done to get the job done so your boss isn’t disappointed in you. So why not make promises to yourself? Think about it. Some of the mot successful people are successful because of the promises they make to themselves. “I promise I will never be poor again”. “I promise myself I will move up within my company”. “I promise I will start my own business”. Making a promise to yourself is much more effective than setting a goal. Goals are fine, but promise yourself success. There’s something psychological about a promise. It means you WILL get something done. There is no postponing or forgetting. You will make it happen by any means necessary. Think about how you feel when others make promises to you that they don’t keep. It isn’t so nice. Well can you live with breaking a promise to yourself?

The next time you sit down to write your goals, rephrase them into a series of promises you make to yourself to guarantee your professional success. And to give them extra added incentive, assign time lines to those promises, then fulfill those promises to yourself as if you were your child, boss, spouse, parent, etc. What “promises” have you committed to make to yourself? Please share!

Til next time,

Adrienne Graham

No matter what anyone tells you, YOU and YOU alone are accountable for your actions, career, life. I run into women who make any kind of excuse and blame everybody but the right body for the state of their lives. It’s always easier to place blame when you have someone or some thing to place it on. I’m a generous listener, but I’ve go to tell you, I have no patience or time for whiners. Especially whiners who insist on ignoring their own role in their unhappiness.

I’ve been shouting to the rooftops that 2010 is a year of reinvention and upgrade. Now I’ll bring out the old sayings: “If you don’t like the situation you’re in, change the situation” “If you don’t like the people you’re around, change the people around you” and my favorite “God gives you the tools and the resources, but it’s up to YOU to use them”. I can’t tell you how many times in a month I have to utter one or more of these phrases. I’m all about empowerment and professional development for women, so it’s gets uncomfortable for me to listen to whining. Even if I can see objectively from the outside and recommend solutions, some people will still hold on to being miserable. Now here’s where people will sy to me “have some compassion”. I will not. Not for someone who doesn’t want to make an effort to change things. I can’t in good consciousness allow someone to pour their heart out to me and walk away determined to NOT take any steps to improve. I’m not wired that way. Instead of bitching about what’s WRONG, how about you start focusing on what’s right, then create a game plan on how to improve your situation.

This year I will not be understanding. It is my mission to EMPOWER women and tell them the truth, straight with no chaser. I’m not in the coddling business. I will let people talk about their issues. But then you had better be ready to find real solutions and make a real commitment to improving things. If I come back in six months and you’re still complaining about the same things, I’ll know you have no desire to do better. We all have the capability, no matter what our background, race, gender, religious beliefs, etc to succeed. The difference between the winners and the losers of the world is the winners don’t settle. Are you a winner or loser? Make sure when you feel compelled to complain about what you don’t have, can’t do or won’t get, be sure you point that finger at yourself. Then work on figuring out the solution.

None of us are in a position to complain about anything. Look at the devastation that the Haitian people have had to endure. Yet many are remaining hopeful and focused on prayer. So what you couldn’t get that raise. People in Haiti can’t get food and medical help. But they’re going to persevere. What are you willing to do to improve your situation? It cold be something as complex as returning to school or training to improve your skills, or something as simple as changing your attitude. In my conversation with Barbara Corcoran last week she said the most profound thing. “Nobody has to give a damn about you”. Truer words have never been spoken.
You’ve got to stand up for yourself and make conscious decisions for your professional development.

So my friends, the next time you feel compelled to complain about your circumstances, please stop and take a look yourself and think about the ways you are responsible for them and what you can do to change them.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

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bootcamp2Webinars are fine for basic level, fundamental information and tips on best practices. But Boot Camps are an entire different animal. The next Fearless Networking BOOT CAMP scheduled for 9/9/09. It is a three day intensive that is live, online and interactive. You will be partnered up & there will be assignments. You will experience an 8 hour camp broken down over three days. Are you up for it? If you need to boost your networking skills, you need to attend. Seating is limited to only 12!  http://www.goaheadtalktostrangers.com/bootcamp.html

Women network differently than men. Men set out with a clear agenda and do what they must to make the right connections. They make time to include networking in growing their business or career. But most importantly, what separates the men from the women is that men not only MAKE the time to network but value its impact. I hate to say it ladies but we lag behind in recognizing the power of networking.

Networking is usually thought of in one of two situations: when you lose a job and badly need an introduction to power their job search campaign or when you start a business and want to get quick sales. Either way, these are the absolute wrong times to “start” networking. Networking is an ongoing relationship building process that should be cultivated long before you need help. Many women are afraid to network because they don’t know how, they feel the people they meet won’t benefit them or they simply don’t make the time. The Fearless Networking Boot Camp is designed for the professional woman who wants to increase her professional capital and position herself as a Power Brok(H)er.

During this boot camp you will::

  1. Learn the basics of developing, building, and maintaining a network of professionals that will enhance your job search and professional development.
  2. Reach the correct type of people to network with.
  3. Learn how to speak to anyone, anywhere at any time.
  4. Grow your reputation & industry influence
  5. Increase your confidence & let go of FEAR.
  6. Build real, solid, substantive relationships.
  7. Showcase your expertise/brand yourself as a subject matter expert.
  8. Choose events, organizations and strategies that align with your goals.
  9. Set an agenda and clarify your goals.
  10. Maximizing social networking while not losing your effectiveness in traditional networking.

Boot Camps are different from Webinars in that Webinars are theory/lecture based and for informational purposes. Boot Camps are intense three day sessions where attendees not only learn the theory of networking, but also the practical application. Exercises, assignments and partners are assigned to each attendee to practice the material presented in the boot camp.

Are you ready to transform the way you network? Join my Boot Camp today. Contact me for more information on upcoming boot camps.

Networking Boot Camp- Live Online

9/9 – 9/11/09 6:30 PM – 9 PM EST

Register today. Only 12 spaces available for this session. Seats are first come first serve. Must have internet access and web camera to participate.

Cost- $349 per person

22781140You’re probably doing it wrong.

If networking just doesn’t seem to work for you or benefit you, you have to step back and ask yourself a few questions:

  • If you’ve joined groups or networks, do you participate?
  • Have you initiated contact with members?
  • Do you share your expertise & knowledge?
  • Do you attend any events hosted by the groups or networks?
  • Do you reach out to people before you actually need something just to say hello or keep a connection going?

If the answer is “no” then yes, you’re doing it wrong. Networks only work to your benefit when you put in time and effort to make them work. Don’t sit on your butt waiting for results to fall at your feet. You’ve got to give to get. I’ve seen many people approach networking, especially online/social networking in a “build it and they will come” manner. That doesn’t work, and in fact it only leads to failure.

Networking is about relationship building and trust. People like to help or do business with people they know. I’m more inclined to refer someone if I know about them and have communicated. I will not go out of my way for a complete stranger. Posting articles in a forum is not the same as getting to know people or rather showing people who you are. There has to be dialog. I can read all the article in Fortune Magazine, and think they are wonderfully written and thought provoking. It doesn’t mean I’m going to run out and do business with writers.

Once you decide to network, you have to follow it through. Make yourself available and approachable. Position yourself so people want to seek you out. By the same token, reach out to people as individuals. Establish that rapport and continue cultivating it.  Share your knowledge, but openly seek the knowledge of others too.  It has to be a two way dialog in order for it to work and be successful.

So how will you network today?

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

23291063Well now! It’s two days after inauguration day and I am stoked. Whether or not you voted for our new President, Barack Obama, one thing was evident on Tuesday- people are ready for a real change and to take action. The confetti has been swept up, the halls and streets cleaned, the formal wear put away. Now it’s time to get down to business. Tuesday felt just like New Years to me. People making renewed commitments and vows to do better. And just like New Years, these new vows and commitments will fall to the wayside if you’re not careful. So what are you going to do?

Take action-If you woke up this morning and realized that nothing has changed at your job or the company is facing some serious troubles, it’s time to make a plan. You need to find out from someone in the know what the status of your company and position are. If you don’t receive an answer you like, revamp that resume and put your ear to the ground. Start investigating other opportunities. I know the job market looks like crap right now. But trust me when I say there are opportunities if you have skills. A lot of people will say they don’t have many skills that they know of other than what they’ve been doing for the past how many years. Well, if this is true, then you need to figure out what you really want to do and then start getting the training you need to do it. It’s that simple. We live in the age of internet and YouTube. If you cannot afford to pay for college or training classes, there is no law that says you cannot seek out free training on the web. The point is, don’t make excuses, resolve to find a way.

Brush up your resume- I have a friend who hasn’t needed to use her resume in 10 years. She came to me and asked me to take a look at it. Honestly, it looked like something copied out of a resume book. The format was 80’s like and ineffective. So I sat down with her to rework it and highlight her accomplishments. If you are not good at writing, hire a professional resume writer. You want to put forth your best first impression, which will be on paper. Don’t leave it up to chance. Let the professional do his or her job.

Reach out to people-Yay! You get to network! Start reaching out to people you know to get their perspective on the job market, their industry and business, and how they perceive you as a professional. Ask for honest feedback and be prepared to take it gracefully. Start reaching out to people on your professional (social) networks. Don’t come out and ask for a job. That’s tacky. Instead ask to schedule some phone (or face to face time if possible). You don’t want to come to them hat in hand. It’s better to approach them as someone who can advise you. They’ll be more receptive. Don’t pester them every week. I can’t stress this enough. Recently, I had to delicately tell someone in my network to stop emailing me every week with his resume and “weekly update”. It’s annoying and rude. You can end up turning people of. Remember to keep other people’s schedule in mind and be respectful of their time. And if you’re inviting them out to coffee, lunch or whatever, pick up the tab. It’s the least you can do and consider it an investment.

Take an inventory of You- Start from the top down. Do you need a fresher, more polished hairstyle? Yes, I’m serious. Go ahead and get your hair done. Next take a look at your wardrobe. Can you stand to update your wardrobe. You can pick up a few inexpensive pieces to add to your wardrobe. Just make sure they are well constructed. Could you stand some diction or speaking lessons? Take a class or join Toastmasters. Do you have bad habits that are inhibiting you from succeeding? Get rid of them. Some habits may be hard to break, but you must. Could your attitude need improving? Work on it. Take note of any negativity you may be exuding and vow to correct it. Start surrounding yourself with affirmations and positive people. Attitude adjustments start from within. Take a total 360 degree assessment of yourself and determine the areas you wish to improve. Then improve them.

Just do it. Make yourself get out there and start taking risks. Look for leads, go meet people, and fix the perceived flaws you may have. Only you can dictate how successful you will be. Take the pre-emptive measures to be successful.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

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