Post by Kamilah Badiane
It was a rainy Wednesday when I revisited the Hard Rock Cafe for the WICT Mixer in February. Clad in mostly white, I was both excited and nervous to return to the event that helped me get started on my career in content production. I was excited to see both old and new faces but my nerves kept urging me that I hadn’t truly master the art of networking I attended the mixer the year prior.
To be frank, my nervousness was irrelevant because people who have been networking for years were still trying to master that fine and necessary art. As I spoke to Kim Mills, the guest speaker of the evening, she told me that she wished she would have networked more early in her career. In fact, she quelled my nerves further when she mentioned that people don’t network enough to get ahead in their career – something that I made sure to make a mental note of.
Kim, who is the founder and Certified Master Coach at Evolving Matters, led the larger group through three rounds of guided networking sessions. First, the group was asked to meet someone who we didn’t know and tell them about one success and one setback that you’d like to work on from last week. Next, we were tasked to ask someone else three questions about themselves. I was impressed and awed by how effortless and conversational networking became just after two rounds. Finally, in the third round, we were encouraged to talk about ourselves and why we came to the event.
I met several brilliant people, who are at varying levels of their career. One young woman, who works with Comedy Central, shared with me her elation of having worked with a boss who mentors her and challenges her creatively. In fact, her boss, who is a project manager, encouraged her to attend the event and network. Another woman, who attended the mixer to strengthen her networking skills, gave me advice on dealing with strong emotions and navigating difficult conversations in the office (HINT, HINT: Take a deep breath and prioritize self-care once you leave the office.) Amongst the women, I was in the company of supportive men as well. A longtime member and supporter of WICT, who happens to be a VP at a talent recruiting company, shared his infinite wisdom on networking and even showed me how it’s done.
It was somewhere during or after the third and final round that it became even more apparent to me why an organization like WICT is important. It’s not about finding a job or getting business cards. It’s about seeing hints of yourself in people who have been in their careers for 2 years or 20+ years. It’s about connecting with the women (and men) who are in C-Suite positions you can’t wait to enter. It’s about learning from those who have experienced all of your woes, whether you need advice on making a comeback after being laid off, or finding support when work is overwhelming you.
I left this mixer just as excited as I was when I first entered the Hard Rock Cafe. Donning an elegant white outfit, and yet I felt affirmed and confident that not only was I pretty great at networking, but I made the perfect choice in becoming a WICT member.