If you follow C&C on social media, you have a general idea of what to expect: powerhouse celebrity speakers, authentic brand activations and Instagram moments galore. The conference did not disappoint. Let me fill you in on a few key takeaways plus what to expect when you attend a C&C conference:Read More
Raise your hand if the word “networking” makes you squirm. Something about “promoting yourself” to a room full of strangers can seem completely disingenuous. Or perhaps your resistance to networking comes from a social anxiety of speaking to groups or an opposition to small talk. I know I’ve felt intimidated by the presumption that everyone is networking solely to get something for themselves or that there is too much pressure on the outcome. For many, the thought of networking can be terrifying or even paralyzing.
However, it’s no secret that the benefits of networking can do wonders for your business. Eighty-five percent of jobs are filled through networking and benefits include gaining sales, new clients and large investors. Yet, nearly 1 in 4 Americans say they decline to network at all. If you’re an entrepreneur or a high level executive, you’re aware that the benefits of networking outweigh the fear, but it doesn’t make the anxiety go away.
How can you combat the fear or the stigma of navigating a networking event?
Shift Your Perspective
The secret to networking stems from a shift in mindset. In fact, we may want to “re-brand” networking and for our purposes think of “networking” as “connecting.” Shift your perspective from “what can I get out of this?” to “what can I do for the other person?”
It’s About the Depth of Relationships
Think of someone that you have genuinely enjoyed meeting or have formed a relationship with in the past few months--congratulations! This person is officially in your network. That’s the goal: forming genuine relationships. So the next time you meet someone who might mutually benefit from another friend of yours, recommend them to each other or set up a connection. It’s about the depth of your connections, not about how many people you can meet in an hour.
Ditch the Small Talk
How many times have you heard: “So, what do you do?” or heaven help us: “How about this weather?” Do you want to groan and crawl under the table? Here’s the trick: get personal. The quickest way to gain trust and mutual understanding with someone is by being vulnerable and open. Yes, even in a professional setting. Share something slightly personal with your new acquaintance and give information on how you navigated the situation. Chances are he/she will feel inclined to reciprocate and voila, you are now having a conversation beyond the weather, and you are forming genuine connections.
Be Intentional with your Time
There are certain networking events that you simply won’t vibe with and others that you will love! Try anything that speaks to you and evaluate at the end of the evening. Ask yourself: Did that event feel aligned? Do I feel drained? Did I meet anyone I enjoyed speaking with? Cross off events that don’t feel right and move forward with the ones that do. If “networking events” in general are not your style, try one-on-one coffee dates or speaking opportunities that allow you to share your message without the party.
Make a Plan, but Go with the Flow
If you’re still wary of starting conversations with strangers, come up with a plan. Develop a stockpile of go-to ice breaker stories and follow up questions. If someone else starts a conversation with a shallow topic, think of ways to steer the conversation into a more interesting direction. Example: If someone just returned from vacation, instead of asking an open ended “How was it?” try something along the lines of: “What is one thing you learned during your trip?” or “I just read a study that says employees who take vacation days perform better than those who don’t. Do you think taking time to yourself contributes to your creativity?” Above all, listen and respond. Don’t focus too much on what you’re planning to say next and accidentally ignore what the other person is sharing.
Foster the Relationship
Your connection opportunity does not conclude at the end of a cocktail mixer. Send a thank you note to people you are interested in continuing relationships with and schedule follow up coffee dates to keep in touch. Continue to send them articles or anything you think they may be interested in. Or simply send them a compliment and let them know you are thinking about them. A little effort goes a long way.
Go forth and get connected!
Many people dread their daily commute. Long hours in the car, battling traffic, decreased hours at home or with family. So what’s the up side? As a commuter from the Northshore to New Orleans, my drive time is about an hour each way to Gambel’s office on Metairie Road, and, yes, there is always traffic. However, I truly look forward to my commute in the morning and in the evening.
Working in a fast-paced environment in all areas of life, the morning commute is a time to think, reflect and power-up for the day ahead. I am not really a morning person, so my commute time forces me to take an hour to myself that I otherwise would have rushed through. The evening is perfect for catching up with friends and family or decompressing after a long day. This is how I spend my commute time, and I have a few tips on how your commute can be your favorite time of the day as well:
- Meditation: There is a wonderful app called Insight Timer that I use religiously every morning. You can choose how long you would like to meditate, a guided meditation for stress, motivation or creativity and performance and simply relax for the duration of the meditation. I like to start my mornings with a 20-30 minute meditation and the causeway views make for a perfect serene backdrop.
- Podcasts: Following a meditation, I like to switch over to one of my favorite podcasts. Choose whatever is right for you, but I promise, if you are engrossed in a wonderful conversation or a motivational speaker, you’ll wish your commute were even longer! A few of my favorites: How I Built This, Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, TriPod: New Orleans at 300, This American Life.
- Audiobooks: If podcasts aren’t for you, why don’t you try making a dent in your reading list? I don’t know about you, but I rarely make time for reading unless it’s right before bedtime (in which case, it might take me months to finish a single book). Your commute is the perfect time to listen to that audiobook you’ve been dying to read! Whether it’s a thrilling mystery or an interesting nonfiction, audiobooks give you the opportunity to educate yourself during your drive. Try the Audible app or download books from your local library for free.
- Custom Playlists: If you’re a music person, why not try to create a custom playlist timed perfectly for your morning commute? Make multiple playlists for every mood or one that gets you pumped up for work and keeps your energy up on the drive home. Spotify and Apple Music allow you to download your playlists so they won’t buffer even if your internet is out of range.
- Catch up with Friends and Family: If you struggle to keep up with friends and family (on top of the million other things you have going on), the evening commute is the perfect time to give that person a call. You can even make a list and check them off daily to make sure you aren’t leaving anyone out.
- Manage Expectations: One last tip. Someone told me this a long time ago and it has stuck with me. This can relate to all areas of life, as well as public relations and your daily commute. Managing expectations is the key to happiness. You can’t expect to get to the office in exactly 45 minutes every day, or expect that no one will cut you off in traffic or that you won’t get stopped by a train. Instead, you should expect the unexpected and give yourself ample time to arrive to your destination. Expect that there will be delays, rude people and unplanned accidents. If you keep this mindset and you happen to get to the office 15 minutes early, it’s just an added bonus!
Do you commute to work? Is it a pain or do you enjoy the time to yourself? What’s your favorite tip for those of us who travel daily?
Let’s be real. Very few people have a true “9–5” these days where you clock in, do your job and pack up at 4:59 PM, leaving your worries at the door. We live in a digital age where emails follow us home and our clients and responsibilities are always at the tips of our fingertips. Add to this: the ever-popular side hustle. Almost everyone I know has some type of passion project that they’ve turned into a moneymaker.
Most of the #GambelGirls have something that they commit to in their “spare” time. Rosalind has an Etsy shop, Spruce and Rose, where she sells homemade wreaths and woodworking projects. Amy created an entire festival from the ground up and now Beignet Fest is in its second year, thriving. Gretchen volunteers and sings at her church. My side hustles include a gorgeous restaurant, Meribo, that my husband runs 24/7 and various creative pursuits under the umbrella of Anna Liv Design including graphic design, jewelry making and calligraphy. We love what we do, but we seem to do a lot.
Here’s the side-hustle struggle. While many people are trying to achieve the elusive work-life balance, people with side hustles are trying to achieve work-life-hustle balance. The “life” part of the scale gets divided up into tiny quadrants of side-hustle time, time with your partner, family time, and time with friends. Vinnie and I did the math recently and counted the number of full days that we have to spend together on two hands, compared to someone with a “9–5” and approximately 2 weeks of vacation who would get at least 118 days with their partner. This was a reality check.
The fight against time is real and the work-life-hustle balance is hard to achieve. But there are some ways to combat the side-hustle struggle. Here are some tips and tricks I have learned to keep all of your balls in the air:
Sometimes, you have to tell people “no” when you need time for one of the other pieces of your “life” pie. They will understand.
Take a step back from side-hustle activities for a bit of rest or meditation. In all of the hustle and bustle, it’s not selfish (and is extremely necessary) to take a little “me time”.
Don’t let your side-hustle affect your main-hustle.
Incorporate another piece of your pie into side-hustle time. For example, my parents have gotten into the habit of visiting me at the restaurant.
Turn your side-hustle time into social time! The people we spend the most time with at the restaurant have become some of our closest friends and family.
Remember why you started. Vinnie’s passion for hospitality and my passion for design are what make all the craziness worthwhile.
But what really gets me through is knowing that someday, hopefully, our work will pay off and we will have plenty of time to spend on things like vacations and dinner parties. Until then, we will keep hustling.
I originally posted this on Gambel PR's blog, here.
Originally posted January 2017.
Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright famously stated, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” As the newest addition to the Gambel team, I can confidently say that, if the adage is true, then the #GambelGirls have nothing to fear.
One of the most exciting aspects of navigating my new position as a communications strategist at Gambel is that I get to work with a team of ten confident, competent, accomplished and inspiring women. While working with all women in a three-room office might sound daunting, I truly feel honored to be in such close proximity to these brilliant women every day. Each of my colleagues brings something unique and fresh to the table—bouncing ideas off one another and sharing experience and expertise.
If I’m being completely honest, I have more than my fair share of experience when it comes to single gendered environments. I graduated from an all-girls’ high school, pledged a sorority in college and worked at an all-female lifestyle publication after graduation. I’ve also worked in mixed gendered workplaces and I can tell you, there is certainly a difference. So what have I learned from working in an all-female office?
Help a sista out. When I say I work with a team of competent women, I should really emphasize the team aspect of the Gambel Communications office. There is constant collaboration among the strategists here—whether that means sharing ideas for pitching media contacts, proof-reading a press release for another strategist or simply emailing something learned outside the office that day.
There are no bad ideas. If you are a woman, you have no doubt been talked over in a meeting, classroom or dinner party. Maybe you sat silently while waiting for the window of opportunity to voice your opinion that never came. In an all-female office, there is no (conscious or unconscious) stifling of opinions. This aspect is important when your job is coming up with new and innovative ideas to promote your clients.
I’m some kind of bubble girl. If there is any downside to working with an all-female staff, it is perhaps that we tend to forget that even in 2017, women face institutional barriers throughout their careers. Working in an all-female office, I feel included, supported and that my opinions are valued—no matter how I say them. I sometimes have to remind myself that women are paid 75 cents on the dollar (76 cents in Louisiana) and rarely reach the top levels of career advancement, despite statistics that more women than men graduate from college each year.
Women are not funny. We’ve heard a lot this year about locker room talk. If there is an opposite of that, it’s girl talk. Girl talk is not what you think it might be—sure we might talk about shopping from time to time, but when a group of women gets together over lunch, the conversations are funny. There are no taboo topics of discussion and without the prying ears of boys, we can share our deepest darkest secrets. 😉
Wax on. Wax off. Would there be a Karate Kid without Mr. Miyagi? Luke Skywalker without Yoda? One obstacle women encounter in the workforce is a lack of female mentors in top career positions. For every Sheryl Sandberg and Hillary Clinton, there are hundreds of their male counterparts. In fact, women hold only 4.4% of CEO positions in the S&P 500. For this reason, I feel extremely fortunate to work for a female owned and led company—where my mentors include not one or two but eight strong women that support one another, share opinions and encourage personal and professional growth.
Originally written for the Gambel PR blog, here.
I don't know who coined the phrase, "Don't judge a book by its cover" but I looked it up and after a quick search (Wikipedia) found that the idiom dates back to 1860. So for over 150 years people have been taking this advice and I am here to stop that nonsense. You should absolutely always judge a book by its cover. How else are you supposed to pick a book from thousands staring at you on the shelf?
This beautiful book screamed my name across the Barnes & Noble with its pretty blue jacket and gilded botanical crest. I had never heard of the author but it was adorable and had words of praise by Amy Poehler on the front, so how could I say no? Luckily, this foolproof method of choosing the most attractive book in the store has yet to disappoint me.
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney is set in New York City and focuses on the lives of four adult siblings expecting to inherit a large sum of money from their family estate. The Plumb siblings lovingly refer to this inheritance as "The Nest" and of course they soon learn that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (Sorry. Perfect bird/nest reference. Had to.)
The story follows Leo, the oldest, a charming and handsome middle-aged screw up, who is kinda-sorta trying to get his life back together. Bea, a washed-up author who despite a dip in career path and some serious writer's block, seems to be the most "with it" of the four. Jack, a struggling antique dealer who is constantly lying to his husband, Walker, about his financial burdens. And Melody, the youngest of the four, a suburban housewife who is hoping to use the Nest for her twin daughter's pricey college tuition.
The Plumbs lackluster childhood set them each on different paths, and while they all live within an hour of New York City, the rarely see or even speak to each other. Because of Leo's numerous mistakes, the large sum they were expecting from their inheritance has dwindled down to next to nothing. They are literally paying for the sins of their brother while trying to figure out a way to resolve their own problems. The Nest has its way of bringing them together even if it may eventually rip them apart.
What I liked: Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney has a knack for exploring the depths of each character and revealing their innermost thoughts and desires in a visceral and real way. The way the novel switches from one perspective to the other really kept me interested until the end. I found the writing itself to be wonderful and I always love a book set in New York City.
What I could live without: While the novel started with a bang and really grabbed my attention, the pace of the book was not a "page turner" in my opinion. It took me a solid two weeks of falling asleep to this book to finally finish it.
The bottom line: The Nest is funny, real, charming and will make you appreciate your own dysfunctional family!