Category Archives: Charlotte Alliance

navigating networking

Navigating Networking

Recently at the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance’s 2nd Annual YP Leadership Convergence: Navigating the Career Jungle Gym (#YPLeaderCon) I moderated a panel about networking. This break out session was one among many others, along with some incredible keynote speeches and a great day full of, well networking.

The panelists I interviewed were:

Since we received such great feedback from our session, I wanted to share a few of the key points with you to highlight some of the primary takeaways.

Be authentic and a real person. People can spot a fake pretty easily and know when they’re just being sold. Begin a conversation with cultivating a real connection by being transparent.

Get to know people for who they are, not just their job. Yes, it’s common that the first thing people often ask in a networking setting is, “What do you do?” But you’re allowed, and encouraged, to take a different approach.

The elevator pitch: Yes, you should have one, but know when to use it. When to use the elevator pitch often comes much later in a conversation, and typically when it’s prompted by the other person. You should be able to comfortably speak about who you are and what you do naturally of course, but generally you can keep the elevator pitch in your back pocket.

Add value to others and give back. Every interaction doesn’t always lead to a sale or referral right off the bat. Rather, those often take time (roughly 5-7 touch points on average). If you focus on adding value to others first and going out of your way to help them it’s more likely that will be reciprocated later. That’s not a guarantee that it will. But trust us, just try it and see how well it works out for you.

Be strategic about where you spend your time. We all have a limited amount of time in the day. Be thoughtful and which events you plan to attend in order to get the most value for your precious time. Further, when you do commit to attending an event make sure to bring your best self and be present.

Leverage technology, (i.e. your phone, Outlook, LinkedIn, a CRM system, etc.). It’s pretty much impossible to remember every single person you meet, who you’ve made plans with, or where you met them, among the infinite amount of information we consume each day. Create a system and make sure to use it. If it’s in real time the better. Add their contact info into your phone and send the calendar invite right then and there (when appropriate) to maximize efficiency.

Follow Up! This is by far the most important tip yet so many people fail to do it. As they say, “the fortune is in the follow up”. Try to do so in as timely a fashion as possible to ensure you continue cultivating the relationship.

There are plenty of other networking guidelines to adhere to, what are some of yours?

 

For additional context on the YP Leader Con conference’s theme this year the description was: “The career path for a young professional often looks more like a jungle gym than a corporate ladder. During a full day of learning and exploration, you’ll gain insight from a diverse array of speakers with varied career and leadership paths.” It was a dynamic day packed with incredible content. If you live in, or near Charlotte make sure to sign up for next year’s conference!

2019 YP LeaderCon

 

On August 2, 2019 I had the pleasure of attending the second annual YP LeaderCon held by the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance. The event was at the beautiful UNCC City Center and brought together emerging leaders from around the Charlotte region. By attending this event I was given an opportunity to learn and grow, hearing from speakers and other professionals in their 20s and 30s while validating the steps I am taking in beginning my professional career and helping to grow my personal brand.

 

The sessions I attended included a range of topics including networking, financial planning, the power of professional organizations, and the importance of mentorship in personal and professional situations. Across these sessions a common theme continually arose which was the power of taking ownership of your actions and directing the course of your life.

 

Beginning a career is certainly challenging requiring an individual to balance paying off debt including student loans, becoming acclimated with the culture of your new job, navigating the job market, and deciding which professional organizations to join and prioritize which events to attend. Sometimes the most important thing to do during the initial years of your career is to establish the skills that will drive your entire career while also understanding what attributes you value. We can become so accustomed to saying yes that saying no to things that do not provide value to our lives should be where we focus our main energy.  Having an understanding of the things we truly value will help prioritize decision making and reduce time spent on unnecessary actions.

 

During the event, a topic that was highlighted across sessions is the importance of seeking help from others.  The session led by Lisa Medley explored the value and importance of seeking out resources through mentorship, sponsorship and coaching. Many people understand the importance of mentorship from the professional sense yet the aspirational, personal, and family should be used to create buckets of different mentors to become a better person across all aspects of your life. This is an area I will look to improve on by seeking additional mentors and using the people around me as resources. By gaining skills and relationships from mentors I will be able to learn from them while also providing them new skills as I continue to form strong relationships through mentorships and as I progress in my career further mentoring others with the information I learn.

 

I value the time and the opportunities I had during the YP LeaderCon and the importance the Charlotte Regional Alliance places on growing young talent in the entire metropolitan region. Seeing professionals beginning their careers I could see the dynamics of the modern workforce as I gathered with young professionals who worked for startups, Fortune 500 companies, and regional firms with a strong presence in Charlotte. One of the top reasons I am proud to call the Charlotte area home is the commitment to fostering business relationships and improve the entire community. The hints of Southern charm that are spread across the shining city of Charlotte shows the power of the New South. The sessions were filled with young people from across the country who have moved to Charlotte because of its robust job market and abundance of recreational activities. This trend should continue as more people and companies are attracted to the region and top talent is retained to ensure sustainable growth across the entire Charlotte region into the future.

Resources from the Charlotte Alliance

The Charlotte Alliance

 

The Charlotte Alliance provides information on their website on a range of meaningful sources. This includes Data and Reports, Charlotte Regional facts, talent development, public policy positions, and a schedule of events providing valuable information to those interested in the business climate in the Charlotte region.

 

The website also provides links to recent expansion and investment projects around the Charlotte area. The information on the website shows how the Charlotte Alliance is a resource for the community which takes the time and effort to create a better Charlotte bringing the regions leaders together. This advocacy and collaboration is shown across a range of industries including some targeted industries which are important to the identity of the Charlotte business community.

 

Some highlighted industries include healthcare, information technology, and financial services. Through the advocacy and work of the Alliance the Charlotte region is displayed as a place of economic collaboration and innovation on the national and international stage with a diverse and knowledgeable workforce.

 

Target Industries

 

The Charlotte Alliance has a team that is dedicated to highlighting the unique business community in Charlotte placing a spotlight on some specific target industries. This information paints the picture of a region with a talented and diverse workforce that is ready to drive growth into the future. These industries include Financial Services/Fintech, Advanced Manufacturing, Healthcare, Information Technology, and Logistics benefit from a well-trained workforce and the presence of area universities and college who have relationships with major area employers.

 

By focusing on these industries which are expected to be of high growth and demand as the economy changes over the coming decades the Alliance has placed the Charlotte region in a good position to grow and gain momentum. These industries will attract interest and investment in the highlighted industries along with adjacent and support companies.

 

Financial Services/Fintech

 

The first image of Charlotte for many people is of the towers of Uptown and a city full of bankers who moved to the area from the Northeast and Midwest. Many of the largest employers in Charlotte are rooted in the financial services industry. Charlotte is seeing new players in the growing Fintech sector grow and invest in the area including AvidXchange and Lending Tree. These new companies along with the established banking community including Bank of America and Wells Fargo mean that some of the top financial services talent in the world reside in and around Charlotte.

 

Healthcare

 

The Charlotte region is increasingly being recognized regionally, nationally, and internationally as a healthcare center with access to some of the nation’s best talent and facilities. The healthcare industry in the Charlotte region is diverse and includes hospitals, research, and biotech manufacturing. With many schools offering degrees related to the healthcare industry the region boosts a strong talent pool to fill healthcare positions at companies including Novant Health and Atrium Health which are two of the region’s largest employers.

 

Information Technology

 

The technology sector is an increasingly important aspect of the Charlotte region combining the talent of transplants to the region, recent college graduates, and seasoned tech professionals. As companies increasingly seek out ways to incorporate better data into their decision-making processes tech companies are seeing some of the biggest growth among any industry. In Charlotte, the presence of some of the largest financial and healthcare companies means companies can use the innovation of established companies to work on projects. These companies are able to access the dynamic talent pool and provide innovative specialized technological services. Top area employers in the sector include consulting firms like Accenture and Deloitte and financial services companies including AvidXchange and Lending Tree.

 

Concluding Thoughts

The tourism campaign for the city of Charlotte is Charlotte’s Got A Lot which could also serve as the slogan for the economic development in this area. Charlotte and surrounding counties have a highly skilled talent pool with knowledge in a vast range of industries including financial services, healthcare, and technology/analytics. The Charlotte Regional Business Alliance works to foster and develop the relationships between company leaders, public officials, and companies interested in relocating to Charlotte to foster collaboration and showcase the vibrant and diverse economic activity across the region.