This article originally appeared on The Well. It is reprinted here with permission.
Every major opportunity I’ve gotten has come through someone in my network. And that’s not to say I started off with a rolodex of contacts or an influential advocate who automatically helped me open doors. I created my network — and it worked.
When I was 16, I printed my first set of business cards. They included my full name, motto, and its acronym (N.E.S.H.A. "No One Ever Slows Her Agenda"), email address, phone number, and, believe it or not, my home address. (I removed the last part on my second batch.) Set on becoming a reporter, I showed up at press events, including one Jay Z held at the U.N., and professional conferences hosted by organizations such as the New York Association of Black Journalists, to hand them out. Looking back, that was a pretty ballsy move. But back then, I was convinced — and I wasn’t wrong — that if I could just get in the same room with the pros, I could find a way to make them help me.
This drive to find out other people’s stories, then build off of them, has been critical to my creating and growing HerAgenda
, a digital platform that provides ambitious millennial women with the resources to navigate successful careers. It’s also made me acutely aware that developing those relationships can feel difficult and awkward. But it’s far from impossible. Here’s my best advice for making your networking efforts mean