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Weekend Rewind: ‘Hitch Your Wagon To A Star’ Isn’t Just A Sayin’

White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, first AA to hold position, got it thru her net-worth, an Obama "friend"

White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, is an Obama "friend" and successful Chitown businesswoman and first AA to hold position, her network is platinum status, no interviews, just "appointed"

You are what you eat.  You are what your contact list looks like.  You are who you know.  A concept that is rather unusual to some people who compare knowing folks to having “friends”.  Everyone you know doesn’t have to be your friend.  They just have to be adding to your net-worth.

What I mean is this:  In your circle there should be at least one of each:

  • Someone who can give you something–money, contacts, power
  • Someone who can influence someone else in your favor for that right job, situation, home, promotion, etc
  • Someone who can provide a solution to a crisis that can save your name and interests
  • Someone who can enhance your credibility such as when they are with you, you shine twice as bright
  • Someone who can motivate and redirect you through the proper words or spiritual guidance
  • Someone who can vouch for your honor and get your arse out of trouble (and your mama doesn’t count)

They shouldn’t be anyone in your family, but new people you draw in.  If you are lacking in any of these relationships you are stagnant.  It’s a perfect opportunity to fill in that gap–NOW.  Dare to raise the bar.  Scare yourself a little.  Reach out to that person you met at the networking event months ago.   Who cares if they don’t remember you.  Make them.  Always leave an impression.

Next, pay attention to the language of the article excerpt below from the Huffington Post about White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers.  Words like “friend”, “intimate”, “close”, “contacts” mean something:

This appointment sends a strong message that the Obamas want to use the White House strategically, to maximize its use in a way that is consistent with their philosophy — [to] open it to a broader range of people, ” said Valerie Jarrett, an Obama intimate and friend of Rogers’s who also will work in the White House. “Desirée is a heavy hitter — she comes with her own range of contacts from around the country. She’s close to Michelle and she knows everyone who will be working in the West Wing, so she will be able to create a synergy.”

The list above is just a starting point.  There’s more.  But all of them are so valuable no amount of money can be placed on it.  These are relationships cultivated in college, through family relationships, community connections, professional events, and just sheer luck. For instance, college internships are never about the experience as much as they are about the contacts.  Better believe, all of these new faces in the Obama administration are not from the local career fair, they are from relationships cultivated years ago, from one person to the next.  Success breeds success.

Unfortunately, many people are afraid to connect with others for fear of being seen and heard.  They don’t want people to know who they really are and that perhaps they don’t have the cache to roll with them.  Ever heard of fake it till you make it?  A power mantra used by some of the business gurus of our time–Napolean Hill, and yes, Donald Trump.

If you missed the Ivy League or college internships to get a head start, you can simply find conferences and events in your area that cater to your goals.  Some may argue that this is simply brown-nosing or using others to make your way.

You need relationships, not just the ones to keep you warm at night.  Not the cash to spend on the yacht.  But if you know someone with the yacht, who can invite you on it for an evening and introduce you to the folks who can show you how to make the money and buy your own yacht, that’s way better, that’s an alphanista moment.

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16 COMMENTS

  • Sarah

    Maryann,

    I would also like to find out how I can find “who the right people” to know are, where they can be found, and how I can approach them? This last year as a college student I have been trying to network with people I know , but I could always use some extra advice or tips. I would really appreciate that!

  • EbonyLolita

    I’m starting to put this post to action right now. Friends are for movies/goodtimes. Contacts are to make PowerMOVES to take you to the next level. Too bad I learned this at 30 and not 25 I would have made greater strides. But not to worry, Im on my wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy
    Love, EbonyLolita 😉

  • Loving a bottom B

    Amazing post. You post a lot of truth.

  • KB

    Great post, Maryann. I think some \”folk\” (including me) can do a lot better job at this. I\’ve learned over time that being technically proficient in your job will only take you so far. The old adage my dad taught me of \”work twice as hard as everybody\” still holds true, but there is a limit to how high hard work will take you. Personal or professional relationships will carry you much further if coupled with hard work and drive. \”We\” often don\’t recognize this and we fail to give this area its proper due and attention.

    There is a story out there about two guys who hopped on a horse and spread a message. One was named Paul Revere. Most of us have heard of him. The other guy nobody remembers. The reason Paul Revere is remembered is because he was connected. He had credible friends and a valuable network. When he rode through towns and said \”the british are coming\” he knew who to tell and who he could count on. His network was tight. The other dude rode up a different town, but had no network. Nobody listened to him (especially in the middle of the night) and the British walked all up and down that route unimpeded. Revere was able to muster up the troops, protect their towns, save lives, and become a hero…

    The power of networks in the 1770s hold true today…

  • Incognegro

    MR – you forgot another very important person for your network:

    – Some body who is not afraid to go to jail!

    Kat Williams needed one of these when he visitied NYC last year!

  • 3rddeadline

    MAR-

    The exposure you received at CNN is key. With each little success in this area, you gain a bit more confidence to help with the next step. You then realize, like you said, the people on the other end are simply people. They have the same anxieties, hang-ups, and fears that all of us have (some more so); we need not fear their status.

    For those who struggle to accept assistance from others, it’s paramount that you slowly let others benefit from your gifts. Let someone share your space even if you think that you are the dominant one in that relationship. If you open yourself to them, you will see that everyone has strategic advantages that they can share. Their talents aren’t yours and yours aren’t theirs. You both will benefit from knowing each other.

  • Maryann

    @3rd excellent point about being vulnerable! This is so hard for some folks. When I graduated college I used to be so nervous asking people for things. There was no email (or as popular as it is today) and you had to talk to folks. I was afraid of being embarrassed or thinking I was bothering them. My job at CNN changed everything. I was forced to talk to some of the most hi-powered exec and hosts (like Larry King, etc) and guests like prime ministers and celebrities, and have a thick skin. It gave me an immense confidence I have till today. I made relationships there I still cultivate.

    It took a while for me to get to the point I am now: I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So why not? Now, I pick up the phone and can get things done. I am not shy about that anymore, I’m like: SO WHAT?! They eat and sleep like I do. Everybody wants value and solutions you just have to know how to give it to them.

  • 3rddeadline

    MAR-

    I look at all relationships through my PR/Media lenses to see in which ways I can use my abilities and influences to help someone to reach their goals and vice versa. To me, most people don’t know how to appropriately position themsleves to be near those people who have the skills or character assets that can help them.

    It’s not about using people, if you have the sincere desire to surround yourself with the best of the best for the main purpose of being the best you can be. For me, if you are a positive or creative force who is adding to, not detracting from, the world then I make a point to connect with you in a natural way. The connection may not come the moment I decide to connect, however with patience and persistence, it does come. The connection also may not yield benefits immediately, however I know I’m better by having the connection in general.

    A valuable aspect about connecting with people who can add to your life, is you being willing to be vulnerable. You must be willing to reach out or make contact even if you are not sure you will get a timely response. You do your part to position yourself and the rest falls into place.

  • Ms. Tee

    Wow! Could you design a course around this? This is the only area I falter in, I piss people off and they end up hating me because I am very serious about my shit and I don’t take no shorts on anything. And I always do what i want to do…I guess you could say my loyalty is to me first.

    I have no one to speak on my behalf and I feel like I’m held back because of it. All this talent and charm and personality and the energy is going to waste because I am a free spirit who does what she will and is demanding. Like…if you don’t show that you NEED ppl and can strike out on your own, it seems that they don’t want to deal with you (me).

    Ahh…Still figuring it out though. I tell you what- I do PLAN to be that helping hand to many others, the same thing I always wished I had.

  • Amoye

    Great. I will.

    Thank you.

  • Maryann

    Amoye, check your email this evening.

  • Amoye

    Maryann,

    It’s almost scary how you blog about something I was just researching/looking into a few days before. That’s crazyy. Can you follow up with this in the future by explaining how a young woman like myself might know “who the right people” to know are, where they can be found, and how to approach them? How do you get people to take an interest in you and possibly invest in you or what you have to offer?

  • Jewel

    One thing I cannot stand is an elitist frame of mind that blocks out hardworking people because they did not go the same school church or have some kind of connection. This just keep that mentality going what we need is people to be treated based on what they know and not who they know, merit not money, character, not class!

  • The Hooker Chronicles

    Yes, network….network….network.

    Someone once told me that if you want success, start hanging with successful people. That’s why my inner circle is mostly comprised of people that I admire personally and professionally, and is willing to help me rise, and vise versa.

  • Jason

    Good way to break this down. Not enough of our people know the value of relationships and contacts. So, important. I went to Brown and those young ones know as soon as they step in the door it’s about access not so much anything else. I really wouldn’t care if anyone thought I was brown nosing. I’d ask them to look at who’s around them and where they are in life, and how their approach is working. They need to focus more on relationships, than friends. Well put. To me, friends are few, but relationships can be many!

  • Gladys

    Stop talking to me lol j/k. I recently graduate from school and my friends are all scattered across the country. It is a big loose. Graduating from school is not fun right now.

    I hear you when it comes to conferences. That is the best way to meet people and start getting your name out there.

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