At the National Black Public Relations Society (NBPRS), we know that the true value of our organization is in our network.
Relationships established within NBPRS have led to jobs, new business development, successful work results, and solid friendships. Networking is so important that we've themed our conference and career fair this week: “The network @ work: Managing transitions, techniques, and technology for career and business success.”
Your network is worth more if you work
A native Chicagoan, I've been in the audience when Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, has done membership appeals and said “Help PUSH before you need help from PUSH.” Becoming a member of a professional network is a good idea. Becoming a working member of a professional network is an even better idea.
To get the maximum benefit from your professional network, you have to be active. When we've received calls from recruiters looking for professionals, it has been too easy to pull resumes from the working members of our chapter boards and committees who were top of mind because they were working and involved with the association before they needed help.
We know networking is not about what you're getting, it's about what you're giving. The network is about mutual support for the organization and each other. Working on committees, attending events, and making referrals are all ways to support your network. Does this take away from work? No, it helps work get done more quickly. Networks open doors, cut through red tape, and invite you to unadvertised opportunities and front-row seats at decision-making tables.
Networks work for you
We've had members with the good fortune to move on to new jobs, and they've reached back and hired folks they saw working on committees and events.
Cheryl Pearson McNeil, SVP for public affairs at Nielsen, is a prime example. In her position, she can support a variety of good causes and organizations, including NBPRS. Rebecca Roussell, director of public affairs and communications for Nielsen has also been involved as a successful networker at NBPRS.
Know the net worth of your network
Speaking of Nielsen, the company recently collaborated with The National Newspaper Publishers Association to release a report entitled “The State of the African-American Consumer.” This resource estimates the projected buying power of African-Americans at $1.1 trillion and growing. Now that's a network with an amazing net worth.
This encouraging report is especially uplifting to multicultural professionals. If there is a market, there should be a demand for talent that relates to it and reflects it. Now is a time to be encouraged.
Last but not least, your network should make your net worth go up. The net worth of our network is reflective of the cumulative value and support we pay to it. In other words, don't use your network to ask for free services. Instead, invest in the network and the network will invest in you.
Wynona Redmond is president of the National Black Public Relations Society and VP of corporate social responsibility at Northstar Lottery Group.