By: Rashad Phillips
In 2016, Dr. Emma Fraser Pendleton and Demetra Moore met at 72 Hours of Power, a speakers conference in Baltimore, MD. During a break, Demetra heard Dr. Pendleton say that she was moving to Charlotte. Shortly afterwards, Demetra introduced herself and told Dr. Pendleton that she lives in Charlotte. Later, they began to share some of their experiences. Dr. Pendleton talked about the importance of networking and relationship building while Demetra shared how she uses technology and social media. Dr. Pendleton told Demetra that she was lacking in the area of technology. Demetra said “When you move to Charlotte, please call me and I will help you with technology.” After Dr. Pendleton moved to Charlotte, they played phone tag. Then one day, Demetra rang her doorbell and said “I told you that I’m here to help.” Ever since that day, Demetra quickly earned Dr. Pendleton’s trust and confidence. Now Dr. Pendleton considers Demetra her trusted assistant. Dr. Pendleton is a master networker and is a co-host of FraserNet’s Power Networking Conference. For the past year, Demetra has been learning the secrets of becoming a Power Networker and Dr. Pendleton has been increasing her technology IQ. Below is my interview with Demetra Moore and Dr. Emma Fraser Pendleton about the benefits of networking.
Phillips: What is networking and why is it important?
Pendleton: Networking is the building of a relationship that leads to profit, the succession of purpose, and the interconnectivity that creates the synergy, so that what one should do by themselves is; multiply by the number of people in their network and accelerates it.
Moore: Networking is putting yourself in a position to learn from others. When you are networking, you are engaging in conversations, figuring out what people think, and finding how their knowledge base relates to your objectives. Effective networking gives you an opportunity to learn from other people and allows you the opportunity to absorb knowledge through having casual conversation.
Phillips: What skill sets are required to become a good networker?
Pendleton: I think the primary skill that you must develop is follow -up. Often times, at conferences we get overwhelmed by so many people handing us business cards. We don’t have time to follow up with every person. Effective networkers make sure that they follow up with people who will add value to their businesses. A simple way to become better at following up is to write down why you need to follow up with them on their business card. Follow-up with an email or phone call while your interaction is still fresh on their mind.
Moore: When networking, it’s important to operate from a place of integrity, transparency, and a mind-set to be of service to others. On many occasions, I have encountered people who thought they were networking but they were only trying to sell me a product or service. They didn’t even know if I needed their product or service nor did they bother to ask me. Other times, if they weren’t trying to sell me something, then they weren’t being authentic because they were telling me what they thought I wanted to hear as opposed to sharing their knowledge base. In my opinion, sharing, helping, and serving are three important parts of networking.
Pendleton: I have to piggy back on Demetra’s comments. I can’t tell you how many conferences I have attended and people present themselves as corporate big shots or serial entrepreneurs but after I do a little research I find that about 60% of these people aren’t who they say they are or lack integrity. It’s a sad situation that so many people feel that they have to mislead people to advance their cause. Just because they are dressed professionally, don’t believe the hype, research before you buy a person’s product or service and get some testimonials.
Phillips: On an A to F grading scale, what grade do you give to the African American community on networking?
Pendleton: When I travel abroad, their motto to get travellers to return is service, service, service. In real estate, all of the agents say its location, location, location. In networking and relationship building, it’s follow-up, follow-up, follow-up. When it comes to follow-up, following through, and delivering on promises, we are somewhere in the 50 percent range which is very low. Since we live in America and are products of institutionalized racism, we have a built-in mistrust of each other that was passed on to us from generational racism which is a by-product of our enslavement and our struggle for freedom. We have moved through being called colored, negro, black, and finally African American. Each name represented a different perspective of the experience and our mind-set. As colored people, when we started in our struggle for freedom, we didn’t even have the right to vote. Now, as African Americans, we have civil rights but because of that historical institutionalized racism, we do not trust each other. We are beginning to see some improvement but we have a long way to go.
Moore: In my opinion, our grade is a D. In Charlotte, we seemed to be divided by so many different networking group. I am not suggesting that we only have one big networking group but it appears that we are dividing ourselves due to trivial matters. Some people want to form their own group because another group has too many people from their profession. We all have our own unique attributes, personality, and skill sets. I can be in a room with ten other career development coaches and some people will feel more comfortable working with me and others will feel more comfortable with another coach. I shouldn’t avoid networking in environments with other coaches because I want to be the only coach in the room. Some of us are in a big city but we are still thinking small. Going forward, I would like to see us empowering, supporting, and patronizing each other to increase our grade from a D to an A.
Phillips: Please tell our readers about the Power Networking Conference and how the conference can help us increase our networking IQ?
Pendleton: The Power Networking Conference (PNC) is the premier conference for African Americans in this country. PNC is where you go to meet the best and the brightest movers and shakers in our community to exchange ideas, learn how to create, improve, and expand your businesses. At PNC, the up and coming entrepreneur and the established entrepreneurs could be sitting beside a multi-millionaire. We don’t have walls or barriers that prevent you from networking with the people you need to meet to grow your business. PNC is the candy store for networking and once you buy your ticket, you have your keys to the store. Now, what you do with your keys are solely based on your ability to effectively network.
Moore: PNC is not your typical networking event where you’ve got cocktails and hear the hottest songs from your favourite DJ. This is an event where you need to bring your A game. PNC will have hundreds or maybe thousands of people who are serious about growing their business and they aren’t interested in having conversations with people who don’t know what they want. I suggest that you come to PNC with an open mind and a clear objective. Even if you haven’t figured out everything about your business or your plan, you should come with some questions that you need answered. Also, be ready to answer someone else’s questions also because the purpose of networking is to mutually benefit each other.