Archives for the month of: November, 2013

Some of you know for the last year I have done a monthly guest blog post for “Worthy Wednesdays” featuring a non profit. Now that I have started my own blog, I will not be blogging there anymore but I wanted to post my last story here. If you are considering where to donate for #GivingTuesday in a few days, this is a very good choice. Periodically on my own blog I will still feature non-profits in the future.

Living with Lupuslupus lupus1 Lupus  photoshoot winnerloop1 Lupus Looploop2Lupus Looplupus2 Lupus photoshootlupus3Lupus Symposium

I had heard of Lupus before and knew it was an autoimmune disease that can be debilitating but I’ll admit I did not really know much more. This past year I met Wanda Fernandez-Thomas. She has Lupus but you would never know it. She is vibrant and hard-working, a mother of two, a student, a wife and an amazing photographer who runs her own business called MadCris Images Photography. She is outgoing and always has a smile on her face. I then learned she suffers from Lupus and has decided to get involved to help give back to others with Lupus. Wanda recently spoke at the annual “Living with Lupus Symposium.”

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years. Some of the complications  of Lupus include thinning hair, hair blotches, blotchiness on the skin, kidney/liver problems(can lead to a need for kidney transplant), seizures, scaring of the face.  Some people who suffer from Lupus have environmental or systematic problems as well.

Wanda told me that she had an allergic reaction to meds when she was 12 years old. She was tired and sleeping all the time-even in school. She was diagnosed with Lupus. Today she controls her condition with meds and a fairly strict diet but is still tired everyday and some days can’t get out of bed. Her husband helps her stretch and with her diet. It is important that she takes pressure off her joints. She explained it is very important for her to listen to her body and pay attention. She limits junk food and fried food and keeps a log journal daily of her food. She stresses the need to be your own advocate.

Wanda approached The Lupus Foundation Tri-State Chapter to give back to women like her. She came up with the idea of a contest for a photo shoot. The 5  winners pick a location for their shoot and have a “glam squad” of hair and makeup done for their shoots. They receive digital images of their shoot afterwards.  It is important to her that women with Lupus feel beautiful and are not defined by their disease. Wanda is helping them tell their stories and feel beautiful. If you would like to apply, please follow the link here Here are two images from the first winner’s shoot. Her name is  Nansi Zayes.

The 22nd annual “Loop for Lupus 5K” was held on on October 27th,  at Memorial Hall. You can still help Wanda and The Lupus Foundation by going to her site and making a donation at You can help publicize the event on Twitter with the hashtag #phillylupusloop or sign up to walk next year at .

The Lupus Foundation Tri-State chapter is also always looking for volunteers to help with things like office work, photoshop and other tasks. A list of these type of volunteer needs can even be done from your own home/laptop. So if you have some time to spare and would like to get involved, please contact them.

May is Lupus Awareness Month and there will be a “purple day” where you can show your support by wearing purple that day. Love Park in Philadelphia will also be lavender for this occasion. For more information about this and other ways to get involved and help please see the website:


Ask others to help you improve. This can be tough on the ego, but it’s extremely valuable. Ask the people you know best what they think your greatest strengths and weaknesses are. Ask them what they admire about you and what areas you may need help in. Then do something about it and ask them again. Keith Ferrazzi

The end of the year is a great time for reflection. You may realize you are not following your passion or have no room for advancement in your current job. Perhaps one of your resolutions is to make a change. Perhaps your employer is also considering changes and you may not make the cut after the new year.

Recently I met with someone for a one on one who told me they have lost touch with their network and have now decided to re-enter the workforce so they need to start communicating with their network again. While this is a good observation-the idea that a network is the best and easiest way to help you find your next opportunity-you never want to lose touch with your network. You should always be cultivating your network whether you are job hunting or not.

Here are some tips to help you find your next job opportunity:

  1. Most job openings are never posted, they are filled by word of mouth. This is because people do business with people they know and like. This makes Networking the most effective way to find a job.
  2. If you are looking for a job, reach out to your network. Make sure they know you are looking and be specific about what you are looking for so if they hear of something appropriate they think of you. Don’t count people out because you think they won’t know someone who can help you. Think about people you see in your everyday life that know you-hairdressers, people at your gym, parents at your children’s school you see at games every week for example.
  3. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated. This includes your testimonials. Ask people in your network for recommendations and/or testimonials for your website or LinkedIn profile. Ideally, try to do this around the time you complete a project or job with them so the quality of your work and good will is fresh in their minds. But even if some time has passed, amp up your online presence with these personal recommendations and testimonials if you are job hunting.
  4. Don’t put people on the spot for a job. Meet with people to gain information, advice and insight. Ask them to refer you to anyone that might be good for you to know or speak with based on the type of opportunity you are looking for. A warm intro that helps you expand your network is a very good thing.
  5. Don’t be the type of person that swoops in to get help from your network when you need it and then disappears till the next time you need something from your network. Make sure to say thank you with a handwritten note or at least an email. Keep people posted who have given you a lead-let them know when you get an interview or get a position.

“More business decisions occur over lunch and dinner than at any other time, yet no MBA courses are given on the subject.”

Peter Drucker

Like every week, this past week I attended many networking events. I went to a visitor day for a large networking group at a lunch meeting one day this past week. There were about 100 people there with roughly 20-30  members and the rest visitors like me. It was a worthwhile event. I met some interesting people and learned a lot about the organization to help me decide whether it is the right fit for me to apply for membership. But there was one conversation that was unpleasant and stood out.

During the period designated for informal networking I introduced myself to one woman. She asked what I did for a living and I explained and then I asked her the same. She responded, “I offer enhanced roadside assistance services when can we make an appointment?” This was all in the same sentence and this was our first interaction. I didn’t know her full name yet. I responded that one of the reasons I bought my car from the dealer I purchased it from was because there was a 5 year bumper to bumper service plan which included roadside assistance and in addition I am a AAA member and do not need such services. But she didn’t stop. She kept trying to explain to me why I still needed her services and badgering me to set up an appointment. It was such a turn off. I felt trapped. I tried a few more times to respond with delicate “I’m not interested” responses but it wasn’t working. I finally just gave her a smile and walked away.

I was speaking to a friend later in the week about this encounter and she pointed out to me I should have given her my card and told her she needs my networking services. And my friend is definitely right. We’ve all been at networking events and felt trapped by someone who is persistent and aggressive. What is the result of that? Well for me, I was totally put off by this woman. I will not meet with her, recommend her services or even connect with her on LinkedIn. I want nothing to do with people like her. Her services might be great and even though I did not need them if she had approached things differently we might have been on a path to connect and get to know each other better. Then I would have become a marketing assistant of sorts for her. I have a big network and I go to events all the time. I’m more than happy to recommend my friends and colleagues and their services. But I won’t be recommending her.

So what should you do at a networking event?

1. Try to meet at least 3-5 people and have quality conversations. Don’t make a goal of giving out 30 business cards and thinking that was a success.

2. Listen to the people you meet at the event and learn about what they do. Don’t spend all your time with them talking about yourself and all the services you offer. There will be time for that later if you connect and start to build a relationship. Then they will be interested in learning about what you do and how to help you. They are not interested when you casually meet at a big event. No one wants a hard sell.

3.  Follow up with people you meet but don’t send them a generic email and don’t use the email as an opportunity to try to sell your services. Just follow up with people you think are interesting and want to learn more about. Also follow up with people that you can envision collaborating with in the future. And finally, follow up with people you have commonality with. An example-recently I met someone at an event who is in the event industry. When we started talking I learned she rescues pitbulls. I have a rescue pitbull and he is my love. I immediately wanted to get to know her further.

Keep these tips in mind at your next networking event. To be honest, I don’t feel I handled this encounter that well. I’m curious how others would have graciously exited this situation. Please comment with any tips you may have.

If you are approaching and conversing with many people in the event, people will  see you as friendly and approachable. This will take effort on your part but  will be worth it in the end.

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Don’t leave networking to chance. Be proactive and make a list of people you’d like to meet on purpose.

FemCity Philadelphia at the conference

FemCity Philadelphia at the conference

With Tory Johnson at her book signing for "The Shift"

With Tory Johnson at her book signing for “The Shift”

Well, the 2013 Pennsylvania Conference for Women is over and what a day it was!  This was my second year. Once again I was overwhelmed in a good way. There were so many things scheduled for each time slot you wished you could clone yourself!  I managed to see all the great keynote speakers, attended morning sessions on Branding and “The Shift” and afternoon sessions on blogging  and networking. I even got a photo and my book signed by Tory Johnson. I have attended her Spark & Hustle business conference in NYC for female entrepreneurs for two years and I am really inspired by all she has accomplished both professionally and with her weight loss and commitment to change her health.

I interviewed some women over the course of the day about non-traditional networking. We all understand that events like the PA Conference for Women and many others we attend with business and industry groups in our daily lives are great for networking. But often we don’t take advantage of opportunities in our day to connect with people outside the confines of an event. We turn networking on and off. The reality is that you should always be trying to build connections and relationships with people. In fact, people that know you over time such as your hairdresser, someone in your book club, a parent you hang out with twice a week while your sons play flag football-these are the people that would be willing to go to bat for you and help you with referrals, introductions and opportunities.   “If the traditional concept of networking makes you cringe, take another look. Networking happens all the time, we share information, connections, ideas and support, that is what networking and developing a network is all about, don’t let yourself scared into your cave, get out and find a place that fits you and your style,” says Hazel Walker in her article “Non Traditional Networking.” She discusses joining club and organizations that follow your passions, your business interests and your belief system for networking. Jason Jacobsohn discusses attending charity events, workshops, cultural events and tradeshows in his article, “Attend Non-traditional Networking Events to Broaden your Professional Network.” I have put links to these two articles at the bottom of this blog post for your reference.

But what ideas did I get from women at our conference? I’ll share a few favorites. First, a few gems from speaker Sallie Krawcheck of 85 Broads. She discussed the fact that women need to spread out from people they know because your next opportunity will likely come from someone other than your friends or inner circle. I spoke to Eunice Heath, global director, sustainability business engagement and education at Dow Chemical and a host of the morning panel on Career Advancement. She also happens to be family-on my husband’s side- and it was such a nice coincidence to see her at the conference. She discussed trying to network with people you already have commonality with. For her that is people at her church and her childrens’ school. I spoke to a commissioner and the currrent female democratic candidate for Governor in Pennsylvania, Jo Ellen Litz, who just happened to be sitting next to me for my morning session. She said she does some of her best networking in coffee shops- just getting some of her women friends together to brainstorm and share ideas.  With a busy campaign schedule that involves traveling to 67 counties, she said she goes to picnics and dinners and talks to influential people that know people. These are the people that will help spread the word in their local areas if they support her. But I most enjoyed the story she relayed to me of coming to the PA Conference on Amtrak and meeting a group of women on the train who were all Republicans but asked why she did not bring signs with her. They wanted to stand at the top of the escalators with her campaign signs even though they were of another political party. It was a very organic example of women helping women to me and the candidate really seemed touched.

At lunch I sat next to lawyer and blogger Elizabeth Collura ( who said she regularly attends “tweet-ups” which are in person events for bloggers or other folks from online communities. It is easier to talk to them in person because you have already engaged online. She recommended looking for community online groups for networking.

I attended an afternoon session given by Nancy Dunleavy, president & CEO Dunleavy & Associates, on Connecting vs. Networking. Part of her presentation involved something called, “The Favor Bank.” She had someone stand up and explain to the audience what they needed or were looking for with their business and then had anyone stand up who might be able to help her with an introduction, information or resources. This went on with several audience members and each time there were several people who stood up right away with offers of help. So afterwards when I asked Nancy directly about an idea for my blog, she told me to discuss The Favor Bank. I have to say, it was effective and easy! You never know unless you ask and no one can help you until you tell them what you need.

Sometimes breaking the ice can be so simple yet so effective. Cheyenne Palma Dominguez, a friend and the leader of FemCity Philadelphia, the local chapter of Femfessionals, gave this advice: ask the person next to you what brought them here today or what break out sessions to attend. Often we look for an “in” or a reason to approach someone. But we overthink it and these are simple but very effective icebreakers to approach new people at a conference and learn about what motivates them and what they do. Another simple but great tip came from Ellen Fisher, founder of Women’s Yellow Pages of Greater Philadelphia, who said “I talk to everybody!” I can’t argue with that logic!

So mark your calendars to attend the Pennsylvania Conference for Women in 2014. It will be held October 16, 2014. And please comment below on where you do your best networking or any tips for non-traditional networking. We can all learn from each other!