Just two years ago, Issa Rae, the creator of Awkward Black Girl and Insecure, was interviewed by Roland Martin. Issa talked about her time as a writer before landing a deal with HBO and how difficult it was trying to create her vision with limited resources, and no connections to people in high places.
In the clip, Rae says that we shouldn't be aiming to network up -- we should be networking across: "Who's next to you? Who's struggling? Who's in the trenches with you? Who's just as hungry as you are? And those are the people that you need to build with."
Two years later, the message of this interview is still IMPORTANT! Issa says, ‘NETWORK ACROSS’ meaning, network with other people who have goals and dreams just like you and help each other create a project you can call your own. We all want to rub elbows with the Oprah’s and Diddy’s of the world, but your associates can be just as valuable. There are plenty of times when a friend may express his or her ideas of maybe starting a company, creating an app or opening a coffee shop, but how often do we ask ourselves how we can use our skill sets to help our friend make their dreams come to reality?
1. Keep a note in your phone or excel sheet of skills sets that you’ll need to get your next idea executed. Then, go through your call list and see who you know who has those skills. Once you have your list together, it’s time to network! Negotiate a fair rate, barter or partner with them for your projects. Promote their inclusion in your project if the opportunity presents itself to others outside of your network.
2. Create a group message for those people in your network who have similar skill sets to easily bounce ideas off of each other. You never know how that inner network that you created can benefit you or benefit someone else.
3. Ask for for referrals! When you are in need of help of any kind, connect with the network you have created to see who they might know and entrust. It is easier to have a personal referral then to seek help from a complete stranger.
4. Use your 9 to 5 as leverage! On your lunch break or company happy hour, talk to your co-workers (without spilling too much tea) about their future plans and see if they would be a good fit in your network.
5. Don’t forget about your social media platforms! Use your social platforms like instagram, Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn to promote and connect with others.
Not to end this off on a cliché but ‘it’s not what you know it’s who you know!’ Remember Janes, collaborate with people who are right next to you because in 10 to 20 years, you could be in the same position as some of those people you wanted to be recognized by. Put your friends on.