Networking Ethnic Style
We have all heard the saying "It's not what you
know, it's who you know." But actually success lies in your
experience and your contacts. Minorities may feel their chances for
advancement hit the glass ceiling because they don't have the mentors to
help them rise to the top. If it takes a village to raise a child, then it
takes a good network to build a successful career. Here are four
suggestions for minorities interested in building such a network.
1. Get involved with minority professional
It certainly is important to reach out to
professional organizations within your industry and your professional
specialty. However, becoming active members of minority professional
organizations, such as the National Association of Black Accountants, the
National Hispanic Corporate Council, the Asian Pacific American Attorneys,
or the National American Journalists Association, is also important. These organizations allow its members the opportunity to meet minorities in
other companies with the same interests and cultural background. Members
often exchange job leads and the organizations often provide seminars and
workshops about issues important to minorities in the field.
2. Volunteer for a cause.
Expand community involvement beyond the Junior
League or Big Brother/Big Sisters. What about donating time and talents to
such organizations as the Alliance Working for Asiance Rights and
Empowerment (AWARE), or the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC),
or the Urban League. Volunteering gives individuals the opportunity to
meet with others who care about the same causes. You never know who you
may meet--often someone with the authority or connections to help advance
your career. Demonstrating one's altruistic side makes a very positive
impression on people about your character.
3. Create a support system for minorities.
Since it may be very difficult to break into the old
boys' network, consider creating a new, minorities' network. Reach out to
other minorities inside your organization to create professional
relationships. On an informal basis, meet with other minorities who are at
all levels of the organization to discuss such issues as: 1)Who is about
to get promoted?; 2)What programs are being developed?; and 3)How is the
company performing financially? But beyond getting information, these
networks help to establish allies when decisions such as promotions,
raises, or terminations are made at your company.
4.Serve as a role model to other minorities.
As the saying goes, "It is more important to
give than receive." Passing along what you have learned about
climbing the career ladder to someone at a lower rung is very important.
Don't necessarily wait for someone to ask for your help. Often minorities
are reluctant to ask for assistance from others higher up the
organizational chart than themselves. Providing advice and making
introductions for those you mentor may also benefit you indirectly. First,
serving as a mentor shows that you are willing to share your wisdom. In
addition, when an individual you mentor progresses in his or her, you have
a friend wherever they go.