The phone rang and I glanced over to see who was interrupting my busy day. It was Dawnna St. Louis, one of my mentors. I happily took her call because she always has nuggets of wisdom to share. This time it was different. It was a business offer.
Dawnna asked if I wanted to go with her to New Orleans to the Promotional Products Association International Women Leadership Conference. She was the closing keynote speaker. She wanted me to network for her during the conference. I would intermingle with the attendees, share information about Dawnna, and collect information that the attendees want to learn. Our mission was to secure at least two solid speaking engagements for Dawnna after the conference.
Of course I said “Yes.” Someone is going to fly me out to New Orleans, pay for my hotel, air and for what I love doing: networking and meeting new people? Absolutely, I was going.
The first night of the conference we attended the welcoming cocktail party. While Dawnna chatted with one of the other speakers, I floated around to meet the women. These women were quite friendly and welcomed me into their circle. I told them that I worked with Dawnna and she wanted to know what it is that they wanted to learn at the conference. Dawnna’s desired to ensure she delivered the most impactful speech and teach them “The Audacious Acts of Powerful Women Leaders,” her keynote speech title.
The workshops and networking sessions started on Monday and concluded on Wednesday with Dawnna’s keynote speech. Throughout that time, I mingled with the attendees. As I learned about the women’s interests and career concerns, I shared the information with Dawnna. She incorporated this information in her speech to make it more effective for the audience. I also told the women they shouldn’t miss Dawnna’s speech. She would be sharing valuable tips for them to be more successful in their industry. I informed these women that Dawnna was one of my mentors that have given me the confidence to start and grow my business.
By the time Dawnna to take the stage, the women’s expectation and curiosity had grown. Dawnna entered the room with a lot of energy, boldness and music playing to engage the audience. She threw out a challenge for four of them to get up on stage; if they thought they were audacious enough. The room exploded with excitement. The women rushed to the stage. I was in position to allow only four of them on stage. These women overcame whatever shyness they had and performed whatever acts Dawnna asked of them up on that stage. Here is an image of them having fun and the audience laughing along with them.
Next Dawnna shared her powerful story about going from being homeless to being the CIO of a multi-million-dollar company. She shared the challenges she faced in a male-dominated industry. This story resonated with the audience. Next she taught them how they can use audacious acts to become powerful women leaders in their careers. Finally, she concluded with questions from the audience that gave them an opportunity to get answers to burning questions they had. The event was a great success!
Here are things I learned from networking for Dawnna:
- Care about what the audience needs/wants and not what you think they want to know.
- Take the time to get to know them by listening more and talking less.
- Be open and genuine when you approach them, you will be accepted more readily.
- Offer to be of assistance to the event organizer. This goes a long way in getting access to your audience.
- It is not about you, the networker, it is about the person your are networking for and his/her audience.
- Perform your best for your client by going the extra mile.
The organizer requested that Dawnna and I attend the final dinner party in order for the women to speak with Dawnna in an informal setting. At the event, some of the women chatted with Dawnna while I got testimonials from the others on a cell phone. They were too happy to share that they thought Dawnna was the best speaker at the conference. They also told Dawnna what I great job I did for her. Our goal was to secure two new speaking engagements after the conference. We secured five! Mission Accomplished!
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Marlene M. Bryan is a Distinguished Toastmaster, DTM. She is a certified speaker and leader by Toastmasters International. She is currently the District 47 Public Relations Officer, and leader of the Public Relations Team. She provides her services to over 3800 members throughout the district. Marlene is the owner of Marlene M. Bryan, Corp and Small Biz Evolution, LLC. She is a Speaker, an Author and a Business Coach.