2017 ColorComm Conference Reflections: The Importance of Your Professional Network
August 8, 2017
By Danielle Moore / firstname.lastname@example.org
Net·work /ˈnetˌwərk/ – a group or system of interconnected people or things.
As communications professionals, we’re constantly looking to expand our interconnectedness to strengthen our network of media contacts, potential clients and relationships with others in the industry. We want to build mutually beneficial business relationships and friendships that we can call on. At Direct Impact, that philosophy is especially important as our grassroots campaigns rely on the relationships we’ve built with teams around the country who are experts in local stakeholder engagement, media relations, brands and marketing, and public affairs. We strive to maintain and grow the strong, smart network of communicators with whom we work on a daily basis.
ColorComm truly understands the value of building meaningful professional relationships and continuing to grow them. Started as a luncheon of 34 women in May 2011 to connect professional women of color in the communications industry, the organization has since grown to a membership of more than 1,000 women representing entry-level employees to those residing in the C-suite. With eight chapters in cities across the country, ColorComm is an essential organization for minority women in all areas of the industry, allowing us to personally connect with other like-minded women who are all striving for their definition of career success.
Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending their fourth annual conference in Miami with some of my Burson-Marsteller colleagues. It was vibrant, enlightening and candid. The speakers were well-regarded men and women at the height of their careers as executives in public relations, corporate communications, advertising, broadcast, digital and more. Themed “Surprise Yourself,” I definitely surprised myself with the takeaways and new relationships I gleaned and am excited to nurture them.
Conference speaker, accomplished author and Vice Chairman at Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Management Carla Harris took the stage to highlight what she called “relationship currency.” Per Harris’ definition, relationship currency is the value that comes from the investments you make in people. And it never diminishes. It’s built by frequency of contact and can evolve from casual conversation to mentorship and sponsorship. Dana Miller, executive vice president at The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard reinforced Harris’ points on the fairy godmother (mentorship) panel, emphasizing that your relationships with people in your network are two-way streets.
Beyond the diverse connections we make with others in the industry, we should use these relationship-building reminders with our clients as well. Workshops at the conference also shared keys to strategically interacting with clients to foster trust. Jessica Rodriquez, chief marketing officer at Univision, encouraged communicators to position themselves as advisors who are keenly focused on building relationships based on a true understanding of the brands they work with.
Be it peers, colleagues or clients, building and maintaining a professional network is invaluable. I appreciate that ColorComm understands this and is pioneering the interconnectedness of women of color in communications and addressing the unique needs of our community in this field. They are champions for diversity and inclusion, and advocates for personal and professional development through meaningful, dynamic experiences. I couldn’t be more proud to have attended the 2017 ColorComm Conference or to be a member of the organization!