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8 Ways to Reach New Career Levels

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Wanting to connect, inspire, and empower professional women of color within her community, Toni H. Lowe founded the annual PowHER Moves Women Conference back in 2018. Each year, dozens of women gather in Dallas, TX, to hear from industry leaders, coaches, and experts about how to climb the corporate ladder and/or transition into entrepreneurship. The conference also focuses on advancing equality in the workplace through activating solutions for change, support, and partnerships.

“The more conferences and professional development programs I attended the more I realized how tone-deaf the content was to the nuances of being a woman of color in corporate America,” Lowe told BLACK ENTERPRISE in an email. “Since the inaugural PowHER Moves in 2018, my vision remains the same—to give voice and advance solutions to address workplace inequities for women of color.”

She added that the 2020 summit, which took place January 25, was a success based on the attendees’ intimate access to speakers, the connections they made, and the actionable advice they received. “I count success by every encouraging note, each alliance built and the careers forever changed.”

This year at the summit, 11 speakers shared career hacks and strategies on how to thrive and level up. Here are eight tips that were shared.

Imposter Syndrome Can Be A Good Thing

Many psychologists believe that high-achieving women and professionals from underrepresented communities are more inclined to suffer from imposter syndrome, a feeling of inadequacy and self-doubt about one’s merits, skills, and achievements. As a result, they often suffer from a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” However, according to life and leadership coach Nicole Smith, founder of Smitn, the condition could actually be an indicator that you’ve reached some level of success in your career.

“It affects high achievers more. So in order for you to even have imposter syndrome, chances are you’re doing everything right,” said Smith. “If you’re having a moment of imposter syndrome, just [say to yourself], ‘gosh, I kind of have to be awesome to even get here and even have that feeling.”

Be an asset, not a liability

When making new connections and networking with others, Alechia Reese, the chief brand strategist of 360 Gateway Brands, advised attendees to become a useful resource for the other person rather than presenting them with a list of your needs. “In a world filled with liabilities, you’ve got to figure out how do I become an asset, especially when you’re networking up,” said Reese.

She also suggested that if you connect with a potential mentor or sponsor, take advantage of social media to research their interests and hobbies to get an idea of how you can support their goals and bring value to their lives. “I always do my research and look to see what is it that they are in need of. You don’t always have to ask someone what they need. Listen, take context queues, read through their LinkedIn.”

Hard work isn’t enough

Unfortunately, being a hard worker isn’t always going to get you a promotion and opportunities you deserve. In order to advance within your organization, it’s important to be intentional about building strategic relationships with your colleagues, hiring managers, and superior — and winning them over to become your allies. Being vocal and visible at work can also help you stay top of mind when decisions are being made about who to promote or to manage certain projects. As a result, it’s important to take advantage of opportunities to connect with your colleagues at happy hours, luncheons, and team-building events.

“Your hard work is not enough,” said Jacqueline M. Baker, principal consultant and founder of Scarlet Communications. “You need advocacy on top of that.”