Laura Bazile asks, “How is it to be the only Black Woman entrepreneur in the room?”

In the 8th article from our new series from women on the inside, Laura Bazile examines business networking as an entrepreneur in Europe.
As an entrepreneur, I chose to start my business on my own, providing full services to my clients, with subcontractors joining from time to time -depending on the type of projects.
 
All in one, it means that most of the time, I attend networking parties or meetings on my own, representing my company and my (real) expertise. No big deal as it is part of the business, isn’t it? What I notice is the way people interact when you are the only black person in the room.
 
I mentally make a list of what I am and of … what I am not.
 
I am …
  1. A female entrepreneur.
  2. A woman in the business.
  3. A French woman sharing her time between France and the UK for professional reasons.
  4. A shy woman, still learning from the networking exercise, keeping in mind that some events might be amazing, others might not.
  5. A not-so-shy woman who knows how exciting and rewarding it is to mix and mingle with peers.
  6. The one you would remember if we bump into each other after the event. (“Oh, yes, we met recently! How are you?”).
  7. An enthusiastic entrepreneur.
  8. Curious about the future.
  9. Pro-active, with strong values: amongst them there is my community.
  10. A Black woman
Note for the reader : point #2 could be point #1. Point #7 could rank #1. So could #10.
 
I am not …
  1. The Black woman you would say is from [ write country _____________ ] … for sure.
  2. A close friend of the Black guy who just entered the room.
  3. The one who will comment loudly about any famous Black novelist/entertainer/business (wo)man/fashion designer …. What does that have to do with our social gathering here?
  4. The one who will laugh all the time, just because I welcome everyone with a warm and honest smile. I might don my business’s gear when appropriate.
  5. The one who would act just as you “imagined” it.
  6. Fluent in whatever you think is Creole. Note for the reader: different Creole exist. Creole languages are spoken by different people … in different countries.
  7. That sensitive just less patient when I think the person in front of me deliberately miss the right point: “Could we get back to business, please?”.
  8. Only curious about things directly related to my community. And nope, my business is not community-oriented. These types of business exist, run by talented people. I happen to be one of their clients.
  9. Supported by any specific program. I am delighted for the lucky ones who did take advantage of these opportunities. Smart and a source of inspiration.
  10. A person whose name is exotic enough to be unforgettable (in a certain way). Mine is quite common, not that I wouldn’t have loved a more ‘exotic’ one. In both cases, this would be me and no one else.
What about you? Have you been upset (or delighted) by unexpected circumstances in a whirl of networking events?

Laura Bazile bwie1 Laura Bazile asks, How is it to be the only Black Woman entrepreneur in the room?

Laura Bazile is an events professional, addicted to traveling, meetings & helping people. She is passionate about digital mix, live arts and design. Laura founded blufreelance, an event marketing boutique.

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Welcome Laura Bazile as Black Women in Europe™ private network administrator.

My decision to move the private Black Women in Europe™ Social Network off of Ning and into two private groups on Facebook and one on LinkedIn was bittersweet. The thought of moving something you created out of personal need and social commitment and built up to over 900 members was sad. What if I loose members? But then again, what if I get more members? What if we grow and enable ourselves to prop each other up even higher? Can I do this all alone? Of course not. But it needed at least one other sister in Europe to step up and say,

“My role here will come as a support of Adrianne’s amazing work”.

Well not exactly that but that is indeed what Laura Bazile, Events professional, fellow sister in Europe, and generous soul said after the announcement was made. She volunteered to be a Facebook group administrator (for sisters in Europe, and sisters on both sides of the Atlantic) even with her busy life running her own business in France and the UK. Yay! I said. And thank you. Laura is a giver (like me). She faithfully writes a Sisters Sharing Knowledge series for the Black Women in Europe™ Blog where she gives professional insights into her work. She describes herself as addicted to travelling, meeting & helping people (I can vouch for that), a blogger, and founder of |SocialRendezvous©| a blog by Laura Bazile. She is a consultant @blufreelance_ (events marketing boutique agency).
Laura Brazille Welcome Laura Bazile as Black Women in Europe™ private network administrator.

 

 

 

 

 

Merci beaucoup Laura! Cheers. I am very grateful for your support! I thank you and our network thanks you.

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Sisters Sharing Knowledge – 5-W-canvas to help you link profiles the smartest way…

Laura Bazile from England

It is not ‘big news’ that we -as professionals, as entrepreneurs or on a personal level, manage a bunch of profiles online. What could be hard to monitor is linking profiles online in order to master this serendipity as a powerful tool. I realized that honest approach and organization are necessary.

Who … are you TALKING to?
Question is “who” you would connect to online. I am a strong believer that “socializing” online is roughly speaking a carbon copy of socializing in real life. The online thing allows to instantly contact a potential customer located in Brazil while keeping in touch with relatives living in Australia. My point here is that you connect online with people who would interact with.

What … is HAPPENING online?
Connecting, sharing, learning … everything we obviously already know about and/or search for in an increasingly more precise and demanding way. The impact of your content will not be the same depending on where you will post it. If you choose to link profiles together, chances are that you will multiply the impact of your message.

When … should I LINK profiles?
As far as you know what you are doing here. “My Facebook page is for friends and relatives only (as this is what I had in mind when I created it), could I get it professional?” It is a no-no. Build a new, professional page/profile because you want to interact professionally there. Period. This is where linking profiles makes sense. You will link profiles which have something is common e.g. its content AND your targeted audience.

Where … should I POST and LINK?
There are no rules, except yours. I created my e_mapping canvas eg. list my online profiles and checked which one is connected to which. This might be used in your professional routine as a dashboard to manage profiles, to delete what became useless, to focus on what you need to develop, identify where you feel comfortable (probably because you reach there people you share value with)…

Why can this be HELPFUL?
Your professional path evolves which means that your message changes as well. All in one, you would choose to use profitably profiles that bring value to your professional scheme. There is not one tool, but there is one choice to be made when interacting online. Value the time you will spend there. It is the best way to move forward.

Have you found the best way to manage profiles or you chose to deal with yours on-the-fly?

Laura

Laura Bazile
Events professional, addicted to travelling, meeting & helping people
consultant @blufreelance_ (events marketing boutique agency)

 

Laura Brazille Sisters Sharing Knowledge   5 W canvas to help you link profiles the smartest way…

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Sisters Sharing Knowledge + Social + media + week + London: exploring the event recipe by ingredient

Laura Bazile from England

Here is the recipe I tasted a couple of weeks ago when I attended Social Media Week which is a global event, held in various big cities all around the world, at the same time.

~ Whisk together social and events

The “social” side of the event is not the only reason that triggered my decision to attend. My passion about experiencing what digital can bring to events leads me to create my own company providing editing services for event stakeholders. My point here is that running your own business comes with keeping it as “social” as possible eg. networking, connecting with people who have common values, path or experience, create the bridge with suppliers you may develop your business with and … meet potential clients.

~ Add media

You cannot exclude social tools if you wish to communicate on a global scale. I realized that the more techy you are the more demanding you become. I am not speaking of getting the ‘must-have’ handset or create an account on the ‘must-be’ social tool : I am referring to WHAT you can get from what you already have, picking up options that you really need whilst relying on a well-built work frame.

This said, meeting other freelancers, bloggers, professionals is the best way to see if you can 1/ get details from the amazing blogger you just met 2/ provide yours to an agency/supplier/client 3/ write down notes …. all of this at once, hassle-free and efficiently.

~ Bake an one week program

Being away for a business week is only a pretext for step out of your comfort zone. I met amazing people during my business trips, plus I built upon and learnt how to improve my business pitch.

~ Serve immediately, in 5 or more business meetings in London

I had the worst experience ever at the Adam Street Club, right after an event held there during SMW. I took the opportunity of being there with my laptop to jot down ideas before heading to the next event. I kindly asked a staff member if I could stay in the lounge and I was about to order a cup of tea to the barmaid who invited me to take a seat. I assume I probably did not choose the right flavor as another crew member zoomed along, asking me to leave. The best part was when I told her that I actually asked for permission a few minutes seconds earlier. She literally set up what could have been The Court of Justice scene, asking “who did you ask to? could you describe her?” – “Nope… I plead guilty Your Honor! now could you excuse me, actually I am heading to a coffee shop to work and … pay for my drinks!“.

True story/wrong debate, definitely the smartest way to say that optimizing event time by selecting locations where you can work on the fly is a must. Could be a/ from hotel room (quiet enough, with an internet connection) b/ from cosy coffee shops c/ from libraries d/ from co-working spaces. Experiencing working outdoors is the best time to nurture yourself and explore new schemes.

So is this a good recipe to try? I would say “yes” if you choose events that fits your requirements (location, budget, networking potential). Choose what can bring the opportunity to “speak out loud” about your business (make sure you are in the right place for this to avoid procrastination or irrelevance pitfalls – many events offer networking lounges or networking breaks before/after the show).

Are you an entrepreneur? Are you browsing to find the best recipe that could feed the social-side of your business?

Laura

Laura Bazile
Events professional, addicted to travelling, meeting & helping people
consultant @blufreelance_ (events marketing boutique agency)

 

Laura Brazille Sisters Sharing Knowledge + Social + media + week + London: exploring the event recipe by ingredient

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Sisters Sharing Knowledge – Infusing social media into events : 3 experiences, 1 goal

Laura Bazile from England
When it is time to initiate social media use for events and exhibitions, we all have thumbs up. When it is time to integrate online social that will nurture the lifecycle of an event, we hardly imagine how different and close (our) perspectives can be.
Perspectives? which perspectives? the 3 counterparts’ of an event scheme, e.g. the eventorganizer‘s + exhibitors‘ + attendees‘. These 3 are definitely living 3 different experiences aiming at 1 single goal.
From the event organizer’s perspective:
As a professional, you keep abreast of which new technologies your event can take advantage of while serving your clients wisely. The difficulty will not lie in adding a social tool, it is going to be : choosing the right tool (benchmarking and dedicated team are essential), defining strategy (a global strategy or a frame as we all know that 8 social tools are born every minute while another 5 died at the same time), capitalizing on where your clients might be online and why; in other words listening to your audience and make them feel that they are a valuable community.
From the exhibitor‘s perspective:
Unless you have been living on a deserted island for the past years, if you plan to book a stand as an exhibitor, you will look online for details about the event, its organization and theopportunities that might arise from (your) investment. What must be a plus is let alone buzzaround the event itself, added to valuable content you may get online. In other words, this content will be available there for your AND for (your) potential attendees.
From the attendee‘s perspective :
Based on the zeitgeist that exists in today’s communications channels, a potential attendee to an event will rely on what he/she can get online: keynotes, networking and business opportunities … in other words what makes “this” event a “not to be missed“.
You got it right, the 3 players here have their own perspectives strictly dedicated to 1 single goal: a successful event which MUST be a social place.
Laura Bazile
Events professional, addicted to travelling, meeting & helping people
consultant @blufreelance_ (events marketing boutique agency)

 

Laura Brazille Sisters Sharing Knowledge   Infusing social media into events : 3 experiences, 1 goal

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Sister’s Sharing Knowledge – A Black woman in Asia – a travel from the inside …

Laura Bazile from England

Traveling to Asia for work, I experienced my last trip in a different way, for 5 main reasons:

 

 Sisters Sharing Knowledge   A Black woman in Asia   a travel from the inside ...


/As a woman

Traveling goes with being yourself in a different place; as far as I am concerned, the dasher version came like that: a “woman/project exec/in Asia/for 1 week & more” eg. training people, mentoring staff in a fast-paced environment, chasing suppliers, building trustful (pro) relationships, welcoming clients, discovering … What I relied on as a stepping stone is that I took profit immediately from the way I network online. Steps you skip online when networking leave space for creating efficiently a contact. In other words, 3 things are set very fast A-uttering clearly who you are B-what are you here for C-let’s connect! … or not.

 

 Sisters Sharing Knowledge   A Black woman in Asia   a travel from the inside ...


/As a Black woman

Staying in a country where people can notice your presence from far away, in a crowd, is fun and eventually not a thing to care about when you love traveling. The only thing I consider carefully is what is an absolute “no-no” as a woman according to local culture and religion.

I have to admit that in Asian countries I have been traveling to (including my last trip), when you fly to mainland, you may bump into people who never came across a Black person … except on TV! Reactions are quite different as it might be “not” noticing your presence at all (or) staring at you …. (or) touching you! Once recovered from that surprise, you realise that technology will definitely never ever replace face-to-face contacts, the essence of human relationship. You may be connected to the “entire world” if I may say, (Asia is far ahead in terms of technologies), the ultimate step remains “creating a bridge to” who is standing right here, in front of you.

 

 Sisters Sharing Knowledge   A Black woman in Asia   a travel from the inside ...


/As a professional

Technology is everywhere. Good news or bad news? Not my point here … Being honest, I just loved a stressless environment where you work online from your hostel room, set up a network with supplier meeting requirements as tools and solutions are countless, taking notes at the airport while waiting… Being connected here means a bond with the outside world.

 Sisters Sharing Knowledge   A Black woman in Asia   a travel from the inside ...

/As a traveler

I am not prima facie a huge fan of Asia (as a world traveler), I have to admit. I took professional trips as an opportunity to discover countries I wouldn’t have planned to travel to. All in one, if you are a traveler, you grasp every little tiny situation to simply nurture yourself.

 

 Sisters Sharing Knowledge   A Black woman in Asia   a travel from the inside ...

 

 

/As a (woman) backpacker

My only fear lied in getting accurate visas. I have got friends who traveled in Asia/live in India: they gave me useful tips and advice, accordingly to “how” I travel. I managed to book decent hostels, struggled a little bit to find cheap flight deals. Although, my experience here is restricted, I would add that traveling across Asia can be quite tricky on a short trip as stopovers might be very long. Keep that in mind if you wish to visit.


What about you? Any feeling of travel you would like to share?


Laura
Laura Bazile is an events professional, loves travelling, meeting & helping people, and is passionate about social media, live & virtual arts, and design.

Laura Brazille Sisters Sharing Knowledge   A Black woman in Asia   a travel from the inside ...

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Sisters sharing knowledge – My being Social is NOT entirely yours …

Laura Bazile from England

Using social media on a daily basis, essentially in a professional context and -to a certain extent, privately as well (make things like scheduling, taking notes, booking tickets far much easier and funnier) I had a thought of how I could describe my “being social”, the other day, on my way to a barcamp.

ePROFILE
It is no secret that you must build a consistent profile online if you want to grasp a chance that it is going to be useful at a certain point. Going further, it is more what people would think about you or retain which is a key. Being social online has exactly the same value than a social event you join as a “business owner” or a “jazz fan” or a “contemporary art lover”, just be there for what it is, find the right balance when considering what it is, that is all, not what others WANT you to be.

eREPUTATION
If building a profile can be easily done, here and there, the multiplicity of online tools make things harder when it is time to sum up details on a global e-platform. Plus, the frontier between private and professional spheres must be clearly outlined for you AND for your connections. As far as I am concerned, one un-appropriate drift, you are out! This is me, of course and in the end I could understand that a “connection” does the same if -for some reason, I no longer have any value for him/her.

NETWORKING
This is directly connected to what is above. All in one, if the previous are weak, you being social CAN be tricky. I am not pretending that you must have a Facebook account to be social… Not at all!… I am just re-ajusting the exact value I give here to “being social”: it is being social online and being the same … in reality.

COMMUNITIES
When I met Adrianne (my dedicated editor here), it was online and … in a social context. Being social on that precise moment, was finding a community, accurate to ONE side of me: a Black woman in Europe. There might be other communities like BWIE™, but for some reasons, being social here, added to people I met there, meet my expectations. I assume that I could join other types of communities, in connection with diverse topics I find valuable.

“Circling” on Google+, being part of events, planning events … more and more socializing to-do’s… (or at least try, get to know a little bit more about it …)

I could not imagine a social situation online that goes against my values. Tools are numerous and being social is a personal thing raised to the online level under YOUR control.

What is your “being social”?

Laura

Laura Bazile is an events professional, loves travelling, meeting & helping people, and is passionate about social media, live & virtual arts, and design.

Laura Brazille Sisters sharing knowledge   My being Social is NOT entirely yours ...

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