Monday, May 27, 2013

What Taylor Swift can teach you about building your personal brand

"I can see you, all the way in the back."

That is something Taylor Swift - the multi-million dollar singer/songwriter -  frequently says at  the beginning of her concerts.                

The first time I saw her in concert I was one of those people sitting way up in the back. And when she said that, I sat up a little straighter. I smiled a little brighter. All of a sudden, I wasn't just some spec in a big stadium. 

Of course, in reality, I was. But that didn't matter; she makes people feel as if she is performing for just for them, no matter where they are sitting. 

I saw her for the second time last month in Orlando, FL. This time I was surprised by the opportunity to buy tickets on the floor, in the pit (from signing up on her website a year before). This time, she actually looked at me as we high-fived. 

Both concerts left me with a feeling of happiness, and the feeling that I was actually important to this mega star. I'm not, of course - but again, that doesn't actually matter.

What matters is she made me, and every single person in that 16,000+ stadium, feel that way. 

Making people feel important is the most vital thing you can do in your quest to do something awesome with your life. In my opinion, no musician does this better than Taylor Swift.

(note: The best book on how to make people feel important is the classic How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.) 

But personal branding isn't just for superstars. Having a successful personal brand is the only kind of job security there will be in this new economy.

(note: for more on how to build your personal brand check out the upcoming free ebook How to Get a Job Without a Resume.)

Taylor Swift's career provides a perfect example of three things you can do to develop a personal brand that stands out, helps you reach your career dreams, draws incredible opportunities to you, makes people love you, and maybe...just maybe...fills stadiums. ;)

1) Be vulnerable
Taylor Swift says her songs are her diary. 

Her ability to be vulnerable and put her feelings into words is what makes her such a tremendous song writer who's captured the interest of millions.

The simplicity and honesty are what her fans love, and her lines strike a deep chord with those who love her music: like "We're happy free confused and lonely at the same time/ It's miserable and magical" or "You called me up again just to break me like a promise/ so casually cruel in the name of being honest." 

Both of these lines were written based on Taylor Swift's life. Yet each one makes me think of a specific moment in my life. These lines bring out a million different moments and memories for every listener.  

You also have a life people can relate to. The feelings, experiences, and stories you've lived resonate with people more than you know. 

Yet despite our hyper-over-sharing world of social media, we rarely share our actual feelings. 

When you do, people listen. People perk up. They look for similarities. And more often that not, they'll find them. 

The human experience is shockingly connected. We understand emotion and we are grateful when other people make sense of what feels like a confusing and lonely experience in our own mind.

How can you be more vulnerable in creating your personal brand? 

I'm not talking about crying in an interview or anything, but as you think about what you want to do with your life, consider your background, your strengths, and your experiences. 

How can you share them in a way that people will relate? What have you learned in your life so far that you can share to help other people who have experienced the same thing?

2) Appreciate your band
You can't go to a Taylor Swift concert without noticing the band, the dancers, and the back-up singers.

They make up one of the most incredible stage shows I've ever seen. Taylor interacts with them throughout the show and makes sure to thank and honor them.

In almost every interview I've seen or read about her she mentions her, band. And when you watch them during the show, it's easy to see why - they're ridiculously talented.

Who is your 'band' when it comes to your personal brand? The advisors, mentors, and partners you seek out to learn from and grow with you. No one succeeds alone. Taylor Swift seems to get this. 

Do you have a team of people dancing with you, singing with you, and helping you achieve your dreams? 

You'd be surprised at how much people will be honored and overjoyed to do this for you. How do you do it? Make them feel important. Ask them for their help. And appreciate them constantly.

3) Live it every time
Taylor Swift and her team perform the same show, night after night, for almost a year. 

But I can guarantee that if you ever see a show you won't feel like you're watching a puppet going through the motions - you'll feel like these people are doing this show for the first time, just for you. 

How does she do this? While I can't say for sure since I've never talked to her, my guess (derived from seeing the show twice and from my own performance experience as a speaker) is that she lives it every time.

When I speak to colleges, I always share the moment when I fell to my knees and sobbed when I found out I won the $110,000 Jack Kent Cooke scholarship. I swear even as I typed that my eyes just watered, as they do every time I give the speech, without fail. 

Do I do it for dramatic effect? Well, yes. But not by forcing myself to cry. I do it by sharing and reliving the moment: I imagine myself as that young girl in community college, without a lot hope, without a lot of belief that she could really do anything she wanted with her life, and it makes me cry every time. It was one of the most significant moments in my life. 

And I believe every time Taylor Swift stands on a stage and looks out into the crowd, she is living that moment. She is present. You just can't fake that. 

And people can feel it. 
People will be able to tell the same about you, too. While building your personal brand online is a big piece of the puzzle, your online presence will mean nothing if you can't translate it into your in-person interactions. 

When you're with people, soak up the moment. Keep your cell in your pocket. 

If you're ever giving a speech, relive the moments - see them, smell them, feel them.  

And finally, make the people in the back feel important. 

At many concerts, Taylor has her people seek out the most dedicated, dressed up fans who are sitting all the way in the back and invites them to a private backstage party where they get to meet and spend time with her. 

Does she have to do any of this to be a famous singer/songwriter? No. Many musicians don't bother. 

But she gets people; it's easy to tell she is genuinely a people-person, and I think it's one of the keys to her mega stardom. It's the key to yours too. 

The most important question you can answer when it comes to your personal brand is: How can you use your talents and aspirations to see people in the back, bring them into your story, and make them feel like your success is their success?

You will be amazed at how you will make them feel and what kind of impact you can make in your world. Your personal brand doesn't have to fill stadiums; it just has to make that one person in the back feel special. 

If you learn how to do that, it will feel like the stadiums are full, with people chanting your name, smiling to see you.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ask Isa: "Will a 'W' affect my transfer prospects?

Below is a question I received in the Ask Isa inbox:

Hi Isa!

This is my first year at my community college and I have been so lucky to meet mentors and faculty members who have helped me recognize my academic goals, as well as having the opportunity to be a part of my honor society and student government. 

First semester, I tried to juggle everything, from academic work to extra-curricular activities and I can honestly say I did a pretty god job because I got a 3.7 and made it on the deans list! 

However, this semester is almost over and I've been feeling overwhelmed with the workload I have to handle. Somehow I lost my ability to equally balance what I do, which was putting me in danger of passing my Econ class with an A. 

I have a 3.7 now and the school I want to transfer to requires a GPA in the range of 3.7 or above. 

Yesterday was the last day to drop a class with a W, and I am so ashamed to say this but I dropped the class. ;( 

It is such a horrible feeling, I've never done this before, but I just figured I could retake it and get the A. Now I am worried that if the schools I want to transfer to see that W I may not get accepted. 

From your knowledge, does this affect one when transferring to a four year school or graduate school? Would this decrease ones chances from getting into a four year school and graduate school after that?


Distressed and apprehensive

Dear Distressed and apprehensive,

Since I've never been an academic advisor or admissions counselor I'm not the expert when it comes to this particular question, but I wanted to make sure it got answered because I think it's an important one. 

I found someone on LinkedIn who was willing to help - Brandi, the Coordinator of Transfer Recruitment and Special Events for Enrollment Services at Mississippi College.

Here is what she had to say: 

"Most four year universities mainly look at the overall GPA of the student's college work before they transfer into their institution. 

"We usually do not look at each individual class and see how the student did. We understand that you may have some tougher classes than others so we do not hold that against you. 

"W's on a student's transcript are not a big factor to us. Academic Suspension or Academic Probation on the other hand is something that universities do not like seeing on a prospective student's transcript."

I hope that helps.

As you continue, be sure to constantly monitor your work load. Sometimes something does need to go (though in the future ideally that would be extra-curriculuars or a job before classes). 

Keep asking these questions of the mentors you've met and seek their advice when you're feeling overwhelmed. Also, be sure to talk to the professor to ask for advice on what you need to do better next time in order to ace the class.

Best of luck. I can tell you are going to rock your transfer university, graduate school, and anything else you set your mind too. Never stop asking for help. 

And a huge thank you to Brandi! If any other college administrators are reading this and would like to share advice too please do so in the comments section. Thank you! 

Have a question about college or career that you'd like to see answered on the blog? Submit it in the anonymous Ask Isa inbox. :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

From Teen Mom to NASA Employee (don't read this if you like to make excuses)

I had to share the interview I did with Heather Thomas for the Pearson Students blog

Every time I talk to her I'm reminded that anytime I think I'm busy or that life is hard I just need to remember moms. 

Moms who go to college and work amaze me. I was a nanny, and it was HARD work....and I know it was NOTHING compared to being a full-time mom. When I took care of kids I was getting paid and it was the only thing I had to do - it never eluded me that moms have to take care of kids and contend with that thing we call life.

Heather has done this beautifully, and her story and successes are a great reminder that we really can do anything - our only limitations are often the ones we set on ourselves.

Here's Heather's story:

When Heather Thomas was 11 years old she got the news that her mother had been killed by a drunk driver. After her mother’s death she lived with various family members, and the lack of stability and motherly guidance led to her getting pregnant at age 15.

Heather decided to give her baby up for adoption. But immediately after her daughter was born, she changed her mind: “I was in tears saying ‘I wanna keep my baby!’” she shares, laughing at the memory.

At 16 years old Heather decided to take responsibility for her child and her life. She dropped out of high school, got her first apartment, and started working.

At age 18, she was given custody of her younger brother, who was 13 years old at the time; she cared for him and her ailing grandmother.

Heather got married and her husband had a son; she worked multiple full time jobs to provide for her growing family.

Her brother got into trouble, and started having children with different women. Heather and her husband decided to care for the first two children to keep them from going into foster care.... Read the rest of the story on the P.S. Blog.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Why knowing your personality in college is vital

Check out this video from the Pearson Students blog to learn more about why understanding your personality can help you in college. You can also try out this free Myers-Briggs assessment here. Once you get your 4-letter code, just Google it and read up. It's pretty fascinating.

Friday, May 17, 2013

How to Get a Job Without a Resume

Below is the kick-off article to the summer series that will be featured on Each summer I write to help those of you who've graduated college find a job and learn how to turn it into a dream career. When relevant I'll also post the articles here. will still have tons of content this summer, as well as answers to the many Ask Isa questions I've been recieving. Loving them!

There is almost nothing as demoralizing as the online job hunt.

When I graduated college at the top of my class I thought companies would be fighting each other to have my brilliance and potential in their office.

I know, I know; feel free to laugh at and judge my millennial-style ego.

Instead, I found myself applying to and interviewing for countless jobs that had never been in my senior-year-of-college plans.

I was interviewing to be a future payroll specialist, medial sales rep, dog food saleswoman, and theme park character.

Like many recent graduates, I ended up taking a low-level hourly job to help pay the rent when the salaried jobs passed me up for more qualified candidates.

But luckily, my first hourly job was in an industry I was very interested in – higher education.

And within three years I went from working for ten dollars an hour in an admissions office to working from home, speaking around the country, consulting with companies at which I’d once dreamed of being employed, hosting a television show, and getting half a dozen job offers (including one to be a CEO of a well-known non-profit).

And trust me, I’m no genius. I also come from a low-income family and was the first to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, so I had zero connections when I started and no idea what I was doing in the professional world.

They say, “It’s not who you know, but who knows you.” I never knew what that really meant until I started engaging deeply in something I cared about and sharing that online.

Whether you dream of being your own boss, saving the world as a non-profit leader, being a life-changing teacher, or finding a job at that perfect-fit company, building an online brand can help you get known, be recognized, and get job offers. Oh and your resume? It will just be a formality; they will barely glance at it because they’ll already know they want you.   

All you need to build your online presence is to add value in your desired industry. When you do that, the key players will find and want to work with you. And when you reach out to them yourself (which you should), they’ll see you as instantly credible when they see the work you’ve been doing online. I’ll be honest with you, this is much harder than formatting a resume, but the rewards are sweet and yield results that you can’t even fathom when you begin.  

As college students graduate this month I’ve had many of my readers e-mail me asking for career advice. I’m so inspired by their desire to make a difference in the world that

I wanted to share everything I’ve learned about building a career in the 21st
century in a free ebook called How to Get a Job Without a Resume: The secrets to building an online presence that draws opportunities to you (release date late summer 2013).

I wanted to do this because when I graduated college, I read dozens of books to try to figure out what to do with my life. I was comforted by the many things I read that confirmed the “20-something” crisis was real. However, I was always left wondering, “Okay, now I know why I feel this way, but what the heck am I supposed to do?”

How to Get a Job Without a Resume will share exactly how to build an online presence, step by step, even if you have absolutely zero technical skills. It will also teach you the strategies I developed to build a network of incredible mentors and friends who can teach you everything you need to know about your industry and help you get where you want to go.   

I started my online presence because a book about how to get your non-fiction book published told me I had to (I was reading it years ago in preparation to write my first book). So I started a blog. I got up early and wrote once a week before work. I tweeted my blog posts.  And I did that for almost a year without anything happening.

And then, someone from the largest global learning company, Pearson,
saw my blog on Twitter. She started following me. We started interacting. We
set up a phone call. And eventually Pearson became my first consulting client; I
was able to leave my traditional job, work from home, speak around the country, and start a consulting business.  

A few months later a local cable station e-mailed me asking if I’d travel to their location a few times a year to host their new college success TV show; they had found me on YouTube.

While I love a good funny cat picture, it turns out, social media and other online tools can add so much more to your life and career.

And as Thomas Friedman recently shared in The New York Times (bold mine):
"What’s exciting is that this platform [the Internet & social media] empowers individuals to access learning, retrain, engage in commerce, seek or advertise a job, invent, invest and crowd source — all online. 
"But this huge expansion in an individual’s ability to do all these things comes with one big difference: more now rests on you.

If you are self-motivated, wow, this world is tailored for you. The boundaries are all gone. But if you’re not self-motivated, this world will be a challenge because the walls, ceilings and floors that protected people are also disappearing."
The only people who will really have job security in the 21st century are those who use their online presence to consistently contribute to an industry, even when they’re not getting paid for it. The process is continuous, and while it requires a lot of hard work and dedication, once you get going it can actually be quite fun.

Are you ready to start?

You can sign up  on my website to be one of the first 500 people to get a free ecopy of the book a week before it’s released to the public, and below are two quick tips to get you going right now:

1) Write down what you want: What do you think about when you go to bed? What gets you up in the morning? What moves you? What makes you feel the most alive?

Building a personal brand will be the hardest thing in the world if you do not first define what it is you really want and align that with who you are, what you’re good at, and what the world needs.

There are hundreds of books dedicated to helping you discover your strengths and think about what you want to do with your life. But don’t stop there – today’s careers often aren’t in books. Be creative.

Even if you don’t know what kind of job you want yet, write down what you want out of life and read those goals every morning.

2) Choose one online tool: When I started to build my online presence I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know what HootSuite was or how to pronounce it (I called it Hut Sweet) and didn’t know why people used hash tags.

In the free ebook each social media channel gets its own chapter. You won’t need each one, but knowing how to make the most of them all will help you decide. In the meantime, choose one online platform and start adding value in your industry.

Start a free blog and write once a week. Start a Twitter if you haven’t already; follow key people in your industry, retweet and share industry news, and interact with people who work at the organizations to which you aspire.

Update your LinkedIn profile and start joining the conversation in your industry groups; search the companies and jobs you find interesting and study the “resumes” on LinkedIn – where did they get their start? Connect with some of them and ask for their advice.

Start a YouTube channel and film a short video of yourself teaching someone how to do something, or start a Facebook page where you share industry news, quotes, and conversation starters. 

Choose one and go.

If this feels like a lot and you feel overwhelmed, remember this: the most important thing about personal branding, to which its name proves ironic, is that the person that matters most isn’t you – it’s your audience.

Ask yourself, who can you help with your knowledge and talents? Where can you make a difference? Speak to them. Make their life better, easier, more joyful.

You have more to offer than you realize. And while the Internet seems crowded, you’d be surprised at
how much room there is for you. There are problems only you can solve, niches
only you can fill, and people out there who need you to be their online

Resumes not required. Capes are optional, but highly recommended.

Visit to sign up to be one of the first to receive the free ebook How to Get a Job Without a

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ask Isa: What do you do when you're sick of college?

We've all had that moment when we feel like if we have to write one more essay or take one more exam we will lose our mind.

I felt that way during the last semester of my Master's degree. And I love school. I mean, love it. 

But by the end, I just wanted to be DONE. 

With that in mind, check out the following question from the Ask Isa inbox

Dear Isa,

I am at the end of my college career and I realize that I am behind in credits. I do not want to be here anymore. I almost feel like I am done with school completely. My brain just does not want to function like it used to... 

I want to start working and begin creating. I want to piece together a team and build a company. I really want to take a job offer and run with it. Then I will take online courses while I am working at my job to finish my classes at my own pace over the next year. This is what I want to do. 

Do I tell my future employer that I am not actually done yet. Or, do I continue living in the moment and doing in my heart what I know is best for me to be successful?



Dear Done,

While as you can see above I can totally relate, about six months after I graduated with my Master's I found myself looking online for professional development classes because I missed school. 

The time we have in college to learn and grow exclusively is a gift that we don't always appreciate while we're there. We have our whole lives to work - and while work is great because you get paid and often do get to create, it's also really hard (and grueling especially in the beginning while you are learning and working your way up) and very competitive. 

But of course, I also understand not everyone loves school like I do, and the college format doesn't perfectly fit everyone's personality type. Some entrepreneurs need to get out there right away! So if you have a job offer from someone who clearly understands you haven't graduated yet (be very honest about this) but is willing to hire you while you finish your degree online then go for it if that is what you really want to do. 

The only thing to be careful of is getting too far behind; I've seen some students get so caught up in work that a degree that would have taken them two years takes them six, and the money they could have made after finishing the degree would have been much greater than working without one. 

This is a very personal decision and obviously there are many factors to weigh. The best thing you can do is to find someone who has a job you aspire to and ask their advice; explain your current situation and ask what he or she thinks would be best. I also recommend taking the situation to a career counselor and/or college advisor. 

The great thing about higher education now is that it's becoming increasingly flexible to fit students' diverse needs. Keep seeking advice, and remember to enjoy the learning process as much as possible. Once it's over, it's over, and learning to appreciate learning itself will serve you long into your career. 



Have a question? You can ask it anonymously in the Ask Isa inbox and it may show up on the blog. You'd be surprised how many people your question will help.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It's never too late to succeed in college...even if you've dropped out

Some people might think failing college (or even high school) means you're not "college material." Josh's story reminds us that that's simply not true. 

Is there anything you feel like you've failed at in your life? Read Josh's story and let it inspire you to try again. You may surprise yourself.

When Joshua Trader graduated high school in 2004, his parents gave him two choices: go to college or get a full time job.

Joshua spent his growing up years in Sanford, Michigan, watching his parents work very hard for little pay in order to put food on the table for him and his five siblings.

Joshua loved and appreciated his parents’ struggles, but he didn’t want to repeat them, and thought college would be the answer: “I wasn’t excited about college, but I thought it would be better than work.”

Halfway through his first semester at the nearby Delta College, Joshua became bored. Driving 35 minutes to campus, sitting through hours of classes, and then driving back home began to hold little reward for him.

“It got old really quick,” he says of his routine. “I had no motivation, no real reason for college; I just thought it would be the better choice.” The lack of interest showed in his grades; he was failing. Read the rest of the article on the Pearson Students Blog. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ask Isa: How to move from acquaintance to friendship in college

Below is an e-mail a student (who gave his permission to have this exchange shared on the blog) sent to me earlier this week. His question was so genuine and I wanted to share his question and the answer I gave in case it helps anyone else in this situation:

Hi Isa!

I just read your article titled "You're not alone in feeling alone: how to make friends." Your article gave me a better perspective on finding friends at community college. It's hard finding new friends, especially when you have transferred from two different colleges. I've been pretty depressed lately because I don't really have any friends to hangout with anymore. 

I stopped hanging out with my old high school friends because they are always getting into trouble; and all my other friends are 8 hours away at my old college. I was a commuter at a school close to my house but it was too expensive so I transferred to a community college. It is very hard to make friends there because I haven't taken a class for my major yet (since I started during the spring 2013 semester).

I'm shy so its hard for me to step out of my comfort zone to meet new friends. In one of my night classes there is a girl that is the same major as me (she also sits right beside me in class) and 2 weeks ago I got her number so we could try to study together for the final exam. We were going to meet but we never found a time that we could meet. 

Earlier this week, I texted her asking if she signed up for classes, she said she didn't yet. So I said, "Since this is my first semester here, I dont know anybody in my field of study, since you are basically the same major as me maybe we could take some classes together?" She said yes.

I really want to be friends with her (since she is the same major as me and also because she is pretty). I really want to be friends with her and maybe be able to do stuff together outside of class (I don't want to date her, I'm just looking for a friend). I don't want to come on too strong and make her think that I want to date her. I just want a friend to talk to. What should I do?



Hi Blake,

Thanks so much for reaching out.

I think it's great you are making an effort, and that you have strayed away from friends that were getting into trouble. That is not easy to do but incredibly beneficial; it will pay off.

As far as the girl, go ahead and be casual about it and don't worry too much. The fact that she said 'yes' to taking classes together is awesome (great idea, by the way). Don't over-think it and instead just, well, be friends. Think about how it worked when you were a kid - when we're kids we rarely think about these things; instead we just connect with people who we have fun with. It can be the same in college.

Sit together in class, help each other with homework, study together, and just hang out, talk, and be friends. As far as not wanting to seem like you're hitting on her, I think you're already there because she said yes to taking classes together. If she was creeped out she would have avoided that. So just enjoy classes together! And when you study, consider inviting other people to form a study group.

And finally, consider how you can make other friends too so you're not too worried about this one person. Does your college have a student life department or a website that lists its clubs?

Check that out, meet with a student life coordinator at your college, and go to different club meetings that interest you. Find the one you connect with the most and ask the President of the club if they need any more officers or committee leaders or help with anything. Get involved right away. You'll be amazed at the bonds you'll create without even thinking about it.

Let me know how it goes! :)



*name was changed

To submit your question for the blog visit the anonymous Ask Isa inbox. Or you can e-mail me directly at

Why you should be a campus leader

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

From Homeless to College Graduate

I recently wrote the following article for the Pearson Students Blog and had to share it with you here too. Arthur's story reminds us what community college is all about, and what you can do when you decide to make more of your life. 

A few days ago I got the following e-mail from Arthur:

My graduation is in the bag! The excitement just hit when I picked up my cap and gown. This college experience has been a real blessing in more ways than I can count.

What’s remarkable about this e-mail is that Arthur was homeless for fifteen years and incarcerated for four before going back to college.

After joining the military and then starting community college in the 70’s, Arthur thought he was ready to start a good life – he had plans to get a PhD.

But life got in the way. After multiple deaths in the family (including his father), a divorce, and bankruptcy, Arthur’s life went on a downward spiral. Read the rest of the article on the P.S.Blog.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A community college success story that may make you appreciate your education a little more

By the age of 10, James had lost his entire family. Find out what he did to get his education in Africa, and how community college changed his life. His story gave me goosebumps. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ask Isa: Should I attend this networking event?

From the Ask Isa inbox:

Dear Isa,

I am in undergrad and and there is a networking event in the area with attorneys. I want to attend but I'm not sure. Will it be useful to attend it or not?



Dear Confused, 

I'm assuming you want to be an attorney? If so - definitely attend this networking event!

Anytime there is an opportunity to meet people in the industry you are interested in, you should go. Will it always be useful? YES. Though not always in the way you think. 

Sometimes it may show you the industry you're interested in isn't what you thought. Sometimes the event may not be what it was advertised to be. And sometimes it will be just plain awkward

For example, one time I showed up to a networking event for entrepreneurs (hoping to meet other young people who worked from home on their own business) where everyone there was 25 years older than me and just wanted to sell me insurance or some kind of weight-loss pyramid-scheme smoothie. But guess what, it was still useful. I learned something: 'entrepreneur' isn't synonymous with cool start-up.

However, anytime I've shown up to a networking event or professional association meeting on a topic I was interested in (e.g. education, communications) I've loved it. 

The first time I showed up to a professional association networking dinner I got a job offer. For real. 

And not because I was some special shining star. Most of the time (if you're a traditional college student) you'll be the youngest person in the room. And while that will make you feel out of place, it will also make you stand out; the others will be impressed that you showed up. Not a lot of young people do. 

While every networking event will not yield immediate results, getting in the habit of attending them will pay off. Because you never know who you'll meet, what you'll learn, or what can come out of it. By attending, you put yourself ahead of everyone who was too scared to show up. 

And when it comes to what to say, I found the best thing to do was to try to get to know the people putting on the event (they'll usually be wearing some kind of name badge and/or be at the registration desk). Ask them questions. Ask for advice on who you should talk to. Sometimes they will be so excited you're there they'll start introducing you to people. 

Otherwise, just walk up to someone who looks alone and uncomfortable too and just shake your hand and introduce yourself. They'll be relieved you did.

And then you can say something like "This is my first networking event and I have no idea what I'm doing. How many of these have you been to?" Or anything else that expresses how you're honestly feeling in the moment and then opens up a question to them. You don't have to put on some fake "professional" self. Just be you. 

Then, keep asking questions and listening. Don't be afraid to say (briefly) what it is you're doing now and what you're interested in, but focus the conversation on them as much as possible. This is a great opportunity to learn more about your industry and what jobs are like. 

Then, exchange business cards and follow up follow up follow up. Email them and say how great it was to meet, mention something they said that you remembered, and then ask for advice regarding something you talked about.

I think one of the best things you can do for your career is to keep attending these events. Sometimes they'll be a bust, but sometimes they'll change your entire career path. And you'll never know if you don't show up.

Let me know how it goes!



Tuesday May 14th, 2013 update: 

"Dear Isa, This is Confused (the one that asked the question about networking event). I went to the event. It did not turn out the way I wanted it to be but I was able to learn that what I thought of being an attorney is different from real life. Thank You... continue the great work and hope one day I can serve my community the way you do. 


Not Confused Any More :)" 

Have a question? You can ask it anonymously in the Ask Isa inbox and it may show up on the blog. You'd be surprised how many people your question will help.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How to choose the right transfer university

The majority of community college students plan on transferring to a university after completing their A.A. degree. But how do you know where to transfer? This video can get you started in the right direction. :)