Inside View

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

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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