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 …
- A female entrepreneur.
- A woman in the business.
- A French woman sharing her time between France and the UK for professional reasons.
- A shy woman, still learning from the networking exercise, keeping in mind that some events might be amazing, others might not.
- A not-so-shy woman who knows how exciting and rewarding it is to mix and mingle with peers.
- The one you would remember if we bump into each other after the event. (“Oh, yes, we met recently! How are you?”).
- An enthusiastic entrepreneur.
- Curious about the future.
- Pro-active, with strong values: amongst them there is my community.
- A Black woman
Note for the reader : point #2 could be point #1. Point #7 could rank #1. So could #10.
I am not …
- The Black woman you would say is from [ write country _____________ ] … for sure.
- A close friend of the Black guy who just entered the room.
- 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?
- 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.
- The one who would act just as you “imagined” it.
- Fluent in whatever you think is Creole. Note for the reader: different Creole exist. Creole languages are spoken by different people … in different countries.
- 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?”.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.