Are you in need of Funding for your Small Business?

Are you in need of some Capital to help get your Business idea started? Or maybe you need some capital so that you can take your business to the next level? Did you know, “Federal, state and local governments offer a wide range of financing programs to help small businesses start and grow their operations. These programs include low-interest loans, venture capital, and scientific and economic development grants. Use SBA.gov’s Loans and Grants Search Tool to get a list of financing programs for which you may qualify, click this link to learn more about small business financing programs, http://www.sba.gov/content/search-business-loans-grants-and-financing.  It does require some research to find out what loans and grants are available for  you! Good Luck!

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Act like a Lady, Network like a Man

     Gisele L. Kennedy, PYT

Part IV

Working on your confidence is just as hard in business as it is in your personal life, so don’t worry if it doesn’t happen overnight.   Getting off your pretty little MIT duff and starting your own business didn’t either did it?  Take your time and keep practicing!  Remember, after a while it will be second nature and you‘ll be a pro.  Don’t worry.  Just in case you need it, I have faith in you!  You can do this.

What else can you do to fine tune your ability to network like a pro you may ask?   First, let’s take a look at ourselves and those that we are close to.  Usually we like to be around people that are like us.  Men are no different!  We like to be around people who think like us, share our values and who like to do the same things as us, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  What is wrong however, is that we do not use that to our advantage when we are thinking about how we are going to establish and build our brands.  Remember, no wo(man) is an island, and often times having a bit of help goes a LONG way.  Confident, effective networking ladies, sometimes means that you understand when to call in the troops.  The “troops” being that group of people we just described above who may be in a position to…Gasp…help!

I was recently having a discussion with one of my very best friends.  We are in distinctly different professions but often listen to one another “vent” about our own.  She is also in the process of moving into a very lovely brand new home and proposed the idea of having a girls night/get together/housewarming.  Well you know me, I’m learning how to network right along with you ladies, so I had this brilliant idea (you will note that Ill have a lot of those;)!

After completing a university nursing program with many of her classmates living close by, then working as a nurse for a major hospital, enduring a few more years of grad school and now having worked two positions as a nurse practitioner, my friend, just by circumstance, has created quite an extensive and diverse network for herself.   Just like that and she hadn’t really even considered it!   Not only that, but we have a few other friends who work in other aspets of the medical field such as pharmacy, epidemiology and medical physics.  I casually suggested that she create a quartlery nurses network, where she and her peers, in addition to other members of the medical community, could get together to discuss job leads, academic positions and opportunities, share ideas and to discuss their industry in general.  Sounds awesome right?  Almost sounds like an “old nurse’s network”!

This type of event and it can happen as often as you would like, applies to any genre or field, especially as it relates to the business community.  All it takes is a group of like-minded people, a few drinks and a little bit to eat and voila!   You have created your own little networking party to share ideas, swap stories, inform others about job leads and most importantly, meet a few more people who now know what YOU are about and what YOU have to offer.

I already know that many of you know how to throw a good party!   Just remember that this isn’t just an excuse for you and your besties to get together.  This is an event for you to practice putting yourself out there, to share concepts and ideas, develop skills for growth and to build a network of people who can share your information with others and possibly help you in the future.

I’ll be expecting to hear how you razzled and dazzled at YOUR next networking event.

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Act like a Lady, Network like a Man

Part III

                                                                        Gisele L. Kennedy, PYT

So, how did the week go MITs? Did you have an opportunity to try and be more vocal about your services? Did you practice presenting yourself as if you were THE service provider like we talked about? Did you attempt to self-market (I think I may need to copyright that word, anyone using that already)? Where you effective?  It’s ok to be nervous about doing something differently, these things will become second nature as long as you stay the course. How about being more…gasp…aggressive?  To those of you thinking, “Yes! I did ALL that!”, while pumping your fists in the air and desperately looking for someone to chest bump, I have two words. Whoooaaaaaa Nellies!

That’s right MITs no feral dogs here! I mean confidence, and yes, sometimes even a little cockiness will be helpful in this process. However, I DO NOT mean arrogance and excessive aggression. There is a difference and understanding how to navigate that precarious balance is a learned skill and a whole other blog post for another day. I do mean, however, true confidence and at times that includes a little bit of humility in addition to throwing your pride to the wind.

Back in September, I was laid off from my position at [insert name of large financial institution which may not be around much longer if they keep laying off fantastic employees]. Not too long after that I found myself at a get together where I knew the host was a teacher. A couple that everyone else already new walks in and a male friend of mine introduces me just like this… “Hi so and so, this is my friend Gisele. She used to teach, was laid-off and is looking for a job. Do you know of anything?”  I must say that I was stunned, horrified even!  I honestly thought to myself, “These people don’t really know me, they don’t care that I’m not working!  I don’t want these people to know my business! Was he nuts? Who does he think he is? What would they think?” Double gasp! Apparently all of my thoughts were displayed across my face because he looked at me like I had lost my mind and said matter-of-factly, “G, what’s wrong? Girl you need a job!” Aha! I then turned to them and said “Yes. Yes I am looking for a job. Do you guys work in Education?” BINGO silly girl! Just like that, I found myself standing in front of a department head of my specialty and an adjunct professor at a community college. I even took the time to speak about my amazing strengths as an educator. No lie, I am a fantastic teacher, and if I hadn’t taken a step forward out of my comfort zone, they would have never known.

No, I didn’t get hired on the spot and I didn’t end up going back into teaching, but two things did happen that night; 1. I was introduced to two people who might have been able to help me; and 2. I had my first lesson in what it really meant to effectively network (and kind of think like a man…triple gasp!). I had heard that when you are looking for a job, everyone, Im talking EVERYONE, you meet is a possible lead, but I really didn’t know if I was up to putting it into action. You see, I am one of those women who used to rely a little too heavily on herself. I had a habit of allowing pride to stop me from reaching out to others who were in a position to help me. That my lovely MITs, is true confidence. Being  comfortable enough to admit and display vulnerabilities at the right time and self-assuredness at all others.

This experience is analogous to networking to build your brand. Just like when looking for employment, when you are out there trying to build and sell your business, everyone you meet has the potential to help you. I mean it’s basically the same thing right? You want people to employ you and your services.

“BUILDING A NETWORK YOU FACE YOUR FEARS EVERYDAY.” – Oprah. Ok, so yhea sure she was talking about her television network, but it applies here too as well. That’s her business.

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**Chic Events To Know About**

**Chic Events To Know About**.

Updated Weekly

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Act like a Woman, Network like a Man!

Part II

Gisele L. Kennedy, PYT

CONFIDENCE!  Wow, I have been holding that in all week Mavens in Training (hereinafter referred to as “MITs”, but please don’t confuse with PYT!  That would be me.)!Now I know what you are thinking MITs, confidence?  Is that it?   You have had me waiting all week to tell me that the main thing Ms. Razzie and the Good Old Boys share is confidence?  That’s right ladies.  That one simple word is going to be integral in helping you become a success and assist you in networking like a pro.  We must, We MUST, We must increase our…confidence!  Sorry for the Judy Blume reference, I digress. 😉

Now before I go any further, let me explain.  Think about those good old boys and what they’ve historically been.  There is a certain level of assuredness that goes along with knowing that when you are ready to venture out into the world, your dad or one of his cronies are going to be right there coaching you, guiding you and most likely placing you in a position that will help shape your career.  Basically, they have already found you a job and you haven’t had to do a thing.  There might not have even been a formally prepared resume, lengthy job search, or interview and most likely, your first job will pay pretty darn well to boot!   I don’t know about any of you, but that’s enough to make me want to walk into any room of first introduction with my head held high, chest poked out and strut my stuff like a peacock.  Sound familiar?  Yes, that’s exactly what Ms. Razzie is doing.  She is self-assured and confident.  Dang, there’s that word again.

Let’s face it, with today’s economy the business community is increasingly competitive.  Being an effective networker can set you apart from the wannabees…ahem, excuse me…crowd.  Learning to network can be the best marketing you never had to pay for.  You will increase your visibility and will most certainly have a much better chance at building your clientele than those of us still stuck in the mindset that networking can appear…gasp…needy.   So come on little Ms. Stuck in the corner’s remedial group, let’s show them what we’ve got!

Confidence comes with believing in yourself.  Novel idea isn’t it?  Knowing that you are proficient in what you do can be of great assistance in helping you to build some right on up.  When you are at an event, as long as you have researched your market, are abreast of current trends and are able to communicate that to prospective clients, you will find that confidence will come naturally.  However, truly believing that you are not just a service provider, but THE service provider, who is knowledgeable and flexible will push you over the edge and on past the crowd.  That belief will also make you a little more aggressive about selling yourself at every opportunity.  Yes MITs, I said the A word, which we all know is typically frowned upon in women.  Now I am not talking about behaving like a feral dog with a piece of raw meat, I mean the first part of the title of this blog is act like a woman.  I only want you to network like a man, let’s be clear.  I am, however, talking about meeting people formally and socially and being quite vocal about what you have to offer.  To that end, you have to build up how you feel about yourself personally and professionally.  Not only is it important to you as an individual, it is important to your professional brand.

So let’s take a few days to turn on that switch and start razzling.   We’ll work on the dazzling later!

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Are You Following your Dreams?

Are you familiar with  the O Dream Board?

O Dream Board is a free web-based application available to all Oprah.com members and easy to share with your friends. So dream it. See it. Share it. Achieve it. And repeat. Start living you best life now!People have created vision boards for years using images from magazines on corkboards or posterboards but they weren’t very portable. Since many of us spend our days on the computer, create your own O Dream Board to serve as a daily reminder of your aspirations and what you want your life to be.

Here are some things to think about to get you started on your O Dream board:  What do you want in your life? What images represent your dreams? What words inspire you to move forward? Capture them with O Dream Board. Get clear about your goals, your hopes and your vision for your life. Make the connection to turn your dreams into reality every day.

Use this link to download the O Dream Board: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Download-O-Dream-BoardTM

To read more visit: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/O-Dream-Board-Envision-Your-Best-LifeTM#ixzz1u6v8Mbg7

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Introducing: CWIB Freelance Blogger, Gisele Kennedy

Gisele L. Kennedy

Born in 1985, Gisele L. Kennedy has often thought of herself as savvy in many ways…  SCRREEECH!  That’s not true!  As a matter of fact, neither statement is true but that is beside the point.   What is true is that sometimes, despite our best efforts, beliefs and/or goals, we always need a little bit of help along the way.  As a result of that understanding, I’ve always been on a quest to be better, do better and to help others do the same, no matter where I am starting from or what my goal or end result may be.  That is the core of who I am, period.

However, as we move away from that core you will know that I am a graduate of Hampton University where I initially studied History Education.  From there, I have had a wealth of wonderful experiences, although mostly simple, that have helped to nurture my buried entrepreneurial spirit leading me to connect with Chic Women in Business. After studying Urban Planning in my hometown at Virginia Commonwealth University, my vision began to unfold.  I am eager to start a Landscape Architecture program in the fall, which is one of the many steps in the right direction to pursuing my ultimate dream.  I currently work in commercial lending for a small community development bank in Washington, D.C., which is also a piece of my little dream puzzle.  What I hope to accomplish in sharing with you is to entertain, inform, inspire and help nurture your entrepreneurial spirit as well.  I am grateful for the opportunity and look forward to getting to know you!

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Act like a Woman, Network like a Man!

Act like a Woman, Network like a Man!                  

Part I    

                                                             — Gisele L. Kennedy, PYT

By now I think we have all at least heard ofAmerica’s number one movie for the past two weekends.  Based on a book written by a self-proclaimed “man”, the movie outlines a few rules that women should live by when they are actively dating.  I have not read the book, nor have I seen the movie, but I understand on a most basic level what the author is trying to tell us.  In order to be successful in any particular situation, sometimes you have to step outside of yourself and look at something with a totally different perspective.  That simple concept, although not always so simple to achieve, can also be applied to building a fruitful business brand.  Unfortunately, in a man’s world, what that can mean for today’s business women is that she may have to…gasp…think like a man!  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying to change who you are.  Let’s face it, women are wonderful and have traits unique to us that already give us our own set of advantages.  Wait, what?  You don’t remember what they are?  Blasphemy!  How about a little intuition, compassion, diplomacy and the ability to empathize just to name a few?   But let’s face it, I don’t think I have ever heard of an Old Girls Club where women get together and share leads and networking opportunities.  However, I do have a sneaking suspicion there may be a few created in 5…4…3…2…

Some of you are already extremely savvy at creating, strengthening and maintaining relationships.  You know who you are!  You waltz into an event all smiles and charm, impeccably dressed with firm handshake extended.  You have masterfully crafted and have extensive experience delivering your spiel about who you are, what you have to offer and what you may need to make “it” happen.  By the end of the night you have acquired EVERYONE’s card.  You don’t fear sending follow up emails to the people you’ve met and even feel confident calling on them when you are in need.  A lot of the things I’m going to note here may seem like old hat to you little Ms. Razzle Dazzle and that makes me happy.  I’ve learned a few things or two watching you.  I’ll just pull the rest of us over to the corner for a little brush up on some basic skills.  Yhea, I am talking to you little Ms. I still think that effective networking appears weak and/or needy and believe that depending solely on self is the only way to go.  Let’s see just how far that attitude gets us! 

Now my corner group ladies, I know that you are wondering how you can be more like “Ms. Razzie”.  I know I am!  She has all the fun and never seems to be short of clients.  I’ve even heard tell that sometimes she has to turn business down!  Double Gasp!  You know what else?  When she goes into full networking mode, she gets to wear her metaphorical Trussardi power suit and there are no stockings, slips or heels in sight.

 You don’t believe me?  Watch her.  You see she may use her feminine wiles and circulate as a woman, but intrinsically her thought process is much more like that of a man.  Achieving success, regardless of your definition of the word, is all about psychology.  Do you want to know the first thing that Ms. Razzie and all the “Good Old Boys” share? 

Well come check us out next week when we delve into the importance of networking, as well as identifying some tips that will make networking second nature.  Each week, my Networking Mavens in training, we will examine different strategies on establishing and maintaining connections and before you know it, you will be razzling and dazzling with the best of ‘em!

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