Jennifer Tsang_1's blog

How to Network Better Than You Flirt

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Walking up to a potential new contact at a conference, or cold calling someone on the phone, is often the most intimidating part of networking for jobseekers. It’s hard to make the first move and much easier to keep yourself out of a vulnerable situation. However, if you’re looking to make a career move into sustainability, corporate responsibility or the green economy, in-person networking remains the best way to convert potential opportunities into real jobs.

So, if you tend to let discomfort get in the way of ‘getting out there,’ just remember these wise words from Steve Jobs:

“If you are afraid of failing…of someone hanging up on you…you won’t get very far.”

To help demystify the process a little bit, here’s my take on some of the most common networking questions I get asked by my clients.

On the ice breaker

How do I make the first move? Ask to meet for coffee? Phone call?

First, identify your target. It might be an industry leader that you admire, who you are connected to LinkedIn. Or perhaps it’s someone you know will be speaking at a conference you are attending. If you can talk to them in person, go for it! If not, reach out with email, InMail (LinkedIn’s own) or social media and try to set up a live conversation, preferably with video. Mention a mutual contact if you have one. Mention an article they may find useful for their work. Mention anything at all you may have in common after Googling them to death.

No matter how you reach out, come up with a compelling reason you would like to talk to them. You could even do a benchmarking study as an excuse to interview them and learn more about their career journey. Most likely, if you seem interesting, and interested in them, they will find 10 minutes to talk to you.

What’s in it for them? Why would someone want to talk to me?

You’ll never have the courage to start a conversation if you think that everyone in the room is smarter, more senior, and better dressed than you. Banish the imaginary hierarchy in your head and place yourself on an equal footing with everyone else, equally deserving of respect, equally worth talking to. Remember, you have a lot to offer, you are a good colleague to have, you are valued. Good talent, not to mention friends, are hard to find and your new contact will be looking to expand his or her network as well. That being said, the more informed you are about your niche, your sector, the latest trends, the more interesting and valuable you will be to your expanding network.

On making the most of the meeting

What impresses you when someone approaches you to network?

I have the best conversations with people who are knowledgeable and curious about their sector, but don’t feel the need to have all the answers. They are comfortable with silence and don’t let their nervousness turn into a babbling monologue. They are natural and not trying to sell me something, but rather find a way we could collaborate and share through our mutual passion for sustainability. They are comfortable with saying, “that’s a great question. Give me your card and I’ll do some research and get back to you.” Also an excuse to follow up.

This also demonstrates self-confidence, another important trait. As Alex Malley mentioned in a recent LinkedIn post, sometimes having the right attitude can trump years of experience. You can work on this by building awareness of your top skills and unique selling points to help you speak naturally about yourself in both casual and more formal networking conversations. Do your homework and engage in self-reflection before you start.

Should I talk more or just listen?

Having a little background knowledge on the company or individual attending will help the conversation flow, so do your research and prepare good questions in advance. Just like in dating, when in doubt, ask the other person to tell you about themselves and their work. People love to talk about themselves and this will leave them with a cosy feeling about you, even if you don’t get a word in edgewise.

At the same time, it’s a good idea to prepare a 30-second elevator pitch that sums up your USP – unique selling points. A killer elevator pitch is concise, clear, confident, and ends with a clear question or request of what you are asking of them. Don’t be shy to ask.

On following up in style

What is an appropriate follow-up?

I can’t stress enough how important it is to follow-up in the days after a meeting or good conversation. A short ‘nice to meet you’ email isn’t just polite, it will remind key contacts of who you are, what you do, and what you have in common. Stay away from generic LinkedIn requests and always add a personal touch.

Also, remember that all relationships are a two-way street, so think about what you can offer as well as what you can receive. Nurture your network by sharing articles, insights and ideas. That way, when you need a personal recommendation or an internal referral, you’re more likely to get a positive response.

I’m lazy. Do I really need a ‘stay in touch’ plan?

Also, make sure to keep your momentum going by planning out your next steps after a big networking event or 1-1 meeting. Create a week-by-week plan to call three to four people a week for three months. By setting achievable and motivating goals for yourself and approaching the process step by step, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed. Use LinkedIn as a tool to remind yourself to reach out to new contacts in 4, 8 or 12 weeks. Send them a birthday card? Or a work anniversary note? LinkedIn flags all of these so nicely for you.

Good luck! Have a question I didn’t answer? Share it in the comments below.

For more insights on networking, career changes and making it in the competitive world of sustainability careers, contact me.


This article was originally published on Walk of Life Careers.

Shannon Houde is an ICF certified executive and career coach who founded, Walk of Life Consulting, the first international professional development advisory business focused solely on the social impact, environmental and sustainable business fields.

3 Tricks for Building Your Career

Photo by David Clarke on Unsplash

Here’s some candid, creative, real-world advice about how to break into impact work without a lot of direct experience:


Sustainability professionals need great communication skills, so use yours to start a conversation with potential employers through social media. It’s critical to use all the tools at your disposal to develop an engaged, online presence and start piecing together a circle of contacts. Twitter and blogging are fantastic ways to do this – just make sure your blogging is consistent in terms of timeliness, tone, and topic.

Social media can be a real door-opener. You can reach out to different companies through Twitter or LinkedIn and said ‘Hey, I’m interested in what you’re doing; can I have an informational interview?’


Get busy developing genuine personal relationships with prospective employers. Connecting with real people is another essential sustainability skill, so demonstrate that you’ve got what it takes by nurturing professional relationships with a confident, calm attitude. Even for the currently unemployed (perhaps especially), this is key.

So keep your network vibrant both during the job search and once you’re happily settled into your next role.


Celebrate other people’s successes, share interesting information, be helpful, and be useful. When you hear of something great that has happened to someone you know, share that with other people, and send them a personal note.

If you’re already working within a company, investigate your company’s CSR and sustainability agenda and then network with people on the teams you want to join. Generally internal teams will talk openly with fellow colleagues and the people excited about these ideas will talk to you, too. So once you’re in a role, keep reaching out and get to know the people who might be your next boss.

So in a nutshell? Engage, communicate, connect, and make the most of your opportunities to build up the skills you need to get the impact job you want. Have questions, ideas, or are ready for the next step? Contact me!


This article was originally published on Walk of Life Careers.

Shannon Houde is an ICF certified executive and career coach who founded, Walk of Life Consulting, the first international professional development advisory business focused solely on the social impact, environmental and sustainable business fields.

The Meaning of Fellowship

The Newman’s Own Foundation is a proud supporter of Net Impact’s Racial Equity and Food Fellowship programs.

As a college student or recent graduate, you may have had a professor or mentor encourage you to apply for a fellowship. A fellowship can add tremendous value to your education and résumé, enabling you to conduct research, turn an idea into a real-life project, or further refine your career goals.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines fellowship in a number of ways, including: a community of interest, activity, feeling, or experience; or meaningful communication for building trust.

The truth is that a fellowship project or work experience can provide each of these things. Net Impact’s Food and Racial Equity Fellowships, funded by Newman’s Own Foundation, enable students to network, develop leadership skills through project implementation, and learn from peers with similar interests. These fellowships provide opportunities to find one’s community and engage students who have passion and are willing to take initiative.

For a select few recent college graduates, Newman’s Own Foundation offers one-year work placements in the nonprofit sector. These real-world experiences are coupled with workshops and leadership-building activities throughout the year that enable Fellows to support and guide one another. Not only do these experiences help Fellows to solidify career goals and assess next steps, but they connect these young leaders with a community of like-minded individuals. Graduates of the Newman’s Own Foundation Fellowship Program become part of an alumni group that can provide further networking opportunities and support.

Newman’s Own Foundation recognizes the need for “fellowship” in its many forms. The foundation supports the building of community and trust by investing in young leaders who are socially minded and highly engaged. It values the development of civic-minded communities, social entrepreneurs, and a diverse nonprofit workforce.

Paul Newman, the actor/philanthropist, created Newman’s Own food company in 1982 and gave 100% of profits to charity. He did so because he felt he had been lucky in life, and he had a personal responsibility to give back. The foundation bearing his name is dedicated to making our world a better place, and that promise includes inspiring and nurturing others who want to do the same.

What does this all mean for you – the student or recent graduate? This means opportunity. Opportunity to pursue your goals, to make meaningful connections, to find like-minded individuals for networking and mutual support. Fellowship is about all of these things and more, so if you can imagine making a difference in your community or pursuing a goal outside your classroom walls, apply for a fellowship and experience these defining moments for yourself.

Florida Chapter’s Passion for Sustainability

The passion to create a more sustainable environment has turned into a social responsibility for the St. Petersburg Net Impact Chapter (SPC). As the first undergraduate Net Impact Chapter in the state of Florida, this veteran Chapter has made a monumental impact in creating a more sustainable environment. From numerous volunteer projects to an ongoing speaker series, SPC has made it their mission to serve, honor and protect the environment. 

Marc Steelman, President of SPC, has led the Chapter in hosting various events in the past year. “Recently, members of SPC engaged in community volunteerism and joined another local non-profit organization for a bay island native planting event. Volunteers planted hundreds of native salt marsh plants on an island in Tampa Bay which experiences high-levels of erosion. These salt marsh plants act as filters for stormwater runoff, they stabilize the shorelines, and they buffer our uplands from storms. The plants also offer foraging and sanctuary for many species of fish and wildlife. The volunteer planting event provided a great opportunity for our Net Impact members to highlight our Chapter’s mission, and build cohesive relationships with other area non-profit organizations [in the community].”

The guest speaker series that SPC hosts serves as an educational resource in learning about environmental issues and provides students with the tools needed to create a more sustainable future. Guest speakers also offer networking opportunities for students who are seeking a career within environmental sciences. Steelman shared, “Our most recent speaker was Rick Gilbert, Vice President of Solar Source. Mr. Gilbert showcased some of his company’s most recent and ambitious solar projects and described what types of employment opportunities and internships his company offers.”

To culminate the efforts of their impact, SPC hosted their annual Earth Day celebration at their schools Clearwater campus. The event agenda included guest speakers from local organizations who shared their sustainability-related projects. This fun-filled event was complete with plant giveaways and sustainably-sourced food. 

SPC has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. Follow the Chapter’s profile page here to see other impact initiatives they have planned this upcoming year!

Five keys to launching a social venture we learned at the 2018 Accelerator


The Drawdown INNOVATE program was Net Impact’s innovation approach to climate change. A total of 29 Chapters participated from 9 different countries, reaching more than 450 people with solutions to reverse global warming. Finalist ideas included a food leftover sharing service, a food waste app, an e-waste directory, and a regenerative agriculture carbon trading platform.

From April 5-7th, 2018, finalists from the Drawdown INNOVATE program and the Food Solutions Challenge came together at Net Impact's Oakland headquarters to learn from and refine their ideas with innovation consultancy IXL. Participants not only worked hard and got an incredible amount out of the Accelerator, but they left with new friends from around the world. One participant expressed that the experience had changed their life.

Here are 5 of the many takeaways from the Accelerator:

Be a trend geek

According to Accelerator facilitators IXL, “if you want to be a great entrepreneur, be a geek for trends.” Apply future forces on different market segments. Watch science fiction. Consider what the future of sustainability, healthcare, connectivity, boredom, inconvenience, food, demographics, and more might look like. 

Focus on building the business, not the business model

Many MBA programs stress starting with the creation of a complete, multi-page business model. Before you dedicate all that time and energy, focus on testing your concept with potential customers. 

Nobody wants your baby

Share your idea with everyone. Seriously. Nobody wants your idea because there’s something special about an idea that you have personally invested time into, and they won’t feel that. Ideas, like babies, are a ton of work to raise. And if they do steal your idea successfully, it a) validates the market demand and b) shows you were not the right team to make it reality or you would have done it better or faster.

Make a brochure and show it to people that matter

IXL has seen great success in creating a brochure that describes your idea as if it existed today. This helps you think through key questions like price, access, and and targeting your audience. It also stimulates conversation since potential customers can mark it up directly with you.

Build your dream team

Consider the type of person you would want to take with you on your entrepreneurial journey. Is there someone on your team who will keep your business on track and moving forward? What is important to you and does your team represent those qualities? What can you find via partnerships?

Stay tuned for finalist final video pitches, fall 2018 programs that can engage you in meaningful topics, and check out photos and Instagram stories from the event.

GPS Your Career Path

Image © averieclaire via Unsplash

Careers in the impact economy can be hard to come by and the routes in are yet to be formally mapped. Transitioning out of your current role and into this new and exciting sector is a challenge! That said, you’ll see that there are a number of potential avenues for your career path that are worth exploring.

The direct route: impact investing

Impact investing is emerging as a vibrant new field that seeks measurable social and environmental impact alongside financial return. According to the Global Impact Investors Network, it provides capital to “support solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges,” including sustainable agriculture, affordable housing, affordable and accessible healthcare, clean technology and financial services. According to a report from JP Morgan and the GIIN, 96% of investors use metrics to measure social and/or environmental impact. Impact investors make preferential values-based investments based on such metrics, making them uniquely positioned to spot opportunities that ordinary investors don’t see.

There are many dedicated impact investment companies that you could investigate for jobs to support your transition towards an impact career. Check out Al Gore and David Blood’s Generation IM, Root Capital, the Omidyar Network (established by the founders of Ebay), the Acumen Fund, Bamboo Finance and the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs.

Do your homework and look for global opportunities that make best use of your analysis skills, people skills and cultural understanding.

The scenic route: intrapreneurship

Have you considered staying where you are, and helping your company make a greater impact by valuing its own social and cultural capital? Intrapreneurs walk the impact talk by taking their own companies to task and using their talents to pursue internal sustainability outcomes closer to home.

In my experience from working with more than 4,000 sustainability practitioners over the past 15 years, there are a number of key skills you need to do this, including bravery and resilience, the ability to balance global and local perspectives, innovation and systems thinking, influencing and negotiating, and the ability to engage others on their own terms.

Ask:  What opportunities do you see for your company? How can it help address external social issues within its existing business model? Or is there an impact to be made internally?

Incubators choosing to mobilize the social and cultural capital within their workforce can do better than their peers: startups are typically full of left-brained, engineering types, but as Kevin Simler points out, “to fully appreciate what goes on inside a growing startup, it pays to remember that an engineer is also a primate.”

Your background could help you enable employees to engage and be part of the tribe, to trust the company and buy in to the vision. Reciprocating that trust by giving staff the space to figure out the big, complex problems is all part of leveraging social and cultural capital can help to ensure your staff “will never sit and watch something go in the wrong direction.”

The off-road route: social entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurs are unique in that they identify a problem and use entrepreneurial principles to organize, create and manage a venture in order to yield positive returns to both society and the balance sheet. If you have the passion and the dedication to strike out on your own, then a career as a social entrepreneur could be for you.

You’ll need a solid business model — profits are still very much a part of the triple bottom line — and a strong, communicable vision. If you are committed to realizing genuine impact to ameliorate the social and cultural problems you observe in the world, read my past article on the skills needed for social entrepreneurship. As you’ll see it’s not easy to do, but when it works it can be one of the most rewarding, hands-on ways to create change.

The b-road route: non-profit impact

It’s a more grassroots path and you may need to take a pay cut, but if you want to surround yourself with like-minded people who are similarly committed to a cause, then the non-profit or NGO route may be the right one for you.

The biggest difference with the NGO route is that the drivers are not profits, but rather, the cause. This can be frustrating if you are a commercially minded, efficient and fast-paced individual. You need to consider the cultural fit first as there is a huge range of NGOs, some that are run professionally and others less so. Most staff within NGOs say they are there, making less than they could elsewhere, because they believe in making a difference. If you are driven more by your value to make an impact than make a high-paid living, this could be a good route into the sustainability space.

My first job out of my MBA was to manage a team reporting to corporate and national donors at WWF International. I wanted to see how the other side worked and to get more grassroots environmental experience. This was a great stepping-stone into the wider sustainability agenda as it gave me the opportunity to learn about public/private/NGO partnerships. However, I was too much of an MBA-er and ended up moving back to corporate consulting after a few years of being frustrated with not having the “bottom line” as a driver for efficiencies.

So before you “switch sides”, first ask yourself:

How close do you want to be to the issue?

Will you be content sitting in head office, while others on the ground get their hands dirty?

Do you want to be working on local or global issues?

Will you be ok without efficiencies and structure that the commercial sector offers?

Once you’ve made those decisions, take control by keeping your eyes and ears open and exposing yourself to as many career paths as possible, while prioritizing what’s important to you, defining success for yourself and creating your own career path.

Best of luck negotiating the rocky terrain of impact careers and mapping your own path – Destination Dream Job isn’t as far away as you think! For some bespoke advice on career change navigation and personal positioning, contact my team for a 30-minute Trial session.

This article was originally published on GreenBiz.

Shannon Houde is an ICF certified executive and career coach who founded, Walk of Life Consulting, the first international professional development advisory business focused solely on the social impact, environmental and sustainable business fields.

Dominate Your Job Search with this Linkedin Guide

Did you know that 97% of human resources and staffing professionals use LinkedIn to search for candidates and that 77% of all job openings are posted there? Making the most of your profile with this Linkedin guide will be one of the best investments you’ll make in your job search and ongoing career and network development.

But first…

Before you put fingertip to keyboard, take a few minutes to read and digest the following five tips.

  1. You’ve got one chance to make a good impression, so make it count by crafting a compelling and relevant story about who you are and what you do. You can’t customize your profile to fit a plethora of job types — it’s one size fits all — so be clear on what you’re selling and to whom.
  2. Keep it short and simple. LinkedIn is not a digital version of your paper CV! Attention spans are short online, so use searchable keywords and avoid long paragraphs. Bullet points are your friend.
  3. Think like an advertiser and promote yourself. Don’t be shy, tell the world about your achievements and back them up with proof.
  4. Smile. Yes, you are on camera! Get yourself an appropriate photo. I think black-and-white shots with a clean background, preferably taken by a professional, look best.
  5. Prepare to network. Particularly for CSR and sustainability roles, where job titles are non-traditional and a lot rides on reputation. Reaching out to people in your field (or the field you want to get into) through groups or companies you follow will help you get noticed. 

Your profile checklist

Whether you’ve already got a profile or are creating one from scratch, use this step-by-step guide to proof your content and make sure it screams, “Hire me!”

  1. A professional profile photo: A bad photo or none at all is the No. 1 mistake jobseekers make. Yours should be a headshot on a black or white background, with a comfortable and approachable expression. Put your best face forward!
  2. An attention-grabbing headline: It’s the first thing people see, so use these 120 characters to describe your industry, skills and objective, and don’t be afraid to announce your job search right there in your headline (unless of course you don’t want your current employer to know you are looking).  This is not your job title and company name.
  3. An engaging, keyword-rich summary: Write a 100-word sales pitch in the first person, using a conversational tone. It should provide the same information as your half-page bio or four-line profile section of your CV. Then list your specialties using searchable keywords, including industry, skills, interests, and past and potential job titles.
  4. A detailed job history: Give bullet-point descriptions of previous roles and impressive-sounding accomplishment statements that demonstrate your achievements (using the ‘>’ symbol). Back up your claims by uploading samples of your work: reports you edited, press releases about your projects, slideshows of presentations you’ve delivered. Make liberal use of the “add a link” function too.
  5. Highlighted accomplishments: Publications, volunteering, courses, honors and awards, languages… Fill out all sections that apply, and reorder them so the most relevant and impressive sections are at the top.
  6. Positive recommendations: There’s nothing better than positive recommendations to reassure a potential employer. Aim for at least one recommendation for every job you’ve had.
  7. Relevant groups: Showcase your knowledge and engagement in the sustainability field by joining relevant groups. Use the search bar at the top of LinkedIn to search for groups in your local area, as well as in your niche industry.

And finally…

Try out my three killer tips for a strategic job search. These sneaky suggestions will help you target your efforts for maximum impact.

  1. In LinkedIn, click on the Advanced Search option, select “people” and set the location to your country. In the “title” field, type HR, human resources or recruitment. From the drop-down menu, select “current.” Up will pop a list of hiring managers in your network. Use the “company” and “industry” fields to narrow down your search… and get networking!
  2. Identify a few “dream companies” you’d love to work for, search for them on LinkedIn, and hit follow. You’ll automatically be updated of any vacancies they post in your news feed.
  3. Log on to, type in your job search criteria, and when the results display, look in the top right-hand corner. You’ll notice the “Who Do I Know?” box. Turn it on, allow access to your LinkedIn account, and watch your contacts magically appear under each posting. Now you know exactly who in your network to target for an internal referral!

Happy job-hunting folks, and don’t forget to contact me for a personalized critique on your LinkedIn profile and some expert advice on how to improve it.

This post originally appeared on

Photo by Dai KE on Unsplash

Shannon Houde is an ICF certified executive and career coach who founded, Walk of Life Consulting, the first international professional development advisory business focused solely on the social impact, environmental and sustainable business fields.

6 Ways to Champion Racial Equity in the Workplace

Race Equity Explained

Simply put, racial equity is about applying justice and a little bit of common sense to a system that’s been out of balance. When a system is out of balance, people of color feel the impacts most acutely, but, to be clear, an imbalanced system makes all of us pay.

Why is racial equity in the workplace so important? 

This month countries across the world celebrate Black History Month, a yearly tribute to the numerous achievements and impacts of blacks throughout history. 

As a Chief Cyber Security Business Strategist at Symantec, I am proud to work for a company that makes everyone, regardless of their background or beliefs, feel proud about who they are, and empowers employees to make a difference for the causes they care about. Personally, my passion lies in enabling others to achieve their potential and advancing equity in the workplace. Both have impacted me personally, but I also see equality as a business differentiator that will continue to separate the best of the best. 

As I highlighted on Symantec’s #iamtech Medium publication last year, “I’ve worked in cybersecurity for more than a decade, the past 10 for Symantec. Cybersecurity’s role in our world is changing almost as fast as the online world it protects. We need more people and policies to keep up — and to protect people, we need more good people in the field.”

6 tips for championing racial equity in the workplace in 2020

A strong workforce requires a diverse workforce and no matter what function we are in, it is us as individuals that create an authentic culture of inclusiveness. As a sponsor of the Racial Equity fellows program at Net Impact and in honor of Black History Month, below I outline my key success factors for championing racial equity in the workplace.  

1. Tap into your passion 

We’re standing on the shoulders of so many people that have paved the way for us and we must continue to open the door for others.  However, to do this effectively we must harness our individual passions for racial equality.

For example, this is what lead me to chair the SYBER ERG and in addition to this my passion is enabling others to achieve their potential — life coaching and mentoring at Mentoring on Sundays from the locker room to the classroom as it pertains to careers.

I work with individuals interested in getting into cybersecurity as well as other careers and enjoy speaking at nonprofit community events such as the Boys and Girls Clubs about cyber jobs and the skills they need to enter the field. It’s important to me to help people of all backgrounds understand the opportunities that exist and the road they can take to get there.

2. Understand the mark you can AND are making 

By devoting your time, expertise and heart to equality you are truly making a mark in history they are making with their time, showing tangible impacts. 

Symantec Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and longtime racial equity advocate, Cecily Joseph discusses in this past Net Impact blog about why a lens on diversity is one of the most important skills for today’s corporate responsibility and sustainability professionals. She points out that diversity is a lens we often apply as CSR and social impact professionals, to the populations we target and how we spend our philanthropic dollars. We often overlook, however, the diversity of our own internal teams, and of the partners we choose. 

3. Include everyone in the process

Everyone needs recognition and affirmation because it’s easy to get burned out. It is important to make sure we call out and celebrate those going above and beyond, recognize our internal champions. At Symantec, every quarter we highlight a Volunteer of the Quarter who exhibits exemplary passion and drive to give back to their communities. Additionally, through our Dollars for Doers program, anyone who volunteers their time to support a nonprofit in any area, including racial equality, receives a grant for that nonprofit based on time volunteered. 

4. Find your senior sponsor 

Having senior leadership support and buy-in is absolutely critical to impacting a company’s culture and seeing results. Find your internal senior champions and look for ways to engage them or support initiatives they are already involved in. 

5. Set the bar high and keep yourself accountable 

A plan without a goal is a dream, and while these often do come true, it is much more likely with a firm goal in place. For example, Symantec has set a goal to, by 2020, increase the percentage of underrepresented minorities in the United States (and females globally), by 15 percent. Within the Symantec Black Employee Resource Group (SYBER) we often set our own goals for the year. Individually, you may set a personal goal, such as those taking part in our Take 5! Challenge at Symantec, devoting five hours of service per year to their favorite causes. 

How will you make your mark? Take action.

At Symantec, we are advocates for human rights and equity across the technology industry, working to build awareness and champion causes that ensure an inclusive experience for our employees, customers and entire value chain. Everyone one of us has the responsibility and capability to do the same, to help shape a future of equality. 

My experience as the chair of Symantec’s SYBER employee resource group and my continual advocacy for equality in the workplace is something I will forever cherish. Every day I know I am making a direct impact on people’s lives. At the same time, I have seen a new side of my community and applied my professional skills in new ways that are making me a stronger and inclusive leader, a more effective communicator and a true team player. 

The Net Impact Racial Equity Fellowship program is supported by Symantec.

For the past two years, I have been the chair of the SYBER ERG and had a great and passionate ERG leadership team to support me in every step in our key pillars Workforce, Workplace, Marketing and Community developing a strategy for the group to play an important role in delivering on Symantec’s diversity and inclusion strategies. Through a multitude of activities, our group builds cultural awareness and a sense of belonging for our employees, creates opportunities for development and advancement, and serves as ambassadors in the broader community.

At Symantec we are creating opportunities for diversity through our employee resource groups (ERGs), developing partnerships to recruit and retain diverse talent and helping fill the workforce gap by offering opportunities to professionals of all backgrounds through our signature Symantec Cyber Career Connection (SC3) program. 

importance of racial equity in the workplace diverse meeting

6 Tips to Make Salary Negotiations Go Your Way

Talking numbers can be an awkward and nerve-wracking experience. But you need to roll those shoulders back and put on your brave face because — as you well know — once you are in an organization it is difficult to make a big jump in salary. That is why you need to negotiate your worth at the very start.

Knock-out your next stint in the hot seat with these 6 tips:

1.Don’t rush

Don’t talk numbers until after the hiring manager offers you a salary. Just hold-tight. It’s best to wait so that you don’t ask for less than what he or she was prepared to offer. Recruiters will often pressure you early on to reveal your current earnings.  You can give them a range and be a bit vague but prepared, just like they do to you. Something like…

“My current annual total comp ranges from $70-80K including benefits and bonus, however, I expect to be compensated at my market value which I have researched and know is more in line with $90-100K”

Keep calm by continuing to practice my top 6 Tips to loosen up and land the job.

2. Dream big

You do have some leverage: You’re the top choice. So, if you’d like to make $85k then ask for $100k. And if you’re feeling intimidated, consider that failing to negotiate effectively could cost you as much as $500,000 by the time you’re 60. That gets the blood pumping, doesn’t it?

3. Know your worth

Part of effective salary negotiation is knowing your worth. A few online tools can help you have a minimum salary in mind:,, and are good places to start.

But salary benchmarking is only the starting point — or rather, the bottom point — of the negotiation. It’s your minimum figure. Aim higher than the minimum to give yourself room to maneuver and prepare to sell your skills and track record. A good salesperson has conviction that what they are selling is worth it, so believe you’re worth what you’re asking for, and you’ll find others will believe it too.

4. Don’t be a typical “girl”

We know the stereotypes: Women appreciate relationships over outcomes, they are more willing to compromise, they don’t like confrontation, yada-yada.

Well, according to research cited in this article, there is a grain of truth in such stereotypes. Women are reluctant to negotiate in face-to-face meetings. They’d rather stick to money talk via email or over the phone. I say, best to prep yourself adequately and practice with someone before you have that live interaction.

5. Make it bigger than you

Imagine a family member or friend who would be proud or inspired to hear you stepped up. Consider how your negotiating can reinforce and revitalize the confidence of other women. If it helps, you can even take it a step further and pretend to negotiate on behalf someone else.

Consider how your negotiating can reinforce and revitalize the confidence of other women.

This Harvard Kennedy School study showed that women who pretended to negotiate on a friend’s behalf asked for almost $7,000 more on average than if they negotiate for themselves:

 “One big hurdle for me was just realizing: I’m not greedy, I’m not super aggressive, I’m not ungrateful for this job,” says Kristin Wong, a freelance writer and journalist based in Los Angeles. “If I want to level the playing field, I have to do something about it.”

6. Remember, you don’t have to take the job

Be confident in your worth and path to success, because “Success, it turns out, correlates just as closely with confidence as it does with competence.”

If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it. You’ll be uncomfortable and itching for a new pair too soon! Get bespoke advice, unique tools, and more with my team.

This article was originally published on Triple Pundit.

Photo by lucas Favre on Unsplash

Shannon Houde is an ICF certified executive and career coach who founded, Walk of Life Consulting, the first international professional development advisory business focused solely on the social impact, environmental and sustainable business fields.

Photo by lucas Favre (small)

Meet Asha Lannin, 2017 Net Impact Pitch Competition Winner

In this blog post, we interviewed the 2017 Net Impact Conference Pitch Competition winner, Asha Lannin, MBA Candidate, USC Marshall School of Business. For more information about the Net Impact Pitch Competition, visit 

Can you tell us more about your winning idea?

Girls are outpacing boys in educational attainment across every socioeconomic level, but women only make up 34% of senior roles in corporate America.
Imagine this: You are a 13 year old girl living in Los Angeles.  Automatically, the likelihood that you living in poverty is 30%. Your mother makes $37,253 (the Los Angeles median for women) in a service job, which qualifies you as 1.8 times more likely to pursue the same career as her over any other potential career option. In the media, you see major corporations advertising their efforts to promote management diversity in the workforce, but you don't know anyone in your community with these types of dynamic jobs. 
In this scenario, how can you envision yourself in a successful role, without the right vantage point or the right tools?  You can't be what you can't see, and you can't see what you can't reach.  We launched Bridget to start solving this problem.
Bridget uses video creation to equip teen girls to envision themselves in careers outside their immediate environments. In exchange for a skill-building interaction with a professional woman at one of our partner corporations, our girls report their insights and feedback by creating a corporate social responsibility commercial for that partner brand.
Our team of women from a variety of professional backgrounds negotiates partnerships with corporations that have a vested interest in diversity. Then our programming with a small cohort of 15 girls begins in three phases.
Bridget teams our girls with an LA film crew. The girls drive the process, and produce and edit an impact video from the bridge. They are challenged to identify and communicate the value gained from their interaction. These videos will live on our website—think TedTalks, but for girls exploring career paths. 
Each time a video is played, the corresponding partner corporation publicly donates an additional nominal amount back to Bridget programming. This share campaign expands the conversation, and gets the public involved. Our partners receive a branded impact commercial created by the next generation, and our girls build professional capacity and a living resume of experience. 

How was your experience at the 2017 Net Impact Conference? 

The Net Impact Conference was an experience of a lifetime. My team and I entered Bridget in the Pitch Competition within a couple months of starting business school, and winning the competition has set such an awesome tone for our work. 
We submitted a one minute video to apply for the Competition, after going back to the drawing board and using Design Thinking to reexamine the business model I had originally created. This process drew out some great new perspectives. When we were invited to Atlanta as one of the six teams to pitch, I was so excited-- I can’t even explain it! As a founder, it was especially difficult to distill a model that has been years in the making into a four-minute pitch. I am incredibly helpful to my USC Marshall Net Impact team members (Jessica Schleder, Baylis Beard and Xiaojue Zhang) for providing invaluable inputs and feedback throughout the process, and to my boyfriend and everyone else who humored me by listening to and tweaking my pitch a million times. 
The other teams were incredible. I was so inspired by the creativity and passion that filled the room on pitch day, and so honored to pitch alongside them. The Net Impact staff were detail oriented, and they did such a great job of getting us all ready for the big day. The judges asked really poignant questions and have helped to focus our ongoing development of our programming. And the audience was so energizing and attentive! I am truly grateful for this experience with Net Impact, and highly recommend it!

How has this experience shaped your future plans?

The experience of winning the Net Impact National Pitch Competition provided me with so much encouragement and feedback. Preparing for the competition involved a great deal of self-examination and iteration. The most impactful way that the experience has shaped my future plans is that after the competition, Jessica Schleder and Baylis Beard formally joined my leadership team for Bridget. I am so proud of and grateful for our dynamic team, which also includes Keshiia Rosenberg Neumen. Our 2018 calendar is full of plans for new bridge events. One of our upcoming initiatives is dedicated to working with a group of teen mothers, and inspiring them with pathways to college and access to other women who have incorporated motherhood seamlessly into successful careers. Stay tuned!

What excites you most about being a social entrepreneur?

I feel like the term “social entrepreneur” has become a bit trendy, but I really do think that social entrepreneurship is the future of innovation and profitability. The Econ Major in me loves the notion that the market will compete out the companies that cannot authentically connect with positive social impact. In my personal experience and from my conversations with other entrepreneurs, we all want to find and create meaning. Millennial and Gen Z consumers are actively looking for brands with meaning, and they want to know the stories behind its discovery. In my eyes, there’s never been a more thrilling time to be an entrepreneur!

What advice would you give to someone who is passionate about making an impact, but is not sure where to start?

That very feeling is what we hope to address through Bridget! We believe that the best way to tangibly nurture your career curiosity is through a face-to-face interaction with someone doing something that interests you. Through our bridges and videos, we hope to inspire more young people to get familiar with the language of connection and inquiry. 
I have no special formula for making an impact. But when in doubt, I know it never hurts to: 1.) Be bold. Express your admiration, and ask for interaction. 2.) Prepare. Ask questions that show you are genuinely interested, and that you respect your new contact’s time, and 3.) Demonstrate your comprehension and gratitude.

If you were given an extra hour every day, what would you do with it?

If I were given an extra hour each day, I would probably spend it differently each day! My work with Bridget and my school commitments require that I am pretty regimented about my schedule. There are four things I’d definitely aim to do: meditate, cook, read, and sleep.
Bridget, 2017 Net Impact Pitch Competition Winner
Bridget, 2017 Net Impact Pitch Competition Winner