It took me about six weeks to find my first paying client. While it was scary to be financially strapped for a few months, and lack of paying clients continues to be one of my bigger fears, the response to my concept was positive from Day 1. I have not encountered one person who in hearing about my approach has discounted it or said it was not valuable.
One of the most critical elements supporting my work now is managing my network and relationships. I often tell anyone who will listen that it pays to keep in contact with anyone that has been part of a professional or personal past. I rely on sites like LinkedIn to do this. Not only do I post content on my profile to keep my profile up as a thought-leader, but I also maintain my extensive network this way. It always amazes me how often paths crisscross and reattach in different ways. I have been able to reconnect with so many past colleagues over the last few years, and it helps keep me learning, inspired and curious. You never know when someone in your network can be of help, and everyone really does like to help each other! One of the biggest pieces of advice I give young professionals is to network the hell out of their time. You can never have too many entry points into organizations you want to learn more about, work with or be employed by. Utilizing contacts makes those processes much easier, and it saves everyone involved time. Building on my network from the last fifteen years, I have been incredibly grateful to work with some of the most innovative, proactive and impactful companies, NGOs and organizations in the space of social, environmental and economic impact since launching. I have been able to say ‘no’ to organizations whose missions I did not agree with or respect. And I have been able to find true impact by being honest, transparent, real and focused. My path to impact was not straight. It was a circuitous journey unlike anyone else’s and each step along the way, while challenging at times, and rewarding at others, brought me to the place of content and fulfillment of today.