Strength In Numbers

To gain real economic and social power, you'll need to compete in a world that is drastically changing in size and diversity. here's how.

concerns and economic culture of a foreign country, Randall Robinson, president of TransAfrica Forum, suggests, “Seek out people that can facilitate international discussions. You don’t need to know the countries’ principles. There are other people that do.”

The relaxation of immigration laws to allow for high-tech and other professionals from other countries to work in the U.S. will also create more competition for Americans.

BE Board of Economists member and Pomona College Associate Professor of Economics Cecilia Conrad recommends black technology professionals seek training every six months to stay competitive with immigrant workers being sought from Asia and India.

To be a player, get to know the players. Players include those in your immediate circle of influence, as well as those in the world at large.

Do you know who your congressional representative is? What senators represent your state? Who the most influential executives (black and otherwise) are in your company? Your industry? Who is the editor of your city’s most influential newspaper? Who are the members of the school board governing your child’s school?

Once you identify which of these leaders are most key to your success, find out which civic organization, or events they frequent and make it a point to attend that group’s next function.

You want to seek out opportunities for major players to get to know — and to t
hink positively of — you. This is how networking results in the acquisition of power and influence. Whether your priority is improving the quality of your life in your community or achieving business and professional success, you must know who the movers and shakers are shaping business, the economy, politics, and public opinion, both within and outside the African American community.

With the melting pot taking affect, it’s essential to become familiar with a diversity of people from all aspects of your chosen industry at all professional levels.

Also, you shouldn’t limit your focus to CEOs; don’t underestimate the value of knowing the gatekeepers — the secretaries, executive assistants, and other professionals who can either run interference for you or interfere with your efforts to make a connection with a person of influence. In other words, nobody is too unimportant to pay attention to, and access and influence can come from the most unlikely sources.

Become a news junkie. It’s not enough to know who the players are. You must understand why they are players, and how they relate to your community, your industry, the nation, and the world.

The most successful human beings have at least one thing in common. They are well informed. No matter how busy they are, they read at least one daily newspaper and a variety of magazines and industry publications; they tap into the news on the Internet; and they devour local and national political, financial, and business news programs on television and radio. You must do no less.

There are few more reliable indications of powerlessness than being asked, “What’s going on?” and having to answer, “I don’t know.” Such an exchange can have disastrous results if it takes place in a

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