Q: We first found you on the PI blogs, and we’ve since learned that you’re entrenched in the Seattle scene as a writer, networking initiator and even a DJ. How did you accomplish all of this in such a short period of time?
Darnell: I will admit, a lot of things have happened outwardly in a fairly short period of time even though the fundamentals of the ideas for everything I am doing now have been brewing for years. To elaborate, I created a platform that started with my blog. I used this platform to build relationships, make valuable contacts and to promote my other endeavors. These relationships and contacts allowed me to open doors that were not previously available. Being a perfectionist, blogging allowed me to put myself out there in a way that felt very uncomfortable to me. As I became more confident, I was able to make better decisions and fulfill my creative passions in a rewarding and effective way.
Q: Do you attribute your networking prowess to your accomplishments, and why?
Darnell: I don’t necessarily attribute my networking prowess to my recent accomplishments, but rather, to the fact that I was a vagabond growing up. We moved around a lot and that meant learning to be good at adapting to different people and situations on a dime. This skill has allowed me to be able to read people and that is what I attribute my networking prowess to.
Q: Can you share your networking how-to’s with readers?
Darnell: Networking is about meeting people, building relationships and bringing people together. Keep in mind that everyone you meet knows someone you would like to know – you just don’t know it yet. That’s the fun part. Seek to learn and listen. Ask questions. More often than not, you will find gems of information you were not expecting to find. They might not be looking for a photographer today, but if they like you as a person, trust me, you’ll be the first person they think about when an opportunity comes up.
Q: How about your how-to-not (effectively network)?
Darnell: Don’t expect to seal a deal or make a sale the first time you meet someone. Get to know them first. Aggressive selling puts people on guard and elevator speeches sound contrived. Just be yourself. If business comes up and the timing feels right, feel free to discuss. Don’t force your business or business ethics onto others, especially if the situation doesn’t call for it. That’s a turn off in my book.
Q: Why did you focus on a women-only networking group?
Darnell: Women are natural networkers. Especially when they are in a comfortable and non-threatening environment that allows them to open up to each other. Often times, there are not enough situations that facilitate such environments in an attractive and interest-engaging way, especially when men are around (not that there’s anything wrong with that). That is why we created Girl Power Hour. My business partner and I met at a networking event that lacked luster. We felt there was room for improvement with the old way of networking and we knew that if we put the right elements together, that we would have something special. It’s a new spin on the old boys club. After holding our first event in September 2007 and starting monthly events in January 2008, we average anywhere from 150-200 women at our events and our 1 Year anniversary party occurred this September. We are on to something.