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Building Your Network

What is your preferred social media tool to use for networking and engaging with other individuals? LinkedIn has been my go-to professional platform for forging and nurturing new relationships. Many of us do not realize the power to connect with individuals because we want to reap immediate benefits without realizing these relationships need to be nourished with time. I tend to think of it as a vegetable garden – once you plant the seeds, one needs to invest time watering and fertilizing them, all while exercising patience before eating the final product.

I value my network and hold my professional colleagues in high regard; many of them even support me with my advocacy endeavors. In recent months, I re-connected with Marv Nixon of Nixon Health Coaching on LinkedIn. I met Marv in 2008 during my Senate Congressional Training at Capitol Hill. I reached out to him to set up a meeting so I can gain a better perspective of addressing FAA congressional inquiries from the constituents of Florida. Marv embraced the idea, and I met him and his team at the FAA building in Washington, D.C. As my Senate Congressional Liaison, he and his team would go out of their way to provide prompt assistance to Floridians. Marv’s openness to meet me, and kindness to give me a tour, resonate with me to this day, so at that time I connected with him on LinkedIn. Twelve years later, I did not realize both of us selecting a different career path would reconnect on LinkedIn, this time to advocate for caregivers. Earlier this month, Marv was my first guest on my podcast, The Indian Caregiver, and we had a healthy discussion addressing self-care and optimizing health for caregivers, and recognizing the fact that in order to give our best to others we need to be at our own best. Another one of my former Department of Justice (DOJ) congressional contacts supports my Orlando Walk to End Alzheimers and sends me words of encouragement throughout the year.

The ongoing support from my two federal friends is priceless. I am delighted 12 years ago that I seized the opportunity to meet with my Congressional Liaisons during my visit to Washington, D.C. That visit not only created a strong lifelong bond outside the federal boundaries but also allowed me how to better serve the constituents of Florida. Although we are no longer in federal government, it is important to remember that these bonds last a lifetime no matter where our path takes us.

My personal advice to a successful network is the following:

  • After meeting the individuals, connect with them on LinkedIn and other platforms such as Twitter
  • Comment with words of encouragement or acknowledge achievements
  • If you come across an article that is relevant to their profession, send it to them with a brief note
  • If the opportunity arises, and you feel comfortable, recommend that individual for opportunities

As Anna Wintour, Vogue’s editor-in-chief succinctly articulates:

“In today’s world, you have to interact. You can’t be some difficult, shy person who is not able to look somebody in the face, you have to present yourself. You have to know how to talk about your vision, your focus, and what you believe in.”

Interested in becoming a Featured Contributor? Email topics you’re interested in covering for GovLoop  to [email protected]. And to read more from our Winter 2021 Cohort, here is a full list of every Featured Contributor during this cohort.

Usha Tewari is a first-generation Indian-American born and raised in Orlando. Ms. Tewari has over 14 years of experience working for elected officials at the federal and local levels. She currently works full-time in local government managing 13 individuals and is a caregiver to her mother who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s/Dementia. In 2019, she was Orlando Magazine’s “Woman of the Year” with her advocacy efforts. In her spare time, she devotes herself to advancing Alzheimer’s/Dementia awareness at the grassroots level in her community as well as Tallahassee and Washington D.C. She serves as an Alzheimer’s Ambassador for Congresswoman Demings.

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