how to master the art of networking like a boss

Feb 4, 2016

I don't claim to be the Warren Buffet of networking expertise, but trust when I tell you, relationship marketing has literally catapulted me to where I am now. And I'm talking the real deal shiz, not sleazy slimy needy networking. More like, genuinely being interested in people who are not yourself. What a thought! And while this isn't an exhaustive list of tips, practice with this little refresher and I'll be back with the ultimate guide to winning over every single person you meet, even if you're too anxious to even leave your house!

We live in a world that makes opportunities harder for women. Whilst the presumption is often that girl bosses, (AKA female entrepreneurs) need only wiggle their hips and bat their eyelashes to secure a deal, this is simply not the case; nor would the vast majority of women want it to be. Can I get a feminist amen! However, what this presumption does is make it seem like businesswomen are getting an easier ride, all the while also preventing them from using their genuine skills to impress on the corporate playground. In other words, it can be a ‘lose-lose’ situation for girls who lack the confidence to stand out from the crowd and crush the stereotypes with wit, charm, and smarts. And I know you have all of dat!

The reality is that the business world can be tough for women. Yet, when we do succeed, we often do so in such inimitable style and magnificence that it is difficult to imagine any other outcome. From Anna Wintour to Oprah Winfrey, Karen Brady, Victoria Beckham, Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg, and more – we continue to prove that, with the right networking know how, we can beat the boys club ten times over at their own game.

These networking tips and tricks will help you learn how to dazzle at any professional mixer event, no matter what the size or who might be listening. Hey, these even work for fashion week! If there are people, you'll be networking. Period.

I used to write poetry...

Feb 2, 2016

You know, I use to write award-winning poetry. But now I live in a basement. Goals are funny, aren’t they?

Elders think I'm a baby, but it feels like lifetimes ago when I naively set foot upon the yellow brick road after college, positive that I would become the next best publishing legend the business world had ever seen. A media empire to rival Oprah and Martha Stewart. And guess what happened? I lost who I was more times than I can count. I compared myself; I discovered envy, greed, racism, competitiveness. All I wanted to be was a writer and designer, but what I got in return was a bit of emptiness. If only I had support. A sisterhood. A network. Community. This is why I launched Solo Girl Squad. For me. For you. For everyone. And I'm glad you chose to be here. It might have been a fleeting moment while you were busy with other things, but you reached for me and I caught you. So let's ride this together.

But I still wonder.

Did my addictive infatuation with paper come first, or did the poet? Journals, notebooks, wire-bound; perfectly encased in grainy leather hides or velvety card stock. Did I know what would come when the diary transitioned from shopping bag to the desk - a neighbor of pens and a wastebasket - this new tactile object altogether calling my name yet silent and still. Inanimate.

Or did I know my power? A true calling from birth. The involuntary manifestation of words into art. Are writers even humble? Did I reach for the leather-bound journal with all intention of birthing a pièce de résistance more so than being surprised by my own hand? I simply just never know. All I know is, long ago, in a naively happier life full of wonder, and that magic we call possibility, (or optimism for the romantics) I used to write poetry. Anytime it rained; when my heart was broken; when I wanted my pen and ink to sing the notes I could not hit, I would write poems. For healing, for dreaming, for prayer, for love, for art. I thought poetry would make me a woman. Make me into something great.

What happened?

how to shop for vintage on etsy like a fashion stylist

Every girl should experience the thrill of a good vintage wardrobe. Trust me, vintage nearly saved my life after becoming a minimalist. And yet, shopping for vintage clothing can be an exhausting, albeit a highly rewarding indulgence for those who are into mindful fashion. But what do you do if you want a beautiful retro piece, yet totally lack the time to search through a ton of racks? I mean you're like so busy, that you couldn't find time even if it slapped you in the face with a custom Birkin! Thankfully, Etsy has a huge variety of beautiful vintage clothing for sale. So that time you think escaped you, well, it will find you when you're sitting browsing Facebook for hours and rather be window shopping from the comfort of your home.

There’s some talk that Etsy is giving Ebay a run for its money. For a long, long time. The hype is true. Ever since its introduction on the world wide marketplace, Etsy has grown a reputation for having a huge variety of uniquely well curated vintage collections from the creme de la creme of veteran sellers.

But easy, happy hunting it is not. Years ago, it was simple enough to find vintage clothing for a bargain steal at local thrift stores, but with the growing popularity of thrifting and vintage both online and off, prices have skyrocketed. Rachel Zoe anyone? Therefore, I thought I would pop in and share some of my fashion stylist tips to help you find some awesome vintage finds!

Tips for Shopping for Vintage Clothing Online

Solo Girl Chronicles: The Comparison Monster by Lauren Jolly

Jan 28, 2016

Solo Girl Chronicles is a new weekly series on the blog. I am opening up the blog to admirable girls I have come across from years of "living" online who surprisingly have a lot more in common with my story, and maybe even yours, of anxiety disorders and social mental blocks than anyone would realize. Sometimes you just a need a chance to share your voice. After that, we all realize how similar we really are, and how no one is alone when it comes to the human experience. If you'd like to share your story, please see my new submissions page here.

I've dealt with this.

We’ve all dealt with it.

We find ourselves scrolling through Instagram; the feelings of jealousy building, as one photo after the other portrays a perfect family in their flawlessly put tpgether adorable outfits, frollicking in the snow. They’re all laughing - not one of them has a hair out of place and it’s basically perfect. Then you read the caption, and you just know you’ll never measure up to these impeccably dressed women with perfectly eloquent thoughts about life and motherhood and business.

This all hit me harder than ever last year after having my son in May. My world was turned upside down in an instant. All of a sudden I was a momma. That changed everything. If you would have asked me before I had my sweet little boy whether I had a huge problem with comparison or not, I would have definitely said no. But after my labor and delivery didn’t go as planned - that’s another longgg story for another day - I started comparing myself to other moms’ labor and deliveries. I became obsessed with reading other women’s birth stories and how mine should’ve/could’ve/would’ve gone differently if only I’d been stronger. Then the comparison virus started to seep into other areas of my life. I would see other business-owning mommas #rockingit with their new babies while I felt like I was drowning and unable to get anything done. Then my son stopped sleeping through the night. It seemed like everyone else’s babies were perfect sleepers and I was alone, yet again. You can see how this quickly became a slippery slope of jealousy, bitterness, and - yep, you guessed it - comparison.

I decided to slow down, think on what would be best for ME, and join some mom groups. While the community was a game changer for me, I still found myself scrolling through Instagram with a pit in my stomach when I got home. How were these women doing it? How did they find time to curl their hair, take beautiful photos for social media, and write smart and creative blog posts while taking care of their little ones? I mean we’re all given the same amount of hours in a day, right? It just all seemed impossible and I began to question whether I should even be in business at all right now.

I began to realize that my jealousy was stemming from my sense of self worth (or lack thereof).

I started to notice that when I looked at other women’s lives (or their “highlight reels”) on social media, I was looking at them selfishly. It wasn’t about their accomplishments or great things happening in their lives, it was about what wasn’t happening in mine and the goals I wasn’t able to reach. How selfish is that?! These people, who I called my "friends" are celebrating big things, and all I could think was “why can’t I do that?”

I knew something had to change. It wasn’t just about unfollowing certain people on Instagram, or avoiding social media altogether. I genuinely know these platforms can be amazing and inspiring resources, and I didn’t want to give that up completely!

It was about a heart change.

I decided to concentrate on real relationships, starting with and take a few days off social media to refocus. I reached out to other mommas and found that I wasn’t the only one dealing with these feelings. I stepped into my fear and made real friends. I was afraid that if I let anyone know that I wasn’t the perfect momma/business woman, I would look silly and unprofessional. But what I began to realize as I put myself out there, is that we’re all dealing with this. We’re all feeling a bit inadequate and comparing ourselves to others. Social media doesn’t help - we share the good and leave out the bad. That seems obvious, I mean, why would I share a photo of my son screaming or a photo of my incredibly messy home? And that may never happen for most of us, but when we realize that everyone else is also sharing their “highlight reel,” it puts it all into perspective.

Here are the biggest steps I took in order to fight that comparison monster:

  1. Find a community - finding other mommas out there who were in the same season of life was a game-changer. I have an on-going text thread with a few momma friends and it’s such a blessing! We vent, we celebrate little victories, we complain, we pray for each other. It’s pretty amazing and I would say this is the NUMBER ONE thing you should search for after having a baby.
  2. Give myself grace - I’m not perfect. Obviously. But sometimes we get sucked into thinking we are supposed to be perfect. Why? I’m not sure but I do know it’s not good. Take a step back and give yourself grace. We’re all struggling and taking it #daybyday. You can’t be everything to everyone all the time.
  3. Take breaks from social media - Taking weekends off of social media (or longer if you feel you need it) is so refreshing. I can focus on real life and my family with no distractions. I would highly recommend this. And for a little irony, you can use the hashtag #socialmediafreeweekend

Lauren Jolly is a wedding and birth photographer in the Raleigh, NC area. She considers it an honor to photograph people on the most life-changing days of their lives. When she's not behind her camera, you can usually find her with a cup of coffee in hand, snuggling on the couch, watching Netflix with her son, Finn, and husband, Vaughan. 

Solo Girl Squad. All rights reserved. ©