In our latest “Ask an Expert” column, we asked Lydia Fenet, the author of The Most Powerful Woman in the Room Is You and the Global Managing Director, Strategic Partnerships and Lead Benefit Auctioneer at Christie’s Auction House, for her advice on how to virtually network, find a mentor, and plan for your professional future.
What career advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
Lydia Fenet: Don’t look to other people to create your career path or to tell you what you need to do in order to realize your dreams. You are in charge of creating the career path that you want, and you are in charge of making it happen. The best piece of career advice I’ve ever received is: you are what you negotiate, not a penny more. No one will ever pay you what you deserve unless you ask for it.
Do you have any tips on how to find a great mentor and how to maintain a relationship with a mentor?
Lydia Fenet: Finding the right mentor can not only help you grow in your career, but also in your understanding about business in general. You don’t necessarily have to choose someone who is in your industry, but rather look for someone who has shown integrity and thoughtfulness in pursuing their goals. In order to keep your relationship with your mentor on solid ground, check in with them on a monthly basis to let them know where you are in the career and if there is anything they can do to help you achieve your goals.
In your book, you detail the “Strike Method,” AKA your signature move to help build up confidence in any situation. How can our readers develop their own signature move to build confidence?
Lydia Fenet: Think about either a physical motion or a mantra that you can say/do before you are going into a high-stress situation. It can be as easy as the same sentence that you use every time you are starting a difficult conversation or tapping the bottom of a table right before you launch into a pitch to say “here we go”. Whatever it takes to quiet your mind and make you feel like you are going in from a point of strength will become your Strike Method.
How can people network and stay in touch while quarantined?
Lydia Fenet: I think that this is the best time ever to network. People have more time on their hands than ever to jump on a fifteen minute call. DM people on Instagram, reach out over LinkedIn. I have found everyone more willing than ever to connect so use this downtime wisely. You are more likely to get in touch with someone now than in a few months when things start to go back to normal.
Coronavirus has impacted countless industries and careers. How can people develop a professional “road map” in response to industry changes?
Lydia Fenet: Sit down with a blank piece of paper and spend time creating your road map. It’s okay if you can’t think of anything in the first few minutes – feel free to come back to it as many times as you need to over a day/week/month to sketch out your short and long term goals. In the short term also think about assets that you can monetize in the short term to help pay your bills. Remember that many people have had to lay people off in the short term, but may still need support in areas that you might have a skill. Reach out to anyone/everyone who you might be able to help during this time. You can also spend this time learning something you didn’t have time to learn a few months ago and add that to your resume. Remember that as uncertain and frightening as everything seems right now, things will recover in time. Your goal is to be ready with your plan so when the world starts to open back up you are already a step ahead.
How can people stay motivated and set boundaries while working remotely?
Lydia Fenet: I am a huge believer in schedules and goal setting. Set small, obtainable goals every day. Set boundaries around when you are “in the office” so you aren’t working 24/7, make sure to get at least 10/15 minutes of exercise either outside or using an app and make sure to reach out and connect with someone in your life a couple of times a week so you feel like you are connected to your outside life. If you are homeschooling your kids, make your life easier by creating a master calendar the night before so you aren’t constantly on the defense trying to figure out when they are supposed to be in school. But also, remember to give yourself a break if you have days where you can’t achieve the goals you set. This is an extraordinary time so be kind to yourself.
Do you have any tips on how to prepare for job interviews remotely?
Lydia Fenet: Research, research, research. Find out everything you possibly can about the person interviewing you and the business you are speaking with. Prepare to answer questions about what you can do to help the business grow in the short term or when a new normal emerges.
Purchase Fenet’s book, The Most Powerful Woman in the Room Is You, on Amazon now.