Being able to effectively articulate your value in the workplace has always been important. And amid Covid-19, it’s more crucial than ever before.
That was one of the biggest takeaways on Tuesday during a Clubhouse audio event hosted by NBC News’ Know Your Value.
The “Raise Ur Hand” event was hosted by Know Your Value founder and “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski, and panelists included “Morning Joe” producer Daniela Pierre-Bravo, management consultant Jennifer Folsom, Klarna’s head of strategy Natalia Brzezinski, Columbia law professor Alexandra Carter, body language expert Janine Driver and executive career coach Liz Bentley.
The panelists noted that women, who have disproportionately lost jobs during the pandemic, have had to find new ways to (virtually) raise their hands and get ahead in their careers.
And while it may seem challenging, the experts agreed women can make waves in the workplace over Zoom and other virtual platforms.
“It’s a whole new world for knowing your value,” said Mika Brzezinski. “Raising your hand might mean clicking on the hand emoji on your phone. It might be unmuting yourself on Zoom, or raising your actual hand in a Zoom call to say ‘hello, I want to talk.’”
Yet, the cards can often be stacked against women, particularly those who are just starting out in their careers, said Natalia Brzezinski. She feared that without in-person sponsorship and networking events, women are being put at an even greater disadvantage and losing out on critical access to high-powered executives in their companies.
“People are afraid, and they’re hiring only people they trust, and their circles are getting smaller,” said Natalia Brzezinski. “If we [panelists] were coming up right now in this moment, we would have a rough time. No one would take a chance on us because people aren’t taking a chance on anything right now.”
That’s why networking is more important than ever, said Folsom, who has teamed up with Know Your Value to launch REBOOT Camp, a series featuring women from all walks of life who have lost their jobs and are struggling with their employment search amid uncertain times.
“You have to be very intentional about your networking. You can’t be complacent right now. You have to keep growing your network,” Folsom said. “The silver lining is that I’m not schlepping on the Beltway for 45 minutes, at least I can pick someone, find them quickly online, ask them for virtual coffee or virtual drinks and go from there.”
During the Clubhouse event, one listener asked the panelists how she could find the courage to speak up and make her presence known in the workplace.
Pierre-Bravo, who co-wrote “Earn It!: Know Your Value and Grow Your Career in Your 20s and Beyond” with Mika Brzezinski, responded by sharing her story of being an undocumented immigrant trying to get a job in New York City. In her early days, she found herself wrought with self-doubt.
“The reason why you’re having trouble expressing yourself goes far back to your upbringing, and to the narrative you've allowed yourself to believe about yourself,” Pierre-Bravo responded to the listener. “I was in survival mode, wearing this narrative that I had of my value, which was a poor, undocumented Latina who was a fish out of fresh water. Once I dug in and saw these as false narratives that I assumed people saw in me, it changed everything. It made me feel more comfortable taking up space.”
Taking up space is quite literal for Driver, who recommended standing with your feet apart to give off an air of strength when you’re face-to-face with colleagues.
“I call it a tall skinny candle. When you stand with your feet less than six inches apart, you give the impression that you’re a pushover,” Driver said. “When you stand with your feet apart, you’re a short, fat candle - and you’re not going to be pushed over easily.”
Mika Brzezinski emphasized that taking up space, raising your hand and feeling confident takes practice. She recommended that the listener do some trial runs by herself and with friends before returning to the office.
“Stand on a chair and shout in your house your name and your value in 15 seconds or less,” she said. “…Have some friends over and practice with them. Stand up and speak in a roomful of people. Have them assess you. That’s how you learn.”