“Breadcrumbs along the Way”
Updated: Sep 29, 2022
Written by: Crystal Yelverton
It is an honor to be in this space and share a little about my journey, but more importantly, share with readers some of the breadcrumbs I have learned along the way that I hope will be helpful to each of you along your journeys. That is what it is all about - pouring into one another’s journeys, which in turn will help fuel all of our futures.
I have been very blessed to have an amazing career in non-profit thus far. Working in my current role, at March of Dimes, as Executive Director, I lead a team in Southern California that focuses on making an impact in maternal and child health through programs, education, advocacy and research.
I am very proud of the work that our team does and the role that I play within our organization. I also recognize that there were steps that I took along the way to position myself to make these contributions within the community through the work that I do. Those steps - or breadcrumbs - that I will share with you remain relevant as I continue on my own journey, as part of the journey is continuing to learn, and put forth that which you have learned-no matter how primitive it might be.
I will begin with being a lifelong learner. It is not lost upon me that this is something taught to many at a young age, but I want you to think beyond the campuses or residencies...go with me to your corporations, your service organizations...or even your family. Maybe you are thinking, my family..."riiiiight!"
Wait for it...yes, your family.
There is no doubt you have heard that every interaction, each exposure you have and so on can be a learning experience - and they all should be! Good, bad or in-between. Whether learning "tricks or secrets of the trade" during your time on a gig, or learning how to deal with frantic personalities by watching how your mom deals with your free spirited “Aunt Marci,” those experiences - if you allow them - teach you tools for your own toolbox that you can use freely along your journey. Whoever thought that my time as the head cheerleading coach at North Lenoir High School, coordinating the parent booster club, fundraisers, special events and field trips around the country for competitions would have offered me baseline skills to be a non-profit executive, leading multi-million dollar teams..."who'd-a-thunk-it?"
You MUST make connections! I am intentional about saying making connections in lieu of networking. With the existence of social media networks and the changing landscape of communication, networking, as we previously knew it, is diluted. Making connections is about building rapport. Establishing a relationship - even if just at the acquaintance level - that you can call on for a particular, reasonable purpose - and they could call on you as well. Making connections requires effort. Being involved and engaged, establishing contact - these are things from sending thank you or pleasure meeting you notes, or taking time to meet or chat with contacts in which you may see a potential mutual gain.
You don't always know right away how you will/will not engage with these individuals in the future, but having that rapport, establishing that connection, certainly makes a call to them when you do need to that much warmer than the standard Facebook stalking many tend to result to when meeting new contacts- something all too common in our current construct.
One of my biggest professional advocates came from networking when I was an intern at the March of Dimes. At the time, I had no idea whom I was chatting with at a pre-gala private party, but - having a great time and sharing about my own goals. While inquiring with whom I was chatting, I learn I have become fast friends with the primary executive of one of the area's leading corporations. Little did I know that over the course of my career, because of the rapport he and I had built, he would later ascend as one of my largest donors and strongest volunteer leaders.
Nothing like great relationships with people that can make things happen, but you have to be willing to step out there. This I have carried with me throughout my professional and personal endeavors. Another nugget that I have found to be extremely important over the course of my career is the ability to market oneself. Do not mistaken this with being an extrovert versus an introvert.
Self-marketing does not require being the loudest in the room, while proper charisma certainly goes a long way, the buck does not stop there. Be present in whatever it is that you are involved in - "be there," not just a body in the room. Be engaged, participate in whatever way demonstrates your strengths and assets you bring to the group or project in which you are participating.
Have strong integrity. Simple as that...those around you and that work with you should not have to wonder...period!
Be positive! Life is too short and we all have too much going on to deal with negativity. When we interact with others, no matter the setting, it is our duty to be positive...take it a step further and be a joy to work with. It is not that bad, it will actually set you apart.
While you may be wondering how in the world do these things, positivity, engagement, being present and integrity result in marketing one’s self. It is even simpler than why my above explanation for integrity was so short, this combination is rare today. When you have this combination, you stand apart from the rest.
Meet the Author
Executive Director at March of Dimes ~ Leader & Change Agent, Champion for Inclusion, Health Equity & Customer Centric Sales