How can you become
When you’re happy with yourself, people are drawn to
you and want to be around you. You’ll have interesting
things to say about what you value and you’ll be able
to convey that to others. I think that people who are
open to initiating conversation will benefit the most.
“What can I do to help others? What can I do to give
back?” There’s a cliché that it will come back ten-fold,
and I do believe that.
How are networking and self-improve-
When you’re happy with what you’re
doing and who you are, you will attract
similar people and engage in more
interesting dialogue. I think many
people approach networking like a
transaction, but I take a transformational approach. If you network based
on those values, richer opportunities
I met a woman at a conference who
is a designer by trade, but on the side
she taught entrepreneurialism at a
charter school for at-risk kids in Los
Angeles. They taught the kids how
to make and sell products, and occasionally brought in entrepreneurs for
Their school was submitted for a
competition, and President Obama
would speak at the school that received
the most votes. The kids did a video
campaign and sent the videos to key
influencers who could spread the word
and get more votes. The school was
focused on environmental issues as
well, so they zeroed in on influencers
interested in environmental causes.
They knew that I had an in with
Sir Richard Branson, who was very
involved in environmental issues. They
sent me a video that was touching,
unique and completely tailored to
him. I passed it on to him, knowing it
was a long shot. Within 24 hours, he
responded. He was serendipitously in
Los Angeles and wanted to meet with
the kids. The kids had a 45-minute
meeting with him in a hotel meeting
room. They asked him questions about
life and business. He was very inspiring and I believe that moment changed
those kids’ lives.
Since then, word spread in the
business community that Sir Richard
Branson spoke at the school and many
others were inspired to get involved.
The kids have been able to listen to the
CEO of a skincare company, a Google
executive, the director of “The Lion
King” film, and many other amazing
people. It was completely unexpected,
and it happened because a woman I met
knew her values and convictions and
simply asked me for help.
Everyone’s worst nightmare is a seat-
mate who never shuts up. How do you
handle this situation?
I think it’s rare for someone to keep a
conversation going for the entire flight.
You can easily and respectfully close out
the conversation by saying something
like, “It’s been great chatting with you.
I think I’m going to read my book for
a bit now.” So don’t avoid having any
conversation at all for fear of the never-
ending chat. There will always be a
time that you can bow out.
You were known as the "social media
queen" within Virgin Airlines. Is there
any crossover between your philoso-
phies on networking and social media?
Social networking can augment
regular networking. I was speaking
at an event in Budapest and I asked
my Facebook network for contacts in
Budapest. Within an hour, I received a
response from someone who knows the
Ambassador. Within 24 hours, I had a
lunch scheduled with the Ambassador
Similarly to real-life networking, if
you stay true to your interests, then like-minded people will be drawn to you
and, through posts and sharing, engage
in interesting conversations with you.
Sharí Alexander is the co-owner of the Expert Message Group. EMG works with speakers and authors to publish their books, craft their speeches, and build
their businesses. On the platform, Sharí shares
her experiences as a presentation coach and
speech writer to help organizations improve
public speaking and communication skills.