In this exclusive interview for the I Do Business Blog, Jessica Lui reveals her top tips for networking and how she became such a successful entrepreneur.
Jessica is the founding CEO of Global Professional Practicum, a UN Ambassador, and a popular business speaker, roles in which she shares her valuable insight into technology and business.
Additionally, Jessica is a vocal supporter of inclusion and representation in business and was even named in Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women!
Do not miss this exciting interview with a true champion of diversity, an expert networker, and top TED talk speaker, Jessica Lui.
What are your top 3 tips for successful networking?
“I love that question!
“My first tip is to be goal-oriented, to know what you want to get from networking. A lot of the questions about who we should connect with or who would be the most helpful for us in our journey are really determined by your goals.
“The second tip is to make sure you’re in a place where you will get access to opportunities. I met Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, a couple of years ago, and he said that the key thing that enables an entrepreneur to succeed is their network. Your network provides access to your customers, your capital, and your talent, but most importantly, your learning opportunities!
“And I think particularly with the rise in technology, it’s really expanded opportunities for networking and mentorship, whether through work industry conferences, professional organisations that have mentorship programs – they’re all available online now. Social media sites like LinkedIn are really great for building that bridge between you and potential sponsors and mentors in your career.
“The final tip is – I think this is the one that people forget the most – staying engaged with your network. So, find ways to stay in touch. One of my friends does an annual newsletter around Christmas time, and it’s a great way for people to know what she’s up to and so people keep her in mind for opportunities!
“And personally, I always advise mentees to have a personal board of directors rather than just having one mentor – get a whole panel of them! It’ll give you a more balanced, diverse perspective and you’re less likely to have any of the biases that you might from just one mentor.”
What personal qualities do you credit to your entrepreneurial success?
“I think the biggest quality is perseverance.
“I’m convinced it is key to entrepreneurial success. There’s a lot of failure in the process of entrepreneurship, and I think what matters is being able to move forward. We don’t really learn when things are easy, we learn when things are hard. We learn when we face challenges and learn to overcome them.
“It’s the way that we respond to failure that really counts. It can either define you or it can teach you, like Henry Ford once said, ‘failure is the opportunity to begin again, but more intelligently’.
“There’s always highs and lows in the journey, I think. But resilience is a really common trait amongst all successful entrepreneurs that I know.
“I’d say adaptability is also one of the other traits that are really important. It’s never been truer than in the past year, as many of the businesses we’ve seen that are successful have adapted the way that they employ, work, serve customers, and have really innovated throughout the course of the pandemic.
“I think embracing change is an opportunity for growth!”
Following your TED Talk, how do you personally define success and what is your purpose?
“My gosh, really big question!
“I think success, as I described in the TED talk, is having the courage to pursue what matters to you, to embrace who you are and what makes you unique and to be kind to yourself. It’s going to be different for everyone, as it should be. But that’s the way that I define success.
“I think my purpose is to be able to help shape the future for the better. And ultimately, what I’m really passionate about is the difference that I’m able to make in people’s lives, whether that’s through my work, day to day, through the work I do with charities and boards, I find that really fulfilling.”
What does your idealised corporate environment look like, and what can businesses take away from your vision?
“There are so many great corporate environments, but what I think they all have in common is a really great culture. And the best corporate environment for anyone is really where they find that the culture of a company aligns with their own values.
“The importance of culture cannot be emphasised enough. If you have a great company culture, it will attract and retain great people.
“I think almost every company has a list of company values, but great companies are ones that don’t just put the list up on their website somewhere! They actually believe in it and live it.
“It’s not something that really happens overnight, you need really strong leadership to communicate that vision, to get employees to buy in and who will inspire engagement with that vision. That’s where the magic really happens.
“If you have a great culture that supports employees, a lot of the time they’ll rise to the challenges and they’ll do really well even when there’s a lot of adversity.”
What more needs to be done to ensure gender equality in business?
“Gosh, that is a big question! And honestly, I’m not sure that I have the answer to that one.
“I think we’re not quite at a place where women are equal participants in business, there’s still quite a lot to be done. It’s like having half the team on the bench, we need the full team to win the game!
“I think it comes down to what we can do at an organisational level. Is every organisation taking the initiative to ensure that there’s gender equality in the workplace?
“We as a business community must commit to gender equality, not just in what we say, but in what we do. It’s challenging, there’s no blueprint for what the right next steps are. And so, I think we’re all figuring it out together!”
This exclusive interview with Jessica Lui was conducted by Megan Lupton.