Meet Julie Harris, who currently works at Motorola Solutions and is also the CEO/Founder of Exceptional Women’s Network. Her nonprofit is a best-in-class resource for enhancing women’s leadership, professional development and networking skills. Julie Harris has been awarded the CEO Award for volunteerism by Motorola Solutions twice in a row for her outstanding volunteer work in the community. Harris has also volunteered countless hours across various organizations such as Girl Scouts of America, Dress for Success, Greater Chicago Food Depository, Junior Achievement of Chicago, etc. The Voice of Woman Team recently reached out to the inspiring and talented Julie Harris for an exclusive interview to learn more about her organisation – Exceptional Women’s Network, her views on how psychology plays an important role in business development and relationship building. She also shares a special message for all the women out there who wish to restart their careers. 1. It’s clear that you’re a leader driven by serving others and want to make a huge difference. You were awarded the CEO Award for Volunteerism two years in a row by Motorola Solutions. How has the global pandemic affected your efforts? Receiving the 2019 CEO Award for Volunteerism was an absolute honor and privilege for which I’m extremely grateful. My heart has always been directed towards making a greater impact on the community and this global pandemic has not stopped that desire. Pivoting to a remote volunteering effort was a new shift. Before 2020, my volunteer work was all done in person, like many others. As an example, my nonprofit, The Exceptional Women’s Network, hosted numerous in-person panel events annually. Like many others, we had to move to remote webinars and workshops during COVID. This meant we needed to be strategic, proactive, and creative in how we planned to continue to generate value. Luckily, we have a solid network of ambitious women who have been very supportive of each other and benefitted from dynamic resources and opportunities, despite these unprecedented times. I’m especially proud of the 6-week Masterclass we’ve been able to launch successfully and fill to capacity. Those who have joined our network are pushed to their full potential, encouraged with stretch goals, and given an accountability tribe to make sure they reach them. Thus far, the momentum has been truly remarkable. 2. Has it been a difficult year for women in the corporate sector? Well, it’s been a difficult year for women in all sectors. Single women and moms, in general, have been severely impacted by having to care for their children and families with minimal resources. These women who are working remotely or are unemployed have it especially difficult. According to the American Center for Progress, it is estimated “that the risk of mothers leaving the labor force and reducing work hours to assume caretaking responsibilities amounts to $64.5 billion per year in lost wages and economic activity.” This economic current and potential future loss are staggering. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that as fewer moms participate in the labor force or have reduced work hours from full to part-time, either by choice or by circumstance, the result becomes less income for needed household items. Low-income families are hit hardest since mothers are most likely the primary breadwinners and are unable to easily survive a big dip in earnings. 3. Why do you identify yourself as a connector, storyteller, and simplifier? People and communications are my main passions. I’m lucky to be able to work in a field that allows for this creative outlet. When encountering complex challenges, personally or professionally, I try to seek out ways to simplify them. In my current role, I create messages to targeted audiences that engage, enable, and inspire. Whenever I’m crafting content, what seems to make messages truly resonate is simplifying the message into bite-sized, digestible chunks and positioning it in a way that adds value to the specific audience. 4. Does psychology play a big role in Business Development and Relationship Building? If yes, how? Yes, it absolutely does. It’s been an overlooked element of relationship building. What I’ve noticed in the corporate world is that those with the highest emotional intelligence can pick up on the mood of the situation and their audience to influence them. They use this ‘super power’ to make the most impact in the company because they can garner trust, influence, and inspire. Interestingly, organizational psychologist Tasha Eurich asserts that 95 percent of us think we’re self-aware, but only 10 to 15 percent of us actually are. Because it’s a rarer quality than we thought, it’s highly valued in the workplace. In a Harvard Business article, 71 percent of employers surveyed by CareerBuilder said they value EQ over IQ, reporting that employees with high emotional intelligence are more likely to stay calm under pressure, resolve conflict effectively, and respond to co-workers with empathy. Certainly, those with higher EQs tend to have an easier time succeeding when it comes to business development and relationship building. 5. You have previously served as a Career Advisor at Columbia College, Chicago. What career advice would you give to someone who is trying to build a career in Marketing and Business Development? I’d advise – Jump into as many experiences as possible through internships and job opportunities. When I worked with college students as a career advisor, I noticed many didn’t know the exact role or career direction they wanted to go and that’s completely natural for someone who has minimal job experience. It’s crucial to say “yes” to great opportunities to determine the best fit for you long-term. Also, start to get as many mentors and resources as possible. Start taking LinkedIn Learning courses based on your interests and connect with those who have the jobs you’re looking for. Their story can inspire you to take action. Finally, in this digital age, you must make a name for yourself online, so position yourself as an expert by posting interesting and thought-provoking articles online about your field. This will build your professional network and link you to people you never thought was possible. 6. Do you think marketing strategies should be more socially provocative and women-centric? While every marketing strategy is different and unique, here are a few facts to bring to the table. Women command 70-80% consumer purchasing power now with a combination of buying power and influence. Every day, women spend more time than men making economic decisions for their families — from consumer goods to services and hold crucial purchasing power. When it comes to your audience, women most certainly cannot and should not be ignored. (Source: Inc.com) 7. How does Exceptional Women’s Network aim to help women in business? The Exceptional Women’s Network was established in January 2016 in Chicago. Over the past six years, The Exceptional Women’s Network has hosted 30+ events connecting over 2,000 women. We are champions for women who are ready to level up personally and professionally. For those seeking career advancement, we offer access to business and networking resources, professional peer connections, mentoring, coaching, special events, workshops and master classes with the goal for women to become more financially profitable and emotionally fulfilled. We cover a wide range of topics from salary negotiations to marketing yourself. We’ve seen so many women in our master classes become more profitable, land their dream jobs, and excel in their careers by building a network of accountability partners. I’m truly humbled and grateful to observe these strong women rise to their full potential. 8. What career advice would you give to women who are trying to restart their careers? Historically, women are much more likely to underestimate their abilities and be deterred by the job responsibilities if they don’t meet all criteria. My advice is not to be intimidated by a job description. If you’re a quick learner, adaptable, agile, and enthusiastic about the industry/role then you can learn on the job. I’ve been recruited into job opportunities where the recruiter admitted that she knew I was coming as an ‘outsider’ from a different field, but that is exactly what they wanted – an outsider’s perspective. The moral of that story is you never know what they’re looking for. When the opportunity presents itself, don’t react out of fear of being incapable or unable to meet every requirement. Allow yourself to jump before you’re ready and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can get up to speed if you’re really motivated to succeed. 9. According to you, what is the key to more social media engagement? Being consistently authentic is the key and always remember that while you may think you’re a small fish in a big pond in the social media space, your unique voice has exceptional value and the world is waiting to hear from you, so go for it! Be patient, measure your engagement activity to determine what your audience likes most, and be consistent in delivering that message. If you do that, you’ll see results. 10. Lastly, what message would you like to convey to our readers/viewers at The Voice Of Woman? Believe in yourself and your abilities and own your fears. My favorite quote is “People believe successful people are fearless, but the truth is that they are just more intimate with their fear.” Life isn’t easy and you’ll face scary moments, but face those moments. Own those difficult conversations no matter how difficult they are. You’ll be better and stronger for it. Lastly, successful people believe they can do amazing things, so get in that state of mind and you will too. For those looking to join The Exceptional Women’s Network, it’s absolutely free! Reserve your spot in our upcoming Masterclass by emailing [email protected] and follow us on Instagram @exceptionalwomensnetwork for upcoming online events.