On connections

Categories Hype Your Homies

Long time, no see! The last few weeks have been manic and I have been busier than ever but more on that later… I thought I’d come back with a bang and launch my very first blog series: Hype Your Homies. I am very fortunate to have many people in my life excelling in whatever they are passionate about, be it business, academics or even creativity. This first post is about something I hold very close to my heart.

Very few people are unaware of the inherent racial bias in dating apps and websites (if you aren’t, read about it here and here). Black men are fetishised and Black women are either hypersexualised or seen as ugly if they do not adhere to Western beauty standards. Not only that but in professional settings Black people are often minorities (or unicorns as I like to call them) with diversity only becoming a buzzword in recent times. As a result, Black people are often forced to come together as a survival mechanism. However, when you are a needle in a haystack it is often very difficult to find your people. Now I am not suggesting that Black people should be separate from non-Black people, however, sometimes you may be in an environment where you are unable to fully connect with someone on a cultural level. I love my new job but I am the only Black person in the office. As a result, there are cultural aspects of my personality that my co-workers just won’t understand. This is why it is important for social spaces to be accepting of as many people of different backgrounds as possible.

Kike Oniwinde seeks to create a space where like-minded people can build relationships. She is the creator the Black Young Professionals Network, a place where people can meet in an informal setting and make professional and personal corrections. She took the network to the next level by launching an app at a launch on the 16th September that I had the pleasure of attending.

Scenes from ‘Smiths’ of Smithfield

The night began with a talk by Ayo Awe on the importance of professional development. All too often we set our sights on ascending the career ladder and nothing more; however, there could be a world outside our current situation that we know nothing about. 40% of vacancies are filled via employee referrals proving that, despite how cliché it sounds, your network truly is your net worth. Ayo was followed by Tonte Bo Douglas who discussed the difficulties of dating as a young Black professional. Working in the city, in particular, is an incredible demand on one’s time leaving professionals with little opportunity to meet like-minded individuals outside of the workplace. Coupled with Michael Tabirade’s talk on effective networking, this provided the basis of the problem that Kike is solving. Although I have written about the importance of networking in the past, Michael raised an important point that is often neglected when we build relationships:

Lesson #8: Commit even when you don’t feel like it.

Commitment leads to credibility; people will think highly of you if you are willing to follow through whether you are trying to maintain difficult relationships or just doing a favour. This was a sentiment echoed by Mary Lasile whose talk on the power of friendship showed that positive vibes will yield positive rewards.

Finally, Rio Olympics light heavyweight bronze medalist, Joshua Buatsi, spoke about success in the face of adversity. There was arguably no better person to deliver this talk since he had not been expected to make it to the 2016 Olympics, let alone win a medal. However, he illustrated that with hard work, passion, and the favour of God it is possible to reach the top. For me, the main take away from his talk was the importance of maintaining discipline with an end goal in mind. MOD. TO MEASURE has been a work in progress for years and I have found that whenever I lose sight of what I hope to achieve or am indisciplined, I become stagnant. It is not enough to have one or the other.

Joshua Buatsi on reaching goals

There was more to the event than just talks. We were graced with a performance from the IMMENSELY talented Dee Ajayi. Follow her. She will be a star. However, I had the most fun playing around with the app and using it to meet people in the room. The app is kind of a cross between Tinder and LinkedIn and it works.

If you think this app is only for city professionals, do not be deceived. In a few hours I met and connected with TV broadcasters, neuroscientists, journalists, financial ombudsman adjudicators, solicitors, wig makers, engineers of various types, even cosmetic entrepreneurs! Whatever your interests, there is someone like you on the BYP app.

So whether you are looking for love or meaningful business connections, the BYP Network app is where it’s at. If you haven’t already clicked out of my blog to download it, what are you doing? Get the app here and I look forward to hearing about how it changed your life!


Bleggs x