Gina Ramsey was new to Baltimore. She took a chance on love and life when her boyfriend of less than a year was offered a position in Charm City. With some deliberation and a positive attitude, Gina decided that if things didn’t work out, she could always go back home. Gina packed her bags, took a leap of faith and moved from Cleveland to Baltimore.
I chatted with Gina. She candidly shared her struggle with being new to a city and what she did to carve out a name for herself in Baltimore and to make new friends.
Moving to a new city without a job and without a single friend
When I asked Gina about the move to Baltimore, she said:
It was the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life. As soon as we arrived in Baltimore, my boyfriend immediately left for a 3-week work trip overseas. I was by myself in a new city, without a job and I had zero friends – it was absolutely awful. Then, one week later, the tragedy of September 11, 2011 happened. I was still alone, in a new city, no friends, no support nearby- it was a very difficult time for me.
A job with YellowBook
It didn’t take long for the Baltimore based branch of YellowBook to hire Gina. While Gina met a few folks at work, making friendships was much tougher than she imagined.
Baltimore – not an easy place to make friends
After the move, it was really a dark point in my life. Besides having Brian, I felt very alone. And, for the first time ever, I felt extremely depressed. Finally, I told Brian, I can’t continue to feel like this. I need to go and do something – and try to make new friends. Brian agreed – and we put ourselves out there and joined groups – like food and dining groups. We started to make friends. But it took work. Baltimore was not the easiest place to make friends because everyone from around here already knew each other. They were not looking to make friends with other people. And, with such a strong high school affiliation, being an outsider made it even tougher.
6 years later, Gina quit her job – again without a plan
I needed to do something different. I was done making do with a job that I was not passionate about. I walked in and quit my job with nothing lined up. While my colleagues were great people, I just didn’t feel like I was where I needed to be in my life.
A random cold call led Gina to a new job opportunity
Ironically enough, I had cold called the owner of Adventure Web, when I was working at YellowBook. He and I kept in touch and he called me every couple of months to try to get me to come and work for him. I was concerned that Adventure Web was not the right fit for me. It was completely outside of my comfort zone and so totally different from any job that I ever had. But once again, I asked myself “what is the worst that could happen?” and I accepted the position.
Gina attended something called a “Networking Event”
My initial days with Adventure Web were life-altering because someone took me to something called a Networking event. I had no idea what a networking event was or meant before attending. Afterward, I couldn’t imagine getting paid to go and hang out with people for breakfast, lunch and happy hours. This is ridiculous!! Why on earth would people pay me to do this? But I jumped in with both feet, and literally went to an event a day, sometimes two, sometimes three and I started to get to know people in the business community.
Biggest Networking Mistake
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I started networking was to assume I could sell something to every person I met. I didn’t realize that it is about building relationships and that you also don’t need to go to every event. You don’t need to meet every person.
10 Networking Tips for Success
Here are 10 tips that helped me get known in Baltimore and build a professional name for myself.
- Walk over to a complete stranger, extend your hand and say “Hello.” Yes, this is the hardest part, but you will never get anywhere standing by the wall or hiding in the bathroom.
- Try to meet one or two quality people at each event who have an influence and could be your “Natural Brand Advocates.” These are the people who are going to be able to sell for you. Over time, you will then develop a network of people who are selling for you. For me, this has been the key to sales opportunities, referrals, and introductions.
- Stop going to every event. You will burn yourself out. Do your homework, then find and attend a couple of events that are filled with the “movers and shakers.”
- Be Real – let your personality shine through. People want to get to know you a little bit so they can develop a level of trust before they buy from you.
- People do business with those they know, like and trust. Again, build a relationship. Sell yourself and your products and services will sell themselves.
- Follow-up and have a “one-on-one” with the person you met after the networking event to get to know one another better.
- Be Patient. Networking takes a long time. It probably took me two years to build a name for myself in Baltimore. But at the end of those 2 years, I was like – this is it, this is the magic bullet! I now have some of the best referral partners and some of the closest and most amazing friends.
- You need to build relationships to build anything. Whether it is hitting sales quotas, building a reputation in the community, or making new friends, take your time to get to know the other person. Your future is depending on it.
- Ladies, while there are amazing networking groups just for us, make sure you also attend co-ed events as well. If not, you are leaving new opportunities and referrals on the table.
- Being a successful networker means being a great connector for another person. Make introductions for another. Stop long enough to reach out and grab someone’s hand to help them get to where you are.
A secret fact about Gina
Gina believes so greatly in networking and empowering younger women that every year she picks a young lady in the business community to mentor. She helps her with networking, introductions, sales strategies and making a name for herself as a young professional. (Gina is so modest about this part of her life. I had to beg her to let me include this in the interview.)
Vice President of Adventure Web Interactive
Gina Ramsey is the Vice President of Adventure Web Interactive. She helps companies update and develop websites that “do exactly what they need – from selling products to showcasing services.”
5 website tips to generate more traffic
Being a new blogger and a businesswoman in Baltimore, I had to ask Gina for some free SEO / marketing advice. Here are 5 tips Gina shared for successfully marketing your business and your brand.
- Make sure your website is desktop and mobile friendly. Being fully responsive on a mobile platform is of critical importance.
- Content must be relevant, informational, interesting and show you as an authority in your industry
- User interface – if the customer does not like how the website works, they are not going to return to it. Website must be built with as few clicks as possible, presenting information quickly, providing information in friendly ways
- Use of video is very important. People do not want to read, they want to watch. Have video supporting written content.
- Hire a company who knows what they are doing – like me and Adventure Web.
To learn more go to: https://www.advp.com/mission/.
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Thanks for reading! And a big thank you to Gina for sharing such valuable information.
Hugs and Handshakes,