Politics and Prose at The Wharf, 70 District Square SW; Wed., 7 p.m., free.
Tell people your ideas out loud
During their first conversation, Raphael asked Black — who was formerly the chief of staff and vice president of research at EMILY’s List, a resource for women in politics — for the few essential nuggets she routinely shared with women running for office. At the top of the list: Start talking about it. Want to write a book, land a promotion by the end of the year or launch an app? By telling people your ideas and goals, “you make a promise to yourself that you’re going to follow through,” Black says. “And the more people you share it with, the more responses you can gather, either from body language or verbally” — valuable feedback that can help fine-tune your plans.
Lack of time is a paralyzing obstacle for many women who consider running for office — and, well, for everyone else. Black suggests creating a time log to figure out how you might adjust your schedule and fit in more activities (or downtime). Log everything you do for two weeks, from the time you wake up each day (pencil in coffee, getting dressed and leaving the house) until you go to bed. Total the number of minutes you dedicate to paid work, self-care, family care, free time and whatever else is important to you. Then analyze the log: What time can you free up, and what do you need to preserve?
Asking someone for money, whether it’s a political donation or a raise at work, isn’t fun. But there are ways to increase the odds of success, recommends Black, who’s worked as a salary negotiation trainer. “Be specific, No. 1, but then shut up,” she says. Let the person on the other side respond. “It’s incredibly difficult for someone like me who might feel awkward in silence and will just keep talking. And as women, sometimes I think we’re socialized to justify our requests.” To prevent yourself from overexplaining or apologizing, take a sip of water, bite down on a pencil or imagine that whoever talks first loses, Black suggests. “I guarantee you it will work way better than you trying to fill the gap.”
Grow your community circle
Women who are campaigning need supporters. In fact, all of us could do with more cheerleaders on our team, especially in a big city that can feel isolating. “There are so many after-hours things that are seeking our attention that it can feel overwhelming,” Black says. Her rules to live by: Join the groups you’ve always wanted to join, like that Tuesday night bowling league or weekend hike meet-up. Connect by telling people about yourself, asking them about their lives and getting their contact info. Most important: Show up! If you get an invite to a neighborhood watch meeting, attend. Make it a point to host, too, whether it’s a book club meeting or dance party, and befriend your friends’ friends — an easy way to grow your circle.
Be specific in networking
Black recalls a time when one of her go-to networking lines might have been, “Hey, I’m kind of thinking about my next move. Can you help me?” “And the other person doesn’t have a thing that they need to follow up on,” she says. “They can easily say, ‘Sure, no problem,’ and then never have to do anything.” Instead, ask an ultra-specific question, like: “I saw this job opening and I think you might know someone there; can you push my résumé?” Similarly, rather than asking someone for general help with your campaign or project, try: “You have a graphic design background, I need a logo, let’s make this happen.” “That’s way more productive,” Black says. “It gives people something to do, and they want to help, so let them help you.”