If there is one time when Black people need a safe space, it is definitely now. With unending racial injustice, hostility, ignorance and “caucasity” at its peak, Black people need a space where they can connect and be inspired.
Being the innovative people that we are, it is no surprise that Delisha Fields would go on to launch BLK GETAWAY which is now coined the ‘Black LinkedIn’. This platform curates space and experience for Black professionals to connect, partner together, get inspired and win. In a society where we are often made to feel marginalised, BLK GETAWAY is the perfect escape from Black burnout, and into a community where you are seen, heard and feel empowered to succeed.
You may wonder why Delisha felt the need to create this networking platform especially since we already have so many networking tools in place. For Delisha, she thinks that the already existing tools could be improved on: “Think about the last “networking” tool you used (pre pandemic). It was probably a conference event or meet up where you were thrusted into a room with 100s of people and felt intimidated. Or you’re probably using a social networking platform that’s flooded with ads, influencer marketing, and likes that take precedence over human connection. Networking tools like this often leave you afraid to connect, uncomfortable with inorganic interaction, insecure about your capabilities, and you probably don’t see yourself in any of the people you’re introduced to in the room.”
For Delisha, this was so frustrating. She states “As a minority who built an extensive career in the corporate world, I’ve frequented networking events but often felt out of place and plagued by imposter syndrome. Not to mention, the feeling of “playing politics” just to get noticed by non-black colleagues for mentorship, real career advice, and/or roles I was interested in. I was over the feeling of being ostracized both at work and in society. So, I created BLK GETAWAY for black professionals—those that are go-getters, want to break generational curses, and have big dreams that are yet to be accomplished—to “get away” from the burnout, barriers, and setbacks dealt to us by society. And instead have safe, relatable, spaces where they can bond with like-minded people in intimate ways in order to thrive. We believe that human connection is best created through thoughtful experiences, that’s why we strategically curate space and events that not only address career specific pain points but also empower professionals to be open to new adventures, partnerships, and dialogue that push them out of their comfort zone. And in that discomfort, new opportunities, friendships, and business relationships will manifest—creating new generational opportunities and equitable pathways to success.”
So how does BLK GETAWAY actually work? Delisha affirms: “We are a service based platform that curates different experiences for black professionals to convene, connect, and collaborate. We host exclusive group trips, thoughtful bespoke events, and have an invite-only member network that will support, empower, and encourage you to uplevel your career (no matter your profession) and shatter your goals. Based on your comfort level or goals, you enjoy an exclusive BLK GETAWAY experience in one of three ways. You can request to join our member network—THE BLK NETWORK—composed of talented/accomplished professionals and entrepreneurs who want to work together, join us on a group trip to connect and grow with people in new places, or attend our digital events hosted by industry experts who can can help you work through your career pain points.”
At the moment, the platform is strictly limited to the Black community. Delisha states: “Right now, we market, speak to, and support the black community. Especially now, when our community needs the most aid and guidance amidst the chaos in the world. It’s a priority for us to serve the very community we were born into and the marginalized group struggling the most to bounce back from the systemic barriers set against us—black people. We are very unapologetic about showing up and showing out for the black community and we want black people to know that this was created with them in mind first. However, in the future, we plan to expand and service all people of color who are struggling to find their voice and need guidance in their career journey as well.”
Although networking may seem daunting for many, Delisha stresses that it is the gateway to new opportunities! She states: “Most people know the type of person they want to network with and what they are hoping to take away from a new connection. However, I tell our members and event guests, never underestimate any opportunity. You never know what experience, new contact, or bit of advice will change the trajectory of your life. Even if it doesn’t seem glamorous on the surface, step outside of your comfort zone and give it a chance. This mantra applies to your career and success as well. You want to speak to, learn from, and shadow as many people as you can and If you have a voice, don’t be afraid to use it because you never know who is watching and can help you make your next career move. When you’re complacent is when you miss opportunity and the chance to grow.”
Moreover, it is important to bring to light ‘Black burnout’. It is a real thing. You may often hear folks say “being Black is exhausting”. Well in the corporate space, it is. Although everyone will experience burnout from time to time, being black adds a complicated layer to things. From dealing with prejudice in the workplace to micro aggressions, to the constant code-switching and having to work twice as hard to prove you deserve a promotion; it can be a lot! Nonetheless, Delisha shares some tips to help navigate Black burnout: “First, it starts with learning to give ourselves grace and knowing your value. I know those are buzzwords right now and it’s a bit cliche, but it’s true! Burnout is inculcated in black professionals. We’re constantly stressed at work due to racial setbacks, feel the need to over perform in order to be recognized and appreciated and it leaves us feeling exhausted. It’s important to learn how to be kind to yourself when things don’t go as you planned and not to be afraid to turn down a client, offer or role, if it doesn’t serve you morally.
She also emphasises this is why she created her platform: “BLK GETAWAY is a safe space for you to turn off your professional voice, be authentic, and unapologetically you! It’s one of the few spaces where you’re not required to work overtime in order to be seen and heard. Here, you’re not the afterthought, you’re the priority of our conversations through and through. Here, you are valued as an expert and you can share your ideas while equally learning from other people. Here, we are ingrained in culture so you can pull up and feel comfortable to be vulnerable (without judgement) and grow in your career journey in ways that you can’t at work. Think of us as a society that you’ve always wanted but never knew you needed.”
Finally, in a world where society teaches us to be adamant about securing our own bags and ours alone, it begs to question whether we can strike a healthy balance of competition and collaboration. Delisha stresses: “Yes, you can! Naturally, there is competition in collaboration. Competitive collaboration is a great way to open the door to new audiences, networking, a different brand identity, etc. Some brands, who are naturally competitors, that have joined forces are McDonalds x Burger King and Intel x Microsoft just to name a few. When you collaborate with a competitor, you don’t have to worry about one upping the other person. Instead, you are using both of your strengths to cast a wider net and tap into a new audience that you didn’t have access to before—creating a new avenue for exposure and reach.”
To find out more about BLK GETAWAY, visit their website: https://www.blkgetaway.com/ where you can find out their latest events, next group trip, and sign up for their member network. Follow @blkgetaway across Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to get tips and stay up to date with their latest happenings.