Black entrepreneurship can be lonely; LinkedIn is trying to help
Beyond being a professional networking platform, LinkedIn is also working to foster Black entrepreneurship as a source of support and resources.
Entrepreneurship, by nature, is a solo endeavor; and at times it can feel incredibly lonely. From the moment I left my career to start my coaching and media business in late 2021, I knew I needed a safety net of other ambitious entrepreneurs around me, so I joined a group coaching program. However, I ended up the only Black woman in a group of about twenty women and even though the experience was incredibly valuable business-wise, I still felt a sense of otherness when we were together. I remember asking my former coach (who was Black): Where are all the Black coaches?
As it turns out, I’m not alone when it comes to looking for support from people who look like me while on my entrepreneurship journey. According to a LinkedIn survey, nearly 1 in 4 Black entrepreneurs believe the top challenge they face as a business owner is lack of mentorship and limited networks. What’s more, 58 percent of Black business owners believe they would be more successful if they had a stronger network.
Ty Heath, the director of the B2B Institute at LinkedIn and former president of LinkedIn’s Black Inclusion Group is hoping the professional networking platform can position itself as the number-one source of support and resources for Black women like me who are seeking to feel seen, empowered and supported as we embark on entrepreneurship.
“The vision is to create economic opportunities for the world’s professionals. And so that very much includes Black women,” said Heath. “I would love to see more entrepreneurs and more Black women, whether you’re in corporate or striking it out on your own, really taking advantage of building your brand on LinkedIn. Because it’s not so much a static resume as it is an ongoing brand building tool. There’s network access, there’s different strategies to continuously make connections with people as you meet them and they become part of your network,” said Heath.
I’ve found myself on the platform more these days, checking my “timeline,” posting my latest work, and dodging automated marketing messages (you know you get them too!). I can sense the professional world waking up to me in an organic, inviting way. Heath says that’s intentional.
“We’re trying to make sure that we are inclusive in our definition of what a professional is. So an entrepreneur who is an artist is an entrepreneur and a business owner. We want to make sure that when you join the platform that you know you belong, on the platform and you’re deserving. And you should say the things that need to be said, because those are things that move the industry forward,” said Heath.
To hear more on how LinkedIn is working to support Black entrepreneurship listen to the full interview on The Reset with Coach Tish.
Letisha Bereola is a life coach who helps ambitious women overcome burnout and reach their career goals so they feel great at work and happy at home. She’s a former Emmy-nominated TV news anchor, Podcast host of AUDACITY and speaker. Learn more: www.coachtish.co
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