Pam Hardy on how to cultivate connections
This October will mark two years since PAM HARDY moved to Wilmington after living thirty years in Raleigh.
Hardy moved to the area to serve as district manager for Duke Energy supporting Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, Pender, and Sampson counties. She has worked for the utility company for more than twenty years in various roles. The latest one that brought her here was a position she had long been interested in but meant moving to a new city. And that meant making new connections and relationships.
It can be daunting, even for a person who thrives on interacting with others as Hardy does.
But two short years later, through a mix of sincerity and intentionality, she has forged her own network and identity in her no-longer new home base.
Hardy serves as a board member for the Cape Fear Community College Electrical Lineworker Advisory Board, NC Project LEAD, and United Way of the Cape Fear Area. She also is active with Beta Sigma Sigma Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. in Wilmington and the Wilmington Rotary Club.
Hardy, who serves on WILMA’s Women to Watch Advisory Board and as a mentor in the Women to Watch mentoring program, shares her advice about how to cultivate connections – whether you’re new to town or looking to expand your circles.
When you first moved to Wilmington, how did you approach getting to know your new city and meeting people – both for your professional role in community outreach and in building a personal network of connections?
“When I first moved to Wilmington, I approached getting to know the city and meeting people with a strategic and intentional mindset.
I did not have an established business or a professional network in the region prior to arriving. The first group of individuals I reached out to were Duke Energy employees. I asked them to introduce me to employees, organizations, or individuals in their network they trust.
I also created an introduction email with my contact information and distributed it to all the key leaders on my predecessor’s distribution list. When individuals responded. I requested coffee, lunch, or 15-30-minute introductory meetings to get acquainted.
I also used LinkedIn to announce my new role and connect with individuals in similar and diverse roles. Through those connections, I always asked, ‘Please share the names of key leaders or movers and shakers in the community I should know.’
Those recommendations always led me to more names and opportunities to connect.
I also recommend serving your community through community service projects or your sorority or fraternity. This gives you an opportunity to engage members of the community from diverse walks of life, careers, industries, and skill sets who want to impact humanity.
Lastly, I recommend reaching out to the local chamber of commerce in the county or counties where you conduct business or read local publications like (WILMA sister publication) Greater Wilmington Business Journal to stay abreast of industry news, trends, or events.”
What’s your advice for making meaningful connections – moving past the introduction phase?
“My advice for making meaningful connections is to be genuine, really have a sincere interest in others, be engaged during conversations, take the time to ask the person about their background or the biggest projects they’re working on.
If appropriate – how you can support or assist each other? Relationship building is never a one-and-done. It’s about building deep, trusted, and valuable connections and networks. Moving past the introduction phase is about connecting the dots on what we have in common – family, travel, work, etc. and building forward.”
How do you approach allocating your time so that you’re not spreading yourself too thin and staying motivated?
“I plan my schedule and allocate my time based on the goals I need to achieve for the day, week month, or year ahead.
I focus on events that will allow me to reconnect with my current network and build new contacts.
Regarding staying motivated, I created my personal board of directors or a community of trusted advisers in the region – comprised of colleagues, key leaders, and community partners that serve as trusted advisers.
We discuss broad business topics, community service engagement, learning new skills, trending topics, new books we are reading, and how we can support each other to name a few.”
Recommended read: You’ve Been Chosen by Cynt Marshall “I was drawn to Ms. Marshall’s story of triumph — through her challenging childhood, to becoming the first African American cheerleader at University of California at Berkeley, to having a successful thirty-six-year career in corporate America at AT&T and then to becoming the NBA’s first African American CEO (Dallas Mavericks). She is a trailblazer.”
Local program suggestion: Get involved with a nonprofit. “I recommend getting involved a with a local nonprofit agency in the region to support our neighbors in the community. There are a multitude of organizations doing impactful and meaningful work to support the community.”
Other local women people should know about? “Sheri Shaw, Stephanie Lanier, Judy Budd, and Tufanna Bradley. They are the epitome of connectors and are willing to invite others into their networks.”