Developing your dream career is tough. For many, the road to that first core opportunity is barricaded with impossibilities. Career development coach Michelle Enjoli never accepted that, and we shouldn’t either. As a young journalism student, Michelle was told it would be nearly impossible for her to break into television production. However, her curiosity for people, stories, and love of coffee led her to a series of conversations, connections, and opportunities that helped her land my dream job before she graduated college.
At Lensa, we know that being and staying connected is the secret sauce of career success. We’ve built our job search around connecting job seekers with the companies and opportunities that best fit them and their goals. So we were excited and grateful to get Michelle’s insight into her framework for networking as a foundational career development strategy.
If Michelle’s story is any indication, we should never take no for an answer again when evaluating our career choices. Make sure to follow Michelle’s speaking engagements for more career development insights, including at TedX Southampton 2021.
Q&A With Michelle Enjoli
In this Lensa Q&A session, Michelle Enjoli of MichelleEnjoli.com shares about her journey as a career development coach and how she helps job seekers succeed in networking – or as she calls it, connecting – their way to success.
Who is Michelle Enjoli?
Michelle Enjoli is a bilingual keynote speaker and career development coach and the founder of MichelleEnjoli.com. In an ever-changing world, Michelle has taken her diverse experience and created a toolbox of strategies to assist job seekers in connecting with themselves and others for growth and development, new career opportunities, or a career pivot.
Lensa: Michelle, you are a master of connecting who kicked off her career in an unlikely way. How did you go about landing a job as a television producer despite being an undergrad at the time with no experience and zero connections in the television industry? What can young people and professionals today learn from your experience?
Michelle Enjoli: Sure. So it seems that it was some methodical practice that I was doing now that I look back at it as I teach young people today to learn how to network. But it was just something that I had learned growing up in a very diverse community in a small town in New Jersey outside of New York City. And so I think that that experience of having a large family, communicating with people from all walks of life. I was always very curious. There was a practice my family and many other families have, which is, in the morning they have coffee. And so I grew up watching my large extended family have coffee. You talk about the news, update each other. And so naturally, I one, learned to love coffee, but two, was also very curious and loved asking people questions. I loved reading stories. And so that’s what led me to want to study journalism and become a news producer in college. And so essentially, that love and desire that pushed me to want to pursue this career is what also pushed me to start getting connections to learn more about it.
While I was in school, I simply tried to learn as much as possible. I would use my teachers, the faculty of the school, and ask them questions. A lot of them had either worked in the industry or knew people in the industry. And so over those conversations over coffee or lunch or after class, I got to know them a little bit better. And I let them know, hey, I’d love to learn more. All of those connections helped me gain my first internship and a couple of part time jobs. And so I landed. One of those internships happened to be for a television station outside of New York City. Via that internship was how I learned a little bit more about the television industry. And again, and as odd as it may sound, it was having coffee with one of those guests that landed me that interview to become a producer for the National Morning Show in New York, which is amazing.
Lensa: You developed a curriculum while you were at Mercedes Benz called Connect that focuses on three pillars: networking, personal branding, and self esteem. Could you walk us through how the curriculum works and how you measure success?
Michelle Enjoli: I developed a set of frameworks within each area. For networking, I have a framework that I teach people that one defines what I call connecting. Networking is the standard industry term. But I love to use the word “connecting” because in today’s world, especially with the big use of technology, there’s a lot of young professionals and even older professionals who no longer have experience with interacting with people as much. We do it over screens or we’re constantly on our phones.
So I developed a formal definition for connecting which I teach people and then a framework that teaches them how to do it – what they should think about when connecting with someone new. I’ve done the same for the personal branding pillar and also for the self-esteem pillar, because I’m a big believer in making sure that things are very easy and explainable and something that people can remember as they start practicing it in everyday life.
And then the way that we measure success is so I like every interaction that I have is very personal, right? Because people are on very different parts of their journey. They’re either starting their career, in their mid-career, maybe looking to switch to end their career and go into retirement. Some people also have different skill sets. I sometimes coach people who are amazing networkers, but they might need help in the personal branding space. Or maybe somebody older who is now looking to make a change and pivot career-wise.
But they’re suffering a little bit with self-esteem because they’re trying to make a change, but aren’t sure if they can make that change. And so I use the frameworks as a baseline, but then customize it based on my client’s goals. Then we essentially measure success by whether they’re accomplishing that goal or not. I kind of set a lot of what we’re doing through the coaching process every week. There’s a set of exercises there that equates to that final piece of “Are you connecting more? What is it that you’re actually doing?” So we set some standard goals, but also goals that are very personal depending on the client and their level of experience.
Lensa: I love how you define networking as connecting. What is that exactly? How can job seekers cultivate connections that lead to their desired opportunities?
Michelle Enjoli: The formal definition of connecting is I have labeled it as an authentic attempt to learn or assist somewhat. There are three things in that definition I tell people to remember all the time. One is authenticity. Be who you are. You can’t properly connect with someone if you’re not, you know, if you’re not yourself. So don’t try to change who you are based on professional settings or different people. There’s a certain code of conduct that you should obviously always adhere to, but be yourself if you are a creative person, let that shine through. If you are an analytical person, let that shine through. And then the two big big core components are learning and assisting. So I tell people all the time, every single person in your life, whether it can be in your personal life or your professional life, there is an opportunity to learn from them or also or and assist them.
One great way – and I’ve used this over and over and still do to this day – if you’re connecting with someone and they are in a field that you’re unfamiliar with or that you have an interest in, ask questions. Come prepared to ask them great questions. How did you get into your career? You know, what are some of the challenges that you have? Some recommendations? And then on the flip part, which is the most powerful portion of all, is if you’re able to assist them in any way.
So many times I hear from young professionals, you know, when they’re doing internships or connecting with people over coffee or a lunch, you know, they ask questions. And maybe the person that they’re interacting with might be like, Well, yeah, we actually have an event coming up where we need assistance with XYZ. Well, if you happen to either one, be a know someone who can assist them, offer that information, right? Offer that contact or that resource, or if you yourself have some insight and can offer help directly, that’s even better. Offer that because I think that once someone will always remember when someone has helped them.
And so I definitely feel that a great way to establish those connections are, to one ask questions, but also assist people. And I think that when you break it down and those three simple terminologies, people can remember that. And I think it’s easier to go about networking with people. When you are, you know, around someone you want to learn something more about,
Lensa: Is that the key to achieving lasting professional growth or is it something else? And if so, what is it?
Michelle Enjoli: Yes. Well, there are three things. Hence, the three pillars. Definitely networking. I tell everyone from the moment that you’re able to speak, learn to talk to people and connect because you’re going to need that. One of the reasons I started doing what I do is because I was a witness when I was with Mercedes-Benz of how rapidly things change, how the business environment is now changing. We are no longer in an era where people are spending 5 and 10 years in the same job, much less even in the same company. People are consistently moving and in today’s world, it’s either by choice or it’s just the rate of technology. Some jobs might be disappearing, companies are shifting.
I definitely feel networking is something that you need to do as much as possible for lasting growth, but also in today’s world, especially because we are so digitally focused. Also with social media and personal branding. That’s a big one. Make sure that you are branding yourself with qualities that match your goals. And so I help people pay attention to what are you putting on your social media and does that correlate with the leader that you want to be? Are your actions matching your words or what you say you want to be? And then the third part is self esteem. Constantly developing yourself personally and making sure you are building up your resilience, that you are consistently growing because one of the things that I’m noticing more and more and it doesn’t matter what age group, is that as we’re pivoting, self-esteem can be hit. You’re either unsure because you’re moving into a new area or you’re leaving a company that you’ve been with for a long time. And now you’re going into a new company where you’re going to need to make new connections. So I think that personal growth and development is also pivotal as well to making sure that you are developing yourself professionally.
Lensa: Do you have specific advice for someone who’s looking for a new professional opportunity in 2021?
Michelle Enjoli: Definitely. First, take a step back and think about what the goal is. So for example, say you are an engineer and you’re working for a specific company. Is the goal that you simply want to grow in your company and you’re looking for a promotion or experience in a different area? Is it that you are in a toxic work environment, perhaps, and you want to leave because you and your manager or your environment is not healthy and you want to do the same job, but maybe in a different company? Or is it that you’re looking for something completely new and different, that you want to pivot professionally? It’s very important first to establish what that goal is. And then once you establish that, create a game plan. The first thing I tell people is, do your research. Start with your own professional network. Start connecting with people, asking people questions. Asking for recommendations or referrals of people who are either in that industry or company that you want to move to and start actively networking with them.
Another thing that I also give a lot of advice to and help people formulate is an elevator speech. I tell people this all the time. No matter what age you are, I would recommend this even from the time that you’re in high school, have an elevator speech. It could be 60 seconds of who you are. Are you a student or are you currently an engineer of XYZ company? Then make sure the elevator speech tells people what you’re looking to do. ‘I want to learn more about XYZ.’ ‘Hey, I’m looking for an opportunity in this field or an XYZ company.’ The more you tell people what you’re looking to accomplish, that opens doors. Someone might be able to help you directly or also give you a reference or resource. That’s what I did when I was in college. Literally I didn’t know it was an elevator speech back then, but I would let people know what my goals were, and that helped a lot.
Lensa: My goal for this interview was to get some amazing insights for job seekers, and we’ve definitely done that. So thanks Michelle Enjoli. Where can people go to find out more about you or get in touch?