In Chapter 8 of 19 in her 2011 Capture Your Flag interview, non-profit executive Kyung Yoon notes how she focuses more and more on connecting young female professionals. Over her career, she learns to make networking a priority. She shares her learning experience and offers advice to young women wanting to improve networking skills. Kyung Yoon is the executive director of the Korean American Community Foundation (KACF) in New York City.
Erik: How do you use your network to get help making career and life decisions? Kyung: Well, as I am getting more old and more established, and I find myself much more being in the mentor role although one never stops needing advice and guidance, you know, from those ahead of us. I've been struck lately by how many, especially young women who do, kind of, organically find me or come to me or in my work, I'm out in the community a lot. So, I'm thrilled to be able to use my networks that way to make connections for people who ought to meet. And, I see my role very much as a connector that way. Not necessarily to be, you know, the fount of all knowledge by any means, but possibly being able to connect somebody who needs to meet somebody else who might be able to them at this time. Erik: How did you learn that? Kyung: I think for many Asian Americans, you know, we're raised with the, kind of, message that you just put your nose to the grindstone, you know, you work really hard. You study hard and, you know, the rewards will follow, you know? And that pertains, maybe in school, where there's a kind of correlation between hard work and then getting an A. But I think out in the real world, we understand that, of course it's important to work hard. But it's also really important to be not looking, you know, just, you know, down at your desk all the time but really to be looking outward, to see who are people who you need to meet or who you need to maybe connect to other people and that that is just as important if not even more important. And I think it's taken me a while to, kind of, learn that. But it is something that I'm enjoying a lot more and able to do a lot more naturally. I think it has a lot to do with just maturing and being out there and just understanding how important it is when we experience somebody helping us, giving us a leg up and then we can, kind of, in turn do the same for others. Erik: What's your advice to young professionals and career professionals that are approaching you, asking for help? You know, where are they being held up? Where are the hurdles there and what is your advice to them to get over some of those hurdles and fears? Kyung: You know, I often get asked to speak on panels. You know, panels on Asian American community issues or on philanthropy, and one thing that I notice is that a lot of younger people come to listen to those of us on the panel, you know, who might be more experienced or who are, sort of, more known in the community. And, they might listen and take diligent notes and then they leave. But what I would really like to tell them is what's important, more important than taking the notes, is to come up to us after the panel, you know? Bring your business card. If somebody, you know, be sincere. I mean, if somebody did make a point or some of their message resonated with you, somebody you'd like to get to know, don't be fearful that this is some, you know, very important person who would never have the time for you. I think it's very flattering for somebody who is on a panel to have people who are interested in what they have to say. So, I would really encourage them to come up, introduce themselves, exchange business cards. And then, follow up. Send an e-mail, just stay in touch. And, you never know where a relationship like that can take you. And, I think, you know, it's not like I have hundreds of people who have done that for me. I remember the ones, you know, who have done that and then we often, you know, can continue a relationship.