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4 Essentials for Building a Meaningful “Friendwork"

Out with the old – business cards and empty handshakes – and in with real relationships that lead to change.

October 15, 2019

Paula Ann Solis

Paula Ann Solis

Keisha Mabry (St. Louis ’10) wants to do away with two things: the elevator pitch and the question, “So, what do you do?” They’re not authentic, she says. “Tell people your story, share your passion.”

Mabry’s passion is for what she calls “friendworking”: human connections loosed from the transactional expectations of networking. The idea is that even the most influential people are, first, just people, she says. Those authentic relationships are what lead to unexpected opportunities.

Mabry, an author, speaker, and the director of innovation at College Bound St. Louis, shared with One Day sources of inspiration for developing her own relationship-driven practices.

1. Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People

By Vanessa Van Edwards

Edwards’s book analyzes the speech and body language needed to win people over in social and business settings, Mabry says. It “justified and validated my want for genuine, authentic connections, and used data to do so.”

2. I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual

By Luvvie Ajayi

Comedian, podcaster, and social-media maven Ajayi explains why sometimes you just have to call people out (including yourself) on destructive behavior. The book is hilarious, Mabry says, but also “a serious look into one’s inner self and how our actions intentionally and unintentionally affect others.”

3. Therapy for Black Girls Podcast

Hosted by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford

Harden Bradford’s podcast aims to normalize the discussion of taboo mental health topics in Black lives, prioritizing well-being before traditional success. “As a woman of color, it’s a common belief that you should be able to do everything well for everybody, including yourself, 100% of the time,” Mabry says. “This podcast debunks that myth. It’s a must-listen.”

4. Side Hustle Pro Podcast

Hosted by Nicaila Matthews Okome

This show is for “dope Black women entrepreneurs” who are trying to grow their network, build their brand, and of course, chase a side hustle, Mabry says. It offers tangible takeaways plus “a glimpse into what is possible.”


Keisha Mabry is the author of Hey Friend: 100 Ways to Connect with 100 People in 100 Days.

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