3 Questions for the Taste of WICT – Knoxville Panelists

The Taste of WICT – Knoxville is today! Food, wine, and networking make for an exciting evening. Elianna Carlton, Kim Kanary, and Kenley Smith Early are our three amazing panelists and we want you to get to know them. We asked each panelist 3 questions leading up to the today’s event. Read all of their INSPIRING answers below. Still need to sign up for Taste of WICT- Knoxville? Go HERE to register.

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ECarltonElianna Carlton

Vice President, Human Resources Comcast

Our theme for WICT this year is INSPIRE. Who has INSPIRED you throughout your career and why?

EC: My father has been a huge inspiration throughout my life, specifically in my career. He has been in business for himself over 40 years. I have watched him masterfully handle situations with exemplar diplomacy. He is a man that has had significant challenges both professionally and personally, through adversity and perseverance, he overcame significant obstacles and is a renowned expert and author in his field. He has inspired me in my career (and in life) to learn from my mistakes, and continue to keep moving forward, while treating others with dignity and respect – regardless of the situation.

The Taste of WICT is a signature event and a great way for people to network. What three tips can you give our readers on the best way to network at these type of events?

EC: 1) Challenge yourself to meet 2 to 3 new people you have not met before.

2) When you meet new people exchange contact information and look to connect at a future date after the event.

3) If you are attending the event with friends and colleagues, invite those you do not know into the conversation, especially if they are by themselves.

How has WICT helped you throughout your career?

EC: WICT has helped me network and meet others that I would likely not have had the opportunity to do so otherwise. WICT has also helped me stay relevant on what is occurring in our industry and has opened my mind to new ideas.

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KKanary 01 (1)Kim Kanary

Vice President of Community Development & Engagement
Jewelry Television
Our theme for WICT this year is INSPIRE. Who has INSPIRED you throughout your career and why?
KK: Many people have inspired me throughout my career. I believe inspiration can come in moments big and small, positive and negative. I look for behaviors in others that I’d like to emulate, as well as those which I’d like to avoid. I’ve had some amazing mentors and supporters that have helped me get to where I am today. I’ve also had some detractors which I’ve been able to overcome – finding inspiration in less than desirable circumstances or interactions can provide some of our most significant lessons and growth opportunities, so when faced with this type of situation, I try to turn it into a positive – into a motivator and lesson. So, overall, I’d say that I really look for inspiration in all I do and have been fortunate to have been inspired by many over the years.
The Taste of WICT is a signature event and a great way for people to network. What three tips can you give our readers on the best way to network at these type of events?
KK: 1) When networking, look to make genuine connections with people. Building a network requires time and diligence, but stick with it – what you get out of it will be proportionate to the time and effort you invest into it.
2) Seek out people you admire in roles to which you eventually aspire. Request an informational interview so you can get tips and advice. Be sure to send them a genuine thank you card or email and maintain contact with them. Keep in touch with your network when you don’t need anything from them. This will enable you to establish genuine relationships, and then when you do need help, you’ll have more of any emotional bank account established with them from which you can withdraw.

3) Pay it forward. When someone asks you for advice or an informational interview, be sure to take the time to try to help despite your busy schedule. Remember all the people who helped you along the way and seek to do the same for others. You’ll find this to be very rewarding in return.

How has WICT helped you throughout your career?

KK: I am actually new to this group, but it’s certainly beneficial to develop camaraderie with people of similar backgrounds, industries or professional interests. Being part of groups that empower peer-to-peer learning and collaboration can be beneficial throughout one’s career.

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Kenley Smith Early

Director, Brand Marketing and Partnerships
Discovery, Inc.

Our theme for WICT this year is INSPIRE. Who has INSPIRED you throughout your career and why?

KE: It’s interesting to think about who’s inspired me over the past 20 plus years of my career. There are some people who stand out for positive reasons and some who stand out for not so great ones. Regardless, you learn from all experiences. It may not feel like that when you are in the thick of a situation, but someday you’ll look back and realize that you take something from every experience. I’ll start with someone who has always inspired me professionally…Shannon Driver, General Manager, US Brand Marketing, Discovery. I’ve worked with Shannon for several years in different capacities. However, in 2013, Shannon became my supervisor. At that time, I was a marketing manager and had had some professional challenges. Everything changed once I began reporting to Shannon. She believed in me and treated me as an equal. All those doubts I had about myself started to disappear and my professional confidence returned. Later that year, I was promoted to director. All I needed was someone to inspire me and guide me down the right path. Even though I no longer report directly to Shannon, she still inspires me. I’ve learned so much from her about the colleague, supervisor, and friend that I aspire to be.

Now let’s talk about personal inspiration. I’m incredibly fortunate to have a group of eleven women that I’ve been friends with for over 20 years. We met in high school and college and are still incredibly close to this day. We often use the following hashtag on our social media posts and text exchanges – #notnormal. As I write this, I think about the fact that our friendships really aren’t normal. Who has that many close friends that they see regularly for game nights and take girl’s trips once a year? Recently one of these ladies was diagnosed with breast cancer. The way this group has pulled together to support her has been incredibly inspirational to me. You see we’ve all had challenges – losing parents, divorces, work challenges, etc. but thru it all this group remains strong. I’ve always known they were special but the evening that I was at my house putting together a chemo basket for our dear friend and seeing all the care and effort that had gone into this, I was even more aware of the awesomeness of these ladies. They inspire me to be my best every day and for that I am truly thankful.

The Taste of WICT is a signature event and a great way for people to network. What three tips can you give our readers on the best way to network at these type of events?

KE: Let’s be honest networking is not easy for anyone. I’m an incredibly outgoing person and can talk to almost anyone, but I still find it challenging. The three tips I would offer are…first, you are not alone. Everyone in the room feels the same way…nervous. So bear that in mind when you attend events, do your best to chat with someone new and remember they are just as nervous as you. Second, come prepared. If you want to speak to a specific person, research them a bit and find something to ask them about, that always helps to break the ice and you never know what you may learn. Third, and this applies to situations where alcohol is being served, always limit yourself in professional situations. I will never forget being at a networking event many years ago and a colleague had entirely too much to drink. This person was slurring words and could not stand very well. Those are things people never forget and you don’t want to be judged on something like that later on.

How has WICT helped you throughout your career?

KE: WICT has played an important role in my career. Everything from attending the local networking opportunities, participating in conferences and seminars, and being a Rising Leaders graduate has helped build my professional confidence. As I said earlier, I’ve had some professional challenges in my 20 plus year career. However, my WICT involvement has always given me a sense of renewal. I love hearing about colleague’s career paths, their positive experiences, and challenges. It always makes me realize that I’m not alone in any situation and I have a very large group of women who can provide advice and guidance when needed.