Networking to Success

April 24, 2018

By Heather Baker

Leveraging social media to build relationships is something business management and administration alumna Vannesia Darby ’12 has utilized to propel her career. She began honing her networking skills as an active Bradley student. Darby served as chapter president of the Theta Epsilon Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, traveled to England and China with the Global Scholars program, performed with the jazz band and gospel choir and delivered the commencement speech for her graduating class.

In between classes and extracurricular activities, she developed meaningful and lasting relationships with her professors. In particular, Dr. Jennifer Robin, interim associate dean of Foster College of Business, opened Darby’s eyes with an unorthodox teaching style and knowledge of organizational leadership. Robin played an essential role in Darby landing a fellowship in organizational leadership and inspired her to pursue a graduate degree in organizational leadership and management at Middle Tennessee State University.

Every opportunity resulted from networking and research. Her first job originated through social media research. She discovered I Hear Music, Inc., a promotions and marketing firm for gospel musicians and artists, by following music industry professionals on Twitter and reading an article one of them tweeted about the company. Darby decided to email the CEO and ask for advice, attaching her resume to the message. Instead of receiving advice, she received a phone interview that landed her a position with the company.

Darby’s career path eventually led her to work in the gospel division of Universal Music Group. After growing the digital footprint of the Motown Gospel brand, she felt it was time to focus on her budding career as a freelance blogger and marketing consultant. With her already developing client base, Darby started her own online marketing agency, MOXIE Nashville.

MOXIE Nashville develops digital marketing plans, executes marketing ideas and provides training for its clients. In order to remain cutting edge, Darby uses research and data to predict the best marketing approach. “Marketing is strategic, there are many factors that impact the bottom line,” she said. Darby asks her clients extensive questions to find out what they really need, to ensure she is not solving the wrong problem. “People think it’s luck or magic what I do. That’s not the case. I research a lot and have to be aware of all the variables that can affect my clients,” she added. “For instance, if I’m working with a client in the music industry, and Spotify or YouTube make a minor change, that could still impact a streaming campaign I’m running if either one was a primary outlet.”

Through social media and entrepreneurship, Darby has had many opportunities to connect with others around the country who reach out to her for advice for their businesses and personal lives. She has a unique ability to discover people’s true talents and passions and how best to channel them. For some it is in their careers, while for others it is through volunteer work. “To me it is important that everyone knows they are talented. They just may not be in the right industry to let their talent shine,” Darby says.

Darby stays connected to Bradley through the Bradley University Black Alumni Alliance (BUBAA) affinity group, to which she was recently installed as vice president for the 2018-2019 year. As a student, Darby was a three-time winner of BUBAA’s Dr. Barbara Penelton Endowed Scholarship. As an alumna, it was natural for her to give back, and she has charged others to do the same.

When elected to the BUBAA board in 2014, each board member was asked to donate $1,000 toward the scholarship fund. As a recent graduate, Darby knew she did not have the funds but relied on her influence to help support the cause. She decided to contact friends that had also benefited from BUBAA scholarships, fellow young alumni, and family members to join her in making small donations of $25. This not only allowed her to quickly meet the initiative, but it also helped show her fellow young alumni that it’s not impossible to give back if you think outside of the box.

Her advice to current students is to enjoy your time at Bradley, but always think about your next move. “Don’t get sucked into social media’s pressure to always envy what your friends are doing. You don’t know their whole life,” she said. “Be smart and build relationships; hard work and integrity matter more than Snapchat and Instagram.”