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Sabeen Ali
Sabeen Ali
Founder and CEO of AngelHack
March 13, 2018

How to Thrive in the New Digital Landscape as a Woman

Sabeen Ali

I’ve always thought of myself as an entrepreneur.

When I was just four years old, my father passed away, leaving my mom who was just 24, with three kids. Her life changed drastically. She began working multiple jobs just to make sure we had as many opportunities as possible. Over the next two decades, my mother went from fast-food worker to hairstylist to business owner. I watched and learned the hustle, and by the age of eight, I started my own “business” with my best friend washing cars, cleaning houses, selling homemade greeting cards—the possibilities for me were endless at that age. For me, being an entrepreneur wasn’t an option, it was a necessity. It was an undeniable calling within my DNA.

Fast forward many years, after getting an M.S. in Organizational Development with an emphasis in Change Management, I founded and sold my own leadership-training and organizational-development company. Eventually, my passion for entrepreneurship, innovation, social good and a world of endless possibilities is what led me to founding AngelHack; a female-owned, female-majority company that provides entrepreneurs with emerging technologies and promotes the creation of seamless technology both inside and out of Silicon Valley.

My career in entrepreneurship spans over the course of more than 10 years, and during that time, the digital landscape has been constantly changing and evolving. But what’s changed? How has the digital landscape evolved and become one of the main ways to source and sustain opportunity? How has this changed the demographics of the workforce and made it possible to thrive as minority women in technology?

Throughout my mother’s entrepreneurial journey, there was no “digital landscape,” and what did exist wasn’t accessible, affordable or even widely used at that point in time. Now, I would argue that the internet is one of the most powerful tools in the world. It provides someone who knows how to code with endless job opportunities, and it has even opened the possibility for new careers’ such as Growth Hackers, Design Managers, Social Media Managers and more. Additionally, it has served as a platform for minorities and women in tech to connect with other allies and to advance their careers, helping us once and for all close the gender gap.

So, what tools do you use, and how do you use them to build your own successful brand? Here are some tips:

Build Your Brand
The internet is now a place where you can do and create virtually anything you want, but what's changing is how accessible information is and how fast you can get it to the most relevant people. Social media is now one of the leading ways people get their news. More than two-thirds of Americans are getting their news from social media, spending an average of nine hours per day on social accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. This means, whether you are blogging, building a community, or advocating for yourself and others, you have a built-in audience. And they are paying attention.

With an increase in web traffic, we’ve seen an uptick in resources. And they are growing like wildfire. We’ve seen webinars, live Twitter chats, Slack groups, Facebook groups and more pop up that directly contribute to business development, networking, and brand awareness. I know this may seem obvious, but USE THEM! Simply schedule a recurring calendar block that reminds you to log on, check Slack each day, and engage with others. Your work and personal life will improve by leaps and bounds through the connections you make.

This is especially useful and relevant to women and other minorities in tech, such as myself. The amount of online resources dedicated to networking with and supporting other women in tech is beautiful and inspiring. It is because of these groups, their fast-growing communities, and the badass women who are members of them, that have made it possible to amplify messages such as the #MeToo movement and to publicly work towards better work environments.

Some of my favorite digital groups include:

Utilize Your Network Efficiently
As you build your brand online, your network will, without a doubt, begin to grow. However, part of your success in a new age of digital landscape is dependent on how well you utilize your new network. I’ve broken down the two-step process that has always proven to work extremely well for me and my team.

  1. Do your research.
    This is the most important step when it comes to utilizing your network. While it can be time-consuming, it always produces the best results, and it cultivates strong relationships. New functions from LinkedIn search filters enable you to search connections or friends’ connections in common by title, place of employment, areas of expertise and location. Once you’ve done your research, looked at mutual connections, and know the common ground you share, you should be able to easily target who you’d like to reach out to, which brings me to step two.

  2. Ask for a warm intro.
    In my experience, lots of people are hesitant to ask for a warm introduction, and I’m not sure why. Asking for a warm introduction can be a win-win for everyone involved. It typically strengthens the relationship with your current contact while growing your network. When doing outreach, a warm introduction is much more likely to result in a response, a phone call or an in-person meeting.

I’ve used both tactics for years, and I've made some really valuable connections, and I've spoken internationally to corporates, nonprofits, and student audiences on rapid innovation, entrepreneurship, women in tech, social good and more. So, get started today on building your brand online, growing your network and making new connections.

For more from me, follow on Twitter @sabeen_sabeen, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Ready to join a team dedicated to advancing equality in the workforce? Find an opportunity with Accenture today.

About Our Guest Contributor
Sabeen Ali is Founder and CEO of AngelHack, female-owned and majority female-operated company that organizes hackathons and various innovative initiatives around the world.

Prior to AngelHack, Sabeen founded and sold her own leadership training and organizational development company called, Team Building ROI, which provided leadership and organizational development training to companies such as Google, IBM, Blackberry, NetApp, Cisco and others. She holds an M.S. in Organization Development from the University of San Francisco and is an expert in change management.

Sabeen also founded Code For A Cause (CFAC), a nonprofit organization that aims to make technology and coding accessible for all, and to bring the tech community together to make the world a better place. Founded in 2013, CFAC has organized events and initiatives designed to connect developers, support women and girls, minorities, veterans and other disproportionately disadvantaged communities.

She speaks internationally to corporate, nonprofit and student audiences on rapid innovation, entrepreneurship, acceleration, women in tech initiatives and more. Most recently, she spoke at Four Years From Now (4YFN) with Mobile World Congress, Money 20/20, Shoptalk, and delivered University of South Florida's commencement speech in 2016. She has received numerous accolades for her work, most recently including the Harari Conscious Leadership and Social Innovation award. Her work with AngelHack and CFAC has been highlighted in Inc., Fast Company, Voice of America, and featured in the hit documentary: Seed.


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