Vanessa Sanyauke is the CEO and founder of Girls Talk London. (You might remember her from this feature on why it’s so important to have a mentor at work). She’s already set up an amazing organisation to help connect young women to senior staff at FTSE 100 companies, but when she initially turned her interests to TV, even she found it tough.
After noticing that there’s not a single panel show on UK television for ambitious millennial women, she decided to do something. A strongly worded letter? No. A Twitter rant? Nope. A complex plan to wait outside a TV studio, kidnap Ant and or Dec and hold them for ransom until they offered her a presenting job? That actually sounds like a great (if illegal) day out, but no. Instead, Vanessa got her friends Remel London and Dean Quinton together to set up their own series on YouTube and create a Girls Talk show.
Now, after a successful first series, Girls Talk is back. Coming up on the new episodes are discussions on everything from negotiation, balancing work and relationships, and what to expect from life as a working mum. Plus, there’s interviews with authors, career experts and even Adele’s stylist. (Imagine the office singalongs!)
We sat down with Vanessa to find out her tips for making it in media, even when opportunities are scarce…
Find a niche
“If you look at UK television there’s not one talk show for young millennials. There’s nothing for our age demographic, there’s a massive gap,” says Vanessa. “We wanted to fill that gap because we wanted to have a space and a platform where we could talk about issues that affect young ambitious women in society.”
Make your own content
“It’s hard to get into places like the BBC and ITV,” says Vanessa. “But YouTube is fantastic; it’s giving young presenters a chance to forge their own career. I was able to just create my own content and not wait around.”
“Get together with a bunch of like-minded friends and put something together,” she suggests. That way, “you’ve got more power, you’re able to shape it, you’re not restricted and you’ll get noticed by some of the TV channels as well because you’ve got a following.”
Tell your contacts what you’re up to
“Make a little personal mailing list on Mail Chimp, where you just fill in your contacts about what you’ve been doing every six months. Even if it just says ‘Hi, this is what I’ve been up to.’”
If you’ve met anyone through work experience, an insight day or a event, this is an easy way to politely stay in touch without bombarding them with emails. “Keep in contact because then you’ll be on their radar,” recommends Vanessa, “and you never know when people will have an opportunity and you’re first in their brain”.
Ask for help
“Something I’ve learned to do is to ask people around me for favours,” says Vanessa. “Sometimes you’re scared, but just ask, if you don’t ask you don’t get.”
However, it’s important to remember that you should offer people help too, she warns. “When you’re trying to build a relationship it’s a two-way street so don’t just ask, ask, ask.”
“You can’t really worry what people are going to think,” says Vanessa . “If you want to do something follow your own heart, follow your passions.”
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