I met Brittany Gray at a small little coffee shop in Bethlehem earlier this fall. I had been working for Lehigh Valley Business for all of a hot minute when we were first introduced.
After we started chatting, we found out that we had much in common. We both are hard-working, curious, go-getters and new to the Lehigh Valley – me more so than Gray. Each week we commute to and from Harrisburg and the Lehigh Valley area. Our professions have us connecting with other women business leaders.
Our careers only somewhat overlap. She delves into the strategies and solutions that surround a company’s social media presence. I have been helping to manage news organizations’ social media and digital platforms.
Before getting into Gray’s story …
But before we delve more into Gray’s recent business journey, let me give you some background on a new Lehigh Valley Business women’s leadership initiative. The meeting with Gray was a part of that, but we can circle back to her.
In September I was asked to help lead the newsroom at Lehigh Valley Business. Before LVB, I had spent more than a couple years helping to manage the newsroom for the Central Penn Business Journal in Harrisburg, one of LVB’s sister news organizations. I’m now happy to be working in both newsrooms, sharing time with each team.
When I started working in Harrisburg, about three years ago, we decided to launch a Women in Leadership (WIL) monthly email newsletter. The newsletter highlights women business leaders, veterans in their field and those aspiring to lead. The newsletter’s feedback was positive. There was nothing like it produced digitally in the midstate.
The community that the newsletter helped to create and the efforts surrounding it have been one of my favorite work responsibilities. One Harrisburg businesswoman, who has since become one of my mentors, told me this recently: “Cathy, you have given us a microphone to tell our stories.”
It seems like a small thing, but it’s not. Our news organization specifically targets and looks for women leaders to profile and share their stories. The community network of business women has swelled under these deliberate actions.
I pitched the same women’s leadership concept to the LVB team this fall and those inside and outside the newsroom were excited to get on board. Our first Lehigh Valley Business Women in Leadership newsletter will launch in January and run monthly after that. You can sign up here to receive it.
Who will we interview?
Initially, my Harrisburg network led me to some contacts in the Greater Lehigh Valley area. I already have a list that I’m working on.
That was how I was introduced to Gray. After a few email exchanges we met at the coffee shop in Bethlehem, conveniently only a few minutes from the LVB office. Gray was exactly the candidate we need to spotlight. She was open to sharing her story and she was familiar with the Harrisburg WIL newsletter.
Right now, Emmaus is home for Gray, but she travels to and from the Harrisburg and Lehigh Valley areas because of family obligations.
Her story is similar to the types of stories we will be profiling in the newsletter. Read on.
Gray takes the leap into business ownership
In the summer 2016, Gray became the founder and owner of beYOU Marketing, which specializes in social media strategies and consulting. She started the company full-time after working in a corporate atmosphere for several years. Because of her travel she maintains clients in both Harrisburg and the Lehigh Valley.
“Really, (the company) came out of the need for me to help people. That’s how it manifested itself,” Gray said. BeYOU does a lot social media consulting and management work. “I help my clients maximize their social media presence.”
Lehigh Valley Business: What are some of the differences in the markets, Harrisburg versus Lehigh Valley?
Brittany Gray: Lehigh Valley has a lot going on. There are similarities as to how to get your feet in the door. I never joined the chamber when in Harrisburg, but I certainly attended a lot of chamber events. I think the chamber here in the LV is more robust and it’s broken into many divisions. The perspectives are different. I still have access to both areas. I looked for organizations that support women.
LVB: I’m new to the Lehigh Valley. What’s the best way to network?
Gray: I jump on Facebook and look for events. I have found that very, very valuable. It’s been very helpful to me. Other than that it’s just building my relationships with other women in these networking groups.
LVB: Why venture out on your own?
Gray: Corporate felt very stifling for me creatively. I started looking at companies that would afford me that creativity, and I would have started at the bottom up anyway. I just got to the point that I thought I should start my own business then. Do what I want to do.
LVB: How many clients do you help out on a regular basis?
Gray: On a monthly basis, maybe five to eight clients.
LVB: What surprises you about your work?
Gray: People understand the importance of social media, but they don’t know how to put a dollar figure on the value. They know they need it and they know my costs aren’t crazy but they don’t have money allocated for social media.
LVB: What’s one thing a small company could do to help with its social media presence?
Gray: I want to give you 10 answers for that. What I can say is stay up with trends. For example, Instagram is where you need to be right now and so many businesses are not taking advantage of it. People are doing a disservice by not staying relevant and keeping on top of trends.
LVB: What can you share with our readers about getting out of their comfort zone? How valuable is that for a person to grow?
Gray: Oh boy, that’s so true. It can be hard. I work from home and I’m a little more introverted and it can be really easy to just want to stay to myself. But I need to go to this event tonight and I need to be open to meeting new people. And I need to keep in mind that when I meet someone new I usually connect with someone on this awesome level. Usually with every event there is one person I meet and I say afterward, “I’m so glad that I went.” It’s motivation to push yourself through it.
LVB: Do you journal?
Gray: I do. Every night before I go to bed I have a gratitude journal. One page every night.
LVB: You mentioned introvert. Do you classify yourself as an introvert?
Gray: I classify myself as an introvert in an extrovert’s body. If I had my way, I’d probably be an extreme introvert. I like to be outgoing but being around people drains me really hard. So I have to find that balance for myself. I listen to a whole lot of books. I listen to a whole lot of personal development. I like to listen to my inspiration, but I like to physically hold a book that’s going to tell me a story.
LVB: What does the future look like for you?
Gray: I see the fruits of a lot of learned lessons. These past two years I have learned so much the hard way. I see myself taking those bits of information and molding the business as best as I can. I love that my business gives me flexibility and to help people in some manner. There’s a lot that I want to do in the future with women empowerment. I definitely see myself podcasting and writing a book. That might not be directly related to social media, but I’m grateful what social media has provided for me and will continue to provide for me.
LVB: Goals for 2019?
Gray: Bringing in some part-time help. That’s the big push. Right now it’s just me.
I want to hear from you
I want to hear from you, our readers. Who should we be highlighting in our new monthly WIL newsletters? Who do you want to read about? Do you have a favorite mentor in your business circle? Who is making a difference in your business community? I’m looking for legacy leaders as well as rising stars.
I would love your suggestions and your feedback. You can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our first newsletter debuts Jan. 16 and will run monthly, the third Wednesday of every month. I look forward to hearing from you.
Cathy Hirko is the managing editor for Lehigh Valley Business and the Central Penn Business Journal.