How It All Began

The concept behind the creation of the networking group was to provide an inclusive free to access platform for professional Muslim women to support, learn, and develop within a network of other like-minded Muslim women from diverse industries.

Pass the Mic Sis was established in May 2017 in response to the need for a Professional Muslim women’s networking event series, that was inclusive and accessible for all, without cost of memberships and commitment to attend every session (although it’s lovely to see sisters attend regularly!). Here is Founder, Sadiqa Jabbar’s reflection on how we were formed.

The seeds of the Pass the Mic Sis roots were planted at the end of 2016 during a company Business Development CPD day. During the session there was a call to action for fee earning staff to step up their game to assist with bringing in business leads. I don’t belong to a network of people who would necessarily provide the type of work the company undertakes, so the thought was ‘how on earth would I be able to bring business leads?’ To add to this I had recently taken my final qualification exam a few days earlier, so there was no gently easing into the role of an architect from an assistant. Talk about a ‘rabbit caught in headlights’ moment!

With this in mind the concept of networking to expand my contacts came to fruit. To contextualise this, I am a genuine network-phobe especially within the industry. When attending lectures talks and exhibitions, once the main event is over, I will literally run out as soon as the networking ‘drinks’ portion of the evening begins.

The problem here was two-fold. Firstly the networking anxiety heralds from deep-rooted issues of identity, being a relatively short, ethnic minority woman, who is visibly Muslim. Considering the current social-political environment, being genuinely accepted and valued by industry peers is highly important to me. We can no longer avoid the issue by brushing it aside in guise of being politically correct or declaring we live in times of secular equality, which immediately indirectly erases one’s right to belong to multiple forms of community groups. Highly debatable, although frankly mates, it’s the reality.

Secondly, this outward dilemma of perceptions, acceptance and inclusion at industry events, doesn’t mix so well with the internal anxiety of not being a natural small-talk generator amongst a room full of strangers. Coming from a straight talker, small talk gets a bit monotonous and boring, imagine saying the same thing over and over again. I am more for a single meaningful conversation than many small-talk chats. The question is how does one make it fun and meaningful at the same time?

With all these issues running through my head, I unintentionally pressured myself into thinking that I had to fit in with the industry norm of how and when one should network and for what purpose. Over the coming months I considered my options and realised that instead of trying to become something or someone I am not, I should identify with who I am and use networking as a tool that works for me, not the other way round. I had to think outside the box and be more creative in my approach.

So with these new energised self-motivating thoughts, I began with my comfort zone, women, and more so Muslim women. I looked online for networking groups for Muslim women. Through the search I found the SMART Women group on the social site Meetup, which catered to working Muslim women. Through social activities, I began for the first time in a long time, if not ever, meeting other Muslim women from a diverse range of professional sectors. Wow, I thought.

It was great to begin with as I was networking in a social capacity and as most can testify, potential clients can be found in the must unpredictable situations. It was an eye-opener, as I have never really worked with other Muslims let alone Muslim women during my architectural career to date. It felt good to meet like-minded Muslimahs with some shared experiences. However with the company’s call to action still in the back of my head, I felt that needed to take this a step further.

So I posed a question to the ladies within the WhatsApp group if anyone would be up for business-oriented meets to talk through work and career related issues within a professional setting rather than coffee shops (where it was difficult to conduct a conversation). With quite a few sisters interested a group was formed, a venue generously offered, and date arranged for our first networking event on Bank Holiday Monday 1st May 2017. Alhumdulillah.

The concept behind the creation of the networking group was to provide an inclusive free to access platform for professional Muslim women to support, learn, and develop within a network of other like-minded Muslim women from diverse industries. Many of us don’t work with other Muslims let alone Muslim women so having this support network has proven to be a breath of fresh air for many of us, Alhumdulillah. We hope that sisters will find the network to collaborate and generate opportunities or redirect to specialist support if and when required, in shaa Allah.

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During the course of our first year we were able to reach sisters from a wide range of professional fields; doctors, psychologists, solicitors, architects, IT professionals, charity workers, teachers to scientists to name a few. Some sisters are single and either living with family or have moved to London for work/studies, while others are married with and without children. We feel we have a good mix of cultural backgrounds to create a richer more holistic fusion of perspectives during our discussion segments. Naturally newfound friendships were formed and a sense of a familial community created.

Interests vary and over time we had some sisters become regular attendees, some topics tended to be more naturally popular while others became intimate focus groups with more in depth conversations had. The choices of topics were based initially on the Founder’s interests, although we adapted and provided sessions over time requested by sisters through feedback received.

On our first birthday, we launched our online presence with digital branding created by #Cre8tivePixels. This has enabled us to reach a wider audience and establish ourselves within the Professional Muslim Women community.

Our most popular sessions tended to be those where sisters were able to learn about a new topic and engage in conversation-style discussion segments. We realised that these sessions were important platforms for Muslims sisters to gather and talk. It is important to provide platforms and facilitate, Muslim women to talk freely within a network of sisters who understand the sensibilities of being a female Muslim. It is just as important to be able to do so in a safe, empowering and uplifting environment that will not compromise our Islamic principles.

During our second year thanks to the brilliant networking by our Events & Membership Manager Attia Ali, we were able to obtain a venue to host all our events. We are humbly thankful to #RegentsPlace for enabling this to happen. As any event planner may concur, the venue is one of the most critical elements to nail! Alhumdulillah.

Approaching our third year, we recently launched our fortnightly book club beginning with Muhammad (saw): 11 Leadership Qualities that Changed the World by late brother #NabeelAlAzami (may Allah grant him a place in Jannat-ul-Firdous. Ameen). It is a fantastic book and quite apt for the period in which we began reading this. We begin 2020 with #YasminMojahed’s inspirational Reclaim Your Heart.

Our aim for the coming years is to reach a wider range of Professional Muslim Women at various levels of experience across all sectors by using social media to publicise future events. We are hoping to attract more guest speakers to add value to the events and topics we organise with follow up sessions from the previous year. In shaa Allah!

Love Yourself First

Feeling confident is important in order to flourish in all areas of your life, especially when it comes to relationships with others. Whether you are already in a relationship or single and looking to meet one, working on yourself should remain a priority, as a lack of self-awareness and self-love is likely to leave you feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled.

There are many factors that lead to low self-esteem. If not addressed it can impact our daily lives and seep into our productivity and interactions at work. Aliya Rajah, Life Coach and NLP Practitioner gives her advice on Love Yourself First.

[Originally posted on January 8th 2019: ‘Love Yourself First’, on Aliya’s website. Reposted with permission.]

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Photo credit: Shannon Kaiser, The Path of Self Love

You may have heard the phrase ‘love yourself before you love another,’ but what does this actually mean?

In order to love yourself, you need to start by knowing who you are. How can you love what you do not know? Once you start to know who you are, it makes it a lot easier to know what you want from another.

Feeling confident is important in order to flourish in all areas of your life, especially when it comes to relationships with others. Whether you are already in a relationship or single and looking to meet one, working on yourself should remain a priority, as a lack of self-awareness and self-love is likely to leave you feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled. I’m going to share with you a few reasons why.

  1. If you don’t love yourself, you’ll be more likely to avoid spending time on your own, and so constantly seek out to be in the company of others. Apply this to dating, and you’ll find yourself needing to be with someone as opposed to wanting to be with them, and relying on your new partner to be the source of your happiness. When you’re confident in yourself, you are more likely to be with someone because you’ve chosen to be with them. You come from a place of “my life is pretty good, but being with this person will make it even better.”
  2. If you don’t value yourself, you will end up putting the other person on a pedestal and feel the urge to do anything to impress them. Have you ever been on a date and felt the need to ‘sell’ yourself to that person and convince them as to why you’re so great? Or maybe it’s happened to you, and you’ve experienced the person you’re on a date with eagerly trying to win over your approval? When you feel a great sense of self-confidence; you know who you are and what you want, you can sit there and think “do I want to spend my time with you? How do I feel about this person?”
  3. When you know and value yourself, you’ll know what you want and expect, which means you can set boundaries. An increased sense of confidence enables you to communicate when you’re not happy about something in the relationship. The unfortunate reality is if you don’t set boundaries when it comes to how others treat you, other people will set those boundaries for you. When you don’t value yourself, you’ll fear that the other person will leave you, and instead of valuing yourself to know that you will be okay by yourself, you’ll convince yourself that you need them and continue to tolerate their behaviour.
  4. If you don’t love yourself, you will end up attracting people who validate how you feel about yourself. Disrespect and name calling will be acceptable because it’s what you’re comfortable with. Start being kinder to yourself and talk to yourself like you would someone you love. As your confidence increases, you will naturally begin to attract those who are similar to you, and you create healthier relationships.

 

How can you start to love yourself more in order to have flourishing relationships?

  1. Know your values. What is important to you and what are your reasons for wanting to be in a relationship? What are your non-negotiables?
  2. Learn to enjoy your own company. Go for a walk, pamper yourself, read a book, anything that makes you feel good.
  3. Understand that saying no doesn’t make you a bad person. You can still be a kind person but have your boundaries.
  4. Forgive yourself. Remind yourself that you are human, it’s okay to make mistakes, and that there are lessons to be learnt from every experience.

https://aliyarajah.com/ | Instagram: @coach_aliya | Facebook: @AliyaRajahCC | YouTube: Aliya Rajah

How to Boost Your Confidence Before a Stressful Event

If you’re someone who freaks out at the thought of any of the above events, or if you regularly imagine everything going wrong, I’d recommend creating a routine for yourself to prepare yourself for what you need to do.

Many of us feel anxious before speaking at events. The biggest villain in the piece being the over-thinking leading to self-doubt. Aliya Rajah, Life Coach and NLP Practitioner gives her advice on How to Boost Your Confidence Before a Stressful Event.

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Photo credit: Leading Higher

During a recent coaching session with one of my clients, we were developing a strategy to help her feel more confident before delivering presentations at short notice.

She asked me “Aliya, what would you do if someone gave you 5 minutes to prepare an important speech?” (By the way this question was hypothetical, her colleagues give her more a lot more than 5 minutes to prepare for a presentation!)

I said “I would most likely prepare the speech for 4 minutes, and then take 1 minute out for myself to feel calm and get in the zone.”

‘Really? Even with only 5 minutes to prepare?”

“Definitely, it’s so important for me to approach challenging situations in a calm and relaxed way.”

Let’s say you have a job interview coming up, or you need to give a presentation at work. We often focus fully on preparing the content for what we need to deliver, and place less emphasis on how we need to feel in order to deliver at a higher standard.

If you’re someone who freaks out at the thought of any of the above events, or if you regularly imagine everything going wrong, I’d recommend creating a routine for yourself to prepare yourself for what you need to do. I am a huge believer of not just ‘rocking up’ to an event. Spending as little as 10 minutes doing this beforehand can make all the difference to your performance.

In this blog post, I’d like to share with you a few things I do to mentally prepare me for challenging events, in hope that they will inspire you to create a motivating routine that works for you.

  1. Start the day off well: Firstly, how you start your day will impact how the rest of the day goes. I always like to ensure that I wake up early enough to start the day off in a relaxed and calm way.
  2. Visualise: Before you leave the house in the morning, close your eyes and picture the event going really well with ideal outcomes. If you only imagine the worst case scenario, chances are you’ll feel a lot more nervous and your performance will be affected. Allow yourself to dream big and picture the event going really well!
  3. Have some empowering ‘me time.’ Before the big event, take some time out and go to a quiet space (either a meeting room or even in the bathroom). Spending a few minutes here beforehand can make all the difference to your performance. There are 3 things I love to do during this time, as they massively boost my confidence.
    • Firstly, I love to power pose. For me, this is putting my hands on my hips and standing with my legs shoulder width apart. Studies have shown that power posing increases testosterone, causing you to feel more confident, and reduces cortisol levels, therefore reducing stress.
    • Secondly, take some time to breathe. Numerous studies show that doing some deep breathing can greatly reduce anxiety and stress.
    • Thirdly, give yourself a powerful pep talk. This one might sound a bit crazy, but it 100% works. Tell yourself everything you need to hear to get you into a positive state for the event. Statements I often use are “You’ve got this, you’re going to be great!” “You are so confident!” Say it like you mean it and give yourself a big smile, whilst you walk out the door on your way to impress.

Now the outcome of the interview/meeting will depend on a number of factors, but by having a routine in place beforehand, you’ll feel a lot calmer and more prepared for the event itself. And by feeling more relaxed, it’s likely that you’ll perform much better under pressure.

I’d love to know how you get on. Feel free to drop me an email on aliya.rajah@gmail.com

Good luck!

https://aliyarajah.com/ | Instagram: @coach_aliya | Facebook: @AliyaRajahCC | YouTube: Aliya Rajah