Yanique Woodall has cultivated a prestigious career over the last almost 20 years, working for companies like Fujifilm, Avon, 1-800-FLOWERS and currently The Home Depot.
She credits her success as a communicator and adjunct professor to her ability to build quality relationships. She values the opportunity to develop relationships with her students, staying in touch with many of them well after their time together ends. One of her alums has even become a daily contact for her in her current role.
She enjoys watching her former students flourish in their careers, showing just how strong her connection is with them. Teaching has become such a priority for her that when asked about where she finds the time, she responds with her motto, “I never say I don’t have the time; I always say I have to find the time.”
The skills Woodall says make an employee invaluable are many of the factors that go into successfully building relationships with your peers. She values diplomacy, social skills, being proactive, a passion for learning, and a great sense of humor. She understands from personal experience that someone with a passion for developing relationships and effective collaboration can go much farther than someone with a few hard skills.
There sometimes exists a disconnect between company executives and their communications teams. This could potentially lead to disastrous public relations, but Woodall has discovered the secret to persuading executives to understand the value of communications: effective relationship building.
Some of the best advice Woodall says she’s received from a mentor is to build a relationship first, and do business second. For every conversation she has, no matter how big or small, she was told to think about what she can learn as a takeaway from that person. This has paid dividends over the course of her career. When asked what advice she would give to others, she says that communications complements any business, so don’t be afraid to take risks, be open, flexible and eager to meet new people.
Relationship building in the COVID-19 era
The global pandemic has hampered everyone’s ability to build and maintain relationships, but it has not stopped Woodall from effectively doing her job. Her most difficult and rewarding project has been overseeing Home Depot’s transition to working from home during the pandemic.
At an organization the size and scale of The Home Depot, a project of this magnitude requires effective communication with colleagues across the organization, including executives, her own team and many additional internal and external stakeholders. As we’ve learned from studying her career, the key to this is building strong relationships.
Michael Garcia is a PRAD Master’s student at DePaul University. While attending graduate school, he also keeps busy by working as both a personal trainer and a marketing intern.