This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.

This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.
1 Mar, 2017

Ask Nicole: What Should I Do With “Pick My Brain” Requests?

By | 2017-03-01T03:03:17+00:00 March 1st, 2017|Categories: Ask Nicole|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Do you have a question to share with the Raise Your Voice community? Let me know. 

I recently got a tweet from Raise Your Voice reader Jocelyn, a social worker and consultant in the Boston area:

I LOVE your emails. Looking for tips on how to make others pay you when they’re seeking “informal” consultations? Any links?

This is something I’ve been going back and forth with for some time. Maybe it’s the social worker in me that just wants to be as helpful as possible. But sometimes being helpful can get in the way of getting work done for my clients and even working in my own projects.

The reason why these requests can be annoying is that they can be very time consuming, and as writer Ruchika Tulshyan shares in “How 3 Successful Women of Color Navigate ‘Can I Pick Your Brain?’ Requests“, you have to create your own criteria for how to handle these requests. I tend to have a soft spot for some people (most notably social work grad students or people interested in entrepreneurship), so it’s not uncommon for me to schedule time for them when I can. If the person is someone I’m interested in building a professional partnership with, I don’t mind having them pick my brain because I’m picking their brain right back.

Here are my recommendations:

Get Money!

Requesting money up front can show people you mean business. Here are some examples:

  • Web designer Krystle Rowry of Kriss Did It: Krystle has a “Kriss Critique” where you pay to do a walk-through of your website design and she provides areas of improvement. She also has a “Pick My Brain” service where you can ask her specific questions related to your website design. She follows up with you a month later.
  • Social Worker and business brand coach Vasavi Kumar: Vasavi Kumar gives you 2-hour, 4-hour, or 6-hour opportunities to pick her brain. This service can focus on self-promotion, content and product creation, pitching yourself, and more.
  • Branding boutique Ready To Werk: Ready to Werk provides 45 or 60 minute phone consultations for budding entrepreneurs who need some help in flushing out their ideas.

Create a “Frequently Asked Questions” 

My “Ask Nicole” blog posts are my way of providing a FAQ for my business. Throughout the month, I get emails from a variety of folks–social workers, graduate students, activists, executive directors, etc. I often get the same kinds of questions, and to prevent me from answering the same question multiple times, I may share a question in a “Ask Nicole post” so when someone emails me with the same question, I’ll point them to that post as well as add any additional (but brief) information specific to their situation. I also point them to my Blog Archives so they can read blog posts related to their question, as well as read related blogs posts by topic. I do this to not only save time, but it’s also a good way to share information on a much  broader scale.


1 Feb, 2017

Ask Nicole: How Can I Get Hired for Workshops & Speaking Engagements?

By | 2017-02-01T00:54:56+00:00 February 1st, 2017|Categories: Ask Nicole|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Do you have a question to share with the Raise Your Voice community? Let me know. 

Michelle, a social worker in Pennsylvania, writes:

I have been researching other options to become involved in within the [social work] field and came across your website. I was wondering if you [could] discuss how to get involved in facilitating workshops/speaking engagements.  This is an area I’m very interested in pursuing and am eager to build resources and network with other professionals.

I’m always excited to hear fellow social workers eager to show their expertise in a variety of ways.

I’ve been facilitating workshops in some capacity since 2003-ish. I started co-facilitating workshops as a student, with other youth activists around the country, then as a Reproductive Justice activist and professional social worker. Because I was so new to it, I leaned a lot on my peers to guide the workshop facilitation. I also sought out people who have a delivery style you like or who speak on topics that interests you. The goal isn’t to imitate them, but observe how they engage their audience. Whenever I co-faciliate a workshop or training with someone, I focus on how they engage the audience, how they interject personal experiences that tie into their content, or how they tie in real-world examples to illustrate their content. I eventually found a facilitation style that worked for me. 

First, determine what your interests are and what you want to share your expertise in. Next, brainstorm how you want to deliver your information.  I’ve written a series on preparing and facilitating workshops (Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four). We tend to think of workshops as being in person, but you can also deliver great content via online formats such as GoToMeeting or Zoom. In my Blog Archives, there’s a section on workshops where I share my own experiences with workshop facilitating as well as exercises I’ve facilitated in workshops.

Secondly (and probably most important), let people know that you’re available for workshops and speaking engagements! Word of mouth has been a driving force for my business and for lots of people interested in professional speaking and workshop facilitation.

Next, find ways to show your expertise before going into a conference or workshop space. My preferred method to show my interests and expertise has been through blogging, and in using my social media platforms to promote my thoughts. Blogging has been a good way for me to show my expertise, gain clients, and have folks invite me to speak. (I view it as an online business card). Blogging has also given me a platform to share my perspective AND has allowed me to revisit my stance to either strengthen my voice or to share a new perspective. Blogging may be that for you as well. Or it may be podcasting or sharing your perspective via YouTube. You can also engage with folks via live feeds on Instagram, Facebook, or Periscope. You can curate the topics you like to talk about and it aids in developing your personal approach and what you’re known for (aka, your brand), which then helps people associate you with certain speaking topics. I recently updated my Speaking page to show what my interests are as well as what I’m most requested to speak on.


4 Jan, 2017

Ask Nicole: Any Advice for Social Workers Leaving New York City?

By | 2017-01-04T14:12:17+00:00 January 4th, 2017|Categories: Ask Nicole, Social Work|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

If you have a question that you’d like to share with the Raise Your Voice community , contact me. 

Ebony, a social work graduate student, writes:

I just completed my first semester in [my social work graduate program] and I  have some questions which are not really being answered in my school. I’m not sure if it is because I am one of the few black women in [the program] or if the my advisor really does not have any answers for me.

I graduate in May of 2018 the the plan is for me to have my MSW along with a certification in child welfare. Shortly after graduation I plan to take the exam for me to get the LMSW. I really want to  get the LCSW because I eventually I would like to open up my own practice working with the youth and obtain my DSW. My dilemma is that I would like to relocate south to Georgia or Florida. I would like to move to a place where it does not snow and the cost of living is lower. I have been living in New York all my life. Do you have any tips or suggestions for me? I do not want to wait until the last minute of my graduate school career to have a concrete plan.


You may recall that I was asked a similar question by another student, only Ebony’s question is the opposite: leaving New York City to work elsewhere as a social worker. Here, I focus on what I felt was Ebony’s primary need: how preparing for the LMSW or LCSW exam (and transferring those scores and licensure) varies by state.

Many students wait until their second year (and sometimes the final semester) to think of the next steps in their social work path, so it’s great that Ebony is thinking about her trajectory while in her first year.

And yes, the cost of living in New York City is significantly higher compared to many southern cities, and that’s always been a major draw for many folks moving down south. While it provides lots of career opportunities, it can feel like a completely different world to a native New Yorker. As a Georgia native, it didn’t take long for me to adjust to life in New York, but many of my native New York City friends had to get used to the slower pace of southern life, even in major cities like Atlanta, Orlando, and Miami. That doesn’t mean the same will apply to Ebony (or to you if you’re planning to make a similar decision), but I just wanted to throw that out there.


2 Nov, 2016

Ask Nicole: What’s the Best Way to Deliver Bad News?

By | 2016-11-02T15:28:45+00:00 November 2nd, 2016|Categories: Ask Nicole, Program Design & Evaluation|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments


If you have a question that you’d like to share with the Raise Your Voice community , contact me. 

It’s the worst thing ever. That moment when you’ve been working with a client, community members, or some other form of stakeholder, and you have to bring the bad news.

I recently got this email from a nonprofit professional (and FYI: I’ve removed identifying information):

My nonprofit has created a program that seeks to increase the importance of physical activity among young indigenous youth in a rural community where there’s a lack of access to gyms and other places that would make it easier for youth to be more active. The stakeholders were expecting that the activities included in the program would resonate with the youth. In my nonprofit, I’ve been charged to carry out an evaluation of this program. We used surveys and focus groups with the youth participants. The results of the evaluation were that the participants weren’t interested in the activities, which aligned with the lack of participation. In fact, the results showed that the participants have developed more creative means to get in physical activity, but they brought up the need for other quality of life services that the program wasn’t addressing. The results could potentially impact the funding that was given to this program, as the funders were expecting that the program would be a success. What’s the best way to handle this?

Dealing with funders and leadership can be tricky, and nonprofits know all too well the stress of proving that a program or service is successful to stakeholders.

So, how do you share unexpected results in a way that is diplomatic and addresses concern head on?

Make it participatory from the start

I’ve worked with clients who had the expectation that I would come in, ready to go, with all the surveys, focus group questions, and in-depth interviews scheduled. They just want someone to come in and do the work for them. When I noticed this happening, I began to push back against working with clients in this way, and in encouraging current clients and potential clients in developing a participatory way of working together. From determining data collection tools to developing questions to ask participants (and even getting everyone together to interpret the data), when you make feedback gathering participatory from the start, it creates buy-in, puts everyone on the same page, and makes everything more transparent. When people are more involved, it makes this process more fun (at least for me), and everyone learns in the process.

And here’s a secret: When you make it participatory, it improves the likelihood that recommendations from the evaluation are actually implemented.

Address expectations and potential consequences 

When you ask your stakeholders what they intend the outcome of their program to be, also ask this:

“What if what we’re expecting doesn’t happen?”

Ideally, we create programs or services based on theory, research, and what’s happen in our community. It builds the foundation to do some meaningful work. Can you believe there are nonprofits actually create programs or services because it just sounds like a good idea? You’d be surprised. So, can we really feel some type of way when we get results that we weren’t expecting, and in the case of the nonprofit above, it sounds like a program was created to address a need that the community has already dealt with.

But when we follow the theory, research, and community input, yet the outcome is still not what we’re expecting?

Determine if it really is bad


20 Jul, 2016

Ask Nicole: Any Advice for Social Workers Moving to New York City?

By | 2017-01-04T13:54:29+00:00 July 20th, 2016|Categories: Ask Nicole, Social Work|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Blog Post

If you have a question that you’d like to share with the Raise Your Voice community , contact me.


I recently got an email from Stephanie, a graduating social work student:


I stumbled upon your Instagram today and was pleased to see that you are a social worker who currently resides in New York City; I graduate with my MSW in August and plan on moving to New York City from Florida, thereafter.  Living and working in New York has always been a dream of mine. In preparation for graduation I’ve been doing some online job searching, but  most positions that offer a viable wage require that you are licensed. My passion is working with children, families and women.

What advice would you give to a new social worker looking to move to New York City who isn’t licensed and wishes to work with children and families or women?  Are there any specific agencies you would recommend applying to?


Stephanie’s question is interesting because it encompasses many factors, of which I’ve come up with several questions that I hope can guide Stephanie (and you) in thinking more about the next steps in living as a a social worker in New York City:

What is your ideal social work role?

This question can be answered based on where you are currently (education-wise) as a social worker. Do you plan to work as a micro level social worker, mezzo level social worker, or macro level social worker? Do you plan to work at one level for your entire social work career, or do you have expectations of moving up or blending different levels of social work? If you’re interested in working with women, youth, and families, what does that mean? Reproductive or maternal health? Crisis management and prevention? Substance use? Mental illness?

How are you looking for social work positions?

This question ties into the first question. Stephanie mentions women, children, and families as potential populations she wants to work with. In addition to identifying if you want to work at the micro, mezzo, or macro level, are you looking for counseling positions versus case management, teaching versus facilitating workshops, etc?.  I was able to land a case management position within 3 months of graduating, working directly with adults impacted by HIV/AIDS and homelessness. As social workers, we’re conditioned to look for positions that explicitly have “social worker” in the title when there are plenty of organizations and agencies that recommend having the skills of a social worker but it may not be mentioned in the position requirements. I had lots of experience in conducting workshops around youth engagement, sexual/reproductive health and justice, and the like prior to grad school, but felt that I needed something that mentioned “social work” or “case management” in the title. If you find a position that interests you but doesn’t mention “social worker”, highlight in your cover letter and interview how being a social worker lends itself well to that position. The MSW degree is one of the most flexible degrees out there, and the skills we learn can translate to a variety of roles.

What setting do you want to work in?