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Women Connecting with Women

Women Connecting with Women

Mark.Freed / 14 Jul 2017

Networking in its simplest form is just connecting with others. It’s a conversation. So why does the thought of networking make so many of us uncomfortable? It’s a valuable tool, linked to productivity and success at work – why do we tend to avoid it and why do only 50% of business workers value it as a professional skill?  My passion is to persuade you to think differently about networking, and encourage you to have more ‘conversations’ and ‘connect’ with more women.

Why do so many women avoid it? Some common answers are that it can be uncomfortable and awkward, nerves get the best of us, and we fear being considered pushy in asking for something. 

In reality, whether it’s a one-to-one meeting or an event, people are more understanding than we assume them to be. Nerves are completely understandable, and others have been or are in the same position. Instead of reducing networking to ‘what can I get out of this’, enter with the conversation to make genuine connections, and think ‘what do I have to offer’. 

Rethinking and changing your mindset around networking will help you approach it more confidently, and as a result benefit from the connections you can make. 

If you’re unsure about networking – and want to make and maintain meaningful connections – here are some tips: 

  • Connections start with a conversation – don’t be afraid to reach out
  • Can you help another female colleague make a new connection?
  • Once a conversation has started, what can you do to follow up?  Do you have shared areas of interest?  Can you send an interceding article?
  • Maintaining good connections is important - a quick email, call, coffee all matter
  • If you are at a conference or training event, try and be yourself, be interested in other people.  Ask questions: Our favourite topic is always ourselves! Make sure to ask open questions, and actively listen – this will help you stand out.  Stand up straight, make eye contact, and listen: This will help you appear confident (even if you’re not!). 
  • Use LinkedIn to share information about yourself. Most people now check out LinkedIn before meeting someone for the first time.
  • Try and think about what you can do for others.  What can you offer? This can be a more comfortable way to make and keep new connections.

Making connections is a powerful tool, approach it confidently and you will benefit! One conversation can lead to many new introductions. Being able to ask for help and help in return, sharing knowledge and finding out about career moves within your network are all advantages in developing your career, and supporting other women in their careers!

At a recent E2W and Legal and General Aspiring Leaders event, women attending commented how they had met other female L&G colleagues they hadn’t met before members, by having the opportunity to come together and make new connections.  Tina Freed and I were delighted that we had been able to make this happen.  Seek out opportunities to make new connections, and remember, they just start with a conversation.  What happens next is up to you!

My challenge to you this week:

  • Reach out to a new connection, and start a new conversation
  • Reach out to one of you current ‘connections’, and just say hello, arrange to meet up.  Remember, nurturing relationships is equally as important as new ones.

If you’d like to find out more contact Rhian – E2W’s Careers Services – Rhian.bowler@e2w.co

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