Posts tagged with “networking”

Connecting vs. Networking, and Other Stories

Wednesday, 14 April, 2010

Last night I spoke at The Connected Woman’s monthly Mix and Mingle, and met a great group of women in a diverse range of industries, with a wide palette of experiences and enthusiasms. The focus that Cathy Kuzel (of Connected Woman) keeps within the group is on the idea of making real connections, not just gathering business cards, which is something I strongly believe in.

In a smaller group such as this, there is the opportunity to learn more about what each person does, who they are beyond that, and what it is that they might be looking for. While my talk concentrated on using business writing skills to get your foot in the door, the advice and discussion from the group added different layers of information and input.

One of the woman at the group was Emma Cooper, of Clarity Jane Personal Organizers, who also volunteers for Dress for Success. DFS is a wonderful organisation that runs worldwide and is a “non-profit … dedicated to improving the lives of women located in 85 cities across the U.S., Canada, the U.K., the Netherlands and New Zealand. The professional clothing, employment retention programs and ongoing support that we provide our clients symbolize our faith in every woman’s ability to be self-sufficient and successful in her career.” (From: Dress for Success website)

DFS is putting on a great event, the Impact Event for Change, at Birks Jewellers in Vancouver on April 20th. There will be fantastic speakers, including women that have been through the DFS program, free wine, silent auctions and more. You can check out the Vancouver location website for more information and to book tickets.

One of the things that I tried to emphasize in the talk was ensuring that you have a purpose when communicating, and that you aren’t afraid to ask for what it is that you want. Emma was very clear that she was there to promote the DFS event, and therefore it was easy to help! A reminder that we shouldn’t be afraid to go for what we want, or to ask for help when we need it, instead of pretending everything is fine.

So not only should you create business messages with proper planning, purpose and intent, but it is really useful to employ the same skills while networking, to achieve your goals and make real connections.


Putting the Me in Community

Wednesday, 3 June, 2009

cup of offeeOne of the biggest adjustments of moving to a new country (besides, in my case, the adjustment to different weather and having to call it a stop light not a robot) is the pervading sense of ‘rootlessness’. It is hard not to sometimes feel stuck between two worlds and I know I’m not alone in this feeling because I have spoken to other immigrants about this. It is very strange having to rebuild your network and find your place within your new community. It must be stranger still if you can’t speak the language or if you are painfully shy.

What has been interesting for me is realising that it is not just your friends and family that you miss dearly – that immediate and infinitely valuable safety net of nearest and dearest – but your Network with a capital N. This becomes nowhere more apparent  than when you are starting your own business, changing careers or hunting for a job.  Back home, you might know people. Your people could call my people. I know I would be able to leverage my network (the old school tie so to speak) to find work, hear about different opportunities, scout out different industries – you get the idea. So as much as being in a new place makes you have to adjust to different brands of shampoo, strange pronunciations and a lack of certain types of food items, it also makes you adjust to the fact that you are to all intents and purposes … alone. That network of people you spent building up through school, university, work, is suddenly not there, and you have to start all over again.

It is, therefore, not just having people to hang out with that feels strange, it’s not having People to do business with. What you do tend to find out though, as you begin the slow task of building a Network, that often the two become synonymous – someone you have made a connection with in a business setting can become a friend, and sometimes a friend can lead to business (though I am hesitant to recommend this as I strongly believe certain friends and money don’t mix – I’d be interested to hear your thoughts). It is just weird to think how we take for granted the connections we make just through something like high school or a random job, and how it’s the usual case of “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”.

I firmly believe that we all thrive when we have a rich community of people – like-minded souls that energise us and motivate us and who push us to be the best we can be. I also think that the more we have social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, the more disconnected we can become because we have the illusion of being permanently ‘plugged in’ and connected. Though I won’t knock them for allowing me to keep in touch with the South African Diaspora. There is hope, however.

Although certain places can be really tough when it comes to making friends, there are ways to meet people and create a network. Volunteering is always an option.  Personally, I do (quick promo here) – for a society called Wired Woman. This has lead to fantastic networking opportunities and the chance to connect with really interesting people and form new friendships. There are also plenty of other events and networking opportunities for various interest groups and industries, and there’s always – a great site with a huge variety of different interest groups.

So if you’re feeling lonely and disconnected, remember YOU have to reach out and start trying to build those friendships and that Network. They won’t come to you. It is hard in the beginning, but it’s all easier with practice. It can make such a difference when you start to feel like you belong somewhere and although it’s not easy, it’s worth every awkward moment and overpriced cappuccino.