Victoria Fell explains how to find your work squad
Networking offline is still the most effective way to increase your social capital in a digital age. Optimise opportunities with a sisterhood of like-minded industry insiders and you’ll be powered for collaboration and career success.We asked the networking experts how work a room like an absolute pro.
Do your research
Not all networking events are alike. Katherine Baker, co-founder of women’s network Congress London says: ‘Think about what you want to achieve professionally and personally, and where you might need help or advice.’ She also recommends requesting the event guest list beforehand. ‘This will give you the opportunity to identify the people you want to meet,’ she says. Use this information to check guests out on social media too, so that you keep your chat relevant and useful.
Join the conversation
Look for a group that has three people. ‘It is easier to break into a group with an odd number, whereas pairs are more likely to be engaged in deeper discussion, which can be hard to break up,’ says Baker. ‘Introduce yourself right away, and try to remember names by repeating them back to them and using them often in the conversation.’
Networking to find your tribe
Networking isn’t just about attending events – you can join like-minded groups on Facebook or online, too. Or you could set up your own, like Deborah Gilshan, ESG investment director at Aberdeen Standard Investments who, after feeling isolated in the city nearly seven years ago, emailed other women across her industry and suggested a meet-up. She now runs The 100% Club, a network of like-minded professional women. ‘I started The 100% Club by sending a simple email invite to meet up, and offering to buy the first drink. The response was incredible and there are now 450 women on my mailing list, built up mainly through word of mouth.’
Strike a power pose
If you’re feeling nervous in a room of strangers, social psychologist Amy Cuddy recommends adopting the ‘Wonder Woman’ power pose – straight back, hands on hips. ‘If you stand like Wonder Woman for two minutes, studies show that testosterone rises, cortisone drops and you become more of a risk-taker,’ says Cuddy. ‘It is also known to increase your pain threshold, help you think more abstractly and deal with stressful situations, such as job interviews.’
Follow up, fast
How long do you wait before contacting someone you’ve met? ‘I would send a LinkedIn message the next day saying it was great to meet them,’ advises Baker. ‘Make sure to follow up on where you left the conversation as soon as possible – that might mean introducing them to someone relevant, sending them some information or reminding them of the help you needed.’
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