Kathy McAfee's talk The Art of Networking at our Fall Mentor Mingle helped grow my perspective on networking and its possibilities. Her "Funnel of Networking Opportunity" took us through different stages of relationships and showed us how networking can "potentially turn strangers into life-long friends."
Acknowledging that not all people will make it all the way through the funnel, or for all time, was good to hear too. There is work involved in building and maintaining meaningful connections and it's okay to let some go.
As women, we naturally operate and build extensive mom networks that share collective kid advice, health resources, car-pooling, PTA responsibilities, co-leading of troops and co-coaching of teams. We can draw on that connecting ease to launch our professional networks. Kathy struck a chord when referencing Karen Hinds' "Knowing Your Value" and her breakdown of Intensive Value, the skills that employers focus on needing, and Extensive Value, the relationships a person can bring to the table, that connect to community. While we have downshifted careers or stepped full-time into kids/caregiving, the relationships we naturally build in our community could have extensive value to a future employer and be a positive attribute that helps us stand out.
Aside from providing a great approach to networking, Kathy mentioned a few must-haves in terms of how you present your personal brand in a networking situation. Focus on your go-forward. Make sure you are talking about the skills you want to use next, not just what you happened to do in the past. Think of something specific you want and need. Specificity helps those you are networking with picture a possible connection. Do you need to speak with someone in business development or customer experience? Are you interested in knowing more about how teams use agile methodology, in technical or non-technical project management? You want to make it easy for people to relate to what you are talking about.
Prior to our Mentor Mingle break out session, participants got to hear from
recent launchers about their return-to-work experiences through Untapped Potential. Laura M. leveraged strong experience in Sales and Advertising at NBC. She launched following our last Return-to-work Event and joined a start-up! She is elated to re-ignite her professionals skills, feel part of a team in an industry she is passionate about, while still having time to support her family's needs.
The "mingle" part of our Mentor Mingle allowed an opportunity for attendees to chat with Mentors in industry. Zoom's break out sessions were perfect for small 3 on 1 sessions for our attending Candidates and Mentors. Attendees had an opportunity to put all we had learned from Kathy on Networking into practice. It's always so reaffirming to see UP alums and client partners extending a hand to new community members. I was connecting to people on LinkedIn before we left the session. What better way to grow your network of forward-thinking professional women, than by connecting at an Untapped Potential event full of them!
Kathy left us with an action to move us all forward, "Take the initiative to nurture a relationship this week. Take it from one point of the Funnel to the next."
It was a great event for mentors and candidates alike. We look forward to more wisdom from Kathy via her book, Networking Ahead. Thanks again to Kathy for providing us new tools to network well, and to our benevolent Mentors for generating excitement around our journeys!