Great Networkers Know How to Build Strong Relationships
Today is International Womens Day. Each year since the early 1900's this day is celebrated by communities world wide.
"Started by the Suffragettes in the early 1900's, the first International Women's Day was celebrated in 1911. International Women's Day belongs to all communities everywhere - governments, companies, charities, educational institutions, networks, associations, the media and more. Whether through a global conference, community gathering, classroom lesson or dinner table conversation - everyone can play a purposeful part in pressing for gender parity."
(extract from https://www.internationalwomensday.com)
My mother was not a suffragette but she certainly was a role model for me and the future generations of our family.
My mother, was a much loved mother-in-law, nana and great nana. But she was also much more than that….She was a sister, a cousin, an aunt, a colleague, and a good friend …… and a remarkable woman who led a very productive life.
When I think about my mother, without even knowing it, she taught valuable lessons that have impacted my life.
As Steve Jobs once said, “you can only connect the dots when you look back”. Certainly when I connect the dots, and reflect on the life of my mother, I see a strong commonality between us of love of people, organisation, solving problems and achieving individual outcomes. I am probably more like her than I like to admit on occasions!
Today as a business owner, I provide business networking events that support business owners and professionals to build strong and supportive networks helping them learn, grow and achieve. The events attract men and women, alike. The room is not segregated ...it is a room of likeminded people, sharing knowledge and experience to build bigger and better businesses.
There are many excellent business networking events and Meet Ups that support women, such as Business Chicks, The Connection Exchange, Bayside Women In Business, Bloom Networking and more. There is no doubt they have their place. The opportunity for women to support each other and create connection cannot be underated. Women are great networkers and know how to build strong relationships. A lesson they can impart to men as well..
As our community is made up of diverse groups, I believe that we need to network together. More than 65% of business comes from your network. If you restrict your network, you restrict your opportunity.
All business owners need to generate income. Hence, they benefit from understanding the needs and perspectives of others. Networking provides that opportunity. I want to see more women step up, boost their confidence, create more awareness of their talents and demonstrate their credibility. Women have ambitions; thave goals and need to challenge conscious and unconscious bias, espcially if they seek gender-balanced leadership; they need to demonstrate that their contributions are equal and create inclusive flexible cultures.
So what lessons can you learn from a woman?
My mother taught me some lessons that I have applied to my business and encourage you to apply, whether you are male or female.
Be prepared to Step out of your comfort zone
In the ‘70’s, it was fairly uncommon to divorce, but my parents did. My mum had to find a way to support us. It was her drive, resilience and determination to be independent and build a new life , that only now I fully appreciate. She had been willing to take risks and confident enough to push forward out of her comfort zone. No doubt losing her mother at an early age, being shipped off to boarding school and having to forge her own path had developed her resilience.
Doors opened many times for mum throughout her life and she was not afraid to step through.
She was the first woman , to venture into the male arena and sell Holden motor cars, went on to sell Fords, worked at the Herald –Sun, selling advertising space for the Listener-In TV and then went into Public Relations at Le Pine Funerals.
When she was Interviewed by Jeremy Oliver in 1993 ( she was 71), she told him
“Most of my friends think I am a complete fool and idiot for doing so much. They ask how can I work all the time, but I find my life very fulfilling. If a door opens, I’ll work through it”.
Have a diverse network
Mum was a connector and collector of people. Her years of selling cars and advertising , her management job at Mitchell Cotts, her involvement on the Peter MacCallum Ethics board, membership to the Liberal Party, and Box Hill Palliative Care Committee, and her years at Le Pines Funerals working in Community Relations, and her dedication to Melbourne Rotary Club provided opportunity for her to have a broad network and many friendships were forged. She knew so many people. It felt like every time we went somewhere, she knew someone!
Even at the age of 82 she went to weekly Melbourne Rotary Club meeetings and was an active member for over 20 years.
Share knowledge and experience
She started work at Le Pines in 1988 and provided community education on personal issues such as Powers of Attorney, Planning ahead, and selling pre-paid funerals to various organisations including bowling clubs, Probus, metropolitan hospitals, Palliative and Pastoral care workers, TAFE colleges, Ambulance, retirement villages, the RSL, the Police Academy and the CFA .
Build relationships with men and women
Mum joined the Rotary Club of Melbourne as one of the first three women in Rotary in Australia. Over time, she was involved on the Board of the Rotary Club of Melbourne, held the position of Sergeant at Arms, was a member on the reception committee for an International Convention. She enjoyed the dinners with the various sub-committee groups over the years and always enjoyed greeting new arrivals at the door at the weekly meetings. She was comfortable in thecompany of men and woman alike. It was a significant moment when she was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship from the Rotary Club of Melbourne in 2009 which she no doubt deserved for her commitment and we, the family were with her to celebrate her achievement.
I think my desire to bring men and women together at networking events was influenced by my mother. It never concerned her to work in a male dominated environment, infact I think she enjoyed the interaction with men.
I do believe that if women want to have opportunities , it is important to work, engage and connect, share conversations, experiences and knowledge, with men and women , after all if we restrict who we connect with we may miss out on our best opportunities.
Stand up and stand out
Like all mothers, she was unique.
She was strong minded and often outspoken. She taught us lessons in etiquette, politeness, gratitude, resilience, friendship, commitment, forgiveness, independence and exhibited strong family values. She encouraged us to stand up and be counted and to value relationships .
So , today on this International Womens Day, I realise what a great role model my own mother had been and how she had shown me how important relationships are for both our personal and professional development. I hope that I am a good role model for my neice, daughter, daughter in law and great nieces as they continue on the path for gender parity.
Through my business, I have gained confidence, knowledge, connection and and financial reward by providing business networking events which attract men and women. The participants benefit from the encounters, are enriched through conversations, make new connections, and benefit from the opportunities available.
If they are female, that they feel safe and boost their confidence and are never afraid to network with men. I encourage you, this International Womens Day, and everyday hereafter to Invest in relationships because your time matters, learn, grow and achieve. What is the one key takeaway for you from this blog?
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