Honestly, I hate #networking events. I had done the rounds in 2008 when I started selling L&D solutions. I heard the same speeches by the same people. I had followed up with people who on stage claimed that training was a critical success factor for their business growth and yet none of them put significant money where their mouth was. So I concluded that it was a waste of time to go to networking events. I resisted “wasting my time and getting bored out of my skull” despite my husband’s continuous push to go to networking events. I had been there and done that.
I thought I was unique in my strong dislike till I read Own It: Leadership Lessons from Women Who Do by Aparna Jain. What caught by attention in the book and shook me up was the statement that women lagged behind on networking and in fact made excuses not to network. I was not able to digest “excuses”. She then indicated that we could change the paradigm to suit professional women.
According to Aparna, “Who decided that the male networking post-hours drinks is the most powerful structure? Why isn’t the picnic group with families and kids on a Sunday a powerful group? Because, traditionally, we women have not questioned it. We can change it by connecting with other women, by devising different ways to network and include men. Don’t buy into the male definitions of networking. Form groups and invest in your own. Change the paradigm “
We then decided to create a solution that would work for us. Change the paradigm.
We deliberated on it and derived the following insights:
- Post work, late night just didn’t cut it. Most women did not feel comfortable drinking with unknown men. Also we do have responsibilities back home: kids, parents, household chores etc.
- Networking events were about the number of connects and not the depth of connections. Would having depth interactions versus just exchanging cards make a difference to how women perceived networking?
- Socially, most professional women found it difficult to talk about their professions or businesses as they just didn’t get the space. The men talk about business…politely they might ask about what do you do and sooner or later you are in the women’s group. The women’s group even today will have a majority of home makers. And then the conversation veers off to children and other socially acceptable topics.
- For me personally, boring was a big turn off.
Our solution to these issues: #Women Lead Morning Mingle…coffee and conversation mid week on the way to work. We decided on having limited women from diverse backgrounds so that we can have deep interactions, different viewpoints and focus on how we can add value to each other. The cross pollination of ideas and the free flowing structure would hold boredom at bay.The only restriction was that the conversation had to be regarding work.
The Women Lead Morning Mingle is currently conducted in Gurgaon. Contact me at 9899108659 if you would like to participate.
Lovely Kumar is a facilitator, trainer, psychometric assessor and heads Larks Learning Pvt. Ltd. She has a unique background which combines economics, management, advertising, sales, teaching and training. She has worked with a range of corporates and academic institutions. Additionally, she has obtained international certifications in training and psychometric assessments.
Learn more and reach Lovely Kumar at www.larkslearning.com.