Recap WITI Boston - May 14, 2015

Deb Stark

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Recap WITI Boston - May 14, 2015
"Think Differently About Networking & Speed Networking"
By Deb Stark, Network Director

On Thursday, May 14th, attendees gathered at Constant Contact in Waltham to hear Edith Onderick-Harvey, President of Factor In Talent, provide advice on networking which is not just about collecting business cards, but about creating relationships. We all networked in the beginning of the event which is customary for ALL WITI Boston programs. We shared stories, wine and cheese. The meeting kicked off at 6:45 pm with an introduction about WITI and why one should get involved and be part of the organization. Our sponsor, Percussion Software, Claudine Bianchi, CMO, talked about what Percussion is all about and that they are HIRING. Candice Benson, President of Benson Consulting, and a WITI Boston leadership team member, reviewed the agenda and introduced our speaker.

Edith shared the what, why and how of networking that the attendees actually put to use later in the evening. For example:

The WHY - Do I want to network with this person?
Think about any common interests and what commonalities one might have

The WHO - How would you describe your best "target" to meet at a networking event
Is this someone that is approachable, is in your industry (or note)

The WHAT - Have you determined what your goals are for the networking event?
How about thinking about helping others vs. yourself, what do you want to achieve

The WHERE - Is the type of event or best place to meet someone with my interests?
Review blogs, ask friends, look at associations and groups

Edith also debunked the myths of networking including:

30 second elevator pitch
This is about YOU and networking is about a relationship, a two way conversation

Networking is all about collecting business cards
Think about YOUR network of friends, colleagues, family. Statistics show that if you have 30-35 people in your network, you really only connect with 3-5 directly, it is not a numbers game

Networking is all about selling
No, it is about relationships. In terms of the workplace, think about your company and colleagues. You "connect" with 5-10 people on a regular basis that is your trusted network. Then think about Facebook, you might have 100+ friends but you comment only with 5-7 of those friends and remain interested and active.

All networking takes place at an event
Absolutely not, go out to lunch with a colleague, talk to your hair dresser, network in a way that makes sense to YOU

One only networks to look for a job
Networking should take place as often as possible, not just when you "need" something. Provide referrals and "help" whenever you can, and turn to your network to simply get together and have coffee!

And we all learned that true networking is more about giving and receiving. Edith talked about how one should ask three questions when networking and one should be "How can I help YOU?" If you try that, and we did as a group in our speed networking session, it certainly helps make a connection quickly.

One of the BEST parts of this WITI program was putting to immediate use what we just learned. Candice and her colleague Tracy broke the 38 of us in groups of 2. We then took 2 minutes each to talk to our partner before switching to hear the other person ask us. We had our questions in hand and new ideas of how to network from what Edith just taught us. After 4 minutes, we moved to new partners and started over. This continued for 30 minutes and certainly was a fabulous way to get real value out of a networking event and MEET many people.

In conclusion, the attendees benefited greatly from the interested advice Edith provided and the interactive "speed networking" environment delivered by WITI Boston.

The evening concluded with raffle prizes including an autographed book by Edith, along with several books donated by Percussion Software.

So, next time you are at a networking event, having lunch with a colleague, or just chatting with your co-workers, think about how you can help and make more connections in less time, without the stress.

About Women in Technology Boston:
The Boston affiliation of Women in Technology International offers multiple events throughout the year in metro Boston and downtown. Our focus is to provide ways in which women of all ages, skill sets and backgrounds connect with other women both locally and globally to advance their careers and improve the leadership development skills. For 2015 fun events and relevant leadership development content will be provided for members and non-members alike. To learn more and see what's up next, visit www.witi.com/boston

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