By Glenn Keller
On October 14th, 2021, we were honored to hear from speaker, coach, and author Caroline Dowd-Higgins at our Executive Women’s Forum, the first in-person event we hosted in over a year. Ivy Tech sponsored the event at their Culinary and Conference Center, including the historic Courses Restaurant, operated by Ivy Tech culinary students.
“The purpose of Network like a Ninja was to help women understand how they can network better and to instill the confidence required to network. And of course, to practice,” said Linda Calvin, Director of the Executive Women’s Forum. “The post-event networking session gave attendees the opportunity to use the skills Caroline shared in her presentation in a very common environment for networking, ‘the happy hour.’”
Board President Linda Hicks, was on hand to kick things off and Ivy Tech President Dr. Sue Ellsperman made time in her busy schedule to also offer her welcome and support. Both women gave a personal example of the power of networking and how networking played a pivotal role in their career development.
Caroline Dowd-Higgins covered the importance of networking not only as a career supercharger but as a necessity. She made it clear from the start that this was not going to be a lean-back-and-watch session. Her message was interactive, thought-provoking, and full of helpful, practical advice.
The beautiful Courses restaurant was a perfect backdrop for drinks, hors d'oeuvre and conversation. We played a game of Networking Bingo, gathering information about the new friends we made. The first two attendees to complete their bingo cards won copies of Caroline’s book, "This Is Not The Career I Ordered." We even learned that "Elvis Slept Here" prior to performing his final concert at the old Market Square Arena. Who knew?
Attendees had the chance to get their picture taken by the incredible Faith Blackwell, who also generously donated a PowerShots session to support Girls Inc of Greater Indianapolis in honor of International Day of the Girl. Our Girls Inc. friends were on location to accept donations in support of their programming. Congratulations to our networking package raffle winners, Sonal Sheth Zawahri and Lisa Petersen, and the winner of the PowerShots session, Rinn Neidig.
Takeaways From the Event
It is hard for some people to effectively network. Women especially can view it as "non-authentic" or awkward. Introverts in particular also find networking difficult, but the super-power that many introverts have is their ability to listen. Extroverts may not be as tentative to network, however, listening to understand and not just jumping in with comments is a struggle which may make their networking efforts less effective.
Caroline covered some important "dos" for networking:
- Listen first: encourage people to talk about themselves. Invite others into the conversation--which is also a good way to exit.
- Think about what you want the person to remember about you when they walk away...short term memory will allow them to remember 1-3 things at the most.
- Always close with an offer to help and then follow-up quickly with something of value to them such as an introduction, a link to an article, etc.
Of course, there were some networking "don'ts" as well:
- Don't start right off with a pitch or asking for a job. And never ask if you can pick their brain; people make a living with their expertise and shouldn't be asked to give it away.
- Don't rush to fill in any quiet space. Others in the conversation may still be processing what was just said.
- Remember that though you may be comfortable dominating a room or a conversation, that can be a turn-off to those you are speaking with. Honor others by adjusting your approach to match their energy while staying authentic.
Quick LinkedIn Tips:
- Stay away from "needy" LinkedIn headlines like "looking for an opportunity."
- LinkedIn gives more exposure to people with over 500 connections.
- Follow companies you are interested in working with on LinkedIn. Someone will notice.
- Comment on content that interests you, especially from influencers.
- An audience member shared that you can easily generate a QR code of your LinkedIn profile, which is helpful at networking events.
Many thanks to Caroline Dowd-Higgins for helping us all break out of our shell on our own terms, to Linda Calvin for organizing this great learning opportunity, and to presenting sponsor Ivy Tech Community College for hosting us! As we move into 2022, Women & Hi Tech looks forward to continuing our tradition of providing our members with meaningful career development – wait until you see what we have planned!