Networking : “.. To exchange information and learn from others.”

sonya barlow
4 min readJul 26, 2018

Last month I was fortunate enough to attend and host at the Women of Silicon Roundabout Conference in London. The two-day conference was nothing less than motivational, inspirational and forward thinking. The event allowed for over 4,500 females (and males) to explore technology in a fun and educational way from the front line.

As expected, the exhibition hall was full of energy, but what truly captured me was the over flowing meeting rooms, halls and auditoriums, full of like-minded females ready to learn, absorb and tackle the future of women in technology. These two-day workshops included every discussion imaginable, from “How to support your talent using data” to “AI & digital disruptors” to “How to tackle the gender bias illusion.”

4,500 females under one roof — 4,500 new learnings to take away — connections to make — thoughts to explore. And yet, many struggled to approach others, find connections and ‘network’.

The concept of “Networking” crept up in discussions both days, with many speakers approaching the notion in their presentations and relying messages, such as the power of networking, the confidence it can bring and tips on how to approach others.

Networking: “…interaction with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.” …”…the skills of networking, bargaining, and negotiation”

Having hosted a full day’s session, I was approached by many females to discuss confidence; how I had the confidence to present to 600 + females, why I was able to engage with others whilst wearing a smile and what was my secret. Some asked with a real worry, some wanted to sign on to my confidence coaching and others joked that “how to network successfully” should be a taught subject in schools.

There was a realisation that many females found engaging with others quite stressful and starting a conversation plain right un-do-able.

All conversations led to us to one question — Are we just doing it the wrong way?

Networking (how I like to think of it) : is to “exchange information and learn from others.”

It’s an extension of communication.

As a founder of a female networking group in London, Like Minded Females, my objective is to connect people, build their confidence and provide them with a forum to share their stories. Hence, being confident in my “networking” abilities.

As my objective is clear, I can answer the why, what, how and stand in situations enabling others to do it the “right” way, rather than feeling like they’re doing it all wrong.

Here are 6 ways that you can ‘do’ networking “right” :

1. Be comfortable in being unconformable — New situations, directions and people can be a sea of information which you haven’t yet explored. Be open to meeting people in different industries, age groups and lifestyles. This new space may help you to understand more about yourself, others and your passions points.

2. Have an objective — What is the message you are providing? Are you networking to learn, share, progress or build?

3. Find a common topic — The weather is always an obvious go to, but there are plenty of other common topics we could start a conversation with. E.g. If you’re at an event, talk about the theme, speakers or reason for attending.

4. Look for ways to add value and help others — Research tells us that helping others makes one happier, life more meaningful and it’s good for the mental health.

5. Consider Linkedin as your interactive business card — Make connecting easy for the both of you. Over 500m use this platform each month, you are18x more likely to be approached with an updated page and people are 3x faster to respond via inmail.

6. Aim for 3 good conversations & contacts — 3 is the magic number. Follow up after with a “it was great to meet you” note and arrange a follow up session.

Take the pressure away from “networking”. Allow is to be a natural action and a means to learn, rather than something you feel you must do for career progression. Use your upcoming events to practise, set an objective and keep in mind the above 6 tips.

Let me know how you do and what works for you — Remember, networking is another way of sharing information and learning!

Like Minded Females has been founded to support females in building their confidence, provide them with a forum to share their stories and we hold regular events in London to build connections. We hold regular events and workshop to discuss relevant topics and increase the development of our ‘softer skills’.

If you are interested in attending our events or partnership opportunities, please join our group or email likemindedfemales@mail.com

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sonya barlow

Award Winning Entrepreneur, Author & Traveller, BBC Radio Presenter. sonyabarlowuk