6 ways to build your own ‘personal boardroom’
30 November 2015 -
Tips from the 2015 Inspiring Women Conference reveal the best ways to network and give your career a much-needed boost
When done right, networking can provide the boost your career needs to take it to the next level; the problem is most people don’t know what they’re doing.
Speaking on a panel at the Inspiring Women in Business Conference 2015, Personal Boardroom co-founder and CEO Zella King said businesswomen needed to think more strategically about the key characters in their network and populate it with the right individuals to support their career development.
She calls this your own ‘Personal Boardroom’ and splits these individual into three different roles: information providers, power players and developers, and says filling these key roles with the right people can help unlock new opportunities.
Here are six tips for getting the most out of networking and filling your personal boardroom with the people you need to take your career to the next level.
Speak to anyone and everyone
Brie Rogers Loewry, deputy managing director and Europe & UK director of Change.org, said networking is about spreading your net wide and making the most of the opportunities you are given.
“Speak to anyone and everyone, because you never know who that person knows. It might not seem like the best contact, but they might have another contact [that is useful to you]. It’s also about getting out into the world and introducing your contacts to those people as it can come back and help you.”
Get out and find a mentor
Sky director for women in leadership Bella Vuillermoz said everyone comes to a point in their career where they need the support of a peer, and that people are usually very receptive to being approached as a mentor.
“People genuinely want to help and are very giving in their time and insight. It might be someone you know very well and reaching out to them, or it could be someone who you don’t know who is senior in an organisation in a different sector or industry that can bring in a different perspective.”
But don’t wait for Prince Charming
King said, however, that businesswomen shouldn’t wait for a “Prince Charming” mentor who will “work everything out by just touching you on the shoulder”. She said that the mentor-mentee relationship often doesn’t work like this, and that you need to put the effort in to the find the right people who can help you progress to the next level.
Benchmark your career
Ford Retail Group/TrustFord group marketing & e-commerce director Celia Pronto said networking can be used as a benchmarking exercise to give you the confidence you need to take the next step on your career path.
“It helps you benchmark yourself against other females and other people who are out there, and gives you that confidence. If you can understand what other people do in their lives it helps you gain the confidence to move on to other roles.”
Make it purposeful
“The best way to build your network is to have purposeful conversations,” King said. “Find the people who have the power in the organisation or who are very well connected.”
Become a mentor yourself
Former assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service Cressida Dick, who now has a senior leadership role at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said businesswomen could learn just as much from being a mentor as they could from being a mentee.
“I’ve had some brilliant mentors, and I’ve probably learnt as much from mentoring others as I have from being mentored,” she said. “That’s been helped hugely by the variety of roles I’ve had.”
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