Building Your Network: 5 Lessons We Learned Through Roundtable Discussions

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Your network is an important element of your personal and professional development. A strong network will support, inspire, motivate, and encourage you. When times are tough, they show up to remind you of your “why.” They offer referrals and point you in the direction of help when necessary.

Building a strong network takes time. When you consistently show up in an authentic way, you will naturally form relationships that will help you to build upon your success. We often rely on being in a physical location to form connections with others. And while there are platforms that offer you the ability to connect online, it can be difficult to navigate the technology, to form solid relationships without face-to-face interaction, and to keep conversations going after the initial introduction.

IAW offers both in-person and online opportunities for you to connect with a community of like-minded women. Within that community you are able to build the relationships that will help you to navigate your future success. With all of our in-person events currently on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions, we felt it was important to improve our virtual offerings so that we can continue supporting our community from a distance.

IAW is a community you can count on!

Over the course of two weeks in April, we hosted a series of virtual networking roundtables, offering IAW members an opportunity to connect in a virtual setting. These small group sessions featured experts in the area of career development, personal branding, marketing, entrepreneurship, mental health, and leadership, and provided a platform for conversation.

Witnessing so many women come together through this platform was incredible. We learned so much about ourselves and each other. Below are five key takeaways, along with tips that will help you to improve your network and find support, no matter where you are.

Key Takeaways:

  1. You are not alone

One of the themes that remained consistent across all of the networking sessions was the amount of overwhelm, uncertainty, and craziness everybody is experiencing. We heard from women who have been furloughed or are thinking about closing their business and from others who are struggling with a larger than usual client load or having to balance home schooling on top of a full-time workload.

Everybody agreed that the current situation is unprecedented and there are new challenges arising every day. The beauty in having a strong community is that you are never alone. We were reminded to stay strong and focus on the end goal. Keep showing up and connecting with your community and reach out to your network when you need support.

  1. Celebrate your wins

Influencer member Donna Johnson-Klosky hosted a networking session about Dealing with Change. During introductions, each attendee was asked to share one thing that they considered a win in recent weeks. Whether it was getting the kids into a better routine at home, or publishing a new book, we all celebrated together and it felt so good to recognize those accomplishments. Even in the midst of uncertainty and overwhelm, don’t forget to take a moment to celebrate your wins.

  1. The art of pivoting

Nobody could have predicted this pandemic and nobody can tell us when things will normalize. If you haven’t already, now may be the time to think about how you can pivot your business or career. What can you offer online from the comfort of your own home?

Michelle Burke, founder of bossibly, hosted a networking session to talk about how to support your customers virtually; she offered resources, ideas, and options for virtual opportunities. During this roundtable there was a lot of discussion about Zoom features and how to best support online events using this platform. Breakout rooms were such a hot topic that we scheduled a follow-up session to go through them in more detail.

Think outside the box and get creative about new opportunities for your career.

  1. Connect with your community

Sharon Johnson is new to IAW and attended a networking roundtable that focused on personal branding. Sharon is in the midst of launching a healthcare consulting business and was looking for resources to develop and launch her brand. The roundtable session hosted by Influencer member Vicki Sowa offered insights into the seven languages of fascination, as defined by Sally Hoghead in Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation.

Sharon completed a Fascinate Assessment after the roundtable and scheduled a 1:1 session with Vicki that allowed her to dive into the results, better understand her advantage, and create her personal anthem (tag line). Sharon says, “This gave me a boost in my self-reflection and how to use my new personal anthem.”

Take advantage of every opportunity to connect with your community. You might find the support and resources you need!

  1. Ask for what you need | Offer what you can

I think we can all agree that it’s not always easy to ask for help. When you are struggling, remember that your community is here for you. IAW members have been stepping up to offer their support for our community. If you find yourself in need of that support at the moment, do not hesitate to take it! Don’t forget to give back to your community when the time is right for you to do so.

During the month of May, we will continue to expand virtual opportunities to connect, as we begin hosting regional networking events. Additionally, many local chapters will be hosting virtual meetups. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and visit out iawomen.com/events to learn more about scheduled programming and to register for events.

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