The Art of Networking & Advocacy

By Angela Mellak

Digital Women’s Networking Event – 21 June 2017

A sell out night with over 100 participants hosted by Digital Women’s Network on The Art of Networking and Advocacy with guest panellists:

  • Angela Mellak – Co-founder of Digital Women’s Network, Marketing Strategist and founder of Digital White Space marketing and communications.
  • Rugare Gomo – Philanthropist founder of GOMO foundation, Lawyer, Entrepreneur, Business Advisor & Coach. Helping entrepreneurs start, grow and scale their businesses Founder of the Gomo Foundation which exists to empower young African women.
  • Chloé Oestreich – Chloé is a coach, facilitator, and speaker.  She leads development programs and coaches CEO’s to help individuals become aware of the habitual patterns that may undermine their authority.   She is passionate about helping people present with confidence and lead with conviction.
  • Rae Bonney – Integrated Wellbeing Specialist and mental health advocate, working across many settings; Who Group, beyondblue, private practice, radio presenting, community work and many pro bono activities, I rely heavily on a range of networking activities to help influence change.

MC’d by DWN Board Members Reese Masita and Bernadette Cullen, our panelists provided excellent insights, diverse and at times contrasting view on various questions posed to them.

Big thank you to our sponsors;

Please see our events page /https://digitalwomensnetwork.com/melbourne-events/

2, 287 Collins Street, Melbourne 3000

0466619631

 

The full Q&A of the night

What is the difference between influencing, manipulation, networking and advocacy?

Rae

  • Influence is about having a value proposition, and conviction behind what you say. 
  • Manipulation look it up in the dictionary, is not such a great word.
  • Advocacy is my thing.  I’ve spent last 10 years around building advocacy what smashing through those labels around mental health – I live with chronic depression

Chloé

Interesting question because we’ve got four things that are so different

  • Influence and manipulation on the same scale but on opposite sides.  Influence is win-win for both parties.  Manipulation is win-lose, where one person has an agenda. To give you an example, let’s say your partner smokes.  If you don’t like them smoking and want to influence them to stop, you could suggest they if they stop smoking, then they are less likely to get cancer, the decision becomes their choice – ie, a win-win – you don’t have to put up with the smoking, and they don’t get the cancer.  If you want to manipulate them, you could take their cigarettes away.  In this case it is not their choice, win-lose – you win (they don’t smoke), they lose (they didn’t want to stop smoking and now they don’t have any cigarettes).
  • Networking is about building relationships connecting with each other
  • Advocacy can be done in a passive or indirect way

Rugare

Such a powerful question!  I want to share a story about Advocacy.  I’m originally from Zimbabwe and came here when I was 16 years old.  Sometimes you’re an advocate about the way you live your life.  It’s really about the way you live the fullest self-expression of your life, about what that can be and our job is about being really connected to your purpose because that can shine through when meeting with people.

Angela

  • Networking is the availability to really connect with others. Advocacy is extended through that.  When you understand what somebody does, you should sit back and think about who else can benefit or engage with or add value to that person is or if you know anyone that person in your network can benefit from meeting.
  • When you meet someone your gut will tell you if they are manipulating you.  
  • It is very much an art to help people connect with people.

How do you feel the digital landscape changed opportunities to network?

Chloé

I’m from Germany and came here without a network.  I heavily rely on LinkedIn.  It’s one of the greatest tools.  It’s extraordinary how you can get in touch directly with people.  Very often executives have Executive Assistants who are the gate keepers.  Now with platforms like LinkedIn you can get in touch with people directly and they have the ability and choice to say “yes” or “no” to engaging with you.  Can I just add, especially if you run your own business and want to run on a global scale, you need to meet face-to-face, but to introduce yourself first, share your profile and LinkedIn is a really helpful

Rae

Being an old hack – my generation is fortunate that we’ve seen the birth of the digital age. I’ve always been a networker, digital is such an enabler.  However, we can fall into some traps, there’s’ speed, efficiency, and all sorts of mediums.  I’m very concerned with the human conditions and how digital impacts on this.  There are enormous opportunities around how we can use this, acknowledging that our generation have got some things a little bit wrong. People love being together, cared for and not being taken for a ride.

Rugare

It’s like night and day.  In Zimbabwe, we didn’t have it.  In my first year here I only talked to family four times.  Sixteen years later the connection I have with people and the opportunity to have quicker interactions with people and if I look inside with hiring people our Gomo team is global in South Africa Saudi Arabia Canada, it has allowed all ways of touching base around the world so much easier and the velocity of working so much more possible.  Must say it is not to replace face-to-face, merely to facilitate it.

Angela

I totally agree.  Linkedin came in to speak at one of our Digital Women’s Network events last year.  You should connect and sync with your calendar to help you whenever you are making meetings to see people. It’s very intuitive, yet nothing beats face-to-face interactions.  It was a really important piece for me when coming back from overseas.  The power of you and your skills as a person is extended through the people that you meet.  Technology helps you follow up and stay in contact but does not replace meeting.

The biggest faux pas is when people seek out to connect with you and then spam you.  It is frustrating, there is an etiquette- don’t spam people, use a bit of common sense.

How do I keep the professional relationship ongoing with a person that I have met for the first time and would like to retain them in my network?

Angela

It’s really about connecting with someone and listening, find out about them. You need to have a cut through greeting, being memorable.  It’s not about, talking about the weather, find something to talk about. If I was to meet someone for the first time, that I build instant rapport with, I spend the time to understand how I can help the person. If you don’t connect with someone just don’t waste your time. When you’re at an event networking, you need to make sure you have an exit.  It could be a smart exit – oh Bernie can I introduce you to … 

Rugare

It’s exactly about listening and asking the questions.  What arises is the heart connection if our values and our passions are aligned, there’s nothing to sell.  If a person likes you, you will do business with them aa

Chloé I’m going to throw in some strategies, you’ve got email, Linkedin, phone articles blogs, “hey I thought  about you, this could be of interest”, catch up for coffee, invite to event

Rae

Ask yourself the question, “why do I want to keep this relationship going?”  I want to stay connected with Chloé, she doesn’t necessarily represent a commercial proposition for me but I like her, be authentic with what your connection is about.  How else do we connect?  It’s about feeling cared for and valued.  Create that environment where you can feel validated.  In my area, people don’t want to comment on it and do not want to feel judged.  We should not be afraid to speak out and say what we feel with authenticity.

 

Key tips for networking

Angela

Build honest, genuine connection with people.  With Rae, we connected years ago.  I was really interested in finding out more about Rae and what she did and seeing how I could support Rae through her activities. Genuinely by creating an understanding about what that person does, and seeing if you can help then, think about how more likely will they help you!

Rugare

  • I am gay and in Zimbabwe it is illegal to be gay.  When I came to Australia I pretended not to be gay, but my walk gave it away!!  That inauthenticity could be smelled a mile away.  I was completely lonely and so unfulfilled.  Then I learnt for myself and learnt how to shine.  I reflected and learned how to be true and authentic and being free to accept me or not, that’s also part of networking.  Who are the right people around you for your authentic self-expression?  There are 7 billion people on the planet.  Be yourself and be authentic!!!

Chloé

  • I would like to suggest that I always over prepare and I do my research and homework.  I make sure I know something about the people I am going to meet, what they do, their values so that I have something to talk to them about immediately.  I have a pretty good idea of their position and it makes it more efficient for me as it helps me know who I want to spend time with because I know that we have something that we share in common.

Rae

I’d like to share two stories about Advocacy and networking.  

  • A colleague Taylor, who is a recruiter who works very hard with very little return.  She came back yesterday and said she had had a great meeting with an organisation.  Taylor is always listening and came back to me saying she was speaking to a guy about health and safety, and asked him the question, “have you thought about the mental health of your people in relation to health and safety?”  He said “yes”, and she said, “I know this person (Rae) …”, so he gave her his card for Rae to get in touch with him.
  • The second story is walking my 8-year-old son to school this morning.  He asked what are you doing this evening, so I told him and asked if he could give me a tip about networking.  He said, “don’t be rude”!  When I’m working on various social media I see so much rudeness where people don’t think about people on the receiving end of the messages they put out there.  Oh, and one more thing, when you meet somebody and use a confident and strong voice and introduce yourself – and that’s from an 8-year-old boy.

I run businesses in Sydney and Melbourne.  The cultures in these locations are very different.  Do you have any tips for dealing with this difference?

  • Angela
  • It’s about finding the authentic connections, Sydney is more transient.
    Rae
  • Sydney is a lot more transactional than Melbourne and being mindful of that.  Adapt your tone, the way you communicate in writing, your facial expressions when face-to-face.
    Rugare
  • Networking is about the other person. Melbourne is very relationship based.
  • Reese
  • Pretend you live in an expensive suburb when you’re in Sydney!

 

Comments from audience- Dr Mei Doery 

  • I thought the last four tips were spot on – show up, be real, prepare and push yourself!

Angela

  • I’d like to recognise one of our sponsors at this point as she’s an amazing networker, Lisa, from Bohb Aveda Hair Salon in Richmond, who has provided a $30 gift voucher in all our goodie bags tonight! Lisa, what are your tips for networking?

Lisa Christo

  • Thanks Angela.  For me and my family, it’s always been about being interested in the other people and helping them feel good about themselves.  We are just constantly connecting with people.

I’m an introvert and feel intimidated by networking, what advice would you give me?

Rae

  • Your community represents so many connections.  For me, it enables me to bring people into my radio station.  For you, it might be having a barbeque at your house, or going to your children’s school sports or swimming lessons.  If you don’t feel confident going along to a function, consider taking someone along with you.
  • Whilst social media has had negative impacts and publicity, it has been a great enabler of connecting people who want to stay at home and feel more confident connecting and engaging with people online.  It’s probably keeping half of them alive.  It’s time to change the narrative from the negative.

Chloé

  • The more events you go to the easier it gets.  Although for people who suffer from anxiety it could be to your detriment as you may come across as nervous or rude, so it’s about finding the right balance.

Rugare

  • I am a quiet person and I’m able to be sitting up here because I have found my purpose and plan for my life. I have a close friend who is also very quiet and has a PhD doctorate.  We have been meeting up every Friday and brainstorming ideas for a major transformative program she has been working on.  What she has managed to achieve is to transform all pay rises for women in the court system so that they are equal to men and this has been achieved within the space of a year!  So, being an introvert does not mean you can’t be influential!

Angela

  • Role play with someone you are comfortable with.  Practise in front of a mirror.

I am really short of time to network.  How do you allocate time for networking as I really struggle?

Rae

I will talk to anyone who will engage in a conversation, whether I meet them on the tram, in a queue at a shop, wherever.

Angela

Make the time, Women need to get better at being networkers and good advocates- you need to share your network to make it richer.

Chloe

  • I don’t think it’s a gender thing, I think it’s more about personality, attitude and approach to life. We need to understand cultural environments and adapt to these.

Rugare

  • All my mentors are women.  They tell me that we deal with the same issues but there are some things which in the Boardroom are quite acceptable for men to say but not women in the presence of men.  One of my mentors was invited along to a normally all male group event which was allowing women into the forum to increase diversity.  When she arrived, none of the men would talk to her!

Why do men find it easier to network than women?

  • Just my opinion.  Men don’t look at each other’s clothes, shoes, etc, and make comment.  We’re pretty simple!  I get that men networking with men can be seen to be able to do this better than women networking with women and that there are challenges of women networking with men.
    Rae
  • I was networking with my 19-year-old son a few months back.  We ended up with an agreement of “You have no idea what it’s like being a 50-year-old woman, and I have no idea what it’s like being a 19-year old young man” Why don’t we just agree on that and respect our point of difference

How can you make an impression until you find yourself?

  • Rae
  • Keep going everyday with your integrity and belief.
  • Chloé
  • Consider the value that you provide to others.
  • Angela
  • Find something topical to talk about.

I have consciously made the decision to take a break from work.  When I meet people, they talk about work and I want to talk about taking a break.  I have leveraged social media to share this message but no-one seems to care.  My question is, in my network everyone is talking about work, work, work.  How is it that I cannot be heard, cannot look weird, and get my message across?

  • Angela
  • Blog about it and listen to people and ask them about themselves first.  Listen to what’s important to them then see if it’s relevant to share your story. don’t begin to convince people.
  • Reese
  • Get particular messages out there and blog.  Find people active in the community.
  • Rae
  • Start reading and give yourself time and space and connect.
  • Chloé
  • Challenge – who are you outside of your work?  It’s about opening up a discussion.  Don’t force your opinion on others.

Letters and notes-

“Creating positive energy and vibrancy is not easy or something that many people can do. You achieved a wonderful feeling which I’m sure lead to many new connections for the women who attended. I certainly had some fascinating conversations.”  Dr Mei Ling Döéry MBBS, B.Med.Sci, MPH , Physician Entrepreneur
Hi Angela, Thank you for the event last night! As a young professional looking after the marketing division of a fintech startup, I look forward to attending events such as the the digital women’s network. It’s so important to me to meet and learn from like minded individuals. I had a great time and there was a calibre of value in the room.  Alyssa Jane Gutierrez
Thank you so much for having us on Wednesday, it was a great event!Stephanie Burrell
Hello Angela, A quick shout out to say it was great to meet you on Wed night and thank you for running such an enjoyable event. So glad a friend took me along. Looking forward to connecting again soon. Ann Pocock, Senior marketing communications leader

Looking forward to connecting again at our next event,

Please see our events page /https://digitalwomensnetwork.com/melbourne-events/

2, 287 Collins Street, Melbourne 3000

0466619631

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