On Tuesday the 9th of December, a group of women all working in varying facets of the sporting industry, came together to learn how to make the most out of networking.
The FAN Session topic was Spreading your Network Web, the conference was held at Sports House with Margot Foster the chairman of Vicsport who ran the activities throughout the afternoon.
Margot spoke of making the most out of social situations, as she shared some of her own examples of networking and also gave insightful tips to make the most out of networking.
The group was made up of individuals representing various organisations, from Basketball Victoria to Wyndham City Council. At the beginning of the session each of the attendees took the time to get to know one another and there was an abundance of chatter that could be heard throughout the room.
The participants were encouraged to interact within the forum as Margot conducted a group conversation rather than a lecture-like presentation. She talked about the ins and outs of networking and the importance of never doubting yourself or your abilities.
One of the most valuable points that Margot made was that shyness is at the heart of everyone’s inability or reluctance to network when in social situations. She said that although it takes time, it’s important to practice these skills regularly.
Margot mentioned that a good starting point for anyone to develop their skills is to practice with friends and family, people that you feel comfortable talking to. Something so simple can be really helpful to tackle any fears that you may have to conquer when feeling uncomfortable networking in a social setting.
Although networking can be daunting, when it comes down to it, it is all about the ability to have a genuine one on one conversation. To be able to put your best self forward and be ready to keep up a natural exchange.
Margot’s main message throughout the session was that it’s important to be confident in who you are and what you know. She continued to reiterate that everyone is valuable and worthy of having an opinion, and that you should never apologise if you feel you have nothing to offer as no one expects you to be anything but your best self.
This was one of the most vital points that the attendees took away from the afternoon, with most of the feedback referring to the concept of self confidence, one attendee said that this was the most important aspect of the session and that she would continue to “Be willing to make a connection.”
Margot noted that when networking it’s important to go in with an open mind and not automatically expect to get anything out of the conversation; you shouldn’t anticipate that the person you’re talking to will have the biggest list of valuable contacts that will help you to get a fancy new job. Instead you should go in thinking about what you can offer and to never doubt yourself, your abilities or your knowledge.
Margot noted that people will always appreciate you if you try your best to be accommodating and helpful; even if you may not get anything in return people will think highly of you.
Whilst having a genuine conversation is one of the most important aspects of networking, Margot also mentioned that it is vital to have good manners. When you’re talking with a person and building your network web, it is imperative that you start to think beyond the conversation. If you say that you’ll be in contact then you must make the effort to get in touch with them and follow up your conversation, beyond asking them for a favour.
In the same regard she mentioned that if you are invited to attend an event or function it is crucial that you always respond to the invitation, it is common courtesy and shows respect to the person who has taken the lead to organise and gather people together.
Margot’s tip of the day was to always accept every invitation, even if you know that you won’t know anyone, go along because you never know who you might meet or get sat down next to. Many attendees left the session committed to saying yes to every opportunity and invitation put before them.
Another suggestion Margot made was to make a list of all the people that you meet so that you’re able to keep track of the connections you have made along the way. Not only does this benefit you in the long run because you can keep track of who you met and where, but it will also put you in high regard with your connections. She said that people always appreciate when you remember them, so if you keep track of who you’ve met then you give yourself the opportunity to remember a face or a name if you happen to see them at another function.
Once Margot had incited her knowledge amongst the attendees they were all given the opportunity to put their newly learned skills into action and start networking with one another. It was really amazing to see people putting together all of the notions that Margot had discussed and start using them to their ability.
During this time the women were able to expand on their small chit chat from the beginning of the day and really start to make some connections. Many business cards were swapped and you could almost guarantee that each of them would be going home to start a record of what will inevitably be a long list of connections making up their network web.
The overall feedback from the session was positive, as the attendees left the session with indispensable tips and hints about spreading their network web. The participants’ main take home actions focussed on saying yes, planning (and practising!) their story, being confident and continually following up their new connections.
Never fear if you missed out on attending this FAN session because the next one isn’t too far away. If you’re interested in coming along and want to find out more about grant writing then pencil in Wednesday 29th of April into your diary and visit the Female Administrators Network page for more information closer to the date.
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