Angela Radcliffe is a business leader with a sterling reputation for business strategy and customer management. She is also a great believer in building a strong network and feels many women overlook the power of a strong professional circle of like-minded people who can help transform their career. In a recent Executive Women Australia Masterclass event, Radcliffe, Vice-President of Sales for Staples Australia, spoke to a packed room of business women, all eager to hear her wisdom on the power of strong networking skills.
The first step to building a network is getting yourself out there, and Radcliffe explained how she prefers small intimate groups to large gatherings. She said, “You know who is in the room and people are more approachable.”
Women, she noted, tend to shy away from opportunities to network. They find excuses like a heavy workload, fatigue or lack of credibility to avoid making small talk despite the chance to strike up a new friendship or business partnership.
Radcliffe’s advice is just to take the first step once you have jumped off the cliff. “When you’re at a function or event, understand your network and what you can give them instead of just what you can get from them. Make sure you are clear on what you have to offer, understand your industry’s best practices and explore ways of entering other industries. The key to expanding your network is to always be thinking laterally.”
“It can be daunting but once you step out of your comfort zone, you’ll start building your confidence and become a beacon that attracts you and your energy,” she said.
To Radcliffe, your network is “gold” so you need to always invest time in nurturing those relationships. She urged women to find out these other people’s passions and what drives them, and then use that information to identify opportunities where they may be able to help, offer advice or make valuable connections.
“People will always remember how you make them feel rather than what you actually say,” she reminded the women. “So the next time they have a business opportunity you’ll be among the first people who will come to mind as a potential partner or connection.”
The truth is that almost every woman in world is already an old hand at networking as long as they have at least one social media account. Social media offers endless avenues and opportunities to connect and reconnect with others without the dreaded small talk. But therein lies the danger.
Despite the connectivity that social media offers, Radcliffe still insisted on the importance of building a network via face-to-face meetings.
“That way you become unforgettable, add value to your organisation and build your profile as an industry expert,” Radcliffe asserted.
1. Always say yes to any opportunity and jump right in
2. Understand what you have to offer
3. Start building your personal profile on social media
4. Be clear about the kind of people you want to connect with and why
5. Invest time and energy into building and nurturing your network
Tell us your methods for working the room at a social event in the comment section below!