Women’s Networking Groups – by Liz Watt

One of the joys of developing a  Coaching practice has been the opportunity to work on broader personal development projects that I have long been interested in, and one such has been establishing women’s networking groups.

A networking group can be a powerful thing. But why a women’s networking group? Research shows that one of the ‘unwritten rules’ of advancement in business is to have a strong network, both inside one’s workplace, as well as within the wider business community. And did you know that most women do not have as strong a business network as their male counterparts? Such a group provides an opportunity to develop a network amongst your industry peer group and a platform  to discuss relevant issues in a safe and supportive environment. It is an opportunity to take time away from the office to plan, reflect,  learn and share, gaining confidence through sharing ideas and experiences. Studies show that membership of a networking group helps increase women’s self-esteem, thus aiding them to reach full potential.

Indirect Tax Women’s Network Logo

My first venture has been a  networking group for women in Indirect Tax.  Established earlier this year, it has really taken off.  The founding group is approximately 14 strong, and meets once a quarter for an afternoon.  We have a great guest presenter on a topical issue, there is time to discuss any topics that are relevant to the guests, and there’s plenty of opportunity for networking during the afternoon and afterwards. Its non-technical  – the prevailing view was that everyone gets more than enough technical input back at the office!

So as an example, our first speaker was Jayne Constantinis who gave a fabulous presentation on communication skills and how we can enhance them. It was a really interactive session and stimulated lively debate!  In upcoming sessions, our speakers will cover topics such as personal presentation and how to build a great professional wardrobe that really works for you, stress management / resilience and networking & developing strategic relationships.

I am delighted with how this initiative has taken off and the feedback has been great. For example : ‘a really informative and entertaining session’; ‘took away a lot of interesting points that I will certainly be implementing’; ‘a very friendly and supportive atmosphere for the group’; ‘really interesting and practical tips that can be put into practice easily’.

There seems to be real appetite for the network and the membership is drawn from the profession – Big 4, mid-tier and independent consultancies – and those in industry and commerce. The first group is based in London, for those at Senior manager or equivalent and above. However, given the success of this, I’m expanding – there will be a second London group early next year and regional groups will follow. I am also establishing  a group for newly promoted managers and equivalent, who perhaps have different issues to tackle at this earlier point in their careers.

And of course there is no reason why this networking initiative can’t be rolled out to other areas too so I will be extending this into Direct Tax and Management Consultancy too.

I’m keen that the networking groups should be inclusive and have been gratified at the support and sponsorship I’ve received from male clients and contacts. If there are any men who would like to find out more about the group, or come along as guest speakers, please let me know!

If you would like to find out some more about the Indirect Tax Women’s Network, or if you are interested in how I might be able to set up a network for your particular technical discipline, please get in touch for a chat. Contact me at bltcoaching1@gmail.com

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