Networking Groups for Women – Curious to Find Out More? by Liz Watt

One of the joys of developing a Coaching practice has been the opportunity to work on broader personal development projects, 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 ones workplace, as well as within the wider business community. And yet it is a fact that most women do not have as strong a business network as their male counterparts. A dedicated group therefore provides an opportunity to develop a network amongst your industry peer group and a platform to discuss relevant issues in a safe, supportive and collaborative environment. It is an opportunity to take time away from the office to plan, reflect and learn, 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 their full potential.

My first venture has been a networking group for women in Indirect Tax. Established last 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. It’s non-technical – the prevailing view was that everyone gets more than enough technical input back at the office!

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So successful has the first group been that group 2 launches this June.

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!  Sally Smy of Queen Bee Styling was our pre-Christmas speaker and she gave us loads of practical guidance on personal presentation and how to build a great professional wardrobe that really works.  And then in March,  Jacqueline Heronfar-reaching insights into resilience and stress management and a raft of excellent coping strategies. We have an exciting programme planned for the rest of 2018 too.

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. As well as a second London group, the plan is to establish a regional group and one 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 exploring interest from other niche disciplines.

I’m keen that the networking groups should be inclusive and have been gratified at the support and sponsorship we’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 technical discipline, please get in touch for a chat.

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