Thursday, November 19, 2009

Networking for Life

On Monday evening I was delighted to be invited along to the 10th Anniversary of the Precious Online Awards Dinner. The awards celebrate the achievements of women of colour in business and leadership.

It was inspiring to listen to the winners as they accepted their awards. What really struck me was that the real nuggets came not from the guest speakers but from the award winners themselves. One of my favourite quotes of the evening from one winner was, "Anything is've just got to work bloody hard to get it!"

Before the presentation of the main award, PRECIOUS Entrepreneur of the Year, the 2008 winners Natasha Faith and Semhal Zemikael who run a semi-precious jewellery business La Diosa, told the audience how the experience had affected them over the last twelve months.

Both Natasha and Semhal, like many of the women present, are young entrepreneurs in the early stages of their careers. Natasha talked about how supportive other women in the room and in the network had been and the friends she had made in the year since the last awards ceremony.

What was important, according to Natasha, was that such support and friendship should continue outside the event itself. "We have an opportunity to grow together and network for life", she told the audience.

Such long-term thinking about the power of networks is still rare. As networks have matured, we have the opportunity not just to make the connections to help us in our business now, but to surround ourselves with people who can support us throughout our careers. People we can grow together with, share our challenges and our achievements and with whom we have the chance to develop such a bond of trust that the support we can offer each other becomes limitless.

If you haven't done so already, look to your network and recognise those people who are of the same generation and who share the same vision as you. Ask yourself the difference it will make to you if you network with them not just for a year, but for many years to come.

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