We can all be the architects of our own networks

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My father always told me that the best deals are done in Rugby boxes, pubs or on the 19th hole, and that networking is one of the most powerful tools for business success.

But as new private members clubs spring up around London and social media platforms are creating webs of support for people whose paths would never cross in real life, I see that my father’s dictum still rings true, but for a new, inclusive age!

Networking has become fundamental in helping women connect with the leaders of their industries. Being able to turn to someone who has ‘been in your shoes’ or act as a professional guide, provides a level of support that colleagues often can’t.

There are numerous associations, co-operatives, organisations, online platforms and societies that support women in every industry. Everywhere you look, there seems to be a multitude of women getting together and talking passionately about driving change forward and creating an energy akin to revolution. The problem is, more often than not, those conversations end with everyone high fiving each other and going back to their desks. Don’t get me wrong, there has certainly been some movement in equality and diversity; however without adding men to the mix, we are voices in a vacuum. Revolutions need action from both sexes in order to be a success.

Most of us are fortunate to have advocates for change supporting us up the career ladder, but it’s more difficult for those who are knocking on the doors of the C-suite. The higher up the ladder you climb the less women there are above you or even alongside you for support. Since a lot of companies still don’t have many women in senior leadership roles, it has become more important than ever for women to be able to tap into the experience of both the men and women around them.

The majority of leaders are still men, so it’s important that forward thinking men are welcomed into the conversation. Women stand a better chance of changing the status quo when there are more voices, less vacuum. And this is where technology can help.

Women are now creating and tapping into networks that support all areas of their lives and they are doing so through technology. But how to start? How do you find a network for you?

The short answer is – you don’t. You have to create one. It sounds scary – but being the architect of your own network structure is now easier than ever. You have the ability to gather people around you for different needs in your career which will create different networks. From asking simple questions on Twitter, to longer chats on Slack, to following your mentor on social channels or finding out about events on Instagram, is something you can now do on the bus or in your lunchbreak! And the greater your network, the more likely you are to have people give you a step up and open doors you would never have found, let alone be able to open.

Our own network’s Omniwoman conference last year, left me amazed at the sheer number of remarkable women (and some brilliant men) within our wider network. They’re all here; we just need to connect them.

This led to the production of an app that is currently being trialled among the women who attended the conference. -The app drives collaboration and conversation among the women of all ages, skillsets and levels who engage with it. Essentially the app enables you to connect, network or choose a mentor anywhere in the world.

Unfortunately specific career relevant platforms are few and far between and support often run in silos, so the opportunity to conceive, develop and implement new ways of inspiring the next generation of female leadership is wide open. I believe that technology is the ultimate way to break down the barriers that are put in our way, and the perfect way for you to organise and build your network. Essentially, you have a virtual 19th hole!

Kelly-Ann MaxwellAbout the author

As Tribal’s Chief Operating Officer, Kelly-Ann’s focus is to ensure the agency meets its commercial targets without diluting its creative and innovative brilliance.

Kelly-Ann began her career as a news journalist for one of South Africa’s leading national newspapers before moving to London and into the digital world. Her areas of expertise include copywriting, designing, developing, project and studio management and operations.

Kelly-Ann’s experience spans a range of sectors from financial services and FMCG to automotive and alcoholic beverages.

In 2015 Kelly-Ann was one of only ten people awarded the Women in Advertising and Communications London (WACL)’s Future Leaders Award. She is a mentor and is an advocate of getting more mothers back to work in the industry.

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