As women in business, most of us have had the good fortune of working with a strong mentor. Many of us have also served as mentors ourselves, sharing what others have shared with us and what we have learned with others. In the process, we all become better—better professionals and better people.
Networking and educational events that are developed to address the unique needs of women serve a similar function. In fact, in today’s wired world, events like the WISE Symposium are becoming more important than ever. They offer new ways for us to make connections, build skills and learn at a time when one-on-one opportunities to exchange ideas and experiences are harder to come by. You just need to make sure you’re spending your time at the right events and optimizing your time.
Asking yourself the following questions can help you choose the right events:
- Why am I attending? Do you want to learn new skills? Meet new people? Promote your service or product? Whether you’re spending 30 minutes at a coffee meet-and-greet or a day at a conference, you need to have a clear expectation of what a positive outcome will be. Is it a qualified lead? Finding a resource? Making a contribution?
- Who will be there? Effective events are targeted to meet the needs of a very specific audience. Review the event agenda and talk to event promoters to see who they are marketing the event to and what the audience demographics will be. Events with a proven track record are generally a safer investment of your time. Talk to other people who have attended the event to see if it was well organized, delivered on its focus and was worth attending.
- What is the event about? The WISE Symposium is about promoting entrepreneurship. However, it would be a mistake to not attend just because you’re not an entrepreneur. In addition to creating an opportunity for people to network with smart, savvy women in business, the breakout sessions offer great learning opportunities for any professional. So before investing your time and money into an event, learn everything you can about it and analyze how well it aligns with your goals.
Also keep in mind your personal style and comfort level. Do you prefer smaller, more intimate gatherings or do you thrive in the energy of a large crowd. There are plenty of events that can offer you everything you need, provided you do your homework and have a plan for making the event an effective use of your time.
Guest writer: Rani Ristau, Manager, Nottingham Branch, KeyBank