Monday, March 5, 2012

Tips for Successful Networking

Jennifer Armitstead spoke about best networking practices at our first North Texas Women in Business of the BYU Management Society event. I thought the handout was so good that I asked her for permission to reprint it here. I hope you find it as useful as I have!

Tips for Successful Networking

1. Don't network unless you first know who you are.

2. Before attending an event, know why you want to go.

3. Do your research on the guest speaker. What question would you ask them if you had 3 minutes alone to talk with him/her?

4. ALWAYS have business cards. Include: name, phone number, email, website, picture if it's a professional headshot. is a great site for nice cards at a reasonable rate.

5. Dress the part. Think of the event and dress appropriately. Find a way to dress authentically to your style and brand. Is there something you can wear that showcases your personality?

6. Show up 15-30 minutes early. People who arrive early know that networking is the key to success, those are the people you want to know.

7. Get involved in the group - join a committee, get on the board, etc. There are simple ways to help ou that don't require a lot of your time, but the exposure in the group will be helpful to you!

8. Schedule the event. As soon as you get an email announcing an event, put it on your calendar. Don't wait, because other things will always take your time if you haven't planned for networking.

9. Have a plan of who you want to meet at the event. Examples: Meet 3 new people in the accounting industry. Meet someone who needs help with job search and introduce them to someone who might be able to help.

10. Keep going back. It does you no good to attend one meeting and then never go back. Unless the group doesn't meet your interests, attend as often as possible.

11. Use social media to connect with people after the event. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter are all great ways to continue developing your relationships.

Jennifer Armitstead is a Career Coach and Corporate Talent Consultant. She has coached 1000s of people on how to improve their careers and consulted with dozens of companies to attract and retain the right employees She is the Executive Producer and Host of Job Club Radio.

For more information:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Toward a More Family-Friendly Workplace

This post was submitted by Kaylie Astin who recently launched - a website aimed at improving family-friendly benefits in the workplace. I hope you'll visit her site and contribute your own story!

When I heard Quentin L. Cook’s conference talk in April 2011, I did something I don’t usually do when I’m listening to General Conference: I stood up and cheered. “I would hope that Latter-day Saints would be at the forefront in creating an environment in the workplace that is more receptive and accommodating to both women and men in their responsibilities as parents,” he said. Over the next couple of days, I couldn’t stop thinking about his words. This was an invitation for LDS people to actively get involved in the fight for family-friendly workplaces. That conference weekend, I suddenly knew that’s what I was supposed to do.

Before his talk, I’d been thinking about these issues for a while. Like many women, I quit my job when my first baby was born. Actually, I quit everything. I thought I wouldn’t need any of my interests anymore because I was going to dedicate my life to my children. I’d forgotten to calculate that beneath the loads of laundry and baby blankets, my personality was still buried in there.

I was ambitious and smart. I liked to try new things. Money was scarce.

But I was nursing my baby and wanted to spend as much time with him as possible. My previous job didn’t offer any kind of maternity leave, except for the accrued vacation time I’d already cashed out. If I worked again, how would I find part-time work when most part-time positions would barely cover child care? And speaking of child care, what would I do with the baby while I worked? Could I ever leave my baby without soul-crushing guilt?

I wasn’t ever able to answer these questions to my satisfaction, so I spent the next few years making my way through a variety of at-home endeavors while taking care of the three children that eventually became part of the family. Sometimes I was successful, sometimes not, but never well enough to dispel the desperation constantly haunting my brain.

So when Elder Cook spoke those words, I was already passionate about change, but I didn’t know what to do to help workplaces become more family-friendly. I didn’t have a conventional job where I could make a difference within the organization. Write a book? Become a career coach? Buy a plane ticket to Washington, D.C. and lobby Congress? There were many possibilities, but I was unsure about what direction to go, especially since I knew very little about business and didn’t have the credentials for most people to take me seriously.

I started by gathering all the information I could. I lived in the library, looking for books and perusing magazine articles. I found newspaper articles, reports, and research online. By the time I went to BYU’s Women in Business Conference in 2011, I’d been studying family-friendly workplaces for six months. Our keynote speakers focused their remarks on work/life issues. They cited studies and talked about how women could ask for the balance they sought. Throughout the conference, many women spoke about making decisions, finding mentors, feeling guilt, being criticized, and fighting against inflexible workplaces.

I realized what the world was missing—a place online for LDS working women to get information and to talk about these issues. How do you deal with guilt when you have to work even though you’ve always believed you were supposed to stay home? How do you go back to work if you’ve been home for several years? How do you ask your workplace for maternity leave or a flexible schedule if they’ve never given it to anyone else before?

I poured my research into the website. I wrote about issues such as sick leave, parental leave, flexibility, child care, and elder care in the workplace. I also included some issues specifically important to women—single motherhood, breastfeeding, re-entry, discrimination, and culture. I included a section about how employees, citizens, and employers can make changes. I also added a blog, a forum, and stories from real women in the workplace.

Then, in February 2012, was born! And I’m far from finished. I hope this site can become a place for LDS working women to learn how to make family-friendly changes in their workplaces, and I also hope working women can talk to others about the issues they face every day. This is one dream I felt inspired to pursue, and I hope my site helps working families everywhere.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year's Resolution Ideas for Women in Business

It has been gratifying to talk with and hear from women who attended the BYU Women in Business Conference last fall. I still find myself thinking about topics that were discussed, and hope the conference continues to have an impact as we consider our personal and professional goals for 2012.

A conversation with one attendee has stuck with me. I spoke with her just days after the conference. It was clear that the work/life balance discussions had had an impact on her; she went home and immediately began having discussions, both on the personal and the professional front, about the topic. She talked with her husband about concrete ways they could balance their work and family life better. (They are empty-nesters, both working full-time.) She also went right to work that next Monday, opening up dialogue with her colleagues about how she, as a manager, and they, working together, could help make their workplace more sensitive to and supportive of the issues surrounding work/life balance. (This topic has so much potential, on so many fronts, for resolution ideas.)

Another person whose clear goals have impressed me is Chrysula Winegar. She continues her work in the sphere of family and work life balance by taking a stand for stay-at-home motherhood, opening up conversations in multiple contexts about how to have motherhood be more respected, less punished, in the professional that women who do choose to stay home can someday, if they then choose, have the ability to re-enter the workforce. (Resolution idea: Read articles that not only support women in the workplace, but talk about how to support professional women who choose to stay at home. Spoiler alert: Solutions lie not only in the professional sphere, but with those of us who are mothers. We have to deliberately and visibly value our motherhood if we want it valued in the professional sphere.)

I've loved seeing discussions on our Facebook page about these topics as well. Kudos to the women who are reaching out in our Facebook group for help and ideas with their new ventures (non-profit and for-profit). (If you are interested in the panel from the conference on starting your own business, you can listen to it here.) 

Speaking of Facebook, I'd love to see more discussions, on more topics, with more networking on Facebook. (Have you joined our Facebook group yet? There's a simple resolution idea -- to join and participate in our Women in Business Facebook discussions.)

Another example of real action that took place as a result of the conference was summed up in Stephanie's last post, Starting a Women's Group. (Resolution ideas: Join your local BYU Management Society chapter, and/or help start a women's group within your chapter. Listen to the panel discussion on this topic if you haven't already (or review it if you have). Connect with other women, like Stephanie and the panelists she mentions in her post. Brainstorm and share more ideas for helping facilitate networking and mentoring for women in business.)

Whitney Johnson's HBR and Dare to Dream posts contain great advice on the topic of mentoring. You can listen to her conference presentation here. (Resolution ideas are present in Whitney's ideas for both mentor and mentee. Also, have you signed up to be a mentor of business students? You can sign up to volunteer here. Read other great mentoring tips at the Marriott School website.)

For me, as a stay-at-home mom who values highly the notion of staying professionally connected and current, I left the conference both with a renewed determination to be focused in my efforts to keep my professional self alive, but to also be more focused, more centered, regarding home life. The combination of the work/life balance discussions, the mentoring equation advice (time and energy really are limited!), and the spiritual undercurrents of many of the talks (especially by Cathy Chamberlain) combined to have a significant impact on me.

I'll be exploring more of my own takeaways in a future post, so for now, I'd like to ask you: What professional goals are you focusing on this year? What talks/panels/discussions/contacts/experiences from the conference have had an impact on your goal-setting? Comment here or on our Facebook page, or write about it on your personal/business blog and let us know where to find your post!

[This post has been edited slightly from the original.]