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A Feminist’s Guide to Networking – Sisterhood is better than Golf

Networking events; an awkward evening of making small talk with strangers, trying to see them for who they are beyond their well-polished façade and magazine perfect outfit. This is the unfortunate attitude that many have adopted towards networking events, as such they have become the thing we dread, but have to do.

Mbewu Movement hosted an evening of networking with Veronica Devine, and the evening could not have been further from the negative preconceived notions of the exercise. The evening began on a vibrant note as beautiful ladies flowed in; a fresh new breed of young, intelligent, passionate and determined ladies. Names, numbers and professions were exchanged, and the foundation of great networks was established. Lilitha kicked off the session by sharing some principles of networking which really resonated with many of the ladies in the room judging by the number of heads nodding. With these principles in mind; the ladies were ready to hear the nuggets of wisdom Veronica Devine had to share with us.

Veronica is an amazing lady with a beautiful story to share; a story of resilience, of knowing and understanding your gift, of confidence and of granite-like will. Veronica founded well-known Justine Cosmetics in 1973 with R10 000 loan, for which she was turned down 11 times before she was granted the loan. Her tenacity and authenticity to herself as an entrepreneur and to people as whole have made her the success that she is today. Veronica’s journey was not all smooth sailing, prior to starting Justine she had worked for a company where she was top sales women but because of her gender was paid less than her average male counterparts.

Veronica’s candid and open personality allowed for an instant connection and applicability to everyone in the room. Her authentic wisdom resonated with her principle of being genuine in all that we do, and that includes networking. In a society where so many people are keeping up pretences, it was refreshing to hear a testimony of doing things that come naturally to us and things that make us happy. In networking it is important to not force a connection just because you are at a networking event or that particular person seems to be the perfect connection, but rather allow for fluidity and common interests to set the scene for some relatedness or relationship to blossom. It’s a journey of longevity and not a fleeting meet and greet; an importance of quality and not quantity. As Veronica shared; “everything we do prepares us for something else, everybody is a possibility, and however we have to cultivate the ones most important to us”. Networking is about chemistry, trust and a genuine care for the person, a fellowship where mutual growth is expected and opportunities are shared.

This all sounds very emotionally charged so why then do men seem to do it better than women? Women are after all the more emotionally sensitive beings, according to me anyway, so why do we find it hard to engage, network and create lasting relations. This past evening, taught me that all the above questions can be answered by three principles; be confident, be authentic and be intentional.
And ladies, yes most networking happens on the golf course, but this does not mean you need to go spend hours on beautifully manicured lawns if that is not your interest…remember be genuine. After all sisterhood is better than golf!

MM

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