Last month we hosted our third and biggest WTF (Women’s Tech Focus) event. Held at the expansive Just Eat head office, we welcomed a whole range of people ready to build confidence, learn how to network and then, actually network.
We invited two exceptional speakers to give presentations: Alicia Teagle co-founder of Socially Responsible Recruitment (SR2) and founder of the Women Rock blog and Samantha Hepburn, community consultant and founder of Circle Community and Find a Tech Job.
Seasoned networkers and community builders themselves, there was no one better to teach the WTF-ers how to talk the talk and walk the walk.
First up, Alicia took to the stage and introduced us to a friend who’d helped her conquer her fears of putting herself out there: Beyoncé. Sharing the podium with the incredible global star is no mean feat. but luckily for Alicia (and us), she attended through the means of PowerPoint presentation only. The powers of technology these days.
So what did Beyoncé have to do with Alicia’s talk you ask? Well even the superstar gets nervous in her line of work, so much so that she invented an alter ego – Sasha Fierce – to give her the confidence to go on stage and rock the joint. While we appreciate that performing to millions in reams of sequins and feathers is unlikely to be asked of you at networking events, Alicia thinks we could all learn something from Jay-Z’s indisputable better half. Here are her tips:
- Me, myself and I – Alicia says be ‘you’, but the best version of it. I.e. the part that isn’t riddled with anxiety and fear. Channel the side that knows what they want and how they’re going to get it. If that involves creating a second personality then so be it (FYI Betty Bold is already taken).
- Show up – We can all agree that Ms Carter’s concerts would be a pretty tame affair if everyone who bought tickets decided they’d rather stay at home. Alicia says she’s made excuses in the past to avoid networking, but in reality the only person you’re pretty hurting (get it?) is yourself. So make the effort to go because not only will it be worth it, but it will become easier the more you do.
- Drunk in
loveconviction – Do something to put you in a good mood before the event so you feel ready to go in there and make connections. While Alicia (and we) agree wine can be helpful in this instance, if your mood booster is asking the mirror on repeat if it’s ready for this jelly then go forth and and master that three-point click, people.
- Beautiful attire – While we know most people in tech dress like they have shares in Converse, wear something that is not only suitable for the event you’re going to, but makes you feel great. When you look the part, you’ll feel it too.
- Don’t be a diva – There’s no point in rocking a power suit if you don’t look approachable. We’re not suggesting plastering a teeth-bearing grin on your face all night, but when approaching someone an event or when someone is trying to do the same to you, a smile really does goes a long way.
- Crazy in…preparation – The best way to quell any pre-event nerves is to do your research beforehand. Alicia suggests checking the guest list and looking people up on LinkedIn. You might find that you know someone going, but if not, at least you’ll know what the attendees look like and whether you have anything in common, which will help with striking up conversation when you’re there. It’s also worth making notes on any speakers and their topics so you have questions ready to ask during any Q&As.
- Sorry (not sorry) – Alicia says that we need to remember words have power. Rather than apologising before you say something – just say it. Lose the ‘maybes’ and the ‘justs’ and assert your opinions boldly. Probably not that Michelle’s latest gospel album could rival Lemonade. Instead, make small talk and use your words wisely to show you care about the people you’re talking to and the subject at hand.
- Who run(s) the world? – YOU. Although people have a tendency to be self-deprecating, Alicia believes focusing on your strengths will help boost confidence and make you believe in yourself, so others will too.
Stay tuned for part two where we share Samantha’s advice on forging connections and community-building!
If you want to find out more about WTF and how to join, get in touch with Emma or Ally who will be happy to help.