Welcome Change Media

Episode 1 - Networking Done Right

Why Networking Is So Important

Why Networking Is So Important

Episode 1: Networking Done Right

headshot of Cheryl Gray, Womens Network Australia

Cheryl Gray, CEO, Women’s Network Australia

headshot of Louise Poole podcast host

Louise Poole, Co-Founder, Welcome Change Media

Love it or hate it, networking is a must if you run a business! But why is networking so important? And how do we become one of those seemingly magical beings – the confident networker!

We’ve all seen them, those people who walk into a networking event and deal their business cards out like a seasoned croupier at the casino’s poker table. While they may understand the benefits of networking, engaging with people requires skills that we all have, but are often too shy to use.

In this episode, Women’s Network Australia CEO Cheryl Gray talks to media partner, Louise Poole, from Welcome Change Media, about how important networking is and how Women’s Network Australia set out to do it differently from the start.

It’s rare to hear someone say they love networking, but Cheryl is someone who not only learned how to do it well, but continues to build a resource for women to lift each other up in a professional sense, building business relationships that last.

Whether you’re a beginner or have been building your own business network  as part of your leadership strategy, the contacts you make need to be genuine, rather than just another sales pitch.

Listen now to find out exactly what lies behind the success of Women’s Network Australia, how it has grown from strength to strength for thirty years, and what’s in store for an exciting future as we amplify the voices of women in business.

WNA Trailblazers
WNA Trailblazers
Networking done right
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WNA Trailblazers
WNA Trailblazers
Networking done right
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Vintage Women's Network Australia Magazine Covers:

Show Notes

Here’s some things mentioned during the episode.

What is Women's Network Australia?

Women’s Network Australia is a vibrant community for women in business to connect, grow, succeed and collaborate.  Get involved with the longest running, most innovative and one of the fastest growing women’s organisation in the country.

Celebrating 30 years as the nation’s leading networking organisation for women in business, we know success in business requires strategic alliances and business connections. Through WNA, you will CONNECT with women who understand the power of connection and the difference NETWORKING can make to GROW your success.

Examples of modern covers of Women’s Network Australia magazine:

Connect with Women’s Network Australia on Twitter:

Episode Transcript

00:00:00 Cheryl  

The networking approach is different. We don’t approach it as let’s go to a big thing and meet lots of people. It is about I want genuine relationships because one genuine relationship can you know, like a spider web can spin out from there and connect you with so many people through that one genuine connection.  

 

00:00:19 Louise  

WNA. Women’s Network Australia Trailblazers. Love it or hate it, networking is vital to giving yourself the best chance of success. Whether you’re running your own business or working for somebody else. But have you thought about what effective networking really is? In this first episode of WNA Trail Blazers CEO Cheryl  Gray celebrates the 30 year history of Women’s Network Australia and highlights just how important the presence of genuine trusting relationships in your network is as WNA embarks on its latest member benefit: this podcast.  

 

Cheryl, episode one of the podcast How exciting, are you excited?  

 

00:01:00 Cheryl  

Good, I am excited. I’m a bit nervous I’d have to say because I’m old school. I’m a journalist who likes to deal with words in print and paper and stuff. So this is exciting.  

 

00:01:11 Louise  

Well, you do have all the papers in front of you.  

 

00:01:13 Cheryl  

I do, yeah, I’m the master of papers. You are the master of the tech.  

 

00:01:15 Louise  

I have got the… look… I’m using an iPad as my paper, so it’s.

 

00:01:18 Cheryl  

Yeah, see I am very old school but that’s nice. Look what I like about podcasts, lots of people listen to them and you know, we multitask and so people listen to podcasts while they’re driving a car, cleaning the house, doing all those things. So it’s a great way to connect with people. It is a great way to have a conversation with people.  

 

So you know this is all about networking, conversations and having conversations with people to explore those things that you can’t, you know do through print or whatever. So yeah, very excited.  So thank you for making it happen. 

 

00:01:51 Louise  

I love this because it’s taking Women’s Network Australia like, it’s growing. It’s moving, and that’s something that’s really been a theme throughout the whole of the journey of the business going from, we’ve got these amazing one page front pages laid out in front of us that-  

 

00:02:05 Cheryl  

Some cool shots. Some cool glamour shots.  

 

00:02:07 Louise  

To glossy mags to online digital and now conversations directly into people’s ears when they’re on the way to work 

 

00:02:14 Cheryl  

Absolutely, and I think any sort of organization that is all about members and building communities and building that sense of belonging, you have to work with the technology to do that.  

 

And you know, yes WNA has been doing that for 30 plus years, everything from you know the very first newsletter, which I absolutely love and do keep that you know with me.  

 

Through to our magazines and there’s still something nice about having something in your hand that you can sit with a cuppa and read and enjoy and take your time with, But definitely moving into a way that you can reach me on the run or be in their ears when it suits them rather than when it suits you.  

 

So yeah, that’s terrific and it is about evolving as our Members evolve as time evolves as needs and technology evolves.  

 

00:03:10 Louise  

So for episode one, which this is, I think it’ll be really good to introduce, I suppose, the members to what you want to achieve from this. What we want this podcast to be for them.  

 

00:03:21 Cheryl  

That is something that has been in my head for quite some time and we, in the past, WNA has had a couple of attempts.  A lot of our Members actually make their own podcasts and are featured in other podcasts, so it’s almost like an extension of those.  

 

But when I thought about, you know what we might do with our podcast. I really want to do at least focus on the first few episodes around some Trail Blazers.  Some women who I feel are Trail Blazers in their respective fields, and that doesn’t mean they’re old. It means that they’re doing things in ways that really blaze a path for others to follow.  

 

So I’m very keen to spotlight some of those people who I feel are really doing something that’s a bit different and is really well grounded in what they do. So yeah, it’s a, it’s a bit of a trailblazer look.

 

00:04:11 Louise  

I love it. Trailblazer.  

 

Let’s talk. So what was your first encounter with the network, then? ‘Cause you’ve been CEO since December.  

 

00:04:21 Cheryl  

I’ve only been in the role for six months, but funnily enough I am a former journalist and back in the day the most important thing for any journalist was their contact book and it probably still is, although it’s probably now in their… rather than the standard issue, green covered book, right?  

 

00:04:37 Louise  

It’s our LinkedIn list now.  

 

00:04:39 Cheryl  

OK yeah yeah. So I was a newspaper journalist in the sort of mid 80s to mid 90s and Women’s Network Australia was one of the contacts in the sort of social affairs round which was the sort of cute way of not saying the women around.  

 

But it kind of was and, and so Lynette Palmen, who founded Women’s Network Australia was based in Brisbane where I was working and she was a name who I had in my contacts along with others and was someone that you talked to when you wanted someone’s view on issues related to women and particularly women in business.  

 

00:05:19 Louise  

Under W in the contact book for women’s issues.  

 

00:05:21 Cheryl  

Yes, that’s right. Yes, yeah. Under W everything was under W.  And I’ve still got that contact book, you know, all these years later, I’ve still got my battered green contact book. I don’t think any of the numbers are probably. Still the same any more. I mean we can try if you want we, can give them a call like it can be the live podcast.  

 

00:05:38 Cheryl  

I think they all have an extra digit now.  

 

00:05:39 Louise  

Yeah, we have to add this right to.  

 

00:05:43 Cheryl  

But but you know that was a really important part, so I was always aware that women network Australia existed but for a long time I moved on into a different space and then actually came back into the network a few years ago when it was being run by Janelle Bostock, who is a friend and we knew each other through our sons who went to school together.  

 

So I was working with Janelle and with the network and so I got to meet all of these amazing women who were doing amazing things, have amazing businesses, but more than that the network has a really warm feel about it. It’s a very much a relationship based network and that stems very much from the original aims of the organization.  

 

It’s actually about helping women to be their best and one of the things that, networking organization can do is just be there, you know. Just be that relationship partner and our members become trusted. And often through that business follows, you know you collaborate. You source from someone you know because you know what they do. You trust them and so forth, so I guess in some ways it’s a softer kind of network for business women.  

 

But equally it’s an opportunity to raise some of the issues that are still really important. Women in leadership roles in business and for all working women, and throughout that time I had a career in public relations and media, so I was working in that space and playing that role for Women’s Network Australia and got to the point where I really wanted to remind myself what my purpose was.  

 

You know, I wanted to really just focus on purpose. And I think that’s really important for anyone in business to really just focus and hone on purpose. And for me I looked at everything I’ve done right back to that green contact book with the W’s and it really was always about supporting women.  

Like, you know, I’ve generally worked with and for women throughout my whole life, so it seemed like a really obvious next step too.  

00:07:50 Louise  

Think you would say you’d been in a position where you’d met a lot of great women?  

 

00:07:54 Cheryl  

Leaders around you absolutely. I’ve really benefited from having  great mentors, women mentors I worked when I left journalism. I worked for Cheryl Kernot when she was the leader of the Democrats , so an inspiring woman leader who at that time really had the balance of power and was a key player in a lot of the major issues that were happening in the country.  

 

And then when I moved into public relations, I had some fantastic mentors and friends who really helped me, supported me, guided me and I could look and observe and learn so, you know, I think that’s a really important thing that comes through this network and not only this network, but it really is an important part of it, and it’s certainly been important to me.  

 

00:08:39 Louise  

I think your experience might have almost been unique in that because this stuck, kind of starting in the 90s with Women’s Network around that time, a lot of women wouldn’t have had strong women leaders around them to help shape them and put them up so I think it’s a great value that you, that experience can bring.  

 

00:08:58 Cheryl  

Yeah, and I think one of the things I’m so grateful for that Janelle has kept and that Lynette contributed to over a long period of time was these magazines these newsletters of the organization.

 

And look, they’re great fun to look back on. There’s some really interesting glamour shots. It’s really a showcase in how photographers change.  

 

00:09:21 Louise  

Do we need a glamour shot for the podcast art?  

 

00:09:23 Cheryl  

Maybe we do.  

 

00:09:23 Louise  

This I think.  

 

00:09:24 Cheryl  

Don’t know.  

 

00:09:25 Louise  

Just the logo might not be enough now. We might need to get you dolled up in glamour shot.  

 

00:09:30 Cheryl  

That’s what it was. Vaseline on the lens. But what they also do is track issues. They actually give a working woman’s perspective on what was important at those times, so that was a time before you know child care was really available. Yeah, that was a time when affirmative action was just coming into place so you know, for I think a lot of the things that we have today we kind of take for granted there were some very big battles beforehand, but I think the one particularly in the in the 90s was affirmative action and it was this sense that you should get the job on merit, not just because you’re a bloke and that was groundbreaking, because that was still going on, come through this sort of catalog of issues.  

And even the businesses that you see that were promoted through the WNA magazines and newsletters are a snapshot in time about what was and how things have changed, so it’s a great historical record. I think of some of the issues and the challenges that working women faced and how they work together to resolve those.  

 

00:10:45 Louise  

I think it can be very easy to forget where we’ve come from, from where we are, because 25-30 years on, people are having these conversations more frequently, only now, but the stuff that’s in here in early stuff like this, this one here stood out to me when I read it this morning. What was this issue?  Number three. Yep, and it was a front page but it still had a man on it.  

 

Yeah, and it was about her but it was yeah also about him and we don’t need that anymore.  

 

00:11:12 Cheryl  

It’s a really interesting thing, and it’s still an issue for a lot of business women today, particularly small business women who are wanting to start businesses, but the one big barrier to women and starting businesses and expanding business is access to capital, is to finance and most women still have to get their husbands to go guarantor on their business loan even though the husband may not be in any way contributing.  

 

But you know, that’s still a sign that we regard women’s businesses as kind of a hobby rather than an enterprise.  

 

So yeah, look it is interesting how some of those issues, but even things like work life balance you know that whole work life balance thing, when there were no childcare centers, they certainly weren’t affordable. They weren’t readily available to women, so women trying to work and or run a business must have been so much harder than it is today.  

 

So it is a bit of the more things change, the more in some ways there are still battles there are.  

 

00:12:21 Louise  

Yeah, yeah 2 two steps forward one step back.  

 

00:12:23 Cheryl  

There are battles to fight for sure, but you know it’s really inspiring stuff and it’s great to see that an organization like this that really focused on women, that that these women had the foresight to do that and to keep it going and it’s still going and it will for another 30 years.  

 

00:12:42 Louise  

So how can the WNA members leverage the most out of making these connections with each other through this network?  

 

00:12:50 Cheryl  

There’s so many ways, but I think, really forming those deep relationships is really the essential part you know. I know some people turn up to say an event or whatever and think, well, I didn’t get any clients out of it. You know, I handed out 10 business cards that might work out in the future.  

 

Well, that’s exactly right. Like, you can’t sort of go and sort of wham bam, thank you ma’am here I am, come and get me, and you can’t do that with anything in business. You know you’ve really got to, I’m a big believer in trust, you know, and all the studies show that trust is that critical factor in terms of consumer behavior or any sort of decision making that we make. 

 

So we’ve got to earn that trust and we have to take time to build that trust. So it’s repeated effort. It is turning up to multiple live events. It’s being part of, you know, virtual events. It’s putting your name out there by, you know, being part of the magazine.  

 

You know we have some fantastic blogs. We have a wealth of information on our website that our members can tap into or that anyone can tap into, because the other thing I think about any sort of network and whether it’s professional association or whatever it is, you get out of it what you put into it.  

 

So you’ve got to be prepared to do something you know there’s lots of opportunities for people, but they have to be prepared to put in rather than sit back and expect that everything will happen, and that’s why it’s so great working with these women who really feel like this is part of them and their business and they really are dedicated to it. So it’s really lovely, really lovely as a female business owner myself, I mean, I can attest to that.  

 

00:14:34 Louise  

Almost everyone I’ve worked with has been a recommendation word of mouth. Off a relationship built. A cold pitch hasn’t been the thing that has got me a client. It’s been building those relationships with people.  

 

00:14:45 Cheryl  

Yeah yeah, and you know yourself if you were going to refer someone to another person.  

 

00:14:50 Louise  

You would refer someone you trust.  

 

00:14:52 Cheryl  

You would refer someone you trust and you trust them because you’ve got to know them.  

 

You know it’s not just, oh, they’re in my, you know group, so I’ll refer them. It’s that you know the type of person they are and you feel comfortable passing them on to a friend or a client or a contact. And yeah, that is still a really important part, you know, despite websites and social media and all the great ways that we can-  

 

00:15:15 Louise  

Actually talking to people, I think.  Who would have thought it in 2022?  

 

00:15:20 Cheryl  

Look, we’ve gone through COVID, yeah, you know, we’ve gone through a long period of time where we all sat at home and you know, isolation and loneliness has been a big deal for everyone, including businesses and, you know, we’ve seen some members who really used that time to transition to different ways of delivering and dealing with their business.  

 

But equally, people do want to get out, and I think in some ways the way we approach networking is different. We don’t approach it as let’s go to a big thing and you know, meet lots of people. It is about I want genuine relationships because one genuine relationship as your example of the word of mouth, can be can you know, like a spider web, can spin out from there and connect you with so many people through that one genuine connection.  

 

00:16:15 Louise  

Do you think that’s a difference between men and women wanting a genuine connection?  

 

00:16:20 Cheryl  

I think women really look for it. I think we probably spend more time, invest more time getting to know the person before we might decide to do business with them or refer them on.  

 

So yeah, I think probably, and you know, we generalize about these things, but you know, men probably go in, and they’re a bit more sort of, not strategic, but a bit more focused in what they want, you know, I’m here looking for this and they’ll just go in and, you know they probably have less trouble asking for what they want.  

 

00:16:57 Louise  

And are more direct whereas.  

 

00:16:58 Cheryl  

What we find in our network at least is often our women aren’t going in to ask what they want. They’re asking how can I help you?  

 

So I think that is probably a key difference in the way perhaps men and women actually do business in that networking sense. It’s yeah, it’s not I want this, or I’m looking for this. I don’t want client referrals, I want whatever. It’s well, how can I help you to deliver what it is that you know?  

 

So whether that’s a mindset piece but it is about that relationship and trust piece that I think you know women in the way they network is quite different and it it’s even there are even subtleties around the way, the time that women network. Today a lot of women still have multiple responsibilities, caring responsibilities, so they need to fit that, particularly any live event network into that space.  

 

You know the long lunches are the good old days. Well, they just don’t happen anymore because it.  

 

00:18:06 Louise  

We could.  

 

00:18:07 Cheryl  

It’s got to take the dog to the vet, got to pick up the kids from school, gotta get the car serviced, got to, you know, fulfill this like there just doesn’t seem to be that amount of time.  

 

So women are looking to choose quality time over just spending a lot of time. So I think, even for event organizers and for networks like ours, we have had to adjust to that change and again, I think COVID has made people more selective about how they spend their time in terms of virtuals, and we know how many free webinars and opportunities to interact and we spent a lot of time doing it through COVID?  

 

We’re now at the point where we’re much more selective. How am I going to spend this hour that’s of the most benefit to me? What’s the reason to put pants back on and go to a meeting in person?  

 

00:19:04 Cheryl  

Look, there’s nothing quite like being able to see someone across the table, you know Zoom’s fantastic.  

 

00:19:07 Louise  

Face to face yeah yeah.  

 

00:19:11 Cheryl  

Any other virtual platforms have you know great offerings. But you get so much more out of how you can read someone by having them there.  

 

Yeah, you know and interacting with them so and you can have more fun. You know, let’s face it, you can actually get up and do stuff and walk around and see more things. So I think there will always be a really important place for that live networking.  

 

What we’ve found is that certainly immediately post COVID smaller, more intimate gatherings, you know 15 to 20 people where you can still be in a group setting, but it’s not quite as intimidating.  

 

And you can meet, you know, and interact with all of those people rather than be at a table with 200 people and you only really interact with one person or the two people beside you at the table anyway, so you know for us, I think we have felt you know from the feedback from our members that there’s probably still that need for live interaction, but it is in a more intimate place and then you save the big shows, for the really important stuff, which is also fun.  

 

00:20:27 Louise  

Do you think these connections are kind of that antidote to impostor syndrome as well?  

 

I mean, I know that’s a term that’s being used a lot, and I think it’s really, really common for us.  

 

00:20:36 Cheryl  

It is. I actually spoke about this topic a couple of weeks ago and one of the statistics that I came across was between 70 and 80% of people will experience that sense of impostor syndrome at some stage in their life.

 

00:20:50 Louise  

Yeah, and the other is lying.  

 

00:20:53  

Yeah, love it. But there’s also that difference between lacking self-confidence and impostor syndrome, and I think 100% of us at some point experience a dip in our self-confidence, perhaps multiple times a day, right?  

 

But for people who actually feel that they are not worthy, even though they’re qualified, they’re skilled, they’re capable, and they may even outwardly appear quite confident, wouldn’t that sense of I am not worthy, and in fact I’ll sabotage it so that I proved myself right that I was never worthy is a really debilitating thing.  

 

And yes, it is a thing for women, and again, you know some of the differences that we talked about in networking techniques and approaches do play out in that sort of approach and can lead to that sense of impostor syndrome, so yes, one of the absolutely most important things is to have a support network around you, yeah? So that someone says to you, you can do this.  

 

00:22:01 Louise  

Exactly, yeah.  

 

00:22:01 Cheryl  

You know we are here for you to help you do this.  

 

So when those dips in self-confidence come along, there’s someone there who can see it and be supportive and make you feel better.  

00:22:11 Louise  

I think sometimes we are our own worst critics, so it doesn’t hurt to have a cheerleading squad around us to boost us up.  

 

00:22:17 Cheryl  

Yeah yeah yeah, and to help us to remember how to take praise. You know that that, just say no, you need to hear this. You know you’re doing a great job and, you know, myself, I also need that.  

 

I mean, it’s really great to hear feedback from people when they’re happy and it kind of makes you feel like you’re on the right track. So any of those little doubts that you can potentially feel, yeah, they it helps them go away

 

00:22:49 Louise  

I think that’s an interesting point, I mean, you’re the CEO, you’re the owner, you are Women’s Network Australia, and for a lot of women who run their own businesses, it’s them at the top and the difference between when you work for somebody else and when you work for yourself is you know there’s another manager, there’s someone else to give you that feedback, but when it’s you in charge of everything, how do you find that validation? Like, how do you know that you’re on the right track.  

 

00:23:17 Cheryl  

It’s a good question, and for me, it’s actually seeing the people around me succeed like it’s actually seeing the members really fire that validates it for me. Yeah, I know it must be going right if they’re happy, and if what they’re trying to put forward, whether it’s their business or they’re not-for-profit, charity, if they’re getting the results that they’re after, that for me, is what makes me feel good. Yeah, you’re right, you don’t necessarily always hear “hey, you’re doing a good thing.”  

 

Yeah, but there are people that I know that if I do get a bit shaky I can kind of go hey, what do you reckon about this” and they’ll give me honest feedback, but they will also probably give me a little pat on the head, but sometimes I think we all need to just go OK, yep, you know I can keep going.  

 

I can keep doing that and that is important for anyone in any position, you know. But yeah, I think most of the time if I’m seeing the members happy and connecting, and the conversations that are sparked around the room, you just go “Wow, look at this, this is amazing” and that makes me feel great.  

 

00:24:30 Louise  

I think one of those differences again between men and women in the way that we do business, maybe men have never struggled to ask for mentors and support because it’s been a done thing, but women don’t necessarily go out and ask.  

 

00:24:41 Cheryl  

No, we’re pretty hopeless at it, I reckon. I think, as you know, we just try to be perfect. We just try so hard. 

 

00:24:49 Louise  

What do you mean we can’t be everything all the time?

 

00:24:52 Cheryl  

And we try to do it all ourselves and I’m guilty of this all the time. I’m a terrible delegator, as you know.  

 

00:24:59 Louise  

I mean, that’s an off air conversation.  

 

00:25:03 Cheryl  

But it’s that sense of well, I’ve just got to do it and we just yeah, we aren’t good at saying, hey, maybe I can get someone to do this for me, or maybe I can get someone to help me do this.  

 

I don’t really understand why that is, but certainly I think a lot of women would understand that feeling pretty well, I want to say the patriarchy.  

 

00:25:27 Louise  

The patriarchy, that’s why that is spraying down.  

 

00:25:31 Cheryl  

Sounds like we’re.  

 

00:25:31 Louise  

Gonna have no no but we we.  

 

00:25:31 Cheryl  

I have a little boy.  

 

00:25:33 Louise  

We love supportive men so.  

 

00:25:35 Cheryl  

Yeah yeah, and look, let’s face it, you don’t have to dig too hard when you’re talking to women who among their support network it’s not exclusively women, you know. It’s a supportive partner. It’s a supportive father. It’s a supportive, you know, male friend.  

 

I don’t think that support network is an exclusively male or female thing because everybody can offer different things in that relationship. So yeah, you know we love our men and I have to say that too ’cause I’ve got two boys.  

 

00:26:05 Louise  

So they forced you to say that otherwise they’ll pee on the floor of the bathroom. That’s what they’ll do.  

 

00:26:11 Cheryl  

No no no. That’s a great thing. It’s actually a really interesting thing that I’ve observed that you know, the young men I’m seeing are incredibly supportive of the girls, you know, in their peer groups, and I’m really taken by their reactions to, you know, some of the things as issues come up, which is really heartening, which is a great thing.  

 

00:26:34 Louise  

And it’s a credit to you as a mother though, because strong women raise good boys.  

 

00:26:39 Cheryl  

Well, you know we’re not quite there yet, but anyway, we’re going, we’re doing the best we can.  

 

00:26:43 Louise  

So besides the podcast, then what are the other benefits to being a part of this network of women?  

00:26:49 Cheryl  

There’s both the tangible benefits, and there’s intangible benefits, and some of those intangible benefits, I think you know, are really important, and researchers and the studies that are out there talk about how women in particular are more likely to succeed and we all can argue about the definition of success, but are more likely to succeed if they are part of a network and when they talk about success, it’s things like promotions, it’s things like moving up the ladder, so to speak, which may not happen if they don’t have a network and, often within that network is a mentor or mentors to help them to succeed, so that’s a really important one.  

 

You know that if we’re ever going to bridge the gender pay gap, then that’s a really important thing, so you know, I’ll defer to the research, is about the benefits of that, but the other intangible one is through networks like ours, we support a number of really great charities. These and the positive feeling that you get by helping someone else through helping their charity just makes you feel good, and that’s really important.  

 

It is a common connector, you know, within a group of people. If they feel that they not only are linked by membership of something, but there’s a common cause that they support or have contributed to or volunteered to assist with, so there’s all those spinoffs that come through being part of, you know, a network like ours.  

 

00:28:34 Louise  

You can’t be what you can’t see as well, I think. They like having all these visibly, truly wonderful women to actually see.  

 

00:28:41 Cheryl  

True, yeah, and you know what? What I find is and actually what I encourage is I think people should be in multiple networks. Be in a professional association or a group, whether you’re an accountant or a journalist or whatever, be amongst peers in your profession and get their feedback, and guidance from a professional level but also look for diversity. Look to be with different people.  

 

If you’re only hanging out with accountants or lawyers all the time, are you actually seeing a cross-slice of the community and society and seeing different people?  

 

So I think there’s real benefits for women to be in multiple organisations, and whether it’s an art club or it’s a sort of, you know, a hobby related activity, where again they’re mixing with different people as well as sort of a professional focus, like those different organisations, but something that also allows you to cut across so you know we see everything from sole traders who are working from home to CEOs of ASX listed companies and you kind of say well, what, why are you here, like what are you getting out of this?  

 

And a lot of the time it’s just friendship and support, and to just hear from women about women stuff. You know the juggle, the challenge, the, all of that stuff, where you can just get together and talk about it in front of other people.  

 

00:30:18 Louise  

Who get it, yeah.  

 

00:30:20 Cheryl  

Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, I think diversity is a really important thing. We’re not into, you know, tribes and like there’s sort of, there’s been some kind of really, I think language around some groups that are really wanting to be quite exclusive and closed off and I don’t feel comfortable with that.  

 

You know I think it’s about bringing people, of lots of different thoughts, backgrounds, diversity together and sharing that knowledge and information rather than saying you’re not part of my tribe,

I don’t think that that’s really what it’s about.  

 

00:31:00 Louise  

Have you got a crystal ball?  

 

00:31:03 Cheryl  

No, I don’t. I have a crystal.  

 

00:31:06 Louise  

Maybe we can use it to peer into and see if we can work out what Women’s Network’s going to look like as we head into the future.  

 

00:31:12 Cheryl  

Well, you know, look, there’s something really humbling actually taking over something that’s been around for 30 years because so many things, these days, fly by night. Here today gone tomorrow, but I think the fundamentals of an organization, and like Women’s Network Australia and the concept of women getting together to support each other is the long lasting concept.  

 

So I think we have an opportunity through the network to do more with younger women and to use their knowledge and experience, and you know all of the learnings that we have as women to share with the younger, the next generation of young business women who are starting now, whether they want to hang out with a bunch of cranky old ladies, I don’t know, but I think to sit down with any woman who has had the experience of having a business, failing in business, getting up and starting again, plus personal challenges along the way, is worth listening to, and you know we can all learn so much from each other, so I think there’s a real opportunity to bring and you know, we’ve already started doing that.  

 

I would have to say it was really pleasing that, in our latest magazine, we’ve had a special section called Up and Comers, and we’ve highlighted three young women in that section. The youngest is 15, who started their own businesses and they’re out there and they’re doing amazing things. They’ve built their website, they’re doing their marketing, they’ve connected with the network. They are really inspiring.

 

00:32:53 Louise  

What were you doing at 15 not starting a business?  

 

00:32:54 Cheryl  

Oh look, I think it was probably dancing to ABBA songs in the lounge room, yeah, definitely.  I didn’t actually know what business was when I was 15.

 

00:33:02 Louise  

I would have been playing my Sega master system, I reckon, back then.  

 

00:33:07 Cheryl  

That’s impressive, yeah, but these are really impressive young women, and they’ve seen the benefit of being part of a network of business women, so I’m really excited to see where we go with them, but I’m also excited to see where technology takes us.  

 

What will technology do in terms of our networking capabilities, if anything I think it’ll be bigger and wider and more diverse, you know, more women from wherever they might be in the world at any point in time.  

 

00:33:38 Louise  

And the WNA Trail Blazers podcast is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of being able to connect with women from all around the country to hear their great stories.  

 

00:33:47 Cheryl  

Absolutely, Louise, and it’s a great opportunity to both look back and look forward through the eyes of these Trail Blazers.  

 

We look back through Lynette Palmen, who founded Women’s Network Australia 30 years ago, and then we look forward in terms of what’s happening in the retail space you know, retails by the very nature of being retail, they’ve had to be trail blazers and look at new ways to keep, you know, sparkly, shiny things to keep us consumers focused and spending money.  

 

And then we talked to Faith Agugu from Silver Sirens who is redefining aging for women, not exclusively for women, but for women in particular, and what she’s doing in terms of just shaking things up around our attitude.  

 

00:34:29 Louise  

So exciting, I love it.  The teasers for the next few episodes are absolutely brilliant. This is going to be fantastic Cheryl, I’m excited to embark on this trailblazing project with you.  

 

How can our audience connect with Women’s Network Australia?  

 

00:34:42 Cheryl  

Well look, keep listening for a start because we’ve got more episodes coming and they are really exciting and those women are just so amazing and really worth listening to.  

 

But you can also find us on the website womensnetwork.com.au and on all social media platforms. Just look for Women’s Network Australia.  

 

00:35:01 Louise  

Next time on Women’s Network Australia Trailblazers.

 

00:35:04 Lynette Palmen  

I found myself in positions of opportunity and networking is not about making sales. It’s about putting yourself in the proximity of opportunities. Being able to recognize them and being able to act on that.  

 

00:35:19 Louise  

Women’s Network Australia founder Lynette Palmen takes us back to where it all began 30 years ago and shares her story creating the vibrant network that we have today.  

 

Women Network Australia Trail Blazers. Amplifying the stories of women in business.  

 

Follow us from this podcasting app and be the first to hear new episodes.  

 

Excited to Share your story with our network? Follow the Contact Us link in the show notes to let us know.  Women Network Australia Trail Blazers is a Welcome Change Media production.

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