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How to Network in a New Networking Era

21/03/18

Get Your Networking Game Face On

Female activism has loomed large in the news agenda of late. The #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns have garnered worldwide attention and, in the year that sees us mark the 100th anniversary of women in the UK winning the right to vote, there is a palpable sense of change in the air.

But we’re still a long way from achieving full gender equality and the UK games industry is still challenged with women making up less than 20% of the UK workforce. Achieving a major shift that brings more women into the industry will be dependent upon a range of factors including industry awareness, positive action for change and attraction of women from other fields into our sector. Change, of course, also needs to come from within and by strengthening their professional networks, women in the games industry can open up new opportunities for advancement.

Enjoy the Room

Networking in an industry that is 80% male can be a daunting task, especially when it come to the workshops, business breakfasts and drinks gatherings that traditionally surround major conferences.

But with a few handy tips, launching yourself in to the networking fray needn’t be a nightmare. Yes, you’re entering a room full of people (and probably lots of men) who you may not know but there are some things you can do to make the whole experience less more rewarding.

Do your prep; having a confident introduction prepped that concisely explains who you are, what you do and who you work for is invaluable. Not only will it make you feel more relaxed when striking up conversations – knowing you won’t be reaching for words, but it will ensure key information is shared at the outset, if you only have a short time to spend with fellow networkers.

Hone your listening skills; people, male and female alike, like to talk about themselves so give them the opportunity. Ask them to talk you though their story - it’s a great way of identifying if you might have something to offer them.

Speak with authority; you know your stuff so don’t forget it. Speaking in a confident informed manner leaves a lasting impression. Don’t be afraid to join discussions and express your expert point of view.

Learn from the best; female mentors play a crucial role in helping to advance women in the workplace and this applies to the networking arena too. Do you have a female colleague who is always at ease in networking situations and adept at making connections? Ask them how they do it, then adapt their approach to suit your own personality.

Above all, it helps to take the pressure off yourself in networking sessions by seeing them as an opportunity to meet like-minded new people and strike up mutually beneficial relationships. It’s less about ‘working the room’ than enjoying it.

New Networking Era

Of course, things have moved on since the days where networking was limited to standing in a room full of strangers, hoping to make a meaningful connection. A plethora of female-friendly networking options is available now, from events to meet-up groups to messaging apps; all geared to help women in the tech industry collaborate, develop and influence.

Doing a brilliant  job of developing supportive networks for women in technology are meet-up groups such as www.girlgeeks.uk, a leading, national professional community ‘where women are inspired, make connections, share expertise and collaborate to encourage personal development’. More role -specific groups include  www.ladiesthatux.com, www.ladiesofcode.com  and, on the AR/VR side, www.unfolduk.org a networking community that powers inclusion in immersive tech.

For those of us who prefer to network from our desks, messaging groups and social media offer instant access to like-minded women in technology. These will range from groups like our very own G into Gaming to invite only set-ups such as the Women In Technology Slack Group, a safe, confidential space for women who work in technology to chat and support each other.

Make New Connections Today

It’s crucial that we all strive to develop our professional networks, no matter what our preferred method might be. Networking helps us to push for progress from within the industry, broadening our own horizons and supporting other women who are seeking to make an impact in games. With strong networks in place women can accelerate change – shifting the balance sooner rather than later. So drum up the courage and stride into that networking session today, it could be the start of something revolutionary.

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