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Networking

While we celebrate the whole month as Woman's Month in South Africa, with numerous events and celebrations, it really is about August 9th, 1956 when approximately 20 000 women marched on Pretoria to deliver a petition to JG Strydom, the Prime Minister.

Led by Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Albertina Sisulu and Sophia Williams-De Bruyn, some carrying the children of their employers on their backs, they stood in silence for 30 minutes, in a powerful objection to the "pass" that black South Africans had to carry at all times.

A frequent question is why do we still need a woman's day and woman's organisations.   And I guess it is because much has changed since 1956, but there is still a long way to go.

There is a view out there that successful women don't help other women grow.   Sure, not every successful woman is a natural mentor or sponsor, but a lot are.   In South Africa, women are being offered many opportunities to meet, and build relationships with, top women in every area of both corporate and public life.

I attend a number of functions, both as a speaker, and to network, and invite the young women I meet to contact me, either via LinkedIn or eMail.   Very few do.   So I thought it was me, until I discussed it with some of my colleagues, and discovered that most have the same experience.

After a networking function, take the business cards you have gathered, and,within 24 hours, send an eMail to the people with whom you believe you have made a  positive connection.  Share a little about yourself, tell them how much you enjoyed meeting them, and suggest that you connect either on Social Media or by meeting again.

The majority of people will be flattered by the follow up, and will respond positively.  Some won't but don't give up.    Enjoy the events and treat growing your network as a great side effect. Building a network is about persevering, but not stalking!     And then, once you have built a great network of your own, share your experience with others.

I first heard the phrase "Lift while you Grow" some years ago, and trying to live by it can be disappointing, is often challenging but mostly is incredibly rewarding.

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