The co-founder and CEO of the WIE Network, Dee Poku, created an empowering global conference and community for women leaders. The objective of the conference is to bring like-minded women together so they can learn from both failures and successes. With her past experience as a Hollywood studio executive at Paramount Pictures and Focus Features, Poku understands how vital it is to have a supportive network.
“In order to be truly successful, you need to have a wonderful, supportive network around you,” she said. “Having a network can bring you great success in your personal life and in your career.”
The relationships you form at networking events or happy hours could possibly lead to great opportunities for your next job. For example, Poku met a man while attending a film festival for work and kept in touch with him. He later became the President of Paramount Pictures and when he needed someone for the position of head international marketing, she was the first person he thought of because they had maintained communication. Poku attributes her success to networking and relationship building skills providing her with many wonderful career opportunities during Office Hours with Levo League.
6 Tips for building your network
1. Go out
Even if an event’s invite list intimidates you or the attendees seem out of your usual social circle, go to the event. “I think it’s important, particularly when it’s something you’re not quite sure you want to go to, that you do go,” said Poku.
2. Arrive early
Entering a room full of strangers is significantly easier when you’re one of the first people there. When other people arrive after you, they are forced to approach you and therefore relieve you of that pressure.
3. Make many connections
“Don’t be a snob and don’t prejudge,” said Poku. Everyone has an interesting story if you take the time to reach out and get to know them – so try connecting with as many people as possible at networking or professional events. The cool looking, unapproachable girl in the corner might just be extremely shy; and that shy geek in the corner could go on to become the next Marisa Mayer she explained.
4. Have no fear
When Poku started her first job out of school, the media promotions agency she was employed by had a training technique in which they would take their new recruits to a crowded bar and select an intimidating stranger. They would then instruct the recruit to introduce themselves and talk with the person for at least 10 minutes. This was absolutely terrifying to 21-year-old Poku, but she believes it was an incredible learning experience that has helped her in her life and career.
5. Plan your attack
If you want to connect with someone who intimidates you, such as an executive at your company or a celebrity, Poku suggests creating a strategy in advance of what you plan to discuss. Consider what your opening sentence will be so that engage them right away. You could reference something they have done recently that is newsworthy and admirable. Everyone loves compliments!
6. Be yourself
“No one likes a fake and it can be spotted from miles away,” said Poku. Enough said.
What are your thoughts on the importance of networking?
To learn how to benefit from this network, watch Office Hours with Dee Poku!
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