Everybody’s heard the old line, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” However, for most people, the idea of networking can be daunting at best — dreaded at worst.
The Junior League of New Orleans and The Idea Village aimed to help take some of the fear and uncertainty out of this necessary career skill for local businesswomen in a free event called “Networking for Women Who Need to Know How to Network.”
“One of the best skills businesswomen can have is to be good networkers,” said Katherine Raymond, JLNO board president. “People who are good at building relationships can use that skill throughout their careers. So many studies have shown that good networkers tend to be more confident and able to navigate the business landscape more effectively. They also tend to be more confident about starting a business, if that’s what they wish to do.” More than 100 women have attended the first two sessions.
The final event in a collaborative series promoting the potential of women, “How She Did It: Tales of Female Entrepreneurs,” will be held from noon to 2 p.m. March 25 at Fulton Alley, 600 Fulton St. It is free and open to the public.
Raymond said it was with an aim to this last point — increasing the number of local women entrepreneurs — that the Junior League decided to partner with The Idea Village to create the three-part series. The networking event was the second event in the series.
“Tim Williamson (co-founder of The Idea Village) spoke at an event during our ‘year end’ last May about how women needed to ‘let it go’ like the song in ‘Frozen,’ ” Raymond said. “He talked about how women tended to be more afraid when it comes to becoming an entrepreneur.”
Raymond said the Junior League met with Williamson not long after, during which time he expressed his concern about the lack of women entrepreneurs in New Orleans. “We began to talk about how we could increase women’s confidence and the result was this series,” she said.
The first event in the series, “How She Did It: Four Women Surviving and Thriving in Male-Dominated Industries,” took place in December. The panel included Kiki Baker Barnes, athletic director for Dillard University; Dana Stumpf, CAO of Durr Heavy Construction; Aimee Quirk, senior adviser for economic development to Mayor Mitch Landrieu; and Suzanne Haik Terrell, partner with Hangartner Rydberg and Terrell.
“We had close to about 100 women attend,” Raymond said. “It was a really great event.
For the second part of the series, the networking event was more hands-on. The evening began with an icebreaker designed to help attendees make a few meaningful connections. The evening’s speaker, Sandra Lindquist, vice president of operations and membership development for the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, then spoke on the importance of networking and how to go about it.
“Even those who don’t want to admit it struggle with how to navigate an event when they know no one or wonder what is the appropriate way to follow up on connections made at an event,” Raymond said. “Sandra gave clear, concise information the attendees could immediately begin using.”
The final event includes a professional panel and will be held during Idea Village’s Entrepreneur Week. The panel will feature four JLNO sustaining members: Susan Brennan, president and CEO of Second Line Stages; Suzanne Perron, founder and designer of Suzanne Perron; Betsie Gambel, president of Gambel Communications; and Heidi Redmond Raines, president and CEO of Medical Executive Partners.
Moderated by Raymond, the panel members will each share the challenges they’ve faced, the successes they’ve had and the lessons they’ve learned in their respective careers.