It can be difficult for busy capital markets professionals to find the time or energy to network, and making those connections can be especially difficult for women who don’t always have the same access to senior leadership as their male counterparts.
Organizations like Women in Capital Markets and Ten Thousand Coffees have created programs and developed technology to make those interactions easier and help people find mentors who can provide feedback and advice along the way. But there are a few things that any would-be networker or mentee should keep in mind.
Here are some tips from some of the industry’s most seasoned networkers:
Jennifer Reynolds, President and CEO, Toronto Finance International:“Networking, getting to know people, developing relationships – both internally within your organization and externally – is critically important. The more senior you get in your career, the more it’s about bringing in business and (the) relationships that you have, having access to information – all those things make you valuable. It’s got to be part of your regular routine. Often we recognize this later in our career, but it’s good advice for young people to just start doing it right away. Sometimes a great opportunity can come to you through a conversation.”
Jacqueline Szeto-Meiers, Director of Investment Programs, Canso Investment Counsel Ltd.:“People sometimes will try to network only thinking about themselves – they’re looking for a new job or advice – and that can make potential contacts hesitant, making it harder to connect. You should just network to enlarge your circle, find common interests with the people you meet and look for opportunities to offer help and advice yourself, if possible.”
Melissa Leong, author of the award-winning finance guide, Happy Go Money: “I’ve had mentors since I was in high school. I have always sought them out. I continue to seek them out and I continue to seek out a community of like-minded women who I can text with gripes or call to ask about the going-rate for this or that. In university, I befriended a journalist and eventually sent him my work to ask his opinion. He eviscerated the article and I loved it. It meant I had someone in my corner who would help me be better. Ten years later, we’d share a cubicle at the National Post. The more empowered you feel by those you’ve chosen to surround yourself with, the more you can empower others.”
Camilla Sutton, President and CEO, Women in Capital Markets:“Anyone who’s ever mentored recognizes, at the completion of that relationship, that there was actually a lot more that they took away from that experience than they anticipated at the beginning. We have mentors that are both men and women, and particularly for the men, it gives them a really easy access point into the diversity and inclusion dialogue – which a lot of them are really interested in being part of – and they have tremendous experience to share.”
Dave Wilkin, Founder, Ten Thousand Coffees:“A lot of times in networking people look for people that are like them (but) it’s actually people that are different than them that are the ones that can create the most value and exchange of knowledge. The challenge of that is that when people don’t look like you, you immediately think you don’t have a reason to have a conversation, but it’s actually the opposite: It’s not only a way for you to learn more about yourself but also a way of figuring out a new idea that you probably wouldn’t have thought of without that experience.”