Neo-Networking: Meaningful connections wrought not on the basis of a firm handshake but being open, true to purpose, and generous in spirit.

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Kaleido recently attended an event with a not-so familiar title ‘Neo-Networking.’ An event hosted by SheSays Sydney, which included a lineup of awesome female speakers, was already enough to get us through the door… But we were still really intrigued by the term neo-networking, and why it is important for us to add to our vocab. The really refreshing thing about this sort of networking event was the casual opportunity to mingle with everyone in a really relaxed environment, with conversations sparking even before the speakers came on. Nena Salobir (One Woman Agency), Kate Armstrong (Project OKYO), and Mahira Sobral (COMMUNE) each gave their spiel on what neo-networking meant to them, reminding us that it is important to have an open attitude towards meeting new people and creating new opportunities at the same time.

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Networking was one of those things that she would avoid if possible, but when Nena realised you can tailor networking to work the way you want it to, the experience can actually be fun and rewarding at the same time. Her way of tackling networking was through her love for illustration. She started the @selfportraitsociety project, calling out to others for their portrait to be drawn, with hers being drawn in return. The result: an array of different portraits each capturing how that person perceives the other to be. The bonus result: Engaging with people you wouldn’t normally meet otherwise.

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Kate has been surrounded with “people-people” from a young age, with her father captivating her with stories from all the people he has met in his life. Since then she has started her own networking event called Just Drinks, inviting creatives to meet in a relaxed environment. Everyone meets at a local creative venue in Sydney to have some drinks and form personal connections rather than exchange handshakes and business cards. The only catch: You must bring a friend with you. Kaleido teamed up with Just Drinks earlier this year to add collage to the equation, you can check out the night here.

Travelling all over the globe meant that Mahira was always open to meeting new friends and forming partnerships wherever she settled and she moved to Sydney to do exactly that. Before she arrived, she sent out emails to workspaces she felt would fit her style. COMMUNE happened to be one of those places, and she instantly fell in love with it upon arrival. Despite COMMUNE not having any jobs going at that time, she knew she wanted a piece of it. So she volunteered to help out at an event and it paid off, being offered a position within a few days.

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“Get involved with something you love, because nothing can go wrong.” – Mahira

After the speakers, everyone was asked to participate in a series of interactive networking activities. One of these being to stare into the eyes of a stranger for 1 minute without saying anything… It was safe to say that this was initially awkward, but as soon as the timer was up, it was as if all the awkwardness of meeting someone new had vanished. You could both have a laugh about it and feel comfortable enough to start a conversation.

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The night was a great eye-opener to Neo-Networking, and it was amazing to hear how these inspiring women were already putting the concept into practice in the creative community. So next time you feel hesitant about networking, hold your head up and find a way to tailor the experience to suit you and go in with an open mind. The new connections could make all the difference.

Sponsored by COMMUNE, TotallyHer and Sofi Spritz.