Are you being yourself, when you network?

September 27, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Posted in Networking Tips | 2 Comments
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I once read an article in The Times, titled “Why women are such bad networkers”. The premise for the article was actually “Women are not natural networkers”.

Women are naturally curious and therefore make great networkers but are they confident enough to be themselves when networking?

I would partially agree with the female journalist – but only partially.

Following years networking in a mixed gender environment, when I joined The Athena Network, I heaved a sigh of relief.

Spending most of my networking time with people who appreciate the value of building relationships is like a breath of fresh air. Generally, the women in Athena are not just interested in talking about their product or service; they want to get to know each other.  It’s refreshing to be part of a conversation where there is curiosity.

I get curious though when I hear women say “I’m not a confident networker” or “I can’t be myself when I network”, as if networking requires training and the acquisition of new skills.  Networking requires the ability to communicate and connect.  It’s about building relationships and that’s what women are good at.  If you believe you have to be someone else, just because you are “networking” or are in a business environment, it’s likely to reduce your confidence.    What would it take for you to have the confidence to just be yourself?  I use the word “just” because it’s that easy.  After all, who else are you going to be?

In order to refer my contacts to someone else, I want to know the person I am referring to.   I want to know if I can trust them and whether they have similar values to me.   Knowledge and trust are likely to be significant in any future business dealings we may have with each other and crucial if we are to feel comfortable referring on to third parties.

Don’t under-estimate the power of that all-important follow-up meeting – the “1 to 1”.  In a networking environment, ten minutes with another person is enough to get a sense of whether you would like the relationship to develop.  Then it’s time to exchange business cards and move on.  The follow-up and really getting to know each other comes later.  How many women don’t have the skill to sit and chat to another woman and get to know her? Isn’t that part of networking?

Where I do believe the Times’ journalist has a point in her indictment of women’s ability to network, is in her observation that “we are more likely than our male peers to hide our talents”. She’s right. Men do appear to have got over that “terribly British” affliction of being “frightfully” modest, so why can’t we?

I think we need to start changing some of our assumptions and fears about what others might think about us if we publicly declare our skills, qualities and values.

Think about what would compel you to do business with someone else or refer them on. Just knowing what they do? Or also knowing they have integrity and are enthusiastic, talented and well-thought of?

Well, they are likely to want to know that about you too but how can they if you don’t tell them?  It’s great to be curious and a good listener AND to network effectively you also need to be confident about who you are and what you do.

Come on girls – we’re natural relationship builders so let’s get over ourselves and show people what we’re made of so we become natural networkers too.

We need to replace our modesty with confidence and our fear of derision by a belief that people want to know about our talents. To quote Marianne Williamson: “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

Juliette Smith

Why consider a Prenuptial Agreement?

September 27, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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Woman writingJulie-Ann Burger has over 20 years’ experience in Family Practice, having concentrated virtually exclusively on this area of the law during this time.

As a trained collaborative lawyer Julie-Ann is committed to the process of resolving issues whilst preserving the dignity of the parties and maintaining family relationships where possible, which is of particular importance where children are involved.

Julie-Ann has been a member of The Athena Network for nearly three years and is the Chair Person of our Reading Central Athena group.   Her genuine warmth and sense of humour are very obvious when she leads our meetings – important qualities for someone dealing with such a sensitive subject as Family Law.

This month she shares why she would recommend that anyone entering a committed relationship should consider a Prenuptial Agreement.


Trust and good communication are at the heart of all successful relationships whether personal or business.

When we think about entering what we hope will be a long term business relationship it is not unusual to set out obligations and responsibilities and financial arrangements at all stages, including what will happen in the event the relationship ends.  More and more people are considering doing something similar in their personal relationships.

I am of course talking about Prenuptial Agreements.  Popular with couples where one has accumulated assets before the marriage, or where there are children of a previous relationship, we see more and more of these as time passes.

We can’t stress enough how much heartache could be avoided if, as you plan your life together, you include amidst those (hopefully!) harmonious discussions, what would work for both of you should your relationship unfortunately fail.  Although somewhat unromantic, a Prenuptional Agreement would help you avoid an acrimonious dispute if this were to happen. We can help you by drafting such and thus help provide security for your future and ensure peace of mind.

Following the landmark case of the German heiress (Radmacher and Granatino in 2010 ) where her husband unsuccessfully claimed a share of her substantial fortune, Prenuptial Agreements are likely to be upheld by a UK Court as long as a number of elements are present, such as disclosure of financial arrangements, and both parties obtaining independent legal advice.

What better way to settle the terms of a Prenuptial Agreement than to sit down with your partner and your lawyers for an hour or two and work out together “what works for you?”  We are back to trust and good communication and what more likely time for these to be present than when you are in love!

If you are thinking that a Prenuptial Agreement may be appropriate for you or somebody you know, and you want to find out more about this or matters pertaining to family law, see and

Julie-Ann Burger
E J Winter & Son LLP
Tel: 0118 9574424

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