I attended the Enbridge Famous 5 Foundation luncheon last week. It is a series of lunches that profile women, who talk about their experiences from and passion along the path to their extraordinarily successful careers. These events draw a largely-female audience, but males are encouraged to also attend. I believe last week there were two, approximately 90% of the male attendees, at my table.
Honourable Anne McLellan told tales and provided her insight and experiences as a female working in politics, having served four terms as the MP for the Edmonton Centre. She spoke of gender-specific observations and issues she experienced over the years, but her largest challenges were not gender related, but rather those resulting from working for the Liberal party in the very Conservative province of Alberta.
She tried her best to encourage all females to step up and have a voice by getting involved in politics in any way possible. Having seen Al Gore's speech back to back with Anne McLellan's, the message is very loud and clear that the way to have a voice and create change is in politics. She said the number of educated females today is higher than males, so more women are entering the workforce but the women holding positions of power currently are at levels far from acceptable.
McLellan's story about networking really stuck with me. Working for Cybera, the first thing that comes to mind is fibre, high-speed, connections. I would also tend to think of the other definition: the act of meeting new people in a business or social context. This is the definition Anne was referring to. She told the story of the Famous 5 women, and how they were experts at networking. Their network was extremely effective and merely consisted of the five of them, tea, and a table. Fast forward 50 years and networking is all about business cards, mingling, food and drink (not so much tea anymore). The take home message is this: when it comes to networking, it is the people that are important, not the venue, and building a network of diverse people is very helpful for any (female) professional.