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LeadHER highlights hot topics that impact women in the profession, the latest WIFS news, and important industry updates. We invite our members and industry thought leaders to submit articles to be featured in upcoming monthly LeadHER blog posts. Please email office@wifsnational.org if you're interested in providing an article that aligns with the following topics:

May 2020

The Kevin Bacon Effect, or How I Learned to Stop Networking and Start Connecting

Network graphic

By Beverly Seinberg, WIFS National

Several years ago, I attended a community “networking event” for women. I had been laid off from a job I’d held for almost 20 years and was having trouble finding another. A friend suggested I attend in hopes of making a connection that would lead to new employment.

Although I’d rather have root canal than make small talk with strangers, I went for it. I had business cards printed advertising my skills, dressed in my best business attire, and walked into what I have since come to call the Desperation Derby – because “Hunger Games” was taken.

Everyone in that room was looking for something. There were unemployed women – like me – looking for jobs. There were business owners looking for new clients. There was even a multilevel marketing “consultant” looking to build her downline. (If you’re blessedly unaware of what MLM means, think Amway, Herbalife and other legal pyramid schemes.) In short, everyone there was trying to get something, and nobody there had anything to give.

I haven’t been to a networking session since – mainly because I received a job offer shortly afterward, no thanks to that night – but the word “networking” still makes me think of events like that one.

Then, through WIFS’ Tuesdays at Two webinar on April 21, I “met” Kari Mirabal, an IT recruiter-turned-networking coach and author of “You Already Have the No.” Kari’s presentation, based on her book, had lots of advice about what I think of as capital-N Networking -- building relationships to help one’s professional growth -- but she also shared two memorable stories that didn’t fit that mold.

One day, she was on the phone with a client who had recently lost his job as a high-level manager with a major retailer. The man cleaning Kari’s swimming pool overheard the conversation and told her he also serviced the pool of a district manager for the company’s largest competitor. Kari had him deliver her client’s resume and business card on his next visit to this customer – and you can guess the ending.

Kari’s son dreamed of a certain job with another major retailer, but it had a minimum age requirement for the position, and he wasn’t there yet. During a visit to a competing retailer, Kari met a young employee who was doing essentially the same job her son wanted. She learned this young man aspired to a full-time IT position. She helped him polish up his resume and LinkedIn profile and gave him some job-search tips. Within three weeks he had three offers in his chosen field – and shortly afterward, Kari’s son had his former position at the store. (He’s still there.)

The moral of these stories is that networking isn’t about schmoozing CEOs and passing out business cards. It’s a game of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” where anyone you meet may know someone who can help you, or someone you know – or need help that you, or someone you know, can give them.

The opportunity to network is one of the most valuable benefits WIFS offers. In taking advantage of that benefit, however, we shouldn’t keep our capital-N Network contacts separate from our small-c connections. A professional colleague might be the source of a career opportunity, but she may also have a connection to someone who can address a personal issue – and vice versa.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, as we spend more time in the virtual space, let’s save room for personal connections. Webinars and other virtual educational programs are important but it’s those online coffee hours, luncheons and happy hours – including those put on by our WIFS Chapters -- where members can chat about their lives, their families and their personal challenges and use their connections to help solve those challenges.

Maybe Jane in Cleveland mentions at a virtual coffee hour that her son is struggling with schoolwork since classes went online. Jill in Boston hears this and remembers that her neighbor’s mother is a retired teacher. Jane hires Jill’s neighbor’s mom to tutor her son via Skype. Later, when Jill’s niece in Akron is looking for work in the financial field, Jill knows just whom to hook her up with for advice and possible job leads.

We are seeing new success stories created every day as WIFS National, our Chapters and our members continue to forge those connections, which will benefit members long after the pandemic is over. Please reach out to us if you’d like to know more – and please stay healthy and safe.

The author is a member of the WIFS National communications team. A version of this article first appeared at adgcommunications.com/association-buzz.

© 2020 Women in Insurance and Financial Services. All Rights Reserved.

By Marie Swift, President and CEO, Impact Communications

To many progressive advisors and industry thought leaders, social media is essential in terms of digital marketing and online presence. On the flip side, many advisors are still, when it comes to social media, confused about what to do and how to do it. Maybe you’ve taken a step into the social media waters and are doing OK with the basic strategies, but are not sure what to do next. Perhaps you have heard other advisors’ success stories and have seen them doing great things online, but can’t figure out how they do it and feel way behind. You might also be in the camp that wonders, “Why bother? What’s the big deal? Things are fine at my firm without all the social media distractions.”

In this article – and the webinar I presented on May 13, 2020 for WIFS, I will try to convince you that social media is important for boosting your online presence. I’ll also try to help you clarify your thinking and determine a good social media strategy.

Read the complete article here.

By Ande Frazier, CFP®, CLU, ChFC, RICP, BFA(tm), ChSNC

As a self-described planner, I am always making a list and getting organized for every event. No, I am not a control freak, well most of the time, but I do believe that being prepared and planning ahead can allow you to be calmer in the face of chaos.

It wasn’t too long ago I remember listening to the news talk about preparing for SuperStorm Sandy. As a New York resident, I was certainly concerned about what would happen when the storm hit. I gathered the necessary items they suggested and felt calm knowing that in the event the worst happened, I was at least as prepared as possible.

With the concerns about viruses, weather disasters, and other unforeseen events, it occurred to me that while we may have extra bottles of water, medicine and canned food, how prepared are we for a financial emergency?

Read the complete article here.

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For more than 80 years, WIFS has been committed to attracting, developing and advancing women in the insurance and financial services profession. Members, partners, exhibitors and sponsors benefit from connection and mutual respect for professional development and education-focused interaction rather than career opportunity promotion.