Cate Luzio worked in corporate America for 20 years when she decided she was ready to do something very different and become an entrepreneur.
Her dream was to create a networking space for professional women in New York City—and she did it, using her own money to create a 15,000-square foot space, complete with nursing rooms, a salon/beauty bar, fitness studio, and more.
In late 2018, she opened the doors to Luminary, a membership-based career and personal growth platform and collaboration hub for women.
One year later, Covid hit.
After already having to navigate what she said was the most significant new experience of being an entrepreneur—everything came down to her—she now faced the challenge of running a collaboration hub during a pandemic.
The silver lining, she said, was that she learned to innovate fast. The result: She turned Luminary into a global, inclusive collaboration hub, with both physical spaces and a robust digital platform that delivered more than 400 programs in 2020.
Along the way, she observed several things about women and networking that might help you as we continue to operate in a virtual world of work. Here are highlights from a recent conversation with the Conferences for Women:
Three Ways to Improve Your Networking
- Reframe your idea of it. “I think there has to be a mind-shift change around networking,” Luzio says. “Men don’t use term ‘networking.’ They just do it. They say: I’ve got to talk to this person. They tap into relationships.”
- As women, she adds, “we have to remove the mental barrier that networking is tough. All you are doing is creating a conversation, taking part in a discussion, building relationships. That’s what networking is—and doing it strategically.”
- Make the most of Zoom. “When you are on a Zoom call, it is the easiest time to connect. It is spoon-feeding you networking opportunities,” Luzio says. But many people don’t take advantage of them, she adds. To make the most of Zoom meetings, Luzio recommends two things:
- “Take a picture as soon as you see everyone’s name. Scroll through and take a screenshot, or use your phone and take a picture. Then go back, connect on LinkedIn, and say ‘We were in that session together. I’d love to connect.’ There’s instant rapport.”
- Introduce yourself in live chats. “What is the harm?” says Luzio. “You’re not putting yourself out there verbally. Just say, ‘Here’s my website if you’re interested in connecting.'”
- Be prepared with an ask. “You always have to have an ask ready,” says Luzio. “Most people want to help. But telling people what you need is so important because people are busy, and they can’t read minds. So, don’t beat around the bush. The worst somebody can say is ‘I can’t help now.’ And then you can move onto the next person.”
Cate Luzio will join Malcolm Gladwell, 5-time bestseller; Ijeoma Oluo, author of So You Want to Talk About Race; Thomas Friedman, 3-time Pulitzer Prize winner; and Rana Foroohar, CNN analyst at the National Workplace Summit on May 6, 2021.