Community: Taking advantage of the break in this month’s heat wave, members of The Network gathered on a city centre terrace for the international women’s group’s annual “Summer Drinks” event on Wednesday night.
Photo: LaLa La Photo
Even for the most seasoned of professionals, the mere mention of the word “networking” conjures up thoughts of business cards being thrust into hands, endless cups of tea and awkward silences. Dot Bekker, the recently elected president of the women’s professional group The Network, aims to change all that.
“It’s all about building relationships”, Bekker said Wednesday evening on the terrace of the Luxembourg City-Centre restaurant L’Annexe. “We have an inclusive, collaborative approach that appeals to all types of professional women.”
It’s an approach that seems to be working, with approximately 170 members and more than 33 nationalities, The Network continues to grow and diversify. “We have a shared vision”, explained Bekker. “For the first time, we have created sub committees within the organisation, allowing members to have more of a say on how The Network should develop.” That has reinforced the group’s collaborative approach.
Partnering up for events
Collaboration is an important part of The Networks philosophy. Last month they held a combined event with nine other partners, including Luxembourg’s employment bureau (ADEM), Mumpreneurs, Lëtz go local and The Second Degree.
“The aim of the event was to give members more time to do quality networking but at the same time find out and connect with more organisations in Luxembourg,” explained Bekker. “It was a great opportunity not only to reach a wider audience but to promote other Luxembourg societies.”
For Jugera, originally from Albania, joining the network has been an empowering experience. “My husband recently relocated to Luxembourg and I had to leave a job I really loved. I thought why would anyone be interested in networking with me?”
On the contrary she found that people were more than willing to help her transition. “The Network allowed me to get involved with the ‘Dress for Success’ programme and make connections with the ADEM which has really helped me to integrate.”
Katerina, from Greece, had a similar observation when she moved to Luxembourg two years ago. “Joining The Network allowed me to share my experiences with others and meet new people. And whilst I did not find work directly through The Network, it certainly helped me gain confidence to look for a job.”
Founded in 1991, The Network is an English-speaking professional women’s association that aims to promote personal and professional development. They organise monthly meetings throughout the year ranging from conferences to social mixers and charity events. Annual membership starts at €40 for individuals.
2016 marks the association’s 25th anniversary (legally it is the International Business and Professional Network ASBL, but it is almost always referred to as “The Network”). Whilst Bekker is keen not to give too much away, she highlighted that there will be at least two main anchor events.
“Plans are already in progress for next year’s landmark anniversary and we are committed to reach out to Network alumni who may have moved away or lost touch over the years”, Bekker said. “Those individuals are symbolic of the success and development of the society, so it’s important to us that they are involved.”