U women’s groups network for success after graduation

Black Motivated Women and Women in Business are two campus groups that host networking events.

Attendees of student group Black Motivated Women engage in a networking activity initiated to help members and participants expand their networks. Black Motivated Women held a gala on Sunday night at Coffman Union in order to bring positive and successful black women and men from the community together with students of color at the University.

Attendees of student group Black Motivated Women engage in a networking activity initiated to help members and participants expand their networks. Black Motivated Women held a gala on Sunday night at Coffman Union in order to bring positive and successful black women and men from the community together with students of color at the University.

Meghan O'Connor

 

University of Minnesota women’s student groups are hosting events this week to stress the importance of networking and community involvement in staying competitive in the job market after college.

About 70 percent of jobs are found through personal relationships, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Black Motivated Women hosted their annual gala Sunday in the Mississippi Room at Coffman Union.

The event had a strong emphasis on providing networking tools for attendees.

“Our focus is ambition, academia and appeal,” said Addisalem Tesfaye, president of BMW. “It’s through networking that one can gain both professional and personal success.”

With more than 400 members, BMW promotes the importance of womanhood in society and creates a sense of community for those who are involved, Tesfaye said.

Color-coordinated name tags were distributed at the event to assist in the networking activity. Each color matched with a field of interest to promote the importance of meeting people within your desired field.

 “An event like this helps to build communication skills beyond what can be learned in the classroom or projected through a job application,” said Anise McDowell, a University alumna.

“The more opportunities these students get to practice small talk with professionals, the better,” McDowell said.

An event like the gala not only gives members the ability to connect with peers but with community members as well, she said.

A study conducted by Ivan Misner, chair of the networking organization BNI, concluded that women favor networking with a relationship building approach versus the male-dominated transactional approach. For example, a woman will often try to get to know her connections beyond the needs of the task she’s performing.

“Making connections with professionals is empowering,” said sophomore education and human development major Rahel Theodros. “Each new relationship I make is unique.”

The event closed with a performance from the University’s women’s a cappella group The Enchantments and a spoken word performance from BMW’s Shavunda Horsley.

“Not only does this event give me an opportunity to network, but it gives my work exposure,” Horsley said.

Women in Business, a Carlson School of Management organization, focuses on helping women become the business leaders of tomorrow.

“This group is a mentoring program designed to show the ropes of Carlson,” said WIB volunteer coordinator Megan Ohly.

“WIB consists of 150 members, working together to grow both personally and professionally,” Ohly said.

WIB hosts a number of activities throughout the year, including a networking event each semester.

Kelsey Wise, the WIB networking events coordinator, organizes these events, ensuring a variety of professionals from the area are in attendance. About 30 to 40 professionals attend.

“It’s a very personable and somewhat informal environment,” said Wise. “These events serve as a way for us to connect with professionals on a more conversational level.”

WIB will host their annual charity auction  at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to raise money for the women’s shelter Women’s Advocates.

The event includes a fashion show funded by Kohl’s, a performance by the men’s a cappella group Basses Wild and a live auction.

Tickets can be purchased from the Carlson website or at the door the night of the event.

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Launched in November 2011, Qwicklr is an online bulletin board where students can organize and promote events while still managing their busy schedules.

But at first, most students assumed the website charged, Davis said. So Qwicklr had to convince students its services are “free and always will be.”

Qwicklr is promoted as an alternative to other free services like Facebook and MySpace, with a key difference being that events can be seen by more than just friends and family, he said.

“A lot of times there is something attached” to seemingly free websites, Rutledge said, so people are often skeptical. She said it’s important to be transparent with how the startup works and treat those first users like partners in the business.

Making the first match

 In its first weeks, Gradloop strived to make its first match between a student searching for a job and an employer. Since its launch, the website has had some employment matches, Elbaddy said, but that expanding its number of users was important to generate more.

Once the initial user base is established, the startup has to deliver on its promised service, Rutledge said.

“The customers have to feel like [the startup] is doing something for them,” she said.

For instance, while Qwicklr allows students in all 50 states to log in with their school email and post a social event, there currently are no events listed for the University and other Minnesota colleges, though there are many between Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Since its launch, Heroic has gained three additional investors, two more co-founders and thousands more users to its new website, Linstroth said.

Even in a competitive market and struggling economy, there’s always room for entrepreneurs, Rutledge said, but it’s a matter of knowing the audience.