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Networking: women can learn from everyone they meet in business world.

Networking is possibly the most valuable management tool available to everyone, a top official with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) says.

Simone Desjardins, the senior vice-president of operations for Ontario, Prairies and Western Areas for BDC, says networking has played a key role throughout her career - from her beginnings as a banker in Timmins to her current post as an executive with BDC in Toronto.

"Sit on boards, get involved," she told a crowd of about 220 attending Northern Ontario Business' Influential Women of Northern Ontario luncheon in Thunder Bay on May 24. "When you're out networking you're seen, you're heard. It can be tiring, but it can also be stimulating and interesting."

Networking is almost instinctive to women, Desjardins said. "We want to share information, we're excited. Women are like bees: they cross-pollinate and share information."

Women want to connect with each other, she said. They need one another. That desire to connect works to their advantage and can help them in their careers.

"Women have good instincts and you can learn from everyone you meet in the business world. (By networking) you see what management style works and what doesn't."

Networking can also be a source of education in addition to traditional learning environments like schools and conferences, she added.

"Never stop learning," she said. "But remember there are more ways to learn than just reading and going to seminars. Meet people; see things from other people's perspective to initiate change."

Another important aspect to networking is mentoring, she said. Electronic networking vehicles, like the Influential Women Web site www.nobwomen.com - are powerful net working tools, but these types of tools cannot replace face-to-face contact.

Mentoring can link women to new people and experiences that can benefit them personally and professionally.

"Good leaders need allies, confidants who can provide an objective viewpoint," Desjardins said. "Connect with people in and outside of your organization that can provide support" and then pass that knowledge on to others.

"We owe it to (young women) to pass on the information we've learned, and to be a mentor to others."

Desjardins said she has lived by the rule of sharing her knowledge with others so that her experience may serve as an example.

"I've always shared the benefit of my experience to help other women who are looking to climb the corporate ladder," she said, adding she has challenged herself to meet every person who works for BDC and find out who they are and what they are looking for in their careers.

"I want to know them; I want to know what their goals are," she said. "It feels like the right way to go about getting the job done."

Networking plays a significant role in business development and can play a key role in achieving success.

But Desjardins said a job has to be enjoyable or there is no point in doing it. As a woman who, after almost 20 years, still enjoys what she does, she encourages all women to have fun at their jobs.

"Enjoy what-you do to really be successful at it," she said. "If you don't enjoy what you're doing, you're in the wrong field."
COPYRIGHT 2001 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:GOULIQUER, DIANNE
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Jun 1, 2001
Words:531
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