Natural Networking

Feeling comfortable, confident, and prepared for networking is such a valuable skill to develop and hone throughout your career. It’s important as you return to work as it can help you refine what you are looking for and open new opportunities. Once back, building your internal and external networks can really help your career progression. In a recent webinar for members of our Professional Network, Rachel Halsall, Executive Coach, shared her thoughts on Natural Networking with us. Here Angharad Boyson, Women Returners new Coaching and Relationship Manager, summarises this session. 

Rachel’s definition of networking really cuts to the heart of it: The fastest and most enjoyable way to collaborate and share information.

Networking styles 

Using John Timperley’s four broad categories of why we network, Rachel has developed four styles of networking: 

  • Business networker – you network to win business, build, and develop your career. The downside of this style is that you may not nurture relationships unless they consistently feel useful. 
  • Relationships Connector – you find it easy to develop rapport and regularly contact your network. But you might be slightly slower to ask for business when the opportunity arises. 
  • Ideas Connector you enjoy connecting with people who can add new ideas or fresh debate and like to swap thoughts on an intellectual or technical level. However, you don’t necessarily stay connected with people whose thinking you believe is not up to date. 
  • Learning Connector – you connect for personal development and with mentors or teachers, although you may have little time for those in other areas and you are not necessarily applying or sharing your learning. 

Rachel suggests identifying your own style and then purposely mixing that up, so that you try different styles.   

Different networks 

As well as different categories and styles of networking, there are different networks to develop. Herminia Ibarra, author of Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader, says these are: 

  • Operations – internal network that helps you get things done 
  • Personal – people that help you to grow and develop personally and professionally 
  • Strategic – those that help you to generate strategic ideas, offer support; typically external. 

Rachel’s take on this separation of networks is about being able to conserve energy. If you have just one hour a month for networking, either divide this evenly across the three networks, or rotate each month where you expend your effort. It is important not to drop that personal network when you are busy. Whilst that is the obvious temptation, this network is just as important as the others and could be the one that provides you with that all important re-energising. By dividing your attention across all three equally, you reap the benefits of all three.  

What to ask for 

When we are networking, it can feel hard to know exactly what it is we are asking for. Rachel suggests that this can be divided into: 

  • Knowledge – information, informed opinion, different perspective 
  • Introduction – person, business, sector, membership 
  • Recommendations – keep me in mind if….  

Networking when you’re time short!  

One of the biggest hurdles to effective networking is thinking that we do not have the time. Rachel gives us some tips on how to spend just 2-15 minutes to enhance your network: 

  • A 2 minute phone call to book in a 15 minute catch up 
  • 5 minutes per week to choose your target 
  • A 15 minute catch up/zoom/phone call 
  • An information sharing call and walk 
  • How are you? 
  • What are you seeing from where you sit? 
  • Have you come across anything useful? 
  • A call that holds us both to account 

Top tips 

Rachel closed with her top tips: 

  • Generously share your network – who can you introduce in your network 
  • Be useful (if in doubt, ASK) 
  • Build trust, and most importantly … 
  • Begin – look at those 2–15-minute tips and pick just one to begin today! 


Building your personal brand

Being clear about your personal brand is so important as you return to work. But what exactly is ‘personal brand’, and how can you build it? Karen, Women Returners Head of Coaching, talked to Steph, Senior Coach at Women Returners, about how to build an authentic personal brand in a recent webinar for our professional network. Karen summarises Steph’s key points below.

Personal brand is your reputation. It includes what you have to offer – your strengths, skills, experiences – and what you stand for – your values and your purpose. It’s the experience that people have when they’re with you. So ask yourself the all-important question: is how you’re perceived consistent with what you want your personal brand to be? 

Having a clear and authentic personal brand is so valuable when you return to work. Being able to articulate your strengths, values, motivations and purpose can make you feel more confident, enable successful career conversations and drive decision making. 

Building your Personal Brand Pyramid 

Steph introduced the idea of a Personal Brand Pyramid. At the foundation lies your values. Your  purpose comes above that, then your skills strengths and experience, your behaviours and image, and finally at the top your reputation which is built upon all the layers beneath it. Each layer is important and feeds into the overall experience that others have of you.  

Your Values and Purpose  

Knowing your own values helps you to make decisions and can become the guiding compass for your life. Sometimes, it’s hard to capture what our values are. One simple method is to reflect back on the ‘golden moments’ of your career – activities you most loved doing – and consider what made them so special.  

For me, working on our podcast ‘Career Returners’ has been a real golden career moment. It has stretched me, allowed me to be creative, and enabled me to connect deeply with a number of fabulous returners!  From this, it’s clear to me that growth, creativity and connection are key values to me, so I look for opportunities that enable me to live those values. If you can choose work by your values, that will lead to more contentment and achievement. 

Many people struggle to identify their specific purpose. To help you uncover yours, think about the difference you want to make in the world: what is your ‘why’?  

When you’re thinking about whether a role is the right one for you, coming back to your purpose and values can really help.  

Your Strengths 

One element of personal brand is the strengths you can offer, so being able to articulate them in an evidence based way will be key. If you’re not clear on your strengths, you could: 

  • Look up past work reviews 
  • Speak to friends and family about what they think your strengths are 
  • Consider what comes naturally to you 
  • Reflect on your proudest achievements, both before and during your career break, jotting down what strengths were in play during those times 
  • Use a strengths assessment tool to help you, eg Insights discovery, spotlight, Strengthsfinder,, or 

Your Behaviours and Image 

To live your personal brand from the inside out, your behaviours must match who and what you say you are.  One way to demonstrate this at interview is to think about the stories you can tell. These stories can make you memorable, while illustrating your strengths, where your values come from and why they’re important to you. 

Body language is important too. Smiling helps build rapport and trust, particularly in online interviews where tone and speech are often ‘flattened’ on a 2D screen. You may also want to use more hand movements to illustrate what you’re saying and become a little more ‘3D’! Do also think about your online background, ensuring the image you portray reflects the type of role you’re going for.  

Other ways to express your Personal Brand 

In addition to how you physically show up, your online presence can also reflect your personal brand. Your LinkedIn profile is an opportunity to showcase your strengths and experience in your chosen style, while your posts can reflect your interests, values and thought leadership. The activities you choose to engage in and talk about, from hobbies to volunteering, also speak volumes about your motivators and values.  

So, as you return to work, remember to be clear about your personal brand. Live your values and play to your strengths in what you do and in your interactions with others. It will help build your inner confidence, consistency and trust with others. 

Menopause – Removing a Potential Return to Work Barrier

‘The more people talk about menopause the better their experience’ (Kantar, 2022)

Lesley Salem, Founder of social enterprise Over The Bloody Moon, aims to remove the muddle and stigma of menopause. She shared some great insights and advice for members of our Network in our recent co-hosted webinar. As a third of the women in our Network are between 45 and 55 (the typical age for menopause), we thought this was a topic many of you would welcome.

Menopause terminology and experience

‘Natural’ Menopause is described as 365 days after a person’s last period. ‘Peri-menopause’ is the time period leading up to the menopause, when a person will begin to experience fluctuations in their hormone levels of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. This can have a big impact on how you feel physically, emotionally, and cognitively. This stage can last for around 7 years – on average women can notice changes for about 4 years. The most common symptoms include difficulty sleeping, hot flushes, night sweats, brain fog, mood changes and anxiety. In the UK, research shows that 59% of people feel that peri- menopause and/or menopause impacts their lives moderately, severely or at an unbearable level.

It’s also useful to note that women’s experience of (peri)menopause can vary by ethnicity and culture. A recent study in the USA found that black, Asian and Latin women may go through menopause earlier than white women, with more intense and prolonged symptoms. There are still some cultures where discussions about menopause do not happen openly, so it is even more essential to be aware and armed with the right knowledge and understanding as you go into peri-menopause or menopause.

Menopause support at work

The good news is that menopause support is becoming more commonplace. With 5.5m women currently transitioning through menopause in the workplace in the UK, and this number set to grow higher as more women work for longer, businesses are recognising the need to ensure women can access support if required. While organisations are not currently mandated to have a menopause policy, there’s been a groundswell of activity to change this, as it’s believed to be the best catalyst for cultural and systemic change in this area. Currently, 25% of organisations in the UK have a menopause policy, and of those, 75% believe they have had a positive effect. Reported benefits include increased staff retention and engagement, greater productivity, and higher representation of women in senior leadership teams.

Raising the support you need at interview

If (peri)menopause is impacting you, how can you find out whether the company you’re applying for will support you? Doing your research on their website should give some clues as to culture. You could ask about what wellbeing policies, professional networks or employee resource groups they have at interview.

Once you’ve demonstrated you’re the best candidate for the role and have been offered a role, you could raise what support you’d like. This is the point when you may be negotiating other terms such as flexibility. Reflect on what you think will help you to start well in your role and continue in a sustainable fashion while managing any symptoms.

One suggestion could be agreeing a level of flexibility to your day – working a set number of core hours but having the ability to start later and finish later if you’ve had a bad night.

Obtaining the support you need in role

Once you’re in role, do ensure that you’re scheduling in regular short breaks in your day to help keep stress levels down. Block out thinking time and prioritise important tasks to make sure that you’re focussing your time and energy on what’s key. (Good advice for anyone!).

If you need additional support from your employer, here’s some tips from Lesley on how to approach it:

  • Arrange a meeting with your line manager
  • Prepare for your meeting. Set out how menopause is impacting you, giving specific examples
  • Think in advance how you believe they can support you. Are there changes they can make to the ambient environment, your work schedule, the way meetings are currently set up? Come with some suggestions for them to consider and be open to any ideas they might have
  • Keep the conversation open and ongoing. As your symptoms evolve, so may your needs

Organisations are increasingly aware that supporting their staff during all life stages will attract and retain the best. So do make sure that you reach out for the help you need to thrive at work.


  • Kantar & OTBM, ‘Redefining Menopause’ May 2022
  • NHS, 2021
  • SWAN Study, ‘Investigating Health for Mid-Life and Older Women’ 2022
  • Debenhams Ottaway, in collaboration with CIPD, March 2022


Flexible Working – The Where, When and How

The world of flexible working has evolved over the last two years as the ‘work from home’ mandate demonstrated how productive remote working could be. With more and more people seeking flexibility foremost over salary for a better work life balance, employers and government are taking notice! But with only 27% of jobs being advertised as ‘open to flexibility’ and 84%+ people seeking flexibility (according to Timewise research), how can you ensure you get the flexibility you need as you return to work?

Nikki Slowey, Co-Founder of Flexibility Works had some great tips for members of our Women Returners Professional Network in a webinar we co-hosted.

While employers may not have explicitly stated that a new role is open to flexibility, they may well be happy to consider it for the right candidate. This is even more likely at the moment, as vacancies are at their highest level since 2001.

The three pillars of flexibility

When considering flexibility, Nikki advised that you think about what flexibility you need. What are the responsibilities you have that you need to consider as you return to work? Taking this into account, the three areas to reflect on are:

Where you want to work – at home, in the office, at the client site, in a shared work space

When you want to work – 9-5, core hours but flex to start or finish early/late, compressed hours, term time

How much you want to work – full time, part time, annualised hours

Within this, Nikki advises that it’s important to think about both your non-negotiables and your negotiables. For example your non-negotiable may be that you want to work part time, but your negotiable may be that you’re happy to flex the days you work according to your employer’s needs. Given that flexible working needs to work for both the employee and employer, a level of flexibility on your part is highly recommended.

When to ask about flexibility?

While the statutory right for all employees to request flexibility kicks in after 26 continuous weeks in employment (Children and Families Act 2014), many of you will be looking for flexibility from Day 1.  There are a few options here and it’s very much a personal choice as to what you feel most comfortable with.

One option is to proactively and confidently raise it at interview, but not at the start. Wait until the interview’s been going well and you’ve had the opportunity to demonstrate your fantastic skills and experience and fit for the role. You could refer to previous examples of when you’ve worked flexibly, and how successful this was, to prove how this could work.

You may prefer to wait until you’ve received a job offer and then to negotiate flexibility, in the same way that you’d negotiate other terms such a salary, at the point at which you have maximum negotiating power!

Either way, being clear about balancing your needs with your employer’s needs is the way forward. Make sure that what you’re requesting can work with the demands of the job.

A win-win

Flexible working is definitely here to stay. More and more employers are citing evidence of the real business benefits of flexible working, such as increased employee engagement, retention, loyalty and productivity as well as increased employee wellbeing and reduced absence. There has never been a better time to think about what flex you need and to confidently and proactively discuss it with your (future) employer.

LinkedIn’s New Career Break Feature

In March 2022, LinkedIn launched a new feature to enable users to include a Career Break within the ‘Experience’ section of their LinkedIn profile. At Women Returners, we are really excited by this development, as it is a big step towards normalising career breaks and recognising that lives – and careers – don’t always go in straight lines. It helps us to tackle our mission to make extended career breaks a normal part of a 40 to 50 year career, removing the ‘Career Break Penalty’. And it helps our returner community to highlight some of the fantastic skills and experiences you have gained during this life stage.

LinkedIn’s Research on Career Breaks

LinkedIn carried out a global survey of 23,000 workers and 4,000 hiring managers. They found that 46% of hirers felt that candidates with career breaks are an untapped talent pool. This is huge progress compared with 2014 (when we started Women Returners) when career returners were largely invisible to recruiters. Further insights from their survey revealed that :

  • 64% of people wish there was a way to positively represent career breaks to hirers
  • 50% of hiring managers believe people returning from a career break have often gained valuable soft skills and 46% believe candidates undersell them
  • 74% of people who have taken a career break believe employers valued the skills they gained during it

Why should you add a Career Break section?

  1. By adding a career break to your ‘Experience’ section of your profile, you can easily explain your “CV gap” and address any potential concerns employers may have about what you were doing since your last role.
  2. It allows you to highlight experiences from during your break, with any relevant transferable skills you’ve gained. These may be skills from parenting or caring, or from other activities you’ve been involved with during your break. You may have run a small business from home or done some consulting for a friend or ex-colleague; been involved in skilled voluntary work such as being a Charity Treasurer or Trustee or a School Governor; organised a community-based activity like a children’s sports team; taken courses to upskill in your specialism or learn about something new; travelled or relocated, experiencing different cultures and learning a new language. Each and every experience contributes to the wealth of skills you can offer to a future employer.
  3. As employers running returnships or supported hiring programmes are explicitly looking for people who have taken a career break (usually a minimum of 18 months – 2 years), you can clearly show your eligibility for these programmes which provide such valuable supported routes back to work.

How to add a Career Break section?

To add this exciting new feature to your profile simply go to your profile, click on ‘Add section’ and ‘Add career break’. You’ll be cheered on by the message that greets you – ‘Experiences outside a linear career path can make people better colleagues, thought partners and leaders. Share these moments that make you unique’

You’ll be given the opportunity to add your career break dates and to include the reason for it if you feel comfortable doing so. There are 13 options including full-time parenting, caregiving, health, a gap year, bereavement and other life reasons. For a step-by-step guide see

Now, there’s a reason to celebrate!

Top 5 Return to Work Misconceptions

What are your main concerns when thinking about returning to work?  Our coaching team have been working closely with the returner community for many years and in this blog, hope to bust the top 5 return to work misconceptions they frequently hear!

  1. I am too old, no one wants to hire someone my age

When you make the decision to return to work after an extended career break, remind yourself that your wealth of experience and strengths that you have acquired from both your career history and career break really can add value to an organisation.  Age is not a factor when you make it clear that you’re still looking for opportunities and challenges to test your intellect and ability and bring your experience to. We have worked with hundreds of returners who have successfully returned to their careers after 5/10/15 and even 20 years (see our Success Story Library)!

  1. I won’t be able to get to grips with new technology

When you’ve been out of the workforce for a few years there may be some catching up to do with technology, but it is important to remember that many companies recognise this. In fact, returner programmes are designed to ensure support is in in place to address any skills gaps. There are lots of ways to access free IT training (Women Returners Resource Signposts) in the run up to returning to work. You just need to start taking positive actions to develop your skills and build your confidence.

  1. It won’t be possible to juggle the needs of my family and work

The landscape of flexible working has changed more than ever in the past 2 years. Many employers have moved to hybrid working and are often prepared to offer a considerable degree of flexibility to their staff. These organisations will work with you to ensure you meet deadlines and commitments, while managing your home and family.  Don’t be afraid to explore how the flexibility you need can match with the needs of the role and the business.

  1. No one will hire someone who has taken an extended career break

Many women who are thinking about returning to work after a considerable gap find that they’ve lost their previous level of professional confidence. However, companies are increasingly recognising and seeking out the maturity and diversity of perspective that women who return to work bring with them, alongside the wealth of skills, experience and qualifications gained before and during their break. They realise that these benefits are relevant, meaningful and add value in business settings.

  1. My skills and experience are no longer relevant

So many women assume their working skills become irrelevant after they have taken a break from their career. These skills are not lost! You will be surprised at how quickly you begin to remember them and how your break will have recharged, refreshed, and renewed your focus.

Don’t let false assumptions act as a barrier to your return.  Instead be brave and start taking those first proactive steps to enable you to return to a fulfilling career.


Transferable Skills: How to Identify and Talk About Them

“What you are bringing to the table is a whole cocktail of crystallised intelligence, emotional intelligence, wisdom, maturity and your particular experience and skills”

Our new Return to Work webinar series kicked off with Zena Everett, leadership coach and author of ‘Mind Flip’, who presented a practical, action-based webinar on Transferable Skills.

Here are some of the top tips we took away:

  • Don’t worry about what you haven’t got. Build on what you have.
  • A good starting point to help you figure out your transferable skills (and the context in which you can best use them) is to reflect on a few times when you felt happy and fulfilled at work in the past:
    • What were you doing?
    • Which elements did you particularly enjoy?
    • What skills were you demonstrating?
    • Who were you working with? What was the organisational context?

Reflect on the different activities you’ve been involved in during your career break too. This will help you to build up a picture of the skills you developed both before and during your break. Talking these examples through with a friend can help you to identify skills you may take for granted.

  • Proactively look for opportunities to accumulate more skills and experience, to make you more confident about what you can bring to an employer. To build your technical skills, either more generally or focused on the areas you’re interested in, check out free online courses (see Women Returners Resource Signposts).
  • Explore your network to access potential opportunities and practice talking about the value you can bring to a role. Think about everybody you could reach out to – your family, friends, parents at the school gates, former colleagues, neighbours. If they’re working in an area you’re interested in, explore if you could get some work experience to refresh your skills.
  • Be specific about the skills you can bring to each potential employer. Do your research and identify a particular challenge they might have.  Consider how you could use your skills and experience to help them to solve their problems.
  • Aim for ‘Action, not Perfection’. Keep moving forwards, and take small steps to build your skills  – as well as your experience, confidence and contacts – as you look to bring your transferable skills to your next role!

Do make sure you’re a member of our Women Returners Professional Network to be able to access future sessions of our free monthly Return to Work Webinar Series.

How to Succeed as a Returner Candidate – Top Tips from Employers

Four leading Returner Programme Managers, on an Employer Panel at our 2021 Women Returners ‘Back to Your Future’ Conference, provided a wide range of practical advice on how to succeed as a returner candidate, ably facilitated by Melissa Janvier, a Bank of England returner.

Here’s a summary of top tips from our panel: Helena Fernandes from Credit Suisse, Brett Hemmerling from Moody’s, Tace Heuston from J.P. Morgan and Sarah Mavius from FDM Group.

What stands out in a returner application

  • We want to understand your motivations – what’s driving you to return
  • We’re interested in what you’ve done previously in your professional career – your strengths and skillset
  • It’s important to own your career break – we want to see you’ve had one and the transferable skills you gained during it
  • Clarity on what you’re looking to do next and how that aligns with your professional experience and transferable skills – that helps us to think about what would be a good fit
  • Focus and minimal irrelevant detail
  • If you’re interested in more than one role with us, it’s fine to apply for several, provided the opportunities align with your skillset – don’t just apply for all

At Interview

  • It’s natural to be nervous. It’s ok!
  • We’re aware you’ve not had an interview for a while. Often the interview may be more conversational and viewed as an opportunity to get to know you and understand your skills. We’re not expecting you to know all the up to date terminology.
  • Understand what skills and strengths you bring and be able to articulate them clearly
  • Practice to build confidence. Write a list of the types of questions you might get and prep your answers. Practice saying them out loud in front of a mirror, so that your answers become more fluid and you can check your body language is positive.
  • Think about who can provide a reference – if your career break is 5 years+, get creative. If you’ve been volunteering or working on a small scale during your career break, consider who you could ask there that can attest to your skills and strengths

What do the best returners do that make them stand out on a returner programme?

  • They embrace all the resources and opportunities given to them, and leverage them to ensure they’re making connections and learning about the culture and company – this reflects their motivations and commitment to us
  • They’re proactive and engaged
  • They’re contributors – they want to share their experience and they get involved at many levels
  • They’re team players
  • They ask questions and ask for help when they need it

Final top tips

  • Network and explore as much as possible so you can identify where to focus your energy
  • Have confidence in your skills and experience, gained in your previous roles and on your career break.
  • Be open and positive
  • Believe in yourself!

For more info about our current Returner Opportunities, click here  


Navigating your Return – Advice from Successful Returners

There was a huge amount of excellent advice on the Returner Panel on Navigating your Return to Work at our 2021 Women Returners Conference. Chaired by Trish Halpin, Co-host of Postcards from Midlife, the panel included four inspiring women who have successfully returned to work after career breaks of up to 15 years. Two had returned via a returnship, one via a supported hiring role, one via her own networks.

Here’s a summary of some of their fantastic tips, based on their personal experiences, for other women professionals wanting to successfully navigate a return to work:

  1. Look at a returner programme as a journey – it doesn’t need to end where it starts. Just take the first step and then think about it as one step at a time
  2. You don’t need to feel grateful when you get a job. Remember you have skills and experience that your employer wants.
  3. Be open to new areas where you can use transferable skills – your career break can be an opportunity to diversify
  4. Keep a diary of how you feel and the decisions you make at each stage – it’s amazing to read back later
  5. Don’t keep looking back and comparing where you were before, as this can hamper you. Embrace the new opportunity with positivity
  6. Think about what you’re not going to do when you go back to work – ask for help and delegate. Don’t take on everything, you need to make time for work and life!
  7. Don’t let impostor syndrome set in. Everyone gets it at some point, no matter how high up the ladder
  8. Find people to cheer you on
  9. Positively approach new technology and virtual working. It can be daunting but it also can take some of the pressures away
  10. You will get back up to speed much quicker than you think!

For more inspiration from returners who have returned, read our Success Stories here.

How to prepare for virtual networking at an event

With our annual Conference coming up, we’re sharing our tips on how to get ready to virtually network. 

We know many returners find the idea of attending a virtual conference or event quite daunting. You may be wondering what it will be like to use new technology and to interact with others in a virtual world, when past events you attended were in person. The beauty of a virtual event is that you can access a wealth of information and connect with experts, employers and others in a similar situation to yourself, without the cost and inconvenience of travel, or logistics and health risks in this current climate. In most cases (as with our Conference), you can also access recordings of anything you missed or something you want to watch again. We’ve put together some tips to help you with preparing beforehand and attending on the day. With good planning and preparation on your part, you can really ensure you get the most from the event.

Virtual set up: Firstly, be reassured that the technology for virtual events is designed to be easy to navigate. There will always be people online to contact for support and to help with any tech issues. You will be sent joining instructions and it is a good idea to register before the day and make sure that you have access to the correct apps, weblinks and passwords.  Give some thought to what you want to wear to look professional but to feel comfortable. Try to find a quiet place in your home where you are less likely to be disturbed or invest in a headset. It can also be a good idea to think about what is going to appear in your background. Don’t forget to mute yourself on the day (if needed) when you aren’t speaking.   

Set yourself some goals: Think about your motivations and reasons for attending the event in the first place. With our Conference, it might be that you want to build your confidence, connect with other returners, find out more about returner opportunities or start thinking about your interview technique?  Perhaps it is all of these things and more. Once you are clear on why you are investing your time, money and energy in attending a virtual event then break things down into specific goals. This may be to speak to two other returner attendees at the networking 1-2-1 video chats or to ask some specific questions to a particular employer sponsor. Achieving your goals will be a boost to your confidence. Just make sure your goals are achievable so that you don’t feel too much pressure. And don’t forget to pat yourself on the back when you’ve achieved them!

Plan your introduction: Although one of the workshops will cover in detail how to improve your self-marketing and develop your professional introduction, it’s a good idea to have a brief introduction prepared. This will increase your confidence and help you to feel prepared for a networking chat or a more targeting discussion with an employer sponsor. This needs the following: your name, a brief description of your professional background, a mention of your career break, and your reason for being at the conference. You may want to include the reason for and length of your break, but don’t make talking about your break the full focus of your introduction. It might help you to practise saying your introduction out loud or with a friend, to get used to talking about yourself in this way.

Prepare topics: Whether you’re focused on asking questions at the employer power hour, networking with other returners, or both, it’s a really good idea to do some advance preparation. Research the individual employers online and develop those questions you want to ask. Think about what you’d like to find out if you have a 1-2-1 virtual chat with another returner – asking questions when you meet someone new is an easier way to start a conversation. Advance preparation means you can arrive at the virtual conference confident that you’ll have something to say to the new people you meet. 

Develop ongoing connections: If you connect with other like-minded women, this could be the start of your return-to-work support group! You can decide to share email contact details in the networking sessions and/or use LinkedIn to connect in a more professional sense (just make sure to note down their full name!). After the event, you can also use our private LinkedIn and Facebook groups to find and connect with other returners.

For more general tips on how to network successfully, check out our Advice Huband How to network virtually