Networking with a NED purpose | November 10, 2016

If the thought of voluntarily attending events where you know no-one, are not quite sure what you want to get out of the event and crucially aren’t even sure what you might be able to offer to others whom you meet then presumably networking strikes fear in your heart.  Take heart – you are not alone – most people would liken it alongside as much fun as an afternoon at the dentist! However networking with purpose truly works and for those of us who aspire to succeeding as Non-Executive Directors, let alone in our regular executive and personal lives,  it is an essential skill that once learnt and practiced can be immeasurably valuable.

At our forthcoming WACL NED lunch which will be held on Wednesday the 9th of November from 12:15 to 14:00 we have two of the best networkers in the business to share with us their hints and tips, and what they have found works well as well as they have both built their careers and businesses over the last few years.

Our two guest speakers are both WACL members – Kathleen Saxton, Founder and CEO of The Lighthouse Company and Sharon Baylay, Portfolio Non-Executive Director – their Biog are below.  The Event is hosted by the lovely Alison Lomax and will be held at Google St Giles offices 1-13 St Giles High St, London WC2H 8AG ( closest Tube station Tottenham Court Road)

Speaker Biographies

Kathleen Saxton

Kathleen is the founder and  CEO of executive search firm The Lighthouse Company and co-producer of Advertising Week Europe. As a practising psychotherapist in central London, Kathleen has always had a deep fascination with the ‘whole self’ – leading to her launching Psyched in early 2016 to deliver transformational leadership programmes for senior executives. Kathleen is also an active board member of ChildLine (NSPCC) and regularly contributes to the government’s Speakers4Schools programme.  Kathleen’s full personal biog can be found here:

Sharon Baylay

Sharon is a Portfolio Non-Executive Director and counts three FTSE/AIM Plc Boards in her current portfolio as well as having been Chairman of Dot Net Solutions Ltd and Havas EHS (UK) Ltd.  She is also an executive coach and mentor and has run senior female talent programmes for the House of Commons and Microsoft, as well as worked individually with some of UK plc’s most senior leaders.  She has lost count of how many Non-Executive dinners and events she has attended over the last 4 years but continues to champion diversity and Women on Boards, being a regular speaker for the LSE Non-Exec programme, the FT Non-Executive Director Diploma programme and the Institute of Directors Non-Executive programme too.

Key insights from this session

Consider your Networking Journey towards a NED

  • Be careful with your time – limit how much you do for free – especially if you also want to secure a remunerated NED
  • It’s not a race … it is what is your perfect match – so important to identify your passion points
  • Set yourself up for success early – build contacts now!

Building networks

  • Women are good at and typically have the natural skills for building relationships
    • Be present/listen
    • Seek out points of commonality
    • Be open/be curious
    • Be observant
  • Deliberate strategic networking
    • Don’t leave an event before speaking with targeted people
    • Do your research before the event, target key people and identify common areas useful for discussion
  • Have current chairman introduce you
  • Quality not quantity – ensuring more meaningful relationships
  • Don’t be shy about speaking directly to speakers at big events – and always ensure you follow up
  • Digital Profile (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) – use it as your ‘for sale sign’
    • Linked In – what are you good at? – What do you most want people to know about you?

Confluence of Opportunity with Passion

  • Elevate the way you think of the question – it’s not just what can I get out of it
  • The question to ask is what am I really passionate about?
  • A good pro bono role is a good place to start

Be Proactive – don’t wait to be called!

  • Do your own website hunting (company secretary, PR Company, Auditors etc)
  • Identify when an opportunity is likely to come up
  • Identify key points of contact that might be the most helpful
  • We all have a finite amount of time – so it is important how you allocate your time

Prepare well for networking opportunities

  • Networking environments are still c80% male
  • Never waste an opportunity – how can I be better prepared?
  • Go with a goal and do your homework before you go
  • Always ask for a copy of the guest list in advance
  • Target a number of prospective chats – be choiceful
  • Do your research and if you don’t know them ask the host for an intro
  • Develop a 30 second impression/’elevator speech’
  • Think BIG – often no one ever goes to talk to some of the most senior people
  • Don’t forget your business cards!
  • Always ask if there is anything you can do for them


  • Head hunters are a critical community
  • Introduce yourself to them – Ensure you stand out/are remembered
  • They are very busy people – need more help to remember you
  • It is an interview – PREPARE!
  • Provide interesting update/ new news to (re)engage with headhunters

Social Media

  • Ensure your social media profile is strong
  • Seek references and networks to reach out for you

Identifying Key Boards and Members

  • Identify companies you are passionate about
  • Who do you know who sits on those boards?

It’s all in the follow up

  • Write letter/personal card
  • Secure a follow up coffee/chat/meeting
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