95% of effective communications for career and business growth occur due to in-person networking. In response to this need and decreased Covid numbers, many are getting out to attend events in person again. Unfortunately, while much focus has been on building awareness and achieving results around diversity, equity, and inclusion, many of us still struggle to implement our learnings. And when that occurs, it's easier to save face and lean into comfortable everyday behaviors that undermine inclusion goals. This article provides four networking tips to cultivate inclusive events.
1. LEADERS MUST WALK THE TALK
Leaders set the tone for the event. Therefore, leaders must model for teams the inclusion expectation. How? Deloitte's Six Signature Inclusive Leadership Traits says that leaders must be mindful of bias, welcome new ideas, embrace risk, be committed, encourage diverse thinking, and be culturally competent. Therefore, leaders can walk the talk by embodying these traits and additional measures. Ideas to implement include:
Team alignment on the commitment and prioritization of diversity, equity, and inclusion will minimize misinterpretation. Being prescriptive about expectations sends a strong message about the priority of inclusion.
Leaders who reflect and plan inclusive actions ahead of time will shine. Stop to engage, welcome, and make personalized introductions that make everyone feel welcome. Doing so shows support for the DEI vision.
2. TRAIN WELCOMING TEAMS
Having event ambassadors and buddies at our events is a proactive move. Who wouldn't want to receive a personal greeting from a friendly face? Seek out and include introverts and diverse audience members to provide additional support. Ensure welcoming teams have the skills, help, and resources needed to prevent inclusion goals from going awry. Provide conversation starters as a resource to promote authentic dialogue.
3. TALK AND LISTEN TO THE AUDIENCE
Communicating our commitment to attendees ahead of an event is par for the course. Proactive attention and focus on the inclusive approach and expectations make good business sense. There are many lessons to learn from the care and attention to Covid precautionary measures that instill comfort and confidence in being safe at events. Similar attention and care to cultivating inclusion will yield positive dividends.
Be transparent about personal and professional goals. Clarify the inclusion definition and why it is necessary at this event.
Ask attendees for requirements. Where possible, be personal when engaging in conversations to clarify success measures.
Investing additional time and resources to make everyone feel welcome at our events is prudent. However, it is not enough to strive to diversify the event, for our efforts can fall flat when diverse representation is unsupported by inclusive actions. So before getting ahead of ourselves by drumming up more diverse attendees, take a moment to make a plan for inclusion.
4. DON'T JUST CREATE THE NAME TAGS; USE THEM
Name tags are a great idea. Go the extra mile by including gender pronouns and providing a guide for help in name pronunciation. Inclusive Leaders can proactively leverage this tool. Here's how it looks. Walk around and call people by name. Try it and watch for reactions. Here's an example, Hello Simone, Welcome; what would it take to make today's event a more welcoming experience? Stay engaged with active listening skills. Ready body cues and ask for clarification when uncertain. Be vulnerable where appropriate. These additional steps serve to build greater trust. At this point, Simone will provide signals on how to continue inclusion.
This article was originally published in Forbes.
Simone Morris Enterprises is ready to help you transform your workplace to a more inclusive one. Let us know how we can help.