The Importance of Networking

Posted by Barbara Etter on 24 May 2013 | 0 Comments

Last night I attended the annual cocktail party of the Women Chiefs of Enterprises International (WCEI) of which I am a member. The event held on the waterfront at Blue Skies was well attended by businesswomen, politicians, academics and community members. Our guest speaker was Dr Alison Alexander, one of Tasmania's best-known historians and author of the recently published "The Ambitions of Jane Franklin - Victorian Lady Adventurer".

Jane Franklin (1791-1875) was the wife of John Franklin who was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land in 1836. See http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/franklin-lady-jane-2065. Not being a Tasmanian, I must admit to not having had much knowledge at all about Ms Franklin. I also thought prior to the meeting that a talk by a historian might be a little dry for such an occasion. I was very wrong! Alison gave a very lively and informative talk that held everyone's attention. Lady Jane Franklin certainly had a very active role in the development of Tasmania. Indeed, it sounds like she was the power behind the throne in the running of Van Diemen's Land for a number of years. On a more personal note, she was the first woman to climb Mount Wellington (in a long dress!) and to travel overland from Melbourne to Sydney and from Hobart to Macquarie Harbour. From what Alison told us last night she was also the ultimate "spin doctor"! She was a sensational networker and communicator and used the media and her numerous contacts to utmost advantage, even succeeding, some years later, in making her failed explorer husband a hero when he did not return in his search for the North-West passage. She not only networked, she carefully cultivated key relationships. The talk reinforced with me the importance of truly strategic networking and communications strategies.

I think I do a reasonable job at networking. For instance, this morning I am attending a Tasmanian Women Lawyers breakfast at the Westend Pump House. Then at lunchtime, I have been invited to attend the CEO Tasmania Executive Lounge Focus Group to contribute to discussions.

Having recently read Innocence Regained: The Fight to Free Lindy Chamberlain (Norman H Young, Federation Press 1989), I truly do appreciate the necessity of strategic networking and the importance of ground roots agitation, political lobbying and well-defined and sustained media and communications strategies.  I have been able to link up with some great people and organisations, both here in Tasmania and nationally, who are now assisting in the fight to prove a miscarriage of justice has occurred in the Sue Neill-Fraser case. I must read Alison's book to find out more about Jane Franklin's very successful strategies!


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