Everyone was brimming with excitement as we met in the foyer of our hotel to head off to the Town Hall on Howard St for our first supper together. After photos out the front to mark the occasion, we sat down to order. Then we did something that seems so obvious to do, but is often not given enough consideration at the beginning of a meeting.

Silicon Valley Study Group

Left to right: Bronwen O’Brien, Karan White, Fiona AnsonPascale Helyar-MorayNatalie ChapmanKatie MihellCatriona Wallace,Yvette Adams, Suzanne Schultz, Louise CurtisDenise Meyerson

We introduced ourselves! We explained what our companies did, why we were here, what we wanted to get out of the trip, what our challenges were and what we needed help with. This immediately started off the “bing” in everyone’s eyes as we all took in the skill sets of others, how we could help and learn from each other to grow each other’s businesses. The passion in the room was audible and the desire to build upon each other’s ideas was inspiring.

There are three big take homes from this night for me.

  1. Whether you are seeking an investor, a partner, a customer, or publicity, do your homework. Google them, do a bit of research, find out as much as you can about who they are and what makes them tick. Then, when you meet them, talk to them. Ask questions. Find out about their business and what they’re looking for before you pitch to them. Then you’ll know if you’re a match, and how to tailor your message to meet their needs.
  2. You’ve got to know how to pitch your business – to be able to articulate what you do in a single sentence.  Do you help companies and research organisations take their new products/services to market? Do you provide custom-built project management software solutions? Every business person should have an ‘elevator pitch’ like this on the tip of their tongue.
  3. Australia needs an edge in order to complete globally. Everyone at the table was united in the belief that there is a large untapped resource of professionally skilled people, predominantly women, with children who want to work flexibly, and that harnessing this expertise could give Australia a significant productivity boost. Many of us are working at creating new ways of doing business (such as developing flexible working models), so that people left behind by the traditional 9-5 work structure can start making a meaningful contribution to the Australian workforce.
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