Making Your Network Work with Jennifer Hohman

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What’s a super-connector? 

No, it is not the latest game-changing technology that will revolutionize the oil and gas industry; but you should know what it is.

In this month's Coaches Corner, we tackle networking, one of the most critical skills sets professionals need.  And this includes how to access and utilize super-connectors to help you meet your career goals.

To discuss this topic, Pink Petro CEO, Katie Mehnert welcomed two trailblazing women of influence: Jen Hohman, IT Director for GGRE Services at ConocoPhillips and Jennifer Florence, Supervisor of IT Infrastructure at ConocoPhillips.

Our featured speakers understand the power of networks. Ms. Hohman was recently named as the president of ConocoPhillips' Women's Network, and Ms. Florence is the former President of the Black Employee Network (BEN).

Start with an internal network

Internal company networks have a multitude of benefits for individual employees and the company as a whole.  Both Jen and Jennifer encourage members to join these communities because they provide the opportunity to grow your network, industry knowledge and leadership skills.

Depending on the size of your company, you may have access to a variety of groups including those you wouldn’t necessarily identify with and it is these groups, that can prove to be the most valuable. Membership in a group outside your comfort zone provides the opportunity to gain a better appreciation for the diversity around you – what others care about and what motivates them. Gaining this understanding is essential as you take on more leadership roles and are expected to manage diverse teams.

For companies, supporting internal networking groups means creating a sense of community for employees; a place where they want to stay and grow their careers. 

With assets around the world, ConocoPhillips’ has a long history of valuing and supporting workforce diversity.  In fact while celebrating its 30th anniversary last  year, the company’s Black Employee Network was recognized as one of the first of its kind. 

“Thirty-one years ago, they saw this need to provide a place for people to feel a sense of community and belonging….as these networks grow and expand so does the rest of your workplace,” relates Jennifer.

She goes on to explain that the more employees are involved with these internal networks, the more connected they feel to the company; they tell their friends, and the word gets about how the company values diversity and inclusion – which attracts new and more diverse talent.

Finding the time for external networking

The one thing that all of us have in common – no matter our race, religion, gender, professional discipline or geographic location is that we all have just 24 hours in a day.  So, when thinking about adding one more thing to the list, like external networking, how do we find the time?

That’s why our experts encouraged early career professionals to join as many networking groups as possible, because now, unlike any other point in your life, you have the time to participate in these opportunities.  

For mid-career professionals who are balancing work, family and external networking, our experts advise finding networking opportunities that align with your personality and interests.  Then you can utilize your limited, precious time on causes in which you are passionate.

“Tie your external networking efforts to your purpose in life,” encourages Katie; recognizing the time limitations we all face in our day to day lives.

Effective networking starts with how you act

One essential part of networking is not just about who you know; it is about how you act and the type of work you produce.  "Put good work out there, don't just talk about it" stresses Pink Petro's CEO.  She further relates that people want to be around others who are doing great things.

These sentiments were echoed by Jen and Jennifer who stressed the value of supporting others in your networking efforts. 

“The most successful thing we can do as women, colleagues, and humans, is lifting people up. Take the focus away from 'I or me' to a look at what she's doing, or what is he doing….build a network of people who are doing really good things…” Jen emphasizes. 

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