"It's been good for me, and for my job at Putnam," said Hui, a Babson grad whose latest promotion has her in charge of analyzing 80 companies covering some $1 billion worth of assets.
Networking groups provide leadership training to help members get promotions and advance their careers. The most well-known and influential in the area are leadership training workshops offered by The Partnership, a 25-year-old Boston-based group with 250 corporate partners that has trained more than 3,000 local minority professionals, including Nova and Hui, to become leaders in the city's corporate structure. Open to all minorities in the city, The Partnership offers intense weeklong workshops and once-a-month programs for a year for both up-and-coming and mid-career executives who are sent by their companies to participate. Here they learn best practices and how to advance to senior positions in their companies.
"As the journey to have more diverse representation in our corporations advances, it's not about social justice but about business," said The Partnership's CEO Carol Fulp, a former top marketing executive at John Hancock, who became head of The Partnership six months ago. "Having diverse perspectives is now critical for companies that operate in a global marketplace, and who are looking for ways to reach people from other cultures with their products and services."
Fulp said one training challenge for minorities is learning to be their true selves in the workplace, because she says "people do their best work when they're comfortable. There are benefits to having different perspectives for companies to serve their target markets and grow their businesses."
Fulp insisted that there's more to professional business networking than just advancing yourself.
"Our motto is not only should you succeed, but you must bring others along with you," she said. "The more executives become part of the larger community, the more likely they will stay in the Boston area, and fostering retention and personal growth are a big part of what we do. The best networkers are ambassadors as well as leaders."
The business/community approach is also embraced by ALPFA and NAAAP, which offer frequent community giveback events, where group members help nonprofits, mentor students and volunteer to serve on boards in community organizations.
Multicultural networking is moving in another direction, toward events that bring together different minority groups. Public relations guru Colette Phillips is a pioneer in this area with her monthly Get Konnected! professional business networking events.
"These groups have been operating in silos, with members networking with people from their own cultural groups," said Phillips, who holds the events in upscale venues with guest speakers who run the gamut from business leaders to master chefs. "I thought it would be spectacular to get members from different organizations together on a regular basis."
Get Konnected has been sponsoring free events that attract 200-300 people with the support of its corporate partners and affinity groups that include ALPFA, NAAAP and The Partnership.
"We get everyone from CEOs to grad students at our events," Phillips said, adding that its next event is scheduled for Nov. 27 at the Back Bay Social Club. "It's a great way to meet people who could help you get a job in an informal and fun setting."
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