Speed Networking, Elevator Pitches and Is Wine Gendered?

On 10th August, we held a multi-faceted summer social, combining a talk on ‘Is Wine Gendered?’ followed by our first speed networking session. Over 40 women working in the London wine industry joined us at the Liberty Wines office in Clapham for a very successful and inspiring session.

Sula Richardson (WSET) and Clara Rubin (Veraison Wine Education) kicked off the evening with a reprisal of their P(our) Symposium lecture, which explored the ways in which wine marketing, communication and tasting are influenced by our conceptions of gender. They argued that a more nuanced approach is needed, taking into account the realities of both people consuming wine and working in the wine industry. View their P(our) talk here.

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Networking for people who hate networking

The speed networking section of the evening was introduced to Women in Wine LDN leader, Hannah Van Susteren, as the ‘We hate networking’ portion. Recognising that ‘networking’ is usually cringe-worthy and often feels artificial, we sought to do something different. After selecting a playing card randomly from a deck, people found the three others with their same card number and practised their elevator pitch and engaged in conversation to get to know each other.

The groups switched every 15 minutes as everyone selected new playing cards and arranged themselves into new groups. Although we had questions to prompt the groups – e.g., “What are the biggest challenges in your job?”, “Whose job in the wine industry would you most like to steal?” – we found that by just by putting engaged, interesting and career-minded people together was a conversation starter in itself. Women in Wine LDN organiser Regine Lee said, “The true gauge that our speed networking session was successful was that even after I literally kept hitting a gong to get the groups to finish their conversations, pretty much all of them ignored me and continued talking to each other!”

As we received fantastic feedback, we anticipate that we’ll do another speed networking session later on, and some further events focussing specifically on professional development.