Tag Archives: Anna Van Rijswijk

Word of Mouth, Social Media Expand Silicon Valley Networking with a Purpose

Networking with a Purpose

A professional development collaboration among Cisco, Citrix, eBay, EMC, Ericsson, Intel, Oracle, and other Silicon Valley technology companies using the IEEE model of “Birds of A Feather” discussion topics was introduced in a previous blog post.


Anna Van Rijswijk, formerly of Cisco, developed this program based on survey data indicating that unstructured professional networking can feel awkward, stressful, and uncomfortable to many potential and actual participants.

Anna Van Rijswijk

Anna Van Rijswijk

Networking with a Purpose format provides structure and focus found in Speed Networking, Tom Jaffee’s business-focused adaptation of Rabbi Yaacov Deyo’s Speed Dating to enable members of his congregation to meet potential life partners. Yaacov Deyo

A Columbia alumnus, Jaffee noted that “at business functions, people often find themselves spending too much time with a small group rather than establishing multiple contacts throughout the function.”

Tom Jaffee

Tom Jaffee

To provide a solution, he built a company that offers events to increase chances that participants will make valuable business connections, much like the no-cost, self-organizing alternative, Networking with a Purpose.

Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) and social media mentions on Networking with a Purpose LinkedIn Group, Twitter (#SVBOF), and Facebook dramatically increased demand for registration at Silicon Valley Networking with a Purpose in-person events, and no-cost tickets typically “sell out” within minutes of posting the event invitation. WOMMA

The fifth Networking with a Purpose event is scheduled for Wednesday 20 November 2013 at eBay in San Jose, California, with popular discussion topics including:

  • Enhancing Personal Brand
  • Communicating Upward
  • Career Planning and Accountability
  • Design Thinking
  • Sketchnoting and Graphic Facilitation
  • Think Big, Play Big
  • Work Life Integration
  • Salary Negotiation
  • Office Feng Shui
  • iPhoneography

Silicon AlleyOrganizers have received strong post-event ratings from participants and have been contacted by colleagues in Silicon Alley – New York City – who wish to replicate this approach to professional networking.

-*How do you expand, cultivate and contribute to your professional network?Networking with a Purpose Best Kept Secret

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©Kathryn Welds


“Birds of a Feather” brings together Silicon Valley women for Network Development

CiscoWomen of Cisco, Citrix, EMC, Intel come together on Thursday  17 January 2013 at Cisco Systems in San Jose, California, for the first of three “unconferences” to build professional relationships across technology companies. Citrix

EMCEach firm has an Employee Resource Group (ERG) focusing on career development and advancement for women in technical and non-technical roles, and each recognizes the value of building cross-organizational business networks and relationships.IntelWomen of Cisco-Citrix-EMC-Intel

Women of Intel (WIN) has been a leader by hosting annual events that bring together women from other local technology firms, and occasional efforts have brought together women from Google, Applied Materials, EMC, Intel, Yahoo, Cisco, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Citrix, Symantec, Adobe, and other Silicon Valley technology companies.

Marylene Delbourg-Delphis

Marylene Delbourg-Delphis

In 2012, EMC and Cisco collaborated on an event designed to encourage longer-term relationships through small-group discussions of a talk by the versatile Marylene Delbourg-Delphis, serial tech entrepreneur, philosophy professor and fashion journalist.

Anna Van Rijswijk

Anna Van Rijswijk

Anna Van Rijswijk of Cisco, member of the EMC-Cisco planning team, expanded this concept to a multi-session series  and incorporated  a “Birds of a Feather” format, developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to denote initial meetings of members interested in a particular issue.

Olivia Shen Green

Olivia Shen Green

This  “Birds of a Feather” structure was  successfully launched in Cisco’s 2012 one-day event, Women in Technology Forum, attended by more than 1200 Cisco employees worldwide, and led by Cisco’s Olivia Shen Green, who shared principles for conducting an “unconference.”  Women In Techology Forum

The goal of the multi-company, multi-session “Birds of a Feather” networking event is to increase insight and resource-sharing on topics crucial to professional women’s career advancement in technology firms, while establishing and developing stronger cross-company resource networks.

Unconference GuidelinesDiscussion topics, facilitated by members of multiple sponsor companies, include:

  • Developing “personal brand”
  • Practicing superior communication skills,  “Executive Presence”
  • Striving toward Work – Life Balance
  • Establishing Peer Mentoring and “Greenlight Groups”
  • Developing technical skills
  • Best practices in design, innovation, and creative processes

Upcoming sessions in the spring of 2013 will hosted onsite at Citrix, EMC, and Intel, and will continue these themes.

-*How do you expand your professional network across companies in your industry and across professional roles?

Twitter:   @kathrynwelds
Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary 
LinkedIn Open Group Women in Technology (sponsored by EMC)
Facebook Notes

©Kathryn Welds