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When developing connections in a new industry, resist the urge to immediately pitch yourself; instead, focus on learning about them.Anchiy/Getty Images

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Ask Women and Work

Question: After 15 years working in my current industry, I have a keen interest in completely changing fields. However, I lack a network in that space. I know networking is so important to finding a position in a new area, especially since my experience doesn’t line up exactly with what I want to do. Where do I start?

We asked Toronto-based career transition and leadership coach Shena Mistry to tackle this one:

Embarking on a career change and entering a new industry can be both exhilarating and intimidating, especially when your experience doesn’t directly align. How do you create meaningful connections in your new career direction to help navigate this transition?

Begin by cultivating a growth mindset. Embrace your curiosity and willingness to be vulnerable. Approach building connections with the intent of learning from others – and you will! Keep an open mind, ask questions and actively listen to diverse perspectives.

Next, reach out to family, friends, neighbours, former coworkers and acquaintances. Inform them about your career shift and ask if they have insights or suggestions related to your target industry. They could potentially introduce you to relevant contacts, events or resources. Get comfortable with asking for support. Developing new connections and building on existing ones will not only help you adapt to your new career but also provide a valuable support system that can uplift you in times of uncertainty and challenge.

When developing new connections, remember that relationship-building is a gradual process. Resist the urge to immediately pitch yourself; instead, focus on learning about them. Be honest in describing why this career change matters to you. Be prepared to discuss your challenges and goals and ask for guidance from individuals who have already navigated this path. Discover their motivations for being in your desired industry, how they began their career, and the influences on their professional journey.

Update your online profile to reflect your transferable skills and motivations for joining this new field. Find ways to engage in online and offline conversations as they offer insights about current trends, job opportunities or potential contacts. Research companies, organizations and professional associations linked to your target industry and participate in related events. Make the most of social media sites like LinkedIn and their features such as creating a QR code to stay connected with people you’ve met in person.

Lastly, the most significant connections are often made in informal settings. Don’t underestimate the power of everyday life. Interesting people are everywhere, be it at the supermarket, on the train and at your recreational activities. Be curious about others’ experiences and perspectives, and you’ll be amazed at the inspiring stories and connections that can emerge.

Once you establish connections, it’s important to nurture them. Remember, relationships are mutually beneficial and thrive on individuals feeling seen, heard and valued. Whether it’s sharing a podcast or article you think they might enjoy, offering your thoughts on their projects or introducing them to someone you believe they’d find inspiring, be thoughtful in your engagement.

Through the courage to be vulnerable, consistency in your efforts and endless curiosity, you will develop authentic, thriving connections that enrich your career transition journey and reveal a world of possibilities for personal and professional growth.

Submit your own questions to Ask Women and Work by e-mailing us at

This week’s must-read stories on women and work

These coaches want to help you be better at your job – by paying attention to your period

UK-based career coach Pamella Bisson starts every client session with a question: “Where are you in your cycle?”

It might seem an invasive question in another setting, but her clients aren’t offended – they’ve come to Ms. Bisson for her method of helping people match their workflows to, well, another flow: their menstrual cycle.

While everyone’s body is different, a monthly cycle typically has four phases: menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation and the luteal phase. In each phase, the body releases different hormones, which, studies show, can influence mood, energy levels and even mental health. The follicular phase and ovulation, for example, are both associated with happiness, high energy and creativity, while the luteal phase can mean low energy and irritability.

Ms. Bisson, and other coaches like her, are raising the question: Why aren’t menstruators tapping into that cycle to help guide their working lives?

Read more about how these coaches are urging clients to leverage their cycles to optimize performance.

Why a new breed of startup is taking the slow-but-steady route to growth

“No, sorry. Thank you so much for your interest, and I’d love to keep your information for future conversations, but for now? Respectfully, no.”

Connie Lo is recreating a series of conversations she’s been having lately with retailers from Europe, Asia and Australia. Three Ships Beauty, the cultishly popular Toronto-based manufacturer of vegan and cruelty-free natural skin-care products she co-founded with Laura Burget in 2017, has caught the eye of the global beauty biz. But the startup has enough on its plate – this past spring, it inked a big deal that will see it stocked in more than 500 Whole Foods stores across North America – and Ms. Lo isn’t interested in overextension.

Read about Ms. Lo and Ms. Burget’s decision to forego quick growth for a more sustainable strategy, plus more from Canada’s top growing companies.

Naomi Klein on the link between wellness influencers and far-right propagandists

In losing control over her public self, the award-winning Canadian journalist and author Naomi Klein has found freedom in being herself.

Five years ago, Klein started to be mistaken for her so-called doppelganger, the American feminist writer turned conspiracy theorist Naomi Wolf, and receiving social-media backlash for extreme ideas with which she didn’t associate. She feared for what it would mean for her public persona.

“The idea that there’s another person who the world perceives to be you can either be seen as a nightmare or just a reminder that we’re not actually in as much control as we might have thought,” Klein tells writer Mira Miller. “ … You may as well just be yourself.”

Read more from Naomi Klein, an instalment of the Globe’s Off Duty series.

In case you missed it

Research shows women of different ethnicities rarely work together to address workplace inequity

Despite facing many of the same barriers, women don’t always come together to address inequity in the workplace.

In her book, Shared Sisterhood: How to Take Collective Action for Racial and Gender Equity at Work, Dr. Tina Opie highlights how white women and women of colour rarely work together to fix the inequities they all face even with the commonalities they experience, like lower pay, disparity in promotion and incidents of harassment.

Dr. Opie, an associate professor of management at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., references research by Dr. Ella L. J. Edmondson Bell of Dartmouth College and Dr. Stella M. Nkomo of the University of Pretoria. This research found white women are more likely to be raised in individualist communities where success is based on individual work ethic, while Black women (and, in Dr. Opie’s research, other women of colour) are more likely to be raised in communities of resistance, where they are taught to work hard but to remember the world is not designed for them.

Read the full article.

From the archives

Women are drinking more, but alcohol addiction is still a taboo subject in the workplace

Amy C. Willis knows what it’s like to hide a drinking problem at work.

She says it took her many years to get sober after struggling with alcohol misuse that she kept secret from her family, friends and work colleagues.

“It never even occurred to me to bring that issue to work because I had so much shame,” says Ms. Willis, a former HIV prevention researcher who now runs a sobriety coaching business in Toronto for women and the LGBTQ+ community called Hol + Well.

“I never considered the possibility of seeking any kind of support [at work] because I was far too worried about the consequences.”

While alcohol has long been a staple of workplace socializing, from after-work drinks at the local watering hole to boozy conferences and awards dinners, issues of alcohol misuse and dependence in the workplace have stayed firmly in the shadows.

Read the full article.

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