I dub myself a consummate networker and yet I loathe networking. We’ve all been there, at the parade of handshakes, ‘What do you do?’ and (particularly for us expats) ‘Where are you from?’ There’s something so pointless about most networking events. But one startup is looking to change that, particularly facilitating networking among women, and even has the tech to get it done.
Hub Dot is a network of business, executive, and working women that is all about changing the conversation from ‘What do you do?’ to ‘What is your story?’ as they help connect 90,000 women in 15 cities and now online. Their belief is that if you connect to stories not job titles, you will find connections that could make a difference to you — whether big or small, personal or professional.
The algorithm of networking
Rachel Benton one of Hub Dot’s newest members and a marketing volunteer for the organization said, “Our Dot Platform is about connecting people no matter where they are. And it’s about who a person is, rather than what they do. It’s about what people’s passions or interests or what they need in life — someone to talk with, to give them a business idea, to be a mentor.”
The Dot Digital platform — or digital “piazza” as they call it — Dot Alchemy is like an Angie’s List meets a LinkedIn. Dot Alchemy has an algorithm powering it, into which data feeds from both multiple choice and free text boxes, asking you the things you’re interested in and who you want to connect with. However it’s not fully automated, but rather there are Hub Dot mentors reading every profile and helping with the professional matchmaking behind the scenes.
Benton gave the example of a science teacher who wants STEM — the mix of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — added in the national curriculum. She could then use Dot Alchemy to connect with scientific thought leaders in the field who can help get her access to governmental resources.
“When people join us — whether they come into our events or the online platform — they write about themselves. They tell their stories to us. We read each and every story. We know about them, we hear them. And we also know about who they want to connect with.” Chief Alchemist and retiree from the banking world Duygu Ergin told me at the Spark the Change conference here in London that “We bring connections to them constantly.”
And just when this started sounding expensive, this is a free service. As Ergin said “This is our mission, we will monetize in something else.”
Your Dot, your purpose
And of course, as the name suggests, for both the in-person Hub Dot experiences and Hub Alchemy online, you need to choose your dot. Whether a click on your profile or a sticker on your lapel, the dot truly is the backbone of the Hub Dot networking experience.
- Red Dot: ‘Embrace your inner guru with a red Dot.’ This is for the ‘established’ networker who maybe is more there to share her life experience.
- Yellow Dot: ‘Eureka! Switch on a yellow Dot for your light bulb moment.’ This dot is to proclaim you have an idea and are looking for folks to work with on it.
- Green Dot: ‘Don’t waste time on horseshoes, wear a green Dot and make your own luck.’ After the color of reinvention, this is for members who are ready to dive right in head first to the next opportunity.
- Blue Dot: ‘Blue love is a global affair, choose a blue Dot and get in on the conversation.’ Blue, like just about all social media icons, is for those looking to socialize.
- Purple Dot: ‘Unleash your inner purple Dot and be the change our world is looking for.’ Purple is looking to find ways to make the world a better place.
The point for the founder Simona Barbieri is that people are too busy telling the one-liners about what they do (or often well longer than one-to-five-minute liners), that no one remembers anything genuine and connections are lost. Her Dots look to strip job titles away from networking and to turn small talk into storytelling.
And which Dot could change every day as so do your needs and goals.
Benton said that while it’s still predominantly women, “We’re getting a lot of men in our world.” Of course, I particularly liked that it was made originally for women because certainly a lot of networking events just turn out to feel like speed dating. It was originally built with women in mind because we tend to share unique struggles, like going back to work after taking time for child rearing.