Long before it was fashionable to promote workplace diversity or draw attention to women’s IT leadership talents, Kristen Lamoreaux was on a mission to do just that.
In January 2007, she founded SIM Women, a networking and career development organization within the Society for Information Management. She invited 28 female CIOs and VPs to gather in Morristown, NJ, for the first in-person event.
“I still remember getting an email at 3am that night from one of the women at that event,” says the CEO of Lamoreaux Search, an executive search firm specializing in presentation of various lists of IT candidates. “She was so excited to be in the room with over two dozen other women in tech. If nothing else happens, she told me, you made a difference!
SIM Women has just celebrated its 15th anniversaryand anniversary and has grown to over 1,100 members across North America, with Lamoreaux still thriving at the helm. When we touched down on base recently, she was in a whirlwind of diary planning activity for May 16andNational Meeting SIM Women in Princeton, New Jersey
With all the current angst around the big resignation and what seems like a permafrost of talent in the IT landscape, I turned to Lamoreaux, one of the most creative and compassionate career strategists I know. to learn how CIO networking is changing during this pandemic era.
Maryfran Johnson: Where do you find job candidates these days? Are there any unusual places where you meet talented tech leaders?
Kristen Lamoreaux: I’ve always been focused on building my network, but COVID is coming and I couldn’t attend a CIO event and meet 300 people in one day! But I’m very mission-driven and do a lot of my sourcing from philanthropic events. I meet more CEOs and CIOs there than at technology events. CIOs won’t always take time for themselves, but they will take time for others, for a cause or a passion they want to support. I am a big believer in “networking through philanthropy”.
Are these connections happening at virtual or in-person events? Does it even matter?
It’s both, yes. But since last October, I have attended many philanthropic events in person. A prom I went to was to benefit the LGBTQ community in Philadelphia. We were all vaccinated and it was great to reconnect safely. At this event, I met with the ACLU’s Director of Diversity, but I also met with a dozen executives and business leaders. They are now part of my network, some as potential clients, others as job candidates. We were all there to support the mission of this organization.
I was recently networked with a venture capitalist co-founder, and within the first five minutes he had offered me to speak at our national SIM Women tech event, get the executives of his companies talking, to help sponsor the event and to connect with other women planning a big event to talk about logistics. Needless to say, I want to return that level of generosity in kind, and I will remember him and the person who connected us for life. Overall, I also see a ton more generosity in networking these days.
What are some proven networking practices that always work well?
References and trusted relationships will always be the best source of talent. My advice to anyone considering a career change is to think about their trusting relationships. How many people would recommend them for a CIO position? Or better yet, hire them? If there aren’t at least 30 power brokers, they have more relationships to develop.
It seems like Kristen’s “rule of 30” is a quantifiable metric to apply to your power broker network. How do you map that?
I’m not talking about the other IT managers, by the way. These people are your competition. These are the influencers who can hire or recommend you. It is a stratification factor. Think of three concentric circles. The closest people are the ones who know you best: mainly your friends and family. The next circle includes colleagues, networking colleagues, bosses, more business influencers. They are the most effective for you professionally. This third circle is your reputation sphere. These are the people who recognize your name and know your brand as a leader.
You need 20 solid people who know you and your brand. They are the ones who will recommend your name when recruiters call you. You want at least 10 people in that middle circle to really fight for you or hire you directly – maybe they’ve worked with you, served on a philanthropic board with you, for example, or been a partner provider.
Do you think most CIOs count vendor relationships in this career influencer sphere of power?
Probably not, but they should! Guess what: a supplier can influence your hiring. They have insights and perspectives on multiple businesses and industries. Say you brought SAP and spent tens of millions with them, spent years implementing the software, etc. These are relationships formed in intense situations. You trusted them when you agreed to do business. Carry that trust forward, be generous where you can, and take the time to nurture those relationships. Not only will you get better service today, but you can also get it as you grow in your career.