5 Tips for Making Real Connections Networking
Inspirational connector, Janine Garner

Janine Garner is the inspirational and dynamic woman behind the Little Black Dress Group - an organisation all about connections, empowerment and being the change you want in the world.

Come find out with us what inspires this fascinating lady and how she has crafted her own journey.

What do you enjoy about having your own business with Little Black Dress Group?

I would have to say the fact that my business rests on getting to interact with amazing women on a continuous basis - this is such an inspiration and a joy to me. Engagement, collaboration and discussion with changemakers and business leaders - this is the ultimate aim of any business owner and I know how fortunate I am.


Why did you start the Little Black Dress Group, what was your catalyst?

I had been working within corporate for over eighteen years and whilst it was extremely challenging, I was frustrated at the ability to effect real change. I think the catalyst was really when over a few months, I noticed that every conversation I was having centred around giving out knowledge to women I respected regarding their frustrations with business branding and making their businesses work. I thought 'this needs to be happening in a social and more importantly a safe setting' - and LBDG became a reality.

Who inspires you?

In terms of public figures, the amazing Sheryl Sandberg - she says what's on her mind and has the courage to stand in her own spotlight. But on a day to day basis, I have to say everyday people. Business leaders making real change. The people I collaborate with. Single parents simply getting on with what has to be done. Women and men having the courage to be vulnerable and ask for help. I see inspiring people everywhere. Open your ears and listen - you can find something to inspire you every day. There are amazing stories everywhere, from Coles to corporate boardrooms.

Do you feel you find a good work/life balance? What works for you?

I honestly think the phrase 'work/life balance' represents a myth. Life is simply life, and it's up to you to control it. I know that my life is crazy and hectic, but it's MY life - and I love it - and I also control every aspect of it - I own it. There is no work/life - there is just your life.

What do you love about having your own business?

I think it comes back to the question above - being able to control what I do, and also do what I love and am passionate about. Dealing with clients who are equally passionate about their businesses and want to see change happen. Being able to have a real voice within the Australian business landscape in terms of talking to equality for women.

What has been the most challenging experience of having your own business?

There is always the challenge with starting a business of losing the security of the 'corporate cocoon' - superannuation, sick leave, holiday pay and leave. But for me these are outweighed by the opportunities and freedoms I am being granted. I will stress though that having your own business isn't for everyone.

Make your content marketing work for your business

What ripples of change in Australian business would you like the Little Black Dress Group to influence?

I would love to see LBDG, and myself personally, be able to help set a standard of communication when it comes to parental leave and general advancement (particularly in senior positions) of women in the workplace. There is a massive disparity between what is, and what should be, for the way women are placed in corporate Australia. The current brain drain from this arena is alarming - and sadly it is so easily mendable - as long as those in positions of power, which includes government, are willing to listen.

How does the Little Black Dress Group philanthropic First Seeds Fund enable and empower women in the community?

First Seeds is all about practical philanthropy - it's about those who have, enabling those who should have. What does this mean in real terms? It means LBDG members and supporters not doing 'handouts', but offering educational grants, industry experience, time, mentoring, clothing, goods, to women and girls who want to become more than they are. It means giving the tools to those who want to learn, and working with community leaders to make sure that there is a safe environment for this to be able to happen.

Why do you think connecting and supporting is so important for a business and business owner to succeed?

Netweaving - the 'business' of connections - is something a business owner must do, and do well. You are the sum of the five people you surround yourself with - so surrounding yourself with good people who are knowledgeable and who are on the same journey as you is essential. The whole idea of a frenzy of business card swapping is not how this is going to happen though - doing it through real conversations and genuine similar interests is key to finding those you really 'click' with. That is how support systems are made.

What are your 5 tips for women to network and connect?

1. Don't try to meet too many women at once - you will be overwhelmed and not form any real connections.

2. If you are going to a big event, make sure it is for the right reason - because you have a genuine interest in the cause or speaker.

3. If you meet someone you feel is germane to your business, follow up! Always pay it forward - it will come back to you ten-fold.

4. Don't approach a potential connection thinking 'what can this do for me?' - instead think 'what can we do for each other's businesses?'

5. Always remember that this shouldn't be hard work - if it is, then you are either in the wrong network, or you are pushing too hard. Relax! And remember - everyone is facing the same challenges. We need to support each other.

Meet Janine Garner

Meet Janine Garner

Janine Garner, CEO and Founder of the LBDGroup, is a passionate advocate for women and female leaders in the workplace and believes that significant cultural and corporate change is still needed to see the advancement of women in leadership positions. She is an international brand marketing specialist with significant retail marketing experience gained across multiple fashion and retail brands in Australia and overseas. 

Her passion for retail and fashion sees her consulting and advising a multitude of clients in the brand and retail space where her philosophy is one of finding, creating, leveraging and sustaining a brand's magic and building integrated conversations that attract, engage and deliver long term affinity with consumers.

Janine is also the founder of the First Seeds Fund - a philanthropic arm of the LBDGroup that raises funds and supports women and children at the grass roots of Australia with a focus on education and employment. 

Janine is an active speaker, presenter, consultant and mentor. She sits on the Board of the Australian Women's Donor Network and the Advisory Committee of the Australian Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI). 

Janine holds a Bachelor of Science with Honours degree from Aston University, Birmingham, UK. Born in the UK, Janine now lives in Sydney with her husband and three young children.

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