This week on the Women in Surveying series, Marion invited Jo Williams and Betsy Wong to discuss their experiences in networking, self-discovery and getting visible online.
Jo Williams is a chartered building surveyor working within a team of mixed discipline surveyors. She provides building surveying services to occupiers and investors across all commercial property types. After 14 years working within a corporate consultancy in Birmingham, she happily left the City in 2019 to be closer to home.
Betsy Wong is a Chartered Surveyor specialising in commercial properties. She helps both independent and corporate organisations that need commercial property advice.
Networking as Women Surveyors
Jo and Betsy begin by sharing their stories about struggling with introducing themselves at networking events and explaining what they do. Joe talks about the challenges and realisations she had connecting with new people.
“I struggle with networking,” Jo admits. “What I've got to do is be more selective about the events that I attend. When I was in corporate, they encouraged us to go to so many events, but a lot of them wouldn't be relatable to me. It'd be about capital markets or investment where I feel completely out of place.”
“Like Jo, I worked in corporate companies for over 15 years,” Betsy says. “I always went out networking, and I think I did quite well. I enjoyed it but it got to the point where I found day-in day-out is the same. Every company I moved to was very exciting in the beginning. It's all new processes, new procedures, new people. Once I have done the initial task of the job, it would become fairly routine again.”
“I find that, basically, I like to go into a mess,” she continues. “If someone says, ‘I’ve got a problem, can you sort it out for me?,’ I’ll be so excited about it, get out of bed, look at the problem and say ‘I need to find a solution’. Once the solution is done, I can move on to another problem, and that keeps me going. That started me off to start working on my own because I'm not bound by any corporate structure or any job specification as such anymore.”
Discovering What You Love To Do
Jo and Betsy agree on the idea of identifying what you love to do and creating the business around it. They share the same perspective that understanding yourself and your motivations brings positivity to the work you do.
“Discovering The Surveyor Hub has brought so much positivity into my life because I feel like I've got a better support network,” Jo says. “I’ve got a vision, and I'm finding that the more positive I am, the more positivity that brings. It's a knock-on effect. I'm positive about my work, but I am also on a voyage of self-discovery at the moment.”
“A lot of young surveyors come to me,” Betsy continues, “and they say, ‘Which area should I specialise in? Should I go into reviews? Should I go into building surveying?’ And I always say, ‘I can't give you the answer.’ Only you know what is best for you and what you enjoy most. How could anyone find out what they enjoy most? The only way is to try it.”
“I think we're under so much pressure when we're young surveyors lacking a particular pathway,” she says. “You think when you select those pathways, that's the be-all and end-all. That's what you're going to be designated to do for the rest of your life. But there's nothing to stop you from exploring and getting curious and trying other things.”
Building Social Media Visibility
Jo and Betsy talk about building a presence on social media and the anxieties around putting yourself out there. Jo shares what it was like posting for the first time on LinkedIn after attending the Surveyors Get Visible Masterclass.
“I think you get some mistaken loyalty to the firm that you're working for,” Jo says. “You're so desperate to have that paycheck at the end of the month. It is a bit suppressive, particularly if you haven't got any family or network around you. This is why social media is so important. The better you make your profile, you'll probably stand out to other employees who might even approach you, and they can help you get out of that vicious cycle.”
“I went to the Surveyors Get Visible Masterclass.” Jo continues, “I encourage everybody to do it. I straight away changed my LinkedIn profile. I even made the first post that I've ever made in my life and it got a really good reaction. Since then, I haven't posted that regularly but I am trying to be a bit more visible. I feel like a lot of feedback from people is actually there to help and support others. There's not much negativity.”
“I am very nervous about sharing my opinion or saying something,” Betsy says. “This is interesting, because then I started to use LinkedIn more, after the Masterclass, and it got a good reaction. It's positive and builds you up, but I don't know how I would feel if I got trolled, maybe that would knock my confidence. But I would probably reach out to someone in my network and say, ‘What do you think of this post because it got a really bad reaction?’. I’d just need that check-in to feel supported and I would probably bounce back quite quickly.”