The power of networking: An interview with Simona Barbieri
HubDot specializes in community events, corporate engagement programs, and diversity and inclusion experiences. Over the last 10 years, HubDot has proven that despite differences in backgrounds, jobs, and education, people share one great ability: to network. The HubDot team empowers people to embrace the power of networking to unlock genuine connections, meaningful conversations, and build impactful relationships.
Using a simple method of dots – whereby members choose a specific color that represents a mindset for the specific event (based on their needs, intentions, and desires) – HubDot playfully strips away labels and breaks down barriers. This facilitates a more focused, inclusive, and engaging experience for every attendee.
We chatted with HubDot Founder Simona Barbieri to learn more about the company, how it was founded and why networking is more important than ever before.
Would you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background?
I’m originally from Naples and I studied to become a diplomat, but that career path ended very abruptly. I had a terrible experience with sexual harassment, and I just didn’t want anything to do with that life anymore. So, I ended up founding my own company in Italy. It was a language consultancy that helped companies improve their English. I started working part of the year as a summer school Director for a campus of Italian students in the UK, and eventually, I moved over permanently. I started working at Goldman Sachs and then pursued a career singing jazz professionally before the HubDot journey started.
I would describe myself as a Londoner with a Neapolitan heart, a mother of three, a wife, and a passionate business owner.
And how did that happen? Starting your own business?
HubDot started like most startups do: trying to solve a problem while filling a gap in the market.
For me, it all happened in 2012. I was going through a professional reinvention. I felt that networking was a painful experience. I found myself in situations where it wasn’t about joy. It was all very stiff and formal and everything that I didn’t like or enjoy. So HubDot really started with a need to network without judgment, where I could simply be myself and do what I love doing best: meeting and connecting with new people.
So I sent out an email to every single person in my contacts, inviting them to my house to meet people and talk about projects they were working on. In my mind, I was thinking I could create a space where I could bring different worlds together: the friends I made in the world of jazz, and friends I made in the corporate world. 98 people showed up for the get-together, and each person came with their own stories, projects, challenges, and opportunities. It was incredible!
At that stage, I didn’t suspect this could be a business. But a week later my inbox exploded! I got mails from all over the world, with so many people showing interest. From there, my mind started formulating ideas and I decided to get working on putting together another event. Which ended up having 500 guests!
For the very first event, that must have been an incredible feeling?
I still get goosebumps when I think about it! And everything moved so quickly. By 2020, New York was the 25th city where we launched a physical event.
It sounds like it was a very organic process. Was it?
I think something about it just struck a chord in people’s hearts.
What have you learned from the pandemic, specifically about your business?
In my experience, whenever a challenge arises, I’ve found that you must go back to the community. It’s not about answering the question but asking the question to the people who matter most.
When the pandemic hit, as a team we did just that. And through that, we pivoted as a business to a digital model. And it taught us that what we had created could be repeated online. We found that it was the philosophy that spoke to people, not the format.
I’ve learned that even when you feel like the world is about to end, as an entrepreneur, there is always an opportunity, always an avenue to explore.
What have you learned about networking over the last ten years?
Networking shouldn’t be elitist, or ego-driven. I’ve learned that networking is a superpower that all humans have. Networking is a way of connecting and sharing who we are, and it can build bridges in the most unlikely of places, so long as we are ready to let go of preconceived ideas of people, job titles, and other assumptions.
Networking is for everyone, no matter your background or circumstances. When you have the right mindset and intention, we’re all the same. That’s what HubDot has really proven over the last 10 years.
Visit HubDot’s website to learn more about the team and their work, as well as the exciting upcoming events and initiatives planned for 2022. To discover more insights and tips from leading Community Managers and community-building experts, be sure to visit our blog page.