Networking: The Most Important Thing Women Should Do for Their Careers — But Aren’t

Of all of the lessons I learned early in my career, the capability to network strategically stands proud as one of the maximum essential — and one I keep to locate cost in and practice to at the present time. In fact, I characteristic an awful lot of my fulfillment as a businessperson and leader within my profession to networking.

The importance of networking changed into ingrained in me all through my first job at Credit Lyonnais. My boss essentially took me below his wing and had me take a seat in his office at the same time as he fielded cellphone calls from all around the world.
After each a call, he’d question me why I concept he wanted to speak to that man or woman and what I concept the advantage of the decision became. In this way, he taught me how to relentlessly community — and why it turned into so crucial.
Given the essential career position networking has played for me, it pains me to look how underutilized it’s far among ladies. Although girls are generally seen as more “social” than guys average, consistent with the 2018 Women inside the Workplace report with the aid of LeanIn.Org and McKinsey, girls without a doubt network much less than men.
And when girls do community, they accomplish that primarily with different women instead of guys. I see this as a vast reason for concern for girls as individuals and energy players inside their agencies and industries.
So, what is stopping girls from successfully networking?
According to a examine by SAGE Publishing that appeared inside the Journal of Human Relations, this hassle is rooted within the truth that maximum girls generally tend to fall victim to self-imposed barriers — consisting of gendered modesty, the tendency to undersell their price and strengths and reluctance to leverage their connections as a means to get beforehand in their careers.

It’s time to push past these roadblocks and focus on the blessings — or as I like to name it, the go back on investment — of networking. After all, this essential skill is one so as to hold to pay dividends for the duration of a girl’s career.
To be successful, you need to be intentional about the way you network. It’s not sufficient to sincerely be sociable in case your purpose is to have a seat at the table in which your thoughts can be heard. Instead, you have to deliberately network.
Done right, networking shall we women become aware of function fashions, find mentors and sponsors and make bigger their commercial enterprise opportunities. As they rise in their careers, they can also pay it ahead by means of helping others developing behind them.
Ready to get commenced? Here are several actionable guidelines to assist soar-begin your networking game:
Make it a priority.
I get it: networking can be tedious and awkward. But in keeping with a joint examine by the Adler Group and LinkedIn, 85 percent of jobs are crammed thru networking, which means this interest in the end benefits us within the long time.
Importantly, networking isn’t just about touchdown a task at a one of a kind business enterprise. Face-to-face interactions inside your current enterprise are important to the trajectory of your profession. In reality, as the Women inside the Workplace file discovered, “Women get less get right of entry to to senior leaders than men do. Yet personnel who interact often with senior leaders are more likely to invite for and acquire promotions, stay at their businesses, and aspire to be leaders.”
One manner to shed any poor idea styles you can have approximately networking is to keep away from a transactional approach. It’s no longer about “what can you do for me” — it’s approximately developing relationships and proper connections which are collectively thrilling and beneficial.
Begin figuring out commonalities: sports, alma maters, passions, preferred excursion locations, commercial enterprise pastimes, which might be the matters deeper connections are built on. This isn’t always “small communicate.” In reality, it’s quite the alternative.
You’re going beyond floor-level conversations approximately the weather to locate shared regions of hobby to form a bond. Conversations like these have led to a number of my strongest connections, and in a few instances, have helped me increase lifelong friendships.
In addition to undertaking meaningful conversations, create impactful connections by way of proving your dedication to networking through movement. During my 2d day at WebPT as its new CEO, I experienced a musculoskeletal difficulty. To complicate matters similarly, I’d committed to attend a first-rate physical therapy convention, which was taking place the very subsequent day.
Knowing that our customers were looking forward to to satisfy me, I made it a priority to move and fought thru the ache. Word of my circumstance fast unfold on the conference, however, and in a fortuitous twist of destiny, confirmed my colleagues that I changed into serious about my obligations as their CEO. That by myself helped me build trusting relationships with them early on.
So, be actual and dedicate yourself to the process; the commercial enterprise element will evolve obviously.
Share the wealth with your community.
I discover that prioritizing networking and paying it ahead to the connections you’ve made can make all of the distinction inside the long-term. I try this via my mentoring.
For instance, I in no way ignore a request from a previous employee, irrespective of how lengthy it is been considering the fact that we labored together. As a end result, I’ve opened doorways to new relationships and profession possibilities for myself and helped others do the equal — which has been the most worthwhile part for me.
At any given time, I formally and informally mentor as much as a dozen ladies and men from all profession levels. I’m obsessed with sharing what I’ve learned thru my profession, specifically the importance of networking. When it comes to time spent with my mentees, I spend most of it explaining the way to community, whom to target and how to balance giving. Ideally, they, too, will be a hit in making significant connections.
Finally, mentoring has allowed me to assist ladies achieve pinnacle management positions, a purpose this is extra potential if they may be encouraged to deliberately community. Research from a Catalyst survey that seemed within the Harvard Business Review showed that guys are less probably to propose women to diverse board positions really because those ladies don’t have enough lady connections. To give up this cycle, I use my mentoring position to get greater people involved in networking.
Turn negatives into possibilities.
Changing your outlook on networking additionally requires you to see the opportunity in what you could have previously perceived because the bad components of the system.
For me, which means small talk: I myself try and keep away from it at all expenses. Instead, I attention on what I can research from this character I’m speaking to. You might use small communicate as an icebreaker; however quickly flow on: When you approach each interplay as a getting to know opportunity, you can discover a commercial enterprise tool that might carry more performance to a routine at your workplace or expertise of a new technology this man or woman is running on that would disrupt your enterprise.
To perceive the proper inquiries to ask, do on line research previous to meeting or achieving out. For example, I examine a great interview with a fellow CEO previous to our assembly and discovered that we each cherished Star Trek. I simply opened our first name with, “Why do you believe you studied Jean-Luc Picard is the finest Star Trek captain, and what management recommendation did you get from him?”
She laughed, it broke the ice and we had been off and going for walks. Because I took the danger to connect with her on a human level, we started a genuine verbal exchange that has because flourished and grow to be a lasting business friendship.
Another tip is to permit cross of the fear of pronouncing something “stupid” and thinking you need to have all of the answers. This is something I see a variety of women struggle with, but the truth is, maximum absolutely everyone inside the room is feeling this on a few degree — no one is an professional on each subject.
Instead, study the splendor of discussing an unexpected topic: It can be the issue that facilitates build a connection. I even have determined that when someone knows extra about a subject than I do, I have the possibility to examine something new and interact with that person in a more meaningful manner through asking questions.