“I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine,” is probably the number one myth that many people believe about networking, and hence, they simply cannot stomach what they believe is boring small talk over generic refreshments. Some have even gone on to call this indispensable skill as manipulative, and so simply avoid any opportunity. Moreover, a majority of women have ambivalent opinions on this, but fail to realize the importance of networking to one’s career and more so, even if you are not an entrepreneur. Therefore, by making networking a learning experience, you can get more than you bargained for as a professional woman.
Social media can be a great ice-breaker
According to a global LinkedIn survey, 80% of working professionals strongly believe that networking is a key factor to reach professional success. The problem is that some people give networking a bad rap due to it taking up people’s time when they would rather go home, put the kids to bed and kick up their feet. Sally Helgesen, a women’s leadership author, says that women believe that taking advantage of relationships is not nice, and “Women may view asking for something as transactional, so they miss out on the value of the relationship.” However, they cannot be more wrong, since networking helps increase your rapport with like-minded people and can also help you get recommendations and endorsements within your network and in your field of work. Networking doesn’t always involve face to face conversations, it also takes place over social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and the like. Once conversations take place on social media, they will definitely get easier once you meet people in person.
Women don’t use their networks as much as men do
However, top women business leaders agree that women need to get out more and take the initiative to network because it creates a great support system for them. Most people assume that networking always has to be related to work, but it can also be just getting to know someone and their opinions on various topics like current issues that are plaguing the world, for example. A job survey stated that 85% of vacancies in companies are actually filled by networking. Research reveals that men are more likely to make use of their professional connections to make a big career move than women, even if men and women have access to a large professional network. Turning down opportunities to network stop women from breaking down professional barriers, while also prevents them from exploring new and better job opportunities as well as leadership roles.
Find mentors and make friends
While the very thought of going alone to a networking event may seem daunting for many, know that you are not alone. If it helps, take a friend or colleague along to help ease your tension. Also, try to attend such events frequently so you will always be on your toes and not forget how it’s done. But most of all, approach networking as you would make friends. Co-founder of Indi.com and former tennis player, says, “It goes without saying that a healthy network can add to the top-line, but it’s not restricted to that. When you nurture it over time, members of your network would better resonate with your points and you can better resonate with theirs. This is how you build your ‘social’ or ‘network capital’, which is essentially a collective wealth of goodwill and expertise.”
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