Starting this post off by stating the obvious: networks are a career necessity.
Connections are an efficient way to get information, tap into resources, gain access, achieve visibility and seek new opportunities. Efficient as in, it may take time to build and maintain relationships but the time spent pales in comparison to all the time you’d need to spend doing all the work yourself or hustling your resume around or moping when you don’t get the opportunity/job offer you would have liked…if only you’d known about it.
It’s also highly practical to make network building a daily practice. As a Virgo, I’m all about practicality and efficiencies. For me, when networking is done daily it’s natural not some agonizing chore – and it becomes more intentional, purposeful when it’s part of a regular routine.
Here’s another reason to make network building a practice: women are disproportionately disadvantaged when it comes to leaving networking – or network building – to chance.
Yes, my musings this week are aimed at the women out there who are climbing the corporate ladder or building businesses or disrupting industries with their innovative ideas or creating social change or dreaming of doing any of things while still in school.
Here’s why I’m talking directly to you women this week: the networking strategy playbook is different for successful women.
When I say “networking” I’m referencing network structure or composition (who is in your network) not the busywork of “working the room” networking.
Suspecting (if you’re reading this) that you’re the type who is focused on achievement (aka success) I’d like you to think about a couple of questions, as it relates to your networks – and whether you’re creating relationships to fuel your success:
1. What network are you central or highly visible in?
Related to the first question.
Is it a network that cuts-across boundaries in your company or industry – that is, it is diverse in terms of expertise, reporting, title, gender, functional areas etc.?
2. Do you have an inner circle, a clique, a personal board of directors – who are women?
AND if you answered yes to the second question, are those women tied into diverse networks from yours and each others?
Now. Why these questions?
Studies of women’s careers from MBAs to the film industry reveal that women’s careers benefit from open, diverse networks. Hence the first question (What network are you central or highly visible in?).
But don’t drop the tight, cohesive, clique. Studies have also shown that successful women have a strong, tight, peer network. So yes, a sticking together networking strategy is a good one, when it is ½ your network-building effort.
Take a moment to reflect this week on your networks. Are you building the networks that will fuel your success?
BTW scheduling in time for reflection is another strategy of successful women.
From My Network
Ah, an email from Tina Roth Eisenberg reminded me once again of the power of digital tools to connect deeply (not simply inform).
Verbatim, here’s how Tina’s email signature line reads (without links):
My name is Tina Roth Eisenberg, but people call me swissmiss.
Unhappy with the conference world, I started CreativeMornings.
My daughter Ella inspired me to start Tattly.
I am quite passionate about sharing things I find.
I made a simple, list-based to do app called TeuxDeux.
Here’s my story in 5mins.
It’s a story, not simply contact info. Her call to action is for you to learn more – whether it’s temporary tattoos or her global creative community or the other things she cares about.
So another networking to-do (or TeuxDeux) is to re-imagine how your email signature line can better connect you with your community. If not your email signature line, how about your out-of-office or vacation responder?
ICYMI Tina’s story is one of the dream networks that appears in my book (page 113).
Build Your Dream Podcast
Don’t think you have a network? Or the network you need? This week’s podcast episode is all about WHO is in your network, cause yes! your network is bigger than you imagine.