What are the benefits of female networking? How can women build a business network?
How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith explains that women tend to excel at building social networks but may struggle to make effective use of them. This is because using contacts to advance their careers and asking others for help makes women feel manipulative and selfish.
Continue reading to learn why women need to take advantage of networking, and how they can make connections.
Failing to Utilize Social Networks
Female networking is a crucial component of advancing your career as a woman—asking others for support helps you accomplish immediate tasks and can also help you take steps toward long-term goals.
For example, if you ask a coworker to put you in touch with their editor friend, you might receive input that helps you write a killer report. And moving forward, staying in touch with the editor might give you insights that will help you accomplish career goals like becoming a full-time writer.
(Shortform note: In Goals!, Brian Tracy offers advice to help you effectively build and utilize your social network. For example, offer the other person patience, humility, attentiveness, and warmth so that both parties are giving something to the relationship. This may encourage you to utilize your contacts without feeling manipulative because you’re offering the other person something in return—it’s a mutually beneficial interaction. Further, Tracy says you should intentionally network in three areas to most effectively expedite your success: within your business (co-workers, bosses, customers, and so on), within your industry (people in other organizations within the industry), and at home (with loved ones who support you).)
Failing to Utilize Social Networks: The Solutions
The authors provide a few solutions to help women effectively utilize their social networks.
1. When building contacts, remember to be intentional. The authors explain that you should form professional contacts with those you can have a mutually beneficial relationship with. Make connections with people who have something to offer you and who you can offer something to in return. You don’t have to feel strongly about the person to make them a contact, you just have to get along and offer mutual benefits.
(Shortform note: Intentionally selecting who to network with may still make you feel insincere and manipulative. To lessen this feeling, Barker recommends initially focusing on friendship when building connections—try to find and emphasize things you have in common. This will make the connection feel more authentic, even if you formed it for a specific purpose.)
2. Let go of binary thinking. Overcome the belief that utilizing contacts for personal gain is manipulative by acknowledging that things aren’t black and white—just because you’re asking a contact for help with a specific topic doesn’t mean you devalue the rest of their abilities or personality. Utilizing contacts is a natural part of advancing your career—everyone should do it, so you shouldn’t feel bad about it.
(Shortform note: In Goals!, Tracy argues that you should reject all self-limiting beliefs (such as binary thinking) and provides three tips to help you do so. First, question your beliefs—ask whether they’re holding you back, get others to point out inaccuracies in your logic, and consider how true they are. Second, choose to only entertain beliefs that will benefit you—for example, that you’re a good person and that you’ll succeed. Finally, imagine the person you want to become and act as if you already possess the skills and qualities they have. For example, imagine you’re already the CEO of your company and that you’re comfortable relying on your network of contacts to help you advance.)