Networking is Not a Dirty Word

Posted By: Lynn Heckler | June 24, 2016 | 0 Comments

Then why is it still so darn uncomfortable for many women? Why are we so hesitant to pick up the phone and ask for help or even a business contact?

In the Sponsor Effect, Breaking Through the last Glass Ceiling, Sylvia Hewlett clearly distinguishes the different reasons men and women network. Women tend to network for relationships, while men network to compete and win.

Even though women are hardwired to connect and can be natural networkers, there is often a strong aversion to the underlying quid pro quo of networking. Actively seeking out relationships for self-benefit seems forced and even distasteful to many women. We are more comfortable being the helper than the one being helped. Self-promotion is a dress that doesn’t fit quite right.networking

The conundrum is that effective networking is a critical component of success in today’s business world, an environment where women are largely still struggling to define their place. By effectively connecting and networking with peers, women can accelerate their career and personal development in a manner that cannot otherwise be achieved. What you know is the “price of entry”, but who you know will get you a seat at the right table.

I met a young professional woman for coffee this morning who I believe is looking to connect both for career advice and business connections. We established common ground almost instantly and had a fantastic dialogue. The problem is, this woman never once asked me for what she needs. I had to guess and almost randomly offer how I might be of service to her. This approach is great for relationship building, but not effective networking. In this case, I felt comfortable enough to address it directly and give her explicit permission to ask me for what she needs. It sure was easier than throwing darts at what may or may not be her target!

So, here is one simple technique to improve networking effectiveness. Find a sentence or two that clearly states the desired outcome of your networking and get comfortable saying it—out loud, to another person. It may be as simple as “I’m looking to connect with senior level female leaders who may be able to offer career advice. Do you know anyone?”. Ask for what you need–specifically, directly and politely. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the result. In observing women at networking events, I see their genuine engagement and encouragement of others. In my experience, women want to see other women succeed.

Lynn Heckler

Lynn Heckler

Lynn is PSCU’s Chief Talent Officer and owns responsibility for the functions that define the company's culture and employees’ work experience. She has over 25 years of experience in human resources management in various industries including vision care, home healthcare, insurance, and financial services. In 2015, Lynn was recognized with the SHRM Florida Professional of the Year Award.
Lynn Heckler




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