Networking is an important tool in making connections to boost your career. In particular, networking is important for women as it allows the opportunity to find mentors, to expand business opportunities and for those persons to potentially become a mentor further down the line, to the next aspiring businesswomen.
What’s stopping you?
There have been articles published on how men and women need to network differently in order for women to gain the competitive edge networking offers.
Forbes published an article which stated:
- Men are focused on the short-term need; women are more focused on building long-term personal connections or friendships.
- Women often make contacts through people they know and tend to form smaller, deeper networks based on trust. They also frequently seek advice for both personal and professional needs.
- In contrast to men, women generally hesitate to ask for what they want out of a networking interaction. Instead, they think about what they can do for the other person first.
- There are also special circumstances that can prevent women from networking like men. Many women don’t want to attend events after work, because they want to get home to be with their families (since women are still the primary caregivers). Pregnant women also may not want to attend events at which alcohol will be drunk.
- Women also tend to avoid networking with men in social settings because they don’t want their behaviour to be misconstrued. When women enlist men as mentors, the relationship can sometimes be viewed as more than just a professional one.
Furthermore, women often can feel self-conscious, intimidated and lack the confidence when it comes to networking.
Top tips for networking
- Don’t take up too much time
Before you start networking with someone, have an idea or topic of conversation which you think will help you connect and to allow the meeting to keep on track. Time is money and people are never happy with someone that takes up too much of their time. By planning out your meeting ahead of time, you establish your professionalism, you gain credibility and cover all the critical topics you wanted to cover.
- Let other people speak
When networking, make sure that you don’t do all the talking. If you have asked another person a question, for advice or their opinion, make sure they have the opportunity to tell you. This is because if you do all the talking they may feel you are uninterested in what they have to say and unsure what action to take with the information you have supplied.
- Ask for suggestions on how to expand your network
Networking doesn’t just allow someone the opportunity to meet new people but it offers the chance to gain an insight into how others have built their network. By asking others if they have any tips on how to network successfully this will allow you to see what works best in practice and within the area(s) you are interested in.
- Find a reason to follow up
If you want to establish a network with another person, the key is to create a reason to keep the relationship going. If you read an article that adds to a discussion you had, send it to them with a brief note on what you found interesting and how you think it could benefit them. Connect with them online after meeting most people are on LinkedIn now.
- Online Profiles
A key to great networking is to ensure your online profiles are always up-to-date. This will allow your network to keep up to date with what is going on in your career and allow you to connect with them after the event.
How to Network During a Pandemic
Networking has never been easy but due to the coronavirus, networking can seem even more daunting. This is because due to the virus may events which you could attend for great opportunities for networking have probably been cancelled or postponed until next year.
So, the question is, how do you network during a pandemic?
One amazing way to still network and keep safe is by attending online events where you can still network and meet new people. Attending these events are a great idea especially for those who due to the virus are feeling isolated and their mental health may be suffering as this will help you to reach out and connect with others.
Here at Thrive we understand how important networking is for women and understand how difficult networking can be. So, as a way of overcoming these “limitations” women often have when it comes to networking, we have created Thrive Women to offer women a good way to start networking by going to women only events to gain confidence in networking and making those important relationships.
Thrive Women is a network of innovative women who connect, inspire and empower emerging leaders to achieve success. You can find our Facebook group here to join.