May 24, 2018
May 24, 2018
In 2016, I went to Harvard to be part of the Women and Power program. Stacy Blake-Beard, one of the faculty speakers, conducted an enthralling session on the different methods and mindsets women employ when networking in comparison to their male colleagues (generally speaking of course).
I loved how she defined the topic with the following statement.
‘Networking is a systemic and deliberate process of building and maintaining relationships that are mutually beneficial.’
Three phrases jump out of me with this definition:
It has been my experience that many people go through their career without paying any attention to these descriptors of networking. What’s more, if the Harvard research is correct, women tend to do this less than men.
Recently I took my 17-year old daughter, Alex, to the International Women’s Forum Global Conference held in Melbourne. She met some amazing women from around the world. Being the youngest person there, she also made quite an impression.
On leaving the event she commented on how friendly and helpful everyone was. The next day I suggested that she find a way to thank them for their insights and stay connected with the women she met. We decided that a LinkedIn account would be the most efficient way.
Over the next 24 hours, Alex went through the emotional roller coaster ride that is a part of networking.
On sending her first few connection requests with a tailored introduction message she said, “OMG! This is more stressful than asking someone on a date”. To my knowledge she has not asked anyone on a date, but I understand the anxiety she was feeling. I reassured her that sending a LinkedIn connection is and should not be anywhere near as daunting as asking someone on a date.
Her attitude changed when she received a few replies back from people saying how delighted they were to have met her and if she ever needed anything to reach out. Alex said, “This is actually a bit of fun”.
While sitting at home on Saturday night (obviously with no date) she made another observation that, “Networking is like almost a full-time thing”.
In summary, networking can be daunting, and it can be a lot of fun, but you have to put some time and effort into it.
My advice is to always come from a place of how you can help the other person. Also find your own way to build and maintain the relationships that matter to you.
As Alex has demonstrated, it is never too early to start the systemic and deliberate process of building and maintaining relationships, for hopefully what will be mutually beneficial to the both of you.
And talking about all things networking, my latest episode in the Authentic Leadership Podcast Series features Janine Garner, CEO of LBD Group. Janine has written two best selling books on networking and collaboration and her latest, It’s Who You Know, is a must-read book that I revisit often.
You can listen to the podcast here.