There is good and bad news. On the one hand, women’s advancements in business have skyrocketed in the past years and now young women are entering the business world better educated than their male counterparts.
On the other hand, despite such progress, according to Catalyst's Global Women in the Workforce study, women account for less than a third (29%) of senior roles globally. As of the May 2019 Fortune list, only 33 women (6.6%) were CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. One very practical issue contributing to statistics like these is that women spend too much time doing and less time networking, according to Carol Bartz, former CEO of Yahoo and Lisa Lambert, founder of UPWARD.
Networking. For some, this word might evoke a sense of mistrust and an uncomfortable feeling because it brings up images of sales reps, hyper friendliness, and shameless self-promotion. If these were your initial thoughts, then it is time to change your perspective.
It doesn't matter if you are starting a new job, managing your own business, leading a team in a corporation or a start-up or if you are simply looking for the next step in your career. Building up strong social connections with other female and male (!) professionals and leaders can have an extremely positive impact on your career. Yes, even if this means to step a little bit out of your comfort zone. Here are six good reasons for you. Join reets. A network for female leaders and like-minded, curious women.
Here is why female leaders should network more:
1. Network to secure your next job or change your career
In the recent years there have been a lot of studies about the benefits and impact of networking. All agree that it is a popular way to score a job. Some experts say that 70 percent of people ended up in their current role thanks to their network. Others say it’s even 85 percent. Studies also show that 80 percent of new jobs are not even listed but are instead filled internally or via networking. Leveraging your social connections to get career advice or insider tips about an open role can be extremely helpful. If your contact believes you are a great fit for a position, she might even refer you. This can give you a huge advantage in the recruiting process. In general, offering genuine support to your network is not only satisfying, it will also set a strong foundation for receiving support in return when you need it.
2. Network to land your next client
Networking expands business opportunities within a company and externally. “Having the right connections can make a difference when it comes to sealing a deal or landing a new client,” says Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s Connection Director and best-selling author of the book, Girl on Top.
3. Network to get fresh ideas and learn
Meeting other like-minded people, for example other women in leadership positions, can be empowering and enduring. Even spending time with professionals who have different jobs, interests, and backgrounds can stimulate creativity. You might be able to get new inputs and ideas for a project, find ways to solve a problem or keep up with new trends and research. Most of all, you will find that you are not alone. There are connections that have faced similar situations before and you can learn from them. You will be surprised, most of the time people are thrilled to offer their thoughts and suggestions.
4. Network to be empowered & motivated
Successful networking groups talk to members’ emotional needs which include providing encouragement and inspiration to keep doing what you love. Raising each other up and collaborating is how we change the equation—and have a lot more fun along the way. It is, indeed, very common that professional connections turn into great friendships.
5. Network to find your mentor or mentee
Done right, networking lets you identify role models, find mentors and sponsors. Ideally, you don't just look for a mentor within the company but also connect outside. We spend a lot of time at our workplace and are often surrounded by a lot of the same people on a daily basis. This can be comfortable and a bonding experience but - depending on the size and culture of your organization - it does not always open up new perspectives. Finding a mentor outside your workplace, ideally more senior and experienced than you, can provide new ways of thinking. Those mentors can offer advice that is not restricted to the typical career path of your organization. They can connect you with other people you most likely wouldn't have met otherwise. As you rise in your career, you might even like to help others coming up behind you as a mentor yourself.
6. Network to invest into your future
Women tend to “network down”, or seek professional relationships with lower-level colleagues, instead of seeking connections with more senior colleagues or leaders. But this doesn't have to be a bad thing. Both, higher and lower-level connections, can be powerful.
Terhi Nokkala, an education researcher at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, has found in her studies of academic women’s networks that women are looking for organic relationships from a shared experience, such as gender or career stage. “We shouldn’t represent peer networks as a deficiency,” says Nokkala . “If women forge strong ties with peers at an early career stage, those people stay with them, not necessarily in the same institution, but within the discipline. Those ties offer strength over the long term.”. Those former peers can still be a valuable source of information or experience – if not now, then in the future. Networking is a long-term game. The rewards of building a solid network are usually not realized immediately but unexpectedly or under a longer time frame. Just think about how many of your former peers could potentially refer you for a job in a new company or division? How many could become your business partner now or in the future?
Networking is a long-term investment every female leader should be aware of.
Sharing experiences, meeting others, and learning from people inside and outside of your organization is a central part of leadership. Of course, education and credentials are still highly important, but the reality is that a strong network can help tip the scales in your favor. Why not begin with it now?
Join reets. - The Digital Book Club for female leaders and like-minded, curious women. We are building a network of women with a growth mindset, who never stop learning, like to challenge the status quo, are not afraid to fail and empower each other.