By Molly Crockett
It’s been said that networking can be tougher for women than for men. But why is that?
Well, one can argue that there are currently fewer women in positions of power, despite their increasing presence in the media. However, what’s not seen in the media is how difficult it can be for women to get introductions, receive referrals and find sponsors.
However, if done correctly, women can successfully network and in turn help other women coming up behind them. Here are six ways to go about it the right way:
- Prioritize Networking
“Although networking can be tedious, it can get you hired in a company looking for people like you,” says Audrey McCaffrey, a recruiter at Australianhelp.com and Paperfellows.com. “At the same time, networking isn’t just about landing a job. It’s also about having face-to-face interactions within your current company, job fair or convention.”
First, avoid a transactional approach. “It shouldn’t be about ‘what can you do for
me,’” adds McCaffrey. “It’s about creating relationships and genuine connections
with other professionals that share the same interests as you like sports, passions, business interests, etc. The career part of the conversation can always
be brought up later.”
- Quality v. Quantity
Just because you’re meeting a lot of people via networking, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to talk to everyone there. Instead, know beforehand who you want to talk to. You’ll notice that only one or two conversations may be fruitful, but that’s okay. Having fruitful discussions – no matter how many – can benefit you in the long-run.
- Try Networking Outside Your Field
Sometimes, you have to step out of your comfort zone. In other words, it’s okay to talk to people of different industries, because chances are, you might learn something from a person with a different career than yours. By leveraging your network outside of your industry and specialty, you’ll not only get fresh ideas for your career, but perhaps, break into a new career path.
- Learn From Setback
Sometimes, networking opportunities can turn sour from unintentional mistakes. But don’t worry! That’s part of the learning process! In fact, many entrepreneurs, business owners, and CEOs will tell you that they’ve made mistakes as novice networking individuals.
So, if you make a mistake at an event, pick yourself up and try again. Don’t lose the smile, as you correct yourself. And, when you get home, take the time to reflect on what happened, and then think of ways that you can prevent making those mistakes again.
Remember: There’s no such thing as saying something “stupid” and no one in networking is 100% an expert in their field. Learning is ongoing, especially in networking.
- Have Objectives
“When networking, you have to have a list of clear and intentional goals before you go to a face-to-face or virtual event,” says Lucy Hurst, a business writer at Boomessays.com and Stateofwriting.com.
Keep these goals in mind (or build off of them):
- Have an agenda.
- Formulate a plan: the purpose of attending, whom you want to talk to (and why), and the discussion topic.
Lists can help you see your objectives more clearly and help you gain more confidence from the start of an event to the end (and even long after).
- Network With Men Too
Women shouldn’t have to network with just women, and they shouldn’t be forced to communicate with men if they don’t want to. All women are different and have their own preferences. Sometimes, women may feel like they’re on a date when networking with men. At other times, women would simply avoid talking to men at an event in favor of communicating with other women.
Nowadays, networking events are more diverse than before, with more women taking advantage of said opportunities. But ultimately, it’s up to the individual woman who to network with, who to talk to, and who to learn from.
Much like fitness and nutrition, networking should be flexed and utilized every so often. Making networking a top priority is essential to moving up in your career or transitioning into another one.