Professional networking helps women advance in the workplace by forming strong bonds with colleagues and new contacts in other industries.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK, September 2022 — Networking provides an excellent opportunity to deepen connections and make new contacts for any professional who wants to get ahead in an existing role or find a new career.
For women, networking functions and meetings are even more important, according to the International Society of Female Professionals, because they can provide a safe venue to learn, grow and connect outside of an immediate circle of contacts at work or within a given industry.
Networking events for women can extend beyond the exchange of business cards and include more value and guidance toward long-term success.
Classically, networking can vary based on gender due to the still disproportionate distribution of workplace challenges, resources, and compensation between men and women. Many women facing unique challenges regarding pay, company culture, and opportunities prefer to discuss these issues with other women who can lend a first-person perspective and offer tested advice and potential solutions.
Because many of these topics and associated situations are extremely sensitive for the individual, the International Society of Female Professionals advises women tend to develop smaller professional circles with a high degree of depth while men may have a larger business circle that can be more transactional seeming on the surface. Both genders could learn from each other to create a more dynamic networking experience.
Many women find it harder to use the connection-building aspect of networking to further their careers or open new doors. It can be easy to think it’s unreasonable to ask for a favor without first doing one, but networking is about helping when possible without keeping an individual tally sheet.
When asking about opportunities or for an introduction from an acquaintance, it isn’t always necessary to have already provided a favor to the same person. Inevitably, someone likely helped them before, and they can pay it forward without keeping tabs on who did what and when. Ask for what is needed and be prepared to offer reasonable assistance freely.
Reject a “Bothering” Mentality
Another barrier women can face more than men is a conditioned belief that they need to have a concrete reason or action item to reach out to another person to avoid “bothering” them. This is not true.
According to the International Society of Female Professionals, networking should include casual inquiries and check-ins to further a relationship. In addition to deepening bonds and leaving the door open for more meaningful conversations, it also presents a chance to stay informed of new developments, potential job openings, and growth opportunities.
Often, people in a networking group may possess information of great value to others but do not realize its importance. Regular check-ins with contacts helps previously unknown information bubble to the surface for the benefit of all.