Networking is an important component of anyone’s professional’s career. Although women tend to spend more time working than networking, professional networking is more important to for a woman’s career. This is because women have to deal with the gender gap in the professional industry that usually tends to favour men over women. They also have to fight for recognition in a usually male-dominated job industry. The lack of access to professional networks can be an obstacle to their career advancement hence the need for mentorship or appropriate coaching.
Networking Challenges Women Face
Female professionals in the workplace face a number of networking challenges. Here are some and how you can overcome them:
1. Fewer Women in The Industry
Even though women are considered good communicators, they tend to have fewer business-related connections compared to men. This turns out to be a great barrier when trying to build their career. It is important for them to find a connection inside or outside their company, who will mentor and provide career guidance. It is also important to connect and mentor others who are behind, so as to build leadership skills.
2. Work-Home Life Balance
Another challenge is that women are busy at work yet are expected to focus more at home and handle their family matters, hence less time to network. Even with the little time they have, women have been found to spend a lot of this time in other social networks such as Pinterest and Instagram, which to be honest are more relaxing after a long day. A Study shows that more men have been engaged professional network sites such as Linkedin and Twitter compared to women.
3. Fear of being Perceived as Using People.
The principle of ‘likes attract’ where we are more easily drawn to people who are similar to us makes it harder for women to do strategic networking. This means that women need to work harder to build relationships with an influential person of the opposite sex without being perceived negatively. This is in Comparison to men who have a lot of common grounds such as sports games, it is usually harder for women to establish a network without being perceived as ‘trying to use’ her network.
Networking Tips For Career Women
In order to achieve a strong professional network, here are four tips every woman should consider:
1. Invest enough time
Instead of waiting to have extra time after all the job and home-related work, you need to prioritize networking with someone on site, in a remote office, or via professional/social media.
2. Have clear goals and understand your network needs.
Professional networking is a give-and-take conversation. Have clear goals so that your network will understand what you want. You should also find out what they’re passionate about and offer something in return.
3. Use all your networks
Ensure you maximise all the potential in your network. You never know who could be your greatest networking asset. Schedule a phone call or email\chat few times a month to keep in touch with your connection. offer help whenever you can so that you are useful to them as well.
4. Start as early as possible
Don’t wait until you are in need of a new job to start networking. Start to build your relationship now so that it doesn’t appear to be a one-sided relationship. Taking without giving is a networking mistake to avoid
Why Women Need A Strong Professional Network
It is generally understood that men are using their networks for business and personal enhancement more aggressively compared to women. Studies show that the further up the corporate ladder, the fewer women in leadership you will see. This is why, it is crucial for women to have a strong, professional network.
Here are the reasons why women need a strong professional network in their career:
Networking with more colleagues and superiors is crucial for women to level the gap of growth with men in the workplace. Ensure you make a lot of connections with other colleagues inside and outside your organisation so that they can understand your capabilities and therefore easier for them to refer you to better opportunities.
2. Business Opportunities and Ideas
Another importance of having a strong professional network is it allows you to have someone to ask for advice and be able to understand the current industry you operate in. Networking is important in building business development and fostering an entrepreneurial culture.
3. Responsibilities Over Younger Generations
Any successful professional, male or female has someone who helped them along the way. It is important for women to give to the younger generation who are just beginning their careers by networking with them. It is important to network with those who are in similar positions or aspiring for the same. This will help to reduce the gender gap of professional networks in the near future.
As a woman, the hard part of networking is making it a top priority. Share with us the challenges and the opportunities you see in networking in the comment section below.