Women’s networking: why not a girls’ club!

Last week, I tackled the question on the importance of networking for women with over 100 leaders at the Women on the Move Forum, an initiative of Desjardins and Deloitte. Here are some of the ideas I shared:

  • After expertise and work, the ability to build relationships is the third prequisite for professional success; and the higher you move up, the more crucial it becomes.
  • The success of a person’s career depends on the strength of her network.
  • Women network less than men for three reasons:
    • Women primarily seek out deep relationships with a limited number of people. Men have large networks filled with more casual friendships.
    • Also, women do not want to place the weight of professional mutual aid on their friends. They don’t want to bother them.
    • Because women generally have more familial responsibilities, they go back home quickly and devote less time to networking.
  • And yet, women are born interpersonal; their great sensitivity should help them develop the network they need to build their careers.
  • Networking is also very useful for creating, learning, going further, saving time, etc. It should be made a way of life, integrated into one’s life. In addition, it is impossible to build a network when needed. It must exist beforehand.
  • A network should be both deep (made up of allies) and extensive (made up of acquaintances).
  • Three degrees of separation are ideal for keeping the bond of trust. And three degrees allow you to access thousands of trustworthy connections. Incredible potential!
  • Of course, social media is very useful in the equation. In particular, it allows you to have an address book that automatically updates, to easily share with people important to you, and to put your expertise to work as well as increase your reputation and your credibility.
  • In addition, I addressed the question of women’s networks, such as the WPO Women Presidents Organization) in which I am involved. There is also the Women’s Executive Network (WXN.ca) as well as all other formal and informal clubs, mutual aid groups, mentoring groups, book clubs, etc. Women should not keep themselves from these groups that allow them to meet with people who have similar issues. Futher, we all need the support of other women (and men) to continue taking our places in the business world.

Finally, I asked women to think twice before deciding to eat at their workstations. They should take advantage of each possible occasion to build relationships that could make all the difference in a life. You never know!

10 tips to Build a Strong Network

To build a strong network, here are some tips:

  1. Make networking a priority: first, your point of view of networking must change; you must see it as essential to your success.
  2. Give first; think about how you can contribute to the other person’s success before thinking about your own.
  3. Leave your environment: seek out external contacts who have different information.
  4. Don’t forget your workplace: you should also network within your organization.
  5. Meet face-to-face: for connecting, nothing is better than human contact.
  6. Remember names: there is nothing sweeter to a person’s ear than her own name!
  7. Ask questions, create a connection: by being well-prepared, good questions will come, and of course, listen closely to the answers.
  8. Offer help: is she leaving for Paris? Why not share with her your favorite spots?
  9. Follow up, take time to thank people, to congratulate them. Keep in touch.
  10. Be patient, because networking takes time.

What else would you add to this list?

Marie-Josée Gagnon About the author
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