Thursday, October 14, 2010
I believe in the giving part of networking. The attitude should be one of providing value for value received — whether it’s finding a work connection for someone, creating a referral, or simply providing a link to an area of interest. Women generally are very good at this. By virtue of the ‘nurture’ aspect of our socialization, providing help is the easy part of networking.
Send to a Colleague
There’s another side, though. One that’s often much harder for women – actually working the network, asking for work, contacts or favours based on slight acquaintance and nebulous connections. Men do it all the time and do it well.
Did you see the ‘Mad Men’ episode where Don shows up for a job the morning after meeting Roger in a bar? Roger had too much to drink and doesn’t remember promising the job to Don but is embarrassed to admit that. Thus is born the made-in-heaven advertising partnership of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
Now that’s networking plus major chutzpah and not many of us could go that far. However, ask yourself if, after meeting someone for five minutes and exchanging superficial work-related information, would you be able to call the person the following day to ask for a meeting, a lead or a job? More men would answer ‘yes’ than women. What is it that keeps us from taking that all important step?
“Oh, she won’t remember me.”
“We didn’t really have a chance to get to know each other.”
“Why would she do ME any favours?”
Before women ask for anything, they want to make sure that there is the basis of a sound relationship, some common values, or a relationship that has developed over time. Men, on the other hand, are generally more comfortable ‘asking’ when there is limited previous contact.
I think we could learn a lesson from our male counterparts. Don’t be shy! Assume that there will be a reciprocal relationship, whether now or in the future, and do the asking up front.