How Can Women Build High Status Networks?

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Good question. How can women build the key business relationships that will help them succeed at work? If they don’t golf, enjoy watching rugby or football or enjoy a “pint after work” what can women do to expand their social networks to advance their careers?

Tanja, our senior careers coach and director, posed this question when her son recently went off on his first corporate golf day. We found an HBR article that purported to answer the question. We weren’t overly impressed, so here is our take.

Begin with your Personal Brand

What are you networking for? What’s the point? Who do you need to connect with? Which relationships will be important? All of these questions are impossible to answer if you’re not clear on you, your career and what you’re trying to achieve.

This means having a clear view of your personal brand. At Reignite we care about women’s careers. We want to help more “career break” women return to law. We have a message to senior leaders that they are missing out on great talent. There’s our launchpad. We have a point to make, a target audience and the beginnings of a view as to the type of people who can help us and with whom we’d like to work.

Time to stand out: Why your personal brand is more vital than ever.

Target Different Types of People for your Network

The very phrase “high status” network makes you think of “important” people. Big names, leading thinkers, CEOs, senior partners, titans of industry. Well, yes, one of those in your network is helpful only if they are actually prepared to step up for you. Having just one powerful sponsor can be enough.

What you also need, though, according to May Busch (and I concur) is at least another 4 types of people in your network. Mentors – people who know the ropes and will advise; peer coaches; what she calls “raving fans” – people who believe in you and will advocate for you; and “super-connectors” – those people who just seem to know everyone and who will make introductions on your behalf.

And don’t, whatever you do, forget “social buddies.” The “6 degrees of separation rule works. Once you’re clear on your brand/point of view and you start talking about it, you’ll be surprised at how many of the people you know socially share an interest and can connect you with others.

Put Yourself Out There

Networking happens online and in real life. Be prepared to put yourself out there. Use LinkedIn to build your personal brand and connect with like minded, influential people. It works! Comment on others’ content, search out opportunities to share your own. You don’t even have to create all your own content. As long as it’s relevant and connected to your own area of expertise, people will appreciate you sharing the work of others.

And now that restrictions are well and truly over, get out there. Meet people in real life. Attend events, meet for coffee, go to lunch, it doesn’t have to be complicated. There are alternatives to golf! The, theatre, an exhibition, a bike ride, a walk, just find things you have in common. My preference would be to do something that enables you to chat.

A Note on Networking Events

Or should I say “the dreaded” networking event. You worry that everyone else knows someone, that no-one will speak to you, that you’ll be a wallflower. Man up, my friend (excuse the expression). Embrace the fear. Here are my top tips:

  • Pick your events wisely – check out content, audience, format
  • Research who will be there if you can
  • Prepare your opening line “Hi, I’m Lisa from the Reignite Academy, what brings you here?” or whatever
  • And a line for getting away if you get stuck “Lovely to meet you, I guess we should be networking …”
  • Share contact details and follow up

Be A Connector

Last but not least, pay it back. Be sure to make connections for others. Soon, you’ll be one of those people everyone seems to know. Believe me, it can be fun.

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