Women: Network the way to your goals
A few days ago, I was invited to address a group of young high potential leaders at Coca-Cola to share my experience about the power of networking and some tips to leverage networking in a professional set up.
As I was preparing for the session, it helped me reflect about my own journey in building networking skills and what has worked for me, especially during my entrepreneurial stint. Here are some reflections about networking, what it takes and what comes in the way.
Networking is about building intimate, sincere and win-win relationships. There is a world out there that needs something you can provide and you surely need a lot of things from others as well. Networking is about connecting the dots and making the world a better place. That is why it is so important. It is just efficient, effective and much easy than one expects.
Networking is about being interested and not about being interesting. It is about caring for others and being authentic. A great way to do that is to genuinely listen. All of us love to talk about ourselves so getting people to discuss their experiences and opinions is not only enriching for you, but also creates a fantastic bond with the person.
Networking is a constructive cycle that reinforces over time. Like many other skills, networking is a muscle that gets stronger as one exercises it. Start small. Just start. Your network may include people you met in a flight, people you meet in school among other parents, anywhere.
Networking is about purpose. I have become a much better networker after I became an entrepreneur. I had no choice! You need help, you ask for it and realize that people are willing to give a helping hand when the request is genuine and you appreciate the time and effort they take.
Networking is about acknowledgement of self-worth. During the event, many women asked if I felt odd while networking. Networking is about mutual benefit so don’t feel apologetic.
Eventually, it is about being generous and authentic and about finding your own style that works for you. Networking is a critical path of leadership skills required as one grows in the career ladder and many women struggle with it. Whether is an internal inhibition, social predetermined stereotypes or just fear of not fitting in – it is time to let all excuses out of the window. A genuine smile and an honest and frank question is a great start.