Professional Networking: The Connections Conundrum
By Lynn Branigan
Did you know that professional networking for women is a highly debated topic? I didn’t either, until I sat down to write this message for our July newsletter, focused on networking. See for yourself. Google “professional networking, men versus women,” and you will see a decade or two worth of articles, many of which flatly contradict each other.
Me? I am a passionate believer in the power of networking. In part, because I have an amazing vantage point as CEO of She Runs It, so I’ve witnessed the benefit of what networking has done for hundreds of women in our industry. Another key source of research on the topic has been my own career. Each of my last four career moves happened because I cultivated a professional network.
Over the years I have observed that – as good as it is for them – a lot of women don’t like to network. Some find it socially awkward or intrusive. Some simply have too much to do in a day and networking feels like an elective indulgence.
Whatever the reason, She Runs It works hard to break down the barriers by giving women simple tools and strategies that sharpen their networking skills. We host training, nurture environments and choreograph events to help make the process of creating connections feel more natural and rewarding.
It’s always been part of our mission. But the need was accelerated by a study we conducted with EY and LinkedIn in 2016 that analyzed 4 million user profiles across 4,000 companies to understand the different leadership paths for men versus women in marketing and media. A couple of things astounded us. One was the fact that on average, men had 15% more connections than women in their overall network. We also discovered that 78% of all endorsements on LinkedIn were made by men. Women tend to put their heads down and get their work done with the hope that productivity and good work will be the sole ingredients to advancing their careers. But it’s not enough.
She Runs It serves as a connector and a network builder. We nurture a supportive community of allies, mentors and sponsors. We are home to role models and inspiration for members in the early stages of their careers. And we create a sounding board and spotlight for those who are in – or closing in on – leadership roles.
Please come to a future networking event at She Runs It and let us help you exercise some simple tools and tricks of networking in a safe and fun environment. I bet you’ll meet at least three new contacts and refuel your confidence in the process.