What Brilliant Women Know About Networking

3 Comments By Deb | Posted October 31, 2013

networking3When it comes to networking, women tend to fall into one of two camps.

Those who find networking enjoyable.

And those who dread it.

Why such a stark contrast?


What is Networking?

Perhaps how networking is defined leads to different perceptions.

Some people think of networking as collecting hundreds of FB friends or LinkedIn connections.  I love LinkedIn and Facebook, but collecting names is no different than collecting business cards.

Dictionary.com defines networking as, ‘to socialize for personal or professional gain’.  In Women Don’t Ask, Babcock and Laschever document women’s aversion to negotiating.  When networking is seen as a form of ‘asking’, women react differently than when it is seen as connecting or helping.

So what if we redefine networking as simply ‘building meaningful relationships with people we find interesting.’


Everyone Wins

I must admit, I’m one of those women who used to feel slightly ill when I thought I should be networking. Yet, I realized I love reconnecting and building relationships with people. This was the turning point for me.

Recently, I reached out to dozens of executive women who have been a part of my life. I asked them to share what they’ve learned on their professional journey. The response was amazing.

I had the pleasure of reconnecting with Sylvie. She nicely summarized how networking really works: “The fact you asked me to do this is making me think of you and somehow flatters my ego I guess and/or gives me a good feeling about making a good deed towards young women… as a result, I’m more likely to engage with you in the future…”.  Now that’s a true win/win.


5 Painless Ways To Network Build Meaningful Relationships

Still not sure what to do?  Try one or more of these simple approaches.

  • When you read an article you think a colleague would enjoy, send it to her with a quick note: ‘I read this and thought of you’.
  • Not sure how to approach a problem or situation? Ask a colleague for her opinion and help.
  • Find a group activity you enjoy such as golf, tennis, or a professional club. You’ll meet people with similar interests.
  • When you cross paths with someone you haven’t seen recently, ask her if she’d like to schedule time to have coffee and catch up.
  • Look for ways you can help others succeed. Make connections. Offer to be a reference. Take time to listen to and help others.

Remember, it’s much less painful to build relationships before you need something.

Make a commitment to yourself to reconnect with 1 person every week. By the end of the year you’ll have stronger relationships with several dozen people.


More Wisdom From Brilliant Women

In a few short weeks, I’ll publish the collective wisdom of executive women. These women told me what they have learned on their journey to the top. The results are available to you at no charge. Click here if you’d like to receive the results of this powerful study.

Begin today. Who do you know would also love to read this article? Share and let her know ‘Read this and thought you’d enjoy it too’.

About the Author

By Deb Graham: Entrepreneur, organizational behavior enthusiast, world traveler and avid learner, Deb applies her curiosity and passion for personal growth to the work environment. She enjoys helping women navigate the business world, add value to their workplace and manage their careers.


  • Christopher Jones says,

    Great post Deb. A colleague recently suggested that networking is best when you don’t expect to gain anything from the conversation. You invariably will gain something from the relationship building but that is not the focus.

  • shikha says,

    I really liked this piece. Thanks for sharing. I think you have highlighted well, that offering to help first makes it super easy to get into meaningful relationships. Moreover, reaching out for help allows people to make more meaning of their own lives. Looking forward to more.

  • Deb says,ACT Strategic

    Thanks Christopher and Shikha. Reading your comments makes the word ‘help’ come to mind. We love to help others, but we detest being ‘used’ by others. When we shift our intent, networking is amazingly powerful and a lot of fun.

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