Networking is crucial: it helps women gain exposure and more insight into their respective fields. As EWF explored in a previous blog post, women tend to be natural-born networkers, comfortable building relationships and connections. However, their networking can be too focused on the personal or relationships rather than advancing their professional goals. So how can women move beyond building personal relationships into building powerful professional networks? Here are some tips from powerhouse women who’ve done just that.
Make networking part of your life, and seek your tribe.
Jennifer Justice, president of corporate development at Superfly, and previously Jay-Z’s attorney. Working for a male dominated law-firm for 11 years, Justice got her break when Jay-Z asked her to be his personal attorney. Justice says that women should capitalize on their ability to connect on many levels and blend their personal lives with their professional by seeing networking as a part of their career and work day, not an obligation. Connecting and networking are useful ways to help women stay on track for business opportunities, ask for advice, and help them gain deeper insight into their respective businesses. Women should seek out the right kind of networking opportunities for themselves, focusing on ones where they can truly connect and build their own tribes.
Be a connector.
Britt Morgan-Saks, head of Artist Services at Spotify, leads artist and industry relationships across North America. Morgan-Saks focuses on being a connector who isn’t afraid to invest in people. As she told Fast Company, “A truly connected person cares about bringing value to those around them. I have strong relationships and a network of people who trust me and will go out on a limb for me … as I would for them.” She also urges younger or less experienced women not to be intimidated. Women of all career stages bring a unique perspective and should not be afraid to be direct and speak up.
Start with respect.
Lorine Pendleton, director of business development at multi-national law-firm Dentons is an entertainment lawyer who has brokered deals for Spike Lee and Stevie Wonder. Pendleton asserts that making connections and networking is all about respect. No matter how accomplished she has become, treating everyone with equal respect has stayed center stage. “You need to be careful, as you go up in your career, of how you treat people,” she says. “I will talk to our receptionist or the person who picks up our trash … it doesn’t matter. It’s really important to treat people with respect because you don’t know where they are in the totem pole and people remember how you treat them.”
Cast a wide net.
Pat Wadors, Senior Vice President of Global Talent Development at LinkedIn, wants to get women thinking about what they want to achieve through networking, and have a defined goal. Key questions to help define what you’re looking for: Is it a promotion? Is it for personal development? Or are you looking for a strategic introduction that will help you gain exposure? While men generally connect with those who can get them what they want, women tend to network and connect with people they like. In this sense, Wadors notes that men are more likely than women to use professional networks like LinkedIn to connect with others, and also tend to have more second and third-tier connections they don’t know well but feel comfortable contacting. Women, on the other hand, “want that real connection first. But when you’re in need or seeking an opinion, it’s harder to do because you don’t know who to reach out to.” The lesson: be willing to cast a wider net and be bold in your ask.
By Reese Jones
Reese Jones was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently a business consultant and aspiring writer with a passion for helping women achieve their goals. Her experience in advising a number of start-ups from a variety of fields has helped her form a unique perspective on leadership and personal development. When she’s not with clients or typing away at her laptop, Reese enjoys rock-climbing and long walks.