By Anna Johansson • December 16, 2016•Issues, Mentoring and Networking
Networking is one of the biggest pro tips offered to college students and recent graduates. Job candidates are promised that if they devote time and energy to building a network of professional peers and mentors, they’ll be guided to jobs that are perfect for them.
However, all networking is not created equal, just like pay is not equal between men and women. Studies show that women need networking far more than men if they want to make it in today’s competitive atmosphere.
Here are some of the reasons why women should put a focus on networking.
1. Mentors boost your confidence.
Women tend to have issues with self-confidence, and this is the biggest reason why networking is so important. According to Forbes, men have higher self-esteem than women in nearly all countries, but this is especially true in countries like the United States. Finding good mentors and building up your network can make you feel more confident.
“Women tend to under estimate themselves,” says Sandy Jen, CTO and co-founder of Meebo. “They can accomplish so much, but they don’t identify themselves as being powerful and smart and just as good as the guy next to them. They make excuses for their achievements.”
She explains how networking and observing the workings of others taught her that she was just as qualified as anyone else, even the men. “You may not feel as if you are qualified or confident enough,” she said. “The biggest insight in this entrepreneurial journey of mine was when I realized ‘someone I knew who was not super smart, who failed the same tests I did, and started a company,’ I realized I could do that too.”
2. Networking offers a competitive advantage over men.
Men tend to have the advantage in job interviews, thanks to social stigmas that affect equality in the workforce. When women network, they figuratively leap past some of these hurdles that separate them from men. Getting your foot in the door will build you a strong network of powerful men and women who will support you in your job search. They can act as references and offer leads to help you advance your career.
3. Building relationships with mentors and peers can advance your career faster.
It’s not possible to measure the number of jobs that are acquired through word of mouth rather than traditional job postings. This is particularly true with positions in which the company intends to hire in-house. Networking is a great way to put yourself up for these positions before anyone can hire out.
4. Networking helps you learn to market yourself.
More specifically, networking will help you market your skill sets, getting you jobs and career advancements. People need to know what you can do if you ever have a hope of being hired for a dream position. Most men seem to understand this, which is why they often pull ahead in the job race.
“Men boast about their accomplishments — that’s called selling,” says TechCrunch writer Vivek Wadhwa, based on the research he conducted on the differences between men and women in entrepreneurship. “This is a deficiency in women. It’s about selling, positioning, and communicating effectively.”
When you network, you’re forced to show off your skill set and talk about the things you do best. Your abilities will stick with people and your actions will speak to advancing your career.
5. People see you when you network.
It’s easy to go unseen, which is why this tip is so important. Too many people keep their heads down and do their work while dreaming of that corner office and the promotion they feel qualified for, but don’t know how to get. You have to do something worth noticing if you want to achieve your dreams.
Introduce yourself to important people. Volunteer to do hard tasks that you know you can do well. Connect with important people on LinkedIn, and seek endorsements from those who know you and your skills. Become indispensable. The more visible you are, the more likely you are to get that promotion.