By Ms. JD • November 30, 2009•Mentoring and Networking
Editor's Note: Ms. JD's annual conference, Avenues to Advancement, was held November 20-21 in Chicago. These are notes from the "Networking & Effective Self-Promotion" panel.
The panelists all agreed that self-promotion is necessary to get beyond a certain career plateau and that women need to develop their own style in this area, frequently reassess whether a particular networking or self-promotion strategy is working and make necessary changes based on what works, and realize that self-promotion is a learned trait that can be practiced. The panelists also agreed that just as important as promoting yourself is thinking about how help someone else's career as often promoting others will come back to you since networking is at its core a relationship in which you provide value to someone else.
Lynn Grayson, a partner at Jenner & Block, suggested finding a way to network that you can commit to on a long-term basis since if you hate certain activities (like golf) you won't be able to consistently network through them. She also suggested taking the Self-Evaluation Questionnaire at bragbetter.com to figure out what your strengths are such that you can better promote yourself.
Karen Conti, Managing Partner at Adamski & Conti, advised that networking can be as simple as committing to get to know people and be nice to them, which can be as basic as reaching out to wish someone happy birthday every year. She also cautioned that though some people won't like when you self-promote, you can diffuse this reaction by bringing a sense of humor to the process and by making a point to brag about someone else for a job done well.
Susan Sneider, Director of Client & Business Development at Freeborn & Peters, advises that it is important to be yourself, follow your passion, and never do anything just because you're supposed to.
Jane Pigott, Managing Director of R3 Group, suggests to approach networking as a game in which your objective is to find one person where you can be memorable enough--often by identifying commonalities you share with that person during your interaction--to reach out to them later. She also suggests that you read bios before you go to events in order to think about potential goals before you enter a social situation.
Debbie Epstein Henry, Founder and President of Flex-Time Lawyers, recommends that you learn to take credit where credit is due and get in the habit of showcasing your accomplishments to supervisors before your annual review to make sure they are aware of your unique contributions.
The panel also discussed the common experience and perception that it is not feminine to feel good about self-promotion and the difficulties women can face because of the expectation that women only showcase "female" attributes, which often does not include self-promotion. We have to learn to move beyond these limitations because if you don't self promote at all, it will prevent your career from advancing as far as it otherwise would.