According to a recent report from the British Psychological Society (BPS), women are reported to be lacking in the ability to build, maintain and use their 'social capital', which is a problem because the report points out that "networking is crucial to improving female career progression".
I meet many women who are emotionally intelligent, and socially intelligent, with a natural ability to confidently mingle and build relationships at networking events, sometimes (dare I say it), I think women are better at relationship building than men. So if it's not a lack of soft skills, perhaps it's an initial lack of self-confidence, or the lack of opportunity to access social networks, and access the kind of events that enable women to expand and nurture their professional contacts.
Traditionally it's been the men who belong to a 'Gentleman's Club', or the golf club, so if women have to rush home to look after the children, or don't play golf, how can they build and nurture their 'social capital' to climb the corporate ladder?
Whatever your gender, making the most of your social capital is important for career progression, as well as for business growth.
Networking Top Tips
- Consider who you want to meet, and look out for events where those people will be present; exhibitions, conferences, online forums etc.
- Get to meetings or events early and talk to your colleagues or fellow delegates before the meeting starts, and if possible allow time to chat once the meeting has finished.
- Have a few opening questions to get a conversation started, it doesn’t matter how corny!
- Listen with curiosity. We all like to talk about ourselves, so ask questions, listen, and ask a few more.
- Find out more about the personal but not too personal) details of your fellow networker, rather than pure business.
- Talk to your professional contacts with an attitude of ‘How can I help you?’, rather than ‘What can you do for me?’
- And remember to maintain new relationships by connecting online using social platforms such as LinkedIn.
- Read Chapter 3 in Soft Skills for Strong Leaders by Helen Isacke, to find out more about networking and Personal Impact.