Social networking is crucial for advancing your career. Unfortunately, women often face headwinds when it comes to networking. Tried and true practices that work wonders for men say having a guy’s night out or enjoying a game of golf often don’t work or at least aren’t exactly as open to women. Meanwhile, networking remains crucial for advancement, even if it’s often more difficult for women to get plugged in, says the International Society of Female Professionals (ISFP).
While the barriers between men and women have slowly weakened, such barriers still exist and may hold women back from rising up the organizational ladder. Still, the International Society of Female Professionals believes that a proactive approach to networking may help women level the playing field and advance their careers.
After-work socializing ranks among the most vital ways to network and build relationships that may pave the way for promotions. In some cases, women are routinely left out of such events and gatherings. Often, the activities themselves are male-dominant and are stereo-typically seen as a “boy’s club” activity. Catching a round of golf with coworkers is a common and easy way to bond. Yet golf is often seen as a “male” event, even though women make up nearly a quarter of all golfers.
Some researchers also believe that there are subtle differences in how female brains work compared to males. Specifically, men may compartmentalize things more naturally and also take less issue with using social interactions to advance their own agenda. One study found that many people feel literally “dirty” after professional networking. The above assertions are debated, and if such differences exist, it’s unclear whether they are learned or inherited behaviors. Still, it might be hard to network if you view networking itself as exploitative.
It’s important to remember that networking is a vital aspect of your career. Some folks may feel like they are exploiting people by networking. However, as you advance in your career, you can help coworkers, clients, and others by performing at your best. Remember too that many people will be glad to help. Some will even be flattered that you’re asking for help and advice.
Simply finding the time to network can be a challenge for women. Moms are often expected to be the primary caregivers for children. Of course, there are exceptions, and many fathers and male parental figures are stepping up to share the burden. However, if “mom” needs to go home to take care of the kids, she obviously can’t join colleagues for a drink after work.
It’s crucial to factor networking time into your schedule, says the International Society of Female Professionals. Remember, if you’re grabbing dinner with friends, you’re not just socializing, you’re also building up your career network. Of course, moms, dads, and everyone else need social time and R&R. There’s nothing wrong with that. Building support networks or enrolling kids in afterschool programs they can attend on their own could be a vital step for parents looking to advance their careers.