How to build your networking karma. By Holly Lichtenfeld (Founder, Bright Girls) “I would think women would be better than men at networking.” That’s the reaction I got during a recent interview on NPR when I shared that women are very good at “doing,” but a lot of research says we’re not good at taking time to connect, make requests and build our network. This spells a big opportunity. So here are three steps to unlocking the power of networking.
1. Pick Five People and Share
Pick five people and over the next two weeks. Tell them what you’re interested in, what you’re passionate about or where you want to go next with your career. Then (and this is very important), ask them what’s getting them excited these days. The five people can be acquaintances, friends, family; really whoever. Believe me, IT WORKS! One of my many success stories doing this happened when I was working at Levi Strauss. While I loved my time at Levi’s, I had always wanted to work in the solar energy industry. I decided to begin sharing my aspirations with more people. I started at lunch with a friend and colleague. And you’re not going to believe this, but his brother-in-law was starting a solar startup. Flash forward… I launched my marketing company and he became one of my first clients. If you don’t share your ideas and dreams, then no one knows about them — and they can’t help you if they don’t know how to help you.
2. Do One Good Networking Deed a Day
Each day this month, pick someone different from your network and do something nice for them. These thoughtful actions take very little time:
- Endorse a skill or write a recommendation on Linkedin
- Send along an article or bit of info you know would be interesting or helpful
- Connect two people in your network who have something in common
At the end of the month, you’ll have created goodwill and be top of mind of 30 people! After a month, reduce it to a sustainable once or twice a week. Networking is very much a karmic thing, and you’ll find these good deeds will pay dividends.
3. Work up and Down the Ladder
When women take the time to network, we primarily do it with peers. So step outside your comfort zone. When you’re doing the first two steps, be mindful to mix in people who are above and below your level in the career chain. It might be more comfortable and easy to reach out to peers since they’re less intimidating than those above you. And perhaps you’d assume people below you aren’t worth the investment of your time. Neither of these statements is true. To build a powerful networking engine, seek out people who are further along in their careers and those who are more junior than you. Get going today on these three simple steps, and you’ll be enjoying networking karma in no time. Let’s start the next generation of girlpreneurs networking young with my new book “Your Own Business Can Be Great” which is for girls age 8-12. Your daughter, niece, sister, or any aspiring girlpreneur in your life will love it!
About the guest blogger: Holly Lichtenfeld is a girlpreneur, author and founder of Bright Girls LLC. She’s been a guest on programs including CBS, NPR and thestreet.com. You can get her book “Your Own Business Can Be Great” for the aspiring girlpreneur in your life. Visit www.brightgirlscompany.com to learn more.