How Women Can Forge High-Status Networks

In a world that’s increasingly interconnected, the power of networks cannot be overstated. Women, in particular, can leverage these networks to build allyship and foster environments where everyone thrives. 

The Harvard Business Review recently highlighted research on how women can create and sustain high-status networks, offering valuable insights and actionable strategies.

Case in Point: The Example of Michelle
Let’s take a closer look at Michelle, a mid-level manager in a tech company. Michelle was known for her exceptional skills and dedication, yet she often felt sidelined when it came to key projects and promotions. 

Determined to change this, Michelle began to strategically build her network by focusing on three main actions:

  1. Identify Potential Allies: Michelle started by identifying colleagues who shared her professional interests and values. She looked for individuals both within and outside her immediate team who were influential and had a track record of supporting diversity and inclusion.
  2. Provide Value to Others: Understanding that networking is a two-way street, Michelle offered her expertise and support to her identified allies. She volunteered to mentor junior employees, shared her knowledge in team meetings, and proactively offered assistance on high-visibility projects.
  3. Be Authentic and Build Trust: Michelle was authentic in her interactions, building genuine relationships based on trust and mutual respect. She listened actively, showed empathy, and was transparent about her goals and challenges.

As Michelle’s network grew, so did her influence within the company. She gained access to new opportunities, received invaluable advice, and found advocates who supported her career advancement. Michelle’s story illustrates the profound impact of strategic networking and allyship.

What Can Women Do to Build Allyship?

  1. Be Intentional in Building Relationships: Identify key players in your industry or organization who align with your values and professional goals. Reach out with a clear intention of building a mutually beneficial relationship.
  2. Offer Your Unique Value: Consider what unique skills, insights, or resources you can offer to others in your network. Whether it’s mentorship, collaboration on projects, or sharing knowledge, providing value is crucial in fostering strong relationships.
  3. Cultivate Authentic Connections: Authenticity is the cornerstone of any strong relationship. Be genuine in your interactions, show empathy, and build trust through consistent and transparent communication.
  4. Seek Diverse Perspectives: Don’t limit your network to those who are similar to you. Seek out diverse perspectives and experiences to enrich your understanding and approach to problem-solving.
  5. Advocate for Others: Be a champion for others in your network. Celebrate their successes, offer support during challenges, and speak up for them when opportunities arise.

Understanding Gender Differences in Networking

The research also highlights a key point: men and women often network differently. 

Men tend to build networks that are more hierarchical and instrumental, focused on gaining power and status. 

Women, on the other hand, tend to create more reciprocal and egalitarian networks, emphasizing mutual support and collaboration.

This difference is crucial because it underscores that women should not feel pressured to mimic traditionally masculine behaviors to succeed. Acting inauthentically can backfire and undermine the very relationships they are trying to build. 

Instead, women should leverage their natural strengths in networking, such as empathy, collaboration, and genuine relationship-building. These qualities can be powerful tools in creating high-status networks that are both effective and supportive.

Embracing their unique networking style, women can navigate their careers without sacrificing their authenticity, leading to more meaningful and impactful professional relationships. It is worth taking the time to find a consultant who can help you understand who you truly are from the inside out and using predictive proven technology is the best way to do that. By using the 5 Sciences of Self to understand how you do things, why you do things, how you see things and use these traits in your day to day can be a valuable investment in yourself.  

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