Gender diversity pays off: according to a recent study companies with gender-diverse senior leaders outperform their only man peers by an outstanding 15%. Despite these advantages, women are relatively rare among senior managers. A reason why women executives don’t reach the highest working positions is the lack of time invested in building professional relationships.
However, there are women professionals who establish a strong professional network and manage it strategically: what do they do differently? A recent study conducted by I. Carboni and her team shows that the better networkers had similar behaviors that boosted their ability to form meaningful professional connections, no matter which was their gender. However, women tend to show some specific difficulties in networking that are alien to men. So, what are the best practices of a good female networker? Carboni and colleagues found four crucial networking practices that distinguish high-performing women from their less successful peers.
1) Energy balance
It may not be a surprise that the most important quality in a good networker is the ability to energize and motivate those around them. But it does not necessarily require being outgoing and loud. Good female networkers show warmth, benevolence, and trust in addition to competencies. They basically create trust and establish relationships where it is safe to express oneself: people respond with their best insights and ideas.
2) Spanning boundaries
The highest-ranking women don’t stick around the same people forever, as it can limit our access to new perspectives and ideas. They connect with a variety of people that differ in roles, perspectives, and even geography. It also includes creating mentoring relationships, that help younger professionals to fill up any lack of expertise.
3) Set priorities
The highest-ranking executives know that time is limited and it should be used wisely. Especially for women, it can be hard to say no to a request for help from a colleague. We may feel a stereotype pressure to nurture and support our colleagues or fear their judgment. Anyways ‘no’ should always be an option: it guarantees our total focus and competence in the task we decide to work on.
4) Agile connections
Researchers found out that women tend to establish deeper connections at work, especially with their women peers. Even if these contacts are positive for our overall lives, successful networkers tend to be more agile and create a good balance in their network, trying to favor new connections when starting new projects or assignments.
Ilaria Brusa - PWN Content Creator
Source: Carboni I., et al., (2019) “How Successful Women Manage Their Networks,” in Connected Commons I4CP https://connectedcommons.com/research-highlights/