What is Professional Networking?
Professional networking is often defined as making connections with those in your career field.
But I offer a more realistic definition: it’s not just those in your direct career field, but making lasting and valuable connections that are personal and mutually beneficial.
There are three types of professional networking: personal, strategic, and organizational, according to OnlineMBA.
These connections are focused around your existing company or a membership of an organization.
Strategic networking contacts are those that could help you accomplish a goal in the present or future.
Last, but certainly not least are personal networking connections. These connections enhance and enrich your current and future interests.
It could be argued the best networking connections include all three aspects. For example, connecting with a manager for mentorship is both organizational and strategic if you are seeking to learn more and move up in your position.
Benefits of Professional Networking for Women
While the benefits of professional networking seem obvious, there are many reasons and unique situations that apply to women, specifically in their professional careers.
The universal benefits of networking include:
Raising your Professional Profile
If you are looking to take your career to the next level, professional networking can help you. Approach networking with profile-raising goals in mind. Whether it’s increasing your number of connections, strengthening existing relationships, or finding new ways to spread your industry knowledge (like a blog).
Professional networking can lead to lucrative job opportunities. Whether it’s organizational (someone you already work with) or a connection at a different company, your network will often share upcoming upward job roles before promoting them externally.
Learning Valuable Job Skills
When you are networking, often times more experienced professionals host learning classes or offer hands-on help to increase your competency in career-related skills. Webinars and seminars are great ways to learn or improve valuable job skills.
Many networking groups and organizations provide mentorship opportunities. This can be great for raising your profile as a mentor or as a mentee, gaining access to influential and experienced professionals in your field.
Women-Specific Networking Benefits
Here are some women-specific networking benefits I’ve found:
Reducing Gender Bias in Male-dominated Industries
Professional networking for women can be empowering in reducing gender bias in male-dominated industries like technology, engineering, and manufacturing. Women-specific organizations and groups allow for safe spaces to express issues unique to women in their fields.
Connecting with Other Moms
Many women find it hard to connect with those in their roles who do not have the same lifestyles. Connecting with other professional women who are mothers can lead to great information on how to balance their role or industry’s workloads and responsibilities while being a parent.
Maternity Support / Returning to Work
For mothers who are on maternity leave or returning to work after raising children, professional networking can provide great opportunities. Often times other professional working mothers can provide insight and resources for other moms returning to work.
Ways to Network Professionally for Women
Here are some ways you can network with other women:
Social Media can be a great way for women to connect with one another. You can find professional groups on social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Clubhouse.
Professional Organizations & Memberships
Look into your industry’s specific organizations and memberships. There are often times even chapters dedicated to women in that field. Additionally, many companies are willing to help pay for membership dues to these organizations and/or sponsor events.
Reach out to those you already know from school, past work, or as friends. Be clear about your intentions to connect on a professional level and come in humble. Ask for mentorship, and advice, and be vulnerable. Oftentimes, we forget that we have a rich network of contacts, however, we have not fostered relationships with them.
TAKe Brand Consulting
Here at TAKe Brand Consulting, we offer free and paid opportunities to network professionally with other women. Join us today!
Professional networking is valuable for anyone in the workplace, but especially for women at all stages of their careers. If you have questions on how you can improve your network, reach out to me today.