Finding symmetries in an unsymmetrical world ..

Posts Tagged ‘Structured Networking for Women

Tailored from my original post At Grace Hopper’s women in Computing, 2012 here .

Network, Network, Network – and do it right ! 

Networking is not “Foreplay” – and it isn’t creating Black holes either ..

ekta_gracehopper

And here’s why – :

Women haven’t traditionally had the benefit of “smoke-time” networking that seems to work so well for men (nor any womanized version of it). That said – surely there must be ways that amazing superwomen around the world are making it into the corner offices.

As a society, we have been forced to focus on getting business cards rather than building relationships that can be leveraged practically. This is equivalent of building black holes around us, in an attempt that someday we will find matter that will fill the hole.

The only problem with this approach is two fold: one, you are selling a bad product, and two, your self-promotional pitch was so unmemorable that the speaker decided not to set aside some processing power in her/his brain to remember you. No one remembers someone with an inflated sense of self-importance. There is a classical statistic from speed dating, which found that the men who hardly spoke but genuinely listened ended up getting dates more often than the other men who focused on speaking for a greater fraction of the speed dating.

At another end of the spectrum, I observe, often to my utter dismay, the fawning or servile approach. Rather than feeding their own self, the focus reverses to the person whom they deem influential enough. It may not be a conscious effort, and may simply stem from the lack of awareness of one’s real do-ablity. Specifically in Eastern cultures, including India, people are maneuvered to cushion their interests, to the point of obscurity, which is why sometimes the information and opportunities passes them by, and they don’t even take a notice. So, if you have a strong point, tie it together without taking the detour.

I said earlier that the focus should be on forging mutually befitting relationships, and here’s why: when you focus on creating black holes, as I call them, you are missing out on accidental benefits – amazing support systems, sponsors who would endorse you or vouch for you, mentoring opportunities, or just plain unbiased viewpoints – when you need it. So share something phenomenal that people will remember: spin relevant stories, be inquisitive and keep re-learning, and most of all, stay true to who you really are.

Differentiate the position from the person, be assertive,  don’t downplay yourself, and yet don’t oversell. It is a classical balance problem.

” Network” , and network with an end-goal in mind, which is two fold : one, to create spheres of influence, and two, to create information advantage” .– Saundarya Rajesh, AVTAR

Four quick thoughts that sum this up:

1. Focus on the end goal and then work backward: Accidents -> acquaintances ->associates ->advocates -> allies. The point is simple if you want to be moving from “foreplay” conversations to forging lasting relationships for mutually befitting relationships you will invariably have to focus on quality.

2. Measure it: If you are not moving from acquaintances to allies over a period of time, the networks don’t serve a deeper meaning. You see, input alone doesn’t count, what you made of it does.  The “measuring” bit doesn‘t have to be as flashy as excel but should suffice to give you a reinforcing feedback loop on your overall interpersonal and communication skills.

3. Have a compelling elevator pitch: An elevator pitch is something that gives a compelling introduction to who you are.  Craft one, and try to improvise depending on the listener and her/his background and Intellectual giftedness. Of course this means that you also change dynamically depending on the sophistication that the listener might have about your profession.

4. Demonstrate equality: You can’t have an enriching conversation when you do not consider yourself to be one among equals. Equality begets equality, and it begins with awareness of who you are and what you stand for. Reboot your operating system and get moving – and yes, practice, deliver and then practice again.

The theory of 10,000 years from different schools of thought says that deliberate repetition is a key. So go develop a lens for the world you want to live in, and grow – and then just reverse engineer what you want to achieve of any relationship that could help you towards it and work your way through it. Of course, it assumes you focus on forging a mutually beneficial relationship and not just trying to get around into a parasitic relationship.

Guess what,  we all like to push compelling and competitive candidatures.
Now, Go Rock!

 

Also published here – http://www.flexicareersindia.com/newsletter/jan2013/newsletter.htm

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