Women’s Thought Leadership – Internal Social Networking

I attended a Women’s Thought Leadership event yesterday focused on self-promotion within the corporate environment. Regardless of the industry there were many statements that resonate with professional women and the necessity of building professional presence and consciously networking to gain exposure and increase chance of promotion.

It is often asked when will women set the criteria of how and when promotions occur? Women have certainly made strides in pushing the ceiling, yet need to continue to build presence and take action. To accelerate the pace of change you’ll need to gain knowledge, look for opportunities to stand out, help other women and take action consistently.

The invisibility Factor
A story was shared of the ‘elevation process’ of a group of male and female employees who were being evaluated for promotion and future grooming. Each member held the characteristics standard to a successful leader. The group needed to be filtered further. Two buckets existed – a worker bee bucket and a leader bucket. As each candidate was discussed and then place in a “bucket.” Renounced to the candidate placement would be the difference between succeeding and succeeding BIG. Among other items on a checklist, 75% of women were put in the worker-bee bucket because of “I don’t know who she is” whereas not a single male was placed due to “I don’t know him.”

Sadly many women will never know if, and when, they’ve been put in the worker-bee bucket. Men and women work differently. Men strategically network internally. Women multi-task including focusing at work, eating lunch at desk so they may go home to their other obligations. What many women don’t see is that this is detrimental to your internal social network and leadership development potential.

Consider, are you invisible? To build your internal social network, gain professional presence and visibility try out the below tips:

  1. Rank yourself on 1 to 10 – how visible are you within your company. Set a baseline. Create a professional goal and assess on a quarterly basis.
  2. Set aside a weekly amount of time to dedicate to internal networking. Ease into it – 5 minutes a day is a great start.
  3. Set an alarm on your cell phone for every 2 hours. Stand up and “take a lap” in the halls. Make sure to stop and have a conversation along the way. It’s good for your network, your back and your focus.
  4. Take the time to eat lunch with colleagues, in kitchen,
  5. Look for opportunities out of your normal role to be a leader – internally and externally.

It is whom you know versus what you know that determines your ability to be promoted. Are you in the know? To learn more read Women and the Labyrinth of Leadership by Alice H. Eagly and Linda L. Carli.

Applause to Jane DiRenzo of R3 Group LLC for her insightful speech and to Price Waterhouse Coopers for your commitment to women’s leadership development.


Clare Hefferren

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