Everywhere and everyone will tell you that networking is key to a successful career, to increase your customer numbers, and to eventually find a new job. I am certainly not going to disagree. Indeed, it is important for all those reasons and then some.
For the last five years I have put networking very high up my list of priorities. Six years ago, I was looking for a career shift into the pharma industry and I soon realized that my network in Zurich and in the pharmaceutical industry was very limited to my work colleagues and friends. I was reading a book: Careers advice for ambitious women – Mrs. Moneypenny* (one of the best gifts my husband has ever got me) and one of the most important messages I retained from Mrs. Moneypenny was that networking is key and I had to go and look for a professional women´s networking group in my city. Well, I browsed women networking in Zurich and I ended up at Professional Women’s Group of Zurich – PWG. A search I will never regret.
PWG opened my eyes to the very interesting professional networking world. Networking for business is an art of itself and you have to learn how to do it well. My first experience was nice, but I did not really see the benefit of investing an evening with 50 women and making some small talk. My mistake was to think these events would provide a quick fix. After a couple of times I started asking myself what all the fuss about networking was about. But I persisted and I started to build some very interesting contacts. In a very casual way I ended up in the executive committee as the Event Manager. And then it was clear. Networking has to be part of your daily regime, much as your fitness sessions. It is not about having results after a couple of meet-ups. It is about investing time and energy to have long-term results. Only after months of intense networking was I able to connect with people in a useful way, find my role models and help other women find a job.
But why go to women only networking meetings? While organizing networking events at PWG for the last four years, and participating at other business networking meetings, I had the opportunity to observe women´s behavior at both. There is a difference between female and male networking. Women, especially women new to networking, take more initiative and speak more freely without men around, and they are more inclined to share their personal stories. If you add a topic related to ambitious and assertive women who want to develop their career and their businesses, the reasons to join a women only networking group is clear. Once in, some magic happens: women begin to connect professionally, they start helping each other and they get inspired.
And suddenly you are part of a tribe where you feel safe, included and comfortable because everyone is like you: woman with a purpose, professionally active and ready to help.
Are you looking for a new business challenge? Are you happily fulfilled in your career? Do you want to increase visibility of your business? No matter what kind of working situation you are in, women networking clubs will give you something! Now, go out and look for a group near you!
*Careers advice for ambitious women – Mrs. Moneypenny and Heather McGregor, Published 2012 by Viking