I’ll admit it — I secretly hate networking and networking events. And to tell you the truth, almost every working mom I know feels the same way. We feel so overwhelmed by our busy schedules that we don’t want to add one more activity. And if we had more time, we like to spend it with our families, or heaven forbid, do something for ourselves.
But the truth is, a strong network is one of the most important assets when it comes to career success. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking. When executives are looking for their next key hire, they think about people they know or have wanted to work with. Yet, women seem to be lagging behind in this skill set.
According to LinkedIn, men are more savvy networkers than women, as they generally have larger networks and more activity within those networks. It makes sense — golf, ski trips, boys’ nights out — all this interpersonal time certainly helps build one’s relationships. But I find it ironic that female networks have been the foundation of societies for years, from gathering at the local water source to congregating at sewing circles to dominating social media. There’s no reason women can’t be as strong of networkers in the business arena as well.
Here are four reasons why networking should top your priority list:
Networking builds your hiring network. I’ve noticed I’ve had a hard time finding talent for key positions on my team, but not because the talent doesn’t exist here in Utah. I just don’t have the network I did in Silicon Valley. As you get to know more talented folks in your area, you’ll improve your chances of hiring the best of the best.
Networking provides learning opportunities. Having a peer group facing similar challenges can be extremely beneficial. I recently joined a group of female executives that meets once a quarter. It has been invaluable to discuss unique challenges I am facing with like-minded individuals.
Networking might land you your next job or help you be recognized in your current one. The fact that the majority of jobs are found through networking is reason alone to do so. But efforts like networking, building a personal brand, and gaining recognition in the community can also make a current employer take a second glance at the talent he or she has on staff.
Networking offers the chance to give back. I recently co-founded Women At Domo, a quarterly get-together for the women at my company. I am also involved in Utah’s Women Tech Council. Both these groups give me an opportunity to help other women in their careers by sharing experiences and lessons I’ve learned over the years.
Networking may not be your favorite activity, but it is one of the most rewarding ways to make connections and get your career on track—helping you get both to where you need to go, as well as places you never dreamed possible. By keeping your contacts close and actively nurturing these relationships, you’ll be on your way to building deeper connections, larger networks and a stronger career.