I have been coaching a number of women entrepreneurs lately and am dismayed by our gender’s general lack of networking when we are so good at creating social circles and deep friendships. Too many business women work hard to get ahead and fail to create the professional networking so vital to advancement.
We are known as the sex that is better at relationships, communicate more and more effectively, have stronger compassion genes, and yet study after study show that women regularly fail at networking when it comes to their careers.
A recent article by one of my favorite Forbes contributors, Geri Stengel, points to many of the pitfalls my clients have fallen into when they come see me about jumpstarting their stalled career or helping their start-up take flight. She offers 6 tips for improving networking skills including “get over your inhibitions.” Many women are not shy, so this does not necessarily point to the real issue but is more of a symptom. What I find is women are accustom to supporting other people’s requests (at home and the office) and find it hard to ask for what they need. Period.
Many years ago I had a counselor send me home with the assignment of writing down everything I would ask for if I had the guts, and not ask. She just wanted me to start to know what it was I would ask for if I felt I could. Whoa! Once I got going I realized there were a lot of things I was not asking for. It was a great exercise and because she did not send me off to start asking for what I wanted, I was able to see more clearly all the areas in which I was holding back.
You, too can start this with just a pad a paper. You don’t have to ask your boss for a raise, or an investor for money. At least not yet. Start with a clean sheet and just think, if I could not loose–what is it I would ask for. Start to really make long lists. List all the people you would ask. It will help grow your muscle of seeing yourself as capable of asking. You might surprise yourself and start asking sooner than you think.