Why networking is like gardening

Rather than seeing it as a quick fix, maybe we should start thinking that networking is like gardening?

Networking is like gardening – it takes time and effort in order to make the relationships grow, they don’t just spring up overnight. 

Years ago, as I was telling a mentee my way of networking:  “dropping seeds and watering them makes it easier to harvest when needed.”

I got this feedback: “Yep. And you need light to make it grow… but then again, you are a sun!

This conversation didn’t just make me aware of how I function as a networker. It also brought to mind the importance of all the ingredients for a good recipe. Later, I understood the importance and appropriateness of having a purpose – or not – when networking. In this article, I want to share with other professional women my lessons learned from networking, because we don’t network the same way as men do. Then again, we don’t function the same way either, which is also important to understand when seeking professional development.  Most often, women tend to be good connectors. However, when it comes to leveraging our network, women vanish and find excuses to avoid it.  Additionally, men generally separate their professional and personal matters, whereas many women mix them. This is perhaps why and how men receive better professional support from their network.

So how can we as women be more successful at networking?

Networking is no longer about “who you know,” but rather it is about “who knows you.” Social media is a great tool to get to be known. You can use the space to have a voice, to publish, comment, etc. Furthermore, and in line with recent 3Plus article Be a mindful networker to achieve the best results,” it makes it easier to build your relationship capital, which you can use and benefit from. Yet, to this point, I would like to argue that it is also important to remain open to getting to know people “just because….” You never know, by simply starting a conversation you may find some great and completely unexpected opportunities for development.

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