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PWCC Blog: Getting to Success

Posted By Annika Mitchell, Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Regardless of gender, everyone wants to be and feel successful. Everyone also wants others to proclaim and acknowledge our success.  But do men and women have to work differently to achieve success?

Much has been written about the networking men do: on the golf links, on the basketball court. A recent article suggested that women should engage in beer bonding to advance their careers. The logic seems to be that engaging in the same networking activities as men will increase women’s exposure to work opportunities.

Everyone agrees that networking is key but there are some roadblocks women experience more frequently that may prevent the kind of back-and-back networking that is the most successful.

So the first step to gaining a sense of self-success may be to overcome these common doubts that women experience:

The Imposter
While millions of people experience self-doubt – including athletes, celebrities, CEOs – women are uniquely vulnerable to this very strong roadblock to success. A lack of confidence makes it hard to feel secure in your work and in your ideas.

There is lots of good information about overcoming this roadblock to success.

The Perfectionist
Women universally report feeling the need to do everything flawlessly. Whether it’s our appearance, our children, our homes, or our jobs, our common need to complete our tasks and shoulder our responsibilities more thoroughly is exhausting, mentally and physically. And sometimes this drive to perfection inhibits our ability to delegate tasks to others, so we wind up self-imposing the weight of everything onto our own shoulders.

The Self-Promoter
Women generally find it more difficult to promote their skills and accomplishments than men do. A study from Montana State University found that the cultural norms of modesty, mostly focused on the behavior of women, prevent many women from talking about their successes.

So if women seem to be especially proficient in sabotaging their ability to feel and be successful, what’s a woman to do?

To the surprise of no one at PWCC, networking proves to be a very important step on a path to success. But while networking in general is important, recent research identified the best kind of networking for women places high value on an intimate circle of colleagues who will share information that the broader, less intimate, network circles that men typically form will not.

The researchers explored the idea of “centrality” in networks among men or women. “Centrality” measured the percentage of highly connected people within a person’s network. A network that includes highly connected people can be small in number but strong and influential.

For men, a network of highly connected individuals, even if the contacts do not communicate often among themselves, can engender and promote success. For men, it was okay – and beneficial – to have weak ties to highly connected people.

But things appeared to be different for women. Yes, networking with highly connected people is beneficial, as it is for men.

But small networks of women who share close connections seemed to be the most beneficial for future success of members. Emailing a small group of women frequently, seeking feedback and advice, appears to bolster a woman’s success.

What accounts for this? Well if we tend to suffer most frequently from feeling like an imposter, having a small circle of professional women on whom to rely for feedback that is genuine can only be helpful.

So yes it’s great to gather lots of business cards and look for leaders with whom to connect, but forming the kinds of networking connections that PWCC encourages – those that are sincere and mutually beneficial – may be the best aid to experience true success.

Carol Jambor-Smith
Jambor-Smith Communications

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