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3 Reasons Strategic Networking For Women Becomes A Challenge

Networking in a broken circuit for women searching for jobs! Here are 3 reasons why strategic networking is a challenge for Indian women.

Networking in a broken circuit! It is a maze for women searching for jobs. Here are 3 reasons why strategic networking for women becomes a challenge in India.

I appeared for a written test, followed by an interview for one of the vacancies I was looking forward to working on. I did fairly well in both and was expecting a call, however to my utter surprise it was given to a known person to the project lead.

Likewise, I further got to know from a friend that it was already set for that man (who perhaps did not have the relevant degree and experience). And my friend hugged me and consoled me that it was all set through his network and advised me to grow my network strongly.

Job searches are a maze which requires rats to run with cheese at the other end of the circuit. Circuits in life that women often used to light a bulb are broken most of the time. One wire here and another wire there are often not arranged. Rats who run frequently through the maze can remember it better and have a much better chance to get the cheese every time it sets off to run.

What is networking?

3 Reasons Strategic Networking For Women Becomes A Challenge

Networking is the trending word in workspace these days and people claim that most of the jobs are set like that. I could barely sleep that night. Holding on to my three-year-old toddler by my side, I was wondering what went wrong.

I have been an extrovert since childhood, and it does not take much time to gel with people, or I can say impress with my different capabilities. I did have a good network of chosen friends and neighbours wherever I stayed or worked.

But I never realised the urgency of having this network to find a job.

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The Cambridge Dictionary defines networking, “As the activity of meeting people who might be useful to know, especially in your job”.

Two types of networking

2 types of netowrking

To me, networking primarily is of two types, personal and strategic.

And women find it difficult in maintaining the both. One of the reasons is perhaps they take a break for; maternity, child care, and family issues.

Personal networking

I have observed this unconscious bias in growing networks since my childhood. The patriarchal society did not allow me to venture out in the evening after it grew dark in the back 90s as a school girl, while my brother used to have all the freedom to go on bicycle rides with his friends.

Those were not the mobile phone days, and meeting our friends after school was mostly allowed with my mother by my side. After my +2 exams, I migrated to another city for my undergraduate studies and lost touch with all my school friends (thanks to social media that got reunited with some of them now).

The telecom sector boom helped me in carrying a mobile phone and that helped me to be in touch with some of my close friends in college.

After marriage and kids, the time shrank and now even meeting the close ones feels like a treat. But yes, we do talk over the phone and exchange our personal life happenings and reassure each other on standing by, if need be, there.

Strategic networking

According to LinkedIn, strategic networking is the process of building a network of contacts that might help you achieve your career goals. It is about cultivating meaningful connections with people who can help you gain new insights, and ideas, and bring you opportunities that you might not have access to otherwise.

3 reasons strategic networking becomes difficult for women

The preconceived notions and biases among senior management and male leadership hold women back from having a fulfilling career.

challenges of strategic networking

Networking is not easy for women, some of the barrier women encounters are.

Juggling between family and work

As the clock ticks to 6 pm, almost all women employees start getting calls from home. Kids/parents/partners on the other side start asking them how long it would take them to reach home.

And the woman in the middle of the PPT starts visualizing the faces of the kids and parents, what to cook for dinner and how to get the homework done and so on, shut her laptop down and starts another shift at home.

While they see other men in the office having a good time networking with bosses and different colleagues over coffee/walking/sports activities. Networking ka time kidhar hai?

No support for business meetings/conferences

In most of the big conferences or business meetings, women employees are not motivated enough to accompany, quoting they won’t be able to make it due to their personal responsibilities (which is not the actual reason).

And women lose on networking on a bigger platform with influential industry leaders who could, might, help them someday in career progression.

Good old sexist stereotypes and gendered perception

One of my male friends told me once that women are much more organized in their work, but they don’t have that business acumen, so presenting business proposals or branding on a bigger platform is somehow not their thing.

To which I highly disagree, when all those PPTs are prepared by women why can’t they present them? They just need that one chance and they can run a good show. It’s so demotivating to see how many women work hard to progress, the glass ceiling does not seem to be breaking easily.

I feel, and most women agree, we can’t remember the maze running as circuits that could have helped are broken. Women even in strategic positions or who ran enough mazes to remember the circuit end up behaving in a manner that doesn’t support other women.

I recall linguists analysed Hillary Clinton’s career and shared, “As she gained experience in the public administration, she picked language which was more masculine and possibly choices she made.”

So, what can I do now? Drink a cup of coffee to lift my soul.

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Image source: via Fezkes, free and edited on CanvaPro

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About the Author

Priyanka Sharma

A journalist by training, a communicator and feminist by choice. Writes on issues related to women and girls, works as a communication and gender consultant for the Non-profit sector. A loving mother, companion and read more...

4 Posts | 5,267 Views

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