Research* shows that promotions and salary increases are positively correlated with more time spent networking.
But what if you are like me – a working Mom with four young boys?
Women are more likely, especially after they have children, to cut down on the socializing and politicking part of their jobs. Time spent socializing is time not spent doing the key activities of work – and that’s time away from family. Yet developing those relationships are precisely what you should invest in to get ahead. So how do you make it work?
Set goals for your networking. What would you like to do – start a side consulting business? Write an article for a trade publication? Get new clients? If you have clear goals, it will be easier to prioritize networking.
Discuss your professional goals with your partner. In my house, we’re more likely to talk about diaper changes or bills to pay than our career goals. Set aside time to discuss with your partner how you need to invest in your career, and schedule a time to do it. Also, support one another. My husband and I each have one night a week where one of us takes care of the kids on their own. Then the other one can work late or make it a happy hour networking night.
Join a women-only networking group. I am a member of Ellevate, and they host lunches and breakfasts that are much easier for me to attend than the traditional “happy hour” networking events. I’ve met so many great friends and made a lot of useful connections. Look for a chapter in your area, or look for a Lean-In circle or other group.
Suggest parent-friendly networking events. Does your workplace only have after-hours social events? Suggest to HR or other higher-ups that parents – and even pet owners! – might appreciate a different time for events. What about an ice cream social in the afternoon, or a “Coffee with the CEO” at the beginning of the day? Your colleagues who also have to fight traffic, pick up kids, and take out the pooch will thank you.
I’ll share my networking goals with you for this year – find great consulting projects and guest speakers for my MBA class. Every event I attend, I have a goal or question in mind that helps me connect in productive ways. And I always try to follow up within a week after the event! It takes less time than you think. So go ahead, get out there!
*Luthans, F., Rosenkrantz, S. A., & Hennessey, H. W. (1985). What Do Successful Managers Really Do? An Observation Study of Managerial Activities. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 21(3), 255–270. Also, Wolff, H.-G., & Moser, K. (2009). Effects of Networking on Career Success: A Longitudinal Study. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94(1), 196–206.