We spoke to LinkedIn's best-connected women.
Sweaty palms, shaking hands, a sudden desire to run home and hide under the duvet – the idea of networking and making professional small talk with people you don’t know can be an unsettling concept, to say the least. And women suffer from networking nerves more than their male counterparts: getting on for half (43%) of women surveyed in a recent LinkedIn poll said they were uncomfortable networking with people they don’t know, compared with just a third of men.
But a valuable connection can be a way into a new job, a leg-up for a promotion, or simply someone to advise and support you as you climb the career ladder. Women who don’t have the confidence to network with people outside their professional circle are missing out on a potential career-changing relationship and risk putting themselves at a professional disadvantage compared with men in the same job.
To mark International Women’s Day on Sunday, and inspire women to network with confidence, LinkedIn is celebrating some of its best-connected women who have used their professional networks for career success. Here are their top tips for networking:
Bianca Jagger, Founder of The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation
‘Social networks have made it easier than ever to make and maintain a supportive professional network, but remember that you’re dealing with real people at the end of the day, so all the old rules of professional etiquette and staying in touch still apply.’
Catherine Crawley, Head of Social, Ingenuity
‘If you’re nervous about meeting people at a networking event, it can really help to do a bit of research about them beforehand. Doing a quick search online or on LinkedIn can bring up a shared contact or experience in common – gold dust when you want someone to warm to you.’
Suzie Tobias, Managing Director, Strike Jobs
‘I often advise people to start their networking journey online if they’re uncomfortable with one-on-one meetings. Joining industry forums, using LinkedIn, and even good old-fashioned email are useful ways to make an introduction. And if your LinkedIn profile’s up to date, people will be more likely to find you.’
Michelle Beckett, CEO, Talentpledge
‘Remember that it’s not all about you. Have talking points up your sleeve, but encourage people to tell you about their interests and passions. Then they’ll remember you as the person who was interested as well as interesting.’
Tamsin Lejeune, Founder and CEO, Ethical Fashion Forum
‘Making as much as an effort with your “goodbye” as with your “hello,” means people remember you for all the right reasons. It’s also a great way to show that you’ve valued speaking to them, and makes it more natural to connect with them on LinkedIn and follow up in the future.’
Chrissie Lightfoot, CEO and Founder, Entrepreneur Law
‘Although many of your connections will be in your industry, it’s important to network outside your sector sometimes. Not only can it stop too much “shop talk,” and take some of the pressure off, but an outsiders’ perspective can be invaluable.”
Danielle Restivo, LinkedIn
‘Make time for networking in your daily routine, and you’ll soon see the benefits. We’ve found that nine minutes a day is all you need to spend maintaining your LinkedIn profile to see a significant impact on the number and quality of your connections. And the stronger your profile is, the more likely you are to be ‘found’ by people wanting to connect with you too.’
Inspired? This is how you can use LinkedIn to nab your dream job…