15 Sep There is a Special Place in H#%! for Women Who Don’t Help Other Women
In early July, Meghan Casserly wrote in Forbes “Why Women’s Networking Groups Fail” and it’s been popping in and out of my mind for months. She concluded, “No matter how many meetings I attend and business cards I pocket, I can’t stop asking myself this question: can a women’s networking group help a young woman break into the boy’s club, no matter how many strong their numbers are? Three years into covering women, business and the myriad struggles that entails, I’m not so sure I buy it.” Casserly makes some interesting observations about reciprocity and how women treat each other, most of which are pretty unfavorable. And while she suggests that the primary goal is breaking into the boy’s club, I’m pretty sure men don’t network with each other to break into ladies clubs. Perhaps we network for better reasons?!?!?
My experience networking with women for the past two decades does validate some of her observations BUT my experiences are not all bad. Far from it. My experiences have been good, even excellent, as many women – both older and younger than I – have served as mentors and truth tellers. My life has been enriched greatly by the connections and sharing of ideas, advice and stories.
So…is networking with women-only groups worth the time? Casserly’s article cited a Harvard Business Review blog post by Athena Vongalis-Macrow, “Assess the Value of Your Networks“ that suggests you ask yourself these four questions:
- Who is in the network?
- How well does the network connect?
- Is there functional communication?
- Who are you talking to?
Truth is, regardless of gender, it seems important to give thought about why you joined a particular networking group. And, although I’m a big fan of the breaking into the boy’s club, there are just as many powerful reasons for building strong women’s networking groups that are not all about the boys. Networks can serve as mastermind groups, idea incubation, best practices sharing, support and more. Creating connections with people for a particular business or personal purpose may involve more than an introduction to a powerful or prestigious person. Maybe – just maybe – the question we should be asking is “What can I bring to the other women in the network?” After all, I think Madeline Albright got it right when she said, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
So how about you? Are you networking to give or get?