The Work/Life Balance of Networking
Nov 13 2007

I have been meaning to write this post about networking for quite some time now but I’ve been distracted by, held hostage by, paying attention to my network.  :-)

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Networking is one of those interesting words that I see primarily referenced in the business world when describing connections with people who can help each other with their respective endeavors (e.g., job search, business building, introductions, etc.).  I’m not on Facebook yet, nor do I have a MySpace page but from what I read about those sites people do not seem to think what they are doing is ‘networking’ when they use those sites.  According to Facebook’s home page, “Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you.”  I never would have thought the term “social utility” would resonate with so many people, but it apparently does.

When people use sites like LinkedIn they do seem to think they are engaging in a form of networking.  I am on LinkedIn and you can see my profile here

My philosophy on who I link to and who I send LinkedIn invitations to is best illustrated in Thom Singer’s post at Some Assembly Required called LinkedIn Rant and Challenge to Bloggers which he later expanded on in his More On My LinkedIn Rant post.  In summary, I link to people I know, have worked with, and/or had a meaningful email/phone exchange with.  I generally don’t link to people who send me blind invites whose motivations for linking are iffy at best.

So why do I call this post Work/Life Balance of Networking?  Well it’s because of Gail Evans, former VP of CNN and author of Play Like A Man, Win Like A Woman and She Wins, You Win.   Back on September 20, 2007 she came to give a talk at the Association for Women in Technology – Austin (AWTA).  I have been on the board of AWTA for several years and just stepped down this past summer.

Gail said many profound and informative things about being a woman in the corporate world in her speech, but the comments I found most interesting were on work/life balance and networking for women.  Here they are:

  • Why do people (i.e., women) constantly talk about work/life balance?  It’s ALL one life!  We work in that life, we play with our kids in that life, we play spend time with our spouses in that life, we hang out with our friends/family in that life, and we spend time on ourselves in that life.  So if we talk to our kids while we are at the office or we check our Email while at home it’s one life.  She said it doesn’t really make sense why people suggest that work and life are warring and opposing elements because LIFE is the clear winner and it includes work!
  • Women don’t need to be taught how to network.  She suggested that women are born networkers because they can find out anything (e.g., best schools, where to get XYZ, best doctors, etc.) from another parent, a teacher, a shop owner, or whomever when they are discussing their kids and family.  Somehow, they have brainwashed themselves into thinking they need to hire someone or read a ton of books on how to network to make the same kind of connections in the business world.  [I laughed when she said this because it is so true that many women are scared of the 'networking' word at work!]  She illustrated with a story about how she overheard a conversation between two women who had met on a airport train on their way home.  One was pregnant.  The other had kids.  By the end of the train ride, Gail said she knew practically everything about them and who each of them recommended the other connect with except for where they worked!   Gail brought this up because she found it interesting that AWT brought in networking expert Steve Harper, author of The Ripple Effect to coordinate the ice breaker activities before her speech.  I’m not sure Steve stayed for the meeting and heard her make that observation.  I think Steve had commented that this was the first time he had facilitated an ice breaker for a roomful of women.  Way to go Steve!

Check out the books written by the people I mention above by clicking on the Amazon links below (for those reading this in a feed, you’ll have to click on the link post to see the book images below) and partake of their sage advice! 

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Author: | Filed under: networking, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

4 Comments on “The Work/Life Balance of Networking”

  1. 1 dallasalice said at 10:30 AM on November 14th, 2007:

    I read this post….and I so agree with Gail’s comments. I have always felt that as a woman and a mother, I had an innate ability to get the facts I needed…for my kids, my job, whatever….it’s that mother tiger instinct. Maybe it’s the competitiveness that spills over into wanting everything that is the best for your family, and then that carries over into your job, your life, etc.

    I personally have always been too busy to read a lot of “how to” books on how to juggle or manage my life. I’ve just had to live it! Prioritize and go. Most of the time family comes first, but there have been numerous times when everyone has had to pitch in because of a work deadline. I think that is what makes a family more cohesive and united. When your children realize what the parents are doing actually matters and benefits them and they have to help out to get the rewards of their parents hard work. Whether it’s cook dinner a few nights for mom when she’s late, or do extra chores, or sit in the library at school and study till she gets there to pick them up. I’ve seen a lot of kids that don’t have “any skin in the game” and they take everything for granted. Aruni, I know you grew up working hard and having jobs as a teen, and that is why you are so driven.

  2. 2 thom singer said at 6:16 AM on November 22nd, 2007:

    Great post. Networking does take a lot of time and effort, but it does not hurt a work/life balance, instead….having a strong network gives you more balance. Since opportunities all come from people, when you know the right folks, you have more chances in life.

    As I have been speaking to companies and law firms around the country I have heard many stories from women about networking and the little differences that they face in the business world. Gail is right that women are “natural networkers”, but they do face some interesting situations while networking that I had never noticed (being a man). These points that have been shared with me prompted me to re-write my book “Some Assembly Required” and release an edition specifically for women. My co-author for this project, Marny Lifshen, and I have just finished the book, and it will be going into editing and production soon.

    Aruni, you blog is great. Keep up the good work.

    thom

  3. 3 Aruni said at 7:46 PM on November 22nd, 2007:

    Congrats Thom! That’s great news that you’ve finished the book. I’m sure it will be great. Happy Turkey Day!

  4. 4 Mothers in Business Carnival November - mydayoff.com.au said at 12:25 AM on November 27th, 2007:

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