Four Tips for Building a Professional Network

Women should take a slightly different approach than men, when developing professional networks

Four Tips for Building a Professional Network

By Mariam Majid

Experts agree: building professional networks can help result in higher performance ratings, greater job satisfaction, a lower likelihood of leaving the job, and a greater likelihood of getting offered critical roles in the organization. On Friday, October 17, MBA students at Johnson at Cornell University learned that the experience of building a network is different for women than for men.

Michele Williams, ILR Faculty

I was among the 36 women, both current MBA students and those considering business school, who attended Johnson Women in Business, an annual educational event sponsored by Johnson’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. I attended the seminar “Leadership: Power and Negotiation,” led by Michele Williams, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Cornell.

Networks are important because they connect a person to private and unique information, which can turn out to be useful in many ways, Williams said. Women should build networks in a slightly different manner than men do, in order to gain economic, relational, and reputational benefits. Here are four tips on how to accomplish this:

·         The network should be diverse in job level, experience, industry, gender, and race

·          Establishing deep relationships is important, if women want to leverage their network

·         Borrow social capital; this includes highly placed men in one’s professional network

·         Ask someone to be your sponsor. Unlike mentors, sponsors advocate for you, and will go out of their way to help you. They can use their political capital to make things happen for you.

Mariam Majid, MBA ’16, is first-year MBA student at Johnson at Cornell University, where she preparing for a career in marketing and brand management in consumer packaged goods. 

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