The old maxim that networking equals success has been proven over and over again. It’s especially important for women and other under-represented groups to network, because we tend to have less privilege and more to prove. Kathy Caprino, Forbes blogger, offers some good advice on mentoring, networking and power.
Good networking includes active mentoring, sponsorship and support. Many of the networking groups I’ve attended mainly involved practicing our elevator speeches or sharing tips on social marketing. Useful enough, but certainly, not enough for entrepreneurial success. In essence, good networking involves creating relationships outside the networking group, through partnerships (“leaning in“), leading up and mentoring.
In a recent Forbes blog, Kathy Kaprino quoted Diane Schumaker-Krieg, Global Head of Research, Economics and Strategy at Wells Fargo, named one of the most powerful women in the financial services industry by American Banker for the past four consecutive years. “Women have power, especially when they band together.”
“In discussing the benefits of mentorship and sponsorship, Diane explained that sponsors are individuals who have the clout and influence to support your advancement and create new opportunities for you. Sponsorship is critical to women’s success in the business world today.”
Sponsorship is a relationship that epitomizes active, engaged leadership. Generosity, self-confidence, listening and advice are important from a sponsor/leader. And the follower, in this case the mentee, has an important job as well.
Again quoting Diane Schumaker-Krieg, proteges need to remember to be worth sponsoring. (Another way of thinking about being a responsible protege is “leading up!”)
“As a protégé, actively build your personal brand. Know what key influencers are saying about you when you are in the room and know what your “hall file” is. Be aware of your reputation and what is being said about you by colleagues, peers, and leaders. [And] be a safe bet. Deliver what you say you are going to deliver when you say you are going to deliver it.”