Julie Mitchell's CoachNotes


Women and the heart of networking


This week was filled with reminders of how women count on strong friendships and professional networks to deal with life’s ups and downs. I received encouraging e-mails, calls, and a card — how delightfully old-fashioned; it arrived via USPS, from Nebraska — from women I admire. They approach work/life challenges holistically, integrating intelligence and talent with sensitivity and kindness. I appreciate how generous many women are with time, wisdom, or a “you, go, girl!” They understand the heart of networking.

It’s no accident I’m part of a supportive network I can count on. Women who have a sense of purpose or calling in their work inspire me; I want to connect with them. I have initiated relationships with women I want to know. Getting to know someone requires listening and genuine interest in what matters to her, rather than a focus on what I might want from her. I’ve made my share of mistakes, and not all relationships last, but women mentors and friends enrich my life immeasurably.

There is more to networking than what best-selling books suggest. I once created a seminar entitled “Authentic Networking.” My client favored the title because she thought most networking programs were inauthentic. I agree. Networking is not about collecting 50 business cards during a 45-minute meeting. This is a superficial, unrealistic approach, based on quantity over quality. The best connections are made through recognizing and getting to know a unique human being.

Sustaining networks are based on mutual respect, support, receptivity, and generosity of spirit. Sometimes, in a first meeting, conversation, or reading of someone’s work, I sense immediate rapport. I know, intuitively, this person will be significant in my life. If I have an emotional reaction — e.g., seeing or hearing something that moves me to tears — I recognize I may have stumbled upon a transforming connection.

When leading a networking seminar for a male-dominated audience, I emphasize listening, earning trust, and making “gut level” connections. If I’m presenting to women, I’m more likely to talk about the heart, too. My best relationships — personal or professional — are based on emotional or heart-level resonance. When I can FEEL someone’s passion or enthusiasm for a project, and I believe in the outcome, I naturally want to help him or her.

On a related note, I’m planning an evening of networking with local women I admire on January 26. We may generate enough heart energy to get the entire state of NC buzzing!

Author: Julie Mitchell

Julie Mitchell is an executive coach, facilitator, professional speaker and senior consultant who can help you create more positive working relationships, improve your performance, and achieve goals through understanding and practicing effective communication on every level.

5 thoughts on “Women and the heart of networking

  1. Thank you, Julie, for this blog. As a business woman that started my business three years ago as a Success Coach, I have gone to “Networking Events” that feel more like Marathons than true connections. I have gathered more business cards than I could ever contact or make a connection to.

    At one event a few weeks back there were 30 second “meetings” at a networking event. The coordinator asked me what I thought. I could only say that I did not get the value of the format. I told him that I already had enough business cards. So I think it will be my last “networking event” that doesn’t have a heart connection.

    The responsibility is on each of us to find the “format” that allows us to find our friends who connect to us. I really liked that you differentiated between how you connect to men and women. As a woman, I tried, as many of us do, to mold myself into the male model and I came away feeling unheard.

    My passion is to help women to step into their power, to be who they are and to listen to their heart and intuition that tells them what is right for them. When we become authentically connected to ourselves and others, we will be able to affect positive change in the world.

    Thanks again. I would love to connect further. It looks like we are on the same path! :-)))

  2. Kathie, thanks for your affirming comments! You’re the first to respond to my new blog and it made my day. I loved the way you described your passion and I wholeheartedly support it. I’ll be in touch by e-mail.

  3. Julie,
    I consider you one of my treasured contacts because of networking–I mean, isn’t that what long-lasting, deep heart-felt relationships are? Networking included our laughter, our tears, our challenges, our successes, our fears, our risks. So proud of you for moving forward with your call. You are a gem!
    Also, my thanks to Kathie for her comments. I agree that “authenticity” is a key. No more formal handshakes without interaction.

  4. Julie:
    I recall that we met through a mutual acquaintance. He and I no longer keep in touch, but you and I found some wonderfully deep connections that keep us bonded. I am so blessed to know you and to see you flourishing in your personal and professional lives! The networking marathons you describe are worse than unsatisfying; they are outright demeaning to both parties involved. The real exchange in a relationship needs to be at a more personal level to establish any trust and confidence in the other person. Those whirlwind events are pretty superficial.

    Thanks for hooking me in to your blog. I’ve just added it to my internet “favorites” and will visit often! How do you find the time to keep this up!?!? You are amazing!!!

  5. Pingback: Unexpected connections: Networking and “dormant ties” | Julie Mitchell's CoachNotes

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