In the current age of digital connections it can be easy to overlook the value of face to face gatherings. Dont get me wrong, social media has been hugely useful in enabling me to connect with people I never would have engaged with if it were not for the creation of Twitter and LinkedIn. But sometimes nothing beats attending a networking event with a group of likeminded individuals.
Despite agreeing that networking was important to their career and the relative importance women placed on networking, only 25% of female survey respondents said they network at least once a week, compared to 46% of male respondents. One in three (32%) women stated that they network less than once a month. [Source]
I was pleased to hear that the Northern Health Science Allliance (NHSA) is supporting the launch of HealthTech Women (HTW) UK in Leeds this month with the first in a series of Northern events. You can read the full details on our news pages.
Essentially, HTW is an international professional network which supports and promotes female leaders in the future of healthcare. The events feature key and inspirational speakers and a relaxed and informal setting for chats, advice and networking. This sounds perfect. But what are the barriers to women undertaking more networking?
Most men will never walk into a room and question why they are there. Whilst many highly experienced, well trained, professional women may still - and frequently - doubt their abilities and worth. There's some great thinking around Imposter Syndrome which is summed up in an article from The Telegraph.
I hate to say it but many working mums also undertake many of the duties at home; plus network meetings can often clash with the school run or are on evenings which doesnt work well on this basis. Plus the other factor if you're like me, is that being very much a morning person, I've done my brilliant work from 7am - 4pm so the idea of drumming up some added energy for after hours networking can be challenging on this front too. The HTW session sadly falls into this category so I do hope it succeeds in the face of these issues.
The network itself
We feel pressure to be networking. So walking into a room of strangers can be tough for everyone - although you need to remember that the people there are only strangers at the first session! It's even tougher if you feel you should be going but you're not quite sure if it will be relevant. Just do your homework. Provided that the network topic or theme fits with your interests and the agenda looks interesting, there's really no reason not to get involved. If it's organised through a channel such as LinkedIn it's sometimes possible to see if any of your current connections have been along, so you could ask their views before you take the plunge.
I'd like to think that the HTW network which is run by women, for women, with the sole purpose of nurturing women is possibly the best place to get started. So what's stopping you!