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Women can break barriers
N etworking as a career management strategy is important as
the burden of responsibility for one’s career has shifted from
the organisation to the individual, with the notion of employability
becoming one’s career goal. Moreover, more and more corporate,
government and other organisations see building social capital as
an organisational priority.
Social capital is ‘the structure of individuals’ contact networks
- the pattern of interconnection among the various people with
whom each person is tied. It constitutes a valuable resource.
Relationships possessed by an individual can provide one with
access to new information, resources and opportunities. This
information, resources, and opportunities, both within and outside
one’s current firm, can result in direct enhancements of one’s
career and the firm’s competitiveness.
Well-connected employees contribute more to the bottom line
because they know how to get on board quickly, get the job done,
get the business, get behind organisational initiatives, get the
most from conferences and meetings and get ahead. One of the
topics that often arises in the corporate world is why the networks
of men in the workplace are more “close” than the networks of 29
Networking is simply building relationships says Smith. Another
expert, Boston University Professor, Kathy E Kram, defines
networking as a proactive behaviour that helps develop one’s
relationship constellation. Research conducted by Forret and
Dougherty in 2001 [Forret, M. L. & Dougherty, T.W. (2001).
Correlates of networking behaviour for managerial and professional
employees. Group and Organisation Management, 26, 28, 283-
311.] suggests that some individuals are more likely to engage in
networking behaviour than others. Utilising factor analysis, they
identified five types of networking behaviour: maintaining contacts,
socialising, engaging in professional activities, participating in
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community, and increasing internal visibility.
So, is there a difference between men and women in networking?
In a business magazine, Professor Herminia Ibarra at INSEAD - a