Archive for March 11th, 2010

Looking Back- Networking and Risks

I mentioned earlier that for International Women’s Day I moderated a panel of knowledgeable, well-accomplished women.  One of the questions I asked was “If you could go back any change a decision you made during your career, what would it be and why?”

Almost all the answers revolved around two themes.  I thought I’d share.


Several women commented on wishing they had taken more time to foster their networks and business friends.  As they moved up the corporate ladder, moved between companies, and even went off on their own connections proved to be invaluable.  They needed a people to exchange ideas with, to provide knowledge and expertise, to extend connections, and for support and encouragement.  Most women did have a network to do this, but it was not as extensive or well maintained as they wished when they needed it.

One of my passions is to help people build and maintain their networks.  I chair a women’s networking group at work and am also involved in groups like SWE to work on my own network.  It doesn’t have to be just women- I have plenty of men in my network that I rely on heavily.  Equal opportunity.

Taking Risks

The second item that several women wished they would have done is seized a risky opportunity.  They commented on wishing they had pushed themselves to take on a new assignment or new position when it was offered, even if the timing wasn’t ideal.  Their advice was to go for it, but ask for lots of help.  For many, the reason they were risk adverse at the time was because of young families or family dependencies outside of work.  For some, money for nannies, housework help, flexibility in hours, would have been there if they had asked.  And with that extra help, the risky opportunity would have been more doable.

I think the take away there is that before you say no to something that seems like too much to take on- ask what it would take to be able to do it.  Then ask for everything you need.  What’s the worst that could happen- you don’t get it, and don’t take the opportunity anyway?