With Purpose

I coach many women who want to get ahead - want more money - a better job, more recognition. Can you relate? I tell them, network, network, network! They know they should, but they don't do it enough, or effectively. Why is that? Here's what I hear: "No time. Between my job, my boyfriend, my mom nagging me about when I'm getting married, (or if I should be that lucky) spending time with my mate, my kids, my friends and volunteer activities, how do I find time to network?" And to that, I answer: You just do! And here is just the way you do that.

Business woman networking

1Prep yourself

Set a goal—what does it mean for you to go to that next level? Do you want to stay with your company, or move to another, change industries, or even change careers? What is it that you want? Don't know? Then find out. A networking event is the perfect place to do that. Talk with as many people as you can to understand what they are passionate about, and ask them how they got there.

2You are unique

Take inventory of your achievements. Which one is uniquely yours or has the most juice? Moved to New York from the Midwest, knowing no one? Sold more products and taken your territory where "no man" has gone before? Whatever it is—get clear about it. Write it down in a sentence or two. Practice saying it in front of a mirror, so it comes out of your mouth with ease. You are going to use it to impress your networking contacts.

3Flattery gets you everywhere

  • Need I say more about 'icebreakers' for those who are shy-? When you meet people and don't know what to say, just FLATTER them!
  • Like their hair, dress, color of their suit, shoes, jewelry? Pick something, mean it, and let it be known.
  • Or if they say something you respect, acknowledge them by repeating it.
  • Or if you know one of their accomplishments, compliment them by saying it. Big egos love to be recognized.
  • As you converse, pull up your unique achievement and get it into the mix. Say it passionately to light the fire of recall. It is more likely to be remembered.

4You have something to give them

Don't be intimidated. They may be more senior, more accomplished, smarter, brighter, wealthier, but you have something to give them. -What is your fresh take on a situation? -Be an attentive listener—everyone loves that, especially people who are used to being the center of attention. -You are probably privy to all sorts of information that they are not at their level—you can be their 'ears' when they need to know the buzz. -These tactics will get you in the door, and a follow-up call.

5Networking basics

Bring enough cards to events—smile when you walk into a room (even if you don't feel like it). And have your blackberry out, turned on to your rolodex, so you can write down contact information quickly. I would love to hear your experiences, frustrations, and successes, anything about your networking experiences…or lack of them.  

Helene is the founder of, a site whose tips on skill building and strategies for advancement as well as juggling career and family, have made it one of the premier sites on the web for career women. The site offers access to power contacts and an active message board-based community forum, complete with free personalized career coaching by esteemed business professionals.

If you have any questions for Helene, please submit them HERE.

Smart Women Take Risks

As CEO of Creative Expansions, Inc., Helene has produced more than 20 television specials, written nine books, and founded one of the premiere Web sites for professional women Look for her latest book, Smart Women Take Risks.

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Comments on "How to network"

Larson November 10, 2008 | 12:21 PM

I just read another article that Ms. Lerner wrote about career advice on talking to your boss when you feel underappreciated. I think some of these same pieces of advice here in this article apply to that topic. Also, be grateful you have a job right now! I know so many people who have been laid off recently!

helene lerner October 09, 2008 | 1:34 AM

Ladies, thank you for your comments...we all need support, especially during tough economic times. Diana...yes, linked in, alumni lists, our message board strands for young women on www.womenworking. Also, in whatever city you are near or in, there are professional organizations like Women in Communications. They may have an initiative for women just starting out. is tricky knowing the boundaries for work friendships--do you have a specific example... Sally--not enough good things are said in an office you have a specific example in terms of brown nosing? Fondly, Helene

Abby October 08, 2008 | 4:04 PM

When you network and make professional relationships at work, where/how do you draw the line with personal relationships/friendships?

Allison October 08, 2008 | 2:37 PM

"Take inventory of your achievements. Which one is uniquely yours or has the most juice?" -Such a wonderful tip!

Nicole October 08, 2008 | 11:58 AM

Wow, this really boosted my confidence and gave me motivation to step out of my box a little and network more. Thanks Helene!

Sally October 08, 2008 | 11:33 AM

When does flattery turn into brown-nosing? I often don't know where the line is.

LindsayQ October 08, 2008 | 11:32 AM

With this economy every tip helps, especially these for women.

Diana October 06, 2008 | 8:14 AM

I recently graduated from college and am searching for a job and have no networking experience. How do I get started? Do sites like LinkedIn help?

alisonbills October 03, 2008 | 9:56 AM

Thanks for the nice comment, Rebecca - good luck with your schooling!

Rebecca A October 03, 2008 | 9:46 AM

Good stuff to know for once I get out to the working world after graduation. I'll keep that in mind. Love the site SheKnows! Keep up the good work.

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