• A New Way of Networking
  • May 19, 2009 | Author: Frances Maloney Green
  • Law Firm: Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. - New York Office
  • Because of today's unstable job climate, it's not unusual for professional women to develop a "me vs. them" attitude towards co-workers in an effort to defend their turf and opportunities.

    While our troubled times may breed such negativity and competition, Sylvia Ann Hewlett has seen the opposite--professional women lending a helping hand to each other. In the Forbes.com article "Ding, Dong, The Witch Is Dead," Hewlett writes that some professional women are participating in a new way of networking by forming "personal boards of directors" or networking peer groups that offer advice and support to help colleagues weather the recessionary storm and find new jobs.

    Hewlett's article spotlights Subha Barry, Merrill Lynch's former head of global diversity. When Subha felt that her career would be jeopardized by Bank of America's acquisition of Merrill Lynch, she "convened a personal board of directors: a diverse group of eight professional women from banking, accounting, human resources and the law." As the article notes, the board members weren't Subha's best friends, but people who knew her from prior jobs and professional associations. The board identified Subha's "strengths, values, goals, options and next steps," offered advice on which job fields to pursue, and put her in touch with others who could provide further assistance. Subha noted that her personal board gave her a feeling that she always had people to turn to.

    The article also provides examples of other peer groups, including Lehman Brothers' alumnae, who recently created a network that provides women with "emotional support, practical assistance, and professional development."

    I highly recommend that you read Hewlett's inspiring article, as well as the accompanying slideshow "In Pictures: Seven Tips for Great Networking," which contains more useful networking advice.

    Have professional women formed networking groups at your company or have you encountered such groups outside your work? If yes, please let us know your experiences with them.