In a session organized in our office, for women to learn from the journeys of senior women leaders, a participant asked if the need to build relationships to succeed in career exists only in India and wondered if in other countries, it was possible to grow, by just being professional without exposing one’s personal life.

This question stayed with me probably for two reason –

  • one comes across this aversion to professional networking in women across the spectrum of careers and age groups
  • this young colleague was essentially asking, if hard work alone, is not enough

I have also heard women complain that they do more than anyone else, and they do! There is a popular saying: “Women have to work twice as hard to be considered half as good”.

Let me share the best kept secret – no one ever got promoted purely because of hard work. Likeability, strategic thinking, networking and being a team player are a few other factors that go into crafting a successful career. It happens because the decision maker knows the character of the person and feels confident about his or her ability to not only do the job, but also to do it in a way that promotes team relationships.

Men know when they are talking to peers / bosses about cricket or the latest change in the state cabinet or financial results of the competitor or their latest weekend getaway, they are building relationships that will later work for them. They bond with folks at work in a way that allows people to better know them. As a result when growth opportunities became available, they are picked because their networking has created trust, loyalty and word of mouth for them.

Thus, by remaining busy like the bees, women act in a way detrimental to their career growth.

I urge you to ask yourself, do you work hard because it’s easier to do what you know best, rather than to engage in behaviors that seem foreign. How about giving yourself permission to spend an hour (or two) out of your 40 hour week, building relationships ?