Since The A Effect’s launch six years ago, we have witnessed a small revolution in women’s vernacular. Slowly but surely, we have seen them take ownership of strong, bold, even rebellious descriptors. “Ambitious” is one of these words. “Feminist” is another. Since then, many are wearing these words proudly, without restriction.
We’ve also noticed that women have begun to perceive themselves anew. Increasingly, they confidently take ownership of their place, success, and aspirations.
Moreover, we have seen the same phenomenon with a highly suggestive verb: to network.
After years of
attempting to infiltrate the boys’ club through rounds of golf,
missing happy hour because of family responsibilities,
summoning all their courage to small talk in packed rooms,
fighting back against gender stereotypes and biases when they dare to connect with those around them,
reading an incalculable number of studies that show women’s networks don’t perform as well as men’s,
trying to be more sales-oriented, more concise, less nervous, and/or emotional.
After years of
overcoming the same obstacles over and over again,
being told it was up to them to improve their situation,
well, that’s exactly what they have done.
Because this brand of networking didn’t resonate with them, women chose to take another route. No one has questioned the importance of having such a network at their disposal. If there’s one thing that women have understood for ages, it’s that we go further together.
Once again, the transformation took shape in the vocabulary. We replaced the word “network” with “ecosystem,” “community” with “tribe,” terms that evoke equality, nature, and sharing. Synonyms like these allowed women to distance themselves from what repelled them about networking—the transactional, superficial, careerist aspect—and see it, and above all, experiment with it in a new light; one of goodwill and togetherness.
These new networks, equal parts “cheerleading, career coaching, and social clubs,” are aware of the complex realities of the women who form them. Talk business, certainly, but recognize the human beings behind it. For example, during the latest Défi 100 jours networking workshop, leader Angélique Gérard mentioned her “pack,” a circle of allies that supports each other, as much with advice on day-to-day management as with professional opportunities. For her, “networking” rhymes with “sisterhood.” Does this also resonate with you?
Women don’t need a membership card, instead, they need true moments of sharing and authenticity, spaces to be themselves and to promote themselves—independently and communally. With this sense of belonging and empowerment on their side, networking is no longer the dreaded verb it once was. It’s another tangible road to self-fulfillment.