Tuesday, October 03, 2000

Navigating the Net (and Networking) world as a woman

My nightly networking week started off sitting on a panel for the Advertising Women of New York on Tuesday, October 3rd. While Hillary Clinton spoke to the media and an audience in another auditorium at the Fashion Institute of Technology, AlleyCat News Editor-in-Chief Anna Copeland Wheatley moderated a panel on "Breaking the Glass Ceiling in Silicon Alley." While we all admitted that generalizations are subject to scrutiny and usually best to steer clear from, we also heard that for a majority of women these generalizations hold true. Harvest Consulting Group CEO Carey Earle commented on men's ability to network up the corporate ladder, whereas women tend to network laterally -- within their professional echelon. FCBi VP-Associate Marketing Director Frances Misenas said that women tend to be good at networking into jobs - i.e., they are more comfortable getting jobs on referrals and expanding their network that way. Eileen Shulock reminisced at first, having graduated from FIT, and then spoke about how her career is coming full circle, from fashion merchandising to her present work on Knowledge Strategies' retail strategy, "Omnitailing." Asia Central's VP/CMO Yau Ching Cheng, who comes from a financial background, spoke to the advantages of joining a startup and expanding one's skill set. While she utilizes her financial skills in her current job, she has had the opportunity to expand into other areas of interest, such as marketing. I commented that another challenge I've experienced and witnessed as a woman is the inclination to undercharge or devalue my services. Anna brought up the point that many women aren't in the situation where they can, or want to, leave a more stable corporate job for the uncertainties of Internet-related startups. Discussing the role of networking, we all agreed on the importance of getting out there as much as possible and pushing aside any fears of appearing too forward. Getting out there is half the game. We're all past the women-bashing-men game -- that's old. Yet in so many ways, it is still a man's golf-game world out there. It is important for women to continue forward in their independent efforts, making their presence known and changing the face and color of the business world.