How to build your secret society
Your secret society = your professional network
The job market is in complete disarray right now. If you are in the startup world, it feels like every week there are more companies shuttering. Layoffs in the historically “safe” tech world are happening left, right, and center—even without egomaniac new CEOs at the helm. To add to that, inflation is at an all-time high. For many younger folks, this is the first time they’ve experienced a recession in their working lives. But statistically, more people than ever are rethinking their jobs as we all came out of the pandemic a little (or a lot) changed.
At the same time, it often feels uncomfortable asking for professional guidance. It can feel challenging to find mentors actually willing to give you the time of day, to understand how to make mentorship meetings meaningful, or to learn how to branch out beyond your network to find someone who can help. All of these pain points are true whether you’re starting a company or looking to level up your career.
Jaclyn Johnson, founder of Creative Cultivate, hosted an IRL Diem dinner in LA the other day, where we focused on the importance of reaching beyond your community to ask for help. The women around the table included founders and industry executives, and we discussed everything from the importance of community in really hard moments to how access to people in your industry opens up better salaries and new opportunities. In the end, it became clear that professional communities (especially for women) are like secret societies that improve your work life. So how do you grow this group? What types of professional communities do we actually need?
Funnily enough, there’s actually been research into the different kinds of networks men vs. women need to succeed, professionally speaking. In a 2019 study on MBA candidates, the data showed there was a difference in the networks that correlate to success among female and male leaders. It found that men benefit not so much from the size of a network but from being connected to multiple “hubs” (aka people who have a lot of contacts across different groups of students). Women benefited (in terms of post-MBA job placement) from being connected to “hubs” too, but they also had to have an inner circle of close female contacts in order to achieve the executive positions with the highest levels of authority. This is because women seeking positions of executive leadership often face cultural and political hurdles that men typically do not. And an inner circle of close female contacts can help strengthen a woman’s job search, interviewing strategies, and negotiation skills.
Considering this data-backed reality, the current unrest in the job market fueled by an economic downturn is, at best, unsettling. But ahead of the New Year and resetting of professional goals, I thought we could come together to pool our knowledge on how to build out your professional community (and close inner circle of female contacts) as a step in the right direction. As someone who’s been told one of their superpowers is networking, I kicked off the conversation with some personal stories/tips in Diem. You can read those and add your own stories or recommendations here.
Big news! Our app got a new look, meaning we’re one step closer to our mission of building a social search engine that closes the gender information gap. We wrote a guide about our new approach—learn how to Diem here.
What we’re reading…
📸 Instagram is Over (The Atlantic)
Contributed to last week’s Diem on how to deal with a friend break up…
Normalizing Friendship Break Ups
Before 2020 I would take friendship breakups really hard. I’d feel like such a failure. After 2020 I realize and accept that some friends come into your life for a reason and it’s ok if that friendship doesn’t last, honor it for what it taught you. I’ve naturally outgrown and moved on from some friendships without having to make a big deal out of it (always keeping space for them if they come back) but others I’ve had to end out of respect to my boundaries. Friendships should add value to your life, not take away from it.
Read more and contribute your stories in the Diem app, here.
Till next time,