By Rachel Garretson
The Gilmore Girls revival is out! But I promise, no spoilers if you haven’t seen it yet.
We’ve learned so much from this show: family, friendship, and of course…..work.
For example, watching Rory use her network to get that meeting. Like so many of us, Rory is very independent. While we really admire her if-I-just-work-hard-I-will-make-it attitude, depending solely on hard work is a mistake many women make in the beginning of their careers.
But you can’t just rely on hard work- sometimes we think that reaching out to others to get ahead is cheating, but it’s not. This is because there are good people out there who want to help you. What’s more, they’re probably going to need you back at some point too.
Also, it’s not just who’s in your network that matters. How you network is important, and research suggests men and women do this differently. Case in point: Yvonne Benschop studied the how of networking by interviewing 20 female and 19 male account managers about their networking practices. She found that there are four types of networkers:
The first is the aspirational networker who views networking relationships as a means to the end. They often value assertiveness, authority, and upward mobility. Their networks consist mainly of people in the higher echelons and they call upon them when they need to get something done.
The second type is the supportive networker, someone who views the relationship as the goal. They might stop by someone’s desk and catch up or take personal time to call and see how they’re doing. Even when they have something urgent to get done, they think of others and pay attention to their needs.
These types follow the traditional ideas of masculinity and femininity. They aren’t necessarily separate, and many of us blend the two, although Benchop found that women are indeed more likely to embrace the latter. However, we can see how solely supportive networking won’t get you as far, since you’re placing others above yourself.
These next two types deal with the degree of separation you put between work and personal life.
Instrumental networkers draw strict lines between work life and professional life. That’s not to say that an instrumental networker won’t have friendly relationships with their coworkers (after all, you’ll be more productive if you get along) but they will be clear that it is a business relationship. Unfortunately this may make you feel alone in your workplace.
Open networkers blur the line between work and personal networks. To them it’s all one big network. Sure, work is work, but open networkers are more….well, open about their personal lives, and consequently form more genuine and personal relationships at work.
Open networking sounds great right? Best of both worlds! You’re upwardly mobile and get to have friends! But… women tend to be instrumental. So what’s up with women? Are they just your stereotypical type A, Miranda Priestly?
Why? We often assume a level of professionalism about men that we don’t extend to women. Consequently to emphasize their professionalism, women sometimes place strict boundaries between work and play
It seems to us that the best is a blend between aspirational and supportive and a tendency towards open. We women face enough in the workplace without having friends by our side. We want you to have the Lorelai-Sookie relationship you all deserve.