Networks don't have to be formal arrangements: Theresa, manager of a Management College for a UK clearing bank, talks of 'building relationships with the policymakers and others in Head Office - so when they took over our college for the group we already knew each other well and we could talk about what the college should be doing.
Beverley has worked within the NHS for several years, but not continuously. She has found the internal network to be extremely effective and when she has wanted to move back into work, or to change jobs, she has been able to call upon her contacts for advice and assistance.
Alison is also a great believer in the power of networking and feels that it plays an invaluable role in shaping and directing her career, especially in light of her own lack of formal management education and training. 'If only I had known at the age of eighteen, or even twelve, that networking is the route to power, support, advice, career opportunities and unlimited professional help. It's a two-way process you need to give back as well as receive.'
As lack of self-confidence is cited as one of the major blockages to women achieving their goals at work, the thoughtful use of networks is one method of beginning to build sell-assurance in a safe and supportive environment. Joining committees, speaking at meetings and representing the network outside the office - all this combines to developing a manager's skills, knowledge and experience, thereby reducing the sense of isolation and instead gradually increasing the feeling of self-esteem and belief in one's capabilities.