Ladies: Here's How We Level Up at Networking

Knowing you're the best there is at what you do is one thing; telling other people about it is often quite another. When it comes to networking, women appear to face some frustrating disadvantages, some structural but some self-imposed. Luckily, the latter is well within your control to change all at once.

Researchers in Germany have just published a study about gender differences in networking styles and outcomes. While women can face barriers from male colleagues — even letters of recommendation can subtly harm their chances on the job hunt — women also tend to worry about the propriety of networking in general. "Viewing networking as a means of 'using others to get ahead' or of 'befriending not for true friendship but for ulterior reasons' may cause the behavior to appear unfair or insincere" to women in the workplace, according to the study authors.

Networking, of course, is not dirty, and you don't have to be a sleazeball when you do it. Part of networking, in fact, is just keeping up with your friends and colleagues as a matter of course. That said, asking yourself "How will this benefit me?" about a relationship isn't wrong or impure. Everyone has skills and value to offer, and it's worth knowing how to frame and capitalize on them. The same work that goes into asking for a raise can help with networking.

Not least, qualified women always have one huge advantage going in: The job market needs them. Don't be shy or embarrassed about networking. After all, your male co-workers aren't.