The Rise of Online Networking Groups

My Facebook feed is currently full of pictures of cute kiddies, loved-up statuses and Instagram-frosted cupcakes. Yet when I recently obtained a Master’s degree from an overseas university, in a ceremony which took place in Spanish and Catalan (two of the four languages I speak), I hesitated to upload the photos to my account. If the internet is supposed to be the 21st century’s great equaliser, why does online etiquette still dictate that women can brag about their love lives, but not their careers?

Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Internet networking groups are creating a safe space for women to voice their achievements and concerns, create contacts and support each other in blazing new career trails. If you’re not comfortable blowing your trumpet all over your standard Facebook feed, why not look at joining a group which allows you to do so in a more receptive online environment?

Networking groups mean social media can become great ways to share ideas and professional contacts – not just pictures of wedding dresses. Group London Women Mean Business, for example, began after organiser Melanie Berenblut posted the simple phrase “Would anyone be interested in meeting up to network?” on LinkedIn. As well as creating space for online debate, such groups often hold regular events, and so also serve to facilitate real-life networking.

Online networking groups may be particularly relevant for women looking to break into traditionally male-dominated careers. If knowing your HRMS

from your HTML is all in a day’s work (or you’d like it to be), you might particularly appreciate the existence of groups such as Girl Geeks and GeekGirlMeetup, which provide a diverse mix of online seminars, real-life unconferences and hashtags for women everywhere from Oslo to Oxford.

Website, traditionally used for organising leisure pursuits, is also being used to the advantage of women looking for professional opportunities. As the Women in Science and Engineering group in Melbourne puts it, “We can discuss everything from our research to our shoes… it is whatever we want it to be.”

With the advent of the internet, no woman need be an island. But how we use it to connect depends very much on us. Newly-obtained haircuts, offspring and domestic skills are real achievements as much as anything else, and have their place. The problem comes when we let our professional triumphs and accolades fall by the wayside. The internet is an infinitely powerful tool – let’s start using it to make connections as well as cupcakes.

“The internet is an infinitely powerful tool – let’s start using it to make connections as well as cupcakes”

Bio: Penelope Labram is currently Content Manager for international job search website JobisJob, which has its seat in Barcelona, Spain. As such, she has her finger firmly pressed to the pulse of trends in recruitment, the labour market and social media. She is strongly committed to helping women use technology to further their career. You can follow her @jobisjob.

Photo credit: iStockphoto


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