Stiletto Networks are small groups of professional women who support each other in both their careers and personal lives, and these groups are continuously growing in popularity. Pamela Rychman coined the term “Stiletto Network” and broke down its story and success as the keynote speaker at the School of Business’s Women’s Leadership Summit on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Rychman recently authored the book, “Stiletto Network,” which tells the story of groups of professional women who effectively used their women’s groups to create success and support.
“Women are describing these groups as life changing, destined, fated and meant to be,” she said, adding that the women forming these small groups are surrounding themselves with people they want to be around and, as a result, are creating real friendships.
These groups can be formed at various stages in life, but some of the most successful are those that are formed early so they can grow and find their successes together.
In addition to being an author, Rychman has written for various financial publications, including the Financial Times and the New York Times, and often speaks about the power of networking groups to colleges, universities and corporations.
In an open discussion with students following her main presentation, Rychman gave advice and answered questions about networking and being a woman in a corporate environment.
“It’s not that there aren’t women in power,” Rychman said. “Women don’t self promote.” Women in the workplace have been discouraged from advertizing what they want and discouraged from going for the jugular, she said.
Rychman explained that one of the many advantages of having a networking group is that women don’t have to promote themselves alone.
“If self promoting sounds a little icky to you, then there are nine other women excited to help,” Rychman said.
One of the biggest challenges with forming a Stiletto Network is organizing events around the busy schedules of professional women.
Rychman said the most successful groups meet in each other’s homes for dinner or lunch and rotate who the host will be.
“Technology keeps the groups close when they cannot meet,” she said.
The groups are all peer-to-peer communication that creates a safe and trusting environment for sharing.
Rychman recommended that young women also get involved in a mentor program with women who are already in their fields.
She warned, however, that students should not immediately be looking for what their mentors can do for them, but rather make themselves helpful, productive and stand out within the company.
“You will make yourself visible,” Rychman said.
The growing number of women’s networking circles, dinner groups and Stiletto Networks represent a change in professional lives. Rychman explained that modern women’s lives are blended.
Women are friends with colleagues at work, their kids play together and they do things socially in addition to cooperating on office work. Women are finding support in these professional friendships.
“That’s the way the world is moving,” she said.