Building credibility and a supportive network is easier when you “fit in” with the other members of the group you want to affiliate with. However, even if you don’t quite mirror the profile for your target group, all is not lost. In today’s Social Capitalist tip, Heidi Roizen, Silicon Valley’s most legendary networker, shares her perspective as a woman with a non-technical background breaking into the software industry.
“Whenever I ran into a situation where someone was not receptive to me because I was young, or a woman, or non-technical, whatever the reason, my feeling was that there was always someone else I could go to. There was always another door I could open.
And as many times as being a woman hurt me, it probably helped me. It made me stand out. For example, in the early days of the Valley, there were so few articles about the women working there that I knew, given the size of my company, I would get more than my fair share of press, just because people were looking for women to write about. I wouldn’t call that exploitative, I would say that this might have helped me.
On the flip side, there were certainly times when I would walk into a room or a situation where I did not feel particularly welcome. I don’t think beating your head against those walls is a very effective approach. I think I learned that pretty quickly.
I think that tenacity, a good sense of self-worth, and a sense that you’re going to accomplish something even in the face of difficulty are all things you need to build in yourself and with your small group. Everybody starts out with a group, even if it’s your mom, and at least you’ve got somebody who tells you you’re good and that they like you. You need to get some strength from those people and recognize that not everything’s going to be a win. If you don’t find the win, you need to move on and go somewhere else.”
Read a full transcript of the interview with Heidi, filled with other great tips and insights, by clicking here.