Women and the web: virtual networks and giving value to expertise

Women and the web: virtual networks and giving value to expertise

Viviane de Beaufort, tenure Prof. at ESSEC Business School and internationally recognized spokeswoman on law, economics and women’s entrepreneurship, looks into how women can use social networks and the web as windows for their professional expertise. 

Extract from the White Paper “612 rencontres sur les réseaux sociaux”, by Alban Jarry, Viviane de Beaufort et al

The social networks enable us to free ourselves of the constraints of time – constraints that are particularly strong for women today with the multiple lives they lead. As such, they use them to a great extent. For women, networks represent a formidable tool because virtuality provides a feeling of lesser exposure: being visible on LinkedIn or Twitter is easier for the woman who has trouble standing center stage and promoting both herself and her achievements, the screen that the virtual world provides her also providing protection. Having perfectly understood the interest of being visible on the web for either acquiring a reputation as an expert, getting spotted for a job or even promoting their company or a cause, some women still, however, hesitate whereas others already bitten by the virtual bug gambol merrily and with virtuosity, going to such heights as to obtain the status of Influencer. 

Basic advice for those women still shy: adopt a strategy for your online presence

Mapping out your digital identity is a must in order to know where you are (reputation, quotes, links) and to set yourself objectives for development by choosing, among the plethora of tools available, at least the key ones such as LinkedIn. On LinkedIn (as on all the others), it’s all a question of steadily expanding and increasing your impact: work on your profile because the online CV is no longer attractive, regularly post articles, share information, quickly reply to requests to get connected, belong to groups on given themes which correspond to your interests and which, as such, make up virtual networks. 

And perhaps, according to your expertise and level of commitment, create a group – that is, build your own network. This means keeping a watch on the quality of your new members and discussions which feature on your page – why not decide on a code of ethics, for example? ‘It’s what I myself did,’ states Viviane de Beaufort, ‘for the Women Chair and Leaders’ Group and I don’t hesitate to get rid of posts that don’t follow the spirit of the blog and to kindly warn the members. Using a Twitter account to tweet news follows the same approach: sharing information, links with people. According to the degree of dynamics you manage to create, you can become a referent on one or several of the themes you cover…

Remember that you are communicating with people – remain moderate and polite. Sometimes, virtual contact becomes a real relationship, because if people like what you share, then they propose to meet you. Keep in mind the advantages, but also be conscious of the degree of exposure: a piece of information or an opinion posted on the social networks does not have the same impact as an inappropriate sentence uttered in a meeting between three people… no closed walls, no frontiers but immediacy, the speed of propagation… The advantages also amount to risks you will need to control.

The dizzy choice of possibilities

And for those women who get caught up in the game, you can – despite the time it takes – and step by step: Create a blog (requiring time and personal investment), post works on SlideShare (expertise) or at least post Pulses – small, illustrated-background articles on LinkedIn, make videos you can post on YouTube, get lost on Facebook which counts an increasing number of professional pages, post photos or infographics on Pinterest, commented photos on Instagram, join Google and Google groups. It’s a whole world which opens itself up to you. A world which gets behind the usual postures that both men and women alike may take – because the WEB makes things casual. 


Useful links:


 ESSEC Knowledge: Cutting-edge research - made practical

ESSEC Knowledge on X