Balancing Act: Mix networking, true passions

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In the boardroom of large public companies, where few women sit at the table, there's a dysfunctional dynamic going on. The female directors say they are left out of strategic decision-making because those conversations often happen on the golf course and they don't play golf.

I wonder though, will professional networking and backdoor decision-making in the future even be done on the greens? Or will it be done some other place entirely that requires a different skill?

With work/life balance an increasing concern, how should today's college graduates optimize their free time now to become successful leaders in the future?

Advice from high-level professionals varies greatly, and there's acknowledgement that today's formula might not be the recipe for tomorrow.

One professional advises college graduates to master multiple languages and leave the country rather than spend that time learning to golf.

"Your 20s is the ideal time to raise your hand to take on a project in Portugal or enroll in a business program in Spain," said Bonnie Crabtree, senior client partner and office managing director of Korn/Ferry International's Miami office.

Using your 20s to position yourself as a leader can also pay off. Community, charity and political organizations are the lunch clubs and golf courses of tomorrow. Getting involved in them can put you in front of judges, senior vice presidents and business owners.

"You can't just be a member. You have to chair a committee or run events. You want others to see you as a leader," said Jill Granat, senior vice president/general counsel of Burger King Corp. and president of the Burger King McLamore Foundation. But she cautions that you need to choose an organization you are passionate about or you will come off as superficial.

It may seem overwhelming, but start now building a community invested in your success -- mentors, sponsors or supporters. Jennifer Moline, senior vice president of finance and accounting at Terremark Worldwide, says it takes courage and a time investment to ask for advice and listen well, which becomes increasingly challenging later in your career.

"Don't ask for a job, ask for advice." Throughout your career, keep your network of supporters informed of your progress, which can be done on social networks, she said.

yourbiz

Cindy Krischer Goodman is CEO of BalanceGal LLC; balancegal@gmail.com


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