Technology has been a game changer when it comes to helping us get what we want, when we want – we can have it arrive at our doorstep, our fingertips, or in front of us for coffee, or a happy hour drink. The days of attending after-work networking events, where people stick on a name tag, shake a slew of strangers' hands, collect enough business cards to fill up their pockets, are becoming obsolete, even when we want to connect with industry professionals and investors.
Whether we're looking for a new job, new hires, or new investors to back a company that we've put a ton of our own sweat equity into over the years, it can all be done on a mobile phone, in your pajamas, drinking wine coolers on the couch.
However, with this new ease of making fast online connections, also comes new playing rules. How many emails are too many to send a person you're eager to meet for coffee? Is it okay to friend a potential investor on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and follow them on Instagram?
At the expense of looking too desperate, unprofessional, or on the border of receiving an online restraining order, here are five rules to follow when going online to network.
1. Three Emails Max
You may be determined to get a yes or no response from someone you're reaching out to via email, but keep your cool. Send two follow-up emails max and make sure they are spread out over 7 days. People are busy and email is something that begins to pile up. Eventually, people sort through their email and respond to the requests they are interested in. If you're eager to find out if someone opened your email or it went directly to their spam folder, you can install an email tracking plugin (such as: Mail Tracker) to your inbox.
2. One Social Message
Think about it. How many times do you check your DMs on Twitter and Instagram? You may just skip checking it altogether if you have a history of getting spam messages non-stop.
3. Follow on Your Favorite Social Media Platform
You may think you'll get on a person's radar if you follow them on every single place they are "social" on. You may come off as a stalker if you hit the follow button on all social media platforms at once, so instead do it gradually. Start by following the person on your favorite social media platform and then every week, follow them on one more place.
4. Get an Intro If You Can
Since it's easy to grab the contact information of anyone you want to chat with in the world (sometimes even celebrities) the best way to get noticed or get a response from a person is by introduction. Use LinkedIn to find out who you know is connected with that person and ask them to make an introduction for you.
5. Keep a Distance
If by chance you do notice that the person you want to meet is attending an event that you are also planning on attending, be sure to say hello in person. But be careful of rubbing them the wrong way by saying you knew they were going to be there thanks to their post on their private Facebook page.
Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.
A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.
The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.
Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")
The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."
This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.
Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.
She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."
Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.
"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei
While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.
Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.
The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."
This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.
Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.