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VOL. 37 | NO. 27 | Friday, July 05, 2013

‘Gals,’ ‘chicks’ get no kicks from ‘Stiletto’

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

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The boss is out again today, probably golfing with his associates.

He’s gotten to where he is today because of them: financing from one man in his circle, promotions from others, small favors here and larger favors there.

He takes full advantage of the Old Boys’ Network. You wish you could do that, but those kinds of connections are rare for women in business.

Or are they? As you’ll see in “Stiletto Network” by Pamela Ryckman, women are organizing in ways that the Old Boys never dreamed of.

While attending a women’s conference in California some years ago, Pamela Ryckman was introduced to a woman who introduced her to another female executive, who introduced her to another. Each was “fascinating… and bold,” and obviously loved networking. Ryckman began to believe that “something meaningful… was shaping women’s lives.”

Powerful women in business have, for years, been quietly gathering their peers together for support. And, says Ryckman, they’re not just offering one another career and business help: they’re sharing personal stories, information, childcare tips, and friendship. They pitch in wherever it’s needed, they share their own valuable contacts, and they build trust, which is something women “do naturally.”

Stiletto Network

by Pamela Ryckman

c.2013, Amacom

$22.95

258 pages

Stiletto Networks also allow for collaboration because women have learned that they’re more efficient that way. They know that “when you put a bunch of motivated ladies in the same room, exciting things happen” and that five or ten heads are better than one when it comes to a problem.

What’s also noteworthy is that, while women in business are sometimes stereotyped as catty and overly-competitive, Ryckman says that they’re actually more likely to reach down to help the next generation – discovering, to everyone’s delight, that younger just-starting-out women (and men!) have just as much to offer.

“Stiletto Network” is merely an OK book, and here’s why.

First, the good news: There’s information between these covers. It’s mostly anecdotal and biographical in nature, but it’s there.

And yet, it took author Pamela Ryckman 100 pages before she gives readers solid advice and another 146 pages before there’s a devoted how-to section. That’s a lot of paper to slog through before the usefulness of this book is presented.

As for that usefulness, it appeared to me to be somewhat limited because all the women profiled in this book seem to come from high finance, Silicon Valley, or are CEOs of major corporations. The “average Jane” who works in a small office or owns a small business may feel quite left out.

What irked me the most, though, was the overuse of “gals,” “girls” and (seriously?) “chicks,” and the comments on their “cute” appearances. The women profiled in this book are “dynamic, motivated,” and powerful. They deserved better.

I don’t think this is a horrible book – there’s some usefulness inside it, but there are also a lot of rough spots. Overall, I think if you’re completely clueless about networking, “Stiletto Networking” may have something for you. If you know your way around a good introduction, though, this ain’t no hole in one.

Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of business books are read in more than 260 publications in the U.S. and Canada.

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