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Whether you’re trying to get your foot in the door or stepping to the next level in your workplace, multiplying your connections is key. So start putting the schmooze on, because in this town, it’s who you know and who knows you.
As author Jacci Duncan learned when she jumped into the D.C. job pool two and a half years ago, “D.C. is like no other city, because networking permeates life here. Life revolves around networking.” Elbow to elbow at restaurant tables across town, people talk work, work, work, which inspired Duncan to publish the new directory Washington for Women: A Guide to Working and Living in the Washington Metropolitan Area.
Duncan recycled the journalistic tool of being a conduit, as opposed to a sponge, for information when she joined some networking groups. “They were really helpful,” she says. “I’m a journalist myself, so it seemed natural at the time to get all the resources together and out to the women who could most use them.” She wrote Washington for Women with a concentration on women in their 20s and 30s breaking into the job market, and women of any age starting their own businesses and improving their jobs. The book collects more than 150 business and professional networking groups for women, career guides by contributing writers on government jobs, advocacy, child care, internship and volunteer opportunities, sports and arts groups, as well as interviews with women leaders in the area, including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, radio host Diane Rehm, and Adams National Bank President Barbara Davis Blum. Though, according to consulting editor Christine Onyango, 67 percent of the 1 million women in the area are employed, and “studies show that women tend to hold higher positions in D.C. and are paid more for their work than women in other parts of the country,” a surprising number of the women profiled on their paths to powerful positions cite volunteer work as a major source for developing their leadership skills.
Duncan intends the book to provide both resources and motivation for positions that “women don’t have access to that they could, including a section on leadership. They can learn what things to do to becomes leaders themselves, learn how to become good managers and corporate leaders in areas that women don’t handle now, that they could. This book is meant to take women to the next level.”