Believe it or not, beneath the botox and beyond the Louboutins, the Real Housewives are networking geniuses.
Yes, they are a little bit crazy. Yes, they are a lot bit entitled. But when it comes to knowing the right people, they are pros.
They rub elbows with the elite. Some of them know royalty. Some of them ARE royalty (by marriage, of course). At least one of them is close friends with Puff Daddy (or Diddy or Puffy or whatever you call him these days).
These women can call on their connections to help them raise millions of dollars for charity in one night, run a political campaign to be elected to her condo building’s board (yes, it happened), or even arrange for a private plane to return her home when the company of others becomes unbearable.
These women are clever connection curators.
Here are five surprising networking lessons you can learn from the Real Housewives. (Click here to tweet these lessons.)
1. They have brilliant brands
Margaritas, pinot grigio and purses, oh my! The Real Housewives know how to brand themselves, honey! The most brilliant brander of the bevy is Bethenny Frankel with her Skinnygirl empire. Next would be the lovely and sophisticated Lisa Vanderpump, known for her penchant for pink: pink roses in her restaurants, pink dresses, pink shoes and a pink tie on Giggy. Her whole world is pink.
Why it’s important: Whether you’re looking to meet and be known by potential clients or employers, personal branding is key to being top of mind. Having a recognizable personal brand enhances others’ trust in you. Once you gain trust, you can build a relationship, ultimately increasing your chances of gaining business or securing that coveted interview for your dream job.
2. They do lunch (and dinner, and drinks)
Though the amount of food they actually consume is questionable, these ladies lunch. Over “champs” (champagne), gossip, and delicate Asian-fusion cuisine, they forge and foster strong relationships with others, connecting on a personal level.
Why it’s important: Working through your lunch hour is not only bad for your health, but can also hurt your career. How can you build relationships with your coworkers if you’re always glued to your screen? Taking the time to go to lunch with people you’d like to know better is a sure-fire way to build your network significantly.
3. They are unapologetically authentic
Most of the Housewives are very memorable. Several of them bring the crazy: flipping tables, getting into wine-hurling spats, or even throwing one’s prosthetic leg across the table for shock value. But they are unapologetic in their authenticity. This is who they are — take it or leave it!
Why it’s important: Being memorable is one of the keys to growing your network successfully. What better way to be memorable than to be authentically yourself? Being authentic and confident in yourself draws others to you. Who doesn’t want to be in the presence of a confident person?
4. They show up for others
Whether it’s a charity gala, a cookbook signing, or the groundbreaking for a new 17,000 square-foot mansion, the Real Housewives show up for their network. They support the endeavours of their friends and colleagues and in doing so, show that they are truly interested in what the people in their network are up to.
Why it’s important: Successful networking involves a lot of give and take. But really, building quality relationships requires a lot more give and a lot less take on your part, especially when initially meeting someone. Being genuinely interested in others and showing your support for them and their careers, businesses and personal endeavors will go a long way in fostering the relationships that are the very foundation of building an influential network.
5. They are connectors
You can see this networking gold in action at the beginning of almost every single Real Housewives season: a new cast member is added to the show, often someone who is already a friend or acquaintance of one of the existing women. She is then welcomed into the circle of housewives and introduced to all of the other ladies. She’s invited to the aforementioned lunches and events where she has the opportunity to develop her own relationships with the rest of the group.
Why it’s important: Being a connector of other people is one of the often overlooked secrets to successful networking. Helping others connect with the right people is massively valuable and will help make you very memorable. Also, those whom you connect will likely want to reciprocate, connecting you with key contacts that can help you further grow your network. It’s really a win-win!
Networking doesn’t have to be complicated. As long as you’re focused on building long-term relationships and giving to others before taking from them, you will benefit from building an influential, powerful and strong network. If the Real Housewives can be networking pros, so can you!
Kamara Toffolo is a career and leadership coach for corporate misfits. She helps working professionals either love or leave their corporate lives by finding or creating work that works for them.