Women Of The Channel: 6 Rules To Live By

Words Of Wisdom

To coincide with CRN's annual tribute to the Women of the Channel, Luanne Tierney, Juniper Network's vice president of worldwide partner marketing, sat down with CRN to share some of the key lessons she's learned working in the channel for the past 21 years.

Tierney, featured on CRN's 2013 Power 100 list, honed in on everything from how to create the right work-life balance to the importance of staying current with the latest technology trends. Here are six pieces of advice from one of the channel's most well-known female executives.

Build Your Personal Brand

In today's always-on, always-connected world, it can be easy to get so caught up in our professional personas, that we forget who we are as individuals. That's why Juniper's Tierney encourages women in the channel -- and men, too, for that matter -- to invest as much time building up their own, "personal brands" as much as they do their professional or corporate brands.

This is especially true for those with strong social media or online presences, Tierney said. While it's important to keep things professional, it's okay to share personal tidbits like interests outside of work or stories about your family. In fact, Tierney said, it's encouraged.

"If you're just so corporate, you're not interesting," she told CRN. "But you have to be thoughtful about what you share."

Set Goals And Don't Fear Failure

Once you establish your professional and personal brand, it's important for women to establish goals, both inside and outside the office, Tierney said. And as they strive to meet these goals, she said, they should never get down on themselves if they fail. In fact, they should be down on themselves if they don't.

"Be open about failing. If you fail often, that means you try new things," Tierney said. "Our society is so failure-adverse, but, actually, the most successful people fail, and fail often, because it means they are trying. It's a message you have to tell yourself."

'Lean In'

Tierney urges women not to back down from going after certain opportunities or positions, even if they don't seem completely qualified to do so. She said, as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (pictured) argues in her book "Lean In: Women, Work And The Will To Lead," women tend to back down from certain opportunities or situations more than men do, even if they are just are qualified.

"Most women are fearful of going for a new opportunity, unless they have 100 percent of those skills, where, typically men, even if they have 60 percent of those skills, they will go for that opportunity," Tierney said.

Never Stop Learning

Tierney also encourages women, regardless of how established or successful they are, to continue learning over the years. She said this is especially important in the channel, where technology changes at the speed of light and it can be especially easy to fall behind.

"People need to really look at themselves and say, 'OK, what are the things that I'm missing?'" Tierney said.

A good way to stay current on the latest industry trends is to commit to learning something "small" once a week -- maybe, for instance, something related to social or digital media -- and then something "bigger," like taking a programming class, once a quarter, Tierney said.

Own Your Calendar

For most women, maintaining a work-life balance can be a challenge. That's why, when building a calendar, it's crucial to not only include professional commitments or goals, but personal, physical and spiritual ones, as well, Tierney said.

And remember, she added, it's OK to close that inbox every once in awhile.

"It's important to close the inbox daily, to set aside time to think and to give people your full attention. I make sure my most productive time each day is not spent responding to email."

Find A Mentor

Finding some type of mentor or sponsor is a good idea for any women, Tierney said, regardless of where they are in their career. If nothing else, it's somebody to bounce ideas off of, and, she said, a mentor doesn't have to be somebody at the same company. In fact, it's probably better if they're not.

"I think it's important to have sounding boards," said Tierney, who acts as a mentor herself.

Tierney has noticed that many women don't have mentors simply because they are afraid to ask. But, remember, she said, the mentor in the relationship can learn just as much from the mentee.

"It's not a one-way street," she told CRN.