“Your network is your net worth" - Jim Rohn
From a young age, I learned to ‘network’ not in your traditional sense of business events but from the various homes, schools, and communities I had been exposed to. With the constant change in my environment and comfort zone expansion, I learned to adapt by paying attention to their communication, watching for the subtle body language, and learning to quickly build rapport and speak with influence. However, it was in college that I realized what I had been doing all along was, in essence, a form of networking, but more so learned the art and value of networking for my career success.
I had also relabelled the term networking to make lasting connections. You see, the word networking evoked a sense of boredom, a formal environment lacking meaningful conversations. However, when I challenged my thoughts about networking by changing the vocabulary from networking to making lasting connections, the mindset shift allowed me to make an easier connection and make attending events worth my time, my barometer of value.
Networking is all about connecting with people. But then again, isn’t that what life is about? The more time you can find to get out of the office and build true friendships, the farther your start-up will go. Entrepreneurs need to remember to spend as much time working on their business as they do in their business – Jay Samit.
For some entrepreneurs, the idea of networking is enough to send you packing. Perhaps it's the idea of attending an event without knowing anyone, chatting to a stranger, making a cold call, or the emotional drainage that can occur, for introverts like myself, from having too many social exchanges, especially in noisy environments.
A study by Northwestern University found that women with strong networks and a ‘female-dominated inner circle have an expected job placement level that is 2.5 greater than a woman with low (network) centrality and a male-dominated inner circle.' With tweaks to your mindset, value perceptions, and communication, networking can take on a new level of enjoyment and business success.
Here are the top strategies to network effectively as a female entrepreneur:
Understand your why for networking? Take time to assess your purpose for networking and define your motive. First, write down your main objective. For example, is it to grow your business, build your social capital, development, mentorship, create collaborations and career opportunities, or make lasting friendships. Then write down why and repeat the exercise to distill your true motivations behind your networking goal. This way, you will go with purpose and a positive mindset of creating meaningful conversations and opportunity that leads to win-win outcomes.
Flip the Networking Script – if language is a barrier to entry, replace networking with a term that feels comfortable to you. Networking is merely socializing with grown-ups, so make it your own. When the language shifts, so do your associated thinking, emotions, and behaviors.
Tip 3 – network with personality – are you an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert? Understanding your personality type can help you know the spaces that you naturally thrive in and those that may be a stretch and will require tweaks to your routines and schedule for downtime to show up with a success mindset.
Food for Thought:
Remember that your network is your net worth. The people you surround yourself (online and offline) with can influence your business and life for better or wise, so connect wisely.
By the way, join our free event on Thursday, September 29th to learn about raising your profile via networking, your confidence and investment! Speakers include A Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London, Chair of The Black Cultural Archives, Chair of OKRE, and President & Founder of WinTrade Global Network, Dr. Yvonne Thompson CBE DL FKCL FRSA FRA; Membership Director of WinTrade Global Network, Cydnie Thompson; Non-Executive Director, Founder, and Start-up Advisor, Monica Kalia and Global program manager for Female Founders at Microsoft for Startups, Lora Anis-Hanna.