The Three Traits of Successful Female Networkers
By Deborah Sweeney on May 14th, 2014
Women can stand proud over the progress we’ve made in the business world. It is estimated that women own 8.6 million of US-based businesses, which contribute $1.3 trillion to the economy. But if there is one part of the corporate culture we haven’t yet gotten down to a science, it’s networking. A 2011 GEM Consortium report revealed that women business owners and entrepreneurs tended to have smaller, less diverse networks than their male counterparts. An active network helps grow both the business, and its owner and I’ve always been a big proponent of networking, and love any opportunity to meet people who have dealt with the struggles and problems that I too have faced. Since I’ve seen firsthand what it takes to stand out amongst your peers, I’ve noticed that the most successful female networkers often embody the following three traits.
The first time you step into a room full of confident, successful businesswomen, it’s easy to feel nervous and you may feel your own confidence taken down a few pegs. But the more you network, the easier, and less intimidating, the whole process will become. Networking is as much about selling your business, and yourself as it is about meeting new people. Don’t be the wallflower, sipping coffee in the corner and occasionally handing out business cards. It doesn’t matter how many cards you pass out if no one remembers you. Before you walk in, psyche yourself up, run through a few career highlights, and have these points at the forefront of your mind so you can bring them up when asked about what you do at your place of work.
When you go to a conference, remember that you are there to network. Not check up on emails, post selfies on Instagram, or beat your high score on Flappy Bird. Networking isn’t always easy, and I admit that, on occasion, I’ve sought the sanctuary of my iPhone instead of getting up and introducing myself to yet more people. But there’s no gain without a little pain, so you have to make sure that you tune out distractions. Turn off your phone to stay better focused and on top of any conversation you’re having. When you’re not talking to someone, you should be canvassing the floor to meet other people.
Resolve is one of the most important traits of a good networker, and yet it’s so often ignored. After you get home from that big conference, how many of the attendees do you stay in touch with? Do you add them on LinkedIn and leave it at that, or do you actually try and build a working relationship? Having the resolve needed to maintain contact with other professionals is the key to building your network. A few hours chatting over conference room coffee may have gotten you started on the right foot, but you need these professional relationships to progress if you want your network to grow. That doesn’t mean you should start sending a barrage of emails to your address book, demanding to know what everyone learned by the end of every week. But you should follow the careers and projects of the women you connected with. After all, building this collaborative and supportive environment is a real benefit to female entrepreneurship.
About the Author:
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.