The entrepreneurship world is predominantly male. Due to the biological role of women as mothers and nurturers, women often find themselves torn between work and family, juggling multiple priorities. As a result, business networking takes a backseat. Moreover, the age range for bearing children and nurturing a family coincides with the age range when one wishes to give the best to work and business.
These are the ways in which women professionals and entrepreneurs can build better relationships, without spending too much time on networking.
Focus on what you can give
Many people confuse leveraging of network and connections with getting what they want. This is a myopic approach, which can be detrimental in building long-term relationships. Instead, the focus should be on what you can give. Remember, you have to earn it before you ask for it. Give what you want to get.
The best persons to get support and connections when they need are the ones who have given support to others without the immediate need or anticipation of getting something back in return. However, understand the thin line between use and misuse. You cannot please everyone.
Always keep in touch with people in your network, even after your need is met. Recommend their products or services if you value their work. Connect them with people they are looking to connect with. This way you can make yourself available and visible to important connections even without being part of regular networking or evening parties like men. Use social media to your maximum advantage to become visible.
Be part of relevant business Associations
The best way to connect and network is by enrolling yourself and your business with important business associations. For instance, if you are in the business of corporate event management, you should become a member of event management associations. If you have time, it is advisable to take up a role within the association. This will give you better access to more connections. Remember, network doesn’t grow by itself. Divide your time between different associations and platforms. Reach out and connect with people. It is important to stand out when you are part of groups or associations. You might be an expert at your work but in order to build outstanding business connect, subject matter expertise isn’t enough. Other than knowledge, availability and affinity for people are also determining factors for people to prefer and refer your name.
Don't be a networking vampire
It is necessary to build connections but not at the cost of others' peace of mind. Don't cling on to people to get something done. Asking for someone’s handphone number in the first meeting is not a good idea at all, unless you are offering them something which they value. Others should feel comfortable around you. Give everyone space and value privacy. Don’t be a networking vampire. Earn the relationship.
The best way to make your voice heard and presence counted is by doing some prepping before the networking event. Do your homework before you network. Study about what they might be interested in. Look for what you can offer and check for your common interests. Network and connect in phases. Starting the conversation with something that the other person values is a good way to go. Once connected, ensure that the person remembers the meeting with you by sending an email or message. Delaying in reconnecting might put your total effort in vain.
Find your niche and build on it
Identify your expertise and build on that. Your social profile and the message that goes out to the circles should not be confusing. Identify the main category and sub-categories of your work and work on each category to build connections around them. For instance, if you are in interior designing and, let’s say, luxury is your niche and you specialize in hospitality design, let the world know you as an interior designer for luxury hospitality spaces, and not just an interior designer. This will help people contact you with clarity and you can develop connections with people whose work and requirements match your needs. One of the best ways to affirm your expertise is by becoming a speaker on the subject.