I always say a woman alone has power; collectively we have an impact. Historically we have been taught to be competitive with one another. In this age of business, I don’t believe this strategy works. The truth is that raising each other up and channelling the power of collaboration is truly how we change the business landscape – and have a lot more fun along the way.
Research and articles in the press constantly highlight that while both men and women benefit from having a network of well-connected peers across different groups, women who also have an inner circle of close female contacts are more likely to be successful in business.
The reason? Women form close connections with other women, who can share experiences from women who have been there, done that – from how to ask for what you’re worth to those niggling questions that crop up every day when running a business. Women are building circles of trust with one another because we are all experiencing similar hurdles and the reality is we do have each other’s backs.
Take the word “work” out of networking. There is power in relationships that extends beyond a generic introduction. When you create connections based on shared interests and goals, you’ll be more successful at what you do because people want to work with people they know, like and trust. The Business Girls Network breaks down the barriers and enables you to connect with women you ordinarily might never meet. Being part of a network and connecting with others can impact you both personally and professionally. Business takes places. Women learn stuff. They grow in confidence and collaborations are formed. Magic happens.
My advice to women is to reframe what “networking” is. The fact alone that the word has “work” in it creates pressure for women to feel like it’s something they have to do, and then I see women stress about how to do it. Simply putting yourself in environments that give you the opportunity to meet with peers and get to know each other and share experiences can be a game changer. And chances are, if you make meaningful connections, they are ones that will last a really long time.
Prioritise relationship building. You don’t do business with a company, you do business with people you know, like and trust. To make these connections, you first have to decide if it is important to you. I often get told women don’t have time to network online or offline. Does your calendar reflect your values? A lot of time it doesn’t, not because we’re bad people, but because we have so much on our plates. Ask yourself, ‘Are relationships important and why?’ It could be because you want to learn new things or you’re looking for new opportunities or you need to know how to grow your business. We’re not connecting when left to our own devices, so schedule time for it in your diary. There are no excuses!
Know that connection building isn’t one and done. Networking is one and done: It’s where you shake someone’s hand and give them a business card. Where does that leave you? With a stack of business cards on your desk. A relationship, on the other hand, touches your heart and creates a lasting partnership. To keep connections alive, they must be nurtured.
Seek out people who you admire. Ask for advice, and follow up. Always follow up. Participate wherever and however you can. In short, be a doer!
Amplify other women. I love the Shine Theory, which is the idea that when you help another woman rise, we all shine. Build other women up! If you see somebody doing a great job, give them credit…tell other people. At first, it may seem like you’re taking attention away from yourself, but you’re actually showing that you’re a supportive team player as well as an inspiring businesswoman – and secure enough in yourself to praise others.
Find your tribe – and tap into them. Who would be your go-to group of girls if you had an emergency, needed honest advice, or wanted a key business introduction? When it comes to building relationships, you often get what you give.
Who is on your team? Who do you have in your professional life that serves as your support network? Find people who you can bounce ideas off of, go to for advice, pick you up when you need a boost. Finding your people is so important for the growth of your business and probably more importantly, your mental well-being. Not only will this provide you with support, but will also act as a connector to people and opportunities. Whenever one of us comes across a great opportunity, we immediately send it to each other. It is amazing to be part of a group of women who want you to be your very best and actively help you to succeed.
We’re better together. As Madeleine Albright said, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” As we say from personal experience, “There is a special place in heaven for women who support other women.”