Even though it’s 2018 and much progress has been made, it’s no secret that professional women are still at a disadvantage in the workplace. The same is true of entrepreneurs.
The glass ceiling is holding strong
While progress has been made over the last decades and even more over the past few years, the glass ceiling is still stubbornly holding strong.
This is why networking, an important component of any professional’s career, is even more important when it comes to women – whether they want to climb the ladder to the C-suite or start their own business.
Networking is the most influential and efficient way to raise your profile in the business and corporate world. However, networking will only help you if done strategically.
At this point in history, men entrepreneurs (on average) are more successful than women entrepreneurs (on average) at growing their businesses. To be as successful as the men, you do have to do something you can do but that many women don’t: Build a strategic network
Top 8 networking tips for women
- Be Yourself: If you are guarded, people will not get a sense of who you really are and it will be difficult to connect with you. Bring your smartness and uniqueness to light.
- Be passionate about what you do: if your personal values don’t line up with the product or service that your company sells, you need to leave the organization or to do something else. How can you passionately talk about your business when networking if you are not excited about it. If you are not enthusiastic about what you offer, others won’t be interested in what you stand for.
- Take it one step at a time:You won’t amass a huge network of contacts overnight. Researches have found that just ten minutes a day is all it takes to make a big impact on the size and quality of your network.
- Do your research:The internet is a mine of information, and finding you have something in common with people you’re about to meet is gold. A quick online search can tell you that you went to the same university or have a connection in common.
- Don’t avoid men: Many women have a tendency to go to functions that only other women will attend, which limits the benefits of networking. You need to think strategically and make as many valuable connections as possible to further your success. And the best way to do so is with women and men.
- Help them to help you:It’s as important to be found as to find others. Having an up-to-date LinkedIn profile (including a professional headshot) makes you much more likely to be approached by new connections.
- End as you mean to go on:You may only have one chance to make a good first impression, but you can undo all your good work if you make a bad exit. Say a proper “goodbye” and follow up the next day to make sure your new contact remembers you for the right reasons.
- Follow-up: We know that the follow-up is key to cashing in on your networking efforts, but this is one of the greatest areas of missed opportunity because people don’t make time for it and then wonder why they didn’t get the deal.
Don’t just limit yourself to local, in-person networking gatherings if you want to see the best options and most opportunities in the field you’re playing in. Consider newer, more effective alternatives to networking that can take you and your business to unprecedented territories.
Women’s rights advocate and gender equality specialist, Darine BenAmara has dedicated her career to supporting other women. She is an international speaker, writer and advocate. Darine has significant international experience advancing women in leadership, leading global diversity and inclusion programs and advocating for women at work. Inspired by the many women she met, she designed “The Smart Woman”, an initiative helping women to overcome the challenges of networking and learn how to create smart connections to fulfill their career goals.