Women need to network differently than men!
Did you know that according to an article in Forbes - "Generally, men network with a purpose. It is strategic for their professional goals! However, women don’t see any network connection as a waste of time. Even if she speaks to someone who can’t directly help her, it doesn’t mean the connection is wasted"
Forbes say that for woman It is about building a network of people who could assist at a later date, or who could introduce her to another important figure later down the line and that's what makes networking so important and powerful"
So do you love them or loath them ?
I always resisted networking but now I have come to (dare I say it) quite look forward to them, but it has to be the right networking event and group for me and that means ticking a number of boxes!
Here are 5 real life Networking Tips for Women (based on my own experiences) when starting out in business and taking my first steps in attending networking and influencer events, I hope you find it helpful ...
Not all networking events and groups are created equal, so do you research and find the ones that feel right for you! Ask people you know for recommendations. Do your research on social media and look out for local groups to join as well as nationwide online groups too - there is a whole network of people available now for us all worldwide! Personally I do not like clique groups of woman that stick together and make others feel awkward (it's similar to school playground behaviour to me)! I like supportive collaborative groups and events where women are equal and truly support and lift up other women!
Some networking events (or events in general) can feel a bit overpowering to begin with than others too (I said I'd be honest)! You may feel more aligned in joining an all female networking group if that's where you feel you will connect with your ideal audience or you may wish to join a group for support and general fellowship. Ask if you can attend for a trial session before committing to any subscriptions. Some networking groups will meet during the day, some early morning and some in the evening! Work out where your ideal group or audience will attend and start networking with the right people. Some larger more high powered business groups will expect you to do business with other people in the group (these groups are too pushy for me, so I don't align myself with them) and then there are others which are much more relaxed and supportive. To me networking is just that, it's all about building connections. Hard sales is so last century!
Ask for introductions - If you know other people in business ask them to introduce you or to take you along to a networking meeting. Let's be honest here, nobody generally likes walking into their first meeting alone without a friendly face to greet them so don't be embarrassed to ask.
Another good point here, if you are a confident networker please always say hello to a newbie at events - it's always nice to be welcomed into a group by another member rather than standing there alone. The amount of events I've managed where I have seen someone standing alone whilst others ignore them! I know it can be hard to break away from a conversation for some, so be that person that spots another woman alone and makes them feel welcome.
So when you want to learn how to be the best at something what do you do? You invest in learning your craft! You want to learn a language you go to classes, you want to get fit, you go to the gym or hire a Personal Trainer. You can of course commit to learning a lot for free online but most Coaches (including me) save all the really juicy stuff that will move the needle in your life, your brand and give the total transformation you desire for their private clients. So if you want to get ahead in your personal brand image, your style and your business you should look at investing in a Coach or Mentor to support you! Becoming the most confident version of yourself and walking into a room looking and feeling great will elevate your brand immediately - and your self esteem ! We all know that one woman who always looks and sounds like she has it all together at an event - that could be you !
This is the time to make connections that are genuine. Those are the ones that really count! Take time to get to know people. Listen and I do really mean listen. There is nothing worse (and I speak from experience from influencer events) of talking to someone who is clearly half listening and looking over your shoulder at who else they can move on and talk to ! Now if you get stuck with pushy Petunia (or Paul) who wants to force her/his business card on you and tell you how much she wants to have a discovery call with you - just make sure she's/he's not just trying to hard sell to you! I have been caught out like this a few times. I used to get excited and think that one person met me and really wanted to talk to me about my service straight away but they wanted to actually get on a call with me to me about their service and then move on when I had no interest! Hey, I have no problem in talking to someone else about their service but please don't dupe me - be kind! So be careful and qualify the call before you end up being sold to without realising! When you make authentic connections, listen and interact that's when beautiful connections grow. A word on 60 second pitches here too, make it interesting, solve a problem, share a story but don't just reel off a list of what you do - people buy benefits, not the features! What is unique about what you do ? What is your niche! Who do you help and why ?
Which leads me nicely to number 5 ....
So, you don't go on a first date and ask someone to marry you so why would you go to a networking event and introduce yourself and ask people to buy from you straight away! It amazes me still how many people think this is how it will work! Relationships of all kinds including business are built on trust and relationships especially in business are built on know, like and trust! And only then do we commit to buy! So there is absolutely nothing better than attending a meeting feeling like the best version of yourself and interacting with people authentically, building a rapport, building lasting connections and in a lot of cases too, true friendships!
And a final reminder that people subconsciously form an opinion of you within the first 7 seconds of meeting you (I know that sounds so superficial but sadly it's true) and that's before you've even spoken a word, so your body language and your appearance play an important role here, so don’t overlook it as being frivolous to invest time and money in yourself in how you look and feel. Make sure you are representing yourself and your brand as you want to be seen, heard and remembered.
Now go network my friends and have fun and be YOU - the best version of you!
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