Being a business woman can be tough and challenging. There is no instruction manual that comes with role, so it sometimes feels like you are negotiating the edge of the precipice; this is what makes life in business so interesting and exciting.
One of the best ways of successfully avoiding going over the precipice is to network with other women in business. You can learn from each other and be supportive, in what tends to be a male dominated environment. But how can you make networking a successful enterprise for you?
Make interaction part of your day
Networking is not just about arranging regular meetings, or scheduling Skype calls. In order to be able to network effectively, you need to practice every day. After all, every time you talk to another business woman you are networking.
You may want to consider working in a shared office space with other women, to make daily communication easier. There are other benefits to be had from sharing office space. As the experts at say it's, “Ideal for sole traders, start-ups and those who just thrive on collaboration”. Your business expertise and confidence can truly grow as a result of sharing in this way.
Whether you decide to share office space or not, you have the opportunity to interact with other females in business on many different occasions each day, whether it's in the lift, during the school run or even at the local supermarket. You need to make the most of every opportunity.
Offer your expertise to power players
There is no doubt that there are certain women within every industry who are the right people to know. Your task is to discover who these women are for your niche and present yourself as someone who has expertise and knowledge they can benefit from; establish yourself as someone that it's useful to know. Self-promotion can be a difficult skill to acquire but it's useful if you want to develop top-notch networking relationships.
Another way to develop this type of relationship is to seek out mentorship from the power players. Many people relish the opportunity of being able to put their experience to use in this way; it feels like an honour to be asked.
Consider every opportunity carefully
It's very easy to put the blinkers on in business. You focus on your original idea and plan and are not willing to consider opportunities outside of that scope. It's important to be open-minded in business. Never dismiss an opportunity straight away; the most off the wall ideas can sometimes be the best. Taking on board the ideas of other business women, and getting involved, is an excellent way of increasing your network.
Always be willing to learn
It's important to remember that you do not know everything and that sharing knowledge with other women in business can be useful. Some women think that it's important to keep their business ideas and knowledge to themselves but it's usually far better to share and develop a support network. It's this ethos that leads companies in Silicon Valley to work on projects together.
Meet up with other women, and share experiences, as often as you can. It's fine to talk online or over the phone, but face to face networking is often more rewarding.
Be creative in your thinking
Creative thinkers stand out from the crowd. You are more likely to be seen as someone valuable to network with if you are able to provide out of the box solutions to problems, or present unusual business ideas. It can be risky being creative but it can also be highly beneficial, especially if you network with other creative thinking women.
Keep your network fresh
It's important that you seek new people to network with, as well as sustaining the relationship you have with your current network. Keep an eye out for up and coming females in your industry and make contact. Never miss the opportunity of networking at events either; there will usually be new faces on the scene who you can start a conversation with.
Effective networking is not easy, it takes time to develop the confidence and skills that you need. Building a network is also not something that happens overnight; make the most of every opportunity and your network will grow. Remember that networking is an ongoing process; you should always be willing to learn, explore new opportunities and seek out new relationships with other business women.
Find out more about networking opportunities with us over on our website.