My recent article about the power of networking has led to some interesting conversations with women in my community. So I wanted to dive a little deeper into the benefits of networking for connection.
When done with purpose and for authentic connection, networking is a powerful marketing tool which can benefit your practice.
Women and networking
Let’s look at some facts.
Around 38% of small businesses in Australia are owned by women. In the decade to 2019, women were behind around 66% of newly established businesses. And research suggests that if female entrepreneurs were boosted to parity with men, Australia’s economy would benefit by between $71 billion – $135 billion.
What this says to me is that if women can create and build connection through networking, the sky’s the limit. But women are struggling to do that. In fact, Australian women are 30% less likely to have strong networks than men. And women hesitate more when it comes to networking, despite desiring more support and alignment in their businesses.
How women network
When it comes to networking, women prefer to build long-term, authentic connections. They embrace the power of referrals and personal recommendations to form smaller but genuine networks that are based on trust.
And there are a lot of benefits to networking to connect.
Benefits of networking to connect
We know that the power of networking is not in the networking event itself. It’s not enough to simply be in the room. The primary benefit of networking is in its opportunity to connect, and, in turn, to create and build your authentic, mutually beneficial networks.
This type of networking works much better. In fact, research shows that successful corporate executives tend to have ‘diverse but select networks’ of authentic relationships of people from varying backgrounds and roles. This gives them the support they need in their roles, their business and their lives. And it feels so much better.
So how can we close the networking gap between men and women? How can we network for connection?
The best first step is to have a game plan. This ensures you are clear-eyed and purposeful in your approach to creating and building connections through networking.
Consider who is attending
When an event pops into your in-box, comes across your desk, or otherwise makes its way into your headspace, ask yourself whether you need to make a connection. If you can, request the attendance list from the event organiser and see if there’s someone you’d like to introduce yourself to or get to know better.
If you’re still struggling to take the step, see if you have a mutual friend or colleague attending, who can make the introduction. Or, better yet, see if you can be that person for someone else.
Focus on authentic connection
Once you know what events you want to attend, think about how to make authentic connection. I’ve worked out five steps to help you to create and build authentic connection at networking events.
One – Be curious
Be curious about each person you meet. Instead of asking them about their job, ask about what they’re enjoying or looking forward to. You’ll likely find common ground and perhaps a shared experience, which will help you to form an authentic connection and put a face to a name after the event.
Two – Ask questions
When talking with someone at a networking event, ask questions to help you understand their story and quickly find your common ground. Don’t ask questions to interrogate, but to help build the full person.
Three – Listen!
It should go without saying that when talking with someone, listen to them. Don’t listen simply to calculate when you can jump in with your own story or anecdote. Take a breath and give them space to share.
Four – Add value
In being curious, asking questions and listening, you’ll be ready to give before you take. You could make someone’s day by solving a long-standing problem with your expertise or referring them to someone who can.
Five – Follow up
If you do walk away from a networking event having made a connection with someone, follow up! Schedule a coffee or lunch and build on the connection you made.
Nurture your existing network
As you focus on creating and building new connections, remember to nurture your existing network. Take the time to catch up over coffee or touch base online. Your existing network is full of mutually beneficial relationships it’s important to nurture and encourage.
Are you ready for authentic connection?
In summary, let’s remember:
- The benefit of networking is in the opportunity to connect.
- Have a game plan for each networking event.
- Use the five steps to build connection – be curious, ask questions, listen, add value and follow up.
- Nurture your existing networks and remember the power of referrals.
If this resonates with you, and you’d like to be in the room to connect with like-minded people, come along to our Go-Getter Day. You’ll get to experience the benefits of networking through connection, the way it should be done!