When it comes to building business and boosting your network, I’m a great believer in using everything you’ve got. You know, the stuff you were born with.
Yes I’m talking about SEX here people.
But don’t worry, it’s all above board! I’m talking about the noun sex, as opposed to the verb sex…
One of the key trends in networking circles over the last 5-10 years is the rise of the female only group. Women in business, women entrepreneurs, women in every professional service you can imagine – there are more networking groups for women now than any woman could ever find the time to participate in.
Some of you will embrace this trend. Many of you will do your best to buck the trend. But I want to encourage ALL of you women reading this to embrace the trend and make it work for YOU.
Here are 3 ways to embrace the trend to help you build your network, and ultimately your profile.
1. Cultivate A Community
Who doesn’t love spending time with girlfriends? While not everyone will agree, I strongly feel that when we allow ourselves to, women can connect on a deep level quickly and easily.
And, provided we take off the mask of perfection, we provide insight and support for each other when most needed.
If you can’t find a community of women like this, or that you resonate with, then create one.
Start with 3 or 4 like-minded colleagues, friends or acquaintances and start a group. It could start with a breakfast where you all bring one other person. Who knows where it will end up.
A good friend of mine started a group which is now called Executive Women Brisbane simply by sending a LinkedIn invitation to go for lunch to 40 senior women in her network in Brisbane. She was astounded when nearly every woman said yes! Now the group meets once a quarter and many working relationships and friendships have been formed.
Similarly, I am about to co-host a lunch for senior women in in-house legal along with AdventBalance. The positive response has been astounding.
So the moral is, if you can’t find it, create it.
2. Make The Most of Many
In a recent 3-part blog I wrote on how to build, grow and leverage your network, one of the key principles I talked about in growing your network is going “one to many”. While one to one meetings are very powerful, and ultimately, may be the clincher in terms of doing the deal and getting the business, in terms of building and growing your network, choosing a platform that involves getting in front of a group of your target market is one of the quickest ways to build your profile and ultimately your connections.
In addition, your time is your one of your most precious resources. So going one to many helps leverage your time and ensure you are getting maximum bang for your buck from the networking you do.
Many of the women’s groups host guest speakers. Volunteer to share your expertise and get in front of a group aligned with who you are and what you do.
3. Don’t Worry About The Men
I love men. I enjoy socialising with them, talking with them and working with them. But I never worry about whether they feel excluded when I say I prefer to work with women.
Many women are concerned that starting a women-centric group will send the wrong message in their organisation. Is it too exclusive? Will the men wonder what they’re all talking about? Will it be perceived as, goodness forbid…too feminist?
I’m making a generalisation here but I don’t believe men spend too much time worrying about what message it sends when they go to the footy together, or roll down the pub together on a Friday night.
The point is this, being part of a women-centric group is not about EXCLUDING men, it’s about INCLUDING women. And if you really want the men to come along, simply invite them. The only rules are the ones you make up in your head.
We have been given the gift of our sex, and I think it’s time to fully utilise it. Find or create your female tribe and develop relationships that support, nurture and challenge you to be the best you can be.
PS My Brisbane workshop tonight is sold out. Sydney is on 26 August. Join me to learn more ways to build, grow and leverage your network. Click here to get your tickets.