Just the very term 'networking' can be intimidating, especially for women in business. No, this isn't a criticism of women, but rather an acknowledgement that men and women operate very differently.
Here are three things we know to be generally true when it comes to women and networking.
We prefer smaller inner circles we can trust.
We need to engage with people who share similar challenges and experiences.
We prefer to focus less on selling and more on sharing.
All three factors can make traditional networking events daunting and ineffective. You see, networking for women is really about building relationships rather than gathering business cards. Fortunately Dusty Wilhite, agency owner at Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, is a self-proclaimed networking geek and connector of people, and she has these tips to share for women in business who want to network effectively.
Tip #1 - Remember It's Not Actually About You
One key component to building relationships is expressing interest in the other person. When we approach networking from this angle, we become more interested in what the other person is offering rather than selling ourselves. Ask questions and discover how you can help them grow or solve a problem.
Tip #2 - Prepare a 2-Minute Elevator Pitch
When the time comes to share about your own business, be ready. Preparing an elevator pitch ahead of time helps remove the pressure in the moment and ensures that you accurately and effectively what you have to offer. Not sure what to share? Wilhite offers this format:
Share your name and the name of your business.
Explain what services you offer and who exactly you're here to help.
Tell why you're the best in the business. Don't be afraid to toot your own horn! If you don't believe in yourself, who will?
Share what others can do to help your business grow. For example, are you looking to connect with a certain type of client?
Above all, be specific.
Tip #3 - Don't Forget to Follow Up
It's easy to get caught up in the busyness of each day, so put some safeguards in place to make following up easier. Check out these easy steps.
Immediately following the networking event, hop on social media and follow or like the individuals or businesses you met.
Build time in your schedule to send out e-mails within 24 hours of the networking event. Tell them what a pleasure it was to meet them and remind them of what you offer or how you can help them specifically.
If you met someone whom you can help or who can help your business grow, set up a coffee or lunch date to further foster the relationship.
Tip #4 - Join Us for Working Women Wednesday
If you're looking to connect with other women in business, particularly in Gibson County and the surrounding areas, Working Women Wednesday is just what you need. Follow the HUB 127 on Facebook and Instagram so you'll be the first to know when dates are announced.