Imagine women in business as a powerful band of advocates, collaborators and allies. Imagine women entrepreneurs who know how to leverage their innate strength, overcome barriers and build relationships that drive growth in their businesses and careers. Male networking is a given — golf, squash, attending sporting events — while cliché, these are serious business-building opportunities. By contrast, women pride themselves on multi-tasking but fail to build into their schedules the networking opportunities that men take for granted. The truth is that networking builds business. However, being a single female entity in a male-dominated room can, on occasion, be uncomfortable and doesn’t always yield business.
These problems are greatly reduced when women network with other women. It is important to be creative in networking. For example, I have for years brought together women entrepreneurs and executive friends for dinner, and it has been productive, comfortable and good for my creative and mental well-being. Shared interests among women provide mutual respect and invaluable sounding boards. My running partner of seven years is a savvy HR professional who has given me tremendous business insights through spending time with her.
Choose Female Role Models
Every female entrepreneur should make a serious “business role models” list. This list embodies leaders you admire from all walks of life — living or dead humanitarians, rule-breaking and risk-taking business leaders or writers of books that have changed history. The list must include women — women who led or lead by example and inspire you to reach for greatness. Who are the women on your list?
To female entrepreneurs, women leaders are more relatable, understanding your struggles as an entrepreneur. Like you, they have to juggle demands that can make them feel conflicted. Their example can help you find your path. Studying business role models helps make the difference between planning your visions and goals and achieving them. If you’ve formed a business plan but faltered on the path to carry it out, study role models and don’t be disheartened by life getting in the way.
Women who are successful are dedicated and focused, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t journeyed for 15-20 years to be where they are today. The people on your list help you to grasp and stay in touch with the process of success and the longevity of focus that is needed.
Study those in your industry, learn from them, adapt their techniques and do things on your own terms. Tina Brown is someone I have looked up to. I remember reading that she rarely attended events in the evening so she could be a mother. Through her, I realized that I did not have to do it all now and to bide my time. I could do a proper job of raising my family and still be successful by attending key events. Making the most of events I do attend means knowing who will be there so I can make an effort to connect with them.
Don’t be discouraged — everyone started somewhere and it’s taken a lot of time to get to where they are today. Be efficient and become very good at saying no.