I wouldn’t be standing here today professionally if it weren’t for the strong inner circle of women –and men– I had built along the way. And while I didn’t call it networking at the time, I was building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. I was giving. They were giving.
We are hosting a wonderful LadyDrinks high tea in #Houston at the Hotel Granduca September 21st, and you might be asking yourself, “Hmmm. Why do I need to network with other professional women?” Here are my top 4 reasons.
#1 To build win-win relationships.
I hosted a ski retreat one year for LadyDrinks. Why? One of my frequent attendees worked in finance. Her boss took everyone in the company on a ski trip each year. She didn’t go. She missed out on this valuable networking opportunity each year– because she didn’t ski. My male counterparts have always mixed social with business in order to get ahead. But as Sally Helgesen writes in her book How Women Rise, we, as women, aren’t as comfortable doing that. Networking allows us to start enlisting champions of our careers from day one. It helps us to build win-win relationships. It helps shed light on the skill sets we need to develop. Who do our allies need to be in order to achieve that?
#2 Build a support system for success
You’ve heard about dressing for success. What about building a support system for success? I interviewed the CEO of Lively this year. Founder Michelle Cordeiro Grant made a list around all of her fears when she started her lingerie business. Customer Service. Supply Chain. Technology support. Then she listed a real live person next to each category. This person would be her mentor or resource for each. In fact, she went one step further and made each person her best friend. She recently raised $15million dollars for the brand and is giving Victoria’s Secret a run for its money. Networking strategically helps us, as women, to build a support network to be more successful.
#3 It allows us to exchange ideas
I’m quite prone to doing things the same way. For example, I was creating marketing collateral for my upcoming Chicago event. I always use a program called Pixlr. But my friend Vinay, whom I met through another network I belong to, pulled up Canva and showed me spiffy templates pre-made that I could select and fill in copy and images. I love that I we exchanged ideas and my universe grew a little that day.
#4 It builds self confidence.
If there is an opportunity to help someone with a resource that you have, think about how good! That feels! My friend Paula recommended I be interviewed on a podcast called The Good Life Coach. One of my members recently asked me if I knew of a podcast she could be featured on to raise her visibility. She has a bullet journaling service. I recommended her and now she will be a guest on the podcast too! It felt great to be able to rise to the occasion with a real solution to her query.
Networking also works a muscle. It helps you to introduce yourself in a strong succinct fashion over and over again. And maybe, once you get really good at that, you get bold enough to to ask for what you want too!