Network Like a Girl

by Victoria Trafton

shutterstock-153001655While “acting like a girl” may not be advised for athletes or aspiring corporate executives, it may be just the right strategy for small-business owners!

Authors and executive coaches advise us to lean in, aggressively go after promotions, and negotiate for better salaries to win. Learning how to “man up” is good advice since men hold most high-level positions.

For small business, that behavior may not get you as far as connecting with your marketplace, helping others, being known by your prospects. Phoenix is known for hosting hundreds of networking events each month where business is generally won hand-to-hand and face-to-face. The ability to connect builds the kind of trust that leads to more clients.

In addition to a good online presence and social media strategy, networking is an essential marketing technique for small business. The goal of networking is to build awareness and trust in the marketplace so people are comfortable giving you their business or their referrals.

Women have unique characteristics that become a strategic advantage in networking. Men’s brains are literally wired for risk taking and assertiveness. They tend to excel in the type of behavior applauded in the higher ranks of the corporate world. Women are wired for collaboration and connection. They tend to excel at building relationships.

We all have heard the jokes about women who talk too much, right? Who knew we could and should talk our way to success! It is easy to laugh at those jokes when you know talking can be a great marketing strategy.

While I advise more listening than talking when selling, talking may be the best way to have prospects coming to you. So go ahead, act like a girl and get out there and start talking.

Collaborating with other business owners allows small businesses to better serve their clients and leverage their market presence through strategic partnerships. Cross promotion for your partners is acceptable at networking events while outright selling for yourself is not appreciated.

The key to effective networking is consistent engagement over an extended period. You can’t build relationships casually in a few months. It takes time and intention. Participate in groups where you have something in common and you enjoy going. Don’t limit your networking to business networking. You can find sports groups, hobby groups, nonprofit groups or parent groups focused on your kids. What do you enjoy talking about? Conversations will be easy, natural and friendly with people who enjoy the same topics.

Whether you are male or female, an introvert or extrovert, “acting like a girl” can give you the advantage in networking. Your challenge is to find the right groups for you and show up time and time again really connecting with the people you meet.

Victoria Trafton is the founder of The Sisterhood of Happiness, a unique learning and networking organization for women entrepreneurs. As a referral specialist, she has provided referral training and coaching to more than 2,000 people in the local business community.

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