What Women Entrepreneurs Need to Know About Networking
What is networking, exactly, and how do you do it? A seasoned business coach and mentor provides advice and insights.
Like the repeated “place, place, place” as a central tenet of the real estate market, networking is often touted as the key to success as an entrepreneur.
But what does it really mean to network, and why is it essential for the young entrepreneurs of Sea to Sky Corridor?
Cathy Goddard, of Whistler, of Lighthouse Visionary Strategies, a coaching and mentoring firm primarily for women entrepreneurs, defines networking as a “meaningful connection.”
“It’s just about coming together to connect and share. And that can be sharing a number of things,” she said.
“It could mean looking for a hairdresser, or it could mean getting a new client, or it could mean getting advice for their start-up business. Women have such a broad view of what networking really is and its benefits. »
When women network, they should spend time creating their story, she said.
“Too often, women don’t communicate clearly what they are doing and why they are doing it.”
When she conducted workshops on how to network, she used the following exercise to help clients create their presentations:
FOR (target customer), WHO HAS (customer need), (product name) IS A (market category) THAT (a key benefit). UNLIKE (competition), THE PRODUCT (unique differentiator).
Goddard said that while women are increasingly comfortable exposing themselves than perhaps they once were, they are often still more hesitant than men.
“Men are more comfortable making direct requests or a clear request; women are reluctant to ask for what they want,” she said. “And even when they do, often the interpretation of that is a bit biased.”
Generally speaking, women generally don’t want to talk about their accomplishments for fear of “bragging”.
“And that doesn’t get us very far,” she said, adding that even though she’s been in business for a long time, she still backs off a bit when talking about her successes or accomplishments.
Recently, while working with a group of clients, she asked them to describe what they were proud of in themselves: “I’m proud of – fill in the blank,” she recalls.
She also asked those she coached to make videos of themselves to post on the group’s private Facebook page.
“The more we do it, the easier it gets,” she explained.
Goddard teaches clients that they have to sell themselves, because if it’s not the entrepreneur, who else will?
“If the person is your ideal client and you have the skills to do so, you have to tell them; they’re not going to read your mind,” she said. “‘Here’s what I can give you,’ and tell them the benefits and rewards – it’s selling 101. But often we just don’t.”
Goddard acknowledges that networking and showcasing works much better in person, which has been difficult throughout the pandemic.
“So if it’s not a room full of people, then is there an opportunity to connect with someone one-on-one and still be safe in that environment? And I think…people are going to come back to this because people are craving connection. Right? They’re starving for these in-person dynamics that are happening,” she said, adding that newbie entrepreneurs don’t shouldn’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call people.
“It’s so old school, I know. But I see such incredible value in that.
Goddard said even the simple act of physically moving around town — away from home or the office — can bond. She remembers running a regular errand to the post office and meeting someone interested in coaching her business.
She added that it’s also incumbent on more seasoned entrepreneurs to be mentors to those coming up behind them — to bring others into their network.
“It can mean just having lunch with someone else in their area and just inviting them both to lunch. [or coffee],” she said. “That’s the other side – offering it and not just waiting for people to ask because it’s hard [to ask].
To learn more about Goddard and Lighthouse Visionary Strategies, click here.