Successful Business Women Help Each Other
by Jo Shaer, on October 29, 2013
I'm part of an organisation where successful business women help each other. it's called the Women In Business Network and there are five groups in my local area.
We meet for lunch once a month but, in between, we also have what are called one-to-one meetings. These may be over coffee or a glass of wine. They allow you to get to know your fellow members better. To find out more about what they do and how they can help other businesses. It's all about building Know, Like and Trust.
If you know someone and like what they do, you are more likely to trust them enough to refer them to your friends and business colleagues.
I read a great blog about the role of women in sales which highlighted this point.
Too often in the cut throat business world, women are stabbing each other in the back to get the next deal - adopting a more male approach to doing business. Whereas we should be working together to show that you don't have to be nasty or cut throat to be good at business.
In the article, Jill Konrath says that women can be better at sales than men. They are more interested in helping the client to achieve their goals rather than being focused on the sale. They ask more questions and listen to the answers. They put together a package based on the needs of the client rather than trying to force the client to adapt to the package they have to offer.
She also talked about how women downplay their expertise - something that came out of another article I read somewhere which said that more men in an interview will say they can do a job, when they actually can't. Whereas women are much less likely to even apply for something unless they are sure they can do it well.
Jill also says that women should have another, more experienced, woman who they can use as a benchmark for their own business progress.
This is a story that Jo Curtis, the leader of my WIBN group often tells. She started out as a photographer but had no clue about how to grow her business. She got herself an office and sat in it for several months waiting for something to happen. A business advisor told her that she needed to 'get out there and get herself known'.
Her first step was to visit her local Women In Business networking lunch. She joined the same day. She knew that she wanted to be with other women who were in the same situation. Who knew her pain and could share their own experiences of what it takes to be successful professionally.
It should be pointed out that the Women In Business Network is not completely out of bounds for men. If you are a man with a business who has a partner, director or co-worker who is a woman, she can come and represent you at these lunches. Only one thing stands in the way - whether or not your category has already been taken in that group. Other than that, WIBN welcomes representatives of male-owned companies.
There are women at our BNI group too. What I like about the BNI is that everyone is given a chance to give their pitch and know, like and trust can be built easily with both male and female members.
It's not like some of the mix and mingle networking where the attitude of some of the male attendees can mean that a woman's expertise can be doubted and she is never given a chance to prove herself. Being blonde and 5'2 does not preclude you from being good at what you do.
At the end of the day, it is up to the sisterhood to help to promote each other. I have received recommendations via several of the female contacts that I have made through my business networking. I have also pointed people in the direction of other women who are amazing examples of their profession.
If you know women who are as good as their male counterparts, then they should be recommended.
Just because she cannot make breakfast meetings due to family commitments does not mean that she cannot do her job effectively.