The concept of “networking” has always been a dreadful term for me.
In college, I was always told that as a business major, networking is the golden practice for getting ahead and establishing mentorship. I was taught and told that it’s essential to truly be successful, because if you networked, it would grant you more learning and opportunity. Although I knew the importance of networking, I hated the idea of reaching out to a stranger, online or in-person, who was very accomplished in their field, and trying to fight for their attention. As it seemed to me. Not only did the process feel very unnatural and uncomfortable to my already shy demeanor, I could never do it consistently or effectively.
It wasn’t until I was looking for a job almost half a year ago, where I was forced to talk to a lot of people. I had a purpose and direct reason to network. I found myself interviewing with a lot of people, talking to a lot of CEOs of startups and recruiters of big companies. I realized I was meeting and talking to a lot of diverse and interesting personalities. It was during that process, where I was forced to network due to my financial livelihood that I realized something. The scariness of networking is taken out when you approach the person and conversation with 1.) zero expectations of anything and 2.) wanting to ask questions and learn about their field because they are the expert.
I have found that this has not only made it more comfortable to have conversations with “high-caliber” people I first meet, but I have found I make more of an impact on them as well, because I don’t have as many self-interested strings attached to the meeting. All I want, is to learn. When I reposition my mind and thinking to curiosity, whether it’s about the person’s life story, asking them how something works in their industry, or exploring each other’s “whys” together – 9/10, I learn more and there’s an authentic desire to connect again.
So, this makes me sad. I’m not sad for myself now, but what I missed out on in my early college career. However, I realizing I’m not all that alone. According to a 2018 Women in the Workplace report by LeanIn.org and McKinsey, women actually network less than men. Women tend to fall victim to self-imposed barriers like Imposter syndrome, or don’t choose to actually leverage their curiosity or connections for personal or goal growth.
This is why I’m giving another 5 more resources women can use, so that you can connect and network with other leaders in the industry. These resources are extra special, because many of them utilize online methods of networking, which is great for continuing this essential practice during COVID.
Chic CEO is an awesome resource if you’re new to the entrepreneurship game. This website houses so many blogs, free guides, and free programs, to educate women on how to start a business and the steps you need to make it successful, like “How to Create a Positioning Statement” or Business Plan Template downloads. They even have guides on “How to Brand Yourself” or “How to Start a Blog”.
Chic CEO also has an online community where women are super willing to share their experiences and advice, and help a fellow woman out. So, even if you’re not an aspiring entrepreneur, you can still grab so many beginner resources from this site.
Ellevate is a global professional network for women who believe in the positive impact women can make. This platform and online community help women in the workplace advance and get ahead by providing connections, support and opportunities. They have virtual roundtables, mentoring groups, online chat groups, webinars, and workshops to all career women. You won’t want to miss out on using this valuable resource.
She Owns It
She Owns It is a website and blog that gives women so many learning resources to help professional women grow. It’s dedicated to empowering, connecting and supporting women. They have a ton of conferences and workshops every year in many different areas around the country. It’s a great place to connect and get inspired.
Women’s Business Development Center
The Women’s Business Development Center is the oldest, largest, most comprehensive women’s business assistance center in the U.S. Their mission is to provide support and accelerate business development and growth. They serve all diverse business owners in order to strengthen their participation in and impact on the economy. They have resources for starting and young companies, like workshops, webinars, online and on-demand learning modules, individual and group business advising. They even have tools and resources for older, more established businesses, like certification services and assistance with corporate and government contracting. There is so much. Please go check it out.
Ladies Get Paid
Ladies Get Paid is an awesome online community of women that have come together to help each other out. Originally founded by Claire Wasserman, it was created to not only create an online community of women but to mentor women in helping them achieve higher salaries. Because of the gender pay gap between men and women, the founders wanted to teach women confidence and strategies for negotiating their salaries. They also provide learning resources and workshops, online events and conferences to help women network and learn.
So, when you are exploring these new networking resources, remember that your mind and perception of the world has a profoundly powerful impact on your behavior, and ultimately how your life plays out. Remember, to re-approach networking and “meeting strangers” with “What do I have to lose?” and “I can’t wait to get their inside scoop!”
If you want to learn more about networking resources, check out this article!