How to Develop Your Network to Grow Your Business
Sometimes abundance can’t be counted in dollars and cents, but in the number of people you can count on.
The research is clear that for business owners, having a larger network and using it leads to more growth (measured in revenue and number of employees.)
Yet, some research suggests that women tend to build less effective professional networks than men because of a tendency to underestimate our worth.
If, as women business owners, we know that having a robust network is critical for business success, but we don’t want to do it ineffectively, what are we to do?
It’s clear why it is essential to network and how we can do it effectively to utilize our strengths and add to our energetic reserves instead of depleting them.
Here’s what to focus on as you build and nurture your network to make the most of your time and connections:
Own Your Worth
Just because the data shows that women don’t build professional networks as effectively because we tend to underestimate ourselves, undersell ourselves, and are reluctant to leverage our connections to make strides in business, doesn’t mean this has to be true for you.
Practice owning your value every day. Try an exercise from my book, Money: A Love Story, and write down 3 things you value about yourself before bed every night. Make them specific and different from the things you wrote down the night before. You’ll be amazed by how quickly your inner cache grows!
Have A Close Inner Circle
Both men and women benefit from being central in their networks…meaning they have close connections to many people who are hubs of more contacts. But what’s interesting is that the research shows that having an additional close inner circle is also important for women. Why? So you can share more personal struggles, private information, and other resources that apply specifically to being a woman at work or in business that helps advance your career.
Try forming a small mastermind of 3-4 peers and connect in meaningful ways regularly to build the kind of close connections that really help women soar.
Nurturing connections exclusively with people with whom you share common identities and/or backgrounds can be limiting. When you cultivate a diverse network, you have access to more opportunities. You can overcome your limited experience, potential blind spots, and biases because you’re not hanging out in an echo chamber.
Make a list of the people you network with the most. Notice if they’re all from the same industry, have the same gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, age, body type, abilities, etc. Just like in nature, diversity makes every ecosystem stronger, even, and especially, business ecosystems.
Be More Strategic With Your Existing Connections
We often underestimate the value of the connections we already make as women. Whether it’s because of being socialized this way or not, women tend to be better at maintaining strong social bonds. But we don’t always see these relationships strategically.
Keep in mind, though, that being strategic in our relationships can (and should) be mutually beneficial. For example, could you and your friends share insider information with one another that would help you all rise? Could you make standing up for one other and championing one another’s work a regular practice (especially if you’re in male-dominated fields?) A rising tide really can lift all ships in the harbor if you let yourself be lifted just as much as you lift.
It’s important to network not only to grow your business but also because it’s good for your soul. Humans are herd creatures. We’re wired for connection not only for our survival but also for thriving.
Use the tips above to grow your network, grow your business, and increase your sense of wellbeing.
P.S. Don’t know where to start when it comes to growing your network? Join the Origin Membership! One of our members, Mariela, has had 80% of her clients come from within the membership! Plus, we have an amazing lesson on growing your network and connecting with influencers inside the membership, and so much more. Doors are open until Wednesday, October 20th. Join Origin to grow your network now!
Now we want to hear from you: which of these tips was the most helpful for you? Where do you get stuck when it comes to networking? Let us know in the comments so we can help you out and provide more helpful articles in the future!Kate Northrup is an entrepreneur, bestselling author, mother, and founder and CEO of The Origin Company, which reaches hundreds of thousands globally. Kate is committed to supporting ambitious women to light up the world without burning themselves out. She’s the author of Do Less, the Do Less Planner System creator, and runs The Origin Membership, which helps business owners grow their business while doing less.