Networking is talking to people, establishing connections and developing relationships to build your circle of influence. Business networking is essentially the same except the main focus in business networking is to help develop and grow the business. Networking means meeting people you can do business with or refer people to, in order to meet your overall goals. As a collaborative resource skill, networking is essential and key, to advance women within their careers and business.
BusinessNetworking.com provides the following statistics:
- Women feel that networking has played a slightly larger role in their success than men.
- Women use a much wider variety of techniques to learn their networking skills than men do.
- Men are more likely to focus on business first than women are. Women are a little more likely to focus on building the relationship first–then the business.
- Men preferred either a structured or unstructured networking event. Women felt okay with either.
- Men felt stronger about transactional aspects of networking. Women felt stronger about relational aspects of networking.
- Women received a higher percentage of their business from networking than men.
- The more time either men or women spent in their networking efforts, the higher the percentage of business they generated.
According to David Rose of EliteDaily.com, "Networking takes two main approaches: virtual or face-to-face. It’s important to utilize both strategies to expand your professional network."
"Women business owners should strive to make contacts across gender lines but it is especially important for women to network with other women because when it comes to business men and women generally think differently. And, since women own the majority of businesses in the service, hospitality and health industries you are most likely to successfully network among women peer business owners", writes Lahle Wolfe of about.com.
Here are 4 great networking questions to keep in your business development and relationship toolkit:
- What do you like the most about the business your in?-This allows for people to show their enthusiasm for their company, the trends, and the industry.
- How did you get started?-Let them share their story and successes. They may also share what they've learned.
- Who's your customer?-This will help you make referrals that they'll value. It also tells them that you'll look out for them, this may lead to collaboration, and show you're trying to develop a peer relationship.
- What do you want to achieve next?-It provides insight into how you could help them get there.