In both personal and professional settings, women are naturally predisposed to effective communication skills, according to popular belief.
As communication is a key part of networking, it would follow that most women are possessed with innate networking skills they can use to their benefit as professionals while attending business conferences or summits. Here are a few ways in which most women’s unique approach to networking can be applied usefully to fuel their success.
1. Building strong relationships
Although networking involves establishing informal connections, it still requires the ability to invest time and patience, as even casual relationships can take a while to form. According to Glenn Llopis, a contributor to Forbes.com, women persist and “they thrive at creating and sustaining momentum for both themselves and others.” They often have a knack for paying attention to detail, remembering personal information and also “facilitating connection points between people, resources and relationships,” Llopis writes. These building blocks, put in place over time and bound with trust, then become the foundation for future partnerships, sales leads, business advice and job placements. Be careful, though, to draw and respect the line between networking relationships and personal relationships and what to expect from each.
2. Demonstrating authenticity
Women often thrive off of sincerity and genuine caring. Citing life coach and author Gail Blanke, Meghan Casserly writes for another article on Forbes.com that women entrepreneurs consider relationships as two-way streets. They think about what they can give in addition to what they can receive in return, rather than just addressing an imminent need and how to get it from a business connection. If networking isn’t intentional and based on honesty and authenticity, it’s unlikely to return meaningful results. According to an online article for Entrepreneur, building a valuable human connection requires asking insightful questions, paying attention, listening attentively, and then following up with additional relevant questions. By doing this, the article claims, “you’re separating yourself from the rest of the pack and are well on your way to fostering genuine relationships.” Fortunately, these communication techniques come naturally for most women, helping them endow relationships with sincerity and thoughtfulness.
3. Adapting as necessary
Unfortunately, some industries are heavily dominated by one gender or the other. For example, technology and military contracting are filled with men, especially in leadership positions, and business often happens in settings traditionally associated with men, such as the golf course or poker games. However, as emphasized in an article on BBC.com, those activities are not truly "male." Women can learn them and join in, giving themselves more access to being ‘part of the gang’ and having informal, yet meaningful conversations related to their respective industries. The ability to feed their passion provides women with the motivation to learn new skills or adopt hobbies that they can share with their peers and superiors.
As you prepare for your next conference or business-related event, and you’ve got networking on your mind, remember that you, as a woman, have innate skills to help you succeed. By exercising your ability to patiently build long-term relationships that are defined by trust and authenticity, and being flexible enough to learn new tricks if needed, you can tackle networking like the professional you are.
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