You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
Why I Choose Networking for Women
You’re probably thinking that networking for women-owned businesses is the same as networking for any other business. And, to a certain extent, that’s true. After all, it’s not our gender identity that determines how we run businesses.
That being said, as the partner of a woman-owned business, I have definitely noticed some differences in the way that networking group develop, specifically for how women conduct themselves. And while it’s not universal, many of our female clients approach business the way we do, with a focus on community, relationships, and giving back.
Networking Groups for Women-Owned Businesses
Why do we need networking groups that focus on women? While women-owned businesses are on the rise and 40% of businesses in the US are currently women-owned, women business owners still have many hurdles to overcome.
When it comes to funding, women receive only 7% of venture funds for startups AND the average loan size granted to women is almost $5,000 less than that granted to men. And while women are a driving force in the small business world, the higher you get up the corporate ladder, the less represented they are, despite the fact that private tech companies led by women achieve 35% higher ROI.
– Stats from Fundera
In other words, there’s still some work to be done.
Networking groups for women exist to cater to these needs, whether it’s navigating a culture that doesn’t exactly celebrate female executives, or it’s navigating our own reluctance to ask for the money. But these groups are rarely exclusive. Whether it’s Great Dames, NAWBO, Fund for Women, or Women United, these groups welcome trans women and even men as well as non-binary individuals or any other spectrum of gender. The point is not to exclude anyone – it’s to open up education and resources for a group of people who are still working to catch up in the business world in terms of income and influence.
Jane and Jenn launching BrandSwan at DSBC’s Women on the Rise in 2020.
What Makes Women’s Networking Groups Different?
I’ll be honest — I was raised to believe that sexism was dead, and we were all equal already. While that is obviously not true, I still try to avoid attributing personality traits or actions to specific genders. I’m not going to say that all women’s networking groups have these traits. But these are the things that makes the women’s groups I participate in so enjoyable for me:
A Community Focus
We’ve all been to those networking events where everyone is there to sell. It’s a huge business card swap, and at the end of the day there’s no real ROI other than being added to half a dozen email lists. When I started attending networking groups with a purpose, whether it was an educational focus or networking for women to support other women, I noticed a dramatic change. People there talked about things other than work. They talked about their struggles and offered support freely. They also felt pride at belonging to the group. And because people genuinely enjoy being there, more genuine interactions take place, which leads to real relationships.
Relationships Over Revenue
To build on that, the relationships you develop in these groups are rarely based on an immediate sale. Instead the focus is on real connections and finding ways to support each other even if it’s not directly through a sale. People attend events seeking referral partners, advice, resources, and moral support from one entrepreneur to another. These are the kinds of groups you join when you’re looking for mentorship and friends who can commiserate with your work life as well as personal one. And true, sometimes you’ll be asked to connect over coffee for a truly pointless half hour of awkward small talk, but more often the open-ended nature of those relationships lead into finding ways to support each other that feel natural and not forced.
Giving Back vs Bottom Line
This may be less compelling for some than others, but I’ve often found that networking groups for women have a philanthropic twist. Personally, I love the focus on how we can make the world a better place, trusting that as we do this work (and make progress) it comes back to us. Yes, we all want to make money, but there’s this attitude towards money that makes it fun and joyful rather than stressful. I find it motivating to make more money when I consider the good I can do with it.
Networking for Women by Women
Ultimately, I go back to that saying — you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. And the people I want to be like are often philanthropic, badass women business-owners. So I join networking groups for women.
Interested in celebrating women-owned businesses with us? Check out our woman-owned small business directory (free to join!).