Love it or hate it, networking is and always will be a necessary part of doing business.
Sure online tools like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter make it easy to get organized, showcase your work and build a following but they can’t create a relationship. And in these tough economic times, fostering genuine, authentic communication and building trust – keys to building a successful network – can get lost when sales are down and there is extra pressure to close.
“As a single woman I’m turned off by large groups,” says Perri Knight, a Lifetime Founding Member of Single Working Women’s Affiliate Network (SWWAN), in Chicago. “It’s about connecting with individuals.”
SWANN lays the groundwork for single women and single moms with a more personal approach to networking by providing both professional and lifestyle resources. Single women can get information about everything from finding like-minded career women in their area to planning a pregnancy alone.
“Because there aren’t a lot of resources, we have to create our own universe from scratch,” says Knight who went through artificial insemination to get pregnant with her first child at thirty-two. “One of our members, a nurse practitioner was looking to meet people in her new city. She was told, get married, you’ll meet people. Nobody seems to recognize that there is a difference.”
Organizations like the Downtown Women’s Club (DWC), a national organization that seeks to provide women with a platform to create their dream careers are also planning more intimate networking events that will appeal to the single woman who likes to travel.
“People want to do business with people they like and can trust,” says Kimberly Clark, Director of the Los Angeles Chapter of the DWC and owner of drezrehersal Event Planning Company.
Clark who is single herself, is organizing Life Coach Sister Circle Pow Wow, a three-day cruise to Baja Mexico that combines business, pleasure and life coaching. The networking event is billed as an opportunity for women to focus less about human “doing” so that they can share in their experience as human beings.
Clark believes that career level networking is a skill set no woman can do without and it’s easy if you know how to listen, “Just shut up and listen! People enjoying talking about themselves. Don’t be so ready to get your plug in about yourself while they are still talking to you. Be still and quiet. You just might learn something.”