Networking: The Why and How-To for Three Types of Female Entrepreneurs

Aug 19 07:41 2010 Michele DeKinder-Smith Print This Article

Female Entrepreneurs probably understand that networking is important. However, its importance varies for each type of businesswoman, depending on her unique needs, characteristics and desires. This article reveals tips and strategies for networking for three types of women business owners.

To busy female entrepreneurs,Guest Posting networking can seem like a complex web of cocktail parties, dinner meetings and social media pages. Even if these savvy businesswomen realize the importance of networking as a means for growing their companies, they may shy away from it because it seems like an overwhelming time investment. Networking doesn’t have to be a burden; in fact, it can be a fun and easy way for female entrepreneurs to grow their businesses while creating strong business and personal relationships with likeminded professionals.

A recent study from Jane Out of the Box, an authority on female entrepreneurs, reveals there are five distinct types of women in business. Based on professional market research of more than 3,500 women in business, this study shows that each type of business owner has a unique approach to running a business and therefore each one has a unique combination of needs. This article outlines three of the five types and provides reasons each one should network, as well as tips for networking effectively.

Jane Dough is an entrepreneur who enjoys running her business; generally, she makes a nice living. She is comfortable and determined in buying and selling, which may be why she's five times more likely than the average female business owner to hit the million dollar mark. Jane Dough is clear in her priorities and may be intentionally and actively growing an asset-based or legacy business. It is estimated that 18% of women entrepreneurs fall in the category of Jane Dough.

Jane Dough is successful – and she plans to be even more so. Therefore, even while most Jane Dough business owners report feeling satisfied with their current situation, they also report looking forward to creating even greater success in the future. She sees this as a challenge or a game – and an opportunity to continue building on the foundation she has constructed. Of all the five types of entrepreneurs, Jane Dough is the most likely to report feeling determined, hopeful and excited on a typical workday. One key way for Jane Dough to grow her business is to create multiple streams of income – and networking provides an avenue for doing so.

Why Jane Dough should network: To create alternative strategies for growth, Jane Dough must build her business so that it generates multiple streams of income. This mitigates risk associated with a downturn in one part of the business. Diversified products and services build credibility. Networking is an excellent way to diversify because it allows Jane Dough to partner with other businesswomen (or men) to offer products and services that fit naturally together, allowing both companies to grow.

How Jane Dough should network: Jane Dough’s best networking will happen with other business owners who have a similar Jane Dough mindset. She will benefit the most from relationships with like-minded people who have aggressive growth goals for their companies and similar drive and work styles to hers. When a business owner shares similar goals with networking partners, it is easier to support one another and see potential in partnering/networking and referrals. Jane Dough’s time is precious; it’s important to spend it wisely by developing enriching networking relationships only with those who have similar business goals.

Merry Jane business owners typically are building a part-time or "flexible time" business that gives her a creative outlet (whether she's an ad agency consultant or she makes beautiful artwork) that she can manage within specific constraints around her schedule. She may have a day-job, or need to be fully present for family or other pursuits. She realizes she could make more money by working longer hours, but she's happy with the tradeoff she has made because her business gives her tremendous freedom to work how and when she wants, around her other commitments. About 19 percent of women business owners fit into this category.

While Merry Jane relishes her freedom and flexibility, she also would like to obtain new customers and better market her business. Whether a Merry Jane business owner is experienced in marketing or not, research shows that most Merry Jane businesses grow through referral and word-of-mouth. To capitalize on these two avenues to business growth, Merry Jane must make the most of her limited time by creating low-maintenance, low-risk marketing strategies. Networking, through social media specifically, is one such strategy; Merry Jane can use it effectively to boost her growth without investing much of her limited time.

Why Merry Jane should network: Because Merry Jane business owners report having myriad responsibilities in addition to running their businesses – whether they stay home with their children, have a full-time job in addition to their company, or take care of aging parents – they often don’t have much time to spend on marketing. Therefore, growth occurs as a result of word-of-mouth. What better way to increase word-of-mouth referrals than to market the business through networking?

How Merry Jane should network: The simplest, lowest-maintenance form of marketing (and the least expensive), is social media. Using web sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, Merry Jane can quickly and effectively network online without leaving her home or spending much money (if any). These sites build networks almost effortlessly, and allow users to regularly post updates or messages their “friends” and “followers” can see. When Merry Jane participates in social media then, she is constantly at the top of her friends’ and followers’ minds, and she is able to seek partnership opportunities easily with people who are interested in her products and services.

Accidental Jane is a successful, confident business owner who never actually set out to start a business. Instead, she may have decided to start a business due to frustration with her job or a layoff and then she decided to use her business and personal contacts to strike out on her own. Or, she may have started making something that served her own unmet needs and found other customers with the same need, giving birth to a business. Although Accidental Jane may sometimes struggle with prioritizing what she needs to do next in her business, she enjoys what she does and is making good money. About 18% of all women business owners fit the Accidental Jane profile.

Like Merry Jane, Accidental Jane enjoys her time freedom. In her work, she strives to find ways to structure her business so she can do more of what she enjoys, and less of what she doesn’t. Also, she strives to find ways to work with people with whom she enjoys working. Accidental Jane has the expectation that her business is an ideal way to gain greater control over the critical aspects of her working life. Doing work she enjoys, for customers she cares about, delights her because she takes tremendous pride in a job well done and enormously values her relationships. One crucial element of Accidental Jane’s definition of success: “enough, but not too much, work.” For Accidental Jane, then, networking provides opportunities for creating referral partnerships that help her maintain her treasured balance.

Why Accidental Jane should network: Accidental Jane must build strong working relationships with other professionals so she can provide her customers with exceptional service without sacrificing the time freedom she holds so dear. For example, if a customer asks a graphic designer Accidental Jane for a huge design project that also includes copywriting services, Accidental Jane could refer the copywriting services to a professional with whom she has networked, saving herself the time but still providing her customer with great writing services. The customer is likely to return to Accidental Jane when future projects arise, and the copywriter is likely to refer design customers to Accidental Jane.

How Accidental Jane should network: Because Accidental Jane is often reluctant to hire employees (because she enjoys her freedom), she must become adept at partnering with other solo-preneurs to bring a broader range of services to her customers. Her desire to build trusting relationships, and to help others succeed, drives the formation of such networks. This can become a point of pride and a unique positioning for her business as she sells it as a customer advantage.

Networking is a crucial component of business strength and growth for any business owner; the best course of networking action depends on a business owner’s unique needs, characteristics and constraints.

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About Article Author

Michele DeKinder-Smith
Michele DeKinder-Smith

Michele DeKinder-Smith is the founder of Jane out of the Box, an online resource dedicated to the women entrepreneur community. Discover more incredibly useful information for running a small business by taking the FREE Jane Types Assessment at Jane out of the Box. Offering networking and marketing opportunities, key resources and mentorship from successful women in business, Jane Out of the Box is online at www.janeoutofthebox.com

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