As a female entrepreneur, you recognize that connection is an essential part of building a successful business. Whether connecting with other entrepreneurs through networking and communities or with your audience through social media, quality relationships mean progress toward success. But, we’ve all been in situations that feel awkward and often don’t result in building our businesses. So what is the secret to connecting well?
The key to overcoming the obstacle of awkwardness in networking or social posts that never seem to lead to conversions is simple. Remember that it’s not about you.
Let’s start with entrepreneur networking events. Networking can certainly feel forced or awkward. Even if you are the mingling queen, you might struggle with events that never seem to pan out. It’s easy to feel like you’re wasting your time.
Most business owners think the best way to approach networking is to have the perfect elevator pitch. You memorize what to say and exactly how to say it to make sure that whoever is hearing it recognizes that your business offers the solution to their problem or the problem of anyone they know. You practice your pitch. You time it. And you leave your house (or join the Zoom meeting) with your business card or follow up email at the ready. How often do you find yourself frustrated a week later when your inbox isn’t full of inquiries and your expectation of a flood of incoming leads goes unrealized?
In Entrepreneurship: The Secret Lies in the Law of Reciprocity
In an article on forbes.com by the Young Entrepreneur Council, the author suggests you should give 10 times more than you expect to receive. The result, they conclude is you will find the resources you need and you’ll lift up other female entrepreneurs in the process. This is the law of reciprocity and you’re probably already using it somewhere in your funnel.
If you offer a freebie: content like a download or free webinar on your landing page, you ask for an email address in return. This is the principle of reciprocation in action. It’s human nature to feel obliged to give back when we receive something.
Think about a networking scenario, who do you think is going to make a lasting positive impression and will receive further communication, the entrepreneur who has a perfect elevator pitch or the woman who finds out all about who you are and how she might be able to support you?
How to Use Reciprocity for Networking
Seek to have a genuine conversation.
- Find out about the people you’re networking with. Ask open and authentic questions to as many people as you can. It’s a great way to find out who in the room you might sincerely be able to help.
- Empower your fellow networkers talk about themselves. Find out if you have something to give whether it’s a service, a suggestion, a resource, or some advice. You’ll find you’re better able to create “give first” connections that will likely lead to a win-win result.
- Don’t think about the event as a means to a sale. Listen with the intent to hear, not to speak. If you do, you’ll find the road to meaningful connections leads to a business relationship, mentorship, or eventual sale.
For female entrepreneurs, it’s great to remember that networking can also be thought of as an opportunity to collaborate on projects or ideas. You can use networking opportunities as a sounding board. You’ll find it’s easy to connect with like-minded individuals or a group when you’re sharing a story about your next big idea. Even sharing a story is a way of giving. Others will feel empowered to share their stories with you and soon a deeper connection is created.
Customer Connections and Social Media
The best way to build deeper connections on social media, whether on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, is to remember the content you’re sharing should always provide value to your ideal clients.
Social media is often regarded as a push-marketing platform. According to Hubspot:
Push marketing is a strategy focused on “pushing” products to a specific audience. The goal is to bring what you offer to customers in your marketing. Social media channels are considered to be “push” sources because they’re great for launching new or niche products.
Push marketing generally happens through social media advertising to push your product or service in front of an audience. But, it may not be the best way to create a deeper connection with your audience, especially if you are a startup.
To connect, you’ll want to “pull” them in.
Pull marketing is about building brand buzz-worthiness. It focuses on finding out more about your potential customers and how you can serve them by interacting and connecting. This is often referred to as inbound marketing. Here are a few points to remember when connecting with your customers on social media:
- Your most aligned audience will have questions that you can answer. Make sure to answer questions clearly and succinctly to avoid creating friction. Keep in mind that connecting on social media is a long-term strategy.
- Be available. Make sure you’re available for at least 30 minutes after you post. This is the time frame in which most people will comment or have a question. If you’re there in real-time you’re providing an on-the-spot service.
- Be consistent. Your audience is building a connection with you whenever they see your social media posts. They will begin to count on you as an authority in the space. You’ll form a deeper connection by being consistent. Remember that people like to do business with brands they know, like, and trust.
When you start by giving value and provide consistency, you build relationships with your customers that are necessary to push your business forward.
Build Deeper Connections in Your Communities and Organizations
As a female founder, you may belong to several different types of professional women’s groups, organizations, or communities. Becoming part of a community is a great start but building the connections to move your business and success forward will depend on continuing to contribute to those in your community.
It’s not enough just to be a member. The real magic is in becoming someone who others in the community can count on to be there. In other words, show up. Being a member of any organization means you’re willing to commit time and energy to build the community. In response, the community can help you by connecting you with the resources and people that can help you best.
The KNOW Women memberships, both Global and Elite, were built on a foundational truth: Deep, lasting relationships and connections are made by not only being part of the group but by being a contributing member of the group. When you provide ideas, welcome others’ ideas, collaborate, and share experiences you create a strong connection with like-minded women entrepreneurs.
Most female business owners think the secret to building important connections can be found in easily recited quotes like, “It’s who you know” and “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Successful women entrepreneurs know the most important secret to create the connections that matter is to remember that in any relationship you are there to serve first. You’ll find that the inevitable positive result is deeper connections with people who care about helping you to rise.