I’ve been working on this networking diagram for months, adding names after each meeting (added a client today, thanks to Debbie). The idea started as a way to keep track of contacts (and being a visual gal I had to make it fancy). After a while I was struck by how many women I’ve met in the process of starting this little business. I went back through my notebook and found a few from the beginning stages whom I had forgotten. Definitely a work in progress.
Networking is painful for me. Asking for help is simply not a natural instinct. So the fact that I have a networking circle is something. I started with a small circle of relevant friends/ colleagues, made contacts through them and through these contacts, more. Yeah, I know this is truly networking 101 but you have to realize that I am not a social woman, in fact, I’m downright shy.
The idea that women unknown to me agreed to a meeting just because another woman’s name was in the subject line of my email, is pretty cool. The fact that most of them agreed right away to see me was a relief. And surprising. And gratifying. Most of the meetings resulted in another name or an idea; even if nothing concrete materialized these meetings kept me motivated. If these women were game to have coffee with me my idea must have some merit, right?
Call me crazy—or sexist—but I don’t think men do this for each other. I can’t imagine my husband or one of his friends reaching out to the friend of another guy for help. I can’t hear the words “Hi X, Y says you might be able to help me with my resume.” Admittedly, I married another wallflower so he might not be a strong case study. Something tells me most guys would have a hard time making a diagram like the one above. Let me know if you disagree.
I do know I owe the women I met with. Many of my clients came as a result of this networking. So did the idea for the business itself.