The lifeblood of a professional career is the quality of your network. We get job opportunities through our networks. We get ideas, advice, and customer leads. Business is no different, for the smart and forward-thinking entrepreneur, networking with other people is the path to survival and success. Through networking, you might meet someone who will help you found a company, become your greatest buyer, market your product to millions, or change your life for good. None of this is possible, however, unless you get out there and meet people.
But as women, we don’t always take advantage of our networks the way we should. We’re often heads down: knocking out projects at the office and then keeping things running at home. Especially in Africa where women play central role in the economy, which means that their hours of work are long. Women also have the added responsibilities of caring for children and the elderly leaving little time for networking.
And we tend to ignore the networking that men seem to do so well.
And to our detriment.
Having been in business for over 3 years now, it amazes me over and over again how social capital is the most essential capital. You are only as strong as your weakest link. Who knows you and how do they know you. But being the most essential, it is also the hardest to cultivate. You can walk up to a bank and ask for money, easy. But where are you going to go and ask to be included on a certain network of investors/ entrepreneurs…name it. Mix this hardship with being female and it gets worse. As a woman, you are raised with the attitude that people should run after you not the other way round. God forbid you ask anyone (especially men) out. Even if it’s for a simple lunch, it’ll make you look a “certain” way. So how do you, dear female hack this?
If you want to advance your career or business you have to focus on networking and be explicit about it. I know this and that is why at Zimba, we are building a community of female entrepreneurs (Zimba Women) to support and inspire one another. We aim to provide business education and resources for women, facilitate opportunities for you to connect, learn and be inspired by mentors, role models and each other. And the best part of this we offer tailor made technical support, adapted to the innovation needs of each individual entrepreneur. You can apply to join the Zimba Women project by filling out this form: http://bit.ly/1NhVA0s