Don’t women entrepreneurs deserve a “sisterhood”?
There’s the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. There’s the one about the traveling pants and the seven sisters. Yet, when it comes to women and small business owners, rarely do we refer to it as a sisterhood.
Maybe it’s a deep-seated need to be one of the boys, or a general insecurity to show our vulnerabilities, but some women have been shy to embrace their gender as an asset, not a detriment, when it comes to business.
This isn’t a call for femininity.
Rather, a call to join forces and share in our strength as leaders, decision makers and philanthropists in our communities.
Recognizing and connecting with other businesswomen can help create a support system, as well as a venue in which to seek advice and partnerships.
But building a sisterhood can be as simple as reaching out to organizations and charities that support causes that matter to women.
As sisters, daughters, wives and girlfriends, businesswomen share a unique quality for cultivating relationships with other women. Yet we realize that finding other women business owners may not always be easy.
There are many tools—online and off, that can be used to create a sisterhood of business owners:
1. Make it a Company Value
With four strong women at the helm (well, five if you count Sisarina, our imaginary name-sake), our business is based on the merits of sisterhood—that is, working to promote the shared conditions, experiences, or concerns of women. This, of course, doesn’t mean that we exclude men, or de-value their contributions.
Rather, it means that we are always looking for ways to support, promote and collaborate with other women.
Here’s a great read from Success Magazine on “good business,” i.e. business that makes a difference.
2. Create Networking Opportunities
Don’t underestimate your own community. If you’re seeking mentorship, invite a local businesswoman to lunch. There may even be a group that already meets – if not, start one!
Social events like Tweetups & Meetups are a great way to engage women entrepreneurs and other professionals in your area.
In addition, these events can help to raise money and awareness for organizations dedicated to improving the lives of women around the world.
Tip: To find the appropriate location for your event, meet with local restaurants and bars. Most likely, they’ll be open to offering specials exclusive to your event—after all it’s good business for them too and it helps to build good community relations.
3. Socialize Your Marketing Campaign
With many successful businesswomen using Twitter, build a few lists to follow (here are 9 reasons why you should be in love with Twitter lists), from women in your area to women you admire. Follow them, read their blog posts, ask them questions and share your links.
There are over 500 pages and groups for women business owners on Facebook. Join and engage with them online. It’ll be a good resource for making contacts and learning about events.
Just like their tagline, Relationships Matter on LinkedIn. You may learn that you share common connections with other women business owners. Having something or someone in common makes approaching others easier.
Join groups, share resources, ask questions and cultivate relationships.
4. Find a Cause
Passionate about breast cancer research or want to help women in Afghanistan? Whether it’s in your community or halfway around the world, there are many ways your business can support and promote social causes.
Offer to donate proceeds from your social networking events to charities – not only does community service feel good it can also help to promote connections with others.
5. Don’t Exclude Men
Owning a small business comes with its own challenges—many of which are the same if you’re a man or women.
Don’t exclude men from the conversation—their stories and experiences can provide valuable insight. Providing your own perspective can enlighten others as well as facilitate informative exchanges and business strategies.
The Bottom Line
Building a network of supporters is never a bad thing. Whether you find strength online or IRL (in real life), just knowing that there are others who you can turn to with questions or support can take some of the pressure off of being a business owner. As for many things in life, you will rarely find yourself alone.
So reach out and network, engage and cultivate relationships with others. You’ll find your sisterhood does make a difference.
- Revisit Patricia Frame’s Women Grow Business series on capacity building
- Who knew? 10 things women can learn from men in business is a great read at Shine from Yahoo!
- How to give others the opportunity to help you, and contributor Thursday Bram ponders follow-up, the secret of networking, over at Grow Smart Business
Image: Denise Carbonell, Creative Commons
Melanie Spring is the principal and project director at Sisarina Inc., and an avid reader of Women Grow Business. An expert networker, Melanie and Sisarina connect individuals and companies with the tools they need to market and promote their brand successfully and efficiently. Connect with her on Twitter where she’s @sisarina.