Making connections…

March brings with it International Women’s Day (March 8) – a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. On this same day we will celebrate the finalists who have been nominated for the WBN’s Businesswoman of the Year in the professional, corporate and entrepreneur categories. What an exciting time for these very special women, and for women in general – we’ve come a long way, and in our own way. What do I mean by this? Let me explain….

“With a growing membership, the WBN has been inspiring and connecting business women in the National Capital for 30 years. Providing various networking opportunities both online and off, members enjoy valuable educational content, building solid business relationships and exchanging knowledge for personal and professional gain.”

Many times this year, I have found myself presented with wonderful and exciting opportunities for the WBN – and we have to evaluate those opportunities in the context of our mandate – is this providing WBN members with a networking opportunity – we are, after all, a networking organization? This has lead me to explore the idea – how do women network and why?

A Forbes article on “How Women Network” – implies that women prefer to meet, share and connect in ways that men do not. Women take a “relational approach” to networking. Women look to develop lasting relationships that can lead to future work, sales leads or partnerships. Men tend to say – what do I need right now, and who can help me get it – they ask for things simply. Men take a “transactional approach” to networking.

Women tend to evaluate more – we don’t say what can this person do for me, but rather what can I do for her? There is much more give and take when women make connections. We are often hoping that we will connect with someone, and even if they can’t help us today, they will think of you in the future, and therefore no connection is wasted, even if there is no immediate transaction. Women listen, and women share what they have learned, we aren’t afraid to ask for directions in business, or ask for help. In the end our role is sell ourselves – to make people feel like you are responsible, reliable and smart and that they should work with you.

So – what does this mean for us as a networking organization? Our mandate is to provide networking opportunities where women can connect, network to build strong relationships, provide women with the ability to mentor others, and build great friendships.

Have you joined the WBN, but not come out to our events? I hate to state the obvious, but it is quite difficult to have a relationship with other members while sitting at your desk at the office.

Have you joined a committee? What a better way to show your skills, to show that you can commit to a task and deliver. We all hesitate to refer work to someone if you aren’t sure the person will deliver what they promised. But the benefit of working alongside someone on a committee is that you can see what their work habits are like – do they show up? Are they on time? Do they give it 100% of their effort? Once you work with someone on a volunteer basis, it goes a long way to feeling good about working with that person on a business basis.

Can this be done through social media – yes it can, but only if you participate in social media – have you liked someone’s comment, posted on our wall, shared information about an interaction you have had with a fellow member? Are you connected to people through LinkedIn? What a great way to give someone your resume, and qualifications on a business level, so people can seek you out, and read up about you. Have you updated your profile? Have you shared some of your expertise? What better way to showcase your knowledge through social media. Are you connecting with people of similar interests and passions? Are you keeping in touch?

Networking requires effort – and it is much more than just handing someone your business card. Are you reaching out to your fellow WBN members? Are you building relationships? Making connections? I continue to challenge you to all reach out to your fellow members, and take full advantage of what it means to be part of the WBN.

I wish you all a month filled with inspiration and celebrated achievements!

Rosa Maria Iuliano

Rosa Maria Iuliano
2011-2012 President