At one of my recent workshops I was asked about decision making in business. Namely, how does a fempreneur make decisions about what opportunities to take, or not?
I find that as a fempreneur myself, I am faced with decisions that either indirectly or directly affect my business on a regular basis. The amount of opportunities presented that require a decision can be many. A common example I see for which many of my clients have felt overwhelmed, is the amount of invitations they receive to participate in various networking or business events, groups and sponsorship opportunities.
You may find that you’re networking and making some great connections at various events and groups, but that you’re not following up with those great new connections or taking time to follow through with something you said you’d do. That could send a negative message that you’re not referable (if that continues), and I imagine you probably would like referrals for your service or product. Even if you are keeping up, it may feel that there’s not much time left for other critical business activities, or getting actual work done. However, there may be many groups and events that really are a great opportunity for you to increase business and get exposure.
What to do?
Opt for a balance in networking opportunities- participate in those few you most enjoy and that support you and your business goals; then mark your calendar to “sprinkle” some other ones you’d like to explore or visit from time to time. That way you feel focused on your core networking investments and are making the most of them, while simultaneously exploring unique opportunities for exposure and relationship building. Discovering your core networking “mix” can involve getting out there and trying some, seeing what you like and what works best for you.
Eliminating a great networking or collaborative opportunity can be challenging especially if you really like the people involved. But such investments come down to the bottom line- will it help you get closer to your business goals? Does it fulfill a greater purpose or need you have as an entrepreneur (e.g. professional development, new ideas, giving back to the community)? If not, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it- ultimately, it’s up to you. It’s just important to make intentional choices. That way, your expectations for participating or investing in something can align with actual outcomes or potential return on investment (or lack thereof).
Another good business reason for making a decision about your core networking mix, is you don’t want to have over-reliance on networking as a marketing strategy if there are other ways that could be as, or more productive in developing lasting success. By making tough, but intentional choices when it comes to networking, you leave room for investing resources in other marketing strategies to engage and attract your audience, whether it be social media, blogging, advertising, affiliate marketing, speaking, etc. When you consider what role networking has in your overall “marketing mix” to reach your business goals, you’ll have more clarity about what opportunities to say yes to.
In the San Diego small business community there are more than enough of networking opportunities, and I’m regularly evaluating which ones to try, keep, and decrease or eliminate my involvement. Being proactive about your decisions when it comes to networking means regularly assessing your core networking mix. On a quarterly or semi-annual basis, evaluate the groups you’re involved in to ensure they’re still relevant, to make the most of them, and to consider if there’s room for new groups and events. After all, you’ve got to have a strong Hub!
Do you have other suggestions about decision making in business or specifically when it comes to networking? Please comment below or share on social!