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The importance of networking and how to network

In the business world, networking is a very important tool. But what does networking mean and why does it matter? And more importantly, how do you get started?

Why should I network?

Whether you’re just starting your business, or accelerating it to the next stage, surrounding yourself with the right people can make all the difference.

Networking can be informal or formal – from grabbing a cup of coffee to attending organised events. Networking opportunities have the power to generate meaningful and lasting relationships, and are a great chance to learn from others.

As a female entrepreneur, maintaining a strong inner network is especially important. Why? Networking with other women can be a safe space to share stories, lessons learnt and challenges faced. It can also be a huge encouragement when building your business to be part of an inspiring community that is willing to support each other. Networking can also lead to finding your ideal coach or mentor, further expanding your network through theirs.

How do I network?

Networking is about building authentic relationships, with a focus on quality over quantity.

It can be intimidating to approach new people – but try not to worry about saying or asking the wrong thing.

The most successful women have networks across a range of sectors, locations, and stages of business. should not be thought of as an additional task or transaction, rather. If you’re going to a networking event, here are some tips:

Before networking, figure out your objectives and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there a specific person or people at an event you want to meet?
  • Are you able to research these people prior to meeting?
  • What similarities could you use to break the ice to form that genuine relationship?
  • What are you hoping to take away and contribute from attending this networking event?

After meeting someone:

  • Exchange details and follow up with an email
  • Say thank you for their time. A simple thank you goes a long way, and shows you valued their time and expertise. This also demonstrates you are interested in maintaining that connection.

Top tip:

Don’t box yourself in! Attend events related to your business, sector and region that aren’t organised for the sole purpose of networking. Expand the kinds of events you go to – you never know what you might gain! You can still meet those with similar interests informally.

Where can I find networks?

Networks designed for women exist throughout the UK and abroad. To find a network that suits you, our network finder tool is a great place to start.