I received an Agony Aunt email from an anonymous person which says:
‘I am a young (22) year old new female graduate. I have always wanted to launch a social enterprise and was very involved with a couple whilst at university. I went along to my first face to face local business networking meeting a couple of weeks ago, and the room was filled with people who were much older than me. A couple of the older women there were really encouraging, but I found that I wasn’t taken seriously by most of the people (read: men) in the room.
How can I position myself to be taken seriously as a young female entrepreneur with limited experience. I don’t want to get disheartened, and want to do all I can to make sure that I have access to all that I will need to be successful.
Thanks so much.’
I am so sorry sorry to hear of your experience but this does still seem to be a common problem. I think things are changing slowly and a number of us recognise that many of the existing entrepreneur spaces are still dominated by older generally white men. We are a female-led social enterprise and our community is very much a space for women to network and get support from each other.
One thing that also may be considering are finding some good women-friendly networking spaces and communities. Some that may be worth looking at (a mix of free and paid for networks) are:
I hope some of these fulfil the need you are looking for and we would also love you go get involved with us to make this the kind of space and community that gives women entrepreneurs like yourself the support you need.
Are there any networks that anyone here could personally recommend? Ideally as a young female entrepreneur?
Whilst I’m not what I would call a ‘young’ female entrepreneur, I can resonate with some of what you are saying.
For me it comes down to confidence. A huge part of my gaining confidence has been being brave enough to join this community, and also brave enough to start talking to people about my ideas.
It sounds as though you have already been incredibly brave by joining a local business group and getting stuck in. I say two fingers to all the nay sayers. You will find a good community here who will cheer you on!
I can’t say that I understand how you feel, being a bloke, but I can say that it sounds like you’re doing a cracking job of getting out there and making it work. Much more proactive than me!
I can totally identify with this although I am no longer young! I would recommend finding some key allies and supporters that do take you seriously and can support and mentor you in positive way, maybe through some of the networks recommended? I have taken strength from those that beleive in me and tried to focus on that rather than those that don’t.
Very wise Lucy. welcome to the community! It’s great to have you here.
Don’t ever be ashamed of where you are in your journey.
Remember that most business use networking as a business development tool - they are projecting their insta-gram version of themselves - trust me, they are not as shiny or as filtered as it may appear.
Concentrate on building links with the people who interest you and being interested in them.
Be unapologetically you.
Be ready and willing to use outrage - if people are disrespectful or shady feel free to politely but assertively ask them to repeat themselves, or say “I’m not sure what you mean by that question, can you explain?”. In my experience if you do this… people who thrive off making others feel small are like spiders… they are actually more afraid of you than you are of them.
Hello, really sorry to hear about your networking experience. I have done quite a bit, with various groups. I am going to take the liberty of introducing you to Stefan Thomas a great friend of mine and author of a number of networking books including networking for dummies. I hope this helps. Stefan is on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Thanks Steve, I will look at that
Hi! I found that most people in a networking room arenot seasoned networkers anyway, and what might look like snubbing or looks over the shoulders boils down to the fact that people are not comfortable with communicating in general. A techniques that has worked over the years, is to
- join a group of people talking say hello and
- listen carefully
- then craft a question or two starting with What, how, where, how why… who… (a bit like a coaching question)
- if you have a resource that can help, share it (ask permission first, it makes people intrigued)
- WHen they ask you what you are working on - say what you are developing and have an specific ask ready to go. (by specific ask, i am not saying " how to develop a business plan, or how to do accounting) , something that only a person could help through a connection they might have, not just by taking a course or googling… Always have a specific question or two ready to pop.
It makes the convo much more focused, and people get interested.
Also, ask their opinion… they love it.
Then write a blog or a journal or a linkedin entry about what you’ve heard/ learned (keep names confidential of course), you’ll expand your readership on linkedin. Share your findings… Good luck!
People will find you eventually…
That’s a really good reflection. I know that I sometimes forget that others in the room might be nervous or struggling to know how to network.
Thank you for the reply and its very helpful.
I find the websites very encouraging as a social entrepreneur. Thank you