Blog: Women’s Exchange of Washtenaw

Concentrate gets in touch with its anima. We've invited five local women, all movers and shakers, to weigh in on what it means for them to do business in the new economy. It's in recognition of the Women's Exchange of Washtenaw's May 15th annual forum, "Now We're Talking".

Post 3: Marisa Smith - Build Your Own "Old Girls Network"

Every businesswoman I know is being challenged by the current economic climate, but the ones who are navigating the rough terrain most successfully are the "Networking Queens".  These ladies are booking their calendars with coffee and lunch dates, they've built a fabulous LinkedIn profile, and are reaching out to their connections regularly.  Most importantly, they are smart enough to build their connections in multiple areas - they don't just view networking as a chance to meet potential customers, but they're also on the lookout for like-minded people who could be potential partners in new business ventures, could offer complimentary services to their clients, or have skills to help them solve their business problems.

Another thing you'll notice is that the networks these women are building are comprised PRIMARILY of other women.  Why? I don't have research to back this up, but I think it's because women are more oriented to helping others.  The businesswomen I know are always on the lookout for opportunities for their colleagues, and they understand that women who receive help from you are more likely to give YOU help when you need it. Maybe it's the "thank you note culture" we women have been raised in - we're taught to reciprocate a kind gesture with another kind gesture, and we seem to apply the same thinking to business connections and collaborations. 

My point is that if you're facing some challenges right now, don't be afraid to get out there and connect with other women to see who can help you.  And if you're rolling around naked in piles of money eating bon-bons, put your clothes on and make some lunch dates!  Even if you don't think you need any help right now, you never know when you might need it in the future, and it's better to have your network ready and waiting for you to tap into it.

Marisa Smith is Founder and President of The Whole Brain Group, an Ann Arbor-based web application development company devoted to helping clients work smarter and greener.  Her company's electronic solutions automate repetitive tasks, get rid of piles of paper, and allow people to focus on the quality of their work.  Marisa is a LinkedIn junkie, attends scores of networking events every year, and also uses twitter, Facebook, to maintain her "Networking Queen" status.