CEO & Founder Criya – Empowering women to turn their side hustles into booming businesses.
In a world where the scales are largely tipped against women in business, e.g., less than 2.3% of venture capital funding goes to women-led startups, the only way to break through the ceiling is by working together. And this applies not only to venture-funded startups but also applies to getting ahead as a business owner—from getting introductions; building strategic partnerships, mentorships and connections with people of influence; and opportunities to grow and forge your own influence as an entrepreneur.
Being a founder is a lot about developing a Female Founder mindset, which I talk a lot about on Criya’s blog. This comes with time, experience and being surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs who’ve experienced what you have and have forged their path across the hurdles. I’ve summarized a 5-step approach for female founders to start building their brand reputation and expand their referral network.
1. Online Networking: Not everyone is excited when they hear they need to attend yet another networking event. Especially since Covid, in-person events are few, and the number of virtual zoom-based events has significantly taken over Eventbrite. This is a lucky shift for those who understand the value of networking. People are far more open to meeting, setting up 1:1 sessions and building relationships since the barrier to being present is lower. Once you’ve built a genuine connection, you will be on their mind, independent of whether you met them online or in person.
2. Conferences: While online events can get you to events all over the country via Zoom, nothing beats an in-person trade show or conference. The smaller the conference, I noticed, the more powerful the connection. With fewer distractions, set agendas and conference tracks, you can mingle with those who are on a similar journey as you and learn to develop the relationship via Zoom after the event.
3. Local Chapters: Enroll yourself in local small business chapters such as the Chamber of Commerce. Not only will you be invited to resources and events related to your business, but these forums are also built for serious referrals. Those attending these events are attending with the same intention as you, and the hanced of growing your network with like-minded entrepreneurs is significantly more powerful when you become a locally known figure through these forums.
4. Collaborate With Influencers: A lot of what we see large companies do today is tapping into the influence of social media influencers. It’s not just to drive sales, but it’s to build brand awareness. Similarly, I’d encourage you to reach out to influencers in your space and develop a relationship with them. If you are able to offer value to them through your service, they will be willing to be your advocate and automatically drive referrals your way.
5. Build A System: Everything in a business operates well if it’s built into a system. Outside resources can play a huge role in not only setting up founders with their own services and back office tools but also a lead and contact management system so you can stay on top of everyone you’ve come in contact with, worked with or those who have discovered you and sought out your services. These are your strongest allies, and having a clear way to know who they are, how you’ve engaged them and how you can continue to add value to them is crucial.
Bonus: End every conversation with a warm invitation to be a part of your phenomenal journey.
A lot of us hesitate as we don’t know where to begin—and a lot of that is about the right tools and processes, but more often than not, it’s about having the right mindset. Do not get discouraged by these statistics I’ve shared. To women everywhere: We have all the skills, resources and mindset to change the narrative for entrepreneurs all over the world.