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One of the challenges women have internationally, and has been emphasized in many African countries, is the overwhelming responsibility to the extended family and community, not to mention the role of mother, wife and career woman. Perhaps the biggest difference between women in Africa and women in the West is:
- The responsibility to the extended family and community
- The lack of presence of the husbands in many of the above stated activities.
As career women we have to have avenues to connect or we will be challenged to expand our knowledge, gain alliances, find suppliers and mentors to assist us to meet the ever change business environment.
Suggestions to make connections:
- Associations: If you are anything like me, you may want to figure things out on your own. I always like the challenge. This is not a bad approach but definitely limiting. My business did not become diversified until I joined a fantastic networking group called CAPS (Canadian Associations of Professional Speakers) and the GSF (Global Speakers Federation). Although I had been a member to many associations, it was not until I joined these two did I find the material I was learning was expanding my knowledge. For the fist time I felt like I was meeting peers I could collaborate with and learn from. Although most associations aspire to provide this type of network, not all of them succeed.
Prior to joining an association it is best to be clear on your objectives. What do you want from the Association? Suppliers? New clients? Knowledge sharing? To learning a new skill? To make new friends? Establishing a clear objective will assist you with selecting the right association for your development.
- Visit www.wisdomexchangetv.com under “resource” tab to find associations you may want to join in your area.
- I recommend joining a couple different groups. One where your clients are and one for your own personal development. You may want to join a women’s association, which is a great idea. Do consider, however, if many of the larger businesses in your industry are owned by men, and your goal is to gain customers, you may want to consider a different association.
2. Linkedin – If you don’t have a profile you want to do this now. If you don’t do it, often profiles get created for you. Creating a profile is just a first step. Populating it with relevant information that positions you and your business is the second. The third is find contacts that you want to make.
One of the best ways to connect is join groups. Once you join, participate in the conversation. I have often asked question of my Linkedin groups to help find a supplier, deal with a business challenge or to get recommendations. The more people see you, the more they will feel connected and answer your questions when you post them.
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3. Facebook– Is another wonderful way to connect. You can create Fan pages and provide relevant information to your Fans. You can learn how to gain fans by subscribing to Get 10,000 Fans. I use my Facebook page for business (Five unique fanpages – Suzanne F Stevens, Wisdom Exchange TV, Ignite Excellence (igniteU), Persuasive Presentations, Ignite Excellence Foundation) and personal use. You may not want to mix the two up. I find by mixing my personal page and business page together, I learn the more personal side of my business associates. This assists me in deciding who I would want to collaborate with by gaining insight into their character. As business people we may include some ‘fun’ elements on our pages, but at this age the crazy party shots may no longer be appropriate. Safe to say, if you are comfortable sharing it with your mother, it is probably ok on your page.
4. Join a club. Become apart of a professional club like Toastmasters or the Rotary club. Participate in a charity or a project that gives back to the community. These are excellent ways of getting to know people in a more casual setting. Often removing yourself from the business environment can provide for the best way to really get to know someone and ultimately to leverage each other sphere of influence.
5. Participate in Forums – There are many forums that may be available for your business besides linkedin. You may have to spend time conducting research on the internet. There are women all over the world who we can learn from. Here are some suggestions.
Action: These are some suggestion, but the best suggestion I can give you is join an association, but just don’t be member, get involved. Become a board member. This is where your networks will be the strongest and your learning expedited. Not to mention you will increase connections and therefore business collaborators.
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Traveling through Africa 2011/2012 – conducting Wisdom Exchange tv Leading Lady interviews
Suzanne F Stevens, is the Chief Edge Optimizer of the Ignite Excellence Inc. Group of Initiatives. As Keynote Speaker, Trainer, Coach, Host and Philanthropist, she inspires, develops and invests in people to push their edge to personal and professional potential from backpack, to briefcase to boardroom. As a trainer, Suzanne’s influential business communication training arms individuals and organizations to influence, differentiate and engage more people and more business. Visit www.igniteU.igniteexcellence.com for online influence university. Self-pace business training for your career growth!
Visit our other Ignite Excellence Group of initiatives’ websites with corresponding blogs.
Suzanne F Stevens – Profiling women leaders who have pushed their edge to personal or professional potential from backpack to briefcase to boardroom
igniteU – Online influence university. Self-paced learning to develop your business skills for your business success.
Ignite Excellence Foundation – Leadership, Advocacy, Education – following donations to scholarships for women in developing countries
Wisdom Exchange TV – A forum where women will be inspired from the achievements of African women in business, education, philanthropy and politics.
You Me & We – a husbands and wife’s journey through Africa in 2011/12
Ignite Excellence Inc. – Influence, Differentiate, Engage more people and more business – a training & development company