According to a Bill and Melinda Gates research, Sub-saharan Africa, has the largest number of female entrepreneurs more than any other region in the world. Still, the road to success can feel overwhelmingly lonely without the right friends and a network that fully supports you.
Women have come together in world-changing ways for empowering movements but female entrepreneurs have lengths to go when it comes to connecting with networks that will fuel their empire-building ambition and lead the way for generations of female CEOs to come.
In traditionally male-dominated fields, coming together and creating those networks is an uphill task. A study on professional networking found that women met 42 percent fewer new contacts, spent 48 percent less time talking to them and added 25 percent fewer connections on LinkedIn than men at conferences.
They were friendships that led to mentorships, opportunities and, above all else, connection. The good news is, it is possible to build these types of relationships but you need to do it with intention.
It all begins by surrounding yourself with the right women. There are five friendships that I recommend all female entrepreneurs have. With these five women by your side, you’ll start to change the course of your entrepreneurial journey — and theirs!
1) The Experienced Entrepreneur
When you’re staring at an enormous obstacle, this woman helps you see what’s possible, especially as a fellow female entrepreneur. This friend can also act as a mentor as you enter uncharted waters and make your own way. Since women face unique challenges in business, it is critical to have this experienced entrepreneur on your side.
2) The Passionate Protegé
All successful women in business will agree that without female examples to follow, breaking into an industry or becoming successful is like trying to get somewhere on a stationary bike. Why not pay it forward by acting as the mentor you would’ve wanted for those looking to follow in your footsteps? With each coffee break and lunch date, you’ll get to revisit and appreciate your own journey as you lead up and coming women through the wild world of being the boss.
3) The Local Liaison
If 99 percent of the interaction you get in a day is through email, you need to make finding a local liaison your first priority. Connecting in real life over a chai tea or glass of wine can be life-giving to the maxed-out, always online female entrepreneur. Plus, in our global economy, having a local business friend is invaluable, reach out to a fellow female entrepreneur in your area and get out of the office for once!
4) The Industry Ally
Trying to talk business with your partner or best friend can feel like you’re interpreting a foreign language. You need that friend who you can geek out with over industry news, who understands all your jargon and gets the ins and outs of your business world. She’ll keep you up-to-date on insights you might have missed and help you maintain your sanity when it feels like no one else understands what’s going on in the day-to-day of your business.
5) The Super Connector
You know that friend who seems to know everyone? The one who boasts a massive number of Facebook or Instagram friends she actually keeps in touch with? This social butterfly will help you expand your circle in ways you never imagined. It’s always good to have a friend like this, but for female entrepreneurs, this woman could give you the “in” needed to shatter the glass ceiling or enter a business opportunity you weren’t privy to from your own network.
These empowering relationships will serve as a foundation for you to build take massive leaps with building your own business. Take a closer look at who you are surrounding yourself with in business and identify the females you need to add to your circle. Then start building those relationships one brunch at a time!