Women To Watch - Page 41 - Networking Tips

Women To Watch
- Page 41
Networking Tips
and events in between their meetings.

Linda Schenk, 45, marketing strategist and designer, has facilitated several groups online, including the Jewish Community Services Entrepreneur and Business Meetup, and another meetup group strictly for female professionals. The internet has made it easy to find, share and
create such events, share relevant professional content, connect with other professionals and make introductions.

“It’s been an exponential kind of change. Now, with social media, you can reach a lot more people with very little effort,” Smith said.

Tammira Lucas, 31, of Middle River, created the online Meetup group Baltimore Mom Entrepreneurs in response to the lack of networking opportunities for that demographic. While the 40-member group communicates largely online, Lucas, owner of co-working space The Cube, hosts monthly midday networking events, allowing stay-at-home moms and mothers with unconventional schedules to gather (baby sitters provided).

Still, social media has not served as a replacement for in-person communication, said Smith, who referred to the medium as “antiseptic.”

“You can’t really get that face-to-face contact and learn about somebody sitting over a cup of coffee, glass of wine or something after work,” she said. “You just don’t get that same connection.”

Lucas, who has been networking since starting her first business around 15 years ago, said that the number of networking events that bring people face-to-face has seemed to decrease with the advent of social media. More value has been placed on online popularity and less on in-person communication, which means people have become less adept at socializing with strangers.

“It can be a hindrance to business,” she said, and building an enduring relationship or networking exclusively online is rare, according to Murphy.

“It’s just a starting point or a way to keep up with what people are doing,” she said. Offline is where “the really interesting interactions happen.”

While all-women networking groups have their benefits, they can also pose challenges, according to Murphy.

There’s a fear that female-only networking groups can be insular or create environments that might not translate well to workplaces that are commonly unisex, Murphy said, so much so that major companies like Deloitte have scrapped professional women and minority groups because they felt members weren’t forming relationships with people outside of those circles.

But for Smith and others in all-female networking groups, it’s safe to say they’ve found their tribe.

“When women gather, magic happens,” she said. “We make it happen.”