Sandra Yancey, founder of eWomenNetwork, sits down with us to talk about how to be an effective businesswoman -- looking specifically at how to network, sell and take advantage of the business opportunities created by this economy. Read her earlier interview here, Advice from a Successful CEO: Give, Delegate & Gain Access.
You say that networking is giving first. Can you explain?
In traditional forms of networking, people show up and say, what am I going to get?
A great network is great relationships. Sometimes rolodex-builders miss that it’s not about contacts – it’s about connections. I would rather know 10 people and know them well than have a stack of 1000 cards and not be able to put a name to a face.
It’s not about talking; it’s about listening. Ask people, How can I help you? Who’s your ideal client? If you could change one thing about your business to open the floodgates of possibility, what would that be?
Take your business card, and on the back side, the empty side, give a lead – someone you can connect them with, a website they should visit, etc. When I met Maria Shriver, she wrote down the name and number of the executive director of The Women’s Conference on the back of her card for me.
When you help others, you’re building a great network. You’re making deposits into a bank account. Then you have something to draw on when you need to.
What advice would you give to those in The Women's Conference community who feel uncomfortable promoting themselves?
You have to ask yourself, Do I believe that I have something that will make a difference to someone else? Take the sales lens off and start looking at it as I’m offering something that will make a difference with the problem someone else is having.
If promoting yourself is really making you uncomfortable – ask yourself, Why am I offering this? Have I done enough investigating to know that what I have will impact someone in a positive way? Then you can be confident that you’re offering something to make their lives better.
You talk a lot about "glow" -- what is it and why is it important?
Glow is that combustion of success and happiness. We don’t have to be afraid of embracing our brilliance; we can be beautiful and talented – and amazing.
When you walk away from someone you’ve just met and you say, “Wow, there’s something about her – what is it?” I think it’s this glow. We use words that speak to light to describe people who are their best selves – ”She beams,” “She’s enlightened,” “She’s on fire.”
I’ve met some amazing women in my life who truly glow. It dawned on me that we need to chronicle this – which is why I made my movie The GLOW Project. We so often look at these women and dismiss their success – they must come from money, etc. But these are everyday women who made it happen.
Does the downturn in the economy provide opportunity for small business owners?
The truth is, in this economy, the weak can’t survive. If, however, you are strong, the current economy provides a benefit to capitalize on. You will never be in a position of less competition than you are right now. Never. The people that are working it now – who are adjusting and adapting – they’ll be so far ahead when others get in the game.
The new name of the game is “coopetition.” Now we have to think differently; we have to collaborate with our competition. Combine together with your competition to market to a finicky buyer who wants more for less. Your customer is elated; they got more than they got before -- and you created something you couldn’t have done on your own.
Meanwhile, everything is on sale. You want to move your office out of your house? Commercial real estate has never been cheaper. You can hire people as contractors – people are bartering – it’s an employer’s market. I’m hiring people I couldn’t have afforded 5 years ago. People are using this time to build business infrastructure while things are more economical.
What's next for you?
I believe in focusing on the fundamentals. I’m really clear on the value that eWomenNetwork provides – and I want to do way more of it.
I’ve invested in a full-time recruiter to look at virgin markets (where we don’t have a chapter) – both in the U.S. and abroad. We’re going to see an influx of entrepreneurs like never before. They need the fundamentals to be successful; eWomenNetwork provides that to them.
With Glow we’re opening up our own social network for women about positivity, owning their passion, monetizing it and making it big. We’ve been contacted by major corporations to launch 2-day Glow Training within their corporations.
We have a Foundation – raising thousands of dollars to give to amazing nonprofits that help women and children in need.
It’s all about identifying transformational opportunities and seizing them. No one will probably never have this level of opportunity again as it’s available now.
Sandra Yancey is the founder & CEO of eWomenNetwork, producer of the GLOW Project and an ABC radio show host. She has received the Excellence in Leadership from the Euro-American Women’s Council, Athens Greece, Entrepreneur Star Award from Microsoft, Woman Advocate of the Year Award from Women’s Regional Publishing, and American Hero by CNN. She is an impassioned philanthropist dedicated to helping women and girls succeed.