Running a staffing firm can be lonely, and if you’re a woman it’s easy to feel even more isolated. But don’t worry, we caught up with a few women who have dealt with that very thing, and they say if you’re willing to put in the networking legwork, it’s easy to get connected.
1) Connect with the Pros
When Julie Brown, president of San Diego Insurance Staffing, moved from working in the insurance industry to placing workers there 17 years ago, she used professional associations right from the beginning. And a big Launchpad was the American Staffing Association’s annual conference.
“I went to every exhibitor, asked every question, took every class,”
says Brown. “It was amazing how helpful the vendors were.”
Brown also appreciated the training at the conference. “It was a huge resource for me – and still is,” she says of the association.
2) Get with an Organization
Since the ASA, Brown has served on boards of state and local professional associations. And Laurie Kahn, founder and president of Media Staffing Network in Scottsdale, Ariz., has experienced similar success in developing her business skills by joining organizations.
Kahn compiled an advisory board and also joined professional organizations such as the Women Presidents’ Organization, which in turn connected her with other women who were running businesses.
3) Consider a Business Coach
While connections with other women who own businesses may be all you need, if certain sensitive business decisions need more confidential treatment, you can always turn to a business coach. Kahn did so specifically to work through issues such as commission plans and outsourcing.
"I wasn't taught how to go out and be competitive," Kahn says. "I never really trusted my instincts."
4) Assemble an Event
As your networking efforts begin to yield results, becoming part of a business event can further your reach.
"I would volunteer and get on panels and put together lectures," Kahn said. If you speak yourself, you establish yourself as an expert and will in turn be contacted by others. If you organize a panel with other experts, you get to work with them and make new connections.
5) Think Small As Well As Big
Sometimes individual and small group connections are as helpful as large group settings. The Waters Organization, an office staffing firm in Atlanta, was recently certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council as a woman-owned business, says Holly Monaghan, CEO.
"My first thought in getting certified was to meet other women in
business," she says. Monaghan has also developed relationships with some individual women in the organization, including one who came for a site visit during the certification process. They now feed each other leads.
Brown started small with her professional networking efforts, as well, with a group for women in insurance. “It let me start out small and intimate and go from there,” she says. “That allowed me to feel more comfortable and confident in what I could offer.”
A few years ago, Brown starting getting together with several staffing firm owners who work in different areas (so aren’t competitors). They meet monthly and help each other with the nuts and bolts of running their businesses.
“It’s the best thing I ever did as far as running my business and not feeling like I’m alone,” Brown says.
All the women we talked to raved about the results of their efforts, from building interpersonal skills of leadership, public speaking, and networking, to building a network of friends and clients.
But in order to reap said benefits, you gotta get out there. Get on committees and boards, go to events and conferences, and start getting involved.
“If you don’t get involved, you don’t get to know people,” Brown says.