Keeping Away from the Shiny New Toy: How to Keep Your Focus Goal-Oriented

How to keep yourself goal orientatedWe all want to make money from our businesses. However, it’s all too easy to become too focused on personal financial goals. Setting your sights on a new home, car, or gadget as well as other kinds of distractions can actually detract from your business and harm your chances of long-term financial success.

Here we take a look at some common mistakes made by entrepreneurs in terms of focus, and what you can do to fix them.

It’s Not All About The Money

For those in business, it’s tempting to want to prove your success with the traditional trappings of wealth, so you become over-focused on material gain. However, as successful entrepreneur and CEO of LA Wolfe Marketing Lahle A. Wolfe points out, focusing solely on financial goals can actually harm your business. She says, “Being too full of your own successes can lead you to a path of too rapid expansion that is not sustainable in the long run. Bad marketing and vocal investors can have a negative impact on your brand and once your brand is tarnished, it can be hard to get back on track.”

As an antidote to this, she suggests drawing up a written mission statement for your business, clearly defining its purpose and core values. This will serve as a reminder of why you are actually doing what you’re doing, and help you to focus on goals that are compatible with this purpose.

Stop Doing Too Much

Women are culturally expected to be able to multitask, so many of us spend our working lives attempting to prove to ourselves and others just how well we can do this. However, you may actually be harming your business by doing so. David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute, warns of the dangers of trying to do too many things at once. “We make mistakes, miss subtle cues, fly off the handle when we shouldn’t, or spell things wrong.”

Rock suggests keeping certain times of the day free from all distractions, and prioritising your workload according to when your energy levels are at their peak. Starting the day with simple, boring tasks can actually reduce your focus by draining your energy. Instead, if possible, begin with the tasks that need the most creativity and concentration so you can approach them fresh and energised.

In addition, if you do your best thinking outside of office hours, make sure you capitalise on that. If an idea hits you late at night, write it down so you don’t lose it. If you know you’re in the mood for doing some work at home at the end of the day, do it as long as no aspect of your life, especially personal, suffers. This will help keep your focus on your business goals.

Focus on the Task at Hand

Some women tend to be naturally critical of themselves, but you’re not doing your business any favours by focusing on failures or mistakes. The hugely successful business leader Sir Richard Branson believes that “You have to get into the right frame of mind to perform your best, and need to be able to put setbacks behind you instantly.” This way you can free your mind to focus on the next task.

Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out

It’s hard to stay focused on your business goals without input from others. Mentoring and networking is a vital part of growing your business, as it can put you in touch with people who have the skills and experience to help drive your business forward. However, while men view networking as an integral part of their careers, women often see it as something they don’t really have time for, as they often have to juggle a heavy workload with the responsibilities of family life. Women must invest time in establishing networks. It should be a KPI in every job description.

Top businesswomen stress that this attitude needs to change. In order to grow their businesses it’s vital that women begin to prioritise networking and integrate it into their business schedules and activities. Keeping your business goals in mind will allow you to focus on reaching out to the right people and make the right connections, which in turn will help you achieve what you’re aiming for.

Be Confident

As we’ve pointed out, networking is an important step for entrepreneurs to get their business to the next level. As such, gaining the confidence needed to meet people and make professional connections is a must. Connecting with the people you meet on social networks, such as LinkedIn, or following and attending networking events can be a great way of building relationships with potential partners, clients, and even mentors—people who can provide invaluable support when it comes to keeping your focus on what’s important for your business and attaining your goals. The most important thing is to approach your possible new connections with confidence, and being prepared, such as by having a ready elevator speech, will certainly help you out.

If you’re looking for advice, consider getting in touch with an organisation which emphasises the value of mentoring and networking for female entrepreneurs. Behind Closed Doors can provide you with the right kind of mentorship that helps you maximise networking and keep your focus goal-oriented for the success of your business.


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Same Gender vs Mixed Gender Networking: the Pros and Cons

Same Gender V Mixed Gender Networking

It seems unbelievable that in today’s society only 14.6 percent of executive-level jobs are held by women. Research suggests that the reasons for this are not due to lack of education or experience, but because women network less than men. Traditionally, this has been because women have had less time for networking as they often had to balance home and family commitments with their working lives, or they don’t see the value in establishing networks.

However, a lot of women are simply intimidated by the idea of networking, especially with men. This is why women-only networking groups are becoming more and more popular. But do they actually help women in their careers?

Women Network Differently to Men

Many women feel more comfortable networking with other women due to their less aggressive, more nurturing networking style. Sue Weighell is a successful finance director and great advocate of women’s networking groups; she chairs two herself. She explains that “Women network very differently to men and tend to spend more time finding out about a person… They naturally want to support each other and this is a great benefit to those who work alone in their businesses.”

Mary-Jane Kingsland, chair of the Norwich Business Women’s Network in the UK, agrees, believing that men’s networking styles can be intimidating for women. “I think men are generally more aggressive about networking,” she says. “Very quickly in a conversation they’ll suss whether you’re interesting or not, and if you get stuck next to somebody who doesn’t think you’re interesting, that can be a blow to your confidence.” Women-only networking groups can help to combat this, by giving women opportunities within more nurturing environments.

Amina Malik, writing for Wolfestone, also points out that women-only networks can also help “women from certain ethnic backgrounds where they were not raised to mix with the opposite sex” to feel more confident about making contacts and progressing their careers.

Do Women-Only Groups Really Address the Issues?

Not all women in business agree that all women-only networks are productive. Women’s leadership coach Eleanor Beaton believes that too many women’s networking groups focus on the problems faced by women in business without offering solutions. Emphasis, she believes, should be placed on women being encouraged to make specific goals for each meeting rather than simply talking to one another.

“We’re in networking groups to network,” she points out. “If you haven’t left a meeting with a plan to make and receive at least one introduction or follow-up meeting for one of your fellow attendees, you’re not using your time strategically.”

Is It Discrimination?

Some businesswomen see women-only groups as a form of discrimination. One of these is lawyer Ruth Tibbett. “Imagine the outcry if men insisted on men only networking, we would all be picketing with placards!” she says. “I am surprised that we don’t have men objecting to women only networking and demanding to be involved.”

In fact, some women-only networking groups, such as Fabulous Women in the UK, have become so popular that they have now started admitting men as a result of the demand. However, male participants have to adhere to an inclusive approach with an emphasis on relationship-building rather than a hard sell.

Do They Offer Real Career Opportunities?

Arguments have been made that because men hold more high-level executive positions, women are restricting the opportunities available to them if they limit themselves to women-only networking. Lisa Torres, a sociology professor at George Washington University, explains, “Men tend to be in the top positions in organisations so, structurally, they’re in a position to hear about job opportunities or openings when they arrive, and circulate them to their networks.”

However, many women who belong to women-only business networks argue that they offer the opportunity to meet and be inspired by successful businesswomen who can act as role models, helping women to improve their networking skills and advance their business careers. Women regularly report meeting interesting and useful business contacts at all-female events. In some cases, women-only networks can give young women the confidence boost they need to start their own businesses.

The Importance of Both Perspectives

It’s true that both kinds of networking have their own strengths in terms of helping attendees achieve their goals. As such, one can argue that your motivation for attending each might depend on your objectives. For example, if you’re simply out to gain more confidence so that, in the future, you won’t be intimidated during a networking event, all-female networking might be better for you. If you want to take a more aggressive approach though on making connections or gain insights from both businessmen and businesswomen, mixed-gender networking might be more favourable.

One thing is clear though: Both kinds of networking yield results; it’s up to you to make the most of each. You have to have a clear set of goals and objectives before entering a networking event, whether it’s same gender or mixed gender, for you to maximise your time and opportunities.

At Behind Closed Doors, we understand the importance of both kinds of networking and help businesswomen gain access to a large network of business people that includes both men and women. If you’re looking for advice on forming professional networks and career growth, we’re always willing to help you out.

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