Female entrepreneurs rely on networking events rather than government resources to grow their business, according to research from the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
The AWCCI’s research is based on an online survey of 2,952 Australian women. The survey, which consisted of 104 questions, was open to women who own and operate their own business.
The research reveals networking events are the most popular source of help and advice among female business owners, nominated by 48% of the survey respondents.
In contrast, the least popular sources of support are state government agencies (12%), Federal Government agencies (6%) and helplines (1%).
Networking appears to be paying off – 52% of survey respondents that attend networking events have received client referrals.
Customer acquisition from personal sources is clearly the most important. The research shows 85% of female business owners have acquired customers through word of mouth.
This is followed by direct referrals (77%) and networking events (50%).
AWCCI chief executive Yolanda Vega says female business owners are growing in numbers and turnover as a result of their networking abilities and the growing number of networking groups around the country.
Vega refers to the findings of Dr Ivan Misner, author of Business Networking and Sex (Not What You Think), which launches in Australia this month.
The book is based on the results of a global survey conducted about gender and networking. The research included more than 12,000 business people from around the globe, including Australia.
According to Dr Misner’s research, “a lot of men need to get to the point where they no longer offend women when they network”.
“Perhaps this is one of the reasons as to why women attend women-only networking groups,” Vega says.
The research also suggests women could “improve on their ability to ‘ask’ for the business referral”.
Vega says while women are great at developing relationships, they often miss out on business opportunities because they don’t ask.
“The feminine, nurturing nature often works against women when doing business because they are not as aggressive,” she says.
Even so, Vega says it’s no surprise to learn 49% of women on an international platform generate business from networking events.
“As the AWCCI research indicates, 52% of respondents attending networking events receive client referrals,” she says.
“With this groundbreaking Australian data, the AWCCI can advocate for programs and policies to [benefit] women business owners and female entrepreneurs.”
“[We should be] providing them with the business information they need at the places they attend – network groups.”