Five Unique Strategies to Help Women Reimagine Professional Networking

A large group of people standing in a large hall at a professional event

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it’s a great time to have authentic discussions about helping women advance professionally. One key element to finding success in the workplace is networking—a fundamental aspect of creating opportunities, nurturing relationships, and achieving professional goals. It’s important to consider how the various approaches to networking can help the success of some groups over others.

At Edson E+I, we believe in challenging norms, fostering inclusivity, and empowering individuals to thrive in their entrepreneurial journey. So, let’s debunk some common networking myths and explore tangible steps to cultivate meaningful connections for women and everyone in our community.

Myth #1: Find Your People 

Finding a supportive community is essential, especially for underrepresented groups in entrepreneurship. However, the notion of your community should consistently evolve, focusing on inclusivity and diversity. 

While it’s beneficial to connect with like-minded individuals, diversity enriches our networks, bringing new perspectives and access to resources. Remember, exploring events that resonate with your values and goals is essential. But when you venture into a completely new space, you can find opportunities and ideas you hadn’t thought of.


a group of people sitting inside and clapping for a speaker
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Myth #2: Givers Gain

In the Phoenix metro area’s thriving entrepreneurial landscape, volunteer opportunities are abundant. Yet equitable opportunities for leadership and growth can be hard to find, particularly for women and minorities. 

In the US, women are more likely to formally volunteer than men. A female founder can quickly turn into a professional networker, sometimes to the detriment of their personal goals. As a model, many professional organizations and networking groups need volunteers to be sustainable. Women and minorities are often assigned volunteer tasks like programming, events and marketing without having a seat at the leadership level. Instead of being of service to the entrepreneur, volunteering for networking groups becomes the entrepreneur’s full-time job. 

Other cities have experienced entrepreneurs who want to give back, and they provide more resources to organizations to help pay for those networking opportunities. In Phoenix, we are not there yet. Yes, volunteer, give back, be part of the community and set your boundaries An entrepreneur’s primary way to give back to the community should be to build their business.

Myth #3: Find a Group and Stick With It

Entrepreneurship is a dynamic journey, and our networks should evolve alongside the phases we move through in our careers. While mingling within a particular group can feel comfortable, after some time, that familiarity can limit our exposure to new opportunities. 

Networking, by definition, isn’t about limiting opportunities. It’s about building meaningful connections that transcend boundaries. So if you find yourself getting comfortable in a group for an extended period of time, consider venturing beyond your comfort zone and nurturing relationships across diverse communities. 


people standing at an event talking and networking
Local community at an Edson E+I event at 1951 @ SkySong

Myth #4: Small Business vs. Entrepreneurship

Distinctions between small business and entrepreneurship often lead to siloed networks, which can hinder holistic growth. I have experienced many small business events focused solely on traditional business strategies. It wasn’t until I diversified my engagements to include a variety of approaches to business that I discovered innovative concepts like lean startup methodologies and scalable solutions. These concepts can open a new world of opportunities and career options.  

So whether you view yourself as a small business owner, an entrepreneur or a founder, try diversifying the types of networking opportunities you participate in to find unexpected business concepts and unlock new strategies for success.

Myth #5: Happy Hours Equal Networking

Traditional networking settings like happy hours can perpetuate toxic cultures and exclude marginalized voices. The pandemic challenged conventional norms, prompting us to redefine networking beyond social gatherings. Seek out alternative avenues—volunteering, shared interest groups, or value-aligned events—to cultivate authentic connections without the sometimes problematic dynamics.

At Edson E+I, our mission transcends mere networking.  Our goal is to foster an inclusive ecosystem where every individual can thrive. Let’s bust myths, embrace diversity, and start making real connections that support a community where innovation and empowerment truly stand out.

I invite you to check out one of our unique upcoming events designed to bust these myths and ensure everyone has access to opportunities to strengthen and expand their networks and reach their full potential. 

Kristin Slice

Director of Community Entrepreneurship

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