March '20

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 2 0 M A R C H P R I N T W E A R 3 7 agree to tasks they really don't want or with ideas that they really don't espouse so as not to seem opinionated or demanding. There's also the issue of how relationships between men and women are often perceived. Some people maintain that men and women can't be friends, let alone colleagues or mentor and mentee. Particularly if there's a noticeable age difference or power disparity, there can be an assumption of a personal relationship that simply doesn't exist. Women can also be judged on their looks, their behavior (Do they flirt too much? Are they dressed too provoca- tively?) and a number of issues on which men aren't as likely to be judged. So, networking, when female, often feels like a tightrope where women have to walk a line between being too feminine or not feminine enough, between asking for what they want and being thought of as demanding, between their own need for collaboration and relationships and the ways that others might misinterpret that need. Add to that problem the fact that a lot of women tend to undersell them- selves and their skills, often feeling like an impostor or like their work isn't good enough to deserve promotion. The skills that many women used to create and grow a business aren't always skills that are traditionally valued in women. There's also a cultural bias that often tends to dismiss women who own small businesses as having a 'hobby' business or doing something on the side that isn't necessary to support a family or as a main income. A woman who starts a busi- ness has to have an extra ration of belief in herself because for every person who says "good job" or "you can do it" there may be one, or more, who are sending a very different message. As more and more women start their own businesses and are successful, this is starting to change but it's still an issue. Most women, at least those over 30, can probably give several instances where they've encoun- tered these sorts of attitudes. So, in short, networking can be hard. Sometimes people will brush you off or want you to take on tasks or support beliefs that won't benefit you. Sometimes, networking just feels icky. If all these things are true, why do it? Because networking gets results. According to a joint study by the Adler group and LinkedIn, 85% of jobs are found through networking. If you own a business, bringing in new work is a function of networking, creating connections with

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