Analyzing data from 400,000+ small business owners on their platform, our friends at (Hello Alice handle) reported that access to funding consistently ranks as the number one challenge for small business owners across all demographics. And in line with their mission to help get today’s entrepreneurs the money they need and deserve, Hello Alice just introduced their new Small Business Funding Center. Offering an approachable way to financial freedom, the Funding Center provides small business owners with grant opportunities, loan options, and other forms of funding and resources through a streamlined process.

Get the Money You Need to Grow Your Business

From a grant to jazz up your online storefront to a loan to help you stock up on inventory, the Small Business Funding Center connects you with the capital you need to launch and grow your small business. The juggle is real for hard-working entrepreneurs like you, so you can bank on easy applications and personalized recommendations here.

Power Forward Grant

In partnership with VistaprintBoston Celtics Shamrock Foundation, and NAACP

This collaboration offers $25,000 grants plus marketing and design resources for Black- and Brown-owned small businesses across New England.

Visit hialice.co/smallbizfunding to check out the Small Business Funding Center today and share with your favorite entrepreneurs! 

BGE Energizing Small Business Grants

In partnership with BGE

Now in Round 3, the BGE Energizing Small Business Grants program provides $20,000 to eligible small businesses across Maryland for COVID-19 relief and recovery.

Visit hialice.co/smallbizfunding to check out the Small Business Funding Center today and share with your favorite entrepreneurs! 

You can also participate in our partnership giveaway: Explore Small Business Grants and Enter to Win $50 Starbucks GiftCard

Sometimes, our greatest opportunities are just one introduction away—which is why Women in Cloud is ecstatic to announce the Get Introduced Challenge from October 7th to October 14th. 

70% of women entrepreneurs in our network stated that their #1 request was a warm introduction to an advisor, leader, or mentor who can transform the trajectory of their career. 

So, we listened, learned, and acted. 

The Women in Cloud Get Introduced Challenge is a week-long journey that transforms executives, entrepreneurs, industry leaders, subject-matter experts, community leaders, and thought leaders into Influential Cloud Advisors to contribute relevant insights and perspectives to community members so they can achieve their dream goals.

 Through a series of short video lessons by key industry leaders, networking sessions, blog posts, and more, participants will develop skills that will allow them to facilitate access to women entrepreneurs. 

The relationship between an advisor and an advisee is symbiotic—in addition to transforming the lives of others, there are several benefits to participants. Through this challenge, advisors will stay up-to-date on the technology of tomorrow through direct work with female cloud pioneers, grow their professional network, contribute to improving gender parity for women tech founders, receive access to exclusive speaking opportunities at WIC signature events, and gain recognition as a member of the WIC Cloud Leader Circle.

The challenge will cover a range of topics to promote professional and personal development: 

  1. Why you should become an Influential Cloud Advisor
  2. How to make your conversations create an impact
  3. How to grow your professional network 
  4. How to identify and share your why
  5. How to make your presence count 
  6. Why your advisorship matters 

The application opens today! Register now to join us in bettering ourselves and our industry! 

For more information on Women in Cloud’s 7-Day Get Introduced Challenge, click here

Let’s face facts: Networking does not have to be limited to direct connections. 

The evolution of making connections is at an unanticipated new era. The days of meeting someone at a conference then, having a chat in the halls or grabbing a quick coffee to exchange business ideas and opportunities is no longer the primary means of making strategic connections. These days, it is important to master the art of requesting a warm introduction. 

While serendipitous meetings even during virtual events can turn into great opportunities for everyone involved, unless someone activates their relationships and networks with clear intent, these exceptional opportunities can go by unrealized. When you combine the right approach with modern-day technology, you can effectively activate your networks to reach people who would otherwise remain strangers. 

That’s where Women in Cloud’s Get Introduced tool comes into play. This is a resource of cloud leaders, decision makers, and influencers that have raised their hands to connect, network, and provide advice to create economic opportunities. 

The Forgotten Skill

The reason warm introductions work well is based on the first-principles of being human— people tend to do business with people they trust. 

Those that would be the introducers, especially those that actively practice creating access and have a lot of connections in their network, are often inundated with requests for introductions daily. Keeping this in mind, it is important to remember that you need to make it easy for them to pass your request on. To successfully activate introducers, you should reduce as much friction from the process as possible. In other words, be sure to show up well by following best practices on how to properly request a warm introduction.

Best Practices: Crafting a Clear Ask

The key to a successful “ask” is crafting your message properly. Follow these tips to boost the odds of your success when requesting a warm introduction:

  1. KNOW YOUR WHY

When thinking about why you want to be connected to a particular person, be as specific as possible about why you’re asking for the introduction. Consider why connecting to this person could help you reach your goals and why you decided to go through the person to whom you’re asking to make the introduction. 

As you clarify your end result, you might realize there are other, faster ways to achieve what you want. For example, if the outcome is to amass quality information about someone and their business, you could draw upon other sources such as: 

  • Company websites
  • LinkedIn
  • Crunchbase
  • YouTube
  • Press releases
  • Blogs
  • Podcasts.

Before you reach out for a warm introduction, ask yourself:

  • What good thing do you want to achieve?
  • If you can’t get an introduction, how else will you go about achieving your outcome? 
  • How, specifically, is your request for introduction the best way forward?
  1. DO YOUR RESEARCH 

It is important to know your audience. We touched on this briefly in the previous section by using available methods to help find out starting information, Another benefit of this is to better understand how both you and the person you’d like to be introduced to can stand to gain from one another. 

Understand their role in their company including mission, values, and challenges. When you appreciate their operating context, you can clarify opportunities to add value to their lives. While you can possibly find general information about this through a standard search, more often than not, you will have to make rational deductions. The point is to be thoughtful and reasonable. 

  1. IDENTIFY OPPORTUNITIES TO ADD VALUE

Be sure that you are contributing to the relationship. You want to ensure that the other party will feel there is value in meeting with you as well.

“The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.”

— Keith Ferrazzi, author & entrepreneur

Engage in a two-way flow of values-exchange through ongoing ‘give’ and ‘take.’ It must be balanced. 

Now that you you’ve completed your research and know that the person you want to connect to is the right person to reach out to, you will be better able to identify: 

  • How reaching out to establish this connection will be beneficial to the person you want to meet
  • How reaching out to this potential new connection will be beneficial to you
  • How you can help them achieve their goals 
  • How you align at a values level
  • How you can help them solve their problems, or diminish their challenges
  • Why should they meet you sooner than later
  • What is the ideal outcome you imagine as possible for both of you
  1. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK 

Don’t be afraid to ask. While it is important to add value to another person in a relationship, it is just as important to give them opportunities to add value to you. Good relationships are built on a consistent, balanced flow of ‘give’ and ‘take.’ 

  1. MAKE IT EASY TO EXECUTE OR TO MAKE A DECISION

Now’s the time to put all of the previous steps into action. 

Think “precise & concise”. 

Craft your request into no more than two brief paragraphs that highlight:

  • Who – Introduce yourself and share how you align 
  • Why – Share your ideal outcome and opportunity
  • How – Identify how this connection will also be beneficial to the person you want to meet
  1. SHARE IMPACT & GRATITUDE

The most important thread to remember in networking relationships is the human aspect.  It is important to respect that feelings are also important in this exchange. The contribution of time and expertise extended is not one that we are entitled to, but rather it is a gift. 

Before you close the book on the successful meeting, do the following:

  • Recognize the impact and contribution by taking time to send a note of thanks to the other party. 
  • Be sure to deliver on your offer to add value to them.
  • Share the impact with the introducer so that they know that they made a difference. 

The Process

Most warm introduction processes, including Women in Cloud’s Get Introduced, follow the double-opt-in method. This is another way to increase the chances of getting a connection. This process works as follows:

  • You request an introduction from your introducer.
  • The introducer passes it on to the party you want to connect with to get their consent to make the connection.
  • The introducer makes the connection. 

At times this can take a number of weeks because of the capacity of the party you want to be introduced to along with the capacity of the introducer. 

Don’t let this discourage you. The effort that you put into developing an unstoppable ask that results in a new meeting on your calendar is all worth it. 

“Networking is an investment in your business. It takes time and when done correctly can yield great results for years to come.”

— Diane Helbig, business and leadership development coach, author, speaker, and radio show host.

Ready to get started?

Put your skills into practice. 

Join the #WICDigitalNetwork to engage with members of the community directly, get access to opportunities, and first look at announcements and information.

Check out our list of Cloud Leaders that are ready to meet with you on our Get Introduced page or apply to be included as a resource for others as well!

Apply to become an advisor as a part of the Cloud Leader Circle

Signup to Join the 7 Day Get Introduced Challenge beginning October 7, 2021 to get access to special challenges and opportunities all around warm introductions, networking, connections, and more!