By guest columnist Marisa R. Santoro

As women in business, when setting our sights on raising our leadership-rank in the firms we work for, we will weave our way up, sideways navigating the corporate landscape to make our mark. While our networking prowess makes savvy business sense when working for someone else, its career currency tends to drop when we begin working for ourselves, taking the off ramp to entrepreneurship.

Waving our rising Linkedin connection count looks great online, but offline we need to raise the bar and embrace that gentle umphhh to form new unexpected connections wherever our feet land.

The number one footprint smart ambitious women make when following their passions in business is collecting like-minded driven women professionals to add to their portfolio. ‘Picking up’ women is a natural relationship building skill for women, driven by the unspoken golden rule from their playbook: successful women want to help others succeed.

The good news is, women are fueled by inspiration; when we come into our own, creating our success stories as entrepreneurs we believe in paying it forward with the wisdom we’ve gained from our journey. The bad news is, while we’re growing into our dream shoes in business, we initially shy away from asking for support and reaching out to others given our raised self-doubt antennas which convince us that we’re not good enough, or worse that we will be rejected at every turn.

More than ever in this downsizing economy, women have taken the leap of faith that the hard wired persistence and perfectionism at our core will successfully lead us to the pursuit of our passions in business; it’s not the drive we are lacking. Our necessary wake-up call is recognizing that no one ever got anywhere alone and you don’t have to quit your day job to prove that you can – not yet anyway.

When going out about your daily routine, place down your preconceptions about the people you meet, seek out women strangers and start sharing the interests you have mentally laid out in your mission statement. Open up to those who can turn into mentors, who may share similar business models or who may be inspired by your new venture and connect you with someone with whom you can potentially partner with.

Leaning on the connections we already have is powerful, but real change is made when shifting into the unknown when growing a business. Meeting as many new people as you can each week, lays the foundation for a female village that can’t lead you astray, like-minded inspiration is a proven guarantee of success when pursuing your passions in independent business.