Even though 53 percent of employees say a role that allows them to have greater work-life balance and better personal well-being is “very important” to them (Gallup’s State of the American Workplace 2017), fostering networking built on real-life connections is often forgotten. But networking is so important, and it’s often even more important for women, who sometimes lack genuine support in their industries and tend to prioritize roles at home over maintaining female connections.
Connections with other women to help one another through real issues, and promote genuine, lasting relationships in business and in life. While some companies are making strides in creating professional female-focused groups, particularly in the technology sector, many times women can forget that remaining connected with women on many different career levels and in different industries can lead to growth and new opportunities.
…So where do you start?
1. Don’t limit yourself by your niche industry.
When you look outside your company for connections, you can tend to start focusing on who you meet based on your common personal interests and not just where you work. While female-focused groups in industry sectors, like women-in-tech meetups, are great for professional development and support, personal relationships can help to balance and promote outside interests.
2. Always look at connections as new opportunities.
To evolve, you must experience new things and there’s plenty of opportunity for this in diverse cities. San Francisco, for instance, is known for cultural diversity, and has come to be known as a hub for unique, experiential events. Experiences are at the core of every female connection, and whether these connections are for enjoyment, learning, or both, they’re serendipitous moments of learning that enrich your life and make you more informed.
3. Don’t underestimate the value of support.
The tricky thing about support is you don’t know much you need it until you’re faced with a challenging situation…and by that time, it’s often too late to whip up a solid support system. Women nowadays go through major milestones in their life at all different ages and some women have a group of friends that are in different phases in their life. This is why making an effort to make new connections and keeping a diverse circle is particularly important.
4. Question the norms.
Many times, particularly in professional settings, men will not be exposed to the types of issues that women are, so they can’t fully understand or relate. Women make different types of compromises between balancing a family and work that men are not typically experiencing. As a women, if you are feeling you are not being treated equally, asking “Is this normal?” to a female friend or colleague can sometimes make all the difference, and ultimately lead to solving underlying issues of inequality. Don’t be afraid to questions the “norms.”
5. Empower yourself by empowering others.
When I think of female empowerment, the first person who comes to mind is Emma Watson. She stands for women from all walks of life, she is about being real and less concerned with vanity on social networks, and she uses her voice to empower other women. If only all women used their power to benefit others, we’d all have a better sense of empowerment and confidence. Remember, self confidence can often stem from the support you provide other women.
While all these points speak to the importance of female connections on many levels, self-growth first starts with you. Doing what makes you feel strong and happy and acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses first can serve as the foundation for your confidence, ultimately encouraging you to put yourself out there to make real, impactful connections in business and in life. So get out there, make real-life connections, meet new people, join a workout class outside of your comfort zone, try a new restaurant, do something different with others and you’ll be surprised by how it helps you grow as an individual.