BPW/Triangle develops a powerful network of leaders to advocate, educate and cultivate connections.
The views expressed by blog authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of each member within our organization.
Written by Lauren Pellegrino
Ah…another year has come and gone. As I reflect on the past year and look toward a new one, I am struck by how depressing new years’ resolutions really are. Frankly, they feel more like punishment for my previous year’s shortcomings rather than positive goals (lose 10 pounds, watch less reality TV, eat more chia seeds, whatever those are).
Let’s make a pact that 2015 will be less punitive and more constructive. One way I aim to achieve this is by setting reasonable goals, writing them down, and devising ways to reach them. If you’re like me, the odds are good that at least one of your goals involves your career (for me, it’s finding a job after I graduate from grad school). One of the most fruitful, yet seemingly most dreaded, ways to reach career goals is through networking.
The first step in networking is to get over your fear of it, revise your understanding of what it is, and relearn how it works.
Let’s review what networking is NOT. It is not insincere, it does not require lots of fake smiling and fake compliments, and most importantly, it is not difficult. Rather, networking is an intentional and thoughtful way to generate a list of contacts with whom you share a mutually beneficial relationship. Networking is about connecting with other professionals for the long-term, not making lifelong friends. And guess what? That’s perfectly okay.
Women tend to think that we are either friends with someone or we have no relationship with them. This is unfortunate because so much of our personal growth and learning occurs collectively with other women. Furthermore, we get so busy and consumed with playing multiple roles that we tend to view forging new relationships as a low priority goal. Worse yet, when we find ourselves in need of a network because of a job change or something else, we freeze. “I haven’t talked with Karen in a while. I had better not reach out to her.” Why do we make that choice? What is it about networking that is so terrifying?
Ladies, let’s stop the madness and agree that it is okay to connect with other women and leverage those connections as needed. Men do this all the time. Men have no problem calling some guy they met 10 years ago at a conference about a possible job connection. As long as we are still paid less and disturbingly underrepresented in C-level positions in this country, we must develop, maintain, and leverage connections with one another. Our careers depend on it.
Put this on your 2015 resolutions list: cultivate and nurture a networking list. Starting in January, begin connecting with women in your industry, industries you are interested in, advocacy or interest groups, etc. As you meet new women, find out if they are on LinkedIn, get their business cards or address, and find a way to connect with each person at least once per year. “Connections” can be as simple as a quick email, social media update, holiday card, or birthday card. We have to get over the idea that our female relationships are all or nothing. We can and should develop meaningful, reciprocal networking relationships without the pressures of friendship. Let’s make (and keep) a resolution we can feel good about.
If you need a networking resolution jumpstart, join us in January for the first annual “Making Connections” workshop in the private dining area at On the Oval Restaurant on NCSU Centennial Campus. This event is designed to help you develop and execute a networking plan that works for you. The workshop facilitators will provide all attendees with an interactive workbook designed to help you make the most of your connections and ultimately, enhance your networking efforts.
BPW/Raleigh is proud to sponsor Reality Store SM, a curriculum for middle school students. This is our 10th year presenting Reality Store SM at Shepherd Middle School in Durham, NC. It is being held on Friday, February 13, 2015 (approx. 8am-11:30am).
The program is offered in a game format where students learn the “reality” of a monthly family budget and the value of making appropriate choices in planning for career, family and their education. Students receive a mock checkbook with the monthly income entered for the specific career. Students then visit booths manned by community members at which they pay their monthly bills. At each booth, the students make decisions concerning the standard of living they’ll assume. For example, at the housing booth, students decide if they want to pay for a one-bedroom efficiency apartment or a five-bedroom home.
Following the Reality Store SM simulation, students discuss the impact of the educational choices they make today on their ability to 1.) enter various occupations and 2.) support various standards of living in their future.
Can you help?
Volunteer on February 13, 2015 - If so, here's how it works: 2 volunteers are assigned at each of 10 stations. Volunteers guide students in making choices and helping them to make adjustments to their check register. Prior experience with Reality Store SM is not necessary. It is an easy job and so rewarding.
Contact Mary Kim at email@example.com for more information or to volunteer. For directions to the school click here: Shepherd Middle School.
Provide freebies for our student goodie bags - We create bags with memo pads, stickers, t-shirts, etc for each participating student to take home. If you have something to contribute contact Mary Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s all about Connections
by Sonja Neiger, Director, Women’s Leadership Institute
Connections - providing opportunities for professional women to develop learning relationships with one other
We’ve all heard the old adage: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. That may be true, but who you know can also help you know a whole lot more.
In the not-so-distant past, women were told “Find a mentor to get ahead.” We all know that Mentors, traditionally, are the seasoned sages guiding younger protégés along. Mentors invest time and energy into passing along their wisdom; Protégés soak up every bit of it. The problem with this model is that it assumes only one person in the relationship has something to offer – the Mentor. It also requires a significant investment of the Mentor’s time for the protégé to derive maximum value. Finally, with this model, it’s almost as if we are creating a boundary; once you have “arrived,” you don’t need mentoring any longer; you should switch and assume the mentoring role and are no longer the protégé. What if there’s a different way?
The Mentoring Committee of BPW, Raleigh, thinks there is a different way – dare we say, a better way. In 2014/15, we are expanding and re-branding the Mentoring committee to focus on Connections. Instead of mentoring, which carries a heavy connotation, our focus is providing opportunities for professional women to develop learning relationships with one other. We believe that all women in our organization, whether seasoned professionals in industry, ambitious entrepreneurs, dedicated veterans, or new graduates, have knowledge and skills that are useful to share. We also ascribe to lifelong learning – the idea that all of us have something to learn, no matter how experienced we are in our careers.
Research shows that Connections are especially important to women because we derive more learning through relationships than men do. When a woman receives a bit of advice from a trusted person, she is likely to learn and apply the lesson; conversely, a man is more likely to learn through experiencing a situation. In a real world context, women do better when primed for a learning experience with nuggets of advice, like “When you jump in the pool, move your arms and legs so you don’t drown!” Sure, we have to jump in the pool to learn, but we’re more apt to absorb useful advice from others and put it into action. Men, generally, don’t learn in this way. They say “yea, yea, I got this,” jump into the pool, and figure it out (quickly, before they drown).
Does this ring true in your experience of how women learn? If so, the implications for your own learning are significant and optimistic. It means that you have a greater capacity to leverage learning from trusted advisors. Collecting and applying wisdom from others not only develops your confidence before you jump into new experiences, but it also helps you avoid the more painful option – trial and error. Learning through relationships also means that you don’t necessarily need to look for people who have more experienced than you are, which can be especially difficult if some of our long-term members; you simply need to find people you trust who have something to offer that you value. Likewise, if you are junior in your career, you have learning to offer others. You don’t need to wait until you accumulate years of credibility to share your valuable insights.
As we move into 2014/15, think about what is missing that would accelerate your career. Think, too, of what you can give back. In 2014/15, it’s all about Connections – to learn, to contribute, through learning relationships with each other.
Need to know what your unique strengths and talents are that you can share with others? Come to our next meeting on November 18.
For more about the Connections committee, stay tuned for more blogposts, an on-line toolkit, and an event on January 15.
Hope to see a few of you on Oct 28th at Brier Creek Country Club for an elegant dinner and inspiring talk, or at California Pizza Kitchen on Nov 17th for some casual conversation and chillaxin!
2014/15 BPW Raleigh president
We are thrilled that Susan (Kathy) Land accepted our invitation to speak at our co-sponsored event with IEEE October 28th. She has more than 25 years of industry experience in the application of software engineering methodologies, the management of information systems, and leadership of software development teams. Ms. Land is currently assigned as the Chief Engineer and Deputy Program Manager for C2BMC Spiral 8.2 Product Development supporting Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Command, Control, Battle Management, & Communications (C2BMC) in Huntsville, AL.
REGISTER for event.
Susan will speak about her experiences as a woman working in the computing and defense industries. She will discuss leadership development as a lifelong journey, the challenges and opportunities for women in industries where they might be a minority group, and the empowerment we should all embrace to affect positive change.
Susan is featured in a film Pioneers in Skirts produced by BPW members Lea-Ann Berst and directed by her daughter Ashley Maria. Ashley will be at October's event, so be sure to meet her, and ask about her film!, if you plan to attend this not-to-be missed event.
This event is co-sponsored by IEEE Women In Engineering for the Eastern NC Section.
Recently board members took action by working together to conceive a member survey to understand better the wants and needs of our BPW Raleigh club. Based on the survey results the board voted to update programming for the 2014/15 year.
Some of the updates include:
| Mailing address: PO Box 1794, Cary, NC 27512
Business and Professional Women of the Triangle (BPW/Triangle) is a non-profit 501(c)(4) corporation.
Copyright 2018 Business and Professional Women of the Triangle. All rights reserved.