As a smart, driven, successful woman, you might feel like you’re going at it alone. But in truth, the world is filled with many women who are experiencing the same sense of isolation – and when intelligent, motivated women combine forces, we shine even brighter.
You’ve probably heard of the “old boys’ club.” It’s a reference to the way that men build a sense of collegiality in the workplace and other professional environments in a way that can lead to the exclusion of women. But you don’t have to settle for being boxed out.
In the words of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, “No one succeeds alone.” Her perspective rings especially true for high-achieving women. In this article, we are going to explore the importance of community for women who want to have it all – because when we work together, we can.
The Research Doesn’t Lie: We’re Better Together
You’d never accept a claim without data to back it up – and in this case, there are plenty of stats that prove the importance of community for high-achieving women. For example, Harvard Business Review recently published a study that showed both men and women benefit from cultivating a network of well-connected peers.
For women in particular, the study found that women with an inner circle of close women contacts are more likely to score executive-level positions with higher pay and greater authority. In other words, women who support other women are better equipped to get ahead in the male-dominated corporate world themselves.
While we might wish otherwise, women face numerous obstacles on our career paths, navigating a complex landscape of challenges. Although the “glass ceiling” might sound like an idea straight out of the 1950s, restrictions on women’s advancement continue to be in full force today. Women, particularly women of color and those at the intersection of underrepresented identities, often confront challenges in advancing to leadership roles due to systemic and cultural hurdles. Gender bias persists, even when it is unconscious and unspoken.
So, what’s the solution? One word: community.
My Top 3 Tips to Build Your Professional Community
When women band together, we are all better off. Here are my top three tips to kick off your professional relationship-building journey in a way that elevates both you and the women striving for excellence around you.
#1: Start Networking… Minus The "Work"
When you hear the word “networking,” you’re probably groaning internally. It sounds like exchanging business cards and making boring, superficial small talk, right?
Maybe in 2013… but in 2023, networking doesn’t have to look that way. Instead of chatting about the weather at your upcoming conference or event, create connections based on shared interests and goals. And don’t be afraid to branch out from your current industry!
Many industries are incredibly siloed, making it hard to build relationships outside of your vertical. But ultimately, you will meet interesting, driven women across every sector, so it’s crucial to extend your reach. One great way to do so? Join a structured community that links you to women who share your mindset and want to grow and learn together!
#2: Know That Connection Building Is A Long Game
Traditional networking – handshake and business card style – is one and done. You have a quick exchange and then you move on. But building lasting, rewarding connections is going to take a little bit more effort than that.
If you want your professional network to go a bit deeper than a stack of untouched business cards on your desk, you want to build relationships, not contacts. The difference? Relationships need to be nurtured. They need consistent contact and collaboration.
The best kinds of relationships are the ones where we can learn from each other. So seek out relationships with people you admire. Connect with women who are doing things that you want to do or who are working on projects that ignite your curiosity. And then engage: ask for advice, participate, share your insights, and make your voice heard.
#3: Find Your Squad
If building these professional relationships from scratch sounds daunting, you’re not alone. You’re probably wondering where to find these like-minded women who can help you navigate your career path, address your workplace concerns, and pursue your passions. That’s where Exceptionally Aligned
, my new online community, comes into play.
Ask yourself who is on your team – and I’m not talking about the people you manage or the people in your department. I mean the people in your professional life who function as your support network. These are the women you can turn to when you need someone to bounce ideas off, when you need advice (or constructive criticism or honest feedback), or when you need a confidence boost.
When you have a strong support system of other powerful, aligned, motivated women, you shine brighter – and they do, too. Having a strong community is crucial for both your career and your sanity as a high-achieving woman. You will be able to not only support each other but also connect each other to people and opportunities. And at the end of the day, everyone involved will succeed.
It’s Time to Become Exceptionally Aligned
Exceptionally Aligned, my online community designed specifically for high-achieving women, is a place to do just that.
The idea for Exceptionally Aligned stemmed from my own experience navigating my transition away from the corporate world into the relentless pursuit of my passions – my “something bigger.”
When I first took this leap, many people struggled to understand why I would trade “stability” for what they saw as “uncertainty.” I was leaving behind the security of a VP-level role at a major sports league and jumping headfirst into the unknown. With questions and doubts coming toward me from many angles, it was a lonely and scary time.
Looking back, I wish I had the support of a like-minded community to lean on. Now that I am on the other side of my career transition, I see many of my clients navigating similar challenges. I wanted to give them a chance to find a community that they can lean into during the challenging and often daunting journey of stepping into their own “something bigger.”
With Exceptionally Aligned, I have created a space dedicated to women who are ready to align their lives and careers with their values and passions.
We are a community of strong, motivated, successful individuals – just like you. So if you’re ready to start building your team, you’re in the right place. Join us and start your career transformation journey through Exceptionally Aligned today!