Guest Opinion: Starting a women’s group
By Kate Banasiak, on behalf of the Lead Like A Lady Board of Directors
When I sit down with women to talk about some of the most important things you can have in your career toolbox, I always mention my women’s-only networking group, Lead Like a Lady. Let’s face it: Women tend to network differently than men. Women often focus on getting to know others on both a professional and personal basis, while men focus their networking efforts on the business side of things. Nothing is wrong with either method, but it can be difficult to find groups that offer the type of networking women are seeking.
While the number of women’s groups in the area is growing, there is always room for more. This year, Lead Like a Lady celebrates its fifth anniversary, and we wanted to share our top three lessons learned from growing our group since 2013.
1. Define your mission, vision and values and refer back often.
Our organization started with 20 members and quickly expanded to 40. It was at this point in time we knew that we had to make sure that we defined our mission, vision and values to ensure everyone was on the same page for the direction of the group. Once we knew that our members valued integrity, intimacy and lifelong growth as a group, it allowed us to be more strategic about the growth of the group. Our mission, vision and values also guide our planning sessions and programming as we decide how we can best serve our members each year.
2. Poll membership and be responsive.
With nearly 50 members — all of whom are continuing to evolve in both their professional and personal lives — it’s important that we continue to be responsive to their needs. We frequently poll members to determine their educational and developmental priorities and that they are getting the value they need from the organization. We use these results as a focus of our leadership sessions to ensure our decisions reflect the overall vision of the membership. Once we come up with our annual goals for the year we share them via our Facebook member group, at our annual meeting and by posting our annual goals online.
3. Don’t overthink it.
Your group doesn’t have to start with 50 people, it could just be 10 people you know meeting in your office boardroom to get things going. You’ll be surprised by how quickly you will be able to come together and get something going.
If starting a group just isn’t in the cards for you, see the article above this to find an existing group that might fit your needs!
Kate Banasiak is president of Lead Like a Lady‘s board of directors. Contact her via email.