Today I attended my first chamber of commerce educational meeting. I know how important it is to connect with other leaders in the community. The group tonight was women leaders that serve on boards. Why would I want to serve on a board? The topic intrigued me.
The room was filled with business women from various careers. The panel consisted of three women. One was a lawyer that became a board member of a bank. The other two female leaders served on boards for non-profit agencies.
They talked about putting yourself out there. “Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. Take the next step,” they encouraged, “ask questions.” The group explained that various companies are looking for community board members that have an interest in what they do. Their advice was to find a company that could challenge you and teach you something new. Search for one that would value your opinion. That’ not as easy as it sounds. The panel was quit to point out that women compose only 17% of board members in Fortune 500 companies. They also advised the group to seek an attorney. Some companies require you to raise large sums of money as a board member. Know your facts before you jump in.
My favorite part of the evening was the questions. One lady asked what the leaders do to encourage other women. Some of them said they helped other females get on the board or they promoted their women internally. The best question was from a lady that was passionate about the cause. She said, “Women go to the bathroom in pairs. Why can’t they support each other in the workplace? What will it take for us to grow as a force in the workplace and on boards.”
The room chuckled, then grew silent. Everyone waited for an answer. “Lean In” they said. Some people became flustered, thinking that Sheryl Sandberg’s book was not a realistic picture of the woman’s workplace. Others agreed with the advice.
I recently collaborated with a professor in my MBA program. She is helping us with our personal brand. She is also helping us to create a plan to build our career. We discussed networking and affiliations with different groups.
Tonight was a good first step in reaching out internally and externally. A group of female leaders from my company that I admire and respect joined together for the event. I loved spending time with them. I had an open mind, which helped me create new ideas. I am considering working on a board. Will I have the time? How will I promote myself? Will I have the confidence?
Where are you in building your career? If you have been plugging away and simply satisfied with the status quo, it may be time to volunteer for a board. You can have a huge impact in your community via a non-profit organization or you can venture into a new corporate arena.
The bottom line is this–we are capable of more than we can imagine. Look outside of your box. It is a world filled with opportunity. Maybe working on a board is your next new challenge.
If you work on a board or are thinking about it . . .drop me a line. I would love to hear more.