More to come, as this is just Day One. I was particularly impressed and excited by Sara Robb O’Hagan’s call for turning insights into action and understanding behavioral change. Lo and behold, she even put in a push for mindfulness. Great stuff from the Equinox. Met some great characters today in the startup booths with passion and innovation burning strong. I just wish they would take Sonny Vu’s advice and design for more the market beyond men in tech. There is some pretty ugly gear out there. Ah, well, there is room for improvement, innovation and creativity. So that is exciting.
Women and network leaders have been contacting me all year to ask me how to get Swedish women more involved in international networks. I have to admit I have been asking myself the same question. We all work, we have the classic double duty of being in charge of the home and family as well as our careers. But it is not simply a matter of time. We are not placing a high enough priority on our needs for connecting. Is it lack of ambition? I definitely do not think so. But a culture opposed to risk taking might be a better explanation. The women I meet who do “get out” are quite exceptional and not what I would call “typically Swedish” in that regard.
As my adopted home country, I feel it is my duty to try to do what I can to remedy this. I have met so many wonderful women around the world and at home. I just can’t imagine them not benefiting from interacting with one another. Whether it be for social, professional or personal reasons, we all have something to gain from the interaction. Even if it is simply to get a fresh perspective. Or even better to realize that often our views are the same once the cultural blinders are removed.
So here is my shout out. Ladies, you have nothing to lose but a missed opportunity. Take a chance, reach out, try a new network, attend an event, treat yourself to a weekend away and enjoy the new connections you can make and the richness that they add to your life.
“Thank you for the invitation, but who are you?” Unfortunately this is becoming more common. Now, the tools to help us connect with the people we do know are great. Thank goodness they are there, they help us keep up to date, as well as to learn more about potential partners and associates. A credible network based on real relationships is of far greater value than one that is purely numbers.
In the past month I have been asked to write a recommendation for someone that I am in the same network (of 6000+ members), but have not met personally. I have been asked to connect to individuals that like my profile, but have no direct relationship with. Today I got invited to attend a seminar on how to maximise presence on social networks by someone boasting 2000+ LinkedIn contacts. Now, some people are social butterflies and maybe this person has an incredible memory for the people he speaks with at conferences. But if someone was to ask him for a reference about each of those people, could he honestly provide an accurate account of what they are like as a professional peer, potential employee or partner?
Maintain a quality network. Do not degrade the value of your network simply for looking connected. Instead, Link when you meet people and feel that you have made a connection. Link while the connection is fresh. Nurture that connection by building it into a relationship beyond the link. E-mail to follow-up your conversation, and keep them in mind as you continue your paths. Something that you discussed in that first interaction might come up along the way and be worth sharing. Take the two minutes to pass it on. When someone contacts them down the line asking about you, they will certainly have a better recall than digging for your LinkedIn page to see who you are. You never know, they might even become both a friend and business partner in the process.
We must understand the importance of sharing. Often it is as simple as passing on the words of wisdom that we ourselves know. This clip is a beautiful expression of some of the women that have shared wisdom with me in the last few months. Thank you for sharing and keep it up.
I would like to publicly apologize to all those who have received an invitation from me on LinkedIn recently that I was not directly connected with. I made the mistake of uploading my contacts to extend invitations to my network. What I did not expect was that the system trawled through all the cc:s and Bcc:s on all the emails that I have sent and received and invited them as well. It was not until I started receiving acceptances on LinkedIn from people that I did not know (but that had attended the same business school, or shared contacts with mostly) that I realised this had occurred.
I did not catch this when it went out. I am sincerely sorry. I am quite annoyed when I receive invitations to link with people that I do not know and have no reason to connect with. I value my network greatly and I work hard to maintain the quality of the relationships in it. I, therefore, apologise to those of you who are in my network as well. I appreciate you and respect you professionally and personally. I assure you, I will be far more careful in the future.
I wish you all the best. Please let this be a warning to all of you who use simple tools (or build them) for uploading contacts and inviting to networks. It has certainly been an eye opener for me. Now I know what to avoid when building this feature into 2BalanceU.
Taking a moment to reflect while in transit from the Women’s International Networking (WIN) Conference 10th anniversary in Oslo back home where my family and office await. It is a powerful experience to be with 700 professional women from around the world networking, learning, sharing for 5 days. Each one had different goals in mind for why they were there and what they will achieve during the conference. All expressed a desire for change, with an interest in being part of that change. Most presented a positive hope for the future. Those who brought in unconstructive negative energy became a dance of sorts for the rest of us to turn redirect to the positive (or at least seeking solutions instead of complaining).
Last year, I came to WIN with a curiosity and desire to learn more about what women were doing to connect and share. This year, with my ear to the ground, I wanted to learn more about what I could do to not only advocate sharing but enable it. I was encouraged to see that validity in my work. A tool is needed to bridge the gap between networks, to help them grow, to help women extend their reach for inquiry and sharing.
Like many events such as these, we return home to our lives with a renewed energy and inspiration from all the new connections we have made and things we have learned. Knowing that this energy fades, I only hope that these women will seek each other out to maintain this energy. Build momentum for change in themselves and their environments not only through their networks, but also as individuals. The laughter and smiles shared is a powerful connection. Remember that there is a human behind each card that sits in the stack. As I take each in my hand, I consider the conversations, the shared expressions, the smiles and occasional miscommunications that became opportunity for discussion.
Thank you Kristin for doing your magic and pulling of another great conference.
Sometimes building bridges is harder than one might perceive. Despite the benefits of connecting two complementary destinations, resistance, mistrust and fear often create barriers enough to slow and even disrupt the building process. Resistance to change, mistrust of motivation and fear of loss of control can be very destructive to any relationship.
It takes time to decrease resistance, build trust and comfort fear. Time is something we all have, but often if too much time is lost, many opportunities have been missed. If we never trust or take chances, will we ever learn anything beyond what is within our narrow perception of how things are?
Accepting bridges creates change, and resistance will be strong. When offered without cost, there is mistrust of something that is for nothing. Rest assured, it is not for nothing. You must be willing to cross the bridge, to interact on the other side, and to share your experiences on your return. Fear of loss of control is natural. In all stages of growth, there are moments of unpredictability. That does not mean that we should forgo opportunities to learn and grow.
Mixing cultures, growing our communities, opening them to new ideas and even criticism can be very scary. We all benefit in the long run, sometimes we just have to build that bridge and take a walk across.
As a builder of bridges, I am often confronted with these emotions from both sides. Wisdom is powerful, and shared wisdom is far greater. My vision is to create a social enterprise that harnesses shared wisdom to empower women globally to achieve their greatest potential and satisfaction.